Automated Real Estate Software – The New Trend in Investing

The value of real estate has appreciated in the last few years. It also shows great potential for growth. Hence, now might be the best time to look at an investment in property. However, if you’ve spoken to someone who already has his knees deep in real estate investing, you will realize that a lot of things are easier said than done.

It requires skill and experience to scour the market for high value properties.

Then comes landing good buyers.

Finally, there’s a humongous amount of paper work to handle.

This is where real estate investing softwares might lend a hand. They automate the entire process of real estate investing. If you would like to know more about such applications, here’s a low down on some of the common features they offer.

Lead generation –

At the click of a single button you are able to find a comprehensive list of buyers and sellers scattered across the country. The information elicited includes names and mail addresses of buyers, owners of properties, the type of property (bank owned, foreclosed, low and high equity, absentee owner etc.) and amount of cash paid.

Website creation –

Every business needs a website, especially if you do not have a physical location from which operate. Not all of us know the technicalities of writing HTML codes and designing a website. The real estate softwares can help you create targeted and user-friendly websites that you can use to showcase your business.

Direct mail generator –

Marketing is the soul of a real estate business. The more you network the more leads you can generate. The direct mail generator feature helps you setup a highly productive and efficient mailing system. You can send out emails, newsletters, posters and flyers.

There are a range of pre-made email templates you can use to send out messages to your leads. Autoresponders make sure you can keep in touch with sellers and buyers even when you are not physically present to answer their queries.

This feature is a highlight feature of most real estate software given that the savings in time and money are large.

Investing tips –

This is a section that most newbies can benefit from. Most applications include a resource library with info on the basic aspects of the trade. An open community of members can also give you an opportunity to interact and build your resource with real-time knowledge about making, building and closing a deal.

Diverse user base –

Modern-day automated real estate investing software applications cater to a varied group of investors. It includes those who buy, fix and flip properties. If you are a landlord, it can increase the convenience of managing your properties including finding tenants and repairing and renovating properties between subsequent deals. There are also features that rehabbers and builders of new constructions can use.

Contracts and paperwork –

Real estate investment also means a lot of paperwork. Most applications offer tools to generate contracts. Features such as auto-fill enable you to fill personal details into letters, contracts and other property-related documents. You can sign them online, and then email or fax them free of charge.

There is one thing – you need to be realistic. Real estate softwares are tools you can use to streamline your business. You should have a real estate business to start with and some basic know-how on investing.

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Pick 3 Lotto Logix – What You Should Know

The primary goal of Lotto Logix is to present informational resources for many individuals who are interested in playing and winning in lottery. Lotto Logix locates and lists the best lottery websites having useful contents for players; determines the best possible methods and strategies for playing at the lowest cost; finding free lottery games and lists the vital factors a player needs for lottery software. If you want to learn about lottery games such as pick 3 Logix provides pertinent information, which may help you in terms of playing, betting, and winning.

Lotto Logix limits its lists of lottery websites into 1 or 2 links so that players can choose efficiently. The websites are grouped according to their functionality in terms of software, results, and information. More so, Lotto Logix provides information of every website including tips, news, articles, freeware, books, statistics, shareware, programs, software, predictions, wheeling systems, and wheels among others. Since Lotto Logix has the objective of winning the lottery, it also provides assistance for players who would want to do the same. It is undeniable that not everyone has answers or solutions to winning in the lottery. Thus, Lotto Logix hopes in bringing methods and strategies to fit into one tool that will effectively lead to lottery winnings.

Although some lottery players do not believe in the usefulness of lottery software for games such as pick 3 Logix believe that it can help in storing, tracking, and charting winning number combinations. Lottery software provides predictions that are useful in choosing numbers to bet. The software can provide 90% accuracy in terms of distribution of numbers as well as the winning numbers since it lets you import your wheeling system. You can wheel all the numbers in you Pick 3, 5, or 6 games as you are allowed to filter number combinations.

In terms of free lotto games, Lotto Logix locates and lists every free online lottery games with legit prizes and uses state drawings for the winning numbers. On the other hand, Lotto Logix does not list all the games specifically if the websites for such games advertise extremely. This is because Lotto Logix thinks that it is much better to separate them from other free online lottery games that do not advertise as much. As such, it plans on establishing a link-farm page specifically for games that employ pay-per-click advertising or those that employ sign-ups in order to cover for the page cost. However, Logix is not very enthusiastic in creating such additional page. This is because most of these kinds of sites have too much demand that seem outrageous or unbelievable for players.

