How to use rapid application development

3 Ways Rapid Application Development Benefits Your Business

Great software design forms the foundation of any modern business. However, it’s not always easy to determine which of the software development methodologies is right for your organization. For the most part, software development lifecycles fall into two broad categories – monolithic and modular.

Traditionally, software was developed using the monolithic approach, whereby the application would be developed as a single self-contained platform with extensive planning and testing. Today, businesses generally prefer the modular approach of rapid prototyping. Let’s look at some of the reasons why:

#1. User Involvement

Traditional software development typically starts with building solid foundations as per the instructions and requirements of the customer. By contrast, rapid application development is a constantly evolving project in which the client is always involved and kept informed. In other words, the customer gets to enjoy complete control over the project, while the development team takes care of all the technicalities involved. The result is an application that’s built based on a combination of client feedback and software development expertise.

#2. Design Flexibility

Today’s IT systems are constantly evolving with the emergence of new technologies and changing business needs. That’s why monolithic software design is falling out of favor to make way for complete design flexibility. Instead of paying for something to be developed once, rapid application development involves continuous improvement and unlimited scalability as such that software evolves with your business, instead of holding it back. With a modular design, it’s also much easier to integrate the software with your existing systems as well as any you might start using later on.

#3. Reduced Cost

Rapid application development typically works out cheaper, particularly in the shorter term thanks to the greatly reduced upfront costs involved. By contrast, developing a monolithic application requires a high upfront investment and, when the time comes to replace the system, you’ll likely need to fork out the same amount of money again. Opting instead for rapid application development means reduced development times, which means you’ll typically have a modularized software system that’s ready for use within a couple of months. Furthermore, you’ll have greater visibility into longer-term costs thanks to the fact that testing and ongoing development will be provided on an as-needed basis.

At 18Techs, we understand the complexities involved in the development of software solutions that perfectly align with the needs of your business. Give us a call today if you’d like to find out more.

best outstaffing software developers

Advantages of Outstaffing Software Developers And Why It Makes Sense

Facing a tight deadline on a critical project?

You could hire a team of developers to help. Or, maybe bring in a software development firm. But those options aren’t cheap. And they can be challenging to execute. They also can be huge mistakes—maybe even cost you your job.

I’ve seen plenty of businesses in my time that have used these traditional approaches regret their decisions later on. These approaches can blow up in your face and become a costly nightmare for them—one you’d rather avoid.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative—and a good one at that.

It’s a hiring strategy I’m seeing more and more companies employ. It’s outstaffing (or staff augmentation). Outstaffing is a proven way of hiring skilled resources with strong system build and workflow knowledge.

It’s also a proven way of hiring knowledgeable staff well-versed in industry solutions and methodologies with the ability to apply this experience to a project.

Outstaffing Growing in Popularity

Outstaffing is a great way to gain traction on new projects. Overall, outstaffing is a nearly $29 billion industry, with a projected growth rate of 6% annually.

This hiring approach requires you to evaluate your existing talent, decide what skills you need, then bring those specialized skills in. That can be done on a temporary, project, part-time or full-time contract basis, usually with the help of an agency, to assist with a pressing deadline.

Several factors are driving the growth of outstaffing these days. They include an abundance of IT resources in the marketplace, declining rates, and the narrowing of margins for companies that need these services.

Outstaffing is ideal for situations where a project’s success or failure hinges on ending it on time, within budget, and to specification. It’s also ideal when you have a large project looming ahead but don’t have the resources to handle the project on staff.

Outstaffing vs. Project Outsourcing

Outstaffing differs from project outsourcing in several respects. Project outsourcing lets you execute entire projects using another company’s resources.

A viable long-term strategy, project outsourcing takes the form of “out-tasking” where a project is worked on by a sub-team staff. It is managed by an outside resource and minimizes the total cost of the business. Its benefits include external expertise, cost management, and risk mitigation.

But project outsourcing has its downsides, including lack of control and internal resistance. Plus, assessing the capabilities of outsourcing firms isn’t a snap. Meanwhile, integration with existing processes can be a challenge, especially if they’re unique and complicated.

