Finoit Technologies https://www.finoit.com Thu, 24 Jun 2021 07:33:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Project Success and Transparency When Outsourcing Software Development https://www.finoit.com/blog/software-development-outsourcing-transparency/ Mon, 27 Apr 2020 11:08:14 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=15768 In the new business environment, the decision to outsource software

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In the new business environment, the decision to outsource software development function comes most times as economic and sometimes as strategic option, but not without the risk of losing control over operational effectiveness, efficiency and the implementation speed.

According to Deloitte’s global survey report, 87% of respondents have experienced “a disruptive incident involving third parties”. Such figures obviously trigger anxiety over outsourcing relationships, but there are silver linings too—the Project and Portfolio Management Survey reveals that IT project success rate is improving since 2016.

What has changed?

According to Mark Langley, CEO and president of PMI, “in the past, organizations might only think about benefits maturation and realization once the project had closed! But now, we see they’re looking at that from the beginning and using that as a measure of success or failure.” Today software development companies have become more matured with project management. They are valuing transparency; operating in a more cross-functional manner that is blurring the line between business and IT.

In the software development outsourcing process, you get transparency by empowering teams to connect and share information, as—“connectivity enables transparency”—famously quoted by Bill Gates. However, connecting the right information with the right team is necessary otherwise it would lead to confusion and chaos.

Based on our years of experience with our customers, their feedback and our interaction with other software development teams, we have identified that following six practices that may not only help you in identifying the best software vendor for your project but also ensure the high level of transparency while attaining better turnaround time, lesser costs and achieve more with less.

1. Process Understanding

A rational perspective on project transparency first off demands a constructive attempt to understand the practices followed by the software development company to ensure complete transparency, measure effectiveness, and provide visibility into the development process.

In line, the first question that comes to mind is— how does the vendor approach the project management process that helps in identifying how transparent the operations will be, which eventually leads to the next question i.e. how that approach would benefit you in achieving your software development goals.

As such discussions do not happen during screening and selection process, a robust discovery session at the very beginning of the project is much needed, wherein the Project Manager and key stakeholders walk you through their practices to assure transparency and set the accountability for the project’s progress.

A good session will guide you towards critical questions, make you aware of the industry best practices, and enable you to assess the practices to increase accuracy. Things to analyze in discovery sessions are:

  • Who Sees What: Not everyone in the team is required to see all the client information, as over-sharing information could threaten client confidentiality and may not also be productive or helpful for all the team members. The best practice could be to let everyone see the bigger picture to understand the larger goals of the project. Also, data of the project’s progress should be accessible by one and all to help bring transparency in the process.
  • Who is Accountable for What: Analyze their team structure to see how the information flows from one team to another and who will tackle the project-level problems at different phases of the development. Knowing at the beginning who is accountable for what will help you to contact the go-to person for a particular problem.
  • Reporting Mechanism: Neither project manager nor the upper management should be overwhelmed with information. It is essential to fix a mutually agreed reporting timetable and format, such as weekly, fortnightly, and monthly, each with different agenda, like current and backlog, so that different stakeholders from your side can access the project’s progress data to use it in their own formatted reports.

In the end, everything boils down to how efficiently project manager facilitates collaboration by providing a platform to every stakeholder for sharing relevant information and feedback.

2. Project Methodology and Micro Goals

While a robust discovery session boosts your overall confidence in the software development company, ensuring transparency during operations demands a more in-depth analysis of how the project manager implements the measures for transparency at ground level.

Usually, you select a project methodology depending upon your initial requirements, such as if the project has a fixed set of requirements then the fixed price model works for you or if the requirements are dynamic, you choose agile methodology.

Each methodology requires a unique set of measures to maintain software development outsourcing transparency, such as Agile methodology is more of communication focused—individuals and interactions are given more preference over processes and tools, whereas in waterfall method transparency is maintained through a strict reporting mechanism.

No matter what project methodology you have chosen for your software development project, you must ensure that micro goals for a sprint (time-boxed period, usually varying from 2-4 weeks, where the development team works to complete a set of task) are set in collaboration between you (product owner) and the software development team.

Sprint Goal

Here is how you can optimize transparency while software development outsourcing by ensuring sprint planning effectively:

  • Conduct a timely “Sprint Planning Meeting” to decide on the sprint backlog and pick the next item to be worked on and ask the right questions to the team to verify their understanding of the concept.
  • Set a common standard to keep every stakeholder on the same page for any given activity. For example, those performing the task and those inspecting the task must share the same definition for “task completed”.
  • Practice regular tracking of the progress towards the sprint goal to identify the red flags, including any deviation from the actual plan. If any deviations beyond the accepted limit are found in such inspection, then the adjustments should be made to minimize the deviation.

Proper sprint planning and implementation not only bring the required transparency but also instil clear vision amongst the team members.

3. Forecast vs. Actual

Keeping a track of forecast and actual timeline and thus the expenditures for short-term operational considerations would indicate where your project is actually going. You can use the information to identify red flags and thus take corrective measures immediately to restore the initial project plan, focus on either fixing the issues or simply getting rid of the target or find an alternative for those tasks that may not be wise to attempt.

It is necessary that you value the data directly sourced from the software development team as it would give you a clear picture of the actual status of the project. Often the business side of the software development team does not give particular importance to the software developers at executive level, mostly because of the lack of interactions, and render to the assumptions.

The decision to proceed with such assumptions can create major hindrances at the later stage of the project, causing project failure or extreme budget overruns.

Including data directly sourced from the development team in your tracking mechanism introduces you to the existing reality of the project status thereby bringing the required transparency in the process.

4. Team Distribution

You must involve yourself in team distribution to achieve outsourcing transparency at the very beginning of the project. Getting involved in team distribution helps you in three ways:

  • Provide you information about who is working on what
  • Ability to plan the engagement hours of technical and non-technical teams
  • Budgeting based on teams’ contribution. For example, reducing the engagement hours of resources that will be contributing less and taking them on a short term basis, as and when required.

Make sure that you have not been billed for what you have not used or that you do not have members in your project team who will contribute very less but are being charged full-time. However, it’s important to understand that every member in the technical and non-technical team has a significant value in the project, and you simply cannot ignore that value to cut cost. The idea of getting involved in the team distribution is to ensure judicious utilization of resources and transparent engagement.

5. Project Manager and Team Accountability

Having a clear notion of accountability within the project management is critical to ensure transparency in software development outsourcing projects. As a project owner, you can build accountability for project manager on:

  • Setting clear expectations in meetings
  • Defining the timeline for every task in the project
  • Planning the schedule of individual and team
  • Tracking critical milestones and keeping a record of planned vs. existing statuses

While having a discussion with the project manager, open up about your risks so that they can be aware of the consequences for you if the project faces any setback. Here is your quick to-do list on maintaining communication with the software development team in order to improve transparency.

  • Set responsibility and accountability with the project manager: Project Manager must ensure that you get every detail of the plan and if any deviations occur in the middle of the project, they are accountable for it and it is their responsibility to bring the off-the-track project back on track.
  • Participating in a project kick-off meeting: Make your expectations very clear in the meeting. You can oversee how project managers hold the team accountable for a particular task without micromanaging or browbeating.
  • Get public commitments: It is necessary to determine in the meetings who is responsible for what and who is going to handle any unexpected issues. Getting public commitments brings a sense of responsibility among the team members to complete the task when they should be.

These are a few ways to ensure effective communication, which is also the key to software development outsourcing transparency.

6. Know What You are Paying For

How do you know you are paying for the right things?

Being sure that you have not been overcharged is one of the most difficult aspects of software development outsourcing. It requires visibility into the daily operations to verify details like hours worked and logged by technical and non-technical staff, deliverables, and milestones achieved in a timely fashion.

For example, if you are paying a fixed price, you have to ensure that major deliverables are being achieved in a specified timeframe. And if you are paying based on the Time and Material model, where you pay according to the resource utilized, you need to have figures related to actual work hours of developers.

To boost trust in the outsourcing relationship, it is essential that you have every detail available on-the-go, so that you are assured of the items you have been billed for.

The Takeaway

As global locations for software development have become more viable, establishing transparency lines to foster trust and create an environment of control and inclusion at the beginning have become all the more necessary. Thankfully, project management processes have evolved and matured today and there are a lot of tools available that enable software development companies to maintain transparency and set clear vision of the project outcome across the organization. It is important for you, as a project owner, to utilize these resources and be meticulous in your planning and implementation to ensure project health and success.

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Guide: 10 Lesser Known Methods to Reduce Software Development Cost https://www.finoit.com/blog/top-10-methods-to-reduce-software-development-cost/ Thu, 16 Apr 2020 12:35:51 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=15754 Our empirical observations since a decade in the software development

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Our empirical observations since a decade in the software development industry suggest that key to a successful software development project is No Surprises.

In software development, any deviation from the original plan for unexpected reasons means an added effort to materialize the “planned outcome”. And since everything in software development has a cost associated with it, such effort could easily lead to budget overruns.

As there are many variables that affect the cost, it is necessary to impose a robust structure at the very beginning, so that every activity must hinge at ‘as planned’. Failing to do so, for whatever reasons—hasty timelines, poor estimations, irrational commitments, lack of foresight, or technical incompetence could have catastrophic consequences for the project.

