10Pearls CXO to Present at World IA Day DC

10Pearls’ Chief Experience Officer, John Whalen, will lead a session at World IA Day DC on February 18.

His session, “IA for AI: New Methods for Designing a New Class of Products,” will explore how cognitive design can help measure and optimize the performance of artificial intelligence systems. In it, he will be introducing new biometric discoveries about our emotional responses to Artificial Intelligence systems by measuring heart rate, skin conductance and facial expressions.

In the past two years, artificial intelligence (AI) has forayed into our daily lives through systems like Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant. John, a PhD in Cognitive Science with more than 15 years of experience in user-centered design, will delve into how we can optimally architect AI experiences by analyzing how humans structure their commands to AI systems and react to AI responses.

Do we prefer systems that give better answers, or ones that feel more human?  Which of the major spoken interfaces are most successful?  Why?  How will our products need to evolve to keep up with this emerging technology?  How can we test if they are successful?

The sold-out DC conference is part of World IA Day, a one-day annual celebration hosted by the Information Architecture Institute and held in major cities worldwide. The DC conference brings together information architecture practitioners from across the globe to discuss the importance of information strategy and structure.

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10 Reasons Why Pakistan is a Great Location for Tech Outsourcing

When one thinks of software and technology offshore outsourcing, the usual locations that come to mind are India, Russia, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, China, the Philippines, and a few others. While these are all great outsourcing offshore destinations, over-crowding is diminishing the value that businesses are able to realize. The problem is accentuated exponentially for businesses that do not have multi-million dollar budgets ($5 MM/year) to spend with the vendor. They end up working with lower tier vendors who remain limited in their ability to hire and retain top talent.

As a result of these challenges, a number of alternate offshore locations have been emerging and becoming success stories. One such location is Pakistan.

When we tell our prospects and clients about 10Pearls, they often ask us about our location in Karachi, Pakistan. Most ask because they are curious, or because they are unable to fathom how 10Pearls has been able to be successfully deliver leveraging Pakistan as a destination. It is not surprising given the oft inaccurate perceptions that popular media tends to create about Pakistan.

Almost all business leaders and entrepreneurs (buyers) are rational thinkers and when presented with facts, they recognize that not only the risk is relatively low, doing business in Pakistan has advantages. In other words, Pakistan is a favorable option to outsource relative to some of the choices available today.

When I was the Head of Global Outsourcing at AOL-Time Warner, I witnessed first-hand the attrition problems, rising prices, inflexibility and lack of overall quality improvement with outsourcing partners in typical outsourcing locations. Despite the pain, it was acceptable; mainly, because everyone else was outsourcing to those destinations. Certainly, the other companies could not be wrong.

Times are much different now. Businesses are focused on value, and realize that speed-to-market is of utmost importance. It is not about “where is your location?”, but rather “how can we count on you to deliver on time, within budget, and with the best quality”. We have businesses who are now actively approaching us to learn about our strengths in Pakistan and how we are able to sustainably and continuously deliver value to our customers.

Below are some facts why Pakistan is a great destination for technology and software outsourcing. The list may surprise you, but it is one of the reasons why 10Pearls has been able to build great client successes, building world class products for the world’s largest enterprises and exciting emerging businesses, including start-ups.

  1. Pakistan is the 6th largest most populace country in the world: 195 million.
  2. Pakistan is also the 3rd largest English speaking country in the world (past British colony).
  3. Nearly two-thirds of Pakistan’s population is comprised of youth aged below 24 years.
  4. Karachi is the 7th largest city in the world, and is home to 24 million inhabitants. There is a strong emphasis on technology education and training amongst the youth.
  5. Pakistan was recently rated much higher in terms of IP laws compared to others.
  6. Pakistan, like much of the sub-continent, has strong work ethic and high productivity. 81% of Pakistanis believe that hard work pays off. More importantly, Pakistan’s labor pool is not saturated compared to other locations, and as a consequence, has relatively far lower employee attrition.
  7. Contrary to popular beliefs, Pakistan is NOT on the ITAR control (export controlled or embargoed) list of countries.
  8. Pakistan is business friendly, with favorable business law, tax incentives for certain services and businesses. The currency is relatively weak and provides strong labor arbitrage opportunities. Pakistan is Asia’s best performing stock market.
  9. Pakistan has major global brands and successful companies operating for many years. There are a number of technology outsourcing services businesses working with global brands. These include: 10Pearls, Systems Limited, Folio3, NetSol, TRG Pakistan, Ovex Tech, LMKR, and many others. Investors, such as Rocket Internet, are aggressively investing in Pakistani companies.
  10. Pakistan’s start-up scene is thriving. 2016 APICTA event saw Pakistan winning multiple awards There are a number of Start-Up Incubators funded by both private individuals and multinationals (like Google), creating a highly vibrant and innovative ecosystem.

