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What is the Best Project Management System?

Introduction

We recently finished a blog series focusing on the many different project management systems available. Each blog focused on one specific project management system. We layed out each of them in detail, walking through the pros and cons, and helping you understand each one’s unique qualities.

Now in this blog, we are going to try and summarise all of our findings and help YOU decide which is the best project management system for your next exciting project.

“There isn’t a single best PMS… it all depends on what is most important to you”

Using a project management system can be helpful in many areas of life. Whether you’re wanting to increase productivity at your workplace, trying to organize your team, or even planning your much needed vacation, you will come across many PMS options that have the potential to enable you to do these tasks more efficiently. Which one do you choose?

Here at ITH, we have been using project management systems extensively to run and manage all of our projects. Over the past 18 years we have used a wide array of tools which has enabled us to be flexible enough to use whatever systems our clients are using. When we begin working with each client, we ask what PMS they would prefer to use. We want to work with our clients on the PMS they’ve found best fits their work flow. If the client doesn’t have a system in mind, we choose the PMS in accordance with what is required for the project.

What is a PMS?

The basis of project management is that it helps project managers with conducting day to day responsibilities, allowing you to break down the different facets of a project. This includes things such as creating tasks, assigning them to people, setting their priorities, running sprints (based on your project management methodology), creating and managing timelines, and recording hours spent on the project.

Project Management Systems essentially combine various tools and practices that help effectively manage a project. When scrolling through google, you will find a plethora of project management systems or softwares. This however, can be deceiving. Be sure to keep in mind that not all of these are full fledged (project management systems) as some of them don’t include all the elements necessary to manage a project.

Why is using a PMS so important?

With more and more online solutions becoming available, using a PMS has become a standard practice across all the industries today. So why do organizations see using a PMS as an important tool? Well, it can be boiled down to three distinct reasons.

  • Visibility – It’s extremely important to see the progress and status of all the projects and their respective tasks/sprints; not only for the team members, but also for the clients. Being able to share this information to all the stakeholders in real time can help keep everyone in the loop with the progress of the project.
  • Accountability – This is perhaps one of the most important reasons; being able to hold everyone accountable for what’s happening in the project. It will show whether the timeline is being met or not, or if there are any tasks that are overdue. Having each person’s tasks clearly laid out on a PMS eliminates confusion regarding who is responsible for what. Having this accountability system also helps to develop a transparent, open, trusting relationship with clients.
  • Organization – Lastly, when handling multiple projects with multiple stakeholders, being organized helps a great deal. It gives you the ability to keep all your workflow, project details, and documentation in a central location. Being consistent across all your projects, makes the life of a project manager that much easier.

How do I decide?

Choosing a (project management system) is a very important decision to make. It sets the tone for how the project functions, and what features and processes one can implement.

So Choose Wisely.

Let’s discuss on a broader scale what to keep in mind while deciding on a PMS.

  • Agile Workflow Integration Agile is a project management methodology which is widely used by various organizations across the world. It’s a collaborative and iterative process that has widely gained traction. It’s essential that the PMS you choose, has tools in place to take complete advantage of the agile methodology.
  • Scale of the project – The scale and the complexity of the project often dictates what PMS will be used. Complex projects generally require a larger feature set built into the PMS compared perhaps to simpler projects with smaller team sizes.
  • Collaboration – Collaboration is key to the success of a project. The PMS should be able to facilitate real time collaboration across projects with cross-functional teams. This is absolutely essential.
  • Intuitive UI- A good PMS should have an intuitive UI that requires a smaller learning curve. The last thing you would want is for people to be spending extensive amounts of their time on the PMS when that time could have been spent working on the actual project.
  • Pricing – The biggest deciding factor for the PMS is usually the budget for a lot of people. There is a variety of software out there in the market that is free to use, but is limited in functionality. A more feature-intensive PMS comes with a price.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the Project Management Systems that are widely used across industries.

  • Asana – Asana is a widely used PMS. It has a simple and intuitive UI with a small learning curve. It’s free to use but some of the premium features come at a price.
  • Basecamp – This is a PMS that has been around for quite some time, but is currently not widely used. It’s UI is bare bone and comes at a price.
  • Jira – Jira is a PMS that is widely used for scrum methodology. It’s used for large complex projects with multiple teams working on the project, but this comes at a price per user. It has a bit of a learning curve attached to it and has quite a simple UI.
  • Trello – This is perhaps the mostly commonly and widely used PMS in the industry. It is simple to use and has an intuitive UI. However, in order to access the more intensive feature sets, one will have to get out their wallet. It comes with plenty of third party integrations as well.
  • Zoho – This is a PMS that comes loaded with features. It is primarily used for Agile methodologies, both scrum and kanban. It is a paid service, per user, on a monthly basis.

