Migrating Dynamics 365 to the Unified Interface

Migrating Dynamics 365 to the Unified Interface

With the increased focus on the Power Platform with Microsoft 365, the legacy version of Dynamics CRM must be moved to the “New look” Unified Interface. The deadline for this move is the 1st of December 2020, however you can start this transition right away.

After the deadline, any legacy applications will be transitioned automatically, so you should look to complete the transition as soon as possible.

What is the Unified Interface?

Unified Interface for model-driven apps provides a consistent and accessible user experience across devices. It is the latest look and feel of all model-driven apps and Dynamics 365 apps such as Dynamics 365 Sales and Dynamics 365 Customer Service.

When am I transitioning?

The deadline for transitioning is the 1st of December, however Microsoft have allocated a date for transition for all tenants. You can see this here. Once you login you should be able to see a list of your Dynamics environments, along with the date that each one is scheduled for transition.

Can I change my date?

This date can be pushed back to allow for you to plan for the transition, however it must occur before or on the 1st of December.

What do I need to do to Transition?

Things to focus on for this transition are:

  1. Create a pilot app.
  2. Follow the steps in the MS Checklist here and White paper here.
  3. Perform the pilot transition.
  4. Have end users test to ensure functionality works as intended. This step will be the longest and will require reviewing any customisation. The more complex the environment, the more time should be taken for this step. After all these customisations are reviewed and working correctly you can…
  5. Create a production app and perform the full transition.

I do not have any internal resources managing my CRM, what can I do?

Microsoft have provided the checklist and white papers which should make it easy to follow the process, but there is also a community group here to provided crowd-sourced assistance on transition. You can also log cases with Microsoft or your partner, if you are having any issues with the move.

If you would like a more in person support structure, Aspira provide expertise for businesses looking to benefit from Dynamics 365. We can provide expert support in migrating to the Unified Interface.  Contact Aspira for further information.

Additional Information

Here are some links with more information on transitioning to the new Unified Interface:

Microsoft Blog – Announcing the timeline to move to the Unified Interface: https://community.dynamics.com/365/b/365teamblog/posts/announcing-the-timeline-to-move-to-unified-interface-2137660788

FAQ’s: Transition to the Unified Interface: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/maker/model-driven-apps/faqs-transition-unified-interface

Microsoft Blog – Moving forward with your transition to Unified Interface: https://community.dynamics.com/365/unified-interface/b/unified-interface-team-blog/posts/moving-forward-with-your-transition-to-unified-interface

Dynamics 365 Unified Interface Community – https://community.dynamics.com/365/unified-interface/

 

Author: Ian Jones, Software Developer, Aspira.

Technical Career Paths 

Technical Career Paths 

 

Technical Career Paths

A technical career in IT and Software Development…sounds boring, right? I don’t think so… 

In this blog I will talk about how a technical career in IT and Software Development can be the most exciting and fulfilling choice, and the limitless number of opportunities it can offer. 

 The starting point 

When you think of a Software Developer the first thing that springs to mind is a lonely “computer nerd”, who works all by himself (yes, you probably thought about a man …..) and understands all the mysteries of computers and programming. 

You couldn’t be further from the truth, and I talk from experience, having started my own career as a Software Developer over 20 years ago. 

To get started into this amazing career, it helps if you have a technical degree such as Computer Science or Engineering. After that, the world is your oyster! 

 Where do you go next? 

Technology is always changing, and so are the type of jobs and roles available, therefore it’s important to always upskill, stay abreast of new technologies, and equally critical is to understand where your strengths and preferences are. 

After a few years of hands-on technical work, you might want to expand your horizons, and the choices here are endless. 

  • If you really enjoy the technical stuff and learning about new technologies, you can choose to become a Technical Business Analyst, the person who knows what’s possible with today’s technology, and specifies to management and the engineers what needs to be done. 

Certifications are important, and CBAP is one of the most recognized. If you’re interested in a career as a Business Analyst and are thinking of taking the CBAP certification, look no further: https://aspira.ie/business-analysis/ 

Again, certifications are important, and if this is the direction you’d like to take, I’d highly recommend a PM course, anything from a 1 day introduction to the full PMP certificationhttps://aspira.ie/project-management-courses/ 

These are just two examples of the exciting new paths your technical career can follow, and there are many more (Scrum Master, Agile practitioner, Six-Sigma consultant, …). 

