Thursday, August 7, 2008

OutworX readiness for Agile : Part III

As more and more software developers and managers are struggling to improve their delivery capabilities, OutworX has steadily but surely started moving towards Agile Development as a means to deliver high quality solutions in shorter time span and with ever-shrinking budgets.
Truly, transition to Agile is not an easy task. We are ensuring how to make the move without breaking anything. We at OutworX are taking every move scrupulously and diligently.

We understand that Agile development is a substantially different method of developing software, which heavily relies upon speed, smooth and frequent communication, and a desire to provide the customer with a completed solution in a shorter time line. That’s why we have, firstly, started asking our team members if they are ready for the transition. At this stage, we are looking into the possible roadblocks, and the way to remove them, and also comparing it with our old method.

Secondly, we are not in a hurry. We let the learning evolve iteratively, which means we try to learn something out of everything. This learning process doesn’t require us to be an expert, and we mainly focus towards doing a single thing and doing it completely, making it a complete software solution in itself.

We in OutworX do understand that transition is not so easy, and every transition is bound to face opposition from within and own team members, which is also a sign of solid democratic structure where people come out with their apprehensions. Keeping in mind their apprehension, we are educating them and taking time to dispel the myths about the agile development, as we’ll work with them in the future.

In this regard, we are also telling our team members the risks of not going agile. We give reference of those companies which have excelled and outsmarted their competitors by adopting agile development process.

At OutworX, the one good aspect is that most of stake-holders in our organization have shown enthusiasm towards implementing agile software development, but we are taking into confidence even the small stake holders, and help them understand that switching over to agile methodology is a matter of our survival in the outsourced product development market. Moreover, all need to understand and assimilate the process in order to get it executed fruitfully. We are making every effort to change the mindset of our team members and customers as well regarding the software delivery process.

We understand that adaptation to new methodology will take time, and gradually everything will fall into place. And to learn from all our mistakes in the early days of agile methodology, we are going to document the progress carefully so that we can have true assessment about when and where we went wrong.

In today’s fast paced IT-driven economy, if we want to be successful in software, we need to learn fast from our mistakes. What we need to understand here during the transition to the agile development process, it is better to fail or commit mistakes fast, so that the process of learning should be fast-paced, and eventually we’ll be able to speed up software development process.

Posted by Bharat Bhushan, AVP, OutworX Corporation

Monday, July 21, 2008

4 Cardinal Values of Agile Methodology: Part II

In our previous post, we have discussed about Agile Development Methodology and its increasing adoption by the software firms, which promotes high levels visibility, predictability, and quality by adapting and iterative development approach.

Continuing our discussion further, we would now discuss about the values entrenched in the Agile methodology. The Manifesto for Agile Software Development highlights 4 value statements, which we’ll explain for better understanding of the methodology.

The Agile Values:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Individuals work together to build software systems, in which processes provide them guidance and tools help them improve their efficiency. But, it is the people, with right technical and behavioral skills make all the difference, because without right people all the processes and tools can’t produce results on their own.

Working software over comprehensive documentation. Agile development emphasizes documentation to build products and software, as documents support communication and collaboration, enhance knowledge transfer, preserve historical information, assist ongoing product enhancement, and fulfill regulatory and legal requirements.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Agile development is driven by customers, product managers and development team, where each has specific roles, responsibilities and responsibilities. Keeping the letter and spirit of the contract, the project team delivers value to customers.

Responding to change over following a plan. During the development lifecycle of the project, priorities are changed for a plethora of reasons such as changed understanding of the project stakeholders, changing business environment, changing and evolving new technologies and platforms, etc. In such a changing environment, there should be room for change in the project plan. And, project plan should have the flexibility and adaptability to the change.

…to be continued.

Posted by Praveen Panjiar, Blog Evangelist, OutworX Corporation

Thursday, May 22, 2008

OutworX focuses towards Agile Development Methodology: Part I

In today’s software product market, development firms are increasingly focused towards optimizing the development process of their products with unequivocal attention on innovation, quality, and cost. Firms that have the capability to speedily and economically develop products will gain unmatched advantage and edge over competitors.

Authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book “Built to Last” posed a question: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the other companies?" Answering to the question, they said, “Visionary companies distinguish their timeless core values and enduring purpose, which should never change, from their operating practices and business strategies (which should be changing constantly in response to a changing world)."