PMS Tools Comparison - ITH

“The right PMS depends on your situation…” Check the chart.

There are plenty of Project Management Systems out there, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. We just talked about the more widely used one’s here. Check out other options that are out there, and do your homework before deciding.

Remember, the right PMS is the one that suits your requirements and needs the most.

Trello – Project Management System

A Simple & Straightforward Way To Manage Projects

Trello Logo - ITH

Trello is a unique Project Management System because of how easy it is to use. With Trello, you don’t have to spend the time learning how to use complicated features. Instead, it’s very straightforward, self explanatory, and visual.

  1. More about Trello

    Trello Dashboard
    1. Another unique thing about Trello is that it uses checklists instead of tasks/subtasks. This simple feature of “to do” checklists sets Trello apart from many other PMS tools.
    2. The free version of Trello doesn’t use complicated business tools. It has a very simple, clean look, making it easy for people to use with small to medium projects. Even those who are not used to working with PMS systems find Trello easy to use.
    3. For savvy users, who prefer more advanced PMS systems, there is the option of purchasing plugins for Trello to improve the overall project management experience and to understand a project better.
  2. Trello Workflow

    Trello Workflow - ITH
    1. A Board = “Project”
      1. Trello allows you to have multiple boards and gives you the ability to share and collaborate with others in real time.
      2. Column Structure Trello uses the Kanban method to track tasks. As your project progresses, you can move cards from left to right.
      3. Trello was one of the first PMS tools to have a “board” view. Now, other PMS tools have adopted this style of displaying and managing tasks.
      4. This new view is often preferred over the traditional “task” list because it enables you to be very visual and interactive with the work that needs to be done.
    2. A Card = “Task”
      For each card, you have the option to include any of the following:
      1. A Due Date
      2. Assign the Task to Somebody
      3. Add Details
      4. Insert a Screenshot
      5. Provide a Description
      6. Allow Comments

      A Label Can also be added to a card to provide more context.

  3. Advanced Trello

    Trello Dashboard - ITH
    1. As mentioned before, through Powerups and addon plugins, you can make Trello even more effective in organizing and empowering your team.
      Trellos add ons include:

      1. Reportings
      2. Google Drive Connection
      3. Custom Fields

      You have to pay for these benefits; however, addons set Trello apart and will help you customize your boards and tasks more proficiently.

      Each powerup or plugin costs a different amount.

      1. Three or four plugins could cost $20/month
      2. The first plugin you install is free.
  4. Trello is very user friendly for people who are just getting into the project management space. As you become more experienced, you can use the plugins to improve your processes. Trello will grow with you.

Trello Infographic - ITH

ZOHO Project Management Tool

Overview of Zoho

Zoho is a very effective cloud-based project management tool. It helps you to plan your work, track it efficiently, and collaborate with your team from anywhere.

Dive into the world of robust project management systems with Zoho. Click To Tweet

It is suitable for both large-scale and small-scale projects. With its numerous features, Zoho allows users to schedule and assign tasks, create budgets, and set due dates.

Building Blocks of Zoho

  • Task Management

    Break up large projects into small, achievable tasks. Assign each task to a team member and track their progress on a granular level with the intuitive user interface.
    Zoho - Task Management

  • Time Management

    Zoho has a time tracking feature that shows the “estimated” and “actual” number of hours taken to complete each task.
    Zoho - Time Management

  • Cost Management

    Similarly, Zoho allows you to compare your “estimated” budget with your “actual” budget.
    Zoho Cost Management

  • Resource Utilization

    Zoho’s platform allows you to handle your human resources with care.
    Zoho Resource Utilization

  • Collaboration

    Zoho will also enable you to discuss ideas and share documents through a feed.
    Zoho-Collaboration

  • Reporting

    Zoho will enable you to create customizable reports to get a better understanding of business operations.
    Zoho Reporting

Look and Feel

  • Classic

    A list-based view for all of your tasks.
    Zoho Classic View

  • Plain

    This view groups your tasks together to make it easier to sort through.
    Zoho Plain View

  • Kanban

    Create and visualize workflow based on the timeless Kanban methodology.
    Zoho Kanban View

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Pricing is fair and practical.
  • Billing and time tracking features are great functionalities.
  • Customer support is good; users always get a response to their questions.
  • The custom dashboard enables power users to handle multiple projects.
Cons
  • Searching for tasks can get overwhelming and can be tedious.
  • It is not easy to report bugs in the Zoho environment.
  • There is a steep learning curve because of the granular data fields.
  • While Zoho has a lot of features, most users will not use all of them.