 Conclusion 

Don’t ever again think that a Technical Career is boring or limited, it is one of the best careers in the world, and it offers endless possibilities. So get started, upskill, follow your preferences, get certified, and enjoy!!! 

Author: Stefania Sartori, Technical Recruiter, Aspira.

Project Management in Microsoft 365

Project Management in Microsoft 365

After looking at how we can manage tasks within Microsoft 365 last week, today we’re going to have a look at what applications can be used for more formal project and portfolio management as well as when we should use these applications and what they’re best suited to.

When to move on from Planner.

You should consider moving beyond managing your projects with Planner when:

  • You have a formal, complex schedule for the project.
  • You have many different projects requiring resources to split time between each.
  • You have costing of resources and materials that must be tracked.

If any of these are true you should like at the options available within Microsoft 365.

Project for the web is the newest addition to the project family. It provides a step up from applications like planner by providing:

  • a Gantt view of tasks.
  • the ability to add task dependencies.
  • the ability to create a more formal project schedule.

The Project desktop client provides more advanced PM functions on top of what can be seen in project for the web including:

  • baselines.
  • critical path.
  • resource and cost management.

This makes it useful for large and more complex projects that could span over long periods of time.

Project Online gives access to the project desktop client but also allows for projects to be stored as a portfolio within a single location. This allows for program and portfolio management and can give more advanced planning throughout an organization which has many projects occurring simultaneously. It also allows for portfolio analysis to prioritise what project should be completed based on pre-defined rules.

Regardless of how intensive your project management process within your company is, Microsoft 365 has a solution that should help your organisation manage it effectively and efficiently.

For all your Microsoft 365 needs, please contact Aspira.

Author: Ian Jones, Software Developer, Aspira.

 

The Similarities and differences when working in Project Management across different industries

The Similarities and differences when working in Project Management across different industries

As a Project Manager working within multiple industries, the one thing that I’ve always noticed is how similar the work is throughout these varying industries.  Project Management has predetermined processes and procedures to carry out projects, these are followed whilst implementing a project or program as required.  Equally, similarities may be found when you review the types of people you meet and deal with in each company and industry.  The subject matter experts, stakeholders and project teams are made up of people working to achieve a common goal; to implement a project or program.

During my time with Aspira I have worked with a public authority and a private company.  The two industries are quite different. The public authority tends to have a more rigid reporting structure and decision making hierarchy than the FMCG private company in some respects.  Both industries want to succeed in their deployment of products or services for their customers, and thus want you to succeed in the completion of their identified projects.  As a project manager in these industries, my key to success will be a willingness to adapt to the requirements for reporting, communication and team management.

I think you will see the similarities and differences within these 4 key areas highlighted in the chart below.

 

Moving to a new industry or company may seem daunting because you are not familiar with the industry.  In reality, the company is seeking assistance to get a project completed.  The goal for this company is to use your expertise for their desire to implement one or several projects.  The actual products and services that the company provide should not be an issue for the PM, as they should be able to apply and adapt the tools and skills needed to meet the requirements of the company.

For all your Project Management needs, please contact Aspira.

Author: Sheila Sheehan, PM, Aspira.

TikTok and the art of Concise Communication

TikTok and the art of Concise Communication

The only social media tool that I use regularly is LinkedIn, and I’m not even sure if that’s considered social media, is it?

But six months ago, on a pique of curiosity,  I installed TikTok.  Since then I have never created a TikTok or sent a message on it, but I regularly view the stream of pseudo-random video snippets that come in. I find it so interesting how much content people can cram into the 60-second limit.

To be successful, TikTok users need to be able to communicate concisely and succinctly.  Watching TikToks is like getting a Masterclass in succinct and impactful communication.  If your attention has not been grabbed within ten seconds, people will scroll on to the next clip.  If the story arc cannot be completed within 60 seconds, people are unlikely to go searching for ‘part II’.

Can Project Managers learn from TikTok masters? 

How many presentations have you had to sit through where, with better forethought and impactful delivery, the takeaways from a 30 minute presentation could have been delivered in 60 seconds?

The five C’s will help you to communicate with impact – whether via a boardroom presentation, or via a TikTok video:

  1. Clear:

Your key point needs to be communicated in a manner that’s easy for your target audience to understand, even if they are not paying attention fully (they could be sending snapchats and/or reading the Financial Times).

