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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3 Main Causes of Kernel Errors

A kernel error is a failure in some code critical to Windows. If you have ever encountered a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD), then you have seen a kernel error. Windows is actually several layers of programs made to work together. You can think of Windows as if it were your body, with many pieces working together to make a whole, and, like your body, some parts of Windows are more important than others.

The kernel is the most important part of Windows. It includes critical programs to handle things like memory management and device drivers for the graphics card. These programs are like a body's heart and brain. If something in the kernel crashes, it will often cause all of Windows to crash.

Software Failures

Because there are a lot of programs in the kernel, there are many opportunities for bugs to appear. Although Microsoft does extensive testing to get rid of bugs, their testing facilities can not run through all the combinations that billions of computers use with Windows when some bugs get through.

However, many of the kernel failures are in device drivers written by companies that make hardware, not by Microsoft. Your graphics card, for example, probably uses a driver created by the video company. These companies often work with Microsoft to test their drivers, but having companies working together adds an additional layer of complexity.

Hardware Failures

A hardware failure can cause a kernel error. If your graphics card fails, it can send bad data to the graphics device driver, which then crashes, creating a kernel error. If your hard disk fails, it can corrupt files used by Windows and cause the programs that use those files to crash.

Registry Failures

Registry failures can cause kernel errors. The registry is a database of information that Windows uses to store information about programs. If the registry gets corrupt, the programs that use it can cause kernel errors.

Registry corruption can come from either software or hardware failures. Software corruption can come from a bug in one of the programs that writes information out to the registry. Or if you turn off your computer without doing a complete shutdown, the registry files may not get completely written to the disk. Hardware corruption can happen when the hard disk fails causing parts of the registry files to be lost. It's a good idea to do some research on kernel errors and other registry issues.

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How to Watch Satellite TV Online Without Any Satellite Dish

Anyone can watch satellite TV online without any satellite dish system nowdays. In case you do not know, this article would show you one time-tested and another new revolutionary way to watch satellite TV on the internet without having to set up a satellite dish.

Many of the older generation grew up in an era of satellite dishes, especially for those who live in the rural areas where cable do not exist. The dishes are transmitters and together with receivers are conduits for TV signals to be displayed as visual images and pictures on our TV screens. However, they are not always pleasant. Set up can be tough and definitely not for those who are not good with their hands or have poor technical skills. Satellite dishes have grown smaller in recent years but they used to be larger than 6 foot monsters in earlier days. If that irks you, you would be relieved to know that you can watch satellite TV online just like many others without satellite dish system.

What are the hardware and PC requirements you need to set up your 'satellite-dish less' PC satellite online TV?

1. A Good PCTV Card

A PCTV card can be installed onto your computer to make your computer work like a satellite television set. Such cards come in the form of internal or external hardware. If you are familiar with the inside of a computer, then an internal card could be a good choice since they tend to be cheaper and more affordable. However, do not bother yourself when you find it too troublesome to fix it internally because there are external cards that work more like plug-and-play gadgets. They cost more and can set you back easily by a few hundreds. As long as your PC has a spare USB port, this option to watch satellite TV online is open to you.

2. PC Requirements

I would suggest you check your systems configuration before you start shopping for a PCTV card. Most cards require a minimum Pentium 3 333MHz system to run well but remember to note down the specifications like RAM, hard disk space, Operating System, etc before you head to the stores.

3. Ready Internet Connection

PCTV cards work well with both dial-up and broadband connections. However, I have a word of advice here. Dial-up transmission runs like a snail and is a really serious party spoiler. You can end up more frustrated than glad that you are watching the program. Go for broadband connection if you can afford to.

Okay, now that we have discussed about the older commonly accepted method to watch satellite TV online, we will look at another new revolutionary technique. This requires the usage of PC satellite TV software which can be downloaded easily. The setup is simple and all it takes is downloading the software and clicking a few buttons before you are ready to watch satellite TV online from more than 3000 channels. Awesome is not it?

For more information on this PC satellite TV software, do a read up at my satellite TV blog.

This article may be freely reprinted or distributed in its entity in any ezine, newsletter, blog or website. The author's name, bio and website links must remain intact and be included with every reproduction.

