Category Archives: Thoughts

Distributed IT Team

Overcoming the Obstacles of Running Geographically Distributed IT Teams

What it means to operate an IT team has evolved in recent years. Today’s teams are more efficient, flexible, and streamlined than the ones of the past, and much of this is because of a constant desire amongst people in business to enhance their capabilities and to harness the power of the latest technologies. Earlier, it was a given that the key players in a team would have to operate together in one building, or in close proximity. But this way of doing business had its drawbacks, which became evident over the years. There wasn’t room for personal flexibility for one. Also, sticking to this approach had a financial bearing as well.

Over time, technology opened up possibilities to revolutionize the way teams could function, and IT industry was amongst the frontrunners to seize the opportunity. From using video conferencing and Skype to deploying apps like Slack or GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar, teams can leverage technology to have virtual meetings anywhere – which essentially means that the members can work from anywhere too! However, there are challenges of operating a geographically dispersed team. Let’s examine what they are, the impact, and how seasoned business leaders overcome them and manage to get the most out of their teams.

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Perceived power imbalance

According to an article in HBR if more team members are consolidated in one location or they are in the locations that are geographically close to that of the team leader, then there’s a perception that these people have more power or access to power. This can lead to a feeling of isolation for the other team members or for that matter a feeling of complacency amongst the ones closer. Either way, it negatively affects the overall team morale. Since it is not possible to change the geographic locations of members, team leaders can implement creative strategies to diffuse false perceptions. For e.g., a team leader may need to give particular “power” assignments to those who are farther away from the headquarters or who are working in smaller groups.

Cultural insensitivity

Global teams will naturally contain people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Most people will not know everything there is to know about every other team member’s culture. This can lead to some awkward situations, to say the least. It could even lead to some people responding in culturally insensitive ways. One of the ways to nip in the bud is to raise the topic up in common meetings and suggesting that more often than not these problems are due to errors of judgment, ignorance and not malice. That they can be addressed by increasing one’s awareness of other’s cultures.

Language barriers

Usually, the prominent language in IT global teams is English. However, this is unlikely to be the native tongue for many of the team members. Those whose native language is English are likely to have an advantage in meetings with their peers. The less fluent speakers may feel shy about speaking up even if their ideas are good. Leaders can help overcome this impediment by setting forth guiding principles for discussions. An e.g. could be to suggest that the more fluent speakers slow down their speech and refrain from using difficult phrases. In addition, they might limit the amount of time they are given to talk and urge the less fluent speakers to speak more.

Lack of proper technology

The technology for high-level collaboration and remote communication is out there in the market. It is just that many businesses do not use them correctly. For any organization, there has to be some research done to correctly identify the optimal technological solutions they need to operate efficiently. There are multiple products options available in the market for each type of functions that facilitate collaboration for geographically dispersed teams. Getting the right ones is the key and can make the difference between building synergy and causing disruption.

Lack of good leadership

Diversified teams must have exemplary leadership at the helm. Without it, the teams will quickly fall apart. Besides having the required technical expertise the person in charge of leading such teams must have a global mindset, possess high emotional intelligence, and know the art of mending fissures when they appear.

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Conclusion

In a connected world, as businesses look to the future, geographically dispersed IT teams is a reality that has to be dealt with. For companies with a global outlook, not only is this approach a practical step forward but also one which can be harnessed to their advantage. The key is to recognize that the obstacles that exist are perpetual in nature and have to be dealt with on an ongoing basis.

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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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Confused Face

Musings : Relevance of Asking Questions & Sharing Ideas

Few incidents in the recent past brought back memories of my days in school. Although the narration is a personal one, I am sure many readers would identify themselves
or their friends with it. I was, as a matter of fact, quite a naughty kid and reasonable in studies :).

I would, in particular, be quite terrified on the days we had a question-and-answer session with the teachers. I would put in my best efforts by finding a seat in advance and do my best in concealing myself behind a friend with a more generous built. It would thus reduce the chances of my getting noticed and being at the receiving end of questions.

I would do the same thing if I had doubts on certain topics or sections in a passage..I was always shy and afraid of asking questions. I would be concerned about what my teachers, my classmates, and my friends would think if I asked a worthless one. I stuck to this habit through my days at high school, thus risking to perpetuate my stupidity.

However, as years went by, I felt my outlook beginning to change, not sure how and why; could well be due to the maturity and experience that age brings along, generally so to say.

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The turning point was in a class on Data Structures, taken by one of the better-known professors in our institute. He was explaining Binary Trees that day. Having explained, he said in an emphatic voice “Am I Clear?

And guess what, the school kid who was always shy to ask questions in early days.. stood up and said. “I didn’t get it”… The lecturer asked

” Is there anybody else?”. And to my surprise, the most intelligent person in our batch stood up as well!

