The Advantages and Disadvantages to Bug Tracking Software

Bug tracking has been around as early as the 1940’s, just not in a software form. In these early days, simply using a pen and a paper created tracking systems. It evolved from then to using spreadsheets. Now there is bug tracking software like the defect tracking tool and even more specific programs like Mantis and Bugzilla, just to name a couple. As with anything that evolves however, there will always be those that are 100% for the programs and those that are against it. This article will cover all claims – both positive and negative – of bug tracking software like the defect tracking tool.

The Positive Claims

It certainly depends on the type of bug tracking software that is used, but it seems as if there are many more advantages to these tools than disadvantages. The most obvious advantage is that these types of tools allow companies to keep a record of the issues that are recorded, who fixed them, and even how long it took to fix the issue for some types of programs. Customers are encouraged to be as detailed as they can be when requesting that an issue be fixed so that companies can complete their requests as quickly as possible. The fact that the issues are recorded and saved is a huge benefit for the companies because sending the recorded bug list with the purchased software is a common practice. This is a benefit to customers because if it is a common error, they can simply look up this issue in the previously recorded bug list. However, if the list is incredibly long (a common disadvantage) it can become more of a hassle.

The Negative Claims

As with anything that has a list of positive aspects there is also a list of negative aspects, though there are few. One of the biggest complaints is not so much from the bug tracking software or defect tracking tool itself but more from the process of submitting issue requests. Customers need to be extremely detailed with their issue requests if they want a detailed response. Miscommunication isn’t a fault of the product, the customer, or the company – it’s simply something that happens. Customers and companies alike both need to remember to be patient with each other and to treat each other with a mutual respect. A second complaint that was previously mentioned is the length of issues in some of these software programs.

Some customers don’t have the patience to look through a long list of software issues that have been previously recorded and this causes frustration among the companies that took the time to purchase software that saves them. The length of issues that are submitted can also become a problem because if there are too many issues submitted and not enough engineers to address them, some can get overlooked. Nobody likes to be forgotten, but usually these types of bug tracking software include detailed instructions and are easy to use.

Usually when a company purchases a bug tracking software or defect tracking tool it already has an experienced IT department in place. Whatever the software is that is being used with these programs should have some sort of backup for when the work is completed so it does not get lost if the issues that occur are deadly.

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How Useful is CAD Software to Engineers and Architects?

The emergence of advanced technology has made people today dependent on machines. Using computers and software, for example, is a very common illustration of this. Computer experts are coming up with more and more software to make more and more jobs easier.

A more specific illustration of this can be found in the modern approach towards engineering and architecture. These days, professionals in these fields use CAD computer software which is a program that allows them to create designs faster, easier and with more accurate measurements. Aside from the convenience that CAD software brings, it also helps put architects and engineers ahead of their competitors. CAD, which can render designs that are two-dimensional or three dimensional, stands for Computer Aided Design and has been in use since 1982.

So how does CAD computer software work? And what does it do exactly to help engineers and architects? The program is actually multifaceted in the sense that there are many ways it can help. To make CAD work will require, however, a careful study of its features and the many ways it can be used. It is rather a complex yet flexible and highly functional program.

This article will not be enough to discuss the various ways that CAD works but pinpointing its advantages could give some very good ideas. One great advantage of CAD computer software is its easy-to-use tools in the creation and alteration of designs. Obviously, this is so much better than the old fashioned way of using a pencil and eraser directly on paper. This method of designing is obviously so much easier and engineers and architects simply have more time to finish other tasks. In other words, high productivity is going to be the main end result of using CAD.

Before the design is actually printed on paper, CAD also allows both the design professional and the client to preview what has been finished so far. Any alterations can be made simply by manipulating the drawing through the use of the software. With CAD, it is so much easier to spot errors because the designs can be rendered exactly as they would be in reality. Hence, modifications can be done even before printing, thus, allowing one to save.

With the tough competition that everyone has to face these days, it is wise to take advantage of new technologies that can help put them ahead in the race. While traditional methods hold a significant part in the history of design, advanced tools such as CAD software should only be welcomed as man’s way of furthering development in a field of expertise that he himself has created long ago.

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Futon Frame Maintenance and Common Replacement Parts and Hardware

A little preventative maintenance of your futon frame can greatly increase how long it lasts. We recommend checking the bolts on your futon frame every month or two, depending on how often it's used. If they are loose, gently tighten them, but be careful not to over tighten them. If you have a wooden frame, you can rub a bar of Ivory soap in the arm tracks every now and then, to keep things operating smoothly.

Most of the damage that we see is from forcing the frame to operate, when it's stuck. If you are converting your frame from a bed to a sofa, or from a sofa to a bed, and it does not easily convert, stop what you are doing, and remove the mattress, and carefully examine why it's not moving easily. Usually if you try to convert the frame and you pull on one side more than the other, something will jam, and if forced, you may break something.

