All posts by Mindfire Solutions

AI in Healthcare

AI in Healthcare Insurance

AI has transformed industries and has immense potential to reshape the healthcare landscape. Medical data like patient visits, prescriptions contain valuable information which can be extracted to create a more structured data format. This has become possible with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. This in turn offers insights into the trends and facilitates collaboration between different healthcare units. AI applications range from early detection of symptoms to potential diagnosis at a fraction of the cost and increased accuracy.

What is Optical Character Recognition?

Artificial intelligence refers to the use of Machine Learning algorithms to mimic human behavior. Say we want to create a program that takes an input and gives an output. The program uses some decision-making mechanism to arrive at an output. This is primitively done by something called IF-ELSE statements. The limitation of these statements is that one needs to know the exact condition that will produce the desired output. For example, we know the marks of a student and we want to assign a grade, we can hardcode the same using if-else statements – IF marks > 90 then grade = ‘A’. In this case, we have a clearly defined boundary that helps us arrive at our output. But what happens when we don’t have a clearly defined boundary?

Let me explain this with an example. Suppose we have an image of a letter. And we want our program to tell us which letter it is. What kind of code shall we write? This is an example of a problem that doesn’t have a clearly defined boundary. One way to solve this problem is to build a model, which does not use if-else statements but works quite differently. The idea is to feed the program an input image (say an image of ‘A’) and tell the program that it’s an ‘A’. We do this repetitively and try to get the program to learn what ‘A’ looks like. Hence, the term “Machine Learning”. We do the same for every letter or number. This falls under the computer vision category, namely Optical Character Recognition.

Overview of Natural Language Processing :

Natural language Processing is an area of AI and Linguistics and it deals with the application of computational techniques and models to the analysis of human languages. NLP deals with processing written text including but not limited to extracting useful information such as named entities, etc. This requires an understanding of what a word means, which is not something computers generally have. This too is done by learning, where a huge amount of text is fed to the model, and it will try to learn patterns and dependencies between words. In the next section, we will define a problem statement and see how an application of these two concepts can help us make better decisions faster, way faster.

Problems faced by the Healthcare Industry :

Insurance companies have certain parameters to account for when finalizing the premiums they charge for their insurance. One of the most important parameters is the medical history of the member/ insurance holder. The idea is that if a member has more cases of medical history then that member is more likely to raise a claim in the future, thereby costing more.

So the insurance companies need to know relevant details of the medical history and assign risk scores (this could be a topic for another article) corresponding to the medical history. But medical histories are generally stored in paper form. Suppose you had a doctor’s visit, everything there is generally stored in paper format. One might have had any number of tests, and these are in most cases available in paper form. Thus, going through all the paperwork of a member’s medical history is an engaging task. This might take a person anywhere between 30mins – 1 hour. So, is there a way to automate the task?

How can AI help to resolve the issue?

The first step in the process is to get the images of all our documents. The idea is to use OCR to extract the text information from images and subsequently use NLP to extract relevant information, such as diagnosis, procedure or operation, medications that the member is on, etc. There are many open-source OCR engines, one such engine is Tesseract OCR.

Tesseract is used for text detection within large documents or used in concurrence with an external text detector. It can be used directly or through an API to extract text from images. It supports Unicode and has the ability to discern more than 100 languages and can also be trained to recognize multiple languages. The current model, Tesseract 4 focuses on line recognition. It also supports the legacy Tesseract 3 in recognizing character patterns. It is compatible with many programming languages and frameworks. CNN (Convolutional Neural network) is typically used for single character whereas RNN is used for multi-characters.

The next step is to feed the image to the tesseract engine. It will give a file output that contains text extracted from the image. There are various Open source NLP engines. We then feed lines from the text file to our NLP engine which will read each line and use dependencies between words to figure out what our diagnosis, procedure or medications will be. Most NLP engines offer phrase matching capabilities, so we can look for particular phrases as well. We can narrow our search to a specific diagnosis (or any other information of relevance) as well.

