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News for March 2013

Friday Findings: Events 2013

Event CrowdAfter taking a few weeks off to tackle some other projects, Friday Findings is back to hopefully provide you some valuable information and news. As always, if you have a topic you would like us to research for you, leave us a comment.

We just spent a good week researching events to connect with people in the software and project management industry and perhaps learn a few things along the way. There are a lot of conferences out there and the important thing we came to realize is that one size does not fit all. We researched a variety of tracks including project management, Agile/Scrum, software development, and entrepreneur/small business. The research took quite a bit of time so instead of you having to do it yourself, we’ll list the ones we found here. On to the findings…

Project Management

  • Gartner PPM & IT Governance Summit – National Harbor, MD from May 20th – 22nd. This event is a gathering of PPM executives focused on improving how organizations select, implement, and manage IT initiatives. Attendance usually includes PMO’s, project and program management leaders, IT strategists, planners, and CIO’s. Cost for attendance starts at $2,075 and a typical sponsorship is $18,000 to $20,000.
  • Product Management and Innovation Event – Chicago, IL from June 24th – 25th. Attendees will learn from leading industry practioners on topics focused on innovation, business planning, and product strategy. The attendee profile covers product managers, product developers, product and business analysts. The attendee cost is $1,599.
  • PMI Global Congress 2013 – New Orleans, LA from October 26th – 29th. This conference is still a ways out so the details haven’t been posted yet.
  • PMO Symposium – Located in San Diego, CA from November 10th – 13th. Same thing as the previous one, continue to check back for more details.

Agile/Scrum

  • Scrum Gathering: Up the Ante – Las Vegas, NV from May 6th – 8th. Covering all things Scrum, this event address organization development, coaching, product roadmapping, Scrum elements, and tools of the trade. It attracts scrum masters, software developers and engineers, and project managers. Attendance cost starts at $1,400 and has a variety of sponsorship opportunities ranging from $5,000 – $20,000.
  • Agile Development & Better Software Conference – Las Vegas, NV from June 2nd – 7th. This event brings the most up-to-date information, tools, and trends regarding agile, project management, people and teams, and software development principles. Attendees include software developers, project managers, QA, and business analysts. The attendee cost starts at $1,795 and sponsorships run from $5,000 – $12,500.
  • Agile 2013 – Nashville, TN from August 5th – 9th. Agile 2013 offers anyone involved in software development an opportunity to learn Agile techniques, practical applications, new technologies, and research. Software developers, project managers, Agile coaches, and IT leadership are typical attendees. It costs $2,199 to attend and sponsorships range from $5,000 – $25,000.
  • AgilePalooza – These one-day events bring internationally recognized Agile coaches in for a day of learning and advancing Agile skills. Some of the cities they are hitting this year include Minneapolis, MN, Austin, TX, and Seattle, WA. Cost is low at $89.

Software Development

  • Quest North America – Chicago, IL from April 15th – 19th. This event is the best source for new technologies and methods for quality engineered software and testing. It has a wide variety of attendees including through leaders, IT professionals and directors, project managers, and software development managers. Cost for attendance is $1,895 with a couple sponsorships left between $2,800 and $4,600.
  • International Software Development Conference – Chicago, IL from April 23rd – 24th. This event lives by the phrase “by developers, for developers” where emphasis is placed on the latest development trends. The attendee profile includes architects, developers, and development managers. Cost is $995 and sponsorships range from $7,000 – $20,000.
  • Kansas City Developer Conference – Kansas City, MO from May 3rd – 4th. This a three day multi-track conference that covers aspects of software development and Agile. Typical attendance includes developers, project managers, and senior developers. Only $100 to attend with sponsorships running from $2,000 – $5,000.
  • IBM Innovate – Orlando, FL from June 2nd – 6th. This is IBM’s premier networking and educational conference for IT and engineering professionals working in product development and software delivery. Attendees include IBM clients, partners and industry experts. Cost starts at $1,695 with sponsorships from $7,000 – $49,000.
  • Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference – Houston, TX from July 7th – 11th. This event is a gathering of Microsoft partners and clients about the latest trends in software and technology. Directors, CEO’s, and presidents make up the attendee profile. Attendance starts at $1,795 with sponsorship opportunities starting at $8,500.
  • Xamarin Evolve 2013 – Austin TX from April 14th – 17th. Evolve 2013 brings together over 500 mobile development experts and industry leaders. Attendance cost is $899 with sponsorship opportunities starting at $5,000.

