Business-focused custom software

  • Don't fall into the feature tar pit

    The last few weeks I've been setting up some third party software in a test environment so that I can do some development work on it. The software is an enterprise CRM, with a myriad of features and options.

    One feature of the software is its complex security model. Permissions can be set at a very detailed level: on each table, report, query, etc. Permissions are tied to groups, and users can be associated with multiple groups. Also, permissions are identified by different connection types (for instance: a LAN connection vs. a web connection.)

    The end result of these options ...

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  • How to prevent vendor lock-in

    There isn’t anything more frustrating than feeling like you have no choice. That’s one of the benefits of competition. But with technology, customers are often afraid of making a switch to a different vendor. If the current vendor is being difficult, a customer may worry that the vendor has programmed a technical "bomb" that will damage their system or reputation if they decide to switch vendors. Here are some ideas for customers to help protect their interests when working with a custom programmer:

    Deal with professionals
    You paid your girlfriend's cousin's high school acquaintance to build this awesome web ...

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  • The Secret to Caring Enough to be Fired

    “We’ve decided to let Steve go,” my customer informed me. “He just isn’t listening. And we don’t have any more time to waste on him raising the same concerns.”

    Steve was a programming contractor who took his job seriously. Some programmers just did whatever they were told. Not Steve. Steve would raise concerns when he didn’t agree with the technical decisions that were made. If the customer didn’t agree, they would explain their position, and Steve would nod and seem to assent. Then, the next day, he would bring up the same issue again.

    Steve probably thought he was doing ...

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  • How to protect yourself from the creeps (part 2)

    In part 1, I described some of the causes of software development scope creep.

    So now the $64,000 question is: what can we do to prevent scope creep?

    Unfortunately, there is no bulletproof, 100% guaranteed method of eliminating scope creep for your software project. That doesn’t mean that the requirements will definitely change, but it does mean that no one can promise you it won’t happen. (If they are promising that, they are selling you a bill of goods.) However, there are some things you can do to decrease the likelihood that creep will derail your project.

    Document requirements (and periodically ...

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  • How to protect yourself from the creeps (part 1)

    If you are involved in a programming project, sooner or later you will hear about creep – scope creep, that is. Typically, the conversation happens about half-way through the project, and it is an ugly feeling.

    You: It is important that the system include the [abc] functionality.

    Programmer: [ABC] feature wasn’t included in the proposal/requirements/design that you approved, so this is scope creep. Pay me more money for this feature.

    You (mumbling): Now I know who the creep is!

    This is a very common problem – more common than any of us would like to admit. And it can leave ...

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What the critics are saying...

Avonelle is a talented expert in her field. She has blended well with our team and built applications that we are proud to deploy to our associates. Her talents helped us execute a vision expediently and with quality. If we could do it all over again, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Peter Edstrom @ Renewal by Andersen