Normally a guest will try to make their bed in the morning, and not knowing how to do it, they may break your frame. We suggest telling your guests to leave the futon as a bed, and you'll take care of changing it from a bed to a sofa for them.

Some parts wear out, and some of the plastic parts can dry out over the years. If the bolts are not tightened, a part can move around in a way that it's not recommended to, and that can cause it to break. People ask us why they do not make some of the parts in futon frames out of metal so they're never break. The reason is, if they were metal, and something jammed up, and was forced, the seat, or back, or an arm would crack, and that would be a more costly repair.

Here's a list of some of the more common futon frame hardware and parts. This is by no means a complete listing of all the parts, but it includes most of the common parts. Some items are called more than one name, so we list them twice. Futon store that has been around a long time, might even have obsoleste parts that you might need.

If you need a part that you can not find anywhere, consult a good futon store who's willing to help you, and give them a description and a couple of pictures showing what you need and see if they are willing to help you. They may need to know the name of the manufacturer of the frame because there are many frames that look the same, but the size of the bolts or seat decks and other items will all be slightly different.

Futon Bolts
Standard Futon Hinges
Click Click Hinges
Triple Click Hinges
Futon Mattress Storage Bags
Oblong Rollers
Carriage Blocks
Round Futon Rollers
Double Futon Rollers
Nylon Roller Inserts
Futon Barrel Nuts, Nuts, and Cross Dowels
Larger Futon Barrel Nuts
Futon Seat Stoppers
Futon Storage Bags
Allen Wrenches
Larger Allen Wrenches
Plastic Leg Caps
1/2 "Futon Hardware Sets
5/8 "Futon Hardware Sets
Angle Support Brackets
Decorative Bolt Covers or Plugs
Clevis Pins and Assemblies
Various Plastic Rollers, Glides and Carriage Blocks
Stretcher Support Rails
Futon Seat Decks
Futon Back Decks
Futon Arms
Cotter Pins
Washers and Clips
Futon Slats and Supports

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Recommended Software for Arena Management

When there is a little over a month left to enter the data for a thousand plus cattle penning teams into a fickle spread sheet software program that was built by good intentioned volunteers; the last thing anyone should be doing is looking for replacement software. However, as any event/entry secretary or producer knows this is sometimes the lifeline that is needed to get the job done.

The preparation of all of the necessary data combined with balancing a three-quarter of a million dollar show in the six weeks prior to its start should have been enough to do. Throwing in a new piece of software to learn and master would be considered ludicrous to say the least. The producers deemed it to be a necessity in view of the history of inconsistencies in the program currently in use.

With a three-year old recommendation in hand and very little back ground checking, Arena Management Software became the chosen lifeline. The software was purchased, loaded onto the computers, played with for a day or so and then our team went to work. The KCI support group was there, day and night, to help with the learning curve and any snags that presented themselves. Our team quickly realized that the new user-friendly software program we had taken a chance on was going to be our ongoing choice for future events. The show was a success. The producers and contestants were happy. All was good in our world!

There have been a lot of years pass by since those short six weeks when our group became acquainted with the Arena Management Software. The program still provides a user-friendly format that has the talent to produce minimal data to realms of reports. From rodeo to cattle penning events the product continues to amaze our team with its ability to perform in and out of the arena.

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The Advantages of Having Personal Productivity Software

Personal productivity software is an application that no business should be without. This is because of the simple fact that this piece of software makes a great contribution when it comes to ensuring productivity in the workplace. But if you are not too convinced about the importance of purchasing personal productivity software just yet, well, this is actually normal. A lot of business men do become wary when presented with the notion of purchasing such software because computer software is a bit pricey in the market right now. However, when presented with the many benefits businesses enjoy with these software applications, the activity of convincing businessmen becomes very, very easy to do.

So, why exactly do you need personal productivity software in running your business? First of all, this piece of software can give any type and size business the professional touch it needs. The software comes with applications and programs that make it very easy for you to produce professional looking letterheads, marketing reports, brochures, mailing campaigns, and the like. Even the simple act of developing professional looking paychecks is easily done with the use of such software as well. And this is just one of the minor benefits that come with such software!

When you get the basic package, you actually get a word processor, a spreadsheet application, presentation software, and the like. For a more cost-efficient option, you could consider getting one of those suites that contain a number of these tools. This way, you are sure to get more value for your money. Some examples of these suites include Microsoft Office, Sun Staroffice 8, Microsoft Works, or Corel WordPerfect Office. An interesting fact about Microsoft Works is that it actually comes free with personal computers. Aside from these suites, you can also choose to get supplementary software packages that can make your whole life easier.

One of the popular software packages includes QuickBooks. This choice is popular because it is known to be very efficient in handling and managing inventory and business finances, such as payroll and benefits packages. Now, with all these abilities, you have to be sure to allot a hefty budget for your suite of tool and the additional applications and programs you would be getting. The typical price for suites and the individual applications range from a hundred to five hundred dollars. So, if your PC is meant for more than just doing the regular email and the basics on word processing, then you should consider this option thoroughly.