  1. Concise:

TikTok enforces brevity with their 60 second time limit.  Achieve the same effect with your presentations by being direct and to the point without inserting unnecessary distractions from your main points.

  1. Credible: 

Ensure you can justify any claims you make by having proof points and referencing supporting details to strengthen your key points.

  1. Compelling: 

Grab your audiences’ attention and inspire them to take relevant action.  The use of alliteration and assonance helps phrases to lodge in people’s brains – e.g. ‘Pat’s Chat’ is a more memorable title than ‘Pat’s Monthly Update to all Staff’

  1. Consistent: 

If you establish a communication cadence – e.g. weekly update, monthly newsletter, you MUST maintain that cadence consistently.  How many monthly newsletters never get past the second edition when the initial enthusiasm runs out.

 

For successful project management you need to consistently maintain concise, clear, credible and compelling information flow to your project stakeholders.  After you’ve done that you can start creating TikTok videos!

For all your project management needs please contact info@aspira.ie.

SharePoint the ‘evolution’

SharePoint the ‘evolution’

SharePoint has been around now for quite some time. Its first iteration was as Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server in 2001, as largely a document management application. It was a traditional setup with little interaction from end users; instead they would come up with problems/requirements and hand them over to IT teams who would provided a solution to those problems.

In 2003 Microsoft made their first move to evolve SharePoint and brought it under the Office 2003 Application Suite, when they released a new version called Microsoft Windows SharePoint Server as part of Windows Sever 2003. This new version had an improved UI and better personalisation options for end users. However, it was still not a truly collaborative platform. This was to all change in 2007, with the release of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). End users could now create and manage team sites, they were given access to workflows and the platform embraced content management.

In 2010 Microsoft upgraded SharePoint to give a more enhanced experience for users with more services to enhance business connectivity, better integration with Microsoft Office’s application suite and more workflow automation, all with the goal of increasing business efficiency and better collaboration among business units.

The next iteration of SharePoint came with the release of SharePoint Sever 2013; this version was largely the same as 2010, with the addition of a lot of bug fixes and a few tweaks to the UI. The main additions were support for social media functions, support for mobile users, and support for large data sets. There were vast improvements to the underlying features of designing layouts and sites that need to adhere to brand guidelines. The biggest change however was the addition of SharePoint Online, a cloud based version of SharePoint, hosted on Microsoft Servers and bundled with the Office 365 package that is also maintained by the Microsoft team.

2016 has added a few new options to SharePoint. However, the platform remains largely the same as 2013, with a few new additions and removal of old features. Some of these include an App Launcher, a new tool to further align SharePoint with the Office 365 platform as this tool now provides an identical interface for apps whether using SharePoint Online on Office 365 or on SharePoint 2016 on premise. Microsoft also introduced the concept of Mini Roles, relating to Farm Topology. There are now six pre-defined roles that are available to Farm Administrators when creating a new SharePoint Farm. Another new feature Farm Administrators can take advantage of, if they have configured high availability on their farm, is Zero Downtime Patching. Last, but not least by any means, is that Project Server now comes integrated with SharePoint (however it is licensed separately so will require an additional licence to use).

The latest iteration of SharePoint to date is SharePoint Server 2019 and it continues Microsoft’s ongoing journey with improving SharePoint. It brings more changes to the way SharePoint and its users interact with the addition of Modern Sites, Pages, Lists and Libraries, Team News and Communication Sites. One big change in this area is the addition of Microsoft Teams which has taken team collaboration out of SharePoint’s hands and is now the go to destination for team-based collaborative work. That’s not to say that SharePoint collaboration is redundant, content for these teams still remains on SharePoint, with the collaboration work now done on Microsoft Teams.

One of the more interesting features to come from SharePoint 2019 was the announcement at SharePoint Conference  #18   (#SPC18) of SharePoint Spaces. This new addition brings VR to SharePoint and will allow anybody to create mixed reality content experiences for a whole range of business processes.

One thing is sure; SharePoint continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, adding new and interesting features for users and businesses alike.

Please contact Aspira if you have any Software Development needs.

Author: Paul Cuthbert, Software Developer, Aspira.

Project Management in the Financial Sector

Nearly two and a half thousand years ago the Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “The only thing that is constant is change.”