This is what we product development firms can achieve with Agile Methodology. Defining “Agile”, Jim Highsmith says, in his book “Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products”, “is a social movement driven by both the desire to create a particular work environment and the belief that this "adaptive" environment is critical to the goal of delivering innovative products to customers.”

Why do software development firms need Agile Development Methodology?

We need Agile Development methodology, as it promotes high levels visibility, predictability, and quality by adapting an iterative development approach. The “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” declares “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.” be continued

Posted by Praveen Panjiar, Blog Evangelist, OutworX Corporation

Monday, April 28, 2008

OutworX strategizes Next Generation Web 2.0 Application Development

In today’s technology driven market, Web applications are made of distributed parts instead of being just one application on a Web server at one domain. Web applications leverage external web services and APIs, and they are being bundled up into user distributable components such as widgets, gadgets, badges, etc.

Next generations Web applications are getting more social than they used to be. Powerful development platforms such as Ruby on Rails and cloud computing platforms Google App Engine are increasingly being used by new Web applications.

As we in OutworX moving more towards Web 2.0, building Web applications empowered with competitive features, we are focusing towards galvanizing our team members around following tips to build next generation Web 2.0 applications:

First, more and more of our team members need to understand basics of Web 2.0 and how we can it can be specifically plug into a viable business model.

We are developing our Web 2.0 competency center with team members willing to learn the new models for designing, building, hosting, and distributing Web application, coming out in the market.

More importantly, we need to understand our customers’ psyche which can be small businesses or big enterprises having specific needs, and once we understand their Web applications needs, we can offer them what they actually demand. However, we need not lose sight of the fundamentals of Web 2.0, because it’s what adds long-term value to your products.

Lastly, we need to use all the latest tools, technologies, applications, platforms in our personal and professional life to have better and deeper understanding of them, which will eventually help us understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Posted by Praveen Panjiar, Blog Evangelist,OutworX Corporation

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

US recession not to curb H-1B visa demand

As reported in Computerworld, “Recession unlikely to curb H-1B demand”, and the federal government is going to receive a record number of applications from employers seeking H-1B visas for workers from overseas. Apart from pent-up demand for H-1B visas and many of the largest H-1B users are offshore outsourcing firms, the fact is substantiated by none other than Microsoft’s Chairman Bill Gates at a congressional hearing this month, where he said that the annual visa cap "bears no relation to the U.S. economy's demand for skilled professionals." “…three bills proposing increases in the cap were introduced in Congress shortly after Gates spoke. Congress may make any cap increase retroactive -- a prospect that could encourage companies to submit H-1B applications just to make sure they have a place in line. For those reasons, there's a good chance that the number of H-1B petitions filed this year will exceed last year's total, further reducing the odds of getting a visa unless the cap is increased,” reported the magazine.

Posted by Praveen Panjiar,Blog Evangelist, OutworX Corporation

Friday, March 7, 2008

Web 2.0 Mantra: Faster, Cheaper and Better

Recently, I have seen an article "Web 2.0: Not very enterprising" in Business Standard, which presents not very encouraging trend for the Web 2.0 market in India, and says “the Web 2.0 market in India is still struggling for direction and funding, though the start-up scene in the Indian consumer space has been vibrant.” To an extent, the statement is substantially true, as homegrown Web 2.0 sites are still miles away from mass adoption in comparison with global biggies like Orkut, YouTube, Flickr and Wikipedia. Further quoting a report from IDC, the article adds that “ Progress in this direction, this year, will be slow, though steady. Excluding established global players like Orkut, Metacafe, Digg, YouTube, Flickr and Wikipedia, Web 2.0 startups have a combined user base of around 1.5 million in India, after eliminating overlaps, according to IDC.”

However, this somewhat disheartening trend can be changed much to Indian Web 2.0 service providers by their proactive approach. In a report “How Indian Tech Companies Can Benefit From Web 2.0”, published in Nasscom website, discusses about initiatives to be taken by the Indian companies to leverage the benefits of Web 2.0.

First, it says about Speed of Execution and Effectiveness of the Indian Web 2.0 vendors. “Indian best of breed workforce coupled with best of breed web 2.0 tools and mashups of applications can keep Indian’s outsourcing drive front of the curve.”