You may also be worried about the hidden and recurring fees that might come with having personal productivity software installed in your system. Yes, they do come with long term costs, but these are just minimal when you compare them to the benefits you would come to enjoy with the software. An upgrade would occasionally be needed, especially after a few years or so with your own application suite. Plus, your business should be growing in a few years, right? Thus, it would make much sense to avail of this upgrade, to foster improvement for your company in the business setting. Do not worry too much about upgrade expenses because they would definitely be lower than that of the original purchase.

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How to Retrieve Deleted Text Messages & Not Go Crazy in the Process

It’s happened to all of us. We’ve deleted a text message only to realize a short while later that we either deleted the wrong message, or we need to retrieve information off one of the deleted text messages. We then frantically search out ways online how to retrieve deleted text messages hoping to find an easy solution. We pour through websites pulling our hair out because we can’t find an easy solution.

Ultimately we walk away dismayed because either we were not able to find any solutions on how to retrieve deleted text messages, or the solutions we found seemed to require so much “detective” work, that the solution itself should be on a an episode of CSI.

Are there really any “easy” ways to retrieve deleted messages?

The good news is that YES, there are a couple options that do exist which enable anyone to easily recover deleted texts, and both are not only very affordable, but both work exactly as advertised.

Before we dig into the solutions, there is one solution that is often discussed, which does not work, although many people do still talk about it.

What does NOT work?

Going to your own phone carrier is not going to be a viable option. Yes, they are required by law to keep records of your communication (SMS, call, etc.), but they are not required to turn over their logs to you, unless requested by a court of law. You cannot call up AT&T, Verizon or Sprint and tell them you want to retrieve a deleted text message from last week because there is something really important within the contents of the message. It just wont work.

The only information AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or any other cell phone carrier is going to provide you is the number, date, and time of a call or message. You can plead all you want, but they will not be able to do anything, so it’s not worth your time to attempt this approach.

What DOES work?

There are actually two options available for anyone who is looking for information on how to retrieve deleted text messages. These options rank from the “quick and easy” to the more difficult, but also the most effective.

1) Quick & easy method.

The ‘quick & easy method’ is to buy a SIM card reader, often referred to as a SIM card spy device. This device looks like a USB reader, and the way it works is you remove the SIM card out of your phone, and then place the SIM card into the SIM card reader, and then plug the reader into your computer. Using the included software (of the SIM card reader), you’ll be able to immediately retrieve and read deleted text messages. The time frame will vary, based on what new information is overwritten on the SIM card, but you’ll at least be able to retrieve and read the last 15-20 messages and scan through your call history and contacts, even if they were all deleted.

Positives of this approach?

  • Very easy.
  • Enables you to quickly recover deleted messages.
  • Does not require software to be installed prior to the message being deleted.

Negatives of this approach?

  • A bit costly.
  • Limited cell phone support.
  • Does not work on CDMA networks.

2) More difficult, but most effective method.

The more difficult, but most effective method’ is to purchase a cell phone monitoring app that is often used to spy on cheating spouses, monitor teen cell phone use, track cell phone location, and locate missing or stolen cell phones. These apps (often called spy apps or spy phone software) are often used by people who want an easy and convenient way to back up and store all their own personal cell phone data. The reason why this method is fast becoming a popular way to back up their own personal cell phone data is because everything happens automatically. There is no “syncing” required, or any buttons or settings to worry about. Your cell phone data (text messages, call history, etc.) are automatically backed up every single day. This means if you ever delete a text message, and then need to quickly recover it, all you have to do is log onto your account and then in just a few clicks, you’ll have full contents of every message that was either sent or received from your phone. In addition, you’ll get access to all your call logs and contacts.

The reason why this is a more difficult method, is because it requires that you download the software from your cell phone’s web browser and install the application on your phone. Not everyone is comfortable downloading cell phone apps from the internet using their phone’s web browser. However, once you do complete the download, the actual installation is similar to installing an app on your computer. If you are willing to roll the dice and go with this method, you’ll be very happy with the results. It’s essentially a real time person back up solution that requires absolutely ZERO work on your part. Everything is done for you. The only drawback with this approach is that it does require you to install the software BEFORE you delete the text message that you want to retrieve. This means you need to be proactive and install the software ahead of time.

Positives of this approach?

  • Extremely effective.
  • Affordable.
  • Full contents of text messages are retrieved.
  • Large amount of cell phones are supported, including the popular models such as Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia, and more.

Negatives of this approach?

  • Can be difficult if not familiar with installing cell phone apps.
  • Software must be installed prior to message being deleted.
  • Requires a data connection such as 3G or Edge
  • May increase data fees if a large amount of text messages are sent on a daily basis.

There you go. Now you know how to retrieve deleted text messages using a couple different approaches. The next time someone asks you how to retrieve deleted text messages, you’ll know what options exist, and which one is the best for that particular situation.

Good luck!