Conclusion

Zoho Projects is a great project management software that provides teams and organizations with the necessary tools for project management. It is constantly being updated to ensure that it offers the best tools to help every team succeed. If you are looking for something better than Trello, and are willing to dive into the world of complicated project management systems, Zoho is a great place to start.

PMS Reviews: Basecamp

Basecamp is a Project Management Tool that has been gaining more traction as more employees are working from home. Having a good project management tool is more important than ever. Basecamp is an organized PMS tool that can improve collaboration between team members no matter where each member is working from.

Abstract of Basecamp:

With a very intuitive design, basecamp provides real-time communication that helps teams stay on the same page. Basecamp provides a way for teams to keep track of their priorities and actionable items through the following features:

  • To-Do Lists
  • Calendars
  • Due Dates
  • Messaging Boards
  • Project Schedules
  • Docs and File Sharing
  • Campfire (Basecamp’s chat room)
  • Forwards 

PMS-basecamp

Basecamp can be integrated into almost any business that is looking to improve collaboration between team members.

Basecamp HQ contains information that is accessible by the entire company.

  • Topics 
  • All talk
  • Automatic Check-Ins
    • Basecamp automatically asks questions like – What have you worked on today? 

Basecamp’s best features:

  1. Reducing communication channels, keeping all project discussions in one place.
  2. Linking with tools you already use
    1. Google Docs
    2. Google Spreadsheets
  3. Customizable working hours for teams across different time zones.
  4. Clean UI/UX design tohelp you stay focused.
  5. Simple payment structure
    1. A single monthly bill to handle all of your internal communication needs.

Factors that make BaseCamp different from other PMS tools are:

  • The straightforward UI of the classic versions makes it different from the other PMS tools in the market. Timeline: Most projects rely heavily on deadlines and need to be kept on a timeline. Basecamp uses their timeline to help keep track of activities and team members.
  • BaseCamp is continuously being updated. The product gets better with each update and can be something that you start to look forward to. Over the past few years, BaseCamp has become easier to use and it gets better every day.

Basecamp is constantly improving it’s designs to make it easier to use and integrate with your business. We have used Basecamp at ITH on several projects and are happy to recommend it to others.

Interested in working with a process focused company? Reach out to solutions@ithands.com for your next web or app development project.

Working Effectively in Different Time Zones

There are a lot of benefits that come from working with a global team. The talent pool which is available to you and your company expands dramatically when you are willing to work with people from overseas. One of the most important challenges to consider is the time zone difference between each team member. After working with a global team for 15+ years, IT Hands (ITH) has developed several processes and ideologies for working effectively with a global team.

Working across different time zones has unique challenges. #GlobalTeams #Outsourcing #TimeZoneManagement Click To Tweet

When ITH started, it was clear that we didn’t want our team in India to stay up all night to solve the time zone challenge. We want our team members to be able to experience life on a normal schedule of sleep. Keeping developers up all night to work on projects in a U.S. time zone would lead to burn out and exhaustion. We had to find another way. We plan our meetings for clients on the East Coast in the morning (USA) and will instead meet in the evening (USA) for clients on the West Coast.

Different Time Zones

To keep projects running smoothly, project management becomes more important than normal. Everybody needs to be on the same page before the time difference is too much, and somebody needs to go to sleep (in either time zone). ITH uses a variety of project management systems and we are always willing to adopt the system our clients are using. We use Asana, Trello, and Jira just to name a few.

Finally, if a client ever needs to get a hold of a contact person, we do have a team in America who is able to pick up the phone to answer any urgent questions. We have policies in place that will allow our team to be available to fix any issues, even in the middle of the night. By thinking through how to best handle time zones, and developing systems, ITH has been able to overcome the global challenge.

