Seventhman Blog

  1. Do You Really Need an API?

    "API economy"In a world where software transforms the way we do business, one starts to wonder if small to large-scale enterprises really need an API.. and a real good strategy to make it work.  As we do business in the cloud and use lots of Software-as-a-Service models, APIs aren’t strictly tied up to mobility alone.  If you take a closer look at Amazon, you’ll see how they have built their business by extending its functionality to outsiders.  Then, there’s the OpenStack project.  Perhaps, APIs these days are the Sun of the software galaxy where everyone’s revolving around.  Yet, the challenge of management, distribution and monetization of API still abound for many API-driven tech companies out there.

    The Problem With API

    While I was surfing the Web to get my weekly dose of all things tech, I’ve encountered a post that caught my attention: A Company Without APIs is Like a Computer Without InternetSpot on!  I have to applaud Brian though for mentioning tips on how to engage developers to participate in building all those awesome software – this can be a tough job to accomplish, but doable nonetheless. I believe that you have to set out with a clear objective and define your target market well if you want to launch a successful API strategy.  It’s not just about making money or encouraging innovation.  The very idea of opening up your data must outweigh the risk and cost.  Finding motivated developers with the right technical and social skills is a major hurdle too.  How can you find tech-savvy evangelists who will add value to your business?

    Let’s presume that you will encounter these challenges:

    1. Exposing proprietary data to your competitors – much to their advantage
    2. Opening your API to the public can mean added cost in developing your platform from scratch
    3. Building APIs that developers hate
    4. Delays and backlogs in transition, especially with documentation
    5. Not coming up with a strategy that will make your business stay competitive

    Creating an API Tactic vs. Strategy

    You may argue that the two words are one and the same.  The thing is that in a developer’s lingo, API Strategy is becoming cliché, together with buzzwords like big data and disruptive innovation.  While you may have a strong case for building a strategy in today’s API economy, you don’t need a big plan to move forward.  Instead, what you need is a specific tactic on measuring things. Got it?  There are situations when building a strategy works, like those who want to build a developer community to help with their software initiatives.  In this case, strategy is fundamental to the business.  But, if you only need to focus on supporting your business goals, you simply need a tactic to help drive revenue streams to your business.

    Bottomline: To gain traction where APIs are involved, you need a strong developer support working with the best marketing team who will help get the word out.  The key to your program’s success is knowing who your audience is so you can come up with the right opportunities.  Are you ready to build that rockstar team, open communication channels and share the credit?

    APIs should be empowered both by business leaders and technology.

     

     

  2. Do You Have a Million Dollar Software Idea?

    "software idea"You’ve got an idea. Great!  How do you know if it’s a good one?  There lies the problem among many who are wanting to build a viable software that will sell.  When great ideas are a dime a dozen, so the adage goes, it’s crucial for you to find that million dollar idea (as mentioned on this post from Forbes)  You may have a brilliant idea.. but you want to minimize the risk of getting your startup ready.  If you’re like one of the many who ended up with piles of ideas scribbled on a cocktail napkin, of concepts that never saw the light of day, you’re in for a treat.  I’m here to help you avoid this worst-case scenario where your idea crashes and burns.

    The Myth Busters of Idea Generation

    Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you’re always right.  Building your software idea from scratch will start with an awesome coding team.  While adopting the Agile concept of Intelligent Fast Failure where you fail smart, fail small and fail fast so you can succeed faster may help – you have to optimize your ego and take an objective stance in every stage of the software development process.  The key here is to listen to feedback and look at the numbers presented from all the data researched about your idea’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  In short, make that S.W.O.T. analysis count.  Don’t be tempted to mimic the best out there and play it safe.  If everyone’s doing it,  how can you even offer value to the table?  While no argument is right or wrong, you don’t have to disrupt just to innovate.  Most of the time, the most innovative applications of them all are the simplest to use.

    What is the Market Potential of Your Software Idea?

    It might be a shocker to you that majority of businesses fail within five years of starting up.  After all, you want to come up with a software that sells.  You may be on a bootstrapping mode right now and don’t have the time to do proper market research which can be costly.  The Good News?  You can always ask and collect feedback from social media sites – so long as you do it with style.  If you think that email marketing is dead, you might try to reconsider this option.  The trick here is to tie it up with a squeeze page or ‘launching soon’ page that will collect email signups before you even come up with the finished product.  You may even send exclusive invites.  Your job is not only to create anticipation about your product, but testing which approach will work best.  By the time you’re done, you have already built a list of customers on your wait list.  Or, you can always google trends and take down notes.