Secondly, Developing Creative Services can again provide us an edge over global competition. Indian companies can deliver low cost web2.0 technologies over the web.
The report asks Indian companies to leverage Community in Solution Building by involving global tech talents with the increasing use of blogs, wikis and other web 2.0sources. It further adds, “ Active open communication and mind sharing through blogs, or managing requirements real time without putting a structural workflow around it can provide you a pathway to make a true connection with your customers and create a sense of stakeholder ownership.”

By being Early Adopters of Web 2.0 technology, Indian tech companies will be leaders in the Web 2.0 movement.

Posted by Praveen Panjiar, Blog Evangelist, OutworX Corporation

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

OutworX President sees Offshore Opportunities in the US recession

OutworX atmosphere is impregnated with expectations. Young Team OutworX always looks up to someone who can be a beckoning light to steer us to newer heights, uncharted zones, and unforeseen opportunities. Meet, Mr.Sanjay Govil, our newly appointed President, in a candid talk with Team NewsworX.

NewsworX: Welcome onboard and Congratulations for being the new President of OutworX. How does it feel?

S.G: My heartfelt thanks to everybody, especially to Rajiv Jain, CEO, OutworX, who has shown trust and faith in me. I have the great honor of stepping into the role of President of OutworX, and I make this move with deep conviction and enthusiasm. To me, OutworX has an incredibly bright future. Previously, I’ve partnered closely with many executive teams to steer strategies and directions, and today I’m looking forward to this challenge.

I firmly believe that we in OutworX have incredible assets, and our company has massive potential, drive, determination and skills, and we won’t be satisfied until the true potential of OutworX gets realized completely.

I am also convinced about our enormous potential for long-term success as a leading Outsourced Product Development & IT Services company.

NewsworX: When someone joins an organization, expectations rise high. What are your short term and long term plans and objectives for the company?

S.G:At the outset, I want to make it clear that short-term plans must be consistent with the long term objectives of a company. So far as short- term plans and objectives are concerned, I am establishing communication with our clients and the teams, trying to understand their capabilities, expectations and challenges. The longer term objective is to focus on growth both in our existing domain of Outsourced Product Development as well as the new area of IT Services. This growth will come from existing clients as well as new clients and new geographies through leveraging our proven competency in Identity & Access Management, Web 2.0 & Open source development, and Quality Assurance.

NewsworX: Give us a brief overview about the industry, keeping in mind the reported recessionary trend in the US economy? Do you see its ripple effect on the Outsourced Product Development market in India? Which are the industry verticals you are currently focusing on?
S.G: There appears to be a slowdown in the US economy, which opens up opportunities for service providers like us since even more US companies would be looking at off-shoring as a strategy to control costs. However there will be price pressures which will require service providers to tighten their belts and deliver “more for less”. But, more importantly, firms have shown faith in India, and they have announced plans to invest several billion $ in the India IT Sector over the next few years. We are in the Outsourced Product Market (OPD), and a number of study reports have reaffirmed the case of Indian supremacy in the OPD market. India accounts for almost 84 per cent of the outsourcing, with competition such as Canada, China and Vietnam way behind. A Nasscom-McKinsey report, states that the outsourced product development market pegged at $3 billion in 2004-05 is growing at 30 per cent annually to touch $8-11 billion by 2008.

NewsworX: How your customers get the benefits of offshore delivery? Could you explain your business model?

S.G:Our goal at OutworX is to work with our clients to help them deliver their products and services competitively in order to maximize their business potential. Our Outsourced Product Development and IT services allow our Clients to reduce time to market, improve the quality of their products, reduce risk of failure, improve predictability and reliability of the engineering process, while helping them lower their over-all product engineering costs.

So far as our business models are concerned our Outsourced Product Development (OPD) business has Flex Cell and Flex Factory models. Our Flex Cell model provides Clients with a team hired to meet their requirements and expectations. And Flex Factory enables clients to harness all the benefits of offshoring and outsourcing, without committing to usage of specific resources. In IT Services we offer the flexibility of “turnkey projects” and resource augmentation delivery models to our Clients.

NewsworX: Anything you would like to share with TeamOutworX? Plz…specify.