Final Steps :

Once we have extracted output from the NLP engine, we can create a database that will have fields such as member name, document type, extracted information, etc. We can use the above pipeline and feed it numerous files at once and after every output, we can append the same to our database.

This process takes a mere few seconds to go through all the files of a member. Using this, we will be able to read through the medical history of thousands of members in a matter of hours.

Like other businesses, if you too are looking for Application development in AI, Mindfire Solutions can be your partner of choice. We have deep expertise in AI and ML Capabilities. With a team of highly skilled and certified software professionals, that have developed many custom solutions for our global clients over the years.

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Application Migration

Why Should Enterprises Consider Migrating Applications From .Net To Python?

Market Landscape

Technology is evolving, and keeping up with the latest trends in programming languages and computer coding provides a competitive advantage to institutions. Coding skills form a core part of the successful functioning of banks, automobiles, hospitals, and every aspect of our tech requirements. However, choosing the correct programming language in IT, data analytics, application migration, research, web designing, and engineering segments is vital.

Software development involves continual learning about programming tactics and new languages. The accelerated demand for ‘online’ has fueled the need for programming languages. It becomes vital to optimize software development capabilities to be at par with the latest trends to help better efficiency, customization, and customization and its smart implementation.

Technology Overview

What drives the success of programming languages can be determined by their implementation in the corporate and academic segments. Today, in academics, advanced-level programming holds a dominant share. Businesses can take advantage of the latest technology for their in-house training and initiate activities for employees both online and offline.

Gaining insights on the latest market trends, Python is a dynamic, free open source, and interpreted programming language that most software developers favorably consider. It supports object-oriented programming as well as procedural-oriented programming.

Python has bagged second place as the most common programming language in 2019. It has also secured third place in 2021, as per a report published by Statista. Also, Github and Google Trends reported Python as one of the most popular programming languages in the world in 2020.

On the other hand, .Net is a free and open-source, managed computer software framework for Windows, Linux, and macOS operating systems developed by Microsoft in the 90s. In 2020, The One Technologies reported .Net as one of the top frameworks for web development.

Let’s identify a much-developed technology that can enhance an enterprise’ capabilities.

.Net Features

.Net is a free-of-cost open-source platform and helps to develop: applications, websites, games, and IoT (Internet of Things). It is a cross-platform software framework that helps to create websites on Windows, Linux, and macOS. Similarly, Xamarin/Mono is a type of .Net implementation which is in use only for running apps.

.Net also has a built-in automated monitoring system named ASP.Net. The ASP.Net constantly monitors web pages and caters to issues such as memory leaks or infinite loops. The developers are notified immediately, which ensures stability in all .Net applications.

Python Components

Python is an object-oriented programming language recognized for its simplicity and readability of syntax. Global industries use this programming language to automate their tasks and analyze data. They also use it for other purposes like  website building, machine learning, and software testing. Today, Python is among the most versatile programming languages used.

Apart from programming or data sciences, Python can also also perform various tasks such as keeping track of stock prices and managing inventory.

Application migration from .Net to Python

The latest trends in the market today show that industries are vastly adopting Python for their tasks. This has become possible with application migration from existing languages to Python. Let’s learn its importance with its key components in comparison with .Net.

● .Net is a framework that supports multiple programming languages (C# (C-sharp), F# (F-sharp), and Visual Basic) for web development. On the other hand, Python is an enhanced programming language that has also developed several frameworks for web development like Django and Flask.

● To use C#, one needs to have complete knowledge of Java. In contrast, Python doesn’t have many prerequisites. Another highlighted feature of Python is that it was built on the Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle. It means writing quality code needs minimum effort.

● Syntax of Python is also much more straightforward than C#. In Python, one does not have to end every line with a semicolon. It’s very easy to read and has lots of whitespaces. If a program takes ten lines of code in C#, the same program in Python will take around 4 or 5 lines of code.

● With the help of Python, the work and duration of the project reduces to almost half.

