Category Archives: IT Outsourcing

Unsure if your Enterprise needs a Website or a Mobile App?

The remark “There is an app for that” is so common nowadays and underlines the deep influence of mobile apps in our lives. But, when Apple went on to register a trademark for it, you knew it was more than that. 

So, you have decided to go digital and create an online identity for your business. But, you are stuck with the difficulty of choosing between a mobile app and a website. Eager to get a quick solution? Turns out, in most of the cases, both mobile app and website are not mutually exclusive but are complementary, with each serving a different purpose and target segment. So, there isn’t an answer that is universally correct. It depends on various different things.

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App First

Some cases are better served with mobile apps, especially the ones that need frequent or repeated use. For instance, e-commerce, food ordering, social media, chat, news, travel, productivity-related applications, utility apps, real-time tracking like stock apps.

App Only

Then there are those which, because of their dependency on the underlying hardware, can only be served through mobile apps. For instance, home automation, alarm, games, navigation apps, mobile wallets, AR(Augmented Reality) & VR(Virtual Reality) apps and games.

Website or Mobile App?

For the sake of this article, the above two categories need not be considered, for the obvious reason that the mobile app seems to be the default choice for them. However, for categories that can be served equally well by both the mediums, there are certain inherent advantages of using either an app or a website. Let’s understand them from the perspectives of a user and a business.

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User’s point of view, what really matters.

1. Convenience

Websites are convenient for informative and non-frequent use like finding details about a business, exploring a place, looking for services, R&D for projects, and yes, deciding the best app to download for a particular need. Basically, all the Google searches we do can be better served by a website. Mobile apps seem to be more convenient for activities that are performed more frequently. The initial hurdles of downloading and setting things up might seem daunting. But things ease out subsequently, and users get pulled into a more convenient, personalized, and engaging experience.

2. Data Consumption and Offline Mode

To use a mobile app one needs to download it first, an act pulls into the mobile resources that the app will need to function -images, icons, layout inbuilt, etc. Once done, there isn’t much left to download during consumption, which results in quicker loading and sometimes offline access too. In contrary to this, you can’t even load the website without an internet connection.

For mobile apps, during the offline mode, tasks can be queued up in batches and then be pushed to the server when online. Such a sophisticated way of dealing with the offline mode isn’t just possible in case of a website.

3. Performance

For CPU intensive tasks such as games, heavy graphics layouts, complex lists, mobile app scores way higher than a website for its close proximity to the device hardware.

4. Updates

Whether it’s an app or a website, it gets developed alongside. Hence the user expects updates. Pushing an update to the website is easy, you do it on the server-side and users get a brand new look and feel next time they check you out. If you can strategically manage the downtime, there is not much that bothers the user. On the other hand, the whole app needs to be downloaded all over again to get the update. Not to mention, the review process apps go through to be live in the app store which takes time.

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Business’s point of view

1. Customer base – Existing & Potential

Initial acquisition cost is high for mobile apps. You need to get the user to download your app first, to be able to use it. In contrary to this, anyone can visit your website through any browser and from any device having a browser. People can even find your website through Google search. This opens up a lot of possibilities for your business. In short, you can serve both existing and potential customers through a website. Whereas, mobile apps can only serve the existing user base.

2. User Engagement

Re-engaging with users using rich and powerful notifications and getting meaningful insights through analytics is better done with mobile apps than websites.

3. Learning Curve and Cost of Development

Mobile apps are highly customizable. In terms of features and capabilities, they can do a whole lot of stuff that a website can’t do, thanks to the close hardware integration. This, combined with the tons of possible unique use cases, helps create an ever-increasing range of UI/UX and feature possibilities. Thus, you have a steep learning curve even if you need to build a basic app. In other words, there is no such thing called an ‘App builder’. Even if you can find one, chances are, it will let you create a basic HTML type webpage app or an app functioning as a container of your website. In that case, you are better off creating a responsive website instead. Not to mention the whole point of creating an app is to create a tool for your users and you want it to be fully customizable in the first place.