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Professional Shopping Cart Software

Advantages & Disadvantages of professional shopping cart software As e-Commerce is becoming a regular technique in the business industry it appears that more and more software development firms are developing professional shopping cart software to be released in the market. There is currently a huge range of free shopping cart software that has been released, and it seems that most e-Commerce website owners prefer these free systems over paid for professional shopping cart software. In this article we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of professional shopping cart software.

Advantages

• Even though you will have to pay for the solution, you get a cart package that has been fully developed, tested and used in the real working world by other e-Commerce websites. If the solution is used by a popular website service then the chances are it has been under more than enough testing to be deemed ready for use.

• Professional shopping cart software will be supported by the people who developed it. A lot of free solutions out there are simply developed and then discontinued as the freelance developers move onto their next project. Support is essential if you are going to want upgrades as mentioned in our next point.

• As the system is supported, the development team are likely to fix any bugs that may occur and provide patches and security fixes. This means the shopping cart software will only get better as time goes on and furthermore improve your e-Commerce website.

• Your site is likely to be more secure when using a professional software solution as in most cases the it developed house private content management systems. This improves security as public content management systems such as WordPress are constantly under threat from hackers as they try to compromise the free source code.

• Another huge advantage of using professionally developed software in e-Commerce is that they will already support a huge range of different payment options for your customers. There are various carts – that only offer PayPal for payment by standard, and it can take a very long time to find plug-ins or figure out how to add other methods yourself. With professional software you can save time and possibly money as it is all included.

Disadvantages

• Your e-Commerce venture might be a small time project and professional cart does cost money which you may not have. In this case you may have to make do with a free shopping cart solution. The good part of conducting business online is that after you have made profit with the free system you can reinvest your money to buy a professional package.

• You trust the developers to do everything they promise to ensure the best experience. It might be slightly difficult to use at first and you might have to spend some time getting used to the bespoke system. You also have to understand that you are vulnerable until patches are made if a security flaw is found.

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7 Benefits of the Doctor and Clinic Management System Software

A cloud-based clinic management system addresses your hospital management related woes. It brings simplicity to the patient appointments, their treatment, medical billing and payments and services that take care of other requirements of the hospital.

Advantages of a Cloud Compliant Software

A software that leverages the cloud technologies in full, offers flexibility, cost saving, fast service, ease of accessibility and sustainability.

Flexibility

Even small hospitals can harness the power of this type of software. As the business grows, the software automatically scales itself to the hospital’s increasing needs without the user having to provide for it. The software is easy use, at its fullest, right from the first day.

Cost Saving

Choosing to use clinic management software located on the cloud platform is cost effective for the hospitals. It is an attractive choice for the small as well as big hospital setups.

It requires no expenditure on hardware, equipments and trained IT staff. These are the resources that a hospital, supporting an in-house IT setup must utilize. They are costly.

This highly optimized software is maintained, updated and configured in the cloud by the skilled IT experts. The users are, thus, spared from the burden. It leads to cost saving. Unhindered, the hospital staff stays focused on the core functions of the hospital.

Harness it From Anywhere at Anytime

The hospital administrator acts as the super-user of the software. He or she, then, grant access permissions to the others. The managers, doctors and others can then access the necessary data stored in the cloud, from anywhere at anytime.

They can use smartphones, tablets, phablets, laptops, notebooks and desktops over the internet for the purpose.

Fast Service

This software gives fast, easy and simple solutions for the hospitals in managing their day-to-day activities. It helps in streamlining patient management, inventory management, employees’ and doctors’ attendance, online report generation and other tasks.

Sustainability

For hospitals using this software, it is easy to recover from an on-site disaster. Their data is stored in the cloud, where it remains safe. It is repeatedly backed up. They need to simply access it to get their system online.

Features of the Cloud Based Clinic Management System

1. Patient management: Maintains records of the patients that include personal details, visits to the hospitals, allergy related data, medication, etc.

2. Appointments and schedule management: Determines the availability of the doctors before scheduling appointments. Uses powerful search engine to set up an appointment for the patient. The software assists the staff in knowing the availability of the beds for the patient’s hospital stay.

3. Alerts: Sends alerts and reminders using SMSs and Emails. It notifies the patients about the future appointments and vaccination schedules.

4. Purchase and inventory management: Keeps track of the drugs, equipments, instruments and other hospital items in the stock. Generate expiry alerts for the drugs in stock. Assists in creating a purchase list.

5. Records: Stores all the electronic medical records of the patients and the data related to the hospital, in a central place. It is available to the authorized persons from anywhere, at any time. Doctors can use the patient data to conduct medical research.

6. Payment Processing: Assists the hospital’s accounting department in, accurate medical billing to the patient. Provides connectivity to the top accounting software and eases the tasks of accountants.

7. Lead Generation: It assists the business managers employed by the hospitals in lead generation and tracking.

It is easy to start using a cloud-based clinic management system software. It needs no installation and one can access and start using it over the internet, in a jiffy.