Interested in working with a team that has mastered operating across different time zones? Reach out to solutions@ithands.com for your next web or app development project.

PMS Review: Asana

If you’re reading this blog, you may be searching for a good project management system. Furthermore, you want one that helps you focus on project deliverables. One that can manage resources and meet deadlines. Asana does it all. Asana provides its users with an extensive set of features. These features help to plan, execute, and collaborate in a simple way.

This could be the #ProjectManagementTool of your dreams! #Asana Click To Tweet

With Asana, both individuals and teams can manage work. Users track progress, communicate, share related files, and much more, all in one place. Moreover, Asana provides enough flexibility and customization to organize your own work in the way best suited to you. As a result, Asana stands out as a hugely popular project management system.

Asana is a workflow management and collaboration tool. Within the system, specific individuals can be assigned different tasks, share related files, and add deadlines. Moreover, Asana helps the project stay on track without losing sight of the nitty-gritty details. In short, Asana can manage almost any project by breaking down a specific project into small workable chunks.

Generally, you can assign every task and subtask to a specific person and set the due date. This helps to define who is responsible for each task, whether the project is on track or needs additional help or communication to keep it rolling.

Asana offers a dependable platform for the following:

  • Create and assign tasks
  • Set due dates
  • Communicate with a team through messages
  • Track progress

Building Blocks of Asana:

 

Workspace

Different projects, teams, and tasks are located in the worskpace. Users can add others to the Asana board to collaborate. Also, you can create separate workspaces for various projects and teams.

Projects

Projects are the main organizational unit in Asana. You can store and manage multiple tasks within a project. Projects help to track the overall progress of a large goal and routine processes.

Tasks

Tasks are the to-dos assigned to specific individuals. You can set due dates and assign followers to it. If work needs to be broken down into more detail, users can create subtasks inside a task. Also, you have the ability to add a due date and share the document after a task is created. Additionally, when changes are made to a task, you can be notified through a subscription to that specific task.

Look and Feel

Asana offers a thoughtful and colorful UI that is quite intuitive and interesting. Choose whether to view in a list format, board format, or calendar view.

List View:

Asana - List View

Board View:

Asana - Board View

Calendar View:

Asana - Calendar View

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • Email integration
  • Available on web, android, and iOS
  • Provides a series of project templates

Cons

  • Lacks time tracking features
  • The free version is only available for 15 users

Conclusion

We have to juggle numerous tasks on a daily basis and each task contains a slew of details. It is extremely important to choose the right project management system that can streamline the project management process and contributes to the project’s success. Asana is one such project management tool.

Asana functions as a digital office. First, users assign tasks and communicate back and forth on different tasks with ease. Second, they can track progress and deadlines without missing important details. In conclusion, Asana is a tool that lets you multitask, makes project handling easier, faster, and better.

Like our blog? Learn more about the ITH process or contact us about your next web or app development project at solutions@ithands.com.

Project Management Tool Review: JIRA

When you have a big and complex project to build, it’s very important to choose an appropriate system to track its progress. There are several tools (free and for a price) available in the market, and Jira is a powerful project management tool used to track a project.

Have a large, complex project? Jira might be the #ProjectManagementTool for you. Click To Tweet

Overview of Jira

Jira Software is a powerful project management tool for issue tracking, bug tracking, and project management purposes. It has great support for agile. It also offers several plugins to extend its features.

FACT: The name “Jira” is derived from the Japanese word “Gojira” which means “Godzilla.”

According to Atlassian, the corporation that created Jira, the application is used by over 65K+ companies around the world to manage projects and track bugs. Some large organizations have used Jira, like NASA, Twitter, Audi, Domino’s, SAMSUNG, Walmart, Toyota, eBay, Coca Cola, the United States Department of Defense, and the Apache Software Foundation. Software developers, project managers, and SCRUM masters use Jira for tracking bugs, managing projects, products, processes, tasks, and Agile software development.

There are three options to host Jira Software. You can choose from the Cloud, a server, or a data center. Cloud is generally the best, quickest, and easiest option. You can also integrate Jira with many third-party apps. Some of them are Confluence, Bitbucket, Slack, and GitHub.

If you plan to use Jira, there are some terms you will need to know as you begin.

The first term is Issues. A Jira ‘issue’ refers to a single work item of any type or size that is tracked from creation to completion. The commonly used terms for issues are requests, tickets, or tasks.