    You Don’t Need Coding Skills to Start a Successful Business

    You might have heard a lot of debates on this topic online and there are those who will tell you that knowing every aspect of the software development stage is essential.  But here’s what they forgot to tell you – coding is both a science and art, where the very best of us have taken more than a decade of practicing our craft and yet, we’re learning something new each time.  Coming up with a good idea means making sure that there is a market for it, or else, you’re just be wasting time and money.  You might not agree with me here, but when business ideas fail –  it’s not really because the concept is bad, but the execution is.  Knowing who your customers are and solving their pain points should be your No. 1 priority. Your passion and commitment will be tested.

    There’s a good chance that you might fail.. and then, there’s a greater chance that you will succeed.  Do you need help getting there?  Let’s Talk!

     

     

     

  3. The Science and Art of Building a Great Software Team

    "software team"Just like coding, building a great software developer team is also an art and getting the right people on board is still a work-in-progress for many. It’s not so much about the smartest, the most experienced that counts.. but the right people who will fit in skill-wise and personality-wise.  The last thing you want is for your project to fail simply because your team didn’t work well.  The reasons are many and if you will be honest to admit it, not all of us work well with others.  You might be stuck with such a team right now so the next question is, how can you turn things around to help them become more productive?

    Are You Ready to Shake Things Up?

    There’s a reason that big brands are still sourcing outside help even if they have talents in-house.  Would you agree that diversity is the biggest contributing factor to a project’s success?  Sometimes, you simply need a second opinion (or third, fourth and so on).  If you’re tired of the same old scene where everyone agrees just to get things done, how about encouraging some conflict?  The last thing you want is stagnation.  It will surprise you that when tension runs high, ideas come in an endless supply as everyone continue to raise the bar higher – to come up with something innovative.  You must be lucky if you find a devil’s advocate in your group, of brilliant mind disrupting mediocrity to come up with something amazing.  The problem is, not everyone can identify the outliers from the real artists.

    When It Comes to Successful Software Teams, Size Does Matter

    And to top it off, I’d say bigger is not always better.  While there are varying opinions on what the ideal team size is, anything that’s not double-digit is great to start with.  Hiring small means easily managing less people and faster communication with key people.  Keeping it small is also great for boosting dedication and morale where each person will take ownership of his/her own code.  When you work with a small team, this will also mean that you can afford to pay senior developers more.  We all know that coming up with better codes and designs are best left to those who can make better decisions.  If you can’t really keep it small, I’d say break large teams into smaller teams with leaders on every hub.

    Looking Beyond Agile

    There will always be a gap between software developers who are code-oriented and business people who are strategy-oriented.  While agile is great for trying to improve from the mistakes of the past, you have to look beyond the software development stage for you to create something that equates to great user experience.  Agile may help measure your working software, but the idea is not really user-centric.  More meetings don’t really mean productive meetings.  Talking about the requirement everyday just adds more tension between IT and business.  Instead, each one should understand the business side of things and the end users more.  At the end of the day, software is not just a bunch of codes; it must be usable.  In short, development teams are not only about creating codes, but creating experience too.

    To build a great software is not like building automobiles.  There must be a balance between methodology and the creative process to make it work.

    Truth is, effective teams don’t just happen overnight. You have to put in the human side of things – to trust and protect your team may be the next best step you can take… would you agree?

     

     

     

  4. Five Signs That Your IT Project is Doomed to Fail

    "IT project failure signs"If there’s one truth you need to know about IT projects, it’s this:  They’re not created equal.  There are countless stories where all efforts went up in flames even before the software went live.  The risk is multiplied by ten if you’re an entrepreneur who knows little to nil of what your project is all about.  Just how can you spot signs that your IT project is failing?  When prevention is better than a cure, you need to check your project’s health and be proactive in looking for red flags – so you can walk away and minimize damages.  Besides, your business depends on it too.

    Making Decisions Smarter, Faster & Intuitive

    Last time, I have shared with you my thoughts on rapid iterations, to have a radical approach so you can fail fast and small.  The trouble is that you think it’s just too late to quit and so you struggle on a long and winding road that seems to lead you nowhere with your IT project.  The early signs that your project is doomed are really hard to measure objectively, but it’s not easy to spot if you keep an open eye and see these signs:

    1.  Lack – As in lack of interest among your team or stakeholders, lack of speed in moving the project forward, lack of good communication, lack of metrics, lack of detailed plans, lack of consistent management or lack of success in each milestone you’ve set..

    2.  Scope Creep – In relation to the first item, the project takes more resources, money and time to get done than you have originally planned for.

    3.  Testing Later (or Never) – You have a great idea and testing if it works is essential to its success.  You should test in all scenarios and gather data, whether it yields good or bad results.  There’s little to zero involvement with real users (or representatives in multiple departments for bigger companies).