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Determining the Best Type of Fastener to Use For Outdoor Furniture Construction

If you want to learn about selecting hardware for your next outdoor furniture project, then you'll want to read this article. Specifically, I'll be telling you about what type of hardware will perform best, why the type of metal used for fasteners and the finish used are important considerations, and how properly protecting or limiting exposure of your furniture to wet and winter conditions can increase Life span. After you're done with this article you will understand that the best choice of hardware for your outdoor furniture project is dependent on furniture style, material used for construction, selected location for the furniture and budget.

Selecting proper hardware for your furniture will help ensure a long life span, as well as improve the overall appearance of your furniture. Part of the problem is knowing what hardware to select when there are so many options available at the hardware store. The typical Lowes or Home Depot carries a huge selection of stainless steel, hot dipped galvanized, bright galvanized, plain steel, coated steel and brass bolts, nuts, washers and screws. Each type of fastener is suitable for certain applications, but not all are ideal for outdoor furniture applications.

In fact, choosing the wrong fasteners can greatly shorten the lifespan of your furniture, contribute to rot of wood furniture, cause unsightly staining, and even make your furniture unsafe to use.

One thing that needs to be noted right up front is, do not ever use unprotected steel fasteners for outdoor furniture, they will rust very quickly, and the steel will react with the tannic acid in the wood causing streaks and staining. The tannic acid actually speeds up the corrosion of the fasteners. Have you ever seen a wooden fence with black streaks running down the boards from the nails? This fence was installed with the wrong type of fasteners. The same thing will happen to your furniture. Even worse, as the fasteners rust, they will speed up the decay process of the wood around the rusted fasteners, ruining your furniture and making it potentially unsafe to use.

Hot Dipped Galvanized

Screws and bolts treated by hot dipped galvanizing are specifically designed for use outdoors. Electroplated galvanized or bright galvanized fasteners will very well not hold up as well as the hot dipped galvanized hardware. Zinc is used as a coating in both methods, and acts as a barrier against the elements and the tannic acids in the wood.

I strongly recommend only using screws or bolts in the construction of outdoor furniture, however. The galvanized finish on nails, either electroplated or hot dipped, can easily become damaged while hammering them in, exposing the nail head to the elements and allowing them to begin rusting quickly.

Adequate care must be taken when installing galvanized screws. Drill pilot holes in hardwoods, and be sure to use a bit that is not worn and intolerable to skipping in the screw head. For whatever reason, the galvanized screws seem to not be as well tempered as other steel fasteners, and are more likely to either snap off or have the heads strip out while installing them. Due to the permission required for the hot dipped coating, galvanized bolts do not have as tight of tolerance on the threads, and are more likely to strip if over tightened.

Hot dipped galvanized fasteners are a fine choice for many outdoor furniture applications, including Adirondack Chairs, but are not the best choice for use in woods, such as teak.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is the best choice for use in woods with higher levels of tannic acid, such as teak. Stainless steel is an alloy or blend of steel, nickel and chrome. The ratio of the other metals with the steel determine the weather and corrosion resistance of stainless steel. Because the steel is mixed with other softer metals, the stainless steel is not as strong, so predrilling of screw holes is highly recommended in all applications, and essential in hardwoods such as teak and mahogany. The added corrosion resistance more than outweighs any shortcomings that the metal may have, especially in outdoor furniture applications.

While stainless steel fasteners are the most rust resistant, they are also the most expensive of the options we are discussing. However, using stainless steel fasteners will add years of life to your furniture. In the respect, they are an investment that will pay out for years to come.

Brass

I have seen brass used in some commercially produced outdoor furniture, but do not recommend it. While brass does not form red rust, and is well suited for many wet applications such as toilets and sinks, it does tarnish and corrode. It is also very susceptible to the tannic acids in wood, which will cause it to fail more quickly. Brass screws in particular Do not have sufficient strength for outdoor furniture applications.

Outdoor or deck screws

In the past several years a number of manufacturers have introduced outdoor fastening products specifically marketed for deck building. These will typically be green, gray, tan or brown. These screws are either ceramic or plastic coated to delay the metal reacting with the wood acids. The specific coating methods are proprietary to each manufacturer, and can be a combination of electroplated galvanizing and plastic, or a baked on ceramic.

I have used these fasteners in furniture applications and they perform just fine. Unfortunately, I have not come across bolts with this type of finish. The brand of screw I used was Deck Mate, and they were available in tan and brown, so that the color can be selected to better match the wood being used. These screws are ceramic covered, and the manufacturer provided a coated bit for installation, which was designed to not damage the ceramic coating at the screw head. If you choose this type of fastener, be sure to compare the cost with stainless steel, as the price will vary. If the stainless steel is reasonably comparable in cost, it would be the recommended fastener.

Always be sure to read the manufacturers specifications on the box to be sure that the screws are suitable for your application.