Now let us compare Python frameworks Django and Flask with the .Net framework.

● Python has excellent compatibility with machine learning. .Net Framework offers ML.Net and libraries like Accord.NET to develop ML models. However, these models have limited applications as comapared to Python. It is one of the significant reasons why application migration to Python has become prevalent.

● All the .Net implementations have been given one standard API called .Net Standard. Along with this also a massive collection of libraries is built on .Net Standard. All of the libraries, runtime, and compiler of .Net are present on Github for free.

● The massive libraries of Python are available in source and binary form. It is also freely available for all platforms. By using Python, one of the added benefits is its large community. Unlike the .Net community, the Python community is very active and consistently adds new functionalities to its already vast collection of libraries. It means the developers can do more work on Python by doing less.

● Also, as compared to .Net Framework, Django has a much better ORM. At times, enterprises prefer Flask framework over .Net because of its lightweight and minimal nature.

Like other businesses, if you too are looking for application migration, Mindfire Solutions can be your partner of choice. We have deep expertise in .Net to Python migration. With a team of highly skilled and certified software professionals, that have developed many custom solutions for our global clients over the years.

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Cross Platform Application Development

Is React Native The Clear Choice For Cross-Platform Application Development?

Mobile Applications Overview

As of 2020, there are around 218 billion app downloads reported globally. Companies generated revenue of US $462 billion through mobile application development. According to an industry report, it is anticipated that by the end of 2023, mobile apps are expected to generate more than US $935 in revenue.

More and more enterprises are now focusing on developing their mobile applications.
Selecting the right app development platform or framework is essential, as the application would contribute to the business’s profit. Therefore, creating a user-friendly app that has a top-notch user interface is vital for them. However, making such an app is not an easy task.

The two most used mobile operating systems globally are Android and iOS. Therefore, everyone develops mobile apps for these two systems only.  Android and iOS, each of them has provided its platforms and tools to create applications. The only problem here is that apps developed on Android cannot function on the iOS platform and vice versa. “Isn’t there a way to build an app for both operating systems?’ – This is one question that people are grappling with.

It is here that cross-platform apps come into the picture. Before we know why React Native is the best choice for application development, let us understand the concept of cross-platform applications.

What Is Cross-Platform Application Development

The applications that work only on iOS or Android (works on one or the other) are called native apps. Native apps are built for a specific OS; they seamlessly integrate with the smartphone’s hardware and delivers the best UI experience possible.

Furthermore, to develop native applications on iOS and Android, an enterprise would have to hire two different teams. This means that React native applications require more workforce and money to create it. Cross-platform applications are those which are used on multiple operating systems or platforms at once. By creating a cross-platform application, developers don’t have to write different code for different OSs.

More importantly, cross-platform development saves enterprises a lot of time, and they don’t have to hire two different teams of developers. Therefore, creating cross-platform applications has become a popular choice among companies, and it has become a common practice to use this approach for app development.

There are many mobile application frameworks available for cross-platform development. React Native is one of them.

Overview Of React Native

React Native is a mobile application framework created by Facebook and made available in 2015. It’s an open-source platform. React Native uses JavaScript as its programming language.

React Native transforms the code to the native APIs that help it integrate with the device hardware.The stability that React Native provides is far better than other frameworks. A single code can create applications for different platforms. This code can also be edited in case there are any updates in the future. With the help of many pre-existing codes available on React Native, the developers can finish the assigned project faster.

The number of users for react Native have risen exponentially, since it’s release. Github in 2018 recorded it as the second-highest choice for any repositories. In current times React Native is the second most popular cross-platform application development framework.

Many world-renowned companies such as Instagram, Facebook, Flipkart, Tesla, Shopify, and others have used React Native to develop their applications.

Let us learn why React Native is the best choice for cross-platform app development.