Entrepreneruship/Small Business

  • GrowCO by Inc. – New Orleans, LA from April 10th – 12th. This 3 day event brings together entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to achieve sizable growth in their organization. Attendance cost is $895 with sponsorships starting at $20,000.
  • DEMO Mobile 2013 – San Francisco, CA on April 17th. This is the conference for launching your new technologies or product innovations. Everyone is there – media, VC’s, and highly respected technology professionals and companies. Cost is $750 and sponsorships start at $3,000.
  • TechCrunch Disrupt – New York, NY from April 27th – May 1st and San Francisco, CA from September 7th – 11th. Probably the premier event for entrepreneurs, this offers something for everybody. The attendance is large and also streamed to 250,000 online viewers. Cost is $1,795 with sponsorship opportunities ranging from $2,375 – $40,000.
  • TiECon – Santa Clara, CA from May 17th – 18th. This event focuses on 3 tracks – mobile, big data, and software defined infrastructure. Attendance includes 3,000 tech execs, engineers, and startups. The cost is very reasonable $295 with sponsorship ranging from $1,000 – $4,000.
  • The Startup Conference – San Francisco, CA on May 30th. One of the largest events in Silicon Valley for launching your startup, learning how to pitch VC’s and promote to the press. Over 2,000 entrepreneurs will be there with you and cost starts at $99.
  • South By Southwest V2V – Las Vegas, NV from August 11th – 14th. Yes, another SXSW event so be there for the first year! Similar to the Austin event on a little bit smaller scale (for now), you will find entrepreneurs, startups, VC’s and angels, and mentors. Cost starts at $895 with numerous a la carte sponsorship opportunities available.

This is not an exhaustive list but should get you started if you are looking for any to attend during the rest of the year. Many of them are right around the corner but you can register as a general attendee almost until day of. Have more to add? Leave us a comment and let us know of any other great conferences we missed.

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.

Posted: March 29th, 2013
Categories: Friday Findings
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NACET Turns Innovation into Viable Businesses

NACET LogoSpotlight Software is excited to be partnering with the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) to assist clients with their software development goals. This includes mentorship on software project strategy and execution as well as a Spotlight subscription for one year at no cost.

Transforming Innovation into Business

NACET is a hands-on business incubator designed to transform innovative ideas into viable companies.  Together with a wide variety of non-retail, service, manufacturing, technology, science and energy firms, NACET fosters business growth and economic vitality to create high-quality jobs for the region.

Located in Flagstaff, AZ, NACET offers a state-of-the-art facility with affordable office and meeting space, administrative support services, fully equipped lab space and advanced technology. The client companies take advantage of the resources and extensive reach of mentors, faculty, staff, and alumni to turn their ideas into a flourishing business.

Business Engagement Program

Each client takes part in a full engagement program to build a foundation for long-term growth. Clients are engaged in two ways. Resident clients operate directly out of the NACET facility and affiliate clients conduct business out of their own offices or laboratories with access to the facility when needed. Both take advantage of the incubation program to further their businesses.

The incubation program includes:

  • Business strategy and management advising
  • Introductions to angel investors and early stage venture firms
  • Intellectual property advisement services
  • Mentor network of experienced professionals
  • Collaboration with University research teams and domestic and international student interns
  • Access to public and private partners, training and networking opportunities

NACET Facility

Any company besides brick-and-mortar retail is eligible to apply for  the business engagement program under certain criteria. Consideration is given to those companies that have a realistic business and marketing plan with projections for future growth. Currently, NACET is home to 28 total clients including 13 resident, 11 affiliates, and 4 students.

Spotlight looks forward to continuing our relationship with NACET and their clients to provide assistance in their software development planning and execution strategies. For more information on NACET and their clients, stop by the website or contact them directly.