Other Considerations

If you are building furniture that will be located on a covered porch or patio where it will be protected from the elements, the concern will be the interaction between the wood and the fasteners, much more so than the weather. Furniture that will be exposed to the elements all year, such as a garden bench, or an adirondack chair in the corner of your garden, will have to be constructed with much more care and concern to ensure that they hold up more than just one or Two winters.

Additional considerations must be made beyond just the choice of what type of fastener to use, though this is very important. For example, fasteners should not be located where water where collect and sit on the fasteners for an extended period of time. The screws that attach the seat slats to an Adirondack chair are a prime example- typically these screws will be countersunk below the surface of the wood. This will allow water to collect in the screw holes, shortening the life span of all but stainless steel fasteners, and prolonging the exposure of the wood to water, which will increase the rate of decay. In applications where the furniture will be exposed to the elements year round the screw heads should be driven flush with the surface of the surrounding wood.

Construction and design of the furniture are also important considerations. Are the horizontal surfaces of the furniture constructed in such a way that will allow them to shed water, rather than collect it? Think of a picnic table with a slatted or board top. The gaps between the boards allow water a way to run off the top and not pool up.

Conclusion

Stainless steel is usually the best choice for outdoor furniture applications, although the cost may be prohibitive for some. There are other less expensive fastener options available that will perform acceptably. Do not use unprotected steel fasteners for outdoor furniture applications under any circumstances. Know where and how you intend to use your furniture and design it for the conditions it will be subjected to.

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Schedule Slippage – Root Causes

“The single most important task of a project: setting realistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations based on inaccurate estimates are the single largest cause of software failure.”- Futrell, Shafer

Introduction

With global and competitive market, it is very important to launch a product or service in the market on time, ahead of competitors. Definitely, timely launch depends on on-time-completion of the product development projects. Project planning has lots of challenges to overcome in order to finish the project on time – right from schedule predictability, envisioning future/possible risks and coming up with mitigation plans.

This article talks about some of the challenges, often faced in the Software Product Development industry that causes the schedule slippage.

Schedule slippage: Delay in the project completion from its initial estimated date of completion.

Each project plan will have a planned completion date (NRA, RA), and a bounding box or upper limit in schedule. Nowadays, it is a common practice to have three dates associated with any project plan:

  • Non-Risk Adjusted (NRA) date: Project completion date assuming no hurdles – Ideal conditions.
  • Risk Adjusted (RA) date: Project completion date assuming some risks will come on the way and will need extra time to attend to them.
  • Bounding Box (BB) or upper limit: The upper limit on the project plan before which the project has to be finished under any circumstances – Generally decided by the top management based on product/services roadmap and launch in the market.

Under ideal circumstances, any project is scheduled to complete by NRA date. Considering some risks that may come on the way and would eat some time off the schedule, the project should be over by RA date. If the risks were not envisioned and hence not planned well, then project may get delayed and would complete after RA date. Project completion crossing the RA or upper limit is neither good nor expected out of a well-planned project.

Root Causes

As we always plan for a project to get over before RA date, seldom is the case it happens as expected. There are multiples reasons for schedule slippage, right from improper planning, lack of resources to unplanned requirements and rework that eat away vital time off the planned schedule.

A typical project development process – Each project will have a team (development, testing and other functions) that will work through a process (requirement analysis, schedule estimation, design, implementation and testing) to deliver a product to the customer/end user. Each entity that participate in the project – directly or indirectly affect the schedule.

From the development process, we can identify the items that can cause delay in the execution of the project – for example, misinterpreted or unclear requirement adds up to completion time, unavailability of development tools or resources can prolong the project duration. Various processes like schedule estimation, detailed design and product development if not executed skillfully, may significantly blow up the project cycle.

For better understanding all these possible causes that may result in schedule slippage are categorized .

Let’s have a detailed look at the root causes of schedule slippage category wise.

1) Schedule Estimation: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

For a project to be executed on time, it is very important to have it planned very well. Any mistake in project schedule estimation reflects as delay in the project completion from its deadline. There are several factors that contribute to improper schedule estimation:

· Underestimation of technical complexities: At the start of the project, many of the team members may not have thorough knowledge of technical complexities and hence their estimation would be incorrect. Sometimes it may so happen that the person giving estimates for a particular task is having no idea about the technical challenges involved in carrying out that particular task. You might hear, towards the mid/end of the project life cycle when the task is not finished on time – “Oh, I didn’t know that this feature also requires 5 more tasks to be done!” or “I was thinking this task to be so simple, but I under estimated it!”. · Lack of Design/Big picture: It is important to have a bigger picture / overview of the complete project to understand how a particular module/feature would fit in to complete project. Product or system level design helps in understanding the interfaces among other modules and the required coordination for product assembly and hence, a better insight into the work involved. Often, estimates without focus on detailed design tend to deviate more from the actual time taken for finishing the job. · Integration Testing: While making a project plan, testing also needs to be accommodated in the schedule. At times, the unit testing or testing done by individual contributors on their module is taken into account but not the system level testing. Toward the release, when all the individually tested modules are brought together, a system level or integration testing is a must. Having the time for integration testing not accounted in the overall project schedule will cause delay in the project completion.

