How much control do you have when you outsource IT?

Outsourcing can have a lot of advantages, such as giving a company access to expertise outside of their system and reducing expenses. Some companies worry that outsourcing can mean losing control over certain operations and the probable effect it could have on internal processes, communication, productivity and/or responsiveness, or customer satisfaction.

If working with a reliable partner, IT outsourcing can reduce financial or staffing strain on a company, move the business forward, and team leaders can still maintain control over projects.

Why and what do companies outsource?

Large-scale software development and upgrade projects can seem intimidating, particularly with all the tasks internal IT teams must accomplish on a regular basis. Moving from legacy systems to new infrastructure, for example, presents challenges due to a large number of different programming languages used across the enterprise. However, even seemingly simple IT project implementation can become complex and costly without the appropriate expertise.

A recent example of this problem comes from a study that found cloud migrations are more expensive than many businesses first realize. This is largely due to vendor hype, as cloud providers under exaggerate the number of architecture and infrastructure changes required to orchestrate a cloud migration. Furthermore, the issue of surprising complexity can cause problems in many other areas of IT. This has led many companies to utilize software outsourcing services to ensure their projects can be completed efficiently.

Software services: Choosing the right partner

There are many advantages to working with a software services provider such as Estuate. For instance, IT partners typically have a wide breadth of experience in implementing software for numerous businesses. This not only gives these teams a more robust understanding of leading development languages and coding best practices but how to apply them in different business scenarios.

While outsourcing lifts much of the burden off internal IT teams, it’s important for businesses to maintain control over their IT projects. There is a high cost associated with choosing the wrong software services partner. Projects may be delayed, software functionality may be missing and the project could still go over budget if businesses are not careful in the vetting process. It is also essential for customers to maintain visibility over their projects to ensure the final deliverable meets expectations across the board. The news source listed several key elements to keeping control of IT project implementation when outsourcing:

Create a list of precise requirements

  • Ensure the vendor tracks and documents all software changes
  • Validate progress with data
  • Test the software before a large-scale release
  • Acquire access to the source code

Companies should work closely with software services providers from beginning to end. In the early planning stages, the organization’s own IT team can play a crucial role in understanding the vendor’s approach and whether that is the best option for the business. During the development phase, business stakeholders can be involved by identifying core features they need to complete their tasks to ensure that the final product meets their needs.

Estuate’s extreme service approach

Estuate’s team understands the importance of working closely with customers – not only to ensure client confidence but to deliver service that precisely meets each company’s unique needs. Whether they’re looking for a complete overhaul of their legacy software or an E-Business Suite implementation, Estuate’s clients will maintain control and visibility over their projects.

Estuate begins with a thorough analysis of existing IT systems and the creation of a project roadmap that clearly outlines the team’s planned approach. This allows clients to offer feedback or simply approve the method that has been outlined. Once an appropriate plan has been created, Estuate follows a multi-faceted process that ensures the final product will deliver the expected value:

  • Execution of a proof of concept to show clients tangible results
  • Incorporation of continuous feedback as per agile development philosophy to meet user needs
  • Creation of detail design documentation that identifies business process and technical specifications
  • Coding and testing of all applications and features
  • Robust documentation of the application design and source code

A large-scale IT project does not have to be an overwhelming task, as selecting a reliable software services partner can effectively expand a company’s competence without introducing new risks.

5 most commonly faced Software Development challenges

The information technology industry is highly complex, vast and dynamic. Software development is an integral part of the industry and is directly influenced by several factors, including growing complexities, market conditions, changing technology trends as well as increasing software development challenges.

Software engineering teams in different domains and business landscapes face varied challenges. For instance, software development projects are now increasingly governed by the “build once, deploy everywhere” paradigm where a single application can run across numerous platforms. Further complicating this issue is the need to integrate different programs and maintain support throughout the product’s lifecycle. In addition, greater demands have been placed on software developers forcing them to work within limited timelines and limited budgets.

In order to drive efficiency in your software development projects and enhance the reliability of your software development initiatives, it is important to understand the major challenges in software development and devise a systematic roadmap to cope with every challenge.