That is a statement that remains just as true today as it was back then. Change is the only constant in our lives, and the same is true for organisations. In our globalised and highly competitive world, organisations are constantly challenged to adapt and evolve. ‘Project Management’ tools and techniques have been used as the main tool to respond to those challenges and to implement business strategies successfully.

If you look closely, most companies can be seen as a set of projects, as change permeates the entire organisation. These changing business environments, driven by both internal and external pressures, force organisations to establish a more structured and mature project management process.

In this context, project management has evolved from a set of unrecognised qualities from disjointed departments into a critical business function that is a recognised center of excellence in large, medium and small companies. It has expanded to almost all sectors and industries.

Of course, each industry has a different level of maturity when it comes to project management. In organisations that have a more mature project management mindset there is greater cohesion between corporate strategies and business operations. They work together, managing programmes that capitalize on the benefits of joint management of synergistic projects. They use Portfolio Management to manage the programs and projects, directing them towards the strategic objectives of the organisation and they use the Project Management Office to assist in improving the management of these organisational projects.

Over the course of my time working in the financial sector, there has been a huge amount of change and development of project and programme management methodologies, and the impact this can have on the organisation as a whole.

Originally, the use of methodologies, techniques and tools to manage projects were very immature and presented many challenges. With high failure rates for projects operating in that environment. Conceptually speaking, the project went wrong because it did not happen the way it was planned. Projects are living things and changes will happen, but they must be planned and managed in an efficient manner.

Over the years, PM methodologies have been implemented and improved, aligned with automated tools to manage projects, programmes and portfolios. The concept of PMO has been expanded in all organisations and now plays a huge role in implementing robust procedures, methodology and standards that support PMs to effectively manage their projects and programmes. All this has proved critical to the success of these projects and programmes, and in turn, delivered benefits to the organisation.

Furthermore, education and training has played a huge role in this process. It was imperative to spread a systemic culture of project management to all levels of the organisation. Educating business people on project management concepts and methodology was key. With many business people formally trained in project management, (some have even come to be certified PMs) they have become passionate about project management from seeing the tangible results of a well structured and managed project.

Undoubtedly, all of this has contributed to the better management of projects . The results are expressed by less problems in communication, as the right governance is in place and the correct & consistent message is delivered to all stakeholders. Training and education have also improved the management of scope creep, risks and benefits, change control and finance management with proper budget approval, forecast and actual control. It also contributed to have more support from top management and sponsors of the projects and programmes as well as increased team support.

It has been a long journey and there are still many challenges to be overcome. Nonetheless it is clear that organization’s that embrace and apply PM methodology and that have a strong project management structure and process in place have delivered on the project scope and with that have the recognition of the entire organisation. Interestingly enough, those successes are being spread across organisation’s.

To find out more about implementing project management processes within your organisation email:  training@aspira.ie.

Author: Kátia Starck, Project Manager, Aspira

Six Basic Tips to Protect Your Digital Identity

Six Basic Tips to Protect Your Digital Identity

My PayPal account is disabled, my Amazon account is suspended, there has been suspicious activity on my IP address so my router will be barred……… I am either flat broke (and I know I’m not) and can’t pay my bills or there is a problem with the provider, so I must click on this link to see what I need to do to sort it out………

Within the last 10 days I did get each one of these notices, 2 were emails and 1 was actually a phone call to my unlisted landline!  (yes, I still have a landline).

What is a fact is that each one of these was a phishing scam.  Now, I have worked in IT for almost 30 years so you would expect I would be sceptical and wise to these attempts, and I am, but there are many people who are not;  like my 70+ year old next door neighbour that calls me every-time she gets a phishing email and is visibly upset thinking something is actually wrong.

With COVID-19 and a large part of the population working from home, isolation, reliance on home broadband (as opposed to the it being the IT departments problem) and a general sense of nervousness means a lot of people are more open to falling for these scams.  These criminals are psychological experts at placing doubt in your mind, so don’t let them!

But then again, I have anti-virus, a firewall and encryption so I am OK.  Wrong again!  In our now totally connected world, while all of these security measures do offer a level of protection, they are not a silver bullet – a panacea for all security needs.