If you want to improve your odds of winning in lottery games such as pick 3 Logix has determined that playing more tickets is the only efficient way. On the other hand, it has also determined that it is more possible for you to win lower tier prizes while waiting to with the grand prize. It is best to establish strategies that allow you to track specific events for possible winnings.

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What is the Purpose of ERP Software?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software can be described as a complete business software solution. It is aimed at the integration of all business processes and sub-processes into a single unified system. This system is formulated and implemented in an organization to effectively and efficiently achieve the business goals of the organization.

ERP packages are implemented to manage the existing and prospective business plans and policies in an efficient manner under strict deadlines. It can be referred to as the ultimate business solution package that is predominantly concerned with making sure that the available resources of the organization are utilized in the best possible manner and coordinated with the business objectives of the organization.

It is crucial that modern day business organizations have a single unified system, which aims at harmonizing its business efforts. This can prove to be a crucial determinant in deciding the scope, area and net results of the organization as a whole, rather than running many different systems that don’t work well together. What makes ERP different from any other business solution package is the presence of a single and unified database system.

ERP software is as essential to the needs of a business today as food is for living. Businesses cannot run competitively in the absence of properly drafted and formulated ERP software. The more effective implementation and follow-up, the better are the results. ERP software is needed by all modern-day organizations, irrespective of the size, area of operations and business objectives.

Nowadays there are many ERP packages available in the global market, including SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, J D Edwards, and BAAN.

The selection of an ERP software package is dependent on many factors: previous software implementation, nature and size of operations, recommendations of consultants, and management decisions.

Before installing specialized software, a detailed study must be made and reviewed to match the business requirements with the available packages. This must be taken as a serious study as any mistake in selection or its effective implementation can prove disastrous to the organizational objectives and prospects. The ERP software must be installed by an ERP vendor or third-party consulting organization, which are expert service providers when it comes to providing Consulting, customization and support.

Some of the benefits of ERP Software:

* All processes and sub-processes are linked and unified into a single system.

* There are enhancements in the field of productivity, efficiency and achievement of business objectives.

* ERP tends to considerably reduce the response time by effectively transferring crucial information.

* ERP helps in streamlining the numerous functions performed by the organization as a whole.

* It helps the management to make vital decisions with unparalleled accuracy and in-depth study.

Thus, ERP software can effectively change the outlook of any business organization that exists in today’s cutthroat business world. Proper implementation of the ERP software is the key factor, which can benefit the growth prospects of any organization.

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Best Windows 7 Optimizer That Can Stabilize and Improve Your Computer Performance

A system optimizer is a software designed to maintain the performance of your computer, fix software related problems and keep your computer stable and secure. The need of a system optimizer software in Microsoft Windows7 operating system is high. This is because Windows 7 itself is unable to maintain all the mentioned aspects without the help of third-party products.

We are going to learn what exactly Windows 7 optimizer software is.

The best Windows 7 optimizer software shall include all the following features:

1. Registry Cleaner to fix the registry related issues

2. System Cleaner to clean unnecessary stuff and free-up the disk space

3. Registry Defragmenter to defrag the system registry

4. Startup Manager to control the programs running when you turn on your computer

5. Backup & Restore feature to restore unfavourable registry changes

“Registry Cleaner” to Fix the Registry Related Issues

Windows Registry is a vital component in Microsoft Windows 7. It contains information stored by your operating system and installed software. For example, the default settings, changes you made to your computer, system information, runtime data, etc. are stored.

Registry Cleaner is a software that finds the junk entries in the registry, and repairs them as far as possible. Unfortunately, Windows 7 does not include a built-in registry cleaner. The registry cleaner software included in the best Windows 7 optimizer lets you scan the genuine registry problems and correct them. It thereby helps avoiding many runtime errors and problems, such as, File Not Found, etc.

“System Cleaner” to Clean Unnecessary Stuff and Free-Up the Disk Space

A System Cleaner software lets you find the files and stuff that have unnecessarily occupied the hard disk space.

The tasks, like installing a program, uninstalling, repairing or updating the existing programs, and even just running the installed programs many times create temporary files, log files that need not be kept after the corresponding operation is performed. Sadly, many programs do not itself delete such files and stuff and thus your hard disk space is used for such unproductive stuff. Using a system cleaner software included in best Windows 7 optimizer, you can easily and safely delete such temporary stuff.

“Registry Defragmenter” to Defrag the System Registry

You know the importance of the registry in Windows 7 operating system, as already discussed. The continuous access of a number of programs to the registry results in its fragmentation. It reduces the system performance and freezes your computer.

The best Windows 7 optimizer software includes a registry defragmenter that enables analyzing the registry fragmentation and afterwards defrags it. A reboot is required to perform this process and all other running programs and services must be terminated.