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.

Posted: March 28th, 2013
Categories: Entrepreneurship and Startups
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How to Evaluate Virtual Employee Engagement

Virtual Employee WorkingThese days, businesses are going to hire the talent they want, regardless of location. This means they are more willing to fill a job with a person who is thousands of miles away if they are indeed the best candidate.

When people of a project team are scattered throughout the world, the door opens a little wider for virtual employee problems and disconnect from the team. That’s why it’s so important for managers to make sure team members stay engaged and productivity remains high. If motivation is starting to lack and virtual employees are becoming distant, it’s important to learn how to recognize it and take action.

So how do managers recognize this change in behavior? It can be difficult at times but there are some ways to hone in on virtual employees having issues: Level of communication, tone of voice, and body language.

Level of Communication

The first, and maybe most obvious, sign that a virtual employee is disengaged is decrease in overall communication. If you are having a hard time reaching them on email, phone, or whatever communication method you use, there may be a problem. This could signify they have other things on their mind ahead of the project.

Granted, this could be a temporary breakdown of communication that is short-lived. So look for a consistent downturn in responsiveness over a period of a couple days. If you are having a hard time reaching a virtual employee within two days, it may be time to take other measures. One approach is to use their direct peers to check if something is wrong. For example, in software development projects, fellow developers can often provide some insight because they are working with each other constantly and develop a different type of relationship.

Tone of Voice

Conference calls are a necessity of any virtual team. A good way to gauge a virtual employee’s engagement is by the tone of their voice. This also includes even listening for complete silences.  Billie Williamson, partner at Ernst & Young, would listen for signs of disengagement during every call. “Silence can mean consent, or it can mean the person you’re not hearing disagrees or is disengaged.”

If you sense a virtual employee is lacking engagement, follow up immediately. Put a positive spin on the follow up and see if there are any issues you can help with. This will often give you a good sense if it was a fluke or there is a larger underlying problem.

Body Language

The first thing you might be asking is how can you use body language in a virtual team setting? Even though you aren’t in the same office, body language can still be recognized via video conferencing. If you suspect a team member is not fully involved, see how they collaborate at the next scheduled video conference meeting. Multi-tasking, lack of interest, or no eye contact can mean they aren’t fully processing the information or even paying attention.

Try to engage the employee during the meeting if these signs are evident. If you know they are knowledgeable about the subject, ask things like “…you had some great ideas when we talked about this last, can you offer your insight?” This will ensure they feel positive about communicating their ideas and help dig a little further into the potential problem.

Your Experience

This is by no means an exhaustive list on how to gauge your virtual employees level of interest in a project. At Spotlight, we gain a sense of this through team member status updates, using both the quality and quantity of the updates as a baseline. If a member updates his/her status in the morning and not again the rest of the day, we have a pretty good idea something is going on. Our project manager will follow up and see if there are any problems, offering as much help as possible.

Another key that can often tackle this problem form the beginning: communication, communication, communication. Frequent and quality communication between all virtual employees on a project team can help quickly build trust and lead to faster identification of potential issues.

Are there other ways to evaluate your virtual team’s engagement in a project? We welcome your tips and comments from past experiences!

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our FacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


How Social Networks Improve Project Team Communication

Social Networks for Project TeamsIt’s no secret that in any project, frequent and meaningful communication is the key to success. This is especially true in software development as teams are doing more and more projects virtually across borders. When you think about all the means of communication available for teams, there is one that connects all of us regardless of location: social networks.

Our tag line here is “Project Management goes Social”. Project management and social are two words that you probably don’t see together very often. But Spotlight combines the two, using social network-like communication to keep project teams in sync and Agile project management for process and delivery. Now team members can collaborate efficiently on project tasks and know the status of everyone without ever picking up a phone or writing an email. Saves time to say the least.

There are a number of ways social networks solve communication challenges. Here we look at three that help project teams improve their communication, regardless of location.

Need-to-know-now situations

Software development projects will definitely have those urgent situations. Bugs that need fixed now, impromptu demonstrations, and server interruptions require very quick action. While email may be option, many people don’t have alerts set up or even check it that often.