S.G: In order for us to be successful in our business, we need to make our clients succeed in their business, which can only happen through constantly delivering high quality products and services, on-time and at competitive prices. Finally, my profound thanks to Team OutworX for showing faith and trust in me.
Posted by Praveen Panjiar, Blog Evangelist, OutworX Corporation

Friday, February 1, 2008

4 Fundamental Principles For Building Alumni Value Proposition

Taking cue from my previous post, I would like to extend the concept of Alumni Value Proposition (AVP) a little further. There is a framework for building AVP, which is simply based on four fundamental principles:

  • Hire the best into the organization
  • Let them build the organization
  • Proudly Brand what they build
  • Alumni constitute our extended organization

Hire the Best. Since people like to associate with likeminded people, if organization has good people then it will attract other good people. Anybody who gets selected to join such an organization considers it a privilege that he/she is getting the opportunity to work with other good people who would make a huge difference in his/her life.
Correspondingly it becomes organization’s responsibility to follow very high hiring standards to avoid dilution in the quality of its people, and secondly ensure that word gets around loudly that this organization is built with good people thus ensuring that good applicants pool continues to grow exponentially.

Built by the Best. Once organization has hired the best employees, it should let these employees take complete ownership of building the organization, and also have them take pride that their contributions is what makes this organization great.

  • Let employees define the criteria for selecting right people for this organization and how to bring them onboard.
  • Let employees take charge of inducting and mentoring new people into the organization.
    Let employees build a continuously learning organization by defining a culture of complete knowledge capture and sharing across the organization. Requiring everybody to document their learnings from projects and other activities they undertake – developing a strong habit and capabilities in employees to communicate well – extensively using tools like Blogs for external and internal publishing of contents.
  • Let employees recognize what they are best at and then take pride in training others in the organization to be good at that.
  • Let employees be the navigators who understand the tides of industry and the world around the organization, and then counsel others in the organization to mould their careers to be successful in rapidly changing tides.

Branding. As the organization does these great things it is equally important that it gets the word out. It should be proud of what it built and we must let others know how good it is from inside. Employees and Alumni are the true carriers of brand message. They should be encouraged to use blogs, message boards, trade magazines, conferences etc. to spread organization’s brand message.

Treat Alumni as part of extended organization. Alumni are a great asset for any company as they take companies message in their new companies. If that message is strong then it greatly benefits the company in attracting more good people. Organization must strive to stay connected with its Alumni and simultaneously create strong reasons for alumni to stay connected with it. To facilitate this it must use tools like Alumni website and newsletters.

Building Alumni Value Proposition based on this framework is our joint responsibility and our primary mission for 2008.

Posted by Rajiv Jain, CEO, OutworX Corporation

Friday, January 11, 2008

Web 2.0 Technology Driven 8 Business Trends

An enterprise create real wealth by combining technology with innovative ways of doing busines.This is what came out in The McKinsey Quarterly which identified 8 unique business trends empowered by the Web 2.0 technology in its article " “Eight Business Technology Trends to Watch”..

McKinsey’s Eight Business Technology Trends to Watch

  • Distributing co-creation’: "Technology now allows companies to delegate substantial control to outsiders—cocreation—in essence by outsourcing innovation to business partners that work together in networks. By distributing innovation through the value chain, companies may reduce their costs and usher new products to market faster by eliminating the bottlenecks that come with total control."
  • Using consumers as innovators’: "Consumers increasingly want to engage online with one another and with organizations of all kinds. Companies can tap this new mood of customer engagement for their economic benefit."
  • Tapping into the world of talent’: "As more and more sophisticated work takes place interactively online and new collaboration and communications tools emerge, companies can outsource increasingly specialized aspects of their work and still maintain organizational coherence."
  • Extracting more value from interactions’: "...a growing proportion of the labor force in developed economies engages primarily in work that involves negotiations and conversations, knowledge, judgment, and ad hoc collaboration—tacit interactions, "which will be core to the workforce by 2015.
  • ‘Expanding the frontiers of automation’: "organizations have put in place systems to automate tasks and processes: forecasting and supply chain technologies; systems for enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and HR; product and customer databases; and Web sites. Now these systems are becoming interconnected through common standards for exchanging data and representing business processes in bits and bytes. What’s more, this information can be combined in new ways to automate an increasing array of broader activities, from inventory management to customer service."
  • Unbundling production from delivery’: "Use these technologies to offer other companies—suppliers, customers, and other ecosystem participants—access to parts of their IT architectures through standard protocols”.
  • Putting more science into management’: "The quality and quantity of information available to any business will continue to grow explosively as the costs of monitoring and managing processes fall......Information is often power; broadening access and increasing transparency will inevitably influence organizational politics and power structures."
  • Making business from information’: "Accumulated pools of data captured in a number of systems within large organizations or pulled together from many points of origin on the Web are the raw material for new information-based business opportunities."