In these rapidly changing times, businesses must not only become efficient, but transform through innovation. The lack of flexibility with traditional outsourcing vendors is compelling businesses to partner with “mode 2” technology partners that are more agile, nimble and efficient. The value equation with mode 2 partners is a no-brainer, given the opportunity cost of not being able to deliver quickly, efficiently, and with high quality.

Pakistan as a technology outsourcing destination is delivering the value that businesses are demanding, and for this reason, many businesses are being smart about where they are turning to for their offshore outsourcing needs.

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Decision Time: Risk Extinction or Rise Above with Digital Transformation

The Challenge and the Opportunity

Businesses that have been consistently winning in the past are no longer guaranteed success. The new digital economy has redefined the business landscape. Successful traditional businesses are at a huge risk of not only losing their dominant position, but going out of business.

It is now common knowledge that the biggest media company owns no content (Facebook), the largest transportation company owns no vehicles (Uber), the largest lodging company owns no properties (Airbnb) and the largest marketplace owns no real estate (Alibaba). Technical advancements, ubiquitous connectivity, proliferation of mobile devices combined with our understanding of how humans interact with machines and software has allowed creation of not just new businesses, but increased process efficiency within all industries.

Today, we have the convenience of getting what we need through online marketplaces and highly usable mobile applications that essentially serve as remote controllers, to perform most tasks in both our personal and professional lives. The term face-to-face no longer implies physical proximity, and is replaced with FaceTime-like interactions. The millennials are both drivers of and driven by democratization of information, interactions and transactions; although, adoption is far reaching across all age groups.

While the pace of digitization presents exciting entrepreneurial opportunities, it also presents tremendous risks to traditional businesses. Businesses that have enjoyed healthy growth in the past decade or two are facing fierce pressures from new entrants. Past experiences and knowledge are no longer sufficient to stay ahead. New competitors are both cursed and blessed by the fact that they do not have any pre-dispositions. Disruptive thinking, accelerated progress, relentless execution, unquenched drive, frictionless cultures, and venture capital are fueling new players.

The Path: Digital Transformation

The path forward for traditional businesses is clear. They could maintain status quo and continue to expose themselves to competition, or take the competition head on.  The businesses that have identified this challenge as an opportunity are engaged in digital transformation of their businesses. Digital transformation is not just about building faster software or launching a mobile application or adding the word “innovation” in your corporate marketing collateral. Digital transformation is re-thinking how your business engages with customers, partners, and even employees. Many successful, traditional enterprises are now re-thinking and changing the way they conduct business.

Chief Digital Officers are being appointed to strategically drive transformations across enterprises.  While it is important to understand engagement, customer journey mapping and create internal business cases, organizations are realizing that strategic planning must be balanced with measurable, rapid progress. Transformations do not happen overnight, and need not be deployed through a big-bang, enterprise-wide initiative. Transformation is an iterative process that initiates in a specific area of the business.

An agile, positive mindset is a must-have to identify the most valuable initiative to undertake that could serve as a catalyst to initiate the transformation. The most valuable initiative could be the area with highest visibility, the area requiring the lowest level of effort or a new initiative that has no dependencies to existing systems and processes.

Businesses must understand that perfection is a continuous process and an iterative approach is the highest value path as it allows for incorporating market feedback early while continuing rapid progress. It is no secret how a definite quick success in one specific area of the business can invigorate the entire organization and serve as a catalyst for the transformation.

Intelligent Hiring

Unless businesses have an infinite amount of technology budgets or investments, it is rarely the case that businesses can conjure up teams to take on a Digital Transformation project. User experience and design experts, product managers, customer engagement and strategic thinkers, data and machine learning scientists, architects, cyber security experts, and good developers and testers are not only hard to find, but require time to build cadence and camaraderie amongst themselves to be truly productive.