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The Importance Of Excel In The Workplace

Excel is perhaps the most important computer software program used in the workplace today. That’s why so many workers and prospective employees are required to learn Excel in order to enter or remain in the workplace.

From the viewpoint of the employer, particularly those in the field of information systems, the use of Excel as an end-user computing tool is essential. Not only are many business professionals using Excel to perform everyday functional tasks in the workplace, an increasing number of employers rely on Excel for decision support.

In general, Excel dominates the spreadsheet product industry with a market share estimated at 90 percent. Excel 2007 has the capacity for spreadsheets of up to a million rows by 16,000 columns, enabling the user to import and work with massive amounts of data and achieve faster calculation performance than ever before.

Outside the workplace, Excel is in broad use for everyday problem solving.

Let’s say you have a home office. You can use Excel to calculate sales tax on a purchase, calculate the cost of a trip by car, create a temperature converter, calculate the price of pizza per square inch and do analysis of inputted data. You can track your debt, income and assets, determine your debt to income ratio, calculate your net worth, and use this information to prepare for the process of applying for a mortgage on a new house. The personal uses for Excel are almost as endless as the business uses for this software – and an Excel tutorial delves into the practical uses of the program for personal and business use.

The use of spreadsheets on computers is not new. Spreadsheets, in electronic form, have been in existence since before the introduction of the personal computer. Forerunners to Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 were packages such as VisiCalc, developed and modeled on the accountant’s financial ledger. Since 1987, spreadsheet programs have been impacting the business world. Along the way, computerized spreadsheets have become a pervasive and increasingly effective tool for comparative data analysis throughout the world.

Today, end users employ Excel to create and modify spreadsheets as well as to author web pages with links and complex formatting specifications. They create macros and scripts. While some of these programs are small, one-shot calculations, many are much more critical and affect significant financial decisions and business transactions.

Widely used by businesses, service agencies, volunteer groups, private sector organizations, scientists, students, educators, trainers, researchers, journalists, accountants and others, Microsoft Excel has become a staple of end users and business professionals.

The beauty of Excel is that it can be used as a receiver of workplace or business data, or as a calculator, a decision support tool, a data converter or even a display spreadsheet for information interpretation. Excel can create a chart or graph, operate in conjunction with Mail Merge functions, import data from the Internet, create a concept map and sequentially rank information by importance.

Excel offers new data analysis and visualization tools that assist in analyzing information, spotting trends and accessing information more easily than in the past. Using conditional formatting with rich data display schemes, you can evaluate and illustrate important trends and highlight exceptions with colored gradients, data bars and icons.

Indeed, Excel can be customized to perform such a wide variety of functions that many businesses can’t operate without it. Excel training has become mandatory in many workplaces; in fact, computer software training is a must for any workplace trying to keep up with the times.

Let’s say you’re an employer with 97 workers, 17 of whom called in sick today, and you want to know the percentage represented by absentees. Excel can do that. You can learn Excel and use it to determine the ratio of male to female employees, the percentage of minorities on the payroll, and the ranking of each worker by compensation package amount, including the percentages of that package according to pay and benefits. You can use Excel to keep track of production by department, information that may assist you in future development plans. You can create additional spreadsheets to track data on vendors and customers while maintaining an ongoing inventory of product stock.

Let’s say you want to know your business production versus cost. You don’t have to be a math wiz – you just have to learn Excel. Excel allows you to input all of the data, analyze it, sort it according to your customized format, and display the results with color, shading, backgrounds, icons and other gimmicks that offer time-saving assistance in later locating precisely the information desired. If this spreadsheet is for presentation purposes, Excel helps you put it together in such a visually appealing way that the data may seem to pop and sparkle.

The single most important thing an employer may do is learn Excel – it is one of the most essential tools of the workplace.

Excel and Microsoft are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation, registered in the U.S. and other countries. Lotus is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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How to Uninstall and Remove G DATA Antivirus Completely

G DATA Antivirus is a complete protection solution for your home computer. However, no matter the reason is that corrupt virus signatures may have caused it not to upgrade properly, it will not work regularly and needs to be repaired, or probably corrupt files are causing 100% CPU usage, etc. Like all other antivirus software, there also may be times when you have to uninstall and remove G DATA Antivirus.