“Startup Manager” to Control the Programs when you Turn on your Computer

Running too many programs at the Windows startup, results in system freezing and slow performance. A Startup Manager, included in best Windows 7 optimizer, lets you monitor and control the programs that run each time your computer is started. It lets you disable or delete the unwanted program entries and enable only those who are necessary.

Backup & Restore Feature to Restore the Unfavourable Registry

While doing all the above steps, care must be taken that you have followed some precautionary measures first, so that any unfavourable registry change can be later restored and unwilling situations can be easily avoided. The best Windows 7 optimizer should include such a feature.

Best Windows 7 Optimizer Recommended by Worldwide Experts

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How To Spot a Fake Jimmy Choo Handbag

  • Label: The Jimmy Choo label is generally a lilac colored metal face fastened to a leather backing, and stitched to the interior of the handbag. Many fakes have the incorrect shade of lilac, either going to light or too dark in the purple spectrum. The label should read in either gold or silver. However, even if the colors are correct, the label may still not be in the clear. Because it often times the font details that are singular to authentic Jimmy Choo that many of fake handbags get wrong, and this is one of the best places to look when trying to identify a phony J. Choo.
  • Font: Always check out the "H" in Choo. On an authentic handbag, the horizontal cross-bar in the H should not be in the center of the letter, the way it is intended to be with regards to most standard fonts. Instead, the Jimmy Choo H should have the cross-bar closer to the top, about 75-80% of the way up the H, if measuring from the bottom of the letter. If the handbag has the correct H, move to the letters "O" in Choo. On an authentic handbag, the O will have a slightly bent look. This means that the "O" will appear as if someone snapped down on the top of the letter, giving the O an oval shape rather than a perfect circle. Spotting a fake Jimmy Choo handbag often times comes down to the subtleties in the font.
  • Hardware: Any screws located on handbag hardware will always be a flat head (-) screw. Jimmy Choo will never use any Philips head (+) screws in any of their handbags.
  • Dustbag: Fake Jimmy Choo handbags will often be accompanied by a dustbag that is an incorrect color or format. An authentic dustbag should have the logo: "JIMMY CHOO," with "LONDON" centered perfectly under the logo. The font should be an embossed gray, while the dustbag itself will be the famous lilac color. Many fakes will have incorrect font colors on the dustbag, as well as the incorrect dustbag color ie the wrong shades of purple etc. Good luck and safe shopping!
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Can You Upgrade a Maya Student Version to a Full Commercial Edition?

The Maya 3D software from Autodesk has long-been a staple tool for the production of the highest level of Visual Effects and animation for Oscar-winning blockbuster movies, TV shows and video games.

Students who are looking to secure themselves commercial work upon graduation these days typically need to show some familiarity with this software…ideally the more the better, since most companies these days use Maya as their main software package, and many have it deeply integrated into their own proprietary pipelines and tools – meaning that the situation is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.

Students who take the opportunity currently afforded them of purchasing a copy of the Maya Student Edition do well since they are able to improve their skillset on the full Unlimited version of the software, and do so at a huge discount (the student edition typically retails for around $350).

However, a number of students wonder if they also qualify for a discount later on if they wish to upgrade to a full commercial edition of the Maya software. Jumping from graduation to commercial work can be a challenge, so any way to alleviate the expense of setting yourself up as a freelancer is more than welcome…but can it actually be done?

Upgrade Maya Student Edition To Commercial License?

Yes, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a program available where current owners of a Maya student license are able to upgrade to the full commercial license at a massive discount of around 60%…in other words, a full commercial license of Maya would typically cost around $3,900, but student license holders are able to upgrade their current license to a full commercial one for just $1,300.

This is huge, and can be a real lifesaver for folks who want to go it alone and start their own freelance business but are wary of the huge costs involved.

In fact, if you’re smart about it and don’t mind a little negotiation, the license could even be purchased with a down-payment from your first client before you even begin working on their project.

Such a huge discount on the student to commercial upgrade is a great incentive for students, especially at this economic time, and it also makes purchasing the Maya student edition in the first place a sensible option, since you get access to these kinds of discounted upgrades.

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History and Components of a Modern Mainframe Computer

Mainframe computers are critical for some of the largest corporations in the world. Each mainframe has more than one modern processor, RAM ranging from a few megabytes to multiple-score gigabytes, and disk space and other storage beyond anything on a microcomputer. A mainframe can control multiple tasks and serve thousands of users every second without downtime.

The chief difference between mainframes and other computing systems is the level of processing that takes place. Mainframes are also different in terms of data bandwidth, organization, reliability, and control. Big organizations-banking, healthcare, insurance, and telecom companies, etc.-use mainframes for processing critical commercial data.