Major Challenges in Software Development

Rapid technology advancement

Every technology advancement is a blessing for the IT industry. But at the same time, technology evolving at a phenomenal rate leads to an added pressure for software development professionals to leverage these upcoming technology trends in software product development to gain a cutting edge over competitors and stand out in the market.

Increasing customer demands

Software projects are generally conceptual and are aimed at designing and developing software products that meet varied customer demands. To develop even the simplest application or product, developers must clearly understand the underlying business concept and bring in the required features to satisfy the growing customer demands.

Time limitations

Software development is a time-game. Developers work under pressured environments and strive to complete project requirements within strict and scanty timelines. This is especially a challenge when working with international clients on multiple time-zones. Time constraints often bring down efficiencies of development teams and lead to mediocre quality software products in the end.

Limited infrastructure/resources

Another challenge faced by majority of software development companies is a lack of resources or IT infrastructure to execute projects effectively. This could mean a lack of high performance software development tools, powerful computing platforms, inefficient data storage architectures or improper networks and connectivity. Such hindrances bring down productivity and performance of software development teams and impact the overall result.

Conflicts with software testing teams

In a classic software development project, interpersonal conflicts occur inevitably between software development and testing teams. Several factors contribute to such conflicts like working under high performance pressure, different mindsets, difference in job roles and the very opposite nature of development and testing. If not controlled and managed effectively, these conflicts could hamper the overall project adversely.

To succeed in a dynamic software industry that is driven by changing technology trends and challenged by multiple internal and external factors, your development teams must have a clear understanding of the problems that lie ahead of them and a roadmap to overcome them.

Implementing software development best practices could help reduce these problems to a large extent. Introducing a DevOps team to handle the testing-development crisis, adopting Cloud for seamless network and infrastructure and constantly enhancing the technical knowhow of your software development teams could help you fight some of these major software development challenges and establish a good position in the software market.

Retail Analytics – Top 5 reasons you need it in 2019 and beyond

We produce an overwhelming amount of data every day, roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes. According to an IBM Study, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. It was perhaps the beginning of the “big data era” everyone talks about. Today, this big data is driving business operations and reshaping industries. Retail is one of the most widespread and dynamic industries around the globe. It is also the industry that has benefited the most from analytics; the greatest by-product of big data.

But why do retailers need analytics? Retailers face cut-throat market competition. Keeping up with industry trends is essential to stay ahead in the race, especially in this omni-channel business space. Also, as a customer-centric industry, retailers are constantly under the pressure to serve customers better and retain them for longer periods. And, it’s not so easy to satisfy customers and match up to all their expectations.

Retailers therefore need analytics to be able to understand business information better, gain meaningful insights and overcome these challenges by making data-driven decisions.

Retail analytics is the process of studying retail business information and providing actionable insights on the various critical aspects of retail, such as supply chain, inventories, customer demands, and more.

Top business houses are already leveraging analytics for retail success and making the most of it. Here are the 5 best reasons you must consider investing in retail analytics, if you haven’t already.

Consumer Behavior Insights

Analytics allows retailers to study consumer behavior and understand their buying patterns. This is perhaps the biggest reason why retailers are investing in big data analytics. A study conducted in the US reveals that while 96% people search for products online, 65% purchases are actually done offline.

Consumer behavior insights enable retailers to understand why these things happen and offers a solution to improve sales. It is especially a boon for e-commerce businesses, where heaps of customer details, such as most searched items, items added to cart, abandoned cart items, etc. are easily accessible.

Marketing Strategies

Effective marketing is when you hit the right target using the right channels. Retail analytics helps marketers strategize their activities efficiently based on consumer behavior patterns and run profitable campaigns. As much as 13% retailers have already adopted “digital first” as their preferred marketing strategy.

For instance, a family apparel store owner would be interested in knowing where his millennial customers are most active and which channels are best to approach middle-aged customers for a festive offer. Analytics helps with such minute details and helps pick the right campaign for every customer group.

Personalized Offers

Customers love attention, and offering personalized deals is a great way to show your customers that they are important. 75% consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases.