The standard method of uninstalling G DATA Antivirus is from Windows built-in Add / Remove Programs, but sometimes the removal process will hang and you may be unable to remove this program from your computer, because some registry entries and spaces may still be left in Your system. In this case, if you wish to completely remove this antivirus, you have to delete all those sticky registry entries, processes, services, as well as related folders and files.

Removing all instances of this antivirus program can be extremely tricky and there is a risk of damaging the operating system if not done properly. Then you can try using a good removal tool to help you remove this program automatically in seconds. Perfect Uninstaller is one of such software. It works in a very simple manner. Aside from working to remove G DATA Antivirus, it can also get rid of other unwanted programs from your computer.

1. It offers a much quicker and easier way to completely remove programs which can not be removed through "Add / Remove Programs".
2. It completely deletes empty or corrupt registry entries.
3. It has the "force uninstall" function to forcibly uninstall corrupted or hidden programs.
4. It has the "Special Uninstall" function designed for some very specific programs in that list
5. It can restore the registry to a previous state, and restore files from the recycle bin (files deleted into the recycle bin).

Uninstall and remove G DATA Antivirus from your system before proceeding with the installation of the next antivirus that you would like to set up, otherwise the antivirus will conflict and give much trouble that you will not be able to recover Windows from the crash.

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How Has Technology Changed Art?

We all are witnessing the changes being made in the art these days. Technology has the power to change anything. It is changing the traditional art into digital art.

Amazing digital art has taken place of traditional art. Digital art is exploring itself in many different ways that one can imagine. Different software is developed to increase the presence of digital art.

Photoshop Artists are one of the most common digital artists who give an amazing look to a picture with the help of imaging software and different applications.

These applications are developed with the help of technology. Anyone can be a digital artist having knowledge and proficiency in Photoshop.

Difference between traditional artists and digital artists is that traditional artists use paint and cement for their art and digital artists use imaging software and applications in their art. Some of the applications have the power to create 3D art work.

Technology has taken art into a new level of creativity. Let us talk about how technology has changed traditional art into digital art. We know that internet is ruling the world with its power. So, artists decided to present their art online with the help of internet. This is possible with use of technology.

You must have seen art galleries and attended painting exhibitions in your life. These doesn’t work well these days so artists find a way where they can get more attention and more praise for their work. Most of the artistic stuff is now seen online and is circulated to the art lovers.

There are some places where exhibitions are held and we do respect them. But presenting paintings, sculptures and art work online is in trend. Some of the artists are also showing their art on the basis of card swipe panel or coins.

How this work – when you enter coins or swipe card in the panel, the panel shows you some of the art work for a few minutes and then gets closed and if you want to see it again or explore more, further you need to swipe your card or add coins into it. This is how artists are using technology.

How digital artists are using technology for their art work

Digital artists already in touch with technology are aware of the systems that are in trend and use them to create their art work and sell them online.

Some of the professional digital artists are earning a lot of bucks by selling their art work. They can also design the ones that you want and are also ready to make any modifications you need.

They use different software to explore their skills and made it more impressive. They are using technologies that offer new ways to express their art work in a realistic way for much more time.

They are using different types of media and mix them to provide a more creative art work. Their 3D art work looks as real as it is present live in front of you.

Technology not only brings changes in education, medical field, industry and business but also brings a huge change in the art work and the artists as well.

Technology opens different paths for the artists to enter into for a good earning. They made their profession more powerful along with their art work.

In our busy lives we hardly get time to meet each other and our loved ones. How can it be possible to see exhibitions and galleries? So technology has brought this change in the art workers to show their skills and talent to people from anywhere in the world.

Technology is getting advanced and making more useful for the common man as well as artists. Technology has provided us with several things that we should be thankful. One of them is digital art work.

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How to Fix an Error Accessing the System Registry Easily

The system registry is an important component to practically every computer, and it would actually be considered a pile of electronics if the system registry was not included. It is essential for computers based on Windows, since it is the storage location for the hardware, software, and pretty much everything that makes the computer run.

Changes and updates go directly through the system registry for storage, but sometimes things do not always go as smoothly as we wish. Not many know what to do about an error accessing the system registry, but it must be fixed in order to keep your computer running.

An error accessing the system registry is not very uncommon, and it usually occurs when old files or updates are still located within the registry. The error can occur when new updates are downloaded, new programs installed, or even when new software is being added to your computer. A window will usually pop up stating “error accessing the system registry” and not much can be done until the error is fixed.