React Native Enables Efficiency

Some reasons why React Native is a clear choice:

● One aspect that is most unique about React Native is its ability to provide code reusability. Project managers and engineers are the ones who appreciate this capability the most. It is also found that 90 % of the code written for iOS can be used on Android and vice versa.

● Another benefit of React Native is that web application code can be used for mobile application development if both are on React Native. It saves a lot of time for the companies. The price of production comes down when project duration reduces.

● The developers much appreciate the UI (User Interface) offered by React Native. As the reactive Native framework uses JavaScipt; it is responsive and has less buffering time. Hence React Native enhances the user experience.

● If developers face any problem while coding, the large community of React Native can help them resolve the issues. The community members often share their experiences. Therefore it is also possible that solutions to their problems are already available on the platform.

Now, let’s compare React Native with one of its major competitors, Flutter

Like React Native, cross platform appplications also use Flutter for application developement. But unlike React Native, Flutter uses Google’s Dart as its programming language. Dart is a new programming language as compared to JavaScript. There are instances when enterprises prefer Flutter over React Native.

Does that mean Flutter is a better choice? The answer to this question is not very straightforward. Both the frameworks have something different to offer, and one is better at some things than the other.

Here are some areas where React Native has the upper hand over Flutter.

● The advantage of choosing React Native is that developers find JavaScript a much easier language than Dart. This is the reason why finding a proficient software developer for React Native is less complicated.

● As React Native has been around longer, it is backed up by more than thousands of packages. This number is nearly five times higher than the Flutter.

● Whenever there will be a discussion on the user interface, React Native will always be a winner. The UI experience of React Native is more dynamic than Flutter’s.

● The installation and configuration process of React Native is simple. Where else, in the case of Flutter, things are a little bit complicated.

Final Thoughts

From the above pointers, we can conclude that React Native is one of the top choices for developing a cross-platform application. If you are confused about choosing between Flutter and React Native, select the platform depending on your requirements.

Lastly, you should know that the future of React Native is looking bright due to its simplicity and capability of solving development problems. That is the reason why most businesses prefer React Native for cross-platform development.

Like other businesses, if you too are looking for cross platform Application development, Mindfire Solutions can be your partner of choice. We have deep expertise in React Native . With a team of highly skilled and certified software professionals, that have developed many custom solutions for our global clients over the years.

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DevOps

The Impact of DevOps Adoption on Teams

Companies operating in the field of software development have ushered into an era of stiff challenges and expectations, unprecedented till now. Possessing the qualities of agility, accuracy and speed simultaneously are becoming imperative for survival rather than a means of maintaining a competitive edge. Under the circumstances, a DevOps culture provides a flexible, efficient approach of standing up to the demands. It does so by following a model that delivers results leveraging the dependencies that exist between the software development and operations aspects of software delivery. It balances responsibilities more evenly than in a traditional waterfall model, where developers simply turn completed code over to those in charge of operations. DevOps also establishes procedures to ensure that all team members have insights into application performance, which provides benefits such as greater collaboration and engagement between team members.

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Improved Collaboration

Traditional software development happens in phases. There are teams mapped to each phase and each team is entrusted with the responsibility of playing its part in the successful completion of the phase it is involved in or responsible for.  The result of this approach is that the ownership of a team gets too confined only to the successful execution of the part it deals with. Thus, each team tends to be most concerned with achieving its own objectives instead of meeting the organization’s ultimate business goals. As long as projects get executed successfully, the fissures that exist beneath do not come to the forefront. It is only in the moments of crisis that the lack of synergy becomes apparent and sometimes takes gigantic proportions resulting in the partial or complete derailment of projects.

DevOps neutralizes this possibility completely. The approach requires all team members to be equally dedicated in meeting the broad goals while also focussing on their individual ones. This leads to improving collaboration between people across the development and operations teams. This model eliminates the possibility of working in silos. Members across teams remain fully committed to the software throughout its development life cycle to ensure that their project’s overall goals are met. Accountability for successful delivery lies with all. This compels employees to get more involved in working together.