While being within the budget requires careful analysis and regular tracking of all the variables like — (a) people, (b) programming, (c) tools, and (d) deliverables, reducing the software development cost and not letting it exceed the defined budget needs a lot more effort than standard project planning.

Over the last 10 years of our experience and insights from industry experts and businesses, here are a few proven approaches that not only help in reducing the software development costs but also beneficial in preventing the cost overruns.

1. The ‘Future’ or ‘Now’?

Most projects start with the future in mind. With consideration of how industry, users and product functionality/features requirements dynamics would evolve. To incorporate and plan, keeping these things in mind, special focus needs to be given to system design and architecture.

Your software’s architecture is like the foundation of the product and may define the level of scale you would be able to achieve. If a software product is being planned like a POC, scalability may not be the priority and can be planned with the timeline in mind while an enterprise software that will be used by thousands of users now and may have hundreds and thousands of users in future need very thorough and meticulous planning for system design.

This planning, with future in mind, in the very beginning, will help mitigate future challenges associated with scalability and may help save huge costs that otherwise would need to be invested to rework on software architecture and scalability.

2. Mapping Requirements

Software requirement analysis and finalisation is never a “gathering” process in fact a consistent process of discovery and invention. Researchers and tech authors often use the term requirements elicitation to indicate the changing requirements.

You cannot actually define all the software requirements for the software system at the very beginning of the project. On an average, a small to mid-sized software development project can take around 4 to 8 months in completion and in that period, new requirements can emerge at an average of 2% to 5% per calendar month especially if the initial requirements were defined very meticulously.

So if your software development project has a strict budget, try to narrow down the requirement before starting the software development process. Change in requirements is inevitable and never free. The best option is to slim down at the beginning, so when the project demands new requirements in the middle of the development phase, it won’t be a do or die situation for you in terms of budget.

Besides, at times, you will have little control over new requirements. A simple proposal from BA could trigger the new requirements. To address such requirements that have both cost and schedule effects, better create a Change Control Process and assign the responsibility to the stakeholders whose primary task is to control and implement change effectively, rationally, and appropriately, without acting as a barrier, but as a powerful structure that minimizes scope creep.

3. Estimating All Probabilities in Cost

One of the first questions that come to mind when planning for software development is about the budget. And when finally, after continued assessment of the requirements, the budget is fixed and allocated, a very common phenomenon occurs—cost overruns.

Common!

The study says so. According to the HBR study, one in six IT projects has a cost overrun of 200%. If we try to find what companies may have missed during software development cost estimation, we would come across problems such as:

  • A number of unaccounted activities performed during the project
  • Unexpected but necessary involvement of non-technical workers
  • Unplanned delay in the project, either caused by software failure due to technical incompetency or extensive schedule pressures
  • The emergence of new requirements and lack of contingency reserves

Although it is quite difficult to quantify every activity and keep a reserve for probabilities, it is important that C-level executives evaluate the project outcome in a variety of conditions.

4. Avoid Big Bang Approach

Over-optimism and misplaced zealousness have been one of the many reasons for the failure of software development projects. Even if you have a decent budget for the project, it does not guarantee success.

McKinsey research conducted in collaboration with the University of Oxford reveals that on an average 66% of large software development projects have cost overruns and 33% of projects face schedule overruns.

Here is an example; when Sainsbury’s Supermarket Ltd. outsourced its IT process management and warehouse automation project to Accenture. Initially, the project was large, which was thought to be worth £1.7bn, so Sainsbury roped in other suppliers for building their new automated depots. A year later, Sainsbury began experiencing problems in the warehouse automation system, mainly errors in reading barcodes, and two years later, it announced that its warehouse automation project was a failure. The initiative which started at the estimated budget of £400 million finally stretched to £526m.

Sainsbury’s held Accenture responsible for the failure of the project, however, Accenture refuted the claims, saying that four IT automation systems were not under their existing scope, and since they were not responsible for the “strategy, development, and operations of these.”

According to Paul Smiddy, Retail Analyst at investment bank RW Baird, “Instead of a step-by-step approach, Sainsbury’s went for a sort of big bang.”

Such failures are not uncommon. Whether your project is large or small, slice every bit of the deliverables, from specifications to source code and test cases to user manuals in small sizes and then set the milestones, which will give you an idea of the most recent status.

A successful software development project evolves smoothly—right from the time when the business side of the team put forth an initial requirement of software with certain capabilities, which move onto to finance desks for approvals, and then finally reaches in the hands of IT executives who ensure there is nothing as unplanned.

5. Accuracy in Schedule Planning

The vision, scale and practices you choose to develop your product lead to a big impact on your schedule. E.g. Consider that you have two technology stacks to choose from, the first one is a low-cost approach which enables you to quickly develop, reach to initial customers to validate the idea, understand the market fit or to reach to investors but it is not scalable if you are an overnight success. However, the second one, while delivering all the above plus scalability will require much more extensive work leading to higher time to market and cost.

What would you choose if you have schedule pressures?

Definitely, the first option—timelines or time to market affect the choices you make, and those choices have cost impact, therefore it is necessary that you conduct proper schedule estimation.

The software development timeline depends on a number of activities, such as- requirements, design, coding, documentation, testing, and project management. For instance, if your IT project is not feature-intensive, then the time dedicated to each activity would be less. Also, these activities vary from project to project, such as the waterfall method requires more activities than the agile method. A typical e-commerce project will have a lesser number of activities than a large healthcare IT project.

Accurate schedule estimation means better planning. If your software development service provider is aware of the schedule pressures at a very early stage, it can choose a delivery strategy and development methodology that delivers the expected outcome.

6. Deciding On the Technology Stack

What is the best option between Angular and React? Is node.js better than Django? How about Postgres or should I select between MySQL and MongoDB ? What would be the best choice between Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS?

There are many such questions that must be rattling around in your head. And since each of these questions have serious cost implications on your software development project, not just today but also in future, taking the right decision is the only option you have. We would recommend you to weigh in on these two things while selecting tech stacks:

(i) Type of software project

Type of software development project affects choices and thus the cost. For example, if it is a backend web development project, your common choices for programming language would be either Java or Python. But if your project is of PC game development or enterprise app development, where memory management is not manual, then preferred programming language would be C++/C# because of its ecosystem, its closeness to hardware in OS and drivers.

If you evaluate the scenario from the cost perspective, hiring for Java programmers is easier and with more options available, you have the scope for negotiations, whereas hiring for experienced C++ programmers would be heavy on your pocket.

(ii) Vendor Support

You won’t like to be using anything in your stack that is not future-proof, as in after a few years, if you wish to enhance the capabilities of the system, you will have to work from scratch. While selecting a tech stack, always check what top companies are doing and also who is behind the technology, such as Angular, a mobile and web development framework, is sponsored by Google and React, a framework for UI development, is promoted by Facebook.

When you select technology of the reliable vendor, you get the assurance of long-term vendor support. However, keep in mind that the tech stack must fit your requirements for design, development, environment, scalability, and migration.

7. Balancing Between Skill and Experience

Skill and experience should have strong project relevance.

From project managers to software developers, everyone in your team must have relevant skill and experience, where skill brings the technical competency, experience introduces pragmatism and perfectionism that helps in implementation as per plans.

A good programmer has expertise in quick-and-dirty hacks as well as extremely refined robust coding. If you have budget constraints, try to create a balance between senior software developers and executives. On every 5 developers, have one 1 senior developer. Also, hire software developers having experience relevant to your project like it is possible that a developer has 6 years of experience but only 2 years of relevant project experience.

A team that has skills to understand functional requirements, can think from the project’s end-user perspective, relate to software’s users’ challenges and develop the software keeping these in mind will create the best balance and the outcome.

8. Tracking Budgeted vs. Actual Expenditure

Often, when building software, we are able to understand and track the high-level deliveries but end up missing micro-level visibility that impacts timelines and the cost. Defining micro-level tasks/deliverables and formal tracking of accomplishments, milestones, and identifying and addressing problems in a timely manner is effective in controlling cost.

There are two benefits of tracking: quality control and cost control, where one is a consequence of another. Tracking budgeted vs. actual expenditure will alert you that something is not right and is deviating from the plans, which then triggers deeper cost analysis.

The cause of the difference between what was expected and what is happening could be anything from mistakes and complexity in codes, bugs and vulnerabilities in the system, or new requirements proposed by the business teams. Regular tracking of budget makes you aware of the existing stage of budget, while alerting you for any red flags in the software development process.

9. Quality Control

In software development, source code determines many programming decisions, and every decision in a software development project has a cost impact.

Having a robust quality control system in place is necessary to ensure that every code is reviewed and inspected on a routine basis in order to avoid any fault in software and to achieve finer granularity. Peer review and automated and manual testing could help you curb any violation of coding standards, choosing bad boolean names, long function, and ambiguous comments.

Code review and analysis should be implemented at a very early stage and developers themselves must take accountability for their code quality, as many empirical observations support that the cost of defect repair is often larger than the coding. When outsourcing your project to a software development company, discuss with them how they approach quality control and manage code smells.

10. Support and Maintenance

If you have not allocated enough resources for the maintenance stage, chances are the new cost elements will leave you frustrated. The problem is many relate support and maintenance with just bug-fixing, whereas, according to a research, bug-fixing is just 21% of the entire proproption of the maintenance task.

There are a range of non-corrective measures, which includes aligning with customer priorities and actions based on that such as enhancement capabilities and removal of obsolete capabilities, and software optimization.