It can result from old updates being left in the system, or even old files that were not deleted when a download or installation was incomplete. The best way to get rid of the error accessing the system registry is to find out the problem, get rid of old files, and start fresh with new updates and software to keep your computer running smooth.

Because the error accessing the system registry can occur for a number of different reasons, it can sometimes be hard to locate the specific problem. The first step is to determine what exactly triggered the error, such as a new download, new software being installed, or updates occurring to current software on the computer.

The error is most common when updates occur or when updated software is installed, since most likely older versions are still being kept within the registry. In this case, the error accessing the system registry can be easily correct. First off, the installation or update needs to be stopped. Then the system registry can be accessed by the computer owner, and software can be purchased or downloaded to fix this problem.

One of the best options for getting rid of an error accessing the system registry is a registry fix program, since it goes in and does all of the work for you. Rather than trying to find the damaged files and delete them yourself, the program knows exactly what to look for and get rid of for the error to go away.

Not only will a registry fix help to get rid of the problem occurring now, it can even help to get rid of any files and old updates that may cause problems in the future. It is beneficial for clearing your computer of any unnecessary files or programs that may be causing it to run slow, and can even prevent an error accessing the system registry in the future.

A registry fix program can either be downloaded online or purchased at an electronics store, and is a great way to fix an error accessing the system registry. It does all of the work for you, and can even improve the overall performance of your computer. It can get rid of old files, partial updates, or even programs that are no longer needed, and is perfect for fixing your error accessing the system registry.

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Turn Your Basement Into a Virtual Shooting Gallery

An indoor shooting simulator is easy to add on to most projection based home theater systems, and in most cases is an inexpensive way to add hours of entertainment for the whole family. People of all ages enjoy playing the wide range of games that are available for the system, everything from “Baseball Challenge” to “Elephant Hunter” will keep your family and friends entertained. Utilizing a shooting simulator is not only a great way to add excitement to your home theater room; it is also a get way to keep your shooting skills sharp.

System Basics:

There are a few basic requirements for adding a shooting simulator to an existing home theater. The simulator runs on a normal Windows based computer, software is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. The image is broadcast through a projector to a screen, which most projectors and home theater screens will be suitable for use with this simulator. Now all you need to add is a basic simulator package, which includes a rifle, case, camera and five games. Installation of the simulator will only take about thirty minutes to setup and install the new software and hardware. Now you are ready to start enjoying the very best of simulated shooting. To recap the items you need: computer, projector, screen and a simulator package.

Benefits of Indoor Shooting:

There are many advantages to adding an indoor shooting simulator to you home theater room, these are just a few.

Convenience- having the ability to practice your shooting skills from within your own house, cuts down on drive time to the range and you can fire up your system anytime you want.

Cost Savings- ammunition is expensive! You will save a lot of money practicing your skills using a true to life replica laser firearm verses using live ammo.

Safety- using a laser firearm is a much safer weapon to practice will and it’s a lot better for your hearing.

Shooting Variety- with a shooting simulator you have the ability to practice your skills on a wide range of software titles. You can practice shooting skeet and with just a touch of a button you can switch over to another game and practice your marksmanship on simulated popup targets.

Entertainment- Gather you friends and family, challenge them for the highest score or for bragging rights.

Packages and Software:

With this system, there are many packages of both hardware and software available. Looking for a portable package or maybe a complete package if you don’t have a projector, computer and screen? Those packages and more are available. There are over 35 software titles currently available, which can be purchased separately or in 15 game packages. Software titles are being added, so you will always have the option to buy the latest games on the market. Do you have the best Halloween party on your block? There is a Halloween software package that will insure your party is unforgettable. Do you have a young hunter or marksman that could benefit from “Hunter’s Education” software? It is an option on this simulator. Teach them everything from ethical shooting to animal anatomy, with the hunter’s Ed package. Looking to hone your archery skills? This simulator has packages available for you bow enthusiasts. There are several optional firearms which can be added to the system, to maximize the skill development and enjoyment of the simulator.

Adding a shooting simulator to your theater room is easy and a cost effective way of increasing the entertainment value of your room as well as improve shooting skills. If you would like some more information on the shooting simulators or have any questions please contact me through the website.

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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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