So, "creative leaders can use a broad spectrum of new, technology-enabled options to craft their strategies." Apply these trends in a wide variety of businesses, and be the winner.

Praveen Panjiar, Blog Evangelist, OutworX Corporation

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

AJAX, Enterprise Mashups, and SOA

According to JSON inventor andYahoo! Architect Douglas Crockford, one of the things that AJAX has enabled is mashups, which he boldly calls "the most interesting innovation in software development in at least 20 years."To him,"mashups are the fulfillment of the promise of competent architecture and highly reusable modules”, offering “a whole new class of interactivity and value”.

Mashups originate with Web 2.0, which epitomizes development on the fly. With the rediscovery of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) technology and the mushrooming popularity of rich Internet applications, we now have the ability to create mashups that quickly solve business problems by using the standard dynamic interfaces that front services. Mashups provide a quick and easy way to solve many of today’s simple business problems — and should scale nicely to solve more complex and far-reaching problems in the future. Now-a-days, more and more enterprises are looking into how they can benefit from mashups to improve their business.

With the increasing use of mushups, “the line is blurring between the enterprise and the Web. However, mashups live on that porous perimeter, offering the reusability of an SOA plus very rapid development using prebuilt services outside the firewall. Soon, we may live in a world where it’s difficult to tell where the enterprise stops and the Web begins. It’s scary — and exciting at the same time,” says Dave Linthicum, a blogger in InfoWorld.

More complex mashups move toward composite applications - made up of many services, which is an advanced SOA concept. And, enterprises should be prepared properly to leverage mushups for their business growth. In this context, it is better advisable that the enterprises need “to design and deploy an SOA with mushups in mind”. He further adds, “mashup preparation can be divided into six familiar stages: requirements, design, governance, security, deployment, and testing. These are core architectural bases you must touch if you are to arrive safely in the promised land of mashups on top of an SOA.” They make the value of an SOA much more visible over a much shorter term.

Now, we are in 2008, and we need to first know a few critical questions to ask next about AJAX, Web 2.0,RIA (Rich Internet Applications),Mushups, and then look for their answers. Eric Miraglia of Yahoo! Douglas Crockford, creator of JSON; Coach Wei, founder and CTO of Nexaweb; Chris Schalk, developer evangelist for Google; John Crupi, CTO of JackBe; Joshua Gertzen, lead developer of the ThinWire AJAX Framework; Kevin Hakman, co-founder of TIBCO General Interface; etc have raised a few pertinent questions:

  • How significant is Enterprise Mashups to you (your customers)?

  • How can I make AJAX applications that easily go offline? (i.e. can work easily and in a similar manner when not connected to the Internet.)

  • Will JavaScript 2.0 be a success, or a dud?

  • Is AJAX about more than just web development? Should we be campaigning to replace all desktop apps with an AJAX equivalent?

  • How do you apply user interface patterns and user experience design to your AJAX project?

  • What are people mostly using AJAX for? Enhancing existing website, building a new website, building an application, replacing an old client/server application, etc?

Read complete AJAX questions

Posted by Praveen Panjiar, Blog Evangelist, OutworX Corporation

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008: The Year of RSS

A latest post on newsgator speaks about what will be the trend throughout 2008 in RSS, both from the consumer and enterprise RSS perspective. It highlighted the following trends in the year ahead:

Portal Plumbing. Using RSS / Atom as a way for backend systems to funnel information (both publishing and retrieving) into a single access points that are easy to use and easy to manage. As increasing number of users are using iGoogle and Netvibes as their own aggregator, and are using RSS to accomplish this.

RSS will be the transfer protocol between yourself and your social networks.

Ease of use will be greatly enhanced with discovery and filtering mechanisms to help you find new content and sort/organize the feeds you already subscribe to.

Atom publishing will become more important as well within social networks. A widely adaptable comment publishing protocol will emerge that would allow users to comment on an item.

Within the enterprise, the use of authenticated feeds to access transaction and master data systems will rise.

Posted by Praveen Panjiar, Blog Evangelist, OutworX Corporation