Leading the Art of Software Development

By Juan Manuel Vilmaux, Senior Project Manager at Santex

No single technique or engineering process can guarantee 100% success in software development. In fact, picking a software development approach has more in common with joining a cult than it does with making a technical decision. Too often the human element is overlooked in the process.

Another factor is that many companies will not even attempt to evaluate different methodologies, but simply embrace the most popular or trendy one. The fact is there is a vast number of methodologies and techniques, that if chosen correctly, can make our work easier and more efficient.

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Are you leaving money on the table when it comes to IT Outsourcing?

The importance of cultural fit, talent acquisition and scalability.

Clients and outsourcers must work together to agree on deals that work for both parties without compromising either one’s ability to deliver value.  Back in the days when we started in 1999, outsourcing’s primary advantage was cost savings, but now this is no longer the case. There is way more “up for grabs” for clients to take advantage of, but only for those who know how to play it right.

Much is being said in the IT outsourcing sector about the imminent change in which clients and outsources are structuring deals nowadays. Clients are looking for shorter commitments, more flexibility and closer management over the way things happen abroad, leaving sometimes a huge added value going to waste while the relationship last.

It is a fact that outsourcing is not for everyone. One of the reasons you hear many different opinions is because a few key elements must be aligned between the parties, for the relationship to be successful.

The maturity level and cultural-fit of the organizations, are a must. The first serves the purpose of being in an agreement as to where you see value is being added and where you don’t, while the second one sets the working environment and dynamics for that value to be maximized and delivered towards a common goal.

In most cases, short-term relationships lead to little to no added value. If you are looking to plug in a few resources and push a project for a few weeks or months, chances are you are better off hiring a local freelancer than a more established IT outsourcing company.

If on the other hand your organization is seeking a strategic partner to share a meaningful more long-term and mutually beneficial relationship you are always going to be better off with a more serious and established company that can offer a more comprehensive service and talent to increase your chances of a successful delivery.

Another key aspect where clients get the most out of the outsourcer is when they don’t see them as just “developers” but let the outsourcer weigh in its opinion and take a risk just as they would with an internal employee. Sometimes letting the outsourcer take the driver’s seat can have big pay offs and lead to significant changes in the client’s strategy if managed properly, and materialize in better business results at the end. It all depends on the working environment and dynamics set by the client.

Magento: the king of eCommerce

By Miguel Balparda, Magento Developer at Santex

Now more than ever, eCommerce is front and center in the retail strategy conversation. In the first quarter of this year, online shopping surpassed the USD 50 billion dollar barrier in the US at the same breaking records in Latin America.  Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are the biggest markets. Leading the technology to drive eCommerce applications, Magento has become the #1 platform for online shopping. In fact, this software platform has grown so popular that eBay bought it in 2011.

Technically speaking, Magento is an open source web application based on one of today’s most popular and complete frameworks: Zend Framework. The framework itself has everything a developer needs to use and really fits with Magento Core. This rich eCommerce solution has some of the most accepted features in merchant stores, is easy to install, and comes already integrated with Paypal.  Another major plus is that Magento is written in PHP, one of the most-commonly used programming languages in the world.  Moreover, big & small package carriers such as UPS and Fedex have integrated Magento into the backbone of their infrastructure to unify ordering and shipping.

One Magento’s biggest advantage is that it provides the merchant with a full set of reports regarding the status of the online store.  For businesses with an international client base, Magento offers store management in different languages under the same installation process: this means that the platform stock control only runs through the decision making of one administrator.

There are a few drawbacks that anyone considering implementing a Magento framework should consider.  One of its most common problems is its slow response capacity. In order for it to run smoothly, it must have at least a VPS (Virtual Private Server).  Some advance caching systems are needed for rapid loading times. Another important disadvantage for this technology is that it has a steep learning curve: time and effort are required to operate the system, even for the most technically sound of developers.

However, the platform really is a complete suite for a running a fully functional enterprise: Stock and price points can be managed, as well as customer subscriptions and newsletters.  A Content Management System (CMS) is provided as a regular feature.  Magento also owns a marketplace for its extensions: Magento Connect. Through this option, merchants can purchase extensions to customize and enhance their online platform. In fact, the magento community is varied and developers can access to numerous tools and resources like Magento Commerce boards and StackOverflow.

About the author – Miguel Balparda has been developing Magento for almost four years. During this time, he has witnessed the exponential growth the platform has undergone; today it is one of the largest and most popular online stores in the world. There is a great deal of documentation and resources available for both merchants and developers. It is best to start by scanning the official Magento website, where you can find resources to get in touch with the application, as well as free extensions to learn the structure of modules. Miguel can be contacted at communications@santexgroup.com

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