Twitter-like communications can serve this need for quick information sharing that requires immediate response. Using protected Tweets and hashtags, team members can be quickly notified of events. Spotlight incorporates this Twitter-like messaging through quick status updates for events like this. Our developers simply send out a short message to let the rest of the team know when a major bug is reported or if they will be out of the office for an appointment. These messages immediately appear on the Spotlight dashboard for all team members to see and take action.

Using this Twitter-like feature has cut down our emails and phone calls dramatically. This allows us to use our email for communication with customers and external stakeholders.

Building a community

Project teams, especially those working virtual, often run into trouble building that trust between team members. Being successful requires the project team to learn about each member, how and when they work, strengths, weaknesses, and culture. This will develop that team chemistry even if you aren’t in the same office.

Building a Facebook-like community can encourage this kind of interaction. These communities give team members the opportunity to get to know their colleagues a little more on the human side. Spotlight incorporates this sense of community by providing every team member their own status card that appears on the dashboard for all other members to see. We often encourage our team to update their status with exciting things going on in their lives to build that team camaraderie. Other team members can “Like” the status or reply to it.

Building this trust through communities can be invaluable when the project hits a road bump and things get a little tense. Team members who know each other on a more personal level will often work together better in these scenarios.

Shared team discussion

Discussion boards or shared notebooks can serve as a great platform to work out bugs and assist each other. A social wiki often serves this function well where people can add, modify, and remove content at their choosing. Have a great tip to help someone with a task? Post it to the wiki and let your teammates add supplemental information to it.

Spotlight incorporates this idea into its platform through a shared project board. Similar to a wiki, any team member can post content to it, ask a question, or upload relevant files for the project. Our developers often post to the project board when a major upgrade to the production server is being deployed, letting everyone know the situation. Unlike the quick, individual status update, this message appears there until it’s manually removed so no one misses it.

Having a collaborative area like a wiki where the project team can trade ideas and help each other often results in faster task completion. Eventually, it can turn into an entire library of reference material for future projects.

Conclusion

While social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and a wiki are great tools, you still have to keep track of all three separately. That’s why Spotlight incorporated all of these features into a centralized platform where you can take advantage of each. It makes communication among our project teams seamless.

Has your business or project team used other social network platforms for improved collaboration? We’d love to hear about other tools and your experience.

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


How a 100% Virtual Workforce Works

Virtual Workforce of the FutureHere at Spotlight, we function as a 100% virtual workforce. We often find ourselves wondering, how many other companies do the same?

One company you may have heard of runs one of the most heavily trafficked websites in the world. WordPress.com, run by Automattic, is a completely virtual workforce. They employ over 130 people and everyone works from their desired location. Their strategy has proved to be very successful, as we have also found out at Spotlight.

Scott Berkun recently discussed his experience at WordPress working in a virtual workforce. He outlines several things that he learned, and many are the same things we experience on our team. Here’s a summary of some of his points and how we take advantage of it at Spotlight:

Creativity online

Contrary to some people’s belief, Berkun found that the collaboration tools available for the virtual workforce do not inhibit creativity whatsoever. People work on creative projects online all the time (maybe more so than in-house). Chat rooms, forums, social media, and SaaS apps can foster very engaging project collaboration. WordPress releases new features and updates several times during the day and uses these methods to brainstorm ideas for these updates.

At Spotlight, our designers and developers work with each other using Spotlight to collaborate on their tasks. This makes the process from design to development to implementation seamless. With real-time status updates on task status, they can easily bounce ideas off each other and make suggestions for creative improvements.

Leave it up to the employee

Berkun discusses how companies can empower employees by giving them the option to work virtually. Automattic for example, believes that individuals know what type of environment makes them the most productive. Giving them the freedom to choose this environment will make them feel empowered and self-motivated. This in turn, will increase team productivity and better business results.

Our employees have the freedom to choose how they work. Being an entirely virtual workforce, there really is no option on whether to work at home or not. But flexible work arrangements allow them to work in an environment most productive for them. We have some developers that work from early evening to late night and some that work afternoons. The key is having constant and open communication on current availability, which helps us work together no matter the schedules.