· Unplanned dependencies: Project planning is not only about breaking the project into minute tasks and managing them. A well-planned project schedule also needs to consider certain unplanned dependencies. Some of these are:

o People: Optimum utilization of human resources calls for same set of people working in multiple projects. A person may not be available to work for currently planned/assigned project due to extended/unplanned work in another parallel project. Another issue related to people could be unplanned/unexpected attrition that will affect the project plan. Time is also lost in mentoring of new member by a senior (more experienced) person which goes unaccounted if not planned.

o Tools & Equipments: Project can be delayed if team is waiting for release of upgrade or procurement of any vital tool (hardware or software being used in the project) or if the equipments required for development and testing are not available. “We had a 3-months project for validating our existing solution on new product platform using customer DUT (device under test). We had to wait for the DUT for nearly 1.5 months as it got stuck in customs. After getting the DUT, we realized that it’s been damaged partially during transportation. As a result we had to ask for another DUT and whole project took more than 5 months to get finished.” – I am sure that such cases will be quite familiar to many organizations. Other reason for timely unavailability of tools / equipments is that they are shared among various projects to reduce the operating cost. Any unplanned dependency on their usage or wrong assumption about availability of these shared resources would cause delay in the program. Team members might have to work on shifts to optimize the usage of shared resources which can cause reduced work hours and/or productivity loss and results to schedule slippage.

“I was waiting for Matlab license to be released by another person in the team but he left the office without doing so and I lost 3 hours figuring out what to do?” – is it something you faced before?

o Other programs: If multiple programs have deliverable dependencies, then delay in one project will have cascaded effect on other projects, which directly or indirectly depend on its deliverable. “We got delayed because we had to wait for a critical UI component from the framework project team” or “We didn’t plan for bug fixes for a component which was supposed to be delivered defect free for our usage” are the common scenarios for delays in program which are dependent on other program deliverables. Parallel programs may affect the schedule of your program in a different way as well – Sometimes, management changes the priority of the programs running in parallel. If your project is considered as a low priority one then there might be lack of resources assigned to your project that may result in schedule slippage.

· Beta releases: How many times we seek feedback on our product during development? And how often we allocate time for it? It’s important to plan beta releases if we desire to have our product validated by expert users or lighthouse customers during development. Getting feedback from beta customers becomes important especially when their requirements echo that of a mass customer base. Process of giving workable releases to customers, collecting their experience, having their feedback analyzed, and then incorporating in the final product version takes significant time.

· Risk mitigation and plan B: Every project will have some or the other risks. These risks can be of varying severity and probabilities. While making project plan, it is important to treat the risk individually based on their severity and probability of occurrence. If high probable risks with higher severity are not planned with their mitigation plan (or plan B), they will have huge impact on schedule deviation from planned one. As in one of the previous examples quoted, getting a DUT on time for validation was a risk. Had there been a mitigate plan (plan B) like – Validate with other DUT or if DUT is not available here, let one developer travel to customer’s place and finish the validation on time, the schedule slippage would have been avoided.

2) People: Ultimately, projects are executed by people who may not be skilled or talented. Hence, looking for perfection in projects involving human beings may not be a feasible thought. Certain unpredictable and hence unavoidable issues under this category are:

· Poor leadership: Before thinking of project execution, it is project planning that actually would set the platform of success. Execution of the project depends on its team while planning is taken care by the project leader. The project leader is expected to have enough technical know-how to understand the project goals and to the details of the tasks involved. Poor leadership and superficial knowledge of assignments often results in invalid effort estimation and ad hoc task delegation causing stress and possible delay in project execution. People leading the team are also responsible for keeping the team spirit and motivation level upbeat. Poor personal commitment due to lack of motivation results in loss of productivity and may cause schedule to slip. Another reason that adds up to delay in projects is inability of leadership team to track the schedule progress and take the correction action.

· Attrition: If the project duration is large and job market is hot, it may be difficult to retain people in the project till its completion. Attrition may further delay the completion especially if the person leaving the job was in critical path. A person leaving the organization would leave a gap in the project that a new person may not fill immediately, which in turn causes sudden reduction in the task force.

· Learning curve: When ever a new person or team member is included in the project, he or she may require some time to understand the project to keep in pace with other members. Learning curve is needed for new team members, joining the team either due to attrition or due to any specific technical competency requirement. · Context switching: In smaller organization or groups where people work on multiple projects simultaneously, it is important to have some buffer for context switching. A person planned to work in project ‘A’ for two hours after a gap of two weeks, would take more than scheduled time to complete that task. Gap of two weeks and the fact that he or she was involved in other project would require some time for the member to get back to the context of current project. · Global development teams: In an era of globalization and outsourcing, it is common these days to have development team distributed over different geographical regions. Project plan needs to account for different time zones and working culture. You might expect an input for your task on Monday morning your time but it may be Sunday late evening for that person and finally when the input arrives, you might be on your way to home after work.