But the trick lies in offering personalized deals to the right customer at the right time. Analytics helps businesses track down transaction histories and consumer preferences. It indicates what the customer wants, and allows retailers to offer similar choices at affordable rates, closing sales most effectively.

Store Optimization

Although omni-channel retail is the new trend now, 49% consumers still go for in-store shopping because they prefer to touch, feel or try a product before buying. One of the biggest advantages of adopting retail analytics is that it helps in streamlining not just online retail operations, but also helps boosting brick-and-mortar store performances.

It helps retailers analyze minute details like how often a customer visits the stores and how long he stays in which section and making further sales easier. With the help of analytics, it is also possible to stock up sufficient inventories based on consumer demands and market trends.

Customer Satisfaction

9 out of 10 customers like to shop at stores that offer free delivery. Whereas, 42% of customers rely on user reviews before buying a product. Customer satisfaction is the key catalyst behind retail success.

By using analytics, retailers are able to offer the customer exactly what he wants and engage him most effectively. This in turn helps in building a positive brand image, gaining trust and developing long-lasting retail relationships.

All in all, it is important for all businesses across all industries to understand that this is not just the era of big data, but also the era of “Analytics of Everything”, where analytics is everywhere, the powerful driving force behind successful businesses. There are more reasons to adopt analytics than to avoid it. It is probably the best decision to adapt retail analytics at the earliest; before it becomes an absolute must.

4 reasons why Cloud ERP is ideal for growing businesses

Selecting the right ERP system is critical for business growth. This article explains why growing companies should adopt Cloud-based ERP solutions.

Effective planning, management and utilization of resources is essential for successful business operations. It allows enterprises to allocate the right resources in the right areas and execute business projects efficiently. The need for a sophisticated resource management system led to the origin of ERP in the 1990s. ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning is a software designed to manage and optimize critical business processes in a unified manner.

A robust ERP system streamlines complex business processes, boosts efficiencies, offers greater visibility of information and enables business growth. A typical ERP focuses on core business activities such as human resource, finance, accounting, supply chain, inventory and customer relationship management. Most ERP vendors also offer custom-made software with industry and business specific features.

Traditionally an ERP software is housed at a company’s premises on its own servers and maintained by the company’s IT staff. However there are some key challenges of using an On Premise ERP. It calls for constant upgrades, hardware maintenance, a dedicated IT team and obviously additional operating costs. It might not be feasible for all businesses, especially small and growing enterprises.

However, with advancements in technology, the concept of ERP evolved and gave rise to Cloud ERP. It allows businesses to host an ERP software on a Cloud platform without having to invest in any hardware or data center. Here are the top four reasons why adopting Cloud ERP is a better option for growing enterprises in today’s dynamic business world.

Affordable and easy implementation

In contrast with the traditional on premise ERP systems, Cloud ERP is relatively easy to implement and cost effective. It is particularly favorable for small enterprises since it cuts down the initial capital investment and hardware installation costs. Cloud ERP is usually billed on a per user/per month subscription basis.

Also, since it doesn’t require an in-house data center or maintenance team, implementation is rapid and simple. All the data is stored, maintained and accessed over the Cloud, hosted by a third party vendor. It allows small and medium sized businesses to utilize the benefits of an ERP system without having to stretch their budgets.

Flexibility and integration

Agility is a prerequisite for business growth today. Cloud based ERP programs offer improved flexibility, accessibility and easy integration, a must to support dynamic business models and diverse requirements. Cloud ERP systems widen the scope for implementing tailor-made features to meet specific demands. They’re also compatible and easily integrate with new age technologies, applications, servers and systems.

Applications on a Cloud ERP work in an open environment with easy accessibility. It allows employees to access information anytime, anywhere using any device with a secure internet connection. The agile features of a Cloud ERP make it a scalable option for mid-sized businesses.

Enhanced security

As business operations become more and more data intensive, ensuring data privacy is an absolute essential. Recent cybersecurity attacks have increased the challenges of maintaining data security across on premise ERP centers, since they may not be adept at responding to cybersecurity protocols.

Cloud ERPs on the other hand, offer a higher degree of information safety and ensure secure encryptions. Most Cloud ERP solutions meet comply with standard data privacy regulations and follow predefined procedures to forecast risks and respond to malicious activities.