Businesses who leverage competent and reliable external partners have a higher chance of success for a variety of reasons, including speed-to-market, productivity, costs, and flexibility. Partners that integrate and work transparently provide the additional opportunity for businesses to benchmark their internal processes and productivity. Healthy competition is often necessary for champions to not just meet but rise above their potential.

Shaping the New Economy

The digital economy poses both a clear challenge and opportunity to traditional businesses. Many traditional business will go out of business losing out to new efficient start-up’s who leverage technology to operate. There is an opportunity for traditional businesses to re-establish their dominance by transforming themselves: leverage technology as a means to not only stay efficient, but acquire new customers/ audiences that want to communicate through digital properties, such as mobile applications, online market places and asynchronous communication (messaging). Business must invest in these initiatives, and they need to move with lightning speed.  Trying to do it all internally and by themselves is a recipe for disaster, given the urgency of the situation and the dearth in “good” technical talent. Businesses need to identify trusted development partners who they can lean on for helping them drive the change in an accelerated manner. There is no time for those classic in-house vs outsourced development debates. The only discussion that businesses need to have is who can help them meet their goals in the fastest, most flexible and affordable way.

10Pearls takes pride in serving as that trusted partner for many businesses who are digitally transforming themselves. 10Pearls expertise across all facets of building mobile and digital properties, i.e., User Experience & Design, Product Management, Architecture, Security, Machine Learning, Big Data & Analytics and Development is what allows us to serve as the “holistic” partner for many businesses. 10Pearls’ experience building mobile and digital solutions across various industry verticals, such as Financial Services, Healthcare, Fashion, Technology, Transportation & Logistics, Telecom & Media allows us to address challenges comprehensively. Ultimately, 10Pearls’ reputation in being the high-value, trusted partner that delivers is what wins us continuous business over our competition.

We look forward to helping businesses take charge and help shape the new economy!

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Missing the Mark with
Technical Debt

Software development has evolved dramatically. Mobile devices significantly changed how business is done and how software is written. An instantly connected world where actionable information flows end-end in near real-time has disrupted industries, catching businesses by surprise. They have two choices: evolve or go extinct.

Fueled by this urgency for change, business has increased pressure on IT leaders to produce more with less, and more importantly, to do it faster. The pressure to deploy new applications and features while maintaining legacy systems is a challenge faced by every IT leader. There is no time to take a breather or call for a moratorium on system deployments or releases. Both these priorities need to be juggled.

Incurring Technical Debt

When it comes to developing software, there are two paths software developers can take. They can ’take their time‘ to design it well, architect and develop it in a manner that makes future changes easier and faster to implement. Or, they can write something ‘quick and dirty’, and deliver the same features in an accelerated time frame knowing that changes and maintenance will be more difficult. Presented with both options, business leaders need a convincing argument to accept higher costs for a clean implementation when a messy solution delivers the same functionality and costs less. Why should they spend money on automated test coverage? There’s no immediate business value in automated test cases! Inevitably, the ‘quick and dirty’ solution is often the path that’s taken – and technical debt is incurred.

The Value of Technical Debt

Technical debt is often viewed negatively. It should not be. Compare technical debt to financial debt. Financial debt is often viewed as a strategic move, often used to strengthen the company, grow rapidly and acquire market share. It can be argued that technical debt is similar to financial debt. Sometimes it makes sense to write ‘spaghetti code’ and deliver features for the sake of making rapid progress and meeting customer/market needs. You want your competition to always be trying to catch up to you, and delivering features and product rapidly can help you keep your edge.

Missing the Mark

The key issue is how businesses manage this technical debt. Just like financial debt, technical debt becomes a major risk when it’s incurred without a strategy. At some point progress starts becoming expensive if all code needs to be re-worked and isn’t scalable.

While technical debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing, ignoring it will eventually manifest itself in the form of numerous issues. Classic symptoms of unattended technical debt are: reduced development velocity, bugs making it to production and unstable releases. All of these lead to a stressful working environment. This in turn creates friction within the organization where everyone looks for a scapegoat. Many organizations have fallen apart due to the erosion of trust between IT and business leaders due to the mismanagement of technical debt.

Unchecked technical debt opens up the door for competitors to overtake the business. Once the issues are bad enough to allow competitors an edge, dealing with technical debt becomes a business decision and often, it’s too late. It is critical that both business and IT leaders are involved in the strategic ‘pay down’ of technical debt.

