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Competent and flexible help when it comes to offshore software development. Offshore Outsourcing individual software development. If you are looking for an IT partner who solves your software problems, supports your team ...

Offshore Software Development: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Virtual Teams

Offshore Software Development: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Virtual TeamsIn today's competitive business environment, small- and medium-sized businesses are often edged out by their larger counterparts. Until now, large multinational corporations enjoyed the advantage of having affordable resources spread out across the globe. Their use of offshore software development meant that they could get the custom software they needed at a fraction of the cost of utilizing in house employees. Times have changed, though, and now businesses of every size can regain the competitive edge by outsourcing "software development" .As many executives can attest, however, shepherding projects through to completion using virtual teams can have both advantages and disadvantages. Here is an overview of both:Benefits of Virtual Software Development TeamsThere are several direct benefits of virtual teams. Because they are global in nature, you can take advantage of high degrees of expertise while paying much less than the prevailing wage. Since all parties come together for a single purpose, utilizing an "offshore software development" company also leads to shorter project durations and balanced team resources. Further, because the team members work from various locations, the risks are more evenly distributed. There are also terrific intangible benefits to using virtual software development teams. You can have access to highly trained specialists who not only use their expertise to further your project, but who can also share their knowledge with others in your company. Your project can also conform to best practices by implementing quality standards. In addition, you gain the benefit of increased flexibility by having the ability to add team members as the project becomes more complex or labor intensive. This can lead to extremely agile software development.Drawbacks of Virtual Software Development TeamsVirtual teams have unique characteristics. Unlike long-time staff members who work in the same office, the collaboration on virtual teams is temporary and usually limited to specific projects. This can be a benefit, since the team shares a vision and works toward the same goal, but it can also be a project's downfall, since there may be no infrastructure in place to support quality control and intra-team communication. In addition, virtual team members often speak different languages and work in different time zones, which can make effective communication difficult. Cultural differences can translate into project delays when days of worship or national or regional holidays interfere with deadlines. Overcoming Obstacles and Maximizing BenefitsWhile there are both advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing software development, the benefits ultimately outweigh the pitfalls. It's not easy, however, to develop the know-how and management style to successfully supervise virtual teams. In order to do so, it's helpful to look to an offshore software development company that specializes in distributed software development in virtual teams. Their consulting services and training courses can help you develop procedures to avoid problems and increase the effectiveness of your processes. They can also assist you in preparing your employees to become members of virtual teams as well as provide the technical infrastructure to ensure success.