The fact is quite a lot of security breaches are as a result of an issue between the keyboard and the back of your chair…..  that is You!  Your digital identity is what these criminals ultimately want.  And they will have ingenious ways to try to get it.  However, you can take some basic and simple steps to secure your identity, these include:

  1. Be vigilant. No provider of a service ever asks you to verify anything by email.  You can do two things to set your mind at ease when you receive a phishing mail.  The first is look closely at the sender address to see if it is genuine.  For example, double click it (depending on your mail client) and you might see something like amazonsupport@yahoo.com – you can be pretty sure Amazon don’t use yahoo mail.  Otherwise you could telephone them, or login to your account (not by clicking the mail link you were sent, but by accessing it how you normally would) and verify everything is OK.
  2. Whatever system you are using, Google, Office 365 etc – all of these providers offer “Multi-Factor Authentication”. This is where, in addition to your password, you are required to verify your login with a pin code or automated call to your mobile.  If you have not enabled this service, do it!  This means if a criminal does get your password, they still cannot access your system – as they don’t have your phone.
  3. In addition to Anti-Virus on your device, install specialised anti-malware. Anti-malware service providers provide real-time protection scanning thousands of websites looking for malicious activity, so if you click on a link that may be taking you to a site that could damage or encrypt (with crypto-virus) your machine you will be prevented by the anti-malware.
  4. If you get an email from a colleague looking for account information, a banking transfer etc – unless you expect the mail, don’t do it! Call that person and verify the request.
  5. If you get a phone call asking for information, hang-up and call the provider on their listed number for support. Never give information to someone on the basis of an unsolicited call.
  6. Finally, make sure you have a backup of your data. Google Cloud, OneDrive, whatever is your preference, set it up and set it running.

These are basic steps; they should seem obvious and I hope for most reading this they are.  But for the non-techies out there that do get “hacked” every day, these simple steps should help prevent it happening to you!

Author:  Jason Boyle, Operations Director, Aspira.

Do you know what “ASAP” really means?

 

How many times have you been asked by your boss to deliver something ASAP, and your first reaction was to drop everything and start working on it right away? Only to learn later that not only the job wasn’t urgent at all, but also it was delayed, postponed, forgotten or simply cancelled?

Years ago, a Director asked me for a logo saying she needed it ASAP. Let me paint you a quick picture:

  • The logo was not for any critical project. Did I know that? No.
  • The logo was for her intranet channel. Yeap, I’m serious.
  • It was after 5.30 pm.
  • Well, she was a Director of something, which meant she was important!

My reaction was to drop everything I was doing and deliver it now. Quickly, I talked with one of my designers and asked him to do it, he looked at me annoyed (it was after 5.30 pm!) and said, “but she said it’s ASAP”, and I was like, “and? It’s ASAP!”.

When I was learning English as a second language (I am Brazilian), ASAP was one of the first things I learned, and I knew it meant “as soon as possible”, but clearly I was missing something.

He went on to explain that ASAP did not mean urgent, replied to the Director and told her “let me know if tomorrow afternoon is ok to deliver”, she then replied saying “that’s brilliant, thank you so much”.

I was mesmerized.

So simple! The trick is to gamble a bit, giving yourself the deadline you need to deliver the task requested — don’t be greedy though, aim for a reasonable timeframe that is still comfortable for you. Remember to keep your tone positive: you want to help, and you will get it done as soon as you can. I can guarantee that if it’s genuinely an ASAP request, the other person will be super happy.

A few years later, I went to work at a place where “everything was a priority”. Before any attempt to improve or implement new processes, I needed first to understand why my team weren’t able to follow a workflow plan, why they were all feeling overworked and that nothing was under control.

Among some other things, I realised that they were drowning in ASAP requests coming from different stakeholders. They would get paralysed by ASAP requests thinking that they were urgent, dropping everything whenever they heard the word “ASAP”, delaying (without knowing) tasks that were actually important. Even a simple Urgent-Important Matrix didn’t work at the time, since “everything was a priority”.

I have to be honest and say that it took me a while to identify ASAP requests disguised as urgent ones were one of the root problems. Then, one day it finally hit me, maybe they too don’t know what ASAP really means.

Wait, what? Mind blowing.

It didn’t cross my mind that my team (all English speakers) could have been having the same problem I had a few years earlier! I thought that this misunderstanding issue was particular to people who didn’t have English as a first language.

When I told my team that ASAP does not mean urgent and they should just return to whoever asked them for something inquiring what the deadline was, it was a game-changer. Ten out ten times the deadline was for “the end of the week”, “next week”, “just when you get a chance” and so on. I know, right?