You may not be required to take all the measures on an immediate basis. But you cannot ignore them for long, so practically it would be a better approach if you have proper software maintenance planning done with your software development company and extend the budget for relevant processes and activities to avoid last-minute surprises.

The Sticking Points

The software development industry is capable of catering to comprehensive requirements—whether you have a small project with budget constraints or large IT projects with vast scope. Just be practical and meticulous so that no unknown interferes with the outcome of your software development project and even if it does, you have a system ready in place to resolve it before it becomes a potential threat.

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Technology Trends that will Disrupt your Business in 2020 https://www.finoit.com/blog/technology-trends-will-disrupt-business-in-2020/ Mon, 13 Jan 2020 10:49:59 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=15539 John Chambers, the Executive Chairman of Cisco Systems once said that

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John Chambers, the Executive Chairman of Cisco Systems once said that – “At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years…If they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies.’’

Rightly said, transformation, evolution, and revolution are the key to success. And with the advent of 2020, the adventure begins! Quite a revolution we would say the last decade was! The transition to digitization has been impactful, revolutionary and thriving. While 2019 surely has expedited the crusade of businesses from manual to digital, we cannot assume it would stop at this.

The power of disruption has been realized by enterprises and they are eager to try, experiment, learn, and share more.

In the year 2020, we are talking numbers. Millions of numbers actually as our scope has increased a million times. The increase in dependency of usage of tech-based applications like smartphones, devices, latest trends, social networks; it’s all creating a web of opportunities that no one wants to squander.

We have already discovered service apps like Airbnb, Uber; personal assistants like Alexa, Siri, prudent apps like bank apps, shopping apps and the list continues. 2019 has created the base for 2020 to spawn more likelihoods for users with new trends ultimately. Could you imagine the idea, the innovation we are talking about? If not, read through the blog to get a glimpse of the feasibility of 2020 tech trends.

Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo that happened in October 2019 predicted that the key 2020 technology trends would circle two major areas, i.e. human-centric (Hyper automation, multi-experience, democratization, human augmentation, transparency & traceability) and smart spaces (edge computing, distributed cloud, autonomous things, blockchain, and AI Security).

As technology evolves and disruption bound businesses to introduce applications and solutions embedded with tech trends that will continue to shape the progress in the coming time, we are excited to share the plethora of potentials that 2020 brings in.

1. 5G

Let’s not underestimate the power and possibilities driven by the 5G trend. The businesses and the end-users have already experienced what the growing trend could do and how it could impact the world in both good and bad ways. The power of connectivity through high-speed, low-latency wireless service is impeccable, and the world demands more.

The market research manager of TEKsystems, Mr. Jason Hayman says – “Organizations are advancing their 5G strategies even before widespread network availability.”

5G is one of the 2020 technology trends that promise to improve the latency in processes where customers, enterprises, businesses, end-users will experience real-time intelligent decision making or feedback as the network speed fastens. While this accelerates most of the ideas, it also promises to bring serious competition.

2. Hyper Automation

Gartner outlines hyper-automation as the trend that deals with the application of advanced technologies. This includes tech-trends like artificial intelligence (AI), Robotics Process Automation (RPA), machine learning (ML), to enhance automated processes and augment humans.

It introduces a range of automated tools that expand human capabilities. It’s different from regular automation as it is a collaborated effort of technologically advanced tools and combining them to create a new way to work.

With little to no human intervention, the hyper-automation trend could develop a workplace that is informed, progressive, agile, and able to use data and insights for quick, accurate, and intelligent decision-making easily.

3. Edge Computing

Predictions set by the Forrester Tech Tide: Compute Platforms, Q4 2019, edge computing would be one of the strategic investments that will disrupt businesses in 2020.

The growing need for on-demand compute and real-time app engagements will play a role in driving the growth of edge computing in the year 2020. Edge computing, an IoT related phenomenon is one of many tech trends that propels the idea of improving the revenue by boosting overall business production, monetizing data, and helping in selling services as products.

57% of mobility decision-makers who were surveyed in the Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics® Mobility Survey 2019, said that they have edge computing on their roadmap for the next 12 months.

Source: Forrester

While it is estimated that the edge computing market will rise by 50% in the year 2020, we cannot neglect the power it carries with itself to transform the industries at lengths. Fueled by the propagation of connected devices, the benefits that edge computing delivers are:

  • Elasticity to handle existing and forthcoming artificial intelligence demands
  • Avoidance of network latency
  • Faster Response
  • Conduct compound processing that cloud can’t support

4. Democratization of Technology

With expansion and disruption of digitization throughout the globe, the pressure of being digitally advanced even at the end-user level has become critical for businesses. The expensive training to educate and train employees about the latest technology trends such as Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Application Development, etc. has pushed businesses to think of a solution that is compact, reliable, and approachable for end-users.

It is designed to bring a new generation of people/developers who would be self-sufficient to face challenges in the business and act accordingly. By 2023, Gartner is assuming acceleration in four key aspects of the democratization trends, which are:

  • Democratization of data and analytics tools
  • Democratization of development
  • Democratization of design
  • Democratization of knowledge

5. AI Security

Artificial Intelligence has managed to refurbish end-user’s way of living by introducing them with solutions that range from voice assistants to self-driven cars and more. While this is enticing and thrilling at the same time, it is quite hazardous as well. AI opens up the path of security threats easily. There is a lot of information that AI-based apps use to function and become an easy threat.

IDC has predicted that investment in AI would grow by 46.2% annually, thus reaching $52.2 billion by 2021. Capgemini research predicts that almost 51% of enterprises solely rely on AI Security measures for threat detection, forecasting, and retort ideas.

Source: Capgemini

It’s important to analyze the threats and manage the security of AI applications. The year 2020 brings relief as future AI security will focus on 3 critical perspectives:

  1. Enable protection of AI-powered systems by securing AI training data, pipelines, and machine learning models
  2. Introduce enhanced security defense, utilize machine learning to understand behavior & patterns, and automating cybersecurity processes
  3. Forecasting the attacks and plan defending solutions against them

Conclusion

2020 anticipates more tech trends that will disrupt the business and prepare it for more significant opportunities and potential challenges. Embracing change is one way to keep pace with technological advancement and guarantee success in the market. While we mentioned most of the tech trends that would revamp the business operations, there are few more that definitely needs special callout like transparency & traceability, human-augmentation, multi-experience, etc.

The idea of adopting the latest technology trend seems the only way to meet the user demands and ensure the success of the business. With the right focus on digital transformation, the business tends to grow efficiently and successfully.

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WordPress 5.3.2 is Available: Details On Maintenance Release https://www.finoit.com/news-events/wordpress-5-3-2-is-available-details-on-maintenance-release/ Mon, 06 Jan 2020 09:27:50 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=15314 With its yet another release, WordPress has made available the version 5.3.2 available that is focused mainly on fixing bugs and adding enhancements.

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With its yet another release, WordPress has made available the version 5.3.2 available that is focused mainly on fixing bugs and adding enhancements. This is a short-cycle maintenance release that has been made just after WordPress 5.3.1 roll out.

With its long tradition of rolling out maintenance releases one after another, WordPress has remained particularly in addressing major issues that developers face. Maintaining the same, WordPress 5.3.2 release also offers a solution to the issues illustrated below.

  • Date time component issues (major issue found in modified post handling) have been fixed. The get_feed_build_date() function now correctly handles the a modified object with an invalid date.
  • Another priority issue was upload issue (a conflict that was occuring in naming the file) and fix in wp_unique_filename() function so that file name collision can be avoided when uploading a file with upper-case extension on non-case-sensitive file system.
  • Another issue that has been fixed is about wp_unique_filename() which was a concern that was showing PHP warnings while a destination directory for an uploaded file is unreadable.
  • Next comes the release to fix non-default admin color schemes related to background, button,text etc.,the colors in all color schemes for buttons with the .active class has now been fixed.
  • Next update deals with Posts, Post Types that state to use a proper delta comparison when checking the post date to set future or publish status in wp_insert_post()

All these 5 fixes and enhancements will be merged with the next significant WordPress release, i.e., version 5.4, which is currently a priority work for WordPress team.

Another matter of discussion with this latest release is that WordPress has not addressed any security fixes, which means that the platform is majorly focusing to built its core system in terms of security.

Get a look of official release page here and in order to download this latest WordPress 5.3.2 release, go to Dashboard> Updates and click on the button Update Now.

Users having automatic update settings do not need to download the same as the version will automatically be installed on their systems.

Take a look at the list of files revised:
  • wp-admin/about.php
  • wp-admin/css/colors/_admin.scss
  • wp-includes/version.php
  • wp-includes/feed.php
  • wp-includes/functions.php
  • wp-includes/post.php
  • wp-includes/version.php
  • That’s all about the latest WordPress 5.3.2 maintenance release!

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Infusing Design Thinking in Software Development https://www.finoit.com/blog/infusing-design-thinking-in-software-development/ Tue, 12 Nov 2019 12:41:54 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=14971 I was 8 years old when I first felt the frustration of being clumsy.

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I was 8 years old when I first felt the frustration of being clumsy. In art & craft class, my friend Nia was cutting paper into perfect pieces to make a bird. Next to her was I, admiring her talent, wondering would it be possible for me to make something like that ever.

Never, I thought.