More Engagement

One of the primary goals of DevOps is to shorten the development life cycle while still delivering software that meets business objectives. The shorter development cycle essentially means a higher frequency of code releases followed by exposing these releases to scrutiny for the detection of bugs within the code, infrastructure and configuration. The pace at which things get done is brisk. There are no slack periods for teams anymore waiting for their phases to begin. All this brings about a high degree of engagement for all the members involved in a project. And it can be intense at times. The results are equally impressive. Industry reports have indicated that the failure rate of organizations with a DevOps culture is 60 times lower than those that don’t.

Higher Efficiency

DevOps uses a workflow that emphasizes on continuous delivery (CD) and continuous integration (CI). The efficiency that gets infused results in software getting delivered faster and with a higher frequency. Automated testing and integration tools are also key elements in DevOps practices. It makes the IT staff more efficient by eliminating the need for them to perform repetitive tasks. Developers no longer need to wait for code integration processes to complete, which can otherwise get quite time-consuming.

DevOps platforms offer opportunities for improving efficiency and increasing the predictability of cloud-based solutions like Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). These platforms use a scalable infrastructure to reduce testing and deployment times by increasing available hardware resources during this period. They also provide DevOps as a service, such as Azure DevOps. AWS also provides a set of services specifically intended to help organizations implement DevOps practices.

Exposure & Learning

Employees are generally happier and more productive under the DevOps model, largely because it focuses more on performance than anything else. There are fewer administrative obstacles and greater sharing of risk, which allows individuals to blossom. Members in both development and operations teams prefer DevOps because they get exposed to multiple roles, resulting in their getting a better understanding of project execution and the business as a whole. This experience is more rounded, fulfilling and increases job satisfaction considerably.

Better Results

The improved collaboration between teams and the ensuing efficiency has a direct impact on reducing the time needed to build software. Collaboration encourages a proactive approach amongst team members in putting their act together. All this eventually reduces the time needed to bring a product to market. This benefit is particularly important in competitive markets where the ability to deliver software on time has a direct impact on the revenue and market share. With the DevOps approach not only is the speed looked after but also the quality of the outcome. It also increases customer satisfaction when they receive a comprehensive product sooner than expected, with all the promised benefits delivered quality-wise. To achieve this end goal can be a highly fulfilling experience for all the members involved in giving shape to the software.

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A DevOps culture improves the collaboration between groups with historically distinct roles, especially people in software development and operations. This practice provides many other benefits that generally result in the faster delivery of software. DevOps practices also improve the engagement of team members by making them responsible for projects throughout their entire life cycle, rather than a specific phase of the project. The increasing availability of tools is making it easier for organizations to implement DevOps practices, allowing team members to automate many of the tasks needed to develop, test and maintain code.

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If you have any queries in this field, talk to 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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NLP Image

Impact of NLP on Healthcare Industry

Natural language processing (NLP), along with machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, and image recognition, are all branches of artificial intelligence (AI). The goal of NLP software is to build computer systems that will accept input in the form of spoken or written language and will provide spoken or written output i.e. communicate as if the computer system were a human.

Thanks to devices and applications like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana, much of the world’s population has at least a passing familiarity with NLP. It is being used today to perform a wide range of tasks across many industries. Until recently though, healthcare organizations have lagged behind others in capturing the benefits NLP delivers. However, it’s beginning to catch up.

Here are several use cases for NLP in healthcare that are already enhancing the field. Each of these will contribute to the larger digital transformation of healthcare as technology continues to advance.

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Medical Coding and Billing

NLP streamlines the way medical coders extract diagnostic, procedural and other clinical information. Rather than a coder reading documents and converting them to alphanumeric codes, NLP reads them and submits the codes to the coder for verification. This allows the human coder to work on documents that NLP cannot process accurately, and reduces the overall expense of coding medical information. In the end, more accurate and thorough coding results in more accurate and timely billing.