So the professor went ahead and explained the concepts again. I did not hold back this time either and got up and said, “I still didn’t get it, sir”. I could not help it. The act seemed out of nature to me, but I was finding a strange degree of comfort doing it. On the third instance though, the professor remarked, “If you understood it’s good, and if not then it’s “excellent” ;).” Perhaps he got irritated.

Later in the day, the professor called me to his cabin and explained the concept again. To my surprise, he claimed that he was on purpose not explaining things the way he should have in order to check how attentive we were in the class. And that he was not surprised that I failed to understand him every time; indicating that I was the one paying attention.

The incident was a special one for me.  I had managed to overcome my fears and also realized the importance of asking questions. The fact that one should not hesitate to ask. If done with the right intention, one need not get bogged down thinking whether the question will be looked upon as silly or irrelevant. Questions can in fact sometimes lead to throwing up of bright ideas, which might bring about significant happenings, including recognition to the seeker.

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In my professional career so far, I have seen many instances where people hold themselves back from asking questions, only to repent later. Or for that matter hesitate to share their thoughts/ideas. The fear of embarrassment of being judged unfavorably by peers or seniors tends to act as a deterrent. But what they don’t realize is that by not asking questions and letting their doubts persist, they rely on assumptions to act. And in the event of these assumptions going wrong, they set themselves up for disaster. Besides, they also lose out on opportunities to address matters better. Smart questions can lead to better solutions and recognition. Sitting back and allowing questions to die in one’s mind or waiting for others every time to ask is asking too less of oneself.

To all of those who are shy, hesitant or worried about what others may think of their questions, I hope my learnings help you get over your inhibitions. If you happen to work in the field of technology, you are at an advantage already. For the frantic pace of change almost entitles you to ask/share. So every time you feel an itch,approach your peers first, reach out to others in your organization, and if you sense a need to go beyond, connect to the world at large. We have enough tools and channels at our disposal today to facilitate that. Be fearless and ask as many questions as you can think off or share your thoughts/ideas. Just remember if you will not ask/share, then someone else will and you will be left wondering later ” Oh Shoot!  I thought of the same as well“.

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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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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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Blazor

Blazor : Will it slay the JavaScript/SPA Frameworks?

It has been a long time since Microsoft allowed support of .NET directly on client-side. The last attempt was with Silverlight which got famous when it launched but due to lack of support from browsers and security concerns it stopped; like what happened to Adobe Flash.

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What is BLAZOR?

Blazor is an attempt to bring .NET core to the browser directly which allows supported language like C# to run directly on the browser. Blazor allows developing Single Page Application (SPA) very quickly and by using a single language on both server and client.

Blazor allows having features similar to any other SPA framework like Routing, Template, Binding – one or two way, Rendering, etc.

The name comes by combining Browser and  MVC Razor i.e Blazor.

How does it work?

It entirely relies on WebAssembly (Wasm). Wasm was developed in 2015, to run high-level language directly on browsers. It is supported by W3C which means it is standard and could be utilized by different platform too. There are runtimes available to run C++ codes on browsers too. Since it is from W3C all latest browsers generally have the support of Wasm.

Blazor runs via Wasm but in-between there needs to be a runtime. Mono Wasm allows required .NET assemblies downloads on browser directly which runs on Mono Wasm Virtual Machine.

What are all advantages of Blazor?

  • A single roof of programming language to build client and server-side codes.
  • Wasm is generally faster than JavaScript (JS) because those are binary/compiled code. No need for parsing of scripts.
  • A typed system, a fewer scope of errors due to same. Razor, model binding, etc.
  • All sweet features of C# and .NET core: Dependency Injection (DI), delegates/events, etc.
  • Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to allow a rich experience to develop applications quickly with many provided inbuilt or plug-in supported features.
  • A fallback approach to enable Blazor to run if Wasm is not available to any browser.
    No issue of Garbage collection like all .NET platform, Mono Wasm supports it too.

Limitations of Blazor

  • Still is in the development phase, not recommended for production use.
  • Limited debugging support of Blazor codes since it runs on Wasm.
  • No way to access DOM elements has to rely on JavaScript for same.
  • The second biggest, there is not much components/control available in Blazor to have richer User Experience (UX). Like as simple as AutoSuggestion, we have to rely on JavaScript plugin for same.

Demo of Blazor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGj49kaYPEc
The source code used in demo: https://github.com/viku85/BlazorDemo

Conclusion and Future

Blazor is easy to use with minimal effort in comparison to any JS SPA framework available in the market. Since it is on .NET, there is less learning curve for people coming from the .NET environment.

A lot of changes and development is going on with Blazor, many refinements, performance improvements, feature add-ons but still not having a final version to use on production.
I believe with the support of controls like Kendo or inbuilt controls in Blazor, application development would be much quicker and feature rich.

We need to wait for the final release (if it happens) and a wide variety of supported controls which may kill JS Frameworks at least in the Microsoft development environment.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. An avid techie, Vikash enjoys sharing his thoughts on computing and technology in his personal blog.
To know more about our company, please click on Mindfire Solutions. 