When I couldn’t even properly tie my shoelaces, unbutton the shirt, or even open and hold the door, cutting a paper to make a bird was the next level of “talent” that I could only wish for. These frustrations only increased as I grew up, until, in the mandatory piano classes—that I didn’t want to take knowing that I would never be able to play it well, my teacher pointed out that I would be needing a piano designed for a left-handed person.

I was left-handed, I knew it well, but is it the reason behind me not being able to do those simple, day-to-day tasks swiftly? For so long, nobody noticed it! No one at home or in school figured out that I am left-handed and since most of the things in the world have been designed for right-handed is because I am not-so-swift at everything.

The design has been the reason for my years of frustrations and I didn’t even know it. Does it even matter that the button is always on the right side of the shirt, that the door opens from the right side, that the debit card is inserted in the ATM machine from the right side, that a smartphone has volume and power keys on the right side?

The “stuck” feeling that I always had since childhood was just because of the design of the object and not the object itself? That I was as capable as everyone else. Considering the gravity of the challenges I faced, I needed a stronger reason. A more valid reason to justify my frustrations. But all I got was a simple right and left design versions.

Sometimes it is the smallness of the problem that makes it more complex. The obviousness of the situation, that makes the problem skip from our eyes. Lately, the importance of design has grabbed the attention of the thinkers, the thought leaders and we have got the term “design thinking” that makes people more aware of the design problems, whether it is hardware or software.

Design Thinking in Software Development

Applying design thinking methodology in software development is necessary to develop an user-friendly and intuitive application. It does not require extraordinary skill to achieve this intention. If business leaders empathize with users and developers empathize with business, it is possible to develop a software application, which is user-friendly and intuitive. Design thinking process should be automatically embedded into the processes of software development.

Keeping empathy at its core, software developers can enter into the world of customers, and investigate how they use a software product, analyze their pressing needs, understand their conveniences and build for them a solution-focused software.

The initial investigation is important to succeed in inculcating design thinking in the software development process. These investigations must be based on the key questions that could cause or eliminate frustrations when the software is being used. Some of the key questions are:

  • Who is the target customer?
  • The software is the solution of what key problems?
  • Why would they choose the software?
  • How would they begin using the software?
  • How would they reach the final solution?

Do not dismiss anything. A good design can make the software product more intuitive. Consider all the possibilities of the “obviousness” for your targeted customers, just like it never occurs to a right-handed person that how much the volume key on the right side of smartphone increases their convenience.

Actually, we need to infuse empathy in creating software design. When you are building the software for others, you have to wear their shoes to ensure maximum ease of use.

Software Design for Providing Increased Value

When we discuss software design, it is not just the user-interface design we are talking about. Software design in context with service design thinking is about the overall experience that the software application delivers to the users. The easiest example of experience could be of Facebook’s “reactions” buttons so that Facebook users can express themselves well.

While designing the software, you have to understand it is the business interacting with the customer, and this interaction must be smooth, error-free, and does not make users feel “stuck” anywhere in between till they achieve the software goals.

With the introduction of AI-powered apps in the market, achieving UI/UX design goals for AI-enabled apps have become more complicated. UI/UX designers have to ensure that the capabilities of artificial intelligence are never in conflict with human intelligence, and also collect the relevant data to generate business insight. When building AI-driven apps, UIUX designers and software developers must adopt human-centered design thinking process to ensure harmony between machine and human intelligence.

The Phases of Design Thinking in Software Development

Design thinking method consists of 5 phases—empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. As it is an iterative process, each phase is not independent of each other, means you need empathy at all stages, defining a problem and deriving ways to combat the challenges should be kept in mind at every phase.

Phase 1. Empathy in Software Development

This is the first stage of design thinking in the software development process. At this phase, you need to create design-thinking mindset, which can be done through getting an empathetic understanding of the targeted software users through rigorous user research. It is one of the most human-centric tasks in the software development process. Make sure to keep aside your assumptions and biases.

Phase 2. Define Users’ Needs and Challenges

After considerate and empathetic user research, define their key requirements and their existing challenges. One of the well-attempted ways is to imagine the software development process backwards, as it will give a glimpse of how your end product will function so that you can investigate the development-related requirements more confidently.

Phase 3. Ideate—Create Ideas to Combat Challenges

This phase of design thinking in software development calls for a healthy, robust brainstorming session. Create a storyboard to include every aspect of users’ journey. Come up with as many options possible, build many roadways to reach the defined goals, consider all possible challenges users might face for building an initial design of the software.

Phase 4. Create a Prototype of Solutions

It is time to materialize ideas. Choose the best option available and create a prototype of the software. Remember, coding begins at this stage, which involves a lot of technical stuff. Pick the options wisely, as, at a later stage, it may hurt you from the cost perspective.

Phase 5. Test the Model

Now the prototype of the software is ready, test the model from the usability perspective. No matter how technically-efficient and beneficial your software is, if it is not user-friendly, it will only lead to frustrations. So always test the software from users’ perspective.

If the software does not seem to be user-friendly at the testing phase, reiterate the phases of design-thinking to come up with a more effective and intuitive solution.

Today, in the era of design thinking innovation, if someone asks me what should be the highest benchmark of design-thinking, I would say it should be as empathetic, intuitive, and obvious that a right-handed person never realizes how almost everything has been designed to their convenience, that they totally forget they coexist with left-handers.

As for me, I have adjusted to the ways of the world. It is still the “adjustment” though. But I don’t want your customers to be in a similar situation for any reason, have the frustrations that I had for years. And by the way, I have learned to play the piano well.

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The Role of IoT in Healthcare: Applications and Implementation https://www.finoit.com/blog/the-role-of-iot-in-healthcare-space/ Tue, 05 Nov 2019 06:22:41 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=14487 Healthcare space is filling up fast with revolutionary technologies.

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Healthcare space is filling up fast with revolutionary technologies. Growing healthcare challenges, from the rise in chronic diseases to the ageing global population, limit the capabilities of hospitals, medical practitioners, and service providers to deliver quality healthcare services in order to improve patient outcomes.

These challenges have led them to the doors of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics. Among these, IoT has gained maximum attention of healthcare service providers.

According to a report by Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprises subsidiary, the healthcare industry is the third most advanced in IoT implementation.

Understanding the Role of IoT in Healthcare Ecosystem

Healthcare challenges have created new requirements for healthcare providers to successfully deliver high quality healthcare services. IoT with its set of benefits such as enabling real-time monitoring, providing a more mature and effective solution to collect patient data, and tracking the activities of patients and staff meet the new requirements such as.

  • Get a better understanding of patient’s medical condition in a series of “phases” and complex care needs
  • Advanced health system focused on modern treatment approach and healthcare delivery system design
  • Clinical information system to provide decision support
  • A well-structured ongoing care program designed by a multidisciplinary team

IoT in healthcare is helpful at different phases of patient and healthcare system interaction. The first phase begins when the patient make their call to the hospital for booking appointments or directly visiting the hospital in case of emergencies.

From then on, real-time monitoring of patient’s condition to intelligent medical devices connected to a smartphone application, healthcare providers can get required health data that a physician can use to analyze the patient’s condition and plan better treatment.

Take a look at how it works.

Image Source

In the figure, you can find RFID card assigned to a patient, wearable technology, and Electronic Health Records (EHR) provides data that is collected and stored on database management systems and then transferred to a physician through a desktop manager on their device. They can use this data for multiple purposes, from research to creating treatment approaches.

The Applications of Internet of Things in Healthcare

Healthcare providers can broadly use the IoT data collected from the app for the following purposes:

  • Follow good clinical practices, varying from clinical record-keeping to sharing relevant information with the multidisciplinary team.
  • Pervasive monitoring: real-time, multi-stream integration
  • Enable chronic patients a platform to track, monitor, and quantify their health
  • Make available data for health risk assessment
  • Support continuity of care for chronic patients
  • Research Studies
    • Determining clinical trial efficiency
    • Performance monitoring
    • Comparing treatment effects
    • Evaluating novel therapeutics
    • Measuring functional recovery in patients
  • Evaluate staffing patterns and determine the composition
  • Resource Utilization
    • Determine service metrics
    • Manage medication usage
    • Evaluate diagnostic tests and procedure performed
  • Quality Assessments
    • Patient outcome
    • Patient readmission rate
    • Patient satisfaction surveys
    • Hospital quality measures

The Internet of Things in healthcare has brought significant developments in chronic patient care management and caregiver support that have ushered a new era of proactive healthcare delivery.

There are several proven IoT use cases in healthcare, from wearable technology to advanced analytics that has produced exciting results in chronic disease management.

Implementation of IoT in the Healthcare Ecosystem

An effective care model demands IoT applications to be applied to various diseases in different healthcare settings. By implementing IoT in healthcare solutions, healthcare providers get invaluable data, which provide insight into the symptoms and pattern of the disease, while enabling remote care.

However, the implementation of IoT in Healthcare is still a challenge. Many healthcare providers are either not ready for the investment in the Internet of Things or do not have the required healthcare infrastructure that supports IoT implementation.

And some of them are not fully confident about the implementation process. We have tried to answer a few questions so that they can take actionable measures with confidence.

Is IoT effective in addressing challenges faced by healthcare providers?

The Internet of things plays a critical role in mitigating healthcare challenges. Healthcare solutions should not be generic, as each patient has different physical and mental built. By using IoT in care-setting environment, healthcare providers can offer personalized solutions based on the lifestyle and medical history of the patient for effective treatment.