    4.  No Plan B – Just like in life, things can go wrong.  If your IT project don’t have a recovery/risk management plan, you’re up for a big trouble.  Many who failed were too excited to go live only to hit serious downtime without ever having to recover.

    5. 80/20 – As in 80% issues and 20% resolution.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that something is wrong when more problems pile up instead of being resolved.

    For the same way that these signs are contributing to the wide gap between IT and business, you must see signs of distress where your IT project is concerned so you can take action while there’s still time.  You may even invite an expert to give you sound advice so you can make informed decisions without having to lose a lot.

    Now, the only thing you have to deal with is your ego.  Are you willing to let go of that idea when dire circumstances are calling for it?

     

     

     

  5. How to Make Software Implementation Faster and Hassle-Free

    "rapid software implementation"Speed is essential when it comes to IT projects.  Your clients don’t want to wait that long for you to come up with an innovative software that will help their business.  These are tough times, where the fast beats the new and budgets are down-sized.  As the software industry is expected to come up with something useful in a snap, there is a shift towards new methodologies that steps away from the conventional way projects are managed – to set developers free from rigid project timelines which are unacceptably longer than they used to be.  Should you speed up the software implementation process?  Does that mean sacrificing quality over speed?

    Focusing on Real Metrics

    What is success?  You have to define this when it comes to achieving specific goals and outcomes.  Having this early consensus can help in coming up with best approaches in building a software that really works.  There must be a meaningful collaboration among businesses and developers to make sure that there is little room for error due to poor planning.  Trouble is, people are focusing on the wrong thing where software implementation is involved.  We don’t simply have the luxury of time to wait for two years to come up with something cutting edge these days.  We may have reached an inflection point in tech and things are happening faster.  You need to kick those old tires and come up with a better system that works – or you’ll be left behind.  You have to focus on priorities and make sure to map your project based on these.

    Collaboration is Key to Successful Software Deployment

    Sometimes, software developers are lost as to whether they should please the C-Suite or the end users.  There are a million things that can satisfy.. or not.  Most often, when software projects fail, the managers blame the technology or the vendor.  If only IT departments and business stakeholders collaborated, they wouldn’t have come short of expectations instead.  Total success demands that the two work closely together, given that there is low tolerance for delays and extra costs.  What is the point of developing something when real metrics of the outcome haven’t been talked about?  If you want to solve the client’s unique requirements, you have to adopt sophisticated ways of creating custom software solutions that are not time-consuming.

    Best Practices for Rapid Software Implementation

    While there’s no one-size-fits-all way of addressing this issue, these have worked well for Seventhman and we’re sharing these tips to help you deal with complex software projects:

    1.  Never force a client to change.  Rather, come up with a product that can rapidly adapt to how the client’s system operates.

    2.  Always involve the client in each stage of software development.  The earlier you get the feedback, the more time you save when pursuing multiple milestones – simultaneously.

    3.  Get the software up and running quick to make users get the feel of a fully-functioning system.  This helps you get feedback in less time so you can continuously improve the end product.

    4.  Don’t make the whole experience a hassle to your clients.  There’s no need for them to test something that you have tested already.  Instead, make them review and validate that the software  has met their needs – from system configuration, migration, work-flow to integration with what they currently have.

    5.  Allow room for adjustment.  After your software went live, allow 90 days for you to make a list of what needs changing.  Then, you can make those final changes.  At this time, you must have a 100% running software that comes with support, documentation/licenses, and minimal bugs/risks.

    This is just a roundup of what clients should expect and what vendors must deliver when it comes to software development.

    If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to turn your dream IT project into a reality.. or someone who’s lost on how to deal with complicated software projects – Simply Ask!  How can I help you achieve that vision?

  6. Crowd Testing: Will It Really Work for Your Business?

    "crowd testing"In a world dictated by something ‘faster, cheaper and better’ – the real challenge comes when the quality of a product doesn’t meet expectations.  This may hold true for the case of Crowdtesting, or crowdsourcing software testing.  The only difference is that instead of outsourcing software development task to a small group, you now have access to unlimited number of testers (which can come into tens of thousands).  In this digital age where everything has moved online, crowd testing promises a better alternative to traditional software testing methods so you can keep up with your business and customer demands.  Now, you can easily access large number of talents to help you achieve your business goals.

    Crowd Testing: Is It Really a Better Choice?