How To Set Up Your Small Office Home Office And Save $1000s

How To Set Up Your Small Office Home Office And Save $1000s

When starting out in business there are great temptations to buy "the best of everything" and spend too much money in the process. This is one of the potentially devastating mistakes that new companies make and it can be a killer from the start.It is the intention of this article to help you avoid spending thousands of unnecessary dollars when setting up your Small Office Home Office (SOHO). It addresses your PC and the software that you buy for it.First off, think of your PC as a business tool only. Don't fall for the temptation to buy a PC that is also a game machine or a video player to watch movies with. This way, you will reduce the amount of money you spend.Equipment You Should Have PC - You can buy a great PC from several places including Dell, Gateway, Best Buy, and CompUSA for about $500.00. Your PC should have a minimum of a 1.2GHz processor, 512MB of memory, and a 40GB hard drive. It should include: * A sound card or integrated sound chip. The sound card/chip will have ports for a microphone, "in-line" (which you may never need but allows for other equipment sound input) and speakers.* A video card or integrated chip which your monitor plugs into and also drives your video display. * USB 2.X ports. USB ports are the interfaces where USB cables plug into your computer. USB cables allow you to attach equipment like your mouse, printer, and Scanner.* PCI slots. These are interfaces on Mother Board that allow you to add cards with customized functionality to the PC. They are also the places where video cards and sound cards are attached.Mouse - I recommend that you get a Wireless Optical Mouse. The price of Wireless Optical Mouses (or is it Mice?) has come down so far that there is no reason to have the old kind. The convenience of being untethered from the PC cannot be adequately described. Monitor - I still have the old fashioned CRT (TV type) of monitor but when this one goes I will get a Flat Panel Display. The prices have dropped enough to afford one.Printer - You will need a laser or inkjet printer for everyday tasks like seeing how your web pages come out on paper. You can print ebooks or reports. Many people find it difficult to read from the monitor and like to print much of what they read.You can buy a good inkjet printer for about $50.00. If you do a lot of printing it will last at least one or two years. The advantage of buying inexpensive printers is each year the manufacturers come out with new printers that are better than the previous year so you always get better quality for a lower price.Operating System - the Operating System is the machine code software that makes your PC run. It is the brains of the PC. It is worth the cost of Windows XP to have a PC that has thousands of compatible programs available to it. Applications Word Processor - You are going to need a word processor to do business. You will need to communicate with suppliers, your bank, and with customers. Your word processor should be able to output documents and read documents with the .doc extension. The extension is three or four characters with a "period" in front that tells the computer what kind of program to use to process your file or document. WYSIWYG Editor - If you plan to have a website, you will either need to pay someone $2,000.00 or more to do it for you or you will have to do it yourself. If you are starting on a low budget, then you will probably want to do it yourself.You should really have a WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) editor like Microsoft FrontPage or Macromedia Dreamweaver. What a WYSIWYG editor does is take the information that you visually create on a web page and translate it into the HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) computer code that make the web page show up in the Browser like Internet Explorer or Netscape. Two free applications you should download are Adobe Acrobat Reader at www.adobe.com and Macromedia Flash Player at www.macromedia.If you follow these recommendations, you will have everything you need to get your "Small Office" "Home Office" set up and ready to go.

Boost employee morale with an exiting adventure team building event!

Boost employee morale with an exiting adventure team building event!

Corporations faced with a bout of low employee morale should organise exiting team building events to turn things around. Depending on the company budget available, there are lots of team building activities that can be implemented. Corporate event planners can organize a trip to a resort and run a myriad of group activities that encourage collaboration between co-workers.What are some of the team building ideas that would make the event a success? Infusing a sense of adventure and fun would be the ultimate aim of these corporate events. Organizing a paintball event encourages teamwork, collaboration and competition amongst teammates and opponents. Other team building activities that would be suitable would be treasure hunts or even canoeing or kayaking. Apart from that, specialized adventure team building retreats with obstacle courses could prove to be ideal for a corporate event. Some of the physical challenges here include monkey bars, ravine crossing, climbing walls, tire runs and stainless steel cables. Participants can be grouped into teams and encouraged to compete against one another. With this, elements such as collaboration and teamwork can be incorporated into the group during the team building event.Another form of team building such as the geo-caching activity utilizes the combination of natural and technology elements in a mixed urban and rural environment. With a basic concept that is somewhat similar to the Amazing Race, participants are given clues to locate the next clue hidden in caches in a city or park area. Thus, logic, knowledge, collaboration and teamwork would all need to be put into place in order to decipher the clues and move on to the next location. Maps and GPS units are provided to teams for directional assistance. Geo-caching team building programs can incorporate physical challenges such as cross-country skiing, short walks through the city or parks, or even cycling or rowing. Depending on the objective of the corporate event, physical elements will help to increase difficulty level of the geo-caching activity.