The article, The Internet of Things in the healthcare industry, published in Deloitte, reveals that “preventable readmissions cost the health care system approximately $17.5 billion annually.” Remote patient monitoring, a crucial benefit of IoT in healthcare, can “save up to $36 billion globally over the next five years,” mentioned in the same article.

In which segment of healthcare, IoT can be applied?

Internet of Things technology has a massive potential to transform the healthcare industry. IoT applications in healthcare have unique benefits for patients, physicians, caregivers, and hospital and insurance companies. Below you can see the categorization.

  • IoT for patients: Today, chronic patients seek more information to prevent, manage, and control the disease. Using wearables such as fitness brands and wireless connected devices, patients can track their physical activity and make a decision that improves their health behavior.
  • IoT for physicians: Physicians can access the data collected from the wearables and other medical devices to keep track of patient’s health in the context of identification of best treatment process for the patient, adherence to treatment plans, and achieve the expected outcome.
  • IoT for healthcare providers: IoT sensors can be installed to a number of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, defibrillators, nebulizers, oxygen pumps, and other monitoring equipment, which can be used for effective asset management.
  • IoT for healthcare insurers: Data captured from monitoring equipment can be used to detect fraud claims and maintain transparency between patients and healthcare insurance companies.

IoT-captured data can be applied to a range of operation processes and patients, which can be used to check the underlying conditions and make the right decision. At which section of your healthcare process, IoT can be implemented is your decision, and that should depend on what kind of data you need to improve patient outcomes.

What medical devices can be connected using the healthcare IoT solution?

IoT medical device integration includes a range of intelligent connected devices, which can be used to monitor the health of patients and raise the alarm before the onset of any disease. In the healthcare ecosystem, the Internet of Things can be applied to the following:

  • Wearables to monitor the health condition of chronic patients, take readings, observe patterns, and send an alert. This data can be used for diagnosis, improve treatment, and enhance customer service.
  • Active passive labels to be worn by the patient, caregiver, and equipment integrated to the ID card of the equipment, hospital staff, and patient ID to reduce admission time and facilitate better management of the resources.
  • Medical devices to track the usage of the equipment for each patient and compare the data to gain insight and check their status.

These wearables, labels integrated with real-time location tracking system can help healthcare providers do the needful within time.

Precisely what type of data can be collected?

Multiple types of data that can be collected through IoT. Here you can take a look at the type of health data.

Image Source

This is a broader picture of IoT data. You can develop a data model for your application of IoT in Healthcare by focusing on the dynamics of your healthcare environment to improve the quality of care for patients.

Where is the medical data collected from the IoT gateways stored?

IoT data collected from the devices is stored in the on-premise servers or cloud servers. You can discuss the type of servers you require with your IoT app development company.

You can store the data in the SQL database or the NoSQL database, depending on the requirement.

What about the security of the IoT systems?

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest IoT challenges, but with the right measures, security concerns and issues could be addressed. Ensuring end-to-end security for IoT devices and applications in context with data should be taken care of during the application design and development phase. While building an application, the solution provider must consider security measures required for sensors and applications both. Besides, regular security updates and patches should be part of the process.

How cost-effective it is to implement IoT healthcare solutions?

The bottom line of IoT in healthcare is to assure healthier patients, empowered healthcare providers, and cost-saving for both. With a reliable technology partner, you can build a cost-effective IoT sensor network.

There are certain fundamentals to cost efficiency, which can be applied in IoT app development for healthcare as well, such as reduced overspending, the well-defined role of sensors and its capabilities, and send and receive data when necessary. For doing all this, you need to create an effective IoT app development strategy and application architecture in collaboration with your technology partner.

Explore interesting articles on IoT in Healthcare:

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Planning an App? Have You Considered These 15 Application Security Best Practices? https://www.finoit.com/blog/top-15-application-security-best-practices/ Tue, 22 Oct 2019 11:24:09 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=14464 Usually, business leaders focus on marketable concerns such as features

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Usually, business leaders focus on marketable concerns such as features, user interface, user experience, availability, and general stability, delegating the task of ensuring application security to IT executives and app development companies.

But the past several years have seen many setbacks in application security. And the future too does not seem too bright for those who do not follow application security best practices diligently. As according to Juniper Research, the average cost of a data breach is expected to exceed $150 million in 2020.

These figures insist business leaders to begin thinking security early on and take things in their own hands such as creating standards and policies under application vulnerability management while ensuring to follow application development security best practices and allocating a dedicated budget for app security.

On app security front, you must address two key concerns; first is application vulnerabilities and second is access control. In our journey of app development, we have come across many companies or business owners who do not have the initial blueprint of the application security best practices, which is necessary for building secure, scalable apps.

To help companies prepare better understand the app security requirements, we have come up with a list of application security best practices checklists from the perspective of business leaders, covering vast threat landscape.

These techniques begin from understanding the mobile or web application security risks and further cover web and mobile app security best practices so that you can have more confidence in your application.

Let us first evaluate application security risk touchpoints essential to address the practice of finding vulnerabilities and take actionable measures.

application security risk touchpoints

At these touchpoints, your application security is at risk. You need to identify the software vulnerabilities at these touchpoints which attackers can leverage to their advantage.

The book, The Art of Software Security Assessment-Identifying and Preventing Software Vulnerabilities defines “software vulnerabilities as specific flaws or oversights in a piece of software that allow attackers” to:

  • Do malicious expose
  • Alter sensitive information
  • Disrupt or destroy a system
  • Take control of a computer system or program

By creating a robust application security strategy that effectively addresses security concerns at these touchpoints and applying a robust and secure development cycle without radically changing the development framework and processes, you can combat app vulnerabilities on all three fronts:

  • Existence: vulnerability in the application
  • Access: Hackers gaining access to the vulnerability
  • Exploitation: The extent of hacker’s capability to exploit the vulnerability for their advantage

A report on the app security hype cycle by Gartner urges IT managers to “go beyond identifying common application development security errors and protecting against common attack techniques.” It recommends the use of tools and technology along with the implementation of standard compliance policy to discover vulnerabilities before the hackers do.

To combat application security challenges, business leaders must focus their attention on these top 15 application security best practices. Implementing these practices would help them understand the threat landscape and take crucial decisions. Most of these practices are platform neutral and relevant to a range of app types.

1. Track Your Application Infrastructure

According to IDG, a modern enterprise has more than 372 mission-critical applications.

An effective application security program is contingent upon a multitude of factors such as an organization’s ability to align skills, create traction to encourage IT and security teams to take proactive measures, and optimize their security program leveraging on app security best practices.

You cannot perform all these without knowing which component of your application infrastructure is most vulnerable. Tracking application infrastructure should be the first step to creating a robust app security program. And while doing so, treat every component of the application infrastructure as unknown and insecure.

Analyze the components from the security perspective to determine what each component will require to prevent non-application components from interacting with the data you send and receive.

In your analysis, cover all the software platforms from development to runtime enablers. This step would help you determine the necessary network access controls to be implemented at the time of development so that only approved users and traffic sources can access application resources.

2. Perform Software Security Risks Assessment

Now that you have a list of the components of application infrastructure, the next step is to find the security vulnerability to each component.

Through the assessment, you can create a systematic approach to determine protocols for software security policy implementation when users or systems attempt to access any component of the software infrastructure.

At this stage, you can create a strategy for a NAC system ensuring following capabilities:

  • Create policies for all operating scenarios
  • Develop a policy for security compliance
  • Carry out detailed profiling of all users and their devices
  • Plan for guest networking access followed by guest registration, guest authentication, and guest sponsoring
  • Strategy for better incidence response to block, isolate, and repair non-compliant machines
  • Enable integration with multiple security and network solutions through open/RESTful API

These measures are part of both mobile and web application security best practices. It will create awareness among all your application security stakeholders so that they can collaborate to strengthen your network security infrastructure, warn against suspicious traffic, and prevent infection from insecure nodes.

3. Enforce Secure Coding Standards

With coding, the implementation of app security best practices begins.

Usually, cybercriminals leverage on bugs and vulnerabilities to break into an application. They try to tamper your code using a public copy of your software application.

To prevent the attacks, make the application tough to break through. Harden your code keeping in mind the operating system and framework vulnerabilities. While doing so, here are the factors you need to consider:

  • Any modules or servers that application does not require
  • Possibility for remote code execution
  • Maximum script execution time
  • Software language access to filesystem
  • Location of session information
  • Servers, services, and software language configuration files
  • Security extensions used by servers
  • Incoming and outgoing traffic
  • Access management

Missing any element of the list while coding could lead to loopholes for attackers to exploit the system.

Besides, some application security measures are specific to the programming language. Make sure to hire software developers who are well aware of the application security best practices in context with particular language such as:

Java Application Security Best Practices for Secure Coding

OWASP Python Security

C++ Secure Coding Standard

PHP Security

Ruby on Rails Security Guide

The documentation in the links is technical in nature. Being a business leader you can simply go through the list of measures required and define the coding standards for developers or your mobile or web application development company.

4. Create App Permissions

Data sharing between two apps is one of the necessary operations done now-a-days. Data sharing activity between the apps becomes critical when un-secure permissions are used for developing the app. Utilization of signature-based permissions is nothing but an app defending itself from the firmware of another app by querying the sign-in keys signature.