Managing Technical Debt

Successful IT leaders are recognizing the importance of balancing business needs with technical excellence. They recognize that there is a time and place for the various approaches and standards, and that it is necessary to have a dynamic approach to delivering the needs of the business. In fact, one could argue that if you have no technical debt, you’re likely missing business opportunities.

It is important to recognize that in the future, time and resources have to be allocated to paying off technical debt. Having a strategy and sticking to it can keep you from missing the mark.

Putting Technical Debt to Work

There are several best practices when it comes to managing technical debt. One approach is to invest in incremental updates, where a certain percentage of ‘technical backlog’ is addressed during each release. An alternative approach is integrating structural changes into future major feature releases. This approach works well, when a new, exciting initiative, such as a implementing a Mobile App, invigorates the technology team to pay down some of the technical debt in parallel. Regardless of the approach, a pure refactoring effort with no new features or business value being delivered will be a hard sell to the business.

Effective management of technical debt is cost-efficient when competent development partners like 10Pearls are involved, especially when your customers are demanding innovative solutions. Working in tandem with existing internal technology teams or working independently to scale delivery, development partners can help reduce risk and stay ahead. The 10Pearls team is proud to be working with growing, disruptive businesses who are not only efficiently managing technical debt, but leveraging it to rapidly scale their business and overtake the competition.

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Mobile Security Without Sacrificing Speed

Speed wins the marketplace, and that’s especially true for mobile apps. If you can’t get from concept to version 1 quick enough, someone will beat you to it. The question becomes, how can you worry about mobile security when you’re so worried about speed to market? Is safety just as important as speed?

Studies have shown mobile devices are dominating the Internet. The majority of digital media consumption has moved from web browsers to mobile devices. More than 650 million Facebook users only interact with the service using mobile devices. And mobile security is also dominating the news. Gartner estimated that 75% of mobile apps would fail basic security tests. Constant press coverage of high-visibility breaches have increased awareness of security and privacy concerns.

How is it possible to address both speed to market, and mobile security?

At 10Pearls we help our customers address these concerns this with a three-layered approach. We focus on security early, integrate security into all processes, and enable continued testing and improvement after release.

Focus on Security Early

It’s never too early in the process to be thinking about mobile security. From the initial concept of the application, we begin to concern ourselves with what information might be at risk. Does the app have regulatory concerns, such as HIPAA or PCI? Are we storing or transmitting anything that could violate someone’s privacy? Put security issues into the discussion from the beginning. Then, architect and design the product to make it easier to secure during development.

Integrate Security into All Processes

Industry leaders know that it takes more than a handful of developers to create a valuable mobile app. The best mobile apps are developed by teams including product managers, system architects, user experience designers, and developers. Securing mobile apps requires investment and involvement at each step of the process. Product managers need to capture security requirements and ensure they make it into the final application. As mentioned, system architects should ensure the app’s architecture allows for security. User experience designers should work alongside security teams to make sure the security-related experiences are just as successful as the other parts of the application. And of course, developers can address mobile security by using secure development practices.

Enable Continuous Testing and Improvement

Even when addressing mobile security at each step of the app development process, items can be overlooked and mistakes can occur. To help combat this, perform continuous testing for mobile security concerns. We look for defects with automated regression testing, static code analysis, and vulnerability scanning. All these mechanisms feed into the backlog for the app development process. Security testing can (and should) continue after the app is delivered and while it is in a maintenance phase. Vulnerability research is always evolving, and it is possible a new class of vulnerability will render your app insecure in the future.

Conclusion: Approach Mobile App Initiatives Holistically

Securing mobile apps is critical. You don’t want your mobile app to end up as the headline in another news story about data breaches. Speed to market is also critical. You don’t want to be without an effective mobile strategy since fewer people use computers each day. An integrated, experienced team following the path above can help you achieve mobile security without sacrificing speed.

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Nurture Your Employees – An Open Secret to Success

Services businesses can only deliver value to their customers successfully if they address two important aspects, namely: talent management, and operational efficiency. Most companies fail to implement either, and end up incurring higher internal costs. These costs can grow due to employee turnover and deprecation of service quality, leading to customer attrition. It is important for businesses to understand how they can maximize the value they provide to their customers through talent management, and use it to increase overall efficiency and productivity.