Why do people disguise something as urgent when it’s not? I don’t want to dwell on the reasons, but most of the time, they just don’t want to commit to a timeline; just in case they can get whatever they need sooner.

My advice is: take advantage of the situation to protect your time and your work. Send a message to the world that you are the one calling the shots.

Guest Author: 

Mayra Boppre is a Program Manager with 10+ years of experience leading multi-disciplined teams, establishing processes and systems in fast-paced, complex organisations. Mayra specialises in the creative field and brings her expertise and curiosity to help companies achieve goals and objectives. Mayra is PMI certified and holds an MBA in Marketing.

This article was originally posted in Medium  

Migrating a Node App to the Cloud

Migrating a Node App to the Cloud

I have a Machine Learning (ML) application running on my Laptop and I was looking for ways to improve my application accessibility and performance. My primary investigation was focused on migrating my ML application to the cloud. This blog describes my cloud migration journey, where I’ll highlight some of the main lessons I learned through the ML migration process. I was hoping that by migrating my ML application to the cloud, I’d have expanded performance upgrade options that couldn’t be duplicated with my local machine implementation.

The core of my project was a machine learning algorithm written in Python. My application data, on which the machine learning model was trained, was held in a local SQL Database. The application layer was implemented as code in NodeJS server that executed the ML algorithm, written within Python files, and displayed the Machine Learning results in HTML.

For my choice of cloud platforms I considered AWS, Google and Azure, and ultimately settled on Azure because Azure credit that’s offered through Microsoft’s Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription. It meant that I could port my Machine Learning application onto the cloud for no incremental cost!

There were two main tasks involved in porting my Machine Learning application to the Azure cloud:

(1) I had to migrate my ML training database to a Azure cloud DB

(2) Port my NodeJS functionality into a NodeJS environment within the Azure App Service

Microsoft’s developer guides made the experience of (1) porting the Database and (2) porting the NodeJS straightforward. However, I ran into my first significant porting challenge when I realised that the Azure cloud services doesn’t allow the equivalent of the NodeJS Child Process function to execute. I had to find an alternative means of running my Machine Learning python algorithm code!

Fortunately, Azure comes to the rescue through their offering of the Azure “Machine Learning Service”. Using Azure’s Machine Learning Service, I was able to create a Machine Learning Workspace (ML Workspace). The ML Workspace environment enables dataset importation, training ML models on imported datasets and deployment of models. The Azure ML Workspace models are created using Python, so I was able to repurpose my existing Python scripts, effectively eliminating the NodeJS Child Process invocation. Azure supports access to the model outcomes through a RESTful API. The REST API enabled me to query my model for new predictions.

The full support for Machine Learning applications on Azure meant I was then able to re-create my Machine Learning Model, deploy it, and utilise it for predicting new outcomes. I can scale my Azure services, if needed, as my datasets grow. I now have a much more flexible Machine Learning application, all with the help of Azure!

For all your Software Development needs please contact Aspira here.

Author: Alan Lehane, Aspira Software Developer

 

The benefits of project management – when done well

The benefits of project management – when done well

Remember the oft used swan metaphor? Swans glide gracefully by on our waterways, yet the onlooker is oblivious to the furious paddling under the surface that provides the momentum to propel them forward. As project managers, we are all too aware of the ‘furious paddling’ that propels us to successful project delivery, even with a sound methodology to guide us.

When a project is at the initiation stage, do we spare a thought for the consequence of not achieving any project benefits? We do not think that our project will unfold like the plot of some horror movie. Instead we focus on what action we will take to prevent failure.

Despite the challenges, we persevere. We refer to our standards and frameworks for guidance.  We share our knowledge and seek to learn lessons from our peers. To us the benefits of good project management seem obvious, but they can be difficult to define for someone unconvinced or new to the discipline. When asked “why do we need good project management?”, how would you respond?