Next is Projects. A project is, quite simply, a collection of issues. Issues grouped into projects can be configured in a variety of ways, ranging from visibility restrictions to available workflows.

Another term is Workflows. When you see the term Workflows, it represents the sequential path an issue takes from creation to completion. A basic workflow might look something like this:

Jira task flow

Last, but not least, is Agile. Agile is not a Jira software-specific term. Jira Software has major feature sets designed particularly for agile, including scrum or kanban. Now consider the costs and benefits of using Jira.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. This application is a great way to sync project requirements, create a roadmap, implement scrum, view data reporting, and much more in one place.
  2. Jira also provides a single view of all user stories.
  3. It generates much-needed reports so the team can analyze various sprints, like burndown charts, sprint velocity, etc. Plus, this application is very customizable.
  4. Also, Jira helps you to plan, start, and execute any complex project. In addition to all this, anyone can use Jira; a scrum master, a programmer, a project manager, an HR person, or a business person.

But let’s also consider the costs for this application.

Cons

  1. Unfortunately, you will have to pay to use Jira software.
  2. Although Jira has a mobile app, it is not the best mobile app. This is because the UI in the mobile app is very confusing. As a result, most people who use Jira, stick with the web version.
  3. Another thing to consider is that the integration and migration from other application lifecycle management (ALM) systems are very complex and very time-consuming. This means, all the artifacts will need to be migrated manually into JIRA.
  4. Also, Jira’s recently introduced UI is not very user friendly and is a bit confusing.

Conclusion
To conclude, would I recommend Jira?
Yes, if your project is large and complex and you want to use agile methodologies. Also, if you can pay to use it, then I would recommend Jira.

Do I use Jira?
Yes, I am using Jira in one of my large projects. It’s a useful project management tool with some issues that can be overlooked to keep track of a project on multiple levels.

At ITH we prize high-quality work and authentic transparency in our work with clients. If you’re looking for a trustworthy outsourcing partner contact us right now at solutions@ithands.com.

5 iOS App Development Tools

Sooner or later every organization wants a customized app to help grow their business. Any aspirant iOS developer will face many challenges during the development of an application. That is why I want to share the five iOS app development tools that will help you or your team develop an iOS app efficiently.

Are you just starting out in iOS mobile app development? Do you have the 5 essential tools? Read our blog to find out. Click To Tweet

First, your app will require a basic infrastructure. Obviously, many developers understand this. But have you heard of the tools that will make this process much more simple? Read on to learn more.

1. Basic Infrastructure

a. macOS

macOS is a series of graphical operating systems developed and marketed by Apple Inc. You will need this for development since Xcode can only work on macOS.

b. Xcode

Xcode is a fast and consistently smooth iOS app development tool. It is Apple’s IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for both Mac and iOS apps. Xcode is the graphical interface you’ll use to write iOS apps. Xcode includes the iOS SDK, tools, compilers, and frameworks you need to design, develop, write code, and debug an app for iOS. But for native mobile app development on iOS, Apple suggests using the modern Swift programming language.

c. Simulator

Simulator allows you to rapidly prototype and test builds of your app during the development process. Although it is installed as part of the Xcode tools, simulator runs on your Mac and behaves like a standard Mac app. During use it can simulate an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV environment.

d. iOS Software Development Kit (SDK)

Some iOS SDK essentials are the Cocoa Touch frameworks that include the UIKit, GameKit, PushKit, Foundation Kit, and MapKit. Use these iOS app development tools to build software much easier.

Now you have the tools that make code easier. How about when your team goes to build the framework? What tools give them an easy environment to set the stage for a well-developed app?

2. Standard practices for a project using iOS app development tools

a. Set Up the iOS Environments

It’s best to have separate environments for your iOS apps, especially if they are communicating with any servers. For instance, consider an iOS app and three different available web backend environments: development, staging, and production.

b. CoreData for local DB operation (if needed)

Core Data is one of the most popular frameworks provided by Apple for iOS and macOS apps. Core data is used to manage the model layer object in your application. You can treat Core Data as a framework to save, track, modify, and filter the data within iOS apps; however, Core Data is not a Database. Core Data uses SQLite as its persistent store but the framework itself is not the database. Core Data does much more than databases, like managing the object graphs, tracking the changes in the data and many more things.

c. Version Controlling

Version control is a system that records changes to a file or set of files over time. This allows you to recall specific versions later.

d. Git

Git is the most recommended system to manage the versions. It is a free and open-source, distributed version control system. This system is designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.