On the other hand, a single screen website with some basic viewable features can be made using website builders needing almost no technical skills. A few examples would include blogging sites, personal/resume type websites, a website showing just the details of your business. However, to create a customized and full-featured website, you need a lot of technical skills.

4. Multiple platform support

Because of the way they have been distributed around the globe, you can’t ignore any of the 2 major platforms of the mobile OS- iOS & Android. People in the US, Canada, Australia, and European nations prefer iOS, whereas, Android is the global leader in terms of market share. Apart from this, iOS users are generally high paying customers in any region. This essentially means, to get high ARPU(Average Revenue Per User) you need to support iOS and to get to the masses, you need to support Android.

Mobile OS preference across the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(credit: https://deviceatlas.com/blog/android-v-ios-market-share)

Supporting 2 completely independent OS will result in higher development and maintenance costs. On the other hand, a single set of code will result in a website which works universally for every device with a browser.

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Website vis-à-vis Mobile Apps! Can one replace the other?

No matter how tightly websites and apps are attached, they are uniquely placed with each serving a purpose different from the other. However, the matter of the fact is that they cannot replace each other. We might see things in the future that will bridge the gap between them both from the business and the user’s point of view. In fact, we already have things like Progressive Web Apps and tools like Flutter and React which are trying to bring websites and apps closer in terms of use and development.

Even Technologies like AR which is by far better served by mobile apps are finding their way to websites. By creating a new file type USDZ, Apple has made it possible for websites to enable users to try 3D virtual objects in their Physical space. This creates a compelling possibility for E-Commerce websites. Of course, for this to work, the website needs to be viewed on a mobile phone/iPad with a camera supporting AR.

To draw an analogy, mobile app and website are like parallel lines, they remain close to each other without overlapping in terms of their existence. We might speculate about their getting merged in the distant future but that distant future might just never come.

Final Thoughts?

Your website is your online identity. As businesses have an office address in the physical world, they have a website in the digital one. And, a mobile app is like a tool you provide to the user to get things done with ease, as well as engage. In most of the cases, you will need to have both.

Depending upon the nature and the stage a business is in, one medium might find itself positioned more favorably than the other. But, when the cost is not a deterrent, it has become customary to embrace both the website and the mobile app, almost as if they were an obligation. It gives a business the chance to meander seamlessly into the mental realms of its target customers, the users, and unleash many possibilities.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. To know more about our company, please click on Mindfire Solutions.  For over 20+ years now, we have been the preferred Software Development Partner of over 1000+ Small and Medium-sized enterprises across the globe.

 

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RPA Image

Is Robotic Process Automation changing the Test Automation Game?

RPA has taken the IT world by storm. I won’t say that it is the newest thing in business because it has been there around for about 10 years now. But now is the time when it is spreading like wildfire. More and more companies want to adopt it.

To set the context, let’s look at how AI has broken all the barriers of our imagination. I bet that a few years ago when we used to see robots in movies, we would think that they are just part of our imagination or even if we considered them to become reality someday, we always thought that the day to be many years away. But what we never imagined was that technology will progress so much so soon. Today Artificial intelligence is making machines more and more human-like. They want machines to not only follow our instructions but to think, and possibly also to exhibit emotions. It is almost like humans want to assemble humans in labs. No wonder then that a robot named Sophia was very recently even given citizenship of Saudi Arabia.

Now going back to Robotic Process Automation. Going just by the words,  it seems like  Robots automating processes. The catch, however, is that that when we say Robot, we don’t mean an actual physical robot, but a virtual one –  the automation program.

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What’s the big deal about RPA in Software Test Automation?

Many could argue that in traditional Automation also we were creating automation programs. So what is all the hype about?