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Musings : The Conundrum of Solving Problems

“It’s elementary, my dear Watson! Or, is it (anymore)?”, Sherlock Homes

I haven’t read much of Sherlock Holmes. Of course, I’d like to. Though, I have seen the latest movies where Robert Downey Jr. has done a marvelous job. The fan inside me certainly woke up and took notice of certain mannerisms attributed to the Holmes’ character.

Coming straight to the point now, to the headline/phrase, which is why I am writing this. This phrase has proved itself numerous times (i.e., QED-ed) in several different contexts I have found myself observing, mostly during problem-solving analyses. I am sure this has been the case with most of you reading this – How often do people lose hold of elementary stuff! –  At work or in personal life, making decisions on worthless or utmost important objective question-marks or complex/subjective problems they face. Just look around and see what’s happened in only the last 3 months in your own work-life/personal-life setting (Not in/about your own life; Of others you are connected with – it is just a bit easier then.). You’ll perhaps need a counter. I know I would. ( PS: Don’t get into politics, otherwise “To infinity and beyond!”. There’s no need to count.)

How often do you feel that people don’t sit down or stop for a moment to actually think about a problem, its root-causes (fish-bone anyone?), or just the priority/severity (action-priority matrix, anyone?). If you just make a wild guess why they do not have time to think (time-management, anyone?), you might just be surprised. “They just don’t!” will also feature in the top root-causes, for sure, at least in today’s age. That’s the most frightening/eye-opening one.

What is/are, actually, the real problem(s) then?  Is it too much work? Too much stress? Too many distractions? Too many threads? Too much pseudo-social life (Yes, here you can add FB, WA etc.)? Too much of day-to-day randomly going about the wild-goose chases, i.e. everything is important, everyone is important, everything takes (the same) priority, everything is work, every possibility has to be explored etc., everything has to be perfect, everyone’s impression about my work/life (yes, here you can add “my image”) is important?

PS: Of course, “Couldn’t care less!” (the don’t-care bit is set) doesn’t count for anything.

Probably, someone else, up there, is one of the root-causes then!

What do you think? Your comments are welcome.

 

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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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Printing Management Software

Print Management Software

Veteran Bruce Engles had recently taken a huge loan to fulfill his long-cherished dream of expanding his business. An innovative and versatile businessman himself, he had overcome all sorts of odds in life with utmost ease. But, this time around, surprisingly Bruce found himself acting nervous. His struggle seemed to stem from an array of hurdles that needed to be overcome to successfully proceed with the expansion plans. Plus, he had never taken a loan of this size. Continue reading Print Management Software

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IT Outsourcing Trends for 2018

IT Outsourcing Trends for 2018There was a time when enterprises were outsourcing IT services to reduce operational expenses. But a large percentage of enterprises nowadays focus on the value of IT services and credibility of the IT service provider. Several studies suggest that IT services industry will grow steadily throughout 2018. But the enterprises will opt for IT outsourcing services to leverage next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), mixed realities, and big data analytics. The landscape for outsourced product development is ever changing. The enterprises will also look for outsourcing partners with the capability to automate business processes and operations more innovative way. Here are some IT outsourcing trends which will impact and shape the industry in the years to come. Continue reading IT Outsourcing Trends for 2018

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Flask vs Django

Flask vs DjangoA web developer has option to choose from a wide range of web frameworks while using Python as server-side programming languages. He can take advantage of the full-stack Python web frameworks to accelerate development of large and complex web applications by availing a number of robust features and tools. Likewise, he can also opt for micro and lightweight Python web frameworks to build simple web applications without putting extra time and effort. Continue reading Flask vs Django

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Pros and Cons of CodeIgniter Framework

Pros and Cons of CodeIgniter Framework

The web developers can execute PHP code in a number of ways. They can embed PHP code into HTML code seamlessly. Likewise, they can combine PHP code with a number of web frameworks. But most programmers prefer combining PHP code with popular web frameworks for custom web applications development rapidly without writing additional code. The web frameworks even make it easier for users to accomplish common web development frameworks. At present, CodeIgniter is one of the one of the widely used PHP frameworks. Continue reading Pros and Cons of CodeIgniter Framework

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Fitness Delivers Swiftness

Fitness Delivers Swiftness

If we jot down our new year goals, most of us will have “fitness” as the common one. We vowed at the end of 2017 that we will strive for an aerobicised body by the end of 2018. Now, let us analyze for how many years we have been pledging to do it. Probably for quite a few years!

Majority of us have been working in IT industries for a long time. We have had a very sedentary lifestyle all these years. We are desk-bound for the predominant part of our days, so much that if Yamraj sums up the hours of an IT engineer sitting at his computer in his life, the result will pretty much add up to the engineer’s whole life. Hope the lord then shows us some mercy. Continue reading Fitness Delivers Swiftness

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