When you are a small business, it is relatively easy to hand-pick great software developers. The reason is that you have the time to pick and choose the candidate that really fits the profile and company culture. However, when your software development services business is expanding rapidly, managing talent becomes one of the most challenging aspects. Without proper measures, software development services firms can lose their customers’ confidence in their ability to perform, affecting the overall health of the business.

Talent Management is a Strategic Investment

Talent management is more than just having the right recruitment, compensation and retention strategies. It consists of integrated processes designed to attract, select, engage, develop, inspire and retain the work force in an organization. The end goal of talent management is to create high performance, sustainable teams that propel the business to achieve its strategic objectives.

The process of talent management starts with recruitment of new employees. The Human Resources department needs to be viewed as a strategic investment versus being just a cost center. Human capital managers must be trained to appropriately identify and approach suitable talent that not only meet job requirements, but are also a fit to the business culture.

While it is necessary to have a formalized interview process requiring testing and qualification, it is equally important to look for emotional intelligence in candidates. For more junior candidates, specific patterns can be identified that can tell shed insights to a candidate’s hidden talents that may not be revealed on their resume.

Talent Management Requires Continuous Investment

Training and re-training is an essential part of talent nurturing. Just like “unschooling”, there are times when it is necessary to ensure that past unproductive patterns/ learnings be broken down. This is not trivial and usually involves giving the opportunity for contributors to learn by “throwing them at the deep end”. Pairing newly-hired employees with successful employees that have a longer tenure with the business accelerates in harnessing all the available skills of the workforce.

Last, but not least, all employees not only want to be paid fairly, but they also want to feel inspired and valued. Rewarding and appreciating employees is essential, and managers need to understand that recognizing their direct reports and colleagues only helps create a more friendly and productive environment.

Culture is Critical

The culture of comradery, learning and excellence is not trivial to establish. It requires strategic focus and investment by the business with the understanding the immediate benefits may not be apparent. When employees are engaged, they tend to be 20% more productive, and 87% less likely to leave, according to research.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of businesses to provide their employees an exciting environment of growth, where they are working with great brands in solving interesting challenges, and progressing professionally, intellectually and personally both individually and as a collective team.

Embrace the Talent Management Mentality

Nurturing employees and viewing them as an asset (Talent Management) is a mindset. It is important that the management of businesses not just understand, but honestly believe in Douglas McGregor’s Theory Y that employees, and more broadly, all humans are valuable and need to be intrinsically motivated.  Strategic leaders spend countless hours in designing talent management strategies. These strategies should be translated into actionable programs and be implemented in true spirit. All talent management programs should be results-oriented and measured periodically to ensure that specific outcomes are being achieved.

At 10Pearls, the entire management team leads by example in making sure that we are creating a culture of excellence, learning, self-improvement, respect, and most importantly fun.  We are focused on providing opportunities to our employees to engage and develop their skills on a variety of areas. We provide training opportunities, mentoring/guidance and exposure to situations to foster employee growth. Our commitment to emerging technologies, such as Machine Learning, Gaming, Big Data and Amplified Intelligence plays a large role in our mission to nurture our employees.

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Can we reduce risk through improved user experience?

“There’s an app for that!”

Popularized by Apple in 2008, this catchphrase indicates how ubiquitous mobile applications were becoming. From reading the news to starting your car, tracking exercise to finding a new job, we live an app-driven culture.

Increasingly, enterprises rely on mobile and web applications to get business done. Critical business is now performed exclusively in applications like Salesforce, SAP, Siebel, Netsuite, and PeopleSoft.

As enterprises accelerate their use of applications to share information, they often put that information at risk. Threats are everywhere, including system breaches, phishing attacks, and the work of malicious insiders.

How can an enterprise move forward in our app-driven culture without being overwhelmed by risk?

Improving user experience may be the key to reducing risk and increasing security.

Data, Information, and Applications

I define information as ‘data with context and value.’ Data is just a series of 1’s and 0’s. When you add the context of what that data means, the data can have value.

We build applications to provide context and intelligence, allowing individuals to access information — not data. As the pace of business increases, more access leads to more value creation. Similarly, more applications (and more access) means more potential value.

While more applications and access — from anywhere, on any device — creates value, it also increases risk.