The PMI’s white paper on The Value of Project Management, discusses why project management matters, and in a case study demonstrate how it has become an integral part of business. Their findings included:

  • Implementation of project management discipline enables organisations to obtain measurable results and change behaviours.
  • Adhering to project management methods and strategies reduced risks, cut costs and improved success rates
  • A review of the project outcomes showed that it delivered improved customer satisfaction by creating a more user-friendly process.
  • Good project management discipline stopped the organisation from spending money on projects that fail.
  • In conclusion, strong and disciplined project management practices will drive an organisation forward.

https://www.pmi.org/business-solutions/white-papers/value-project-management

So, why should your organisation implement a framework and follow a discipline? In simple terms, when you achieve good results, when you are successful, you want to repeat that success. Reasonably, we assume that what worked for us in our last project might also work well in our next project. And we all want consistent results. Consistency in performance and behaviour fosters a shared understanding. It facilitates the identification of efficiencies in business activities. When we all know what we are doing, why we are doing it, how we are doing it, it becomes easier to deliver. This shared understanding is often the antecedent to project governance, reducing the risk of failing, reducing the cost of failed projects, thus making our organisations more competitive in their chosen markets. Almost like dominoes, the realisation of one benefit, offers the opportunity of realising the next.

Ultimately, we pass on those benefits to our customers. The benefits of project management – when done well – align to the project benefits as defined in the business case that in turn align with the goals of the organisation and deliver real value to the customer. They are a measurable return on investment for the organisation.

So, if you want to learn more about the benefits of good project management let Aspira, whose mission is “to take the chaos out of project management”, help you on your path to enlightenment.  Contact us here.

Author:  Niamh Lynagh, Project Manager, Aspira.

Selenium for Automated Test Development

 

Selenium for Automated Test Development

Test automation is a hugely important part of modern agile software development. In this blog, we are going to focus on just one part of the challenge of testing in software development – building comprehensive software testing for user interfaces (UI).

User interfaces present a challenge for test development because of the complexity of user interaction with the software product. Most application user interfaces have users making choices, for instance, “where to save a file?”, “what to print?”, or “what file(s) to open?”, and these choices grow application pathways that require validation by manual or automated testing. Agile software development typically puts further demands on the software testing because of the requirement to have testing completed within the short agile iteration timeboxes. It is not uncommon for Agile Scrum teams to require their full testing validation to be complete within a two-week Scrum sprint cycle. These time constraints put more pressure on the testing approach and most importantly, the decision for which testing tools to rely on.

This blog illustrates some of our observations during our trial adoption of the automated testing tool Selenium, in our journey to providing automated testing for our Agile software development.

Challenge 1:

Our first challenge in the adoption of automated testing for our software development was to build a system that enabled us to write and run automated tests. Building these tools and test capabilities from scratch is normally way too expensive for software teams, and there is a myriad of automated software testing frameworks available to make the adoption much simpler. We investigated some common choices but settled on building our automation using the Selenium framework. Many of our developers had experience with Selenium automation testing development, and that made the choice of Selenium easy for our team.

 Challenge 2:

Our second challenge for our software testing approach was to ensure that our testing couldaccommodate complex application user interface components, like user prompts and  user dialogs, because all user paths must be validated thoroughly with test cases. Our challenge was to find a test automation tool that made testing of user prompts much easier, and we hoped Selenium would make our automation test development more effective for these UI requirements.

Without a tool like Selenium, we either had to physically monitor our test software, to ensure our test cases didn’t get blocked by a UI prompts, or we had to write extensive test code to deal with the UI prompts automatically, requiring a lot of test case development time. We were relying on Selenium to address these challenges, enabling us to quickly and easily build automated tests, without the need for manual intervention or a large test development cost, for quality product assurance.

About Selenium:

Selenium is an opensource framework for test automation. Selenium is commonly used for test automation for web-based applications. Selenium has built in methods that allow selection of buttons or prompts. Selenium specifically enables web development test coverage because it provides good solutions for supporting UI prompts and buttons. Selenium is equally effective supporting the testing of dropdown menus, checkboxes and various other UI components. Selenium has definitely made our automation testing more effective, and that has led to better quality software, and a better user experience.

In addition, Selenium’s browser support and OS support further enhances the scope and coverage of automation testing build on Selenium, so the investment in test development goes much further than just the initial platform the tests were built on. This reduces the time for creation and maintenance of an automation testing system.

In summary, Selenium is designed to dramatically improve the effectiveness of automation testing for complex web-based apps. In the next blog we’ll look at the benefits of Selenium for code at the infrastructure or data level, because Selenium is not just a user interface automation support tool.

For more information, please contact our Software Development Team at contact@aspira.ie

Author:  James Harrison, Software Developer, Aspira.