That’s where outstaffing comes in. It works well in situations where you need to ramp up and down quickly without adding full-time employees. In essence, you’re just adding the skills you need to support your initiative.

Below are seven advantages of outstaffing

Manage resources better

Closely manage IT resources and integrate your staff within a company’s existing business processes.

Fill in the skills gap

Add specialized skills you don’t have and capitalize on internal and external resources.

Better meet project demands

Add or subtract IT resources to meet the requirements of an individual project.

Avoid training employees

Eliminates the need to train an employee and incur the liability of adding another employee.

Meet tight deadlines

Lets you assign the right IT resources to meet a tight deadline and complete a project on time and within budget.

Short-circuits staff resistance

Reduces staff’s uneasiness regarding inevitable changes within your company.

Facilitates adjustment to new workflows

Makes it easier for your staff to adjust to new and lean workflows with the help of a few individuals on a particular project.

Benefits of Choosing Outstaffing

Outstaffing produces enormous benefits. It allows you to add the specific resources you need on scalable, per project basis. It also makes it easy to focus on the big picture and your existing business goals. And it provides convenience, affordability, productivity, and efficiency.

In addition, outstaffing:

  • Provides an objective voice and outlook
  • Boost company flexibility and agility
  • Cuts costs without sacrificing quality
  • Adds experienced, knowledgeable professionals
  • Saves the cost (and trouble) of onboarding employees
  • Improves alignment of precious resources

Outstaffing delivers results. In the right situation, it’s a no-brainer. That’s why more and more organizations are choosing outstaffing as an option to traditional hiring methods.

Ideal for short-term or long-term situations, outstaffing makes sense on many different levels for companies of all sizes.  It’s a proven alternative to hiring a full-time developer, a team of developers, or a software development firm and having the move blow up in your face.

Interview Questions to ask a developer

8 Critical Questions to Ask Developers Before Hiring One

When is the last time you hired a developer? If it’s been a while, you should know that things have changed. There are more developers out there than previously. All are competing for your business. That makes choosing the right developer a challenge—especially if you’re not a developer yourself.

Many developers will gladly take your money. The question is: Will they deliver results? The only way to tell beforehand, I think, is to first do your homework on development firms. Then meet with them and ask probing questions. This approach isn’t foolproof, but I’ve found it effective. It helps me tell if I’m hiring a good developer.

Below are eight questions I ask any developer I’m thinking of hiring.  Some questions are more technically oriented than others. But all can help you choose a firm that fits your needs.

Do you understand my business model?

It’s imperative a developer understands both your target audience AND your business model—especially if the developer is new to your industry. This information can help them tailor what they’re doing to your needs. If a developer refuses to learn those things, that speaks volumes about the developer. Find someone else.

May I contact past clients?

Ask a developer about clients its done work for in your industry. The question provides a more objective, relevant, and independent assessment of a development firm. When talking with past clients, ask them how the developer does with deadlines, pressures, and communications. The answers are good indicators of how it will work with you.

How will you update me on progress?

It’s vital the developer stays in contact during a project so you can exchange feedback. Good developers update clients regularly. It keeps the project on track and helps you complete it on time and budget. Good project management/collaboration tools are Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and Jira. Favor a developer that has an established methodology for updating.

Can I see apps you’ve built before?

There’s no substitute for experience. Or, results. The prospective developer should be more than willing to share its work with you. It’s a great way to tell if you’ll get a good return on your investment. If its portfolio shows stellar results, it’s likely a good choice. If it doesn’t have one to show you or balks at showing it, beware.

What’s your development process?

Ask about the average time it took to finish its last project. What unexpected problems cropped up during the effort? What did it do to solve them?   Also, ask if the developer uses agile development on projects. It helps developers finish projects quickly and efficiently, and is a proven approach to producing a minimum viable product.

How do you track bugs? Do you have a bug database?

Bugs are errors in software. They’re also a fact of life in software development. What’s critical is that the developer you choose has a methodology for handling them. Make sure the developer fixes them promptly. You don’t want a small bug to become a huge problem later on.