Hence, if the data sharing activity shall be processed between the two apps, the two apps must be signed in with the same sign-in keys. However, if the two apps are already signed-in with same sign-in keys, the data sharing is directly undertaken.

5. Limit the Access to Content Providers

Content providers are the section of application which has its own user interface for provider’s client, generally other applications, that helps in secure data access and communication. Content providers have a user interface which presents app data, for an external client, in the form of data sets in tabular form. It is important for content providers to restrict the sets of data which can be accessible by the clients.

Hence, a smart app developer must provide the permissions for their content providers to define what set of data are provided for the client. If no such permissions are provided the content provider’s data can be read, write completely which can corrupt the provider’s data.

A content provider allows private access for their content and assigns signatures certificates to client applications to restrict the data access. Hence, when an application queries for the data, it is essential that the application must have these permissions, which makes the content provider’s data secure.

6. Encrypt All Data

In the current world, data security is one of the major issues being faced all over the world. Data encryption provides the security of data being exchanged by the two applications. Data encryption basically means to systematically de-structure data in such a way that even if a third party acquires the data, it could not be misused.

This concept is not new, as it has been used since ages where the messages were sent in a cryptic form which could only be deciphered by the authorized user. App developers use different data encryption techniques, but most of them revolve around the encryption keys. There are generally two types of encryption schemes. They are:

  • Symmetric Encryption where the encryption and decryption are done using the same set of encryption key by both communicating parties.
  • Asymmetric Encryption— Here, there are two sets of keys, one public and another private. The combination of both will work for decryption.

The data encryption has now become ever so important with the onset of data-driven world. As an app developer, it is the responsibility to encrypt all the data with more secure and advanced data encrypting and decrypting algorithms.

7. Use Libraries Cautiously

While app development is an innovative task which requires creativity to its core, scripting the backend code is a tedious task. To accelerate the app development task, the app developers rely heavily on third-party libraries and open source repositories.

These third-party open-source codes are not updated regularly and can be overwritten with hidden malicious firmware, which could make your app vulnerable and susceptible to data theft and provide access to sensitive information.

Although, there is no definite solution to solve this issue, a rigorous updating process of these open source libraries and keeping tracks of updating of these vulnerabilities will help to lower the risk.

As an app developer, placing a series of checkpoints in the code and changing the class or method name could make it difficult for attackers to access the app’s data using libraries. Use of device update system information to keep tabs on insecure communication can also help.

8. Use Authorized APIs Only

APIs are generally used for streamlining the app development process and bring out the recommended actions when needed. It is a known fact that slackly coded apps provide attackers with the loopholes, onto which they thrive on. It is recommended to use centrally authorized APIs as best practices.

However, app developers tend to cache the authorization data, which helps in easy manipulation of information and making the developer’s life easier, but also providing discrepancy to be exploited by hackers.

9. Ensure Proper Session Handling

Sessions information are used to establish variables such as localization settings and access rights. This applies to every interaction users have with the application for a specific duration. It helps to create a track of anonymous user after their first request and then use the sessions after the user is authenticated. This way users can be identified on any subsequent requests.

Ensure Proper Session Handling

Image Source: cheatsheetseries.owasp.org

By implementing session management capabilities, you can:

  • Apply security access controls
  • Gain authorized access to the users private data
  • Enhance the usability of an application

A unique Session ID or token is generated for each user to track their progress within the application and ensure authentication. The Session ID connects user authentication credentials to HTTP traffic and authorized access controls. For secure session management, a Session ID must have the following features:

  • Not have a descriptive name and unnecessary details
  • Long enough so that attackers have to go through multiple ID values to identify a valid session
  • Meaningless to prevent information disclosure

These features in Session ID keep it safe from disclosure, capture, brute force, or prediction, which prevent targeted or generic session hijacking

10. Store Data Safely

App development platforms provide data storage option for developers, depending on the requirements such as the bulk of data to be stored, types of data and its accessibility. If the app contains access to sensitive data which shall be stored privately, internal storage should be the preferred option.

Adding additional encryption layers over the primary layer of encryption could help in case of any adversary or theft, as even private data is accessible.

It is not recommended to store the app data in the external or removable storage devices as when the app is deleted; the sensitive data is still saved in the external storage devices such as SD cards. The accessibility of these SD cards can be protected under such cases.

For very basic data types and smaller data sets, database libraries can be used. The measure of security in each of the storage option can be boosted by adding an encryption layer, which boosts the data security.

11. Secure Your Containers

Docker Containers make the deployment process much easier by encapsulating a complete software package into a single portable container. The latest trend in the containerization process is to break the entire process into microservices thus dividing the application into shared and virtualized services. Although micro-service architecture is robust and scalable, it has led concerns for managing application security.

Here are a few measures you can take to secure your containers:

  • Avoid running containers with root-level access
  • Don’t store the credentials in containers instead use environment variables
  • As the default setting for containers is unprivileged, they are not able to access any other devices. Usually, you have to apply the –privileged tag to allow access to all devices but it poses a security risk. And so checking and managing runtime privilege consistently become integral to application security best practices.
  • Evaluate your security needs and consider public or private registries
  • Use third-party security tools to run automated scans for proprietary and open source vulnerabilities from start to finish, including in your registries.

You can use a range of tools such as AWS CloudHSM is a cloud-based hardware security module (HSM) if you are using AWS Cloud, which enable you to create and use your own encryption keys or Docker Content Trust if you are using Docker Hub or Shared Access Signature (SAS) if using Microsoft’s Azure.

Also, follow recognized security standards such as NIST 800-53 and Open Security Controls Assessment Language (OSCAL) standard by NIST for container security.

12. Update Your Servers

Server updates are of two types: new features and bug fixes. Commonly software engineers take great interest in new features and do not show the same level of enthusiasm for bug fixes whereas bug fixes are more crucial update in nature.

Equifax Data Breach

One of the best examples of how ignoring server updates can create havoc on the business is the case of Equifax, one of the largest consumer credit reporting agencies. The agency suffered a massive cyberattack in 2017, in which attackers managed to gain access to the information such as people’s name, address, birth date and social security number.

An investigation discovered that attackers exploited a bug in the open-source Apache Strut Framework that Equifax were using on their online dispute web app servers. Apache software foundation was aware of the vulnerability in the platform in 2017 and has released information about it, along with an update to fix the issue, two months before the attack on Equifax.

Importance of Server Updates

It is essential that companies use server updates, especially bug fixes as the defense against attackers. Always refer to the documentation for your operating system or distribution else keep a manual check to ensure timely software update. At times, software updates create issues. Software engineers can handle it by applying the software updates in a second environment and if they succeed, deploy the updates on a live system.

13. Perform Stringent Testing

Software application security testing forms the backbone of application security best practices. Checking for security flaws helps combat potent and prevalent threats before they attack the system.

Application security testing can easily detect injection flaws when an attacker sends malicious data to an interpreter, which must not be executed without authorization.

In the wake of these requirements, security testing tools have been developed into a very strong market with technology vendors offering a range of automated app security testing tools to perform:

  • Static Testing: Code analysis at a fixed point of time during development
  • Dynamic Testing: Analysis of running code. It stimulates attack on the production system and thus reveals attack patterns
  • Interactive Testing: Includes elements of static and dynamic testing
  • Mobile Testing: Testing in a platform-specific mobile environment

Automated testing tools are either available as an on-premises tool or a SaaS-based subscription service. While selecting the tools, make sure to check the programming language tools support. Some tools support one or two languages and others are designed to test the code in a specific environment such as Microsoft Dot Net.

These days Penetration Testing is very common wherein ethical hackers try to hack the software application to test the organization’s defense systems. Application security vendors provide ethical hacking services with the initial scope and goal-setting, learn about the target, and break into target asset.

14. Choose Automation for Application Vulnerability Management

Growing volume of new vulnerabilities, complex environment, and evolving threat landscape make intelligent automation a necessity for cyber risk reduction.

With automation, you can optimize the manual processes and repetitive steps to stay on top of patching. IT and security teams can increase the speed of information gathering and take action to implement a fix.

Leveraging automation, you can automatically implement compensating controls through your Network Access Control (NAC) systems, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools, and firewalls.

You can decide on what data sources are needed for the automation of vulnerability discovery in different networks. You can also look for analytics-driven automation to analyze vulnerabilities considering your attack surface.

15. Stay on Top of New Standards

Avoid taking the traditional approach to application security. Today, software security is about creating a strong defense mechanism that allows you to identify the threat combination patterns and fix the issues in advance. Unlike previously, it is not the last thing you do when the application is developed.

You have to start creating standard policies at the very early stage of the app development process and this is only possible if you are aware of where to start your application best practices.

The best way is to follow the recommendations of standard bodies such as OWASP and the NIST. These bodies set standards for secure coding and remove misconceptions around app security.

Following OWASP top 10 policy for application security, you can create security assessment programs—from the inception of the idea to the development and regular maintenance and security audit.

Also, keep checking security advisories and databases such as the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) which keeps a record of the vulnerabilities discovered and reported by security researchers for public consumption.

Implementing the Application Security Best Practices

Business leaders who want their application robust and secure must begin to think about software security right at the beginning, means app security should influence many of their decisions such as the selection of app development company or choosing a technology stack.

Together with their technology partner, they should work on setting up standards and policies and blend the app security best practices well into the software development life cycle.