Handling Challenging Situations with a Customer-Focused Mindset

Handling Challenging Situations with a Customer-Focused Mindset

Most Customer Service Professionals deal with many challenging customer situations. These situations may include: A customer who is upset about the quality or delivery of our product/service. A product return or a cancellation of services. Incorrect information given to the customer. A customer who is negative toward your company due to past experiences. Confrontational issues and conflict. Angry customers. Explaining a company policy or procedure. Fielding a request to escalate a call to management.The ultimate goal in these challenging situations is to provide a win-win solution. We want our customer to leave the interaction feeling listened to, well taken care of, and valued. A customer-focused mindset will have a tremendous impact on accomplishing these goals. Along with customer focus, an invaluable tool for dealing with challenging situations is the Five-Step Process.The Five-Step ProcessHave you ever been an upset customer, calling your product or service provider with a serious problem? If you receive a satisfactory resolution AND you feel listened to, well taken care of, and valued during your interaction, arent you likely to consider doing business with this company again? The Five-Step Process will help us to provide our customers with this positive experience. Aside from reaching a win-win solution, the goal of the Five-Step Process is to leave our customers feeling listened to, well taken care of, and valued. Lets examine the specific steps of the Five-Step Process.Step 1 StrategizeHow do you develop a strategy? Develop your goal for the interaction. What do you want as the end result? (i.e., save the customer, resolve an issue, etc) Identify your parameters: what can you do or provide the customer independently or with your supervisors approval? What CANT you do because of policy or business reasons? Prepare by identifying common problems and win-win solutions.Your strategy should be to arrive at a solution that will be a win for both your company and the customer. If you are successful, you will retain the customer, exceed the customers expectations, and provide a very positive customer experience so that he/she will want to continue doing business with your company.Step 2 AcknowledgeThe acknowledgement is essential to communicating in challenging situations. Use phrases like, I understand how you feel, I see, I apologize, I am sorry, I can see how you might feel that way so that customers feel that they have been heard and that we respect them. It clears the way for us to move forward by helping diffuse the emotion and placing us on the side of the customer.Step 3 ClarifySometimes we mistakenly proceed to resolve a problem based on what we THINK the customer was saying. This third step of the process allows us to clarify and draw out information to make sure that we understand the customers true concern. Examples of clarifying might include: What I hear you saying isis that right? Can you tell me more about..? How may I help you.? What were you hoping would happen?Clarifying leads us to the appropriate solution in a more efficient manner.Step 4 Present ResolutionThe fourth step is to present a resolution. Presenting a resolution is not a challenge if weve done the first three steps properly. As we present the resolution, we want to state specifically what we are going to do for the customer. We may also offer alternatives. Note: As we discussed in Step 1: Strategize, it is critical to understand your parameters what you CAN do for the customer and what you CANT do.Step 5 CheckbackThe checkback is our opportunity to make sure that the customer is satisfied and feels good about the resolution.Examples of checkbacks include: How does that sound? What do you think about x? Are you with me? Does that make sense? Will that meet your needs? Would that be satisfactory?Applying the Five-Step ProcessThe following example illustrates a customer-focused approach, using the Five-Step Process.Step 1: Strategize: Our strategy is to retain the customer whenever possible. We want to provide the customer with a positive experience while balancing both the business and customer needs. We dont want to simply accept return merchandise since we know we will lose the customer.A customer calls to complain about the quality of the product he received.Step 2: Acknowledge: I apologize that the product was not of the quality that you expected. I understand your frustration. I can help.Step 3: Clarify: In order for us to improve on the quality and for me to better serve you, may I ask what specific areas were of poor quality?Step 4: Present Resolution: We would be happy to exchange the product for a similar product of higher quality.Step 5: Checkback: Would that be satisfactory?Depending on the customers responses, we may actually have to go through the Five-Step Process many times during one customer interaction. The Five-Step Process will help you to avoid becoming argumentative by lessening the conflict and opening dialogue with the customer. It will assist you in providing a more positive customer experience.Terence R. Traut is the president of Entelechy, Inc., a company that helps organizations unlock the potential of their people through customized training programs in the areas of sales, management, customer service, and training. Terence can be reached at 603-424-1237 or ttraut@unlockit.com. Check out Entelechy's website at www.unlockit.com.