Do you use version control?

Vrsion control tracks changes in code. Savvy developers use it all the time. Different kinds of versions control software exist, but GitHub is probably the most popular. You simply download all your code to GitHub’s repository daily. You can also use GitHub to review a developer’s commit history. That’s where developers write notes to themselves to track what they did that day.

Do you do user testing?

Good developers have a user testing process. They use it early and often. If they’re testing an app, for example, a developer might bring in 30-60 users to take them through the software and identify problems. Make sure the developer understands and appreciates the value of users testing. Good developers will work with you to make sure that testing happens takes place. If they refuse to do this, keep looking for a developer.

Use these eight questions as the core for any interviewing you do. Feel free to add other questions—technical or business—to the mix. You can also ask for additional questions from teammates. I usually write all the questions down on a piece of paper and use it as a template for all my interviews. I also take notes during the interview.

What to know when hiring a software developer

7 Tips for Hiring a Software Developer That is Right for Your Business

Want to transform your company?
Hire a software developer. That’s right. Hire software developer.

Developers are game changers. They can increase your agility, boost competitiveness, and help cut costs. They also shorten time to market for launching new products and add valuable skills to your organization.

Often, developers are the difference between successfully launching a product having them crash and burn. Sometimes, they’re even the difference between surviving or failing as a company.

If you want to take control of your business, hire a kick-ass software developer.

Hiring Developers is a Challenge

Hiring a software developer that’s a perfect fit for your business is a challenge—especially if you have little or no coding experience or it’s the first time you’re hiring one. In fact, it can be a nightmare if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Below are seven tips that will help you find and hire a great developer. They’ll streamline the hiring process and increase your chances of finding a developer that fits your exact needs:

Take your time

Hire slowly, but fire quickly. It’s an old saying that applies. Don’t rush to hire someone. Create a process that can help you find the right fit for your business, then refine it as needed. Include a phone screening, an in-person interview, and a small test project in the process. Adding a developer to your staff is costly both in time and money. Take time to get it right.

Have a budget

Developers are in demand. And it’s going to get worse. According to the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, developer jobs are expected to grow 17% from 2014 till 2024. Make sure you know the market price for a developer, then create a budget for hiring a new developer. Know what skill set you can get for your budget before contacting candidates.

Avoid software rock stars

Hiring rock stars or lone wolves can lead to all sorts of headaches. Look for team players instead. You want a developer that responds to timely requests, communicates well, has a positive attitude, and takes part in mandatory weekly/monthly SCRUMS. You want a developer that also respects deadlines and tells you when they’re going to miss one.

Takes feedback well?

Employees that bristle when they get feedback are among the biggest headaches for employers. Feedback is critical to improving processes and businesses. Look for developers that accept feedback well and are coachable. They tend to stay around longer.

Hire for fit and experience

Hiring someone with the right experience is important, but it’s not the be all and end all of adding staff. You also want a developer that’s a good fit for your company. Look for things like determination, persistence, dedication, and any other traits critical to your company. In other words, hire as much for DNA, as for experience.

Adapts well to change

Change is inevitable in business. So, look to hire a developer that adapt well to change, are flexible, and are willing to learn new things. Ask candidates questions like what programming languages have you learned recently, where do you go to learn new tips and tricks, and what tech conferences do you like the most. Answers to questions like these will tell you if a candidate is adaptable.

Do your homework

Finding developers through a website isn’t risk-free, so do your homework before hiring. Research and verify all aspects of the candidate—from qualifications and credentials to completed projects and work references. Check for reviews, too. And check the candidate’s social media pages. You can learn as much about someone from their Facebook pages as you can from their LinkedIn profile.

Be mindful of these tips when hiring a developer. They’ll help you find one that’s not only a great coder but also a good fit. If you’re hiring someone from an outsourcing firm, start the person off with a small task. It gives you a first-hand impression of what the person can truly deliver.

Also, stay connected with the development community—even if you don’t have an immediate need. Staying connected familiarizes you with what projects a developer is working on and when that person is looking to make a change.