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How Mobile App Accelerates Digital Transformation Success https://www.finoit.com/blog/how-mobile-app-accelerates-digital-transformation-success/ Mon, 30 Sep 2019 09:39:05 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=14178 Digital transformation is like a new “American Dream” to the businesses. The “upward mobility” that the ‘dream’ promises to a business regardless of “fortuitous circumstances of” how it has been started is what makes it attractive to the business leaders. James Truslow Adams, the one who coined the term, has also described ways to achieve … Continue reading How Mobile App Accelerates Digital Transformation Success

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Digital transformation is like a new “American Dream” to the businesses. The “upward mobility” that the ‘dream’ promises to a business regardless of “fortuitous circumstances of” how it has been started is what makes it attractive to the business leaders.

James Truslow Adams, the one who coined the term, has also described ways to achieve this dream in his book “Epic of America”. In the book, he has explained that Amercian Dream can be achieved through “sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work”. If we apply the same factors on Digital Transformation Dream, it too is achievable. For say,

  • Sacrifice the old practices, adopt new business model
  • Take more risk, invest in digital technologies
  • Work hard to adapt to the change

There are many success factors that make this dream come true for businesses. Business leaders need to build their dreams on these success factors while taking a very nuanced approach to link every element of business, which can be touched by digitization and digital innovation.

The 5 Factors to Digital Transformation Success

The 5 Factors to Digital Transformation Success

A digital transformation strategy built on these factors could help companies achieve their business goals, which could be anything from faster speed to market to increased revenue growth and enhanced competitive positioning to increased employee productivity. A well-built mobile app can help accelerate digital transformation success factors.

The Role of Mobile App in Digital Transformation Success

A mobile app is the top tenet of digitalization and thus plays a crucial role in the digital transformation success. Today, apps dominate the total mobile minutes spent online. From general browsing to reading emails, everything is being done through mobile. It provides a wide scope to the businesses to make use of the technology to bring together every element of their business on a single platform.

Mobile App

Connecting all these elements on a common platform at one go is a daunting task. You need a digital transformation consulting company that could navigate you through the uncertainties and provide you a view of processes as a sequence of phases-creation of business model, development, and deployment. A collaboration between your business and IT leaders is essential while creating the new business model to cover all the pain-points.

Apps Built on Top Mobile Technologies

When all these elements are brought together on a common platform, businesses have the opportunity to use emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud, and Analytics to deliver the unprecedented user experience.

On the frontend, these technologies can increase user engagement and, on the backend, they can collect relevant data for the enterprises. Here, the strategy is important. Even if you pull employees and customers on one platform through your app, you have to engage them to achieve your business goals.

Secondly, when you collect the data, you need to further equip yourselves with the digital tools and technologies to protect, analyze, and utilize the data.

If you will not be able to get the employees and customers do on the platform what you have expected, chances are you may not be able to generate the desired data. Therefore you must plan the engagement well in a manner to collect different types of data at a different level to achieve the following:

Real-time data of employee activity, consumer activity, competitor activity and supply chain.

With the data gained from the mobile app, you can anticipate customer-behavior across all stages of the customer lifecycle. Followed by the insight, you can identify when the customer is at risk and take measures at the right time to help them. Then there would be data related to your internal operations including critical supply chain processes that could help you find the leaks. With the insight, you can take actions to plug the leaks and further improve the processes to enhance productivity.

Why Mobile App?

According to Statista, there are 2.71 billion smartphone users worldwide. It is one of the most convenient and accessible mediums to connect with people. A mobile app is the easiest route to reach over a large population and engage them in a similar fashion.

Besides, you have the option to enhance the capability of your mobile app at any point of time, provided you have initially worked with the right mobile app development company with experience in building robust, secure, and scalable apps.

In this context, you can set a timeline of your goals as in how you want to see your business processes aligned with digital innovation in the near future. It could be as this:

1-2 Years 2-5 Years 5 Years and Beyond
Electronic paper 3D location-interaction with 3D data Human robot interface
Interactive visualization Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Ensemble interactions
Voice and speech analytics Biometric Authentication Volumetric displays
Process standardization and compliance Develop new solutions Become risk-proof

You may set the agenda based on your business objectives and accordingly build the app to enhance user capability. Simultaneously, you can select a technology such as AI and Machine Learning and keep using the advanced version year on year to achieve your new business goals.

A digital transformation journey has no endpoints. And to move forward every time, you have to ensure that you choose scalability and modernization in every aspect of the business. A mobile app that is widely accessible lets you do so. But for doing all these and more, make sure your core team is able to visualize the future processes with all modern tools/apps either by themselves or in collaboration with a proven software development company with relevant experience in similar digital transformation journeys.

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How to Achieve UI UX design Goals for AI-enabled Mobile Apps https://www.finoit.com/blog/ui-ux-design-goals-for-ai-enabled-mobile-apps/ Fri, 20 Sep 2019 05:37:03 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=14147 For long Hollywood has shaped our perception of AI—somewhat “evil” till the 1950s and then “good guys—working alongside with the guardians of humanity” after the launch of Star Wars in 1977. Since the technology companies have put AI-enabled products in the hands of people, we are no longer (solely) reliant on sci-fi to learn about … Continue reading How to Achieve UI UX design Goals for AI-enabled Mobile Apps

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For long Hollywood has shaped our perception of AI—somewhat “evil” till the 1950s and then “good guys—working alongside with the guardians of humanity” after the launch of Star Wars in 1977.

Since the technology companies have put AI-enabled products in the hands of people, we are no longer (solely) reliant on sci-fi to learn about AI capabilities in the near future. Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa have provided people with the real-life experiences of Artificial Intelligence—giving a glimpse of how the technology is going to work for us and with us.

In the mobile app development process, Artificial Intelligence has already moved from being a backend tool for enterprises and has begun taking the frontline role within technology interfaces.

However, designing UI UX for the AI-enabled mobile apps is complex and requires an understanding of the mobile app workflow from following perspectives:

  1. The goal of the mobile app
  2. User expectations and business requirements
  3. Mobile user experience-maintaining harmony between AI capabilities and user interests

A mobile app designer must bridge the gap between human-centered interactions and computer systems by designing intuitive user-interfaces which accommodate both AI capabilities and user interests to deliver the planned mobile UX.

AI-enabled mobile apps promote convenience and efficiency for the users and generates highly critical data for enterprises. Some of the common examples of AI-driven mobile apps are Netflix, Spotify, and Tik Tok.

AI Driven Mobile Apps

The way these apps use AI for user engagement set the course of action for user interface and user experience design. AI-enabled mobile apps require an intuitive approach to designing mobile apps interface, depending upon the capabilities of AI being used in the app.

How AI Capabilities are Used to Enhance Mobile App User Experience

At the simplest level, AI suggests the options based on past actions. AI-driven UI can guide users to actions that generate the best outcomes. This level of intelligence is beneficial for those apps which are designed for using “track-records” in the course of the decision-making process. It is what being done by mobile apps like Spotify and Tik Tok.

According to Accenture, AI is playing three crucial roles currently in enhancing the mobile user experience:

  1. Curator: Suggesting best or most relevant options based on previous user behavior.
  2. Advisor: Learning from actions and simultaneously taking action or guiding users toward an optimal outcome.
  3. Orchestrator: Learning from past user activity and collaborating over numerous channels to achieve desired outcome.

As the AI matures, it will be able to blend all the knowledge—past track records, existing situations, future predictions, and recent learnings to suggest options that deliver better outcomes.

At the advanced level, AI will collaborate on knowledge, experience, and interactions to suggest and perform a task, thereby making complex technologies approachable by all segments of people and simultaneously creating Intelligent app experience.

The “what” of AI capabilities today and in the near future to deliver better mobile app experience requires a planned and systematic approach to “how”—the implementation part. It should be done in a manner that promotes frictionless communication between mobile app users and AI technology.

Design Principles of AI-enabled User Interfaces

To condense the demands of AI-driven mobile user experience into the interface, UI UX designers need to focus on optimizing the users’ requirements. For the correct implementation, it is essential that mobile app UI designers have a deeper understanding of the context of data for AI to generate predictions and make the final decision.

The smart design must capture the intent of the users and the reasons behind it. Below you can take a look at the key design principles that mobile app designers need to consider while designing AI-enabled user interfaces.

Discover and Manage User Expectations

Users download a mobile app for its primary goal. In the case of Spotify—it is to listen to the latest music. The AI capabilities enhance the experience and thus add more value to the primary goal by taking an intuitive approach i.e., what users may want to listen. When working on UI and UX design, mobile app designer must ensure that there is no conflict between the primary goal of the app and what AI has to offer.

When it comes to AI-enabled mobile apps, the next step after determining the primary goal, designers must focus on let AI learn the capabilities and expectations of users. This can be done by integrating a proper mobile app onboarding process that provides users with options to choose from. Once users set the preferences, AI will track the users data throughout to provide the relevant content to them.

Design for Error & Forgiveness

An excellent mobile app user interface should be simplistic in design so that users can accomplish their goal with minimum input. In the previous stage, we have covered what users want to do with the app in line with what the app has to offer.

But what if users demand something different from what they have been preferring?

AI-enabled apps are smart, but they cannot have personal opinions or feelings neither they can read the at-the-moment feeling of the users. For instance, a Spotify user may have put valid input during the onboarding process related to their preferences, but at-the-moment, they might not be in the mood to listen to the same kind of music.

