Business-focused custom software

  • How much flexibility do you really need?

    A business requirement I often hear when designing software is that the application must be flexible and easy to change without additional programming. This seems like a sensible idea - we all know that nothing stays the same, and flexibility can make the software continue its usefulness despite changing business conditions, regulations, and standards.

    There are two challenges with this requirement. One challenge is that flexibility is a very vague term. For some users, flexibility means that they can customize the colors or menu text. For others, flexibility means the ability to create custom business rules or reports. And for some people, ...

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  • Why your simple idea isn't

    Business people often describe their software application idea as "simple" or "easy" to build. Have you? Here are some things you may not have considered which can make building your application less "simple":

    • Security. Who needs to have access to this software? Even if your application is publicly available (and many aren't), there may still be certain restrictions for some users which increases complexity.
    • External users. Will your customers see this software? If so, you'll want to make sure there is enough professional polish on it.
    • Platform support. How many different operating systems and/or browsers does this application need to ...

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  • Planning for a scary future

    Every year at Halloween I buy too much trick-or-treat candy. Why? I don't want to disappoint any costumed children that may come to my door. Buying an extra bag or two of candy is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to handle the risky business of stiffing a local cherub.

    Throwing money at a problem isn't usually the best way to mitigate risk. Still, contingency planning is something technologists must embrace. While server experts must plan for issues like hardware failure, software developers must think about how their applications will respond to unanticipated problems. Error handling is one area that needs to be considered in ...

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  • Keep it under control

    I'm often amazed at the number of developers who don't use source code control software. The arguments I've heard against it are lame and half hearted:

    Too expensive

    Other than some time to set it up and the disk space to set aside for it, there is no reason for it to cost anything at all. There are several source code control options that are open source or free. (Some examples include Subversion and CVS.) Personally, I use Sourcegear's Vault, which is free for a single user.

    Only large teams need source code control

    Even teams of one person can benefit ...

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  • Can you hear me now?

    Do you ever run into a vendor who doesn't listen to you? I find this happens a lot more frequently than I would expect.

    Today I am struggling with an online vendor who made a mistake on my order. They got most of the order correct, but one item came in the wrong size. I shipped it back to them and requested a replacement. Unfortunately, they sent the wrong size back to me. The packing list shows the correct size. Apparently, something is in the wrong bin in the shipping department.

    Before I shipped it back again, I decided to ...

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What the critics are saying...

From my experience with Avonelle, she can be relied on to deliver whatever she promises--always on time and for the quoted cost. She'll ask the right questions to make sure that what she delivers truly meets the business need. Her expertise has been invaluable. All that at a very reasonable rate!

Kim Merriman, Operations Manager @ HousingLink