Miami Real Estate

Miami is currently one of the richest real estate area in the United States. Buying a property there will allow you live near the most famous beaches in the world, and in the same time you will be enjoying the urban comforts that a city can offer you.The Miami Real Estate recently received a boost from the constructions made by some of the most notable real estate investors, like Donald Trump plus many others. If you are looking to take luxury living to the next level you should definitely buy Miami Beach Condos.Just imagine the benefits that you will get by living in such a Miami Beach Condo. You will have the opportunity to spend your time on world's most famous beaches, do shopping, and join high quality restaurants just by walking a short distance from your condo. Another great thing is the view that your new condo is going to give you. The city has changed a lot in the last 10 years, thanks to the premium real estate investment made there, right now the city is full of life. Its population has grown significantly during the last years. Be happy, enjoy life, your first step to happiness could be buying a Miami Beach Condo.Miami is famous for the beaches, the nightlife, the history, the style, and can be a perfect destination for anyone. You will have the opportunity to purchase some modest condos or ultra luxury condos. No matter what you are after, living there it's going to make your life a dream. Just imagine the glamorous life style that this city is going to offer you. This is the reason why many Hollywood celebrities love Miami.

Checklist for Your Metal Building Project

Many companies will save money when they operate in a metal building. Metal buildings are cheaper to construct than conventional methods and can be built in about half the time. Not only will a business save money in construction costs, but in maintenance costs over the life of the building. Metal buildings are also more adaptable than other types of buildings as they can have a column-free interior, thus allowing any floor-plan configuration needed for maximum production, storage, or personnel capacity.Therefore, if a business is considering a construction project for a new building, then it is necessary to have all the facts on metal buildings. For example, "metal buildings" of today are not the limited use and unsightly structures that were built in the past. To the contrary, thanks to recent innovations, metal buildings are used for a variety of applications--from small, one-car garages to large, aircraft hangars able to accommodate jumbo jets. For any construction plans, there is a basic checklist to consider that will help you with a metal building project and should be considered and understood before undertaking any metal building project. The checklist defines the roles of the people involved in the project and is listed below.The Construction Project is all encompassing and includes all materials that make up the metal building system and work that needs to be completed at the jobsite. The foundation work, land preparation, and finish work should also be included in the definition of a complete building project. The Contract Documents are the legal instruments defining the work and materials needed to complete the construction project. For a metal building construction project, it is normal to have separate documents for the contractor, general contractor, and metal building dealer. Contract documents, at a minimum, outline the work to be completed, pricing, timeline, and any other requirements that are applicable to the metal building project.The Contractor is that person who will supply materials and complete the erection of the metal building system.The Dealer (an independent contractor) is that person who will order and purchase the metal building system from the supplier. The Dealer resells the building to the end-user and may or may not be the person to complete erection or provide other services to complete the metal building project.The Designer is the person responsible for the design of the metal building. The Designer can be an architect or engineer that is hired to implement the desired and required design specifications for the metal building project. This would include the metal building system and its erection. The Designer can also assist in the overseeing of the construction project to ensure contract compliance.The End-user owns the metal building construction project for eventual occupation, leasing, and future sale of the metal building.The Erector assembles or erects the metal building system. The Erector could also be the contractor, general contractor, or a third party working under a sub-contractor.The General Contractor is responsible for providing all the materials and work for the metal building project as itemized in the contract documents.The Metal Building Supplier designs and supplies the materials for the metal building project.Review all of the above aspects of the various personnel involved in a metal building project and have a clear understanding via legal documentation of all roles and responsibilities before beginning construction. In conclusion, while a metal building provides the best structure for just about any business needs, it is important to have all the facts before construction begins to avoid any confusion and have accurate expectations of the roles of the people involved in the project. You will indeed save valuable time and money with a metal building. Using a metal building is certainly a smart decision for your business. Therefore, know the various roles of the people involved to make the process move forward swiftly and more smoothly.

Summary

Competent and flexible help when it comes to offshore software development. Offshore Outsourcing individual software development. If you are looking for an IT partner who solves your software problems, supports your team ...