Music listening behavior of the users may differ on the day of the week, time of day, and even with the location. In this case, mobile app designers must consciously create UI design that allows users to set new preferences easily. And take new actions immediately in case the action taken by the AI doesn’t match with at-the-moment preferences of the users.

The Concerns of Privacy, Security, and Control

Design mobile app UI in such a way that it lets users trust the AI for keeping their data secure and private. A two-fold authentication process can help generate trust among users.

Besides, the UI should have features that allow users to take control of their data anytime they want. Even AI can learn from the user behavior when not to interrupt users and not to perform any action without the consent to maintain the harmony.

AI-driven UI UX is Guided by the User Interests

There is no universal solution that can make the best thing to happen naturally. AI is learning and will continue to learn for a long time to make the best final decision. The UX UI designers must make sure that AI will learn from user interactions so that it can take better decisions in favor of user interests.

To build an AI-driven UI, partner with a reliable UI UX design company, which has experience in human-computer interaction and creating user-centric apps.

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Top 10 Criteria to Select the Best App Development Company https://www.finoit.com/blog/10-criteria-to-select-the-best-app-development-company/ Tue, 03 Sep 2019 10:51:11 +0000 https://www.finoit.com/?p=13500 You have an incredible app idea. You are thoroughly aware of the app development process. You are ready to spend on one of the top app development companies in the market. Everything seems right until this point. What could go wrong? The problem is your willingness to hire the best app company is not directly … Continue reading Top 10 Criteria to Select the Best App Development Company

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You have an incredible app idea. You are thoroughly aware of the app development process. You are ready to spend on one of the top app development companies in the market.

Everything seems right until this point. What could go wrong?

The problem is your willingness to hire the best app company is not directly correlated to how much money you are planning to invest, although that is a crucial factor when it comes to hiring at the later stage. Chances are you may fall victim to:

  • The eloquence of the sales team
  • Flashy websites
  • Top ranking on Google search page
  • Low cost
  • Beautifully written proposal

We would recommend rather than getting overwhelmed by the company’s track record of success or exceptional sales quotes, set up certain criteria based on your unique project requirement and then close the deal with the one which meets most of those criteria.

The criteria will help you to find the best application development company that can successfully handle your app development project. Initially, you can use this list of criteria that covers all the aspects of the app development process in order to find the right app development company for your project.

1. Experience On Their Website

First off, create a list of top app development companies that you might find capable of handling your project and then examine your experience on their website. Making the list is important, as it will help you perform the screening process with proper planning.

Below are the details of this two-step process:

Step 1: Create a list of top app development companies
Search the internet and make a list of companies that you believe could be the right fit for your project. The criteria to put an app development company in your list of top 10 app development companies could be:

  • Company size (depending on your project requirement)
  • Global delivery capability
  • Local-language support
  • In-country location of resources
  • Ability to address regulatory and legal requirements

It is easy to find these details in the website of the app making company.

Spoiler Alert: Top ranking companies on Google search results may not necessarily be the best fit. They may be good at advertising or SEO but not necessarily app development.

Therefore, we would recommend you to thoroughly observe the website from the perspective of User Experience, which leads to the next step.

Step 2: Evaluate the Experience on Their Website

At this step, review the entire website from the aspects of:

  • UI and UX
  • Content clarity in the form of font, text size and images
  • Navigation

Based on your experience, remove the app development companies from your list that deliver poor website experience and move to the next criteria.

2. Diverse Range of Work

Explore the app development portfolio on the website of the remaining companies, so that you are not totally clueless during on-call or in-person meetings while discussing the kind of app development project they have completed previously.

For a start, you can check out the type of apps created, based on technology, design, and industry served. Once you get the overall idea of their app development capabilities and strength of the app developers, check the relevant work done similar to your app development requirement.

Look for the case studies with a detailed description of the application and then further eliminate those companies that do not make the desired impact.

3. Proposal Structure and Detailing

Ask for the proposal from the remaining companies and get them evaluated by both IT and business leaders in your organization. Prepare all the questions for solicited proposals properly based on the problem, need, and goal.

Read out the proposal to see how effectively they have addressed all the “what”, “how” and “why” on the following aspects:
  • Business requirements
  • Design
  • Development
  • Execution
  • Testing
  • Deployment
Here are a few questions that must be addressed in the app development proposal:
  • How well do they understand your business requirements?
  • What solution do they propose?
  • What is the credibility of the proposed solution?
  • How well-resourced they are to provide the solution?
  • What will be their goal during the app development process?
  • How will they do the work?
  • What metrics will they set to measure the success of the solution?
  • What would be the most crucial metrics?
  • What is their proof of being qualified and competent?
  • Will there be an added value proposition?

Proceed with only those app development companies who have answered accurately and in detail to most of the questions.

4. Team Behind Proposal Development

Always ask the app development agency to provide the name and designation of the people involved in proposal development. Often the sales team creates a proposal based on the promises made by them to the company, without consulting the technology team.

But since they are not the people who are actually into “development”, it is important for you to know if the tech team can commit to the same from the perspective of features and functionality, timeline, and budget.

Ideally, a proposal should be made by Tech + Sales Team as a salesperson can better understand the customer pain areas, while the tech team can validate how efficiently they can solve those problems in a fixed timeframe.

5. Technology Stack

Technology stack is a collection of programming languages, frameworks, and tools used for developing a software product. Collectively they are called a stack.

A well-planned technology stack is essential to get an application development project seamlessly off the ground.

Work jointly with the application development company to select a technology stack, considering the following:

  • Type of application
  • Time to market
  • Application security
  • App development platform
  • Developer community strength
  • Availability of talent
  • Development cost
  • Migration
  • Scalability

Discuss the technology stack with all the remaining app development companies in your list and select the one that shows both confidence and evidence of handling similar kinds of app development technologies in the past.

6. Development Methodology—The Course of Action

By the time you have reached this level of selection criteria, only 5-6 app development companies may have remained in your list. With the remaining companies, you have to discuss how they approach an app development project.

A software development life cycle has typically 6 phases and you must know what process they follow at each phase of software application development.

Evaluate all the app development service vendors on these parameters:
  • Requirement Gathering: Understand their perspective on why you want to develop the software, why the features and functionalities you have suggested are crucial to the software, and how they will be documenting the entire process for future reference.
  • Design: Get to know how they will be wireframing the software and the team involved in creating working models of the software.
  • Development: Learn about their development team emphasizing the experience of software developers and their technical background.
  • Quality Assurance: Explore their quality assurance measures at each phase and the team that will have the responsibility of identifying bugs.
  • Maintenance: Get more information on what measures they will take to keep the app robust, secure, and competitive.

This would be a conclusive criterion. At this stage, analyze their approach to software application development and their efficiency in determining the scope, and whether the process will be iterative.

7. Operational Practices & Management Capabilities

There are two key aspects of operational practices:
  • One that the mobile app development company has in-depth knowledge of software development best practices.
  • Second that the service provider is flexible enough to customize those best practices according to your project requirement.

The role of the project manager is integral to the correct implementation of best practices for risk mitigation and performance optimization in software development. Asses the project manager and team in other departments on their capabilities and understanding of:

  • Scope and Objectives: what is in and out of scope
  • Deliverables: What will be delivered and how they document them for transparency
  • Project Planning: How the project manager decides to include people and resources and allocate budget
  • Communication: Ask questions like ‘do they have daily huddles’, ‘will they do daily communication’, and ‘will there be daily timesheets’.
  • Tracking and Reporting Project Success: What measures the service vendor takes to monitor and compare the project success on the metrics of schedule, quality, and budget.
  • Change Management: How efficiently they can handle change in features or functionality.
  • Risk Management: How soon they can identify the risk and mitigate the risk to reduce its impact

At the end of this stage, you must not have more than 3 companies on your list. Now stop the elimination process and begin comparing to finally pick the best app development company for your project.

8. Ethics and Values

Although it is quite difficult to evaluate the ethics and values nurtured by the company before actually working with them, you can give a check to understand their opinion and measures taken by them to maintain ethics and values within the organization.

The key factors on which you should assess the company are:
  • Active participation of all the team members
  • Equality between all the involved parties
  • Transparency, where information is available to every stakeholder
  • Accountability in the form of client satisfaction
  • Ability to take responsive decisions
  • Ability to achieve strategic goals
  • Optimal utilization of resources

Proceed ahead with the app development companies that live up to your expectations at this stage.

9. App Development Cost

Cost is important but we have kept it at the end of our top 10 list because it shouldn’t affect your decision-making at the very initial phase. While low cost is tempting, it comes with certain drawbacks.

Remember that talent shortage is the reality of the IT industry and talented web or mobile app developers won’t be working at low wages.

Featured Blog: How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Software Developer in 2019

Of course, another reality is a limited project budget. We would recommend you to select a mid-sized app development company with a certain number of app developers having more than 3-5 and 5-8 years of experience.

Besides, ask them for a cost-breakup and try to adjust the cost initially, if there is any possibility.

10. Check References

Conducting a reference check is the final selection criteria to see how their relation is with previous clients. While calling the past clientele of the app development agency, ask the right questions with an objective to:

  • verify their claims
  • identify strengths and deficiencies
  • understand their proactive, technology-focused approach

It is possible that references do not provide clear information, so try reading nonverbal or subtle verbal cues. Remember that the bulk of your judgment should be based on facts.

Now that you have all the information in hand, select a company that you believe will be the best fit for your project.

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