By the time you have developed a framework, you have hopefully settled on an optimal design for the app. So what is it going to be? There are various architectural structures that you can choose from, as you will find out in the next section.

3. Adopt an optimal architecture design pattern

It is very important to adopt an efficient architecture well suited for the project you are supposed to work on. Adopting an architecture helps in the future enhancements and maintenance of the project, if needed. Here are a few architectures to use while developing:

a. MVC

It stands for Model, View and Controller. MVC separates applications into three components – Model, View and Controller.

i. Model

Model represents the shape of the data and business logic. It maintains the data of the application. Model objects retrieve and store model state in a database.

ii. View

This is a user interface. It displays data to the user, using the model, and also enables them to modify the data.

iii. Controller

Controller handles the user request. Typically, users interact with view, which in-turn raises any URL request. This request will be handled by a controller. The controller renders the appropriate view with the model data as a response.

The following figure illustrates the interaction between the Model, View and Controller.

MVC

b. MVP

MVP stands for the Model, View and Presenter. Model and View work the same as in MVC. Only the Presenter plays the role as a UIKit independent mediator.  

The following figure illustrates the interaction between the Model, View and Presenter.

MVP

c. MVVM

The MVVM is the newest version of MV(X). We hope this new version took into account problems MV(X) faced previously. In theory, the “Model-View-View-Model” looks very good. The View and the Model are already familiar to us, but also the Mediator, represented as the View Model.

The following figure illustrates the MVVM.

MVVM

d. VIPER

This is our last candidate. VIPER doesn’t come from the MV(X) category. It separates responsibilities in five layers.

i. View

This is a user interface. It displays data to the user using Model and also allows them to modify the data.

ii. Interactor

This contains business logic related to the data (Entities) or networking. For example, creating new instances of entities or fetching them from the server. For those purposes, you’ll use some Services and Managers. These are not considered a part of VIPER module, but rather an external dependency.

iii. Presenter

It contains the UI related (but UIKit independent) business logic, and calls on the Interactor for data.

iv. Entities

This is the responsibility of the Interactor. It contains your plain data objects, not the data access layer.

v. Router

The Router is responsible for the segues between the modules.

The following figure illustrates the VIPER.

VIPER

Finally, you’ve settled on a pattern for the app to follow. Now if you haven’t ever met the following library tools, let me introduce you. There is a reason these are popular among iOS developers!

4. Make use of libraries and frameworks

Because iOS is so popular there are a significant number of libraries and frameworks. They can be used to solve a number of issues. They can implement custom UI animations or work with device hardware. Consequently, these third-party iOS app development tools can significantly reduce the amount of effort and cost of building the same features from scratch.

i. CocoaPods

1. CocoaPods comes as a Ruby library and need to be installed using RubyGem. It is built with Ruby and is able to be installed with the default Ruby available on OS X.

ii. Carthage

1. Carthage is another simple dependency manager for the Cocoa application. It downloads and builds the dependencies, but will not change the project file. Xcode project builds the setting like CocoaPods. You have to manually drag a framework’s binaries to Linked Frameworks and Libraries.

2. You can install Carthage using HomeBrew.

iii. Swift Package Manager

1. The Swift Package Manager is a tool for managing the distribution of Swift code. It’s integrated with the Swift build system and can automate the process of downloading, compiling, and linking dependencies.

a. Third Party Libraries

The most important benefit of using third party libraries is that it saves you time. You do not need to develop the functionality that the library provides. Instead, you can focus on the core business logic of your app: the features that really matter. Typically, you will spend a fraction of the time it would take to develop and test an app’s functionality from scratch.