Sometimes schedule estimation might go completely wrong if you have not understood the work culture of the region your teammate belongs to – “In my previous work, I was given a task to be completed with a heads up that its very critical task and needs immediate attention’. When I asked my project lead how many days/hours I have for it, I had been time for 2 weeks for high priority and ‘immediate-attention’ work.” Definition of ‘urgent’, ‘high priority tasks’ changes with culture and region.

· Communication Issues: People communicate differently. If important issues are not brought to the notice of the team members, or are not escalated on time, the entire project may suffer. Often fear of embarrassment stops team members from reporting issues faced during execution leading to more time being spent on that task that can easily be executed additional help.

3) Customer Involvement: These issues are quite serious if customer or end users of the product are involved in the development phase. Understanding customer’s priorities, defining your expectation from their involvement needs to be clear and in agreement with both the parties.

· Expert user testing: In the beginning of the project, expert user testing cycle needs to be planned. Process of giving builds or releases for testing and collecting their feedback, analyzing and incorporating them in your product takes significant time which, if not planned, can delay your program. · Timely feedback: “I got feedback from customers for features, delivered in development milestone-1, after milestone-5 towards the release. These feedbacks are critical but now I am worried how to incorporate them without affecting the schedule.” It sounds like a common problem. Incorporation of feedback from customers needs to be planned well taking a commitment from the customer. · Product requirement specification review: Having a product requirement review planned and executed will keep you on right track throughout the project. Reviewing the requirement specification will avoid requirement related defects fixing which otherwise would have delayed, the project.

4) Ambiguous Project Requirement: For any project to be initiated, the first thing is to have requirements for it. In the product development life cycle, requirement phase acts like a foundation. Clear requirement or vision for the project navigates the team to success. However, requirements may not be clear at the time of estimation and may result in delay in the project completion. Issues related:

· Evolving specs: If you are making a product based on a standard which is not yet matured or still evolving, you are more prone to have this risk. Frequency changes in the specs will change the requirement for the project during different stages of product development and team will continue to work on something that is not yet evolved. This results in rework that would delay the project if time for dealing with these changes is not accommodated in the schedule. “We developed an algorithm and hence measurement that was based on certain industry standard. Towards the release of the product, the specs changed and our measurement was no more valid. We had to redo the algorithm to reflect the changes in the specs. This caused our product release delayed by 2 months.” · New requirements: Sometimes new requirements are added as the project evolves towards completion. Implementation of new requirements is not planned at the beginning of the project and hence is not accounted in schedule. Adding new feature without revising the schedule may result in delay.

· Untold expectation: Requirements from the customers may be of two types – implicit or explicit. It is important to have the requirements well documented. Implicit requirements needs to be better defined and documented to avoid any confusion towards the end of the project. Customers may not describe their requirements related to system performance, memory issues, user interface quality and usability but they are very keen on providing feedback in those aspects once the product is given for expert user testing. If we are not clear about such requirements, out design might not address them. Addressing them towards the end of the project may call for design changes and extra work that would delay the project.

5) Unplanned Tasks / Reworks: Bounding box for the project is set by higher management and often lack buffer for unplanned task(s). Having more of unplanned task that creep up at different phases of project can cause schedule slippage. The unplanned tasks or rework may arise due to:

· Sustaining work: In smaller organizations, some of the project team may also be responsible for sustaining / customer support of existing products. These unplanned tasks, which come on event basis, related to customer support are always of high priority. Excess or prolonged sustaining work may take resource out of the planned project causing a potential threat for schedule slippage. · Defect fixes: Defects are bad as they degrade the product quality and consume extra time/effort to fix them. It is good to have testing of the intermediate releases of the project to find and fix defects sooner in the development life cycle. If the fixing-cycle for such internal-milestone defects is not planned, then either the project is either going to slip or product is going to be of poorer quality. Poor programming skill of the team, not adapting to modern programming practices and having ad hoc development processes may lead to higher number of defects which would take more time to fix then planned and cause slippage.

· Task spillover from previous milestone: Tasks that are not completed in previous milestone, due to whatever reason (inefficiency, vacation of the team member, resource crunch etc), will have to be completed in the next milestone thereby increasing the load on the team. If adequate buffer is not planned, these tasks spilled from previous milestone over to next, can delay the project. · Requirement change / refinement: Requirement changes during the product development will result in rework of what has been previously done with first version of requirement(s). Addressing changes in the requirements needs extra time and effort and may cause schedule slippage. In some cases, the requirement from customer is misunderstood resulting in wrong system design and implementation. Additional, unplanned time is lost in correcting the design/implementation which causes schedule slippage.

Conclusion

On time delivery is the challenge software development companies are facing globally. To have a complete control over estimated schedule, it is very important to identify the elements in the development cycle that cause schedule slippage. This article uncovers and explains the root causes of delay in programs using examples from real world. Having an insight to the root causes will help the program managers to make good decisions to avoid future schedule slippage.

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