In this article, we discuss the evolution of mainframe computers and their components.

History of mainframe computers

IBM developed a critical part of mainframe computing, the Automatic Sequenced Controlled Calculator (ASCC) for arithmetic operations, in 1944. From the late 1950s through the 1970s, several companies manufactured mainframes: IBM, Burroughs, RCA, NCR, General Electric, and Sperry Rand, for example. Since then, System / 390 by IBM is the only kind of mainframe in use. It evolved from IBM's System / 360 in 1960.

An Early mainframe occupied a huge space. New technologies have drastically reduced the size and cost of the hardware. A current-generation mainframe can fit in a small closet.

Components of a modern mainframe computer

Like a PC, a mainframe has many components for processing data: operating system, motherboard or main board, processor, controllers, storage devices, and channels.

• Motherboard: The motherboard of a mainframe computer consists of a printed circuit that allows CPU, RAM, and other hardware components to function together through a concept called "Bus architecture". The motherboard has device slots for input cards and cable interfaces for various external devices. Where PC motherboards use 32- or 64-bit buses, mainframes use 128-bit buses. General instructions regarding the internal architecture help the motherboard connect to the other devices and retrieve data using binary computation.

• Processor: A CPU acts as the central processing point in mainframe architecture and includes an Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) for performing arithmetic calculations. It also works as a controller for the bus architecture and handles traffic and data requests. The processing power of mainframes is much higher compared to PCs, so that they can handle huge amounts of data.

• Storage devices: Storage devices are for entering, retrieving, storing, and recording data. Many are external devices, such as hard drives, tape drives, and punch card readers, all connected to terminals of the mainframe and controlled by the CPU. Their capacity for data storage can be hundred or even thousands of times that of a PC.

• Communication controllers: Communication controllers allow remote computers to access a mainframe. With the help of networks, LAN or WAN, communication controllers establish connections with various devices, perform data transmission over communication channels, and keep track of users at terminals.

• Channels: The "channels" are the cables used to connect the CPU and the main storage to other parts of the system and make sure that data is moved in a systematic way without losing its integrity.

Modern mainframes have advanced features such as expanded service management capabilities, cross-platform integration facilities, etc. And so are suitable for critical data center operations. The cost of maintaining modern mainframes is much less compared to older models.

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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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What Requirements Does a Dot Net Developer Need to Fulfill?

Microsoft Dot Net is a useful software development component. It provides tools and libraries to the software developers so that they can create Windows-based applications in a more efficient manner. A Dot Net developer is a software programmer who has specific skills using .Net to develop software and computer applications. For people who are in the midst of looking for developers for your projects, there are some areas you need to take note. You are advised to look for competent programmers who can really assist you to complete your tasks successfully.

First thing first, you need to be clear about the responsibilities of a .Net Developer before you start looking for suitable candidate. Seriously speaking, the programmer is required to:

• Work hand in hand with other software engineers and architects to develop a logical series of instructions referred to as programming code for the computer to communicate with the networks, applications and databases.

• Create new software applications to suit the business needs

• Modify, repair, test and enhance existing applications

After knowing what the developer is required to do, the next area we need to take into consideration is the academic qualification. In general, a programmer should have degree qualification in computer science, information technology or any related discipline. If the programmer is not a degree holder, you may take a look at his or her working experience. If the candidate has extensive experience dealing with .Net development tools, you can consider getting him or her in. Check with the candidate whether he or she is familiar with maintenance of ASP Applications, e-Commerce solution, online education and learning, social networking sites, corporate web applications, and so on.

At the same time, a good dot net developer must be competent in carrying out all the important tasks. It is a must for him or her to have the following skills in:

• Classic ASP

• Microsoft SQL 2000 / 2005

• MS Access

• JavaScript, XML, DHTML, AJAX and CSS

• VBScript and JScript

Frankly speaking, if the programmer does not have the above mentioned skills, most of the employers in the job market are not willing to hire him or her.

Besides the skills, we should also take serious consideration on the general qualities of the programmers. They should have qualities as follow:

• Good passion in work

Having great interest in work is important. The programmers should love and enjoy what they are doing.

• Good learning attitude

Learning is a continuous process. We can’t stop at certain stage. Good developers must have positive attitude in learning. They must always grab the opportunities to learn new technology so that good applications can be adapted.

• Some “intelligence”

Honestly speaking, intelligence is something very subjective. What I mean here is the “personality” of the person. Being a programmer, he or she must be smart and sensitive to respond to all changes. It is important for a programmer to be open-minded and willing to take new challenges from time to time.

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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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