Developers are game changers. They bring a lot to the table. But to squeeze out the most from a developer, you need to hire someone that has the right skills and experience and fits in well with your company.

Hiring the right developer can not only put you back in control of your company but also transform it from good to great.

How to secure your software

Build Security into Software Now or Pay Later: 9 Best Practices

Cloud computing. Big Data. SaaS. If you’re like many of today’s businesses, you’re leveraging these IT tools in your organization. And why not? They’re productive. They boost productivity, increase efficiency, and cut costs. Plus, they provide a healthy return on investment.

But these advancements also present unique security challenges—challenges that expose your most sensitive data to risk. That’s asking for trouble.

A proven way to beat these unique security challenges is to integrate security into your software development process—especially when it comes to web apps.

Web apps are easy prey for hackers. They can quickly penetrate them and gain access to your sensitive data before you know they’re there, leaving you with a legal and public relations nightmare to deal with after they’ve gone.

Hardening Web App Defenses

To harden web app defenses against an attack, you need to make security a primary concern during the development process. Below are nine best practices on how to weave security into your development process. They’re practices we’ve gleaned over the years while building web applications for clients:

  • Assume attackers are smarter than you — While you may know security well, your attacker probably knows it better. Plus, they may be using automated tools developed by a third party who also knows security well. That puts you at a significant disadvantage. Your best bet is to take steps beforehand to thwart any efforts hackers may make to exploit vulnerabilities once your site goes live.
  • Use existing solutions — Developing your web security components for things like authentication, encryption, and authorization, may seem like a good idea at the time, but it’s not. Use battle-tested solutions instead that have stood the test of time. Solutions to tough but common web security problems exist for most languages and frameworks. They save time, money, and aggravation.
  • Put the right foundation in place — You can’t take for granted that other people will protect your system. They probably won’t. So, put the right groundwork in place when building a web app, and make sure the critical parts of your system, like how you protect users’ data, are as fortified and scrutinized as they can be.
  • Implement proper logging — Inevitably, something will go wrong with your app. Maybe you forget to do something or there’s a bug no one saw before going live. When that happens, you must respond quickly before the situation explodes. That’s when you need to have proper logging implemented. That will provide you with data on what occurred, what led to the incident, and what else was happening at the time.
  • Encrypt everything you can — Even though you have a firewall and other defenses protecting your app, it’s still a good idea to encrypt everything—not just HTTPS. Better yet, look at encryption holistically when it comes to protecting your web applications. That might seem a little over the top, but scrutinizing security in isolation or one part of it is begging for trouble. Protect data both at rest and in transit.
  • Harden everything — You may want to harden everything, once you’ve encrypted your data. When we say everything, we mean everything—from operating system to software development and frameworks. Consider questions like ones below when securing your app, then make adjustments where needed:
  • Is your web server using unnecessary applications?
  • Is your software language using extra modules or extension?
  • Where do you store your session information?
  • Is all outgoing and incoming traffic restricted?
  • What’s the script execution time set to?
  • Keep it simple — Seems obvious, right? But developers aren’t immune from creating complex solutions where simple ones will do like the rest of us. Complexity, however, is the death of software and architectures because it quickly compounds itself. Stay vigilant and try to keep it simple when developing web apps. Simpler and leaner code makes checking and updating vulnerabilities easier.
  • Model potential threats — You should model for potential threats whenever you build web apps. Modeling these threats and testing for them will save you headaches later on. You should also be aware of new threats. They evolve and emerge all the time. If you have a development pipeline, don’t make it static. Continue to review to and modernize it to make sure that it’s working the way it should. Continuous real-time monitoring delivers results.
  • Build for the future — You can detect and nullify many attacks with minimal effort if you prepare properly beforehand. So, when it comes to investing in web app security, consider the cost of lost confidence, post-mortem forensic investigation, and significant redevelopment to harden your defenses when a breach occurs before deciding on a security action.

These nine best practices will help you build security into your web apps when developing them. Following these practices will help lay a solid security foundation for your apps, one that will make it harder for hackers to get at your sensitive data.