Choose the right tools

Choosing the right communication tools is important in working together efficiently. Berkun describes how Automattic employees hardly use email anymore. They engage with each other via internal blogs, chat rooms, and Skype. If you can master these tools, email will be a tool used for external communication to people outside of the team.

Our team uses Spotlight for our project collaboration tool with some Skype and Go To Meeting mixed in for conference calls. Spotlight offers a Facebook-like status update control, which our employees use to update the tasks they are working on and current availability. This ensures that everyone on the team knows the status of every other team member. Combined with the ability to send private messages and a discussion board, our email usage has decreased dramatically.

And finally…

Berkun is in the midst of writing a book on his experience at WordPress titled “The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work”. It discusses the unique workplace there where everyone works remotely and employees get as much vacation as they want, just to name a few of the perks.

Part of the research for this book included a blog article asking how many companies actually are 100% distributed. Some of them you may recognize besides Automattic, such as GitHub, Mozilla, and MySQL. There are probably far more companies than currently on the list, but it illustrates where the future of work is going.

Is your business 100% distributed or have a virtual workforce? Leave us a comment and let us know how it’s going.

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


Managing a Software Project with a Virtual Team

Virtual Team Management

As more businesses look for ways to cut costs, hiring project teams online becomes an attractive option. It offers access to an abundance of talent at a low cost without having to go through the administrative overhead of hiring full-time employees. In fact, a study done by oDesk showed that almost 90% of businesses are using a virtual team for projects and spend about $120 million on it each year. Virtual teams are especially useful in software development, where projects come and go and hiring full-time developers may not be necessary.

Managing a virtual team is not easy. Several things have to be considered before the project begins including location and time zones, culture, and work schedules of the team members. There may be one person in India that works all night and another in Chicago that works in the afternoon. But it can work and quite effectively if the proper process is put in place. Recently, Spotlight CEO Vincent Serpico took part in Smartboard Tuesdays at Phoenix incubator CEI Gateway describing the process in a 5 minute video. He has been managing offshore and nearshore development teams for over 15 years and lives by a process of communication and accountability. Specifically, he breaks down the process into three parts:

  • Planning – Prepare for each project by going through a requirements analysis. This lays out the project from start to finish and has the client describe the goals they wish to accomplish with their software. Based on the analysis, a product roadmap can be laid out where all virtual team members know exactly what milestones need to be accomplished and the timeline for those milestones.
  • Execution – The execution of the project begins from the requirements analysis. The tasks are divided up among developers, designers, and eventually QA and this begins the daily work towards completing the milestones set for each sprint. Ensuring communication and accountability throughout the day will keep a virtual team in sync and working together on any issues that may arise. Using a process of daily scrum meetings, team member availability updates, and communication of task progress will create a very productive work environment. A software solution like Spotlight helps in this process by allowing team members to simply update their status periodically throughout the day and keep fellow team members apprised of their situation.
  • Review – At the end of each day, we like to have our virtual team members complete a daily progress report. This is a short, bulleted list of what was accomplished during the day and the things that need to be done tomorrow that is submitted to their direct supervisor. It takes less than 5 minutes to fill out and gives our team a chance to jot down there thoughts and quickly identify issues that may be holding the project up. It also allows the Scrum Master or Project Manager to be prepared for the next day’s scrum meeting.

Hiring and properly managing virtual teams for software development projects can be a time and money saver for your business. Lots of great talent exists all over the world and you now have instant access to it through online hiring marketplaces like Elance and oDesk. For more detailed information on the process for planning and executing a software development project using virtual teams, check out our presentation on creating your business’ first software application.

Have other suggestions on managing virtual, freelance, or outsourced teams? Leave us a comment!

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


3 Signs Your Software Project May Fail

Every software development team’s goal is to complete their project within the time and budget determined in the planning stage. But not all projects go as planned. Knowing when to cut your losses and scrap a software project will allow you to put those resources towards one that is going to generate a return.