Here are few third party libraries which are well known and make a developer’s life easier:

i. AFNetworking

It is an Objective-C networking library for iOS, macOS, and tvOS. This robust library has been around for many years. From basic networking to advanced features such as Network Reachability and SSL Pinning. AFNetworking has it all.

ii. SDWebImage

SDWebImage is an asynchronous image downloader with caching. It has handy UIKit categories to do things such as set a UIImageView image to a URL. Although networking has become a little bit easier in Cocoa over the years, some basic tasks have not improved. For example, setting an image view to an image using a URL is still difficult.

iii. Alamofire

Alamofire is AFNetworking’s successor, but is written in Swift. You might be wondering why there are two different networking libraries in the upper echelon of this list. I assume it’s due to the fact that networking libraries are just extremely useful for iOS app development. The two libraries share a similar feature set. The main difference is the language in which they are written.

iv. SwiftyJson

Your life will be so much easier when it comes to handling JSON in Swift. Combining JSON with Swift can be tricky. The type casting issues make it difficult to deserialize model objects and it may require a bunch of “nested if” statements. SwiftyJSON makes all of this quite simple to do. That’s probably why it’s the second-most popular Swift library.

v. PromiseKit

PromiseKit is a popular third-party library for Swift and Objective-C programming language. Many developers use this library to simplify the asynchronous tasks they have in their apps. Promises allows you to control the whole asynchronous background process with this powerful closure syntax for chaining multiple async functions.

Now that your app is complete, you will need to distribute it. Overall does it matter how the app is presented to the world? Maybe – if you want a small selection of people to review it first.  In that case find out what options are available.

5. Choose the distribution model for your iOS app

As soon as your app is ready to be shipped, it’s important to decide how you want to distribute it. Currently, Apple offers three models. The most widely used option is to upload the app directly to the App Store. This way it will become available to every iOS user.

Additionally, you can set some parameters, such as target country, supported device, or iOS versions. If you want to beta-test your app before launching it globally, you can use the TestFlight service provided by Apple. It allows you to invite up to 100 users to test the application privately.

For enterprise-level apps or internal business tools, you can use the iOS Developer Enterprise Program or Volume Purchasing Program. Although a costly alternative to the previous two methods, this approach offers complete privacy. It allows you to make the application available only for your employees and contractors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, these iOS app development tools will simplify any iOS development you or your team may do in the future. First, remember to establish the basic infrastructure. Then, follow the standard practices of creating several versions. After that, decide which architecture will be most efficient for the project. Also take advantage of third-party tools and libraries. Finally, choose how you will distribute the app. Overall, we wish you all the best in using these iOS app development tools. If you are short staffed or need an iOS consultant for the next project, email us now at solutions@ithands.com.

Business Lessons from Growing up in Ecuador

Growing up in Ecuador was an incredible experience that I would not trade for anything. It is a beautiful country with an amazingly rich culture. In Ecuador, I learned how much I enjoyed business by haggling in the marketplace, but I also saw the effects of deep poverty among my friends. I hoped someday to be able to use business as a way to empower others. I learned a few business lessons while growing up in Ecuador that have proved helpful to my current work at IT Hands, an international web development company.

#CrossCultural Business Lessons: “Without a sustainable business your social impact cannot survive.” Read more in Greg’s blog. Click To Tweet

 

1. Learn About Cross-Cultural Differences When Doing International Business

Many fellow gringos would visit our family in Ecuador and were often frustrated by their negotiating experiences when they bought from the local markets. Simple things, such as the weight of “yes” and “no,” would drive people crazy! To an American “yes” means “yes” and “no” means “no.” To an Ecuadorian, “yes” means “hmmm…” and “no” is practically a bad word. For an Ecuadorian, the American “yes” is based on how many times they say “yes” and how enthusiastically they say “yes.” Understanding this is crucial to reaching an agreement. India is very similar to Ecuador in this sense. A good book to read when working with Indian teams is “Speaking of India”.

2. Take an Expert with You if You are Walking into Unfamiliar Territory

We recommended that most gringos go to the market with someone familiar with the culture. This would help with language differences and getting the local price instead of the gringo price. This advice is true in the tech world as well. Technical conversations can sound like a foreign language to many of us. If you aren’t technical and need to make a technical decision, I would highly recommend bringing someone to calls who understands the lingo and can make sure that you are being offered the best technical solution for your problem. If you don’t know of anyone in your network who can help, then reach out to matt.hartel@ithands.com. He has helped many businesses successfully get through this exact dilemma.

3. Social Impact should not be your Financial Undoing

I worked at this awesome cafe in Loja that not only served great coffee and food, but also taught English for free and offered free counseling. Helping young adults advance their careers through learning another language and helping those struggling with their mental health were important for the community. Unfortunately, this became so much the focus of the cafe that financials became secondary. Inevitably, the cafe went out of business. Now none of those services can be offered. The most sustainable way to help others is through a profitable organization.