One final thought: The job isn’t over just because you’ve launched the app. The responsibility for an app ultimately lies with you. Stay current with what’s happening in the field, keep your software up to date, and never stop learning about security.

Also, stay abreast of the latest vulnerabilities. You may be well versed in your industry’s threats, but new ones are coming all the time. Staying up-to-date on what’s happening will help you beat the unique security challenges posed by IT advancements like the Cloud, Big Data, and SaaS.

Mobile app trends to follow

Disruptive Mobile App Trends to Watch in 2018

Do you track trends in your industry? Savvy business professionals do. So should you. Otherwise, you could find yourself “locked out” of the marketplace with no remedy in sight. A new technology can quickly disrupt an industry, threatening your survival. Look at what’s happening with blockchain technology and financial services.

These days I recommend tracking what’s happening in mobile app development. It’s fascinating what’s going on in that industry. It has exploded the last couple of years. The number of mobile app downloads worldwide was 193+ billion in 2017, up from 143+ billion in 2016. You can expect that number to grow to 350+ billion by 2021, according to Statista.

Mobile Apps are Hot

Many of the world’s most dynamic brands use mobile apps to their advantage. These apps generate awareness, increase sales, and boost revenues. They also cut costs, increase productivity, and improve business processes. In short, they drive growth no matter your industry or your company.

Best of all, mobile apps provide a better customer experience, which is paramount these days. That’s all the more reason why you need to stay abreast of what’s happening in mobility.

Below are seven disruptive mobile app trends below that you need to follow in 2018 and beyond. Any one of them could dramatically transform an industry:

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP)

Slow web page load in mobile apps is the kiss of death. Users don’t want to wait—for anything. AMP improves web page load time in mobile devices. It can increase conversions, boost bounce and click-through rates, and retain visitors. AMP is quite possibly the most critical mobility trend out there. And since it’s from Google, it could impact search engine ranking on mobility devices dramatically.

Mobile app security

Security is a huge challenge in mobile application development. One study by Gartner shows that 75 percent of all mobile apps fail a security test. That’s an open invitation to hackers to exploit security gaps in mobile applications and steal sensitive information from people and companies. If you’re planning to build an app for your business, you need to make security a priority.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT continues to grow as increasing numbers of people connect via multiple devices. By 2020, investment in IoT will increase to $120 billion. Expect apps designed for the IoT to mature as they integrate with many devices. The growth of IoT is also forcing developers to focus more on the user experience when creating mobile apps for brands.

Cloud-driven mobile apps

The increased use of multiple mobile devices and the advent of wearable technology (see below) are transforming the mobile app landscape. They’re also forcing businesses to build apps that integrate and sync up with multiple devices. Using the cloud helps developers do that cost-effectively. It lets you quickly generate mobile apps accessible by several devices with the same functions, features, and data.

Wearable technology

This was among the hottest technologies in consumer electronics last year. Most of the apps in this area focused on healthcare and fitness. This trend will stay hot in the coming years. In fact, you can expect it to transform the textile and fashion industries. Enterprises will also be interested in this technology as a way to boost workers’ productivity, safety, and efficiency.

Android Instant App

This advancement provides a new way for developers to build apps and for consumers to use them. Already, it’s transforming app sharing and app discovery. It allows Android users to view an Android app and its content without installing the app. What’s more, Android Studios is providing tools that enable you to modularize an app, so users can load only the part of the instant app they need when they need it.

On-Demand service apps

These apps act as mediators between consumers and service providers. Growing in popularity, they make life easier by allowing you to order food, rent an apartment, purchase movie tickets, and connect with taxi and laundry services for a small fee. Think Airbnb, Grubhub, Peapod, and Uber. More and more startups are turning to on-demand apps to help them hawk their company’s services.

Any of these seven trends could suddenly disrupt your industry, locking you out. So, keep an eye on them. Other mobility trends to watch in 2018 include AI/chatbots, augmented reality (AR), geo-fencing/location-based services, and mobility payments.

Don’t get left out in the cold in your industry. Stay abreast of at the latest developments in mobile app development. It will help you anticipate—and plan for— dramatic changes that could take your company to the next level.