The statistics on the percentages and cost of software projects that fail are quite staggering. According to Galorath Incorporated, most studies quantify the dollar amount of software project failures to be in the $50 to $80 billion range. MSM Software recently interviewed 200 senior IT professionals and found that over half have been involved in a project that failed, as shown in the graphic below.

Software Project Failure

A software project failure is probably going to happen eventually throughout the life of a business. Being able to quickly identify the signs of a doomed project can save both money and time, as well as provide a great learning experience. While businesses obviously don’t want project failures, it can be compared with failing at a new business as an entrepreneur. It ends up being a valuable learning experience where you come back stronger the second time around.

So what are the signs of a software project that may be going backwards? Codesqueeze lists 101 of them but we’ll cover 3 of the more common signs.

Project requirements confusion

If your development team is still confused on the requirements of a project a few sprints in, then you may have an issue. This often can lead to having to start over or go back and constantly change things that weren’t clearly understood from the beginning.

When a software project is brought to the table, a thorough requirements analysis should take place and be discussed until everyone has a full understanding. Ensure that everyone on the team has ample opportunity to speak up when they don’t quite get it. Some people will be more hesitant than others.

Requirements analysis are sometimes difficult. Being able to decipher a client’s vision for their software and estimate what it will take is usually a matter of experience. When we have a new client sign up for Spotlight and ask for our consulting services to help plan their project, we’ll have our CEO and most senior level developer make the estimates. This ensures they get started on the right foot towards a successful project delivery.

Lack of interest

All software projects require active participation, feedback, and cooperation to be successful. If team members start showing a lack of interest, it may be because they don’t think the project is going to succeed. We all know what one bad apple can do to a team let alone multiple ones that lose interest in achieving its goals. They can bring productivity and morale down quite quickly to the point the project may be halted.

Constant interaction and teamwork throughout the day can keep team members interested and motivated to make the project successful. Spotlight’s social network like dashboard allows our team members to constantly interact on tasks and work together on issues. This helps keep them invested in the project and gives them a sense of security by knowing they can quickly seek assistance if needed. They stay interested in the team and project.

Poor communication

Communication can make or break a software project, especially if you aren’t all working in the same office. If things are starting to pop up in review meetings or daily scrums that are a surprise to everyone, then you have a problem.

In fact, communication can often be pegged as the number one cause of project failure. Project tasks are usually dependent on each other, so without communication between the people working those tasks, there is bound to be lots of confusion.

That’s just one aspect of it within a software project. Communication between outside stakeholders and the project team is another situation altogether.

The thing that makes poor communication so hard to stomach is that it can be avoided. Staying in touch during the day on task progress, availability, and problems encountered keeps everyone updated and can quickly bring light to any issues that need to be addressed immediately. A tool like Spotlight’s status update control can be used to quickly communicate your current status, availability, and what tasks you are working on. This keeps project stakeholders and everyone on the team current on the project’s progress and where potential bottlenecks could form.

And Finally…Failure Doesn’t Have to Happen

We’ve taken a look at a few warning signs that your project may be on a downhill slide. But rest assured, noticing these signs does not guarantee failure. Every project has peaks and valleys. The key is to recognize when the signs point towards failure and take action to prevent them from snowballing.

Have an experience in a software project that didn’t go as planned? Leave us a comment!

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


Developing Mobile Apps for the Changing Workforce

Not surprisingly, the mobile apps industry is booming. According to the Wall Street Journal, both Apple and Google have over 700,000 apps in their respective stores. Global revenue from app stores is expected to rise over 60% in 2013 to $25 billion. Looking at the image below from shoutem, upwards of 21 billion apps will be downloaded by 2013.

Mobile Apps on the Rise

Obviously, businesses and consumers are downloading more apps then ever. What’s this mean for your small business, especially if you are in the SaaS market? A mobile app is practically required to reach your entire target audience. What once used to be a nice perk if you had the resources to create a mobile app, has now turned a must-have with the workforce becoming more mobile than ever.

Mobilization of the Workforce

A major factor in the boom of the mobile app industry is the mobilization of the world’s workforce. A Forrester report shows that 66% of workers in North America and Europe already work remote. This has led to a huge increase in mobile apps being used by businesses for increased productivity no matter where you are.