The key distinctions according to me are :

  • It is script less: Coming from a Manual testing background it was always a challenge for me to always keep learning the latest scripting languages but now I don’t need to learn any programming language to automate a test scenario. You just need to be good with your logics and should be able to think out of the box scenarios.
  • Focus is back to product quality: I am not saying that in Traditional automation the product quality was getting hampered, But in my own experience I feel that when I was working on Automation via scripts, most of my time was getting consumed in writing code and at the end of the day, only very few scenarios were automated, and I was not able to cover as much scenario and I didn’t have the time to dive into variety of scenario. So I feel that out of two 1 thing was always getting compromised either the Coverage or the deadline. But with RPA tool this problem of mine has been resolved to a great extent.

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How things work when Automating Test cases with RPA

There are many RPA tools available in the market like UI Path, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and many more. You can use any (FYI: I am not promoting any specific tool).

There are few basic criteria on which all the RPA tools are based on:

  • Already defined user actions: Most of the user actions that one can think of while automating a test case like the click of a button, mouse hover, opening browser, typing into a text box and many more, they are already defined and the user doesn’t have to code.
  • Built-in decision logics and looping statements: The best part about using RPA tool for creating scripts was, I didn’t have to worry about the syntax of my decision logic and adding loops, for example, do-while, for, etc. They are built-in and I just needed to use them.
  • Configuring of user events through Parameters: Every user action or event that we use can be easily configured using its parameters. Almost every property of a user event is made available so as it can be customized as much and as easily as possible.
  • Easy to create variables: RPA tools make it very easy to create a variable without stressing upon the syntax.
  • Error handling: If there is an error that occurs while configuring the user events or in the full flow, RPA tools have very good error handling mechanism. It helps the user to narrow down the area of error and also gives very clear and specific error messages making it very convenient for the user to correct the error.

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What RPA has changed in my Automation Testing approach?
  • So as I said above, for me RPA has put the focus back to thinking about logic, covering some out of the box test scenarios, rather than spending hours just automating the basic functionality.
  • RPA has improved my testing coverage also, as I am able to cover number and different types of scenarios.
  • Thanks to RPA, I am able to automate the test scenarios faster as I don’t have to write every single line of code on my own.
  • Another advantage of using an RPA tool is, I face less number of errors while automating a test case. As in RPA tool, they have built-in codes for most of the logics and I just have to make sure that I use them in correct flow.
  • With RPA tool, I was able to manage my scripts much easily as most of the times it just making tweaking into the properties of the built-in user actions.
  • Also when I create my scripts using RPA tool, they are more easily readable and I am able to explain them to another person in a better way
  • Being from a manual testing background, it was always a big challenge for me to always keep on learning the latest scripting languages but now I don’t have to invest my time learning the coding languages.
  • I can invest my mind in more decision making tasks rather than some boring and repetitive tasks that can be done by machines also.

Now, when I extract the essence of all the benefits, the bigger picture that I get is RPA helps to increase Test Automation Coverage, reduces the time required, hence reducing in the process the cost of Testing and in turn increasing the Company’s profit.

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Having said that, I did face some challenges while automating test scripts with RPA tool

1) I was not able to automate everything
Having worked with different scripting automation tools, I feel that there are some scenarios which I can’t achieve using RPA tools like I am not able to automate scenario which deals with complex Database entries, multiple formats of input or unstructured input data.

2) It executes at a slower pace
When I execute a script created via any RPA tool it executes at a UI speed but when I run a script created using scripting languages, it is much faster. So I feel that RPA is comparatively slower than the processes automated using traditional automation.

3) Not much available on Web, so need to explore yourself
Test Automation using RPA is relatively new. So there are many built-in user actions and functionalities of different tools that you have to explore on your own and not much help is available on the web. So that was also one of the challenges that I faced.