Virtual Nursing Assistants

The rise of virtual nursing assistants capable of communicating with patients using NLP is underway. Regular communication between patients and the nursing bot extends care beyond the walls of the clinic room without burdening existing resources. Adherence to the patient’s care plan can be monitored, and triggers can notify providers of issues that need human attention. Patients can receive round-the-clock access to support and answers, including help with medication. Researchers in this field estimate virtual nursing assistants will reduce U.S. healthcare costs $20 billion by 2026.

Robot-Assisted Surgery

Some surgical robots use AI to apply information obtained from prior surgeries to the current case, leading to progressively better outcomes. Beyond the many well-known advantages, robotic surgery delivers, adding an NLP component allows surgeons to query the system and to direct its actions verbally.

Reducing “EHR Burnout”

Recent studies have indicated that healthcare providers spend nearly half of each day updating electronic health records and doing other administrative work, which is a matter of concern. It leaves them with very less time to perform their core functions of examining and discussing clinical, diagnostic and treatment information with patients in a face-to-face environment.

Entering and managing patient information is a major contributor to physician burnout. More than half of physicians surveyed in a Physician’s Foundation 2018 study, reported entering data into the EHR reduces their efficiency and detracts them from their interaction with patients. Systems that use NLP allow physicians to enter notes into the EHR by speaking to it. This saves time versus having to type. Besides, it also allows patients to amend or correct what the doctor is entering into the EHR.

Other Important Use Cases

While improving the clinical value of EHRs and reducing physician burnout is one of the most pressing challenges among healthcare organizations, NLP is contributing to the digital transformation of healthcare in several other ways. For example, NLP is helpful in

While improving the clinical value of EHRs and reducing physician burnout is one of the most pressing challenges among healthcare organizations, NLP is contributing to the digital transformation of healthcare in several other ways. For example, NLP is helpful in

  • Comforting patients who become confused and anxious because they do not understand the data being presented to them through a portal website. For instance, NLP can explain the meaning of abbreviations and medical terminology. Rather than leaving the patient to worry or call the physician to explain the report, NLP can educate and possibly also calm the patient.
  • Offering summarized updates of key ideas, concepts, and conclusions contained in large volumes of clinical notes, journal articles and other narrative texts gives practitioners quick access to volumes of information that would otherwise require a lot of time to read through.
  • Easy extraction of data from free-form text and insertion into fixed-field data files, such as the structured fields in an EHR.
  • Handling a physician’s free-form spoken or text query, which is especially useful for queries that require gathering and organizing data from multiple sources.
  • NLP and other AI components can also accelerate the movement away from fee-for-service models and toward value-based healthcare by organizing unstructured health data derived from EHRs and other sources. Much of that “hidden” big data can shed light on health outcomes for entire populations of patients, which has been impractical until recently.

 

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If you have any queries in this field, talk to 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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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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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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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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Best PHP Development Tools for Developers in 2018

10 Best PHP Development Tools for Developers in 2018Unlike other programming languages, PHP was designed with features to simplify web application development. In addition to being a mature web programming language, PHP has been evolving consistently. The new language features provided by PHP 7 enables programmers to improve performance of web applications without increasing memory consumption. The developers can further accelerate custom website and web application development by leveraging a number of full-stack and lightweight PHP web frameworks like Laravel, CodeIgniter, CakePHP, Zend, Yii and Slim. Likewise, they can take advantage of a number of robust PHP development tools to write web applications rapidly according to varied business requirements. They can even use these PHP development tools to extend various web frameworks. Continue reading Best PHP Development Tools for Developers in 2018

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10 Best Ruby Web Frameworks in 2018

10 Best Ruby Web Frameworks in 2018In addition to being a general purpose programming language, Ruby supports object-oriented, functional, and imperative programming paradigms. The programming language further focuses on simplicity and productivity. Its expressive syntax rules enable programmers to build web applications by writing natural-to-read code. Many developers even opt for Ruby to create prototypes without putting extra time and effort.
. Continue reading 10 Best Ruby Web Frameworks in 2018

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