Mobilization of the workforce doesn’t just have to mean those who are working “out of the office”. The medical industry is a perfect example. While physicians are running from room to room for appointments, having a mobile device in their hand allows them to quickly take notes or look up new and updated information. Mark Mills lays it out perfectly in his blog article on Forbes: “Apps are what makes mobile smart. They include providing physicians the functional equivalent of a nursing assistant, all the way to giving the farmer weather-through-commodity market decision capability on irrigation and harvesting.”

In keeping up with this shift towards the mobilized workforce, businesses must continue innovating to match all the mobile devices available. No longer can you focus only on the mobile app for iPhone or Android, you now must consider the iPad and Android tablet. With 63 million Americans expected to be working remote in the next few years, you can’t afford not to.

Creating mobile apps for the mobile workforce

While the project management SaaS industry in generally not known for it’s mobile app availability, Spotlight offers apps for both the iPhone and Android. In addition to providing an Agile project management system, Spotlight focuses on improving the communication and collaboration between project team members and managers. What better way to facilitate real-time collaboration than on a mobile app?

Mobile App for SpotlightSpotlight’s mobile developers utilized Xamarin to build both the iPhone and Android platform. Xamarin gives you the advantage of cross-platform development in C#, meaning you can reuse the code between iPhone and Android. Our app was developed for Android first and then we reused almost 80% of the code for the iPhone. It cut down the development time tremendously leading to a huge cost savings on the project.

With Xamarin’s help, you can build a mobile app for your business without having to recode, saving you money in the long run. Think of it as a long-term investment that will generate returns probably quicker than you think.

Conclusion

Remote work will only continue to grow despite what Yahoo says. With this increasing trend towards a remote workforce comes the need for mobile apps that businesses can utilize to make their remote employees more productive. For your business, look at building apps that facilitate the proper communication channels and can be accessed from anywhere, any time, and on any device. Those alone already increase production.

Spotlight’s mobile apps provide these benefits and more for managing projects, specifically in software development. We’re excited to see what the future brings for the remote workforce.

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.


Spotlight Partner Feature: CEI Gateway

CEI Gateway PartnershipSpotlight Software and The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) at GateWay Community College have formed a partnership to support their companies with software development projects and strategy. Companies at CEI have started taking advantage of the free-year subscription to Spotlight and some mentorship opportunities that the partnership provides.

As part of the partnership, Spotlight CEO Vincent Serpico has already participated in CEI’s SmartBoard Tuesdays, showing the steps to effectively managing a virtual team of software developers. This quick 5-minute video highlights the main points of planning your software project all the way through delivery.

CEI provides business incubation services to assist its startup clients in building a strong foundation for long-term growth. Each resident client operates their business out of the CEI facility and takes advantage of a dynamic business environment without the overhead costs. Affiliate clients already operate out of their own space and can utilize the facility when needed for meetings or conferences. Both clients have access to all business incubation services, which include:

  • Business planning and management
  • Assistance with funding
  • Patent advisement services
  • Mentoring and education programs
  • Collaboration with local universities
  • Coordination with area partners
  • Education seminars and networking

CEI currently has 11 clients, 8 residential and 3 affiliate, in a variety of industries from biotechnology to clean energy. To become a client, startups and entrepreneurs must go through a challenging application process to ensure they are a fit for the incubation program. CEI carefully selects their clients after a review of a number of criteria that helps ensure a proper fit between CEI and the potential client.

If you are in the Phoenix area, CEI will be hosting its grand opening on Thursday, March 7th from 10:00 – 11:00 am at the CEI GateWay facility. Come learn more about the program and meet the exceptional clients and staff they have on hand.

Spotlight is excited to engage with CEI and their clients to assist them with their software development planning and execution strategies. For more information on CEI, its clients, and incubation services, please visit their website or contact them directly.

For more information on Spotlight Software and our services, please contact us or visit our Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Author Profile
Seth Weedin (seth.weedin@spotlightppm.com) is the Director of Marketing at Spotlight Software.