4) It can increase a company’s Test Automation cost
When I started automation using RPA, most of the RPA tools that I came across were paid and just 1 or 2 had free versions available and that too had not much-advanced features contrary to the open-source scripting tools available in the market. So I feel that this can also prove to be a disadvantage as it will increase the cost of Automation for a company.

But I feel that the pros somewhere outnumber the cons and the proof of this is that more and more companies are investing in Test Automation using RPA. So in my opinion, if you are the one who wants to adopt RPA in Test Automation, then the time to act is now.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. To know more about our company, please click on Mindfire Solutions. 

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Overcoming pain points in offshoring software development

Overcoming the Critical Offshoring Pain Points in Software Development

It is imperative for businesses today to leverage the effectiveness of software in order to get ahead in the market. This is not limited to the enterprise software pieces they use as part of their day to day operations, but it also relates to the proprietary pieces they offer to their users, clients, and partners.

But developing proprietary software is a serious undertaking, and one which might be beyond the reach of the average small or medium-sized business – in terms of cost effectiveness and also the general skill and expertise needed to truly deliver. So what is the answer for SMEs in the market?

Offshoring software development represents a viable solution. This concept in software design refers to hiring a third party team in a different country to handle the development process. This approach to development brings with it immense benefits, as well as significant challenges. So what are the key pain points, and how can businesses navigate through them. Let us look at the critical ones :

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Difficulties Commonly Associated with Offshoring Software Development?

Breakdown in communication between teams

Offshoring means a team operating in a different country or territory – which in turn means potential time zone clashes and a heavy reliance on digital communication tools. There is also the very critical factor of cultural differences existing between the in-house and outsourced teams, leading to communication breakdowns.

Quality not guaranteed

This is a familiar source of anxiety for any businesses working with an outsourced team – How to ascertain the quality of the outcome? There is no guarantee here, but, if the services of a company are hired purely on the basis of low rates, there is a strong likelihood of low quality turning out to be the byproduct. No good service comes cheap.

Sensitive data risk

We are in the beginning of the digital era. Data has already started making the business world go round. This makes outsourcing something of a minefield. On one hand, the team needs the requisite data to do the job and to do it well, while on the other, the companies outsourcing are always going to be nervous about how much access to sensitive data would they be giving away. The risk of data breach, either accidental or malicious, is always high and the ensuing penalty could be significantly detrimental.

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Overcoming the Pain Points

Deployment of digital communication tools

Outsourced teams – both on and offshore – are introducing businesses to a whole new world of flexibility and agility. This is being supported by a wealth of different communication tools which allow collaboration and communication between teams across the globe in real time. With so many high-quality software tools and platforms available, communication breakdowns can be completely eliminated.

Progress reports and regular project appraisals

When a contract is drawn up with an offshore team, regular appraisals and reports have to be included in it to keep a tap on work progress. The result will be a process which is far more streamlined, one unlikely to get hung up or face too many unexpected pitfalls. It enables both the teams to stay on course and make required modifications whenever it is deemed necessary.

Temper cost reduction with a quality-oriented focus

Reducing costs and achieving better resource management are certainly two important and obvious factors for a company when it comes to outsourcing their software development work. What should also be given equal importance is the quality of work. Everything fails otherwise. Clarity is required on two fronts here. Firstly, knowing the impact the quality of the outsourced work will have on the end result. Secondly, having established evaluation criteria to identify the right partner to engage with.

Develop an in-house data security plan, Extend it to outsourced teams

A business should first understand that it is not immune to data breaches from within, and thus, should begin by drafting a high-level data security plan that covers all potential vulnerabilities.With the required processes in place the approach can then be extended to include the offshore partner. Providing them with a copy of one’s data security policy, and ensuring that the same is ratified and agreed upon before the final contract is signed would clearly underline the importance the company puts on the matter.

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If you have any queries in this field, talk to Mindfire Solutions. For over 19+ years now, we have been the preferred Software Development Partner of over 1000+ Small and Medium-sized enterprises across the globe.