Improved business performance

Compared to on premise ERP systems, Cloud ERP solutions are faster and more scalable. It helps businesses streamline performance across all key areas of operations, including efficient resource planning and allocation. Cloud ERP systems run on strict SLAs and standard procedures, leading to fewer downtimes and increased speed.

New patches and upgrades are automatically updated on the Cloud, keeping the system up to date and enhancing productivity. Also, since they are hosted, maintained and secured by experts, businesses can focus better on core competencies and improve overall business performance.

Cloud ERP solutions are not just cost effective and secure, they’re faster, easy to use and highly agile. It is gradually taking over legacy ERP systems and is being preferred by most enterprises. If you too have been contemplating on the idea of adopting a modern and scalable ERP solution, now you know why Cloud ERP is your ideal option!

360 Degree Retail: Your Key to Retail Success

The retail industry is highly rewarding, yet equally challenging. Here’s why 360 Degree Retail is your key to success.

Retail is probably the easiest business, as well as the toughest. As simple as running a retail store looks, it is rather complicated to attract and please the customer. The customer rules the retail industry. Literally! Especially in a modern landscape, where the market is extremely competitive and the customer is smarter than ever before, growth in retail is like climbing a greasy pole.

A decade ago, success in retail depended on the expansion of your brick-and-mortar store. Today, it isn’t enough. Technology has massively influenced the way the industry operates as well as consumer behavior. The emergence of e-commerce markets and multi-channel engagement has raised consumer expectations from retailers. Today, success in retail hugely rests on how well you cater to changing customer demands for a long term.

Customer is king. This remains the number one rule for success in retail. As businesses understand this, they also realize the need for a robust mechanism to keep the customer highly delighted and constantly satisfied. It has led to a new sensation in the retail market, 360 Degree Retailing.

360 Degree Retail is the practice of optimizing all aspects of a retail business, making each activity more customer-centric. The idea is to ultimately deliver a 360 degree shopping experience to the customer each time. Recent technology advancements, like consumer analytics, digital marketing and business intelligence allow this, strengthening your position in the market, and enabling growth despite the competition. Here are some key aspects you must consider to be able to offer a 360 degree retail experience to your customers.

360 Degree Shopping Channels

The era of multi-channel shopping has already set in, and it’s just time to move on from traditional brick-and-mortar stores and start selling on multiple channels. Today, customers are more comfortable purchasing through online stores and ecommerce portals than visiting a physical store. Depending solely on brick-and-mortar stores could be causing you a significant loss of business and you must consider spreading your business to other channels. It also allows you to capture wider markets and sell globally.

360 Degree Retail Analytics

Successful retail is all about making the customer feel valued and privileged. Analytics is an absolute boon to the retail industry. It facilitates retailers to study market trends, understand customer preferences and customize offerings to cater to each target group. An investment in retail analytics can elevate your retail business outstandingly, helping you make well-informed business decisions and personalize offerings based on dynamic customer demands.

360 Degree Retail Marketing

The retail industry faces ruthless competition, and it only increases with time. A key element for survival and growth in the industry is effective marketing. Traditional marketing methods may not be too effective in a dynamic world, where customers are scattered across different media of communication. Digital marketing trends enable retailers to target the right customer, through ideal marketing channels and with the appropriate content.

360 Degree Customer Engagement

If enticing customers is difficult in today’s retail landscape, engaging them is even more challenging. It is difficult to retain customers due to several factors. A little extra effort in engaging customers effectively can result in building long term customer relationships. The best way to do this is by maintaining the quality of your products, strengthening customer support services and running loyalty programs such as discounts, rebates and privilege schemes.

In a volatile business world, success hugely depends on how quickly you adapt with changing technology and how well you nurture your customer. 360 Degree Retail is all about realizing that a happy customer is your greatest achievement, and improvising all your retail activities with a customer-centric approach.

Get the free e-bookDecoding the 'Right Automation Testing Tool': A Definitive Guide

Learn from our test automation experts how to handpick the right testing tool for fueling business growth.