4. Create a Sliding Scale for the People You want to Help the Most

My family ran an ophthalmology clinic in the Andes to help the rural poor with their vision. In order to make the clinic sustainable, we made it a for-profit business, but some of the people we set up the eye clinic to help were not able to afford it. In order to help those for whom we created the eye clinic, we created a sliding scale. Because we lived in a small rural community we knew most people’s socio-economic status from their last name. If they did not have the money to pay for their appointment we would set up a system where they could pay with eggs or a delicious chimichurri sauce. Just make sure your bottom line stays healthy so that you can continue to help others.

5. Free is not Valued

At first we offered eye glasses for free to these poorer families, but they kept coming back with broken glasses. As soon as we asked people to pay for them (even if it was with a payment of just a few eggs) the broken glasses problem stopped. People value what they pay for.

Conclusion

In summary, the business lessons I learned growing up revolved around understanding the culture. Get to know the people and culture that you are working with and if you aren’t an expert bring one into the conversation. If you are using your business for a greater purpose than a good bottom line, don’t forget about the business lessons regarding the bottom line. Without a sustainable business, your social impact cannot survive. If you have not been to Ecuador I highly recommend going! It is a beautiful place with the Amazon Rainforest, Andes Mountains, and Pacific Ocean all in a country the size of Colorado.

Outsourcing Models: 2 Software Development Options

Are you looking into outsourcing? Not to overwhelm you, but there are far more IT outsourcing models out there than you ever realized. Within IT Hands, we try to keep this could-be-complex scenario as simple as possible. We offer support to companies for full projects or long-term help in a specific skill set. In this blog, we refer to these two outsourcing engagement models as project-focused vs people-focused.

Outsourcing does not have to be complicated. Take a look at our company’s two simple #ITOutsourcingModels Click To Tweet

Project-Focused or People-Focused?

Let me explain our IT outsourcing models a bit more in detail. With the project-focused model, the client works closely with the Project Coordinator, with less direct communication or control over the team, whereas the people-focused model allows the client to be the project manager and work beside the extra staff available to their team. These additional team members usually need to be able to work a certain number of hours. But if you think of them as an extension of your team, you can assign them on various projects within your business.

Project Model

Type of Project

How do you know which IT outsourcing model will be best for your project? We provide a table below to give you an idea when you may need to outsource a full project or just hire extra staff for a certain time period. Take a look and decide: Do you require full-project support or just a few more hands on deck?

Type of Project

Questions to Ask Yourself

Are you building an MVP?

Do you have an idea for an app, but are unsure of whether this “idea” will be successful? Do you want someone else to create your app or web application? Are you wanting to get your product on the market quickly to get user feedback? Let the team focus on the development and coding details and you focus on the user and their feedback.

Do you have a new product with no users?

You can outsource the whole project and allow the team to develop the product, while you focus on feedback and marketing.

Do you have an idea, but no team?

Maybe you need someone else to handle the development, while you focus on creating your product.

Do you already have a successful product?

Perhaps you already have a mobile app, that has thousands of users but you need people to help with additional development to manage the volume or keep it up to date.

Are you wanting control of the project management?

Typically, when you are outsourcing the project, you’re outsourcing the management too. If the outsourcing model you need includes a team that can manage the project fully, then choose to outsource the entire project. If you need additional help, but want to manage the project, then you can outsource specific skills.

Do you need more team members?

In this case, you already have a team with certain skill sets, but need additional support. Perhaps your team specializes in design, but would benefit from technical support.

Do you have a complex product?

If the code infrastructure of your product is complex, but you already have the product built, then outsource the skills for more support. If you have a partially-constructed project then our team can rectify the old code and create what you had in mind from the beginning.

Are you wanting additional support at a fixed monthly cost?

If the cost of a full project is not in your budget, take on a few outsourced employees. You won’t be paying for their insurance and benefits – the employer takes care of that – but you will have a planned-out payment each month.

Do you only want to pay for time and materials?

Rather than paying a salary for extra support, it may be more cost-effective for you to pay for time and materials on a project.

Decide on Your Needs

The decision can be a tough one: whether to outsource all your development or hire a part-time developer. We have met with many clients that needed to discuss details further before making the decision about which outsourcing model they choose. It can be hard to know what type of support you may need until you lay it all out. We understand that.

Contact us at solutions@ithands.com to discuss what kind of support you may need.