    True to the Utopian concept, when you gather enough people who can put in time and effort – you get to achieve a lot faster.  Crowd testing is not really a new idea.  Remember those times when you were invited to test the beta version of a website or an application?  If you signed up, you have already participated in the process. Just take a look at Facebook whose site has been translated into different languages, or Wikipedia whose content has been written by people across the globe.  Both professionals and amateurs have contributed in the process that helped add more functionality to these sites.  We all know that R&D (Research and Development) is not cheap.  But when everyone is contributing to the table, one can only wonder if this is a permanent fix.

    The Case of Quality vs. Quantity

    Those in the business of testing software know that crowd testing is not a force to be reckoned with.  While we see stricter compliance these days, learn that this will not replace the traditional way to software quality assurance.  Businesses are walking a tight rope here.  If they test software in-house, they may just lose sight of unseen opportunities for improvement.  And if they focus on crowd testing only, they may lose their competitive edge.  There is also the issue of credibility to deal with where cheap labor is concerned.  I believe that a perfect solution would be mixing both traditional and new ways of testing to achieve maximum ROI.  This is the only way to weigh both options and come out as a winner.

    How Can Your Business Take Advantage of Crowd Testing?

    No matter how you plan to test on the cloud, you can add crowd testing as a complementary task before the product is released to the market.  This way, it helps catch bugs or defects before product launch.  You may also use it as a form of multivariate test so you can check what needs improving.  The more you test, the more you will learn ways to fail.. so you can succeed faster, I was once told.  If you believe that your product will need a high number of future updates or releases, all the more that you need to use crowd testing.  Overall, it doesn’t hurt to make crowd software testing as part of the normal test process.  It’s all about integration – of certified project managers, experts who can offer proven-results, and standardized methods to  assure quality on each project.

    The next big thing may just be a test away… Who Knows?   If you decide to tread along the crowd testing path completely, I’d say plan your next step very carefully as risks are higher.

     

     

  7. Should Entrepreneurs Learn How to Code?

    "learn to code"Tech entrepreneurs have been asking themselves if they should learn how to code.. or if they should take an MBA instead.  While both are very different, they are both applicable in doing business.  If you will pause for a moment to think of the outcome you want to achieve, would you hire an MBA or a developer to build stuff for you on the Web?  Of course, you’ll go for someone who can code.  You need someone with the hard skill to build things for your startup and you can innovate from there on, that is, if you have coding skills to build that prototype and take it to the next level.  Which leads us to another question: Should you really learn how to code?

    To Code or Not to Code

    Last time, I wrote about how automating certain processes in your system will help you get more done for your business.  But, what if you can build these from scratch?  You’d be surprised that there are self-taught coders out there whose apps got them earning enough profit to make a living out of it.  Thanks to the proliferation of MOOCs (massive open online course) these days, one can learn how to code from online learning sites out there – for free or for a fee.  There’s Udemy, Codecademy, Udacity, Code School for a start.  I bet there are plenty more out there.  You may even ask if you should learn coding in your spare time or if you should get a formal degree.

    “If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself”

    Many will argue that in technology, this is the No.1 rule.  How can you even know if your idea is executed right if you don’t know how things are done?  Thanks to new applications, it is easier to bring more functionality to your sites.  The truth is, if you want to produce a great product, you have to learn to write that code.  It’s like art; you need to know the skills of the craft to produce a masterpiece.  You might have been moved by this celebrity video from Code.org that advocates coding.. even the mayor of New York City is on the coding rush.  If you decide to learn how to code, you have to consider your time and budget for this.  After all, a successful startup needs a very strong product vision, a good user interface design and developer skills that can be achieved in and out of the classroom.

    Why Do You Want to Learn to Code?

    The case for learning how to code will all come down to how much time you are willing to spend to do so.  In reality, there’s really no right way of learning it and that a year of learning doesn’t mean you’ll come up with something that will solve your problems.  You need to find what motivates you first to learn this language or framework and once you have figured that out, you can start signing up for a class.  Still, you will spend valuable time.. I’m not really against the idea that everyone should learn how to code.  But this concept is setting up wrong expectations that coding is essential, like reading and writing.  Because coding is not just about creation of codes but coming up with solutions, you don’t simply learn something in 24 hours and get thousands of dollars out of it.  Like the rest of us, you have to spend years of perfecting that skill.

    Realistic and Smarter Approach

    It’s your choice whether to learn something new.  But pushing for everyone to learn coding is like saying we should all learn how to do our plumbing.. and so on.  It is much better to learn the basics of coding enough for you to understand what’s going on and leave the ability to write well to those who have encountered all the bugs and fixes in their years of dabbling with technology.  Let these specialists do the work for you so you can save that precious time and focus your energy in growing your business instead.

    Bottom line: You don’t need to learn how to code.  BUT, you need to know when to call the experts.