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Software Development Partner for SMEs

The Importance of a Software Development Partner for SMEs?

Small and medium enterprises that been highly successful are found to have at least two things in common – relentless focus on the fundamentals of their businesses and the uncanny knack of identifying and riding on a market/technological wave. There is also another common thread that connects them all, one witnessing an exponentially rise in its relevance– ‘Information Technology’ as an enabler. Not surprisingly, the one question that gets discussed in any SME nowadays is: “How do we meet our software development needs?”

Developing software in-house is definitely an option. But it can only be pursued by trading off against investing the resources in the core business activities. The alternative course lies in outsourcing all the work to a partner who has the required expertise. Software development is a specialized field. It requires focused and continuous effort to build capabilities to deliver, and upgrade to avoid the risk of oblivion. Thus, a reliable software development partner is priceless. Here’s why

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Quality vis-a-vis Tenure?

The length of time a software partner has been in operation indicates how well it can adapt to the shifting demands of the industry and its clientele. A longish tenure essentially means that their investment in software engineering processes and related measures are robust and that the company can ascertain the benefits of expertise and flexibility in their engagement. Their deliverables, thus, are expected to be of a certain distinct level.

Technical Knowledge

It being its core area of work, a capable partner can provide quick access to technical skillsets with both depth and breadth of expertise. Building such capabilities in-house requires a continuous expenditure of time and money. The same if accessed through a partner relives an SME of a lot of headache. Infact, the services of multiple outsourcing providers can also be availed if the needs are varied, thus enabling the SMEs to be nimble-footed in responding to market opportunities.

Expense

The overall cost of establishing and maintaining a software team is quite high. It involves cost attached to hardware, software and most importantly acquiring and retaining relevant talent. Outsourcing offers the privilege of flexibility, for ramping up and down of resources, and of getting access to the exact type of technological expertise to handle exact needs and fluctuations in work generation.

Domain Knowledge

Seasoned developers with a track history of successful project execution in a certain domain can recommend the best of the industry practices while offering solutions. Domain knowledge translates to better and faster identifications of gaps, precision in technological solutions and identifying opportunities for improvisation.

Crisis Management

The true test of the character of a software partner arises during instances of crises. Software companies, which have served multiple clients over many years, end up facing multiple types & instances of crises during the tenure. The experience equips them to respond to such situations better in the future. The more diverse the experience of the partner the better the response expected.

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If the benefits of outsourcing to a partner seem businesswise prudent, then caution needs to be exercised in its execution. Just identifying a player is not good enough for the purpose. One runs the risk of being limited by the capabilities of the services provider in the long run. It needs to be ascertained that the partner is doing enough to keep pace with the rapids changes in the field of Information Technology. Besides that, exploring various models of engagement is also an important aspect of any partnership.

How much an SME truly gains out a partnership with a software development company is directly proportional to these factors mentioned above.

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If you have any queries in this field, talk to Mindfire Solutions. For over 19+ years now, we have been the preferred Software Development Partner of over 1000+ Small and Medium-sized enterprises across the globe.

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Factors Which Drive SMB IT Outsourcing

SMB IT Outsourcing

Outsourcing IT requirement to an offshore location has been a trend for companies since the last two decades among which, India is treated as the most preferable destination. Almost every company, be it SMB’s or large corporations outsource part or whole of their IT requirements to third party vendors. Affording an IT department in-house for a SMB requires manpower as well as enough funds for taking care of infrastructure. So, they look forward to SMB IT outsourcing to offshore locations in order to; control the excessive flow of funds. The funds required in outsourcing are also sizable but, it is not as higher as required for an in-house set up. In case of larger corporations, their concern of outsourcing IT would be something different. They might look forward to an offshore location to outsource expertise in a certain skill set which they themselves lack. This post will discuss in detail the various factors that drive SMB IT Outsourcing. Continue reading Factors Which Drive SMB IT Outsourcing

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