Developers

hybrid; stack of different sliced fruit So you want to build a mobile app. Should you choose native or hybrid mobile application development? Each choice has advantages depending on your projected use and time to market.

What is a hybrid mobile application?

Mobile apps generally fall into two categories, native and cross-platform or "hybrid". A native mobile application is just what it sounds like: it uses the SDK (Software Development Kit) and hardware features specific to a particular mobile operating system. Hybrid mobile applications also fall into two general categories, hybrid HTML5 apps and native cross-platform apps.

user requirements specifications document paper work vector Writing software requirements should be easy, right? Right? Of course we know exactly what we need and can tell you exactly what the software should do. Unfortunately, it's not always so easy. Writing software requirements well takes detailed, deep thought about business requirements. It also takes clear communication between the people who will use the software and the people who will write it. It isn't always easy to translate between business-speak or industry-speak and developer-speak. This can cause costly confusion. Fortunately, there is a language called Gherkin to help bridge the gap. So what makes a good set of software requirements, and how can we develop those requirements?  

communication Is your software development team listening to you? Good project communication helps prevent costly rework and ensures that product owners and development teams understand each other.

We don't speak the same language, even if we're both speaking English.

We all know that feeling of frustration when we're trying to communicate and just not getting through. I spelled it all out in careful detail, and all I see are blank looks. Were they even paying attention? This is an important project! Is my software development team listening to me at all?

Monolith; Monolithic Rollout of Legacy System Conversion Legacy system conversion projects are always challenging. Rollout strategy can make a huge difference in successful user adoption and overall project success. Only when I began writing them down did I realize that I had recurring dreams.  I had believed that my dreams were largely random and varied, but instead I learned that I had many frequently recurring themes.  Similarly, the process of writing down my thoughts on software development has shown me that there are also recurring themes. One of these themes is the impact of rollout methodology on a project's success.  More specifically, rollouts of legacy system conversion projects.  Rollouts of brand new systems into an organization are typically less painful, as you are often automating a paper process, or inventing a new process that improves productivity.  However, legacy system conversions are almost always painful, as there are many processes that have emerged around this system.  People have developed a form of muscle-memory with the old system that even they themselves scarcely understand. We have successfully replaced dozens of legacy systems where everyone was happy and all was good with the world.  But it's not those projects I want to talk about.  I am going to talk about the projects where things went awry, because I don't want to make the same mistakes again.  Hopefully, these words will also help the reader to avoid similar problems in their projects.

Now that your company has rolled out its shiny new CRM system, you’ll want to make sure your team is fully on board. How can you track Salesforce user adoption? What are the signs you don’t have full buy-in from your organization on using Salesforce?Silhouette of many thumbs up Of course, there are many useful reports available in the Salesforce Adoption Dashboards. To get the most benefit from those dashboards and reports, you'll need to quantify your expectations. How should your team use the system?

Data Charts It's a funny thing about Salesforce developers. Many of us really dislike change, even when we know very well it's necessary and worthwhile. Why? Too often, changing an application is like re-routing plumbing after the house is built: making a change that looks small can take a whole lot of effort with a whole lot of risk for collateral damage.

software automation Can software replace my job? It's a concern with roots going back centuries to the arrival of the first automated power looms in 18th-century England, continuing into more modern times with the large claw-like robots that build automobiles. Today it seems there are hundreds of websites making their living pushing clickbait headlines describing the perils of the coming Robopocalypse of software automation replacing human workers, and I often see those fears bubbling to the surface when working with clients. Fortunately, in my experience, those fears are often overblown, and I'm not alone in thinking so. Wired's James Surowieck agrees that we have nothing to fear.   The automation jitters usually start to come out during discovery. I talk with clients to clarify the business logic, workflow rules, or other automated features, and I'll use the term "robot" to describe the software we're building. After all, "if I can't tell the robot what to do, how will it know how what to do?" It's somewhere around here when we're asking somebody to explain their whole job function that somebody on the client's team will mutter, half-jokingly, "So I guess I better start looking for another job, huh?" It's not hard to understand where that thought is coming from. After all, if we can completely strip away the human layer and turn their job into a series of rote, mechanical steps, what role is left for them? I quickly try to assuage their fears.

It's easy to assume that someone needing user support is not using the application correctly. What if there really is a bug?

We've all seen the acronyms from user support techs: ID-10-T errors, PICNIC, PEBKAC, and so on.User support, catching bugs On the one hand, they're pretty mean-spirited (but kinda funny). On the other hand, who can blame user support techs for being exasperated when rude, frustrated users scream at them to solve problems that aren't their fault. Yes, some support techs really do have to walk users through the most basic of operations. REALLY basic, like making sure the computer and monitor are plugged in and powered on. On the OTHER other hand, it is the job of support techs to bridge that knowledge gap. As consultants, we are often called upon to support our own or someone else's software. We have to be the opposite of that acronymic stereotype. Users aren't idiots; they're experts in something we are not proficient in and vice versa. Once in a while, we are on the receiving end of user support, and these experiences can be real eye-openers. I remember one instance where we found an undocumented limitation of a mature third-party application.

DISCLAIMER - this article applies to mainly to Organizations without business analysts and programmers on staff. A few years ago, we were asked to quote a small automation for an existing, repeat client. They wanted help streamlining a spreadsheet-based process that took about 1/2 day of a high-level employee's time each week.

Client: Can you help us save some time by writing some Excel macros?

Susco: Of course we can develop some Excel macros for you. But first, why do you need them?