Applications and Risk

A common way to think about security and risk is the “CIA” triad. Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability are the three main components to consider when thinking about the risks present to information. Some examples of how applications affect each part of the CIA triad:

Confidentiality: Increasing access to information creates value. It also creates risk, by making information more accessible and less confidential.

Integrity: If the application allows changing information, the information’s integrity may also be at risk.

Availability: Applications can also put the availability of information at risk, through denial-of-service or similar attacks.

In addition, there is always the potential of bad user actions. Whether intentional or unintentional, user application behavior may also increase risk.

It is unrealistic, unnecessary,  and not generally effective to reduce risk by limiting (or eliminating) access to applications. Putting up walls just keeps people from getting their work done, from creating value in the organization. And, it creates discord between value creators and information protectors.

Smart people find a way to get their jobs done. How, then, can we reduce risk while continuing to create value?

User Experience

Consider the importance of focusing on user experience and information architecture.

At 10Pearls, we place an emphasis on creating an enjoyable user experience by enabling users to navigate to the most important content and functionality in as few clicks or taps as possible. To build the best experience, we create optimized workflows to the most frequently used feature sets, design intuitive navigation paths, and take advantage of interface specific features.

connections (1)We do this with both manual experience and the use of carefully selected tools. There are tools for performing A/B or split testing to compare designs for effectiveness. Other tools can record user interactions and experiences to create analytics and capture errors. And even more tools for capturing user feedback while using the application.

It is incredibly powerful to understand where people are looking, where they are clicking, and what paths they are taking through an application. With this insight, you can reduce friction and create the best experience. Knowing how people use applications helps you to understand what information should be protected. It’s also valuable when something goes wrong during testing of an application, to know where someone was in the application and what they had clicked on in order to cause an error.

Can we reduce risk by improving user experience?

A key to improved user experience and reducing risk is the use of non-intrusive tracking and monitoring capabilities.

For example, an application that shares two types of information: basic and sensitive. Tracking reveals that 85% of application users only access the basic information on a daily basis. The other 15% need daily access to the sensitive information. This can inform our user experience in a few ways:

  • We can create different user types. Then, those that do not need access to the sensitive information can’t retrieve it.
  • We can change flows through the application to make it easy to get access to sensitive information only if needed. And make sensitive information harder to access otherwise.
  • We can help users understand the potential consequences of their actions. Give them steps they must acknowledge to access sensitive information or execute risky operations. We can also record these riskier operations for further review without overloading our systems or administrators.

By ensuring a smooth experience for the common, good, low-risk paths, we reduce the likelihood of accidental traversing into riskier behavior. And by ensuring the experience informs the user of their potential consequences, we can help increase awareness.

Tracking and monitoring tools can continue to have value outside of the user experience development as well. They can be leveraged to alert not just in the case of an error, but also in the case of unexpected or unusual behavior. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if someone has been clicking buttons madly for an hour, or if they did something that caused a file to be deleted?

What is your user experience?

Are you using an application that makes you click way too many times to get to the information you need? Do you see information that you know you probably shouldn’t? Is it too easy to export the company’s secret formula using the same application you use to enter your timesheet?

Reducing risk in applications begins with a great user experience. Getting the user experience right means gaining visibility into how people use the system. What are you waiting for?

Join me in a panel discussion to discuss how to operationalize these ideas as part of a broader conversation about automating visibility into critical applications on Thursday March 26th. The discussion will occur live at 1pm Eastern (1700 UTC) and is hosted by SANS Institute and ObserveIT. You can register for the panel here: https://www.sans.org/webcasts/live-panel-discussion-risk-data-exposure-application-usage-99427



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Why We Can’t Use Outside Software Developers – Excuse #441

“We believe that by building our own in-house team we’ll be more valuable.”

Well I believe that if you don’t get a quality product to market quickly, you’re going to get your clock cleaned. You’re going to be late to market. You’re going to have no revenue. You’re going to be worth a big fat goose-egg and you know what? Being five times more valuable because you own your own capital draining resources gives you a shorter runway to be of any value. Being 5 times more valuable than zero because you own your own resources is five times zero. It’s still zero.

Maybe it’s right. Maybe owning your own resources does increase the value of a company. Yet nothing increases value more than revenue and usually you need a product for revenue.

Let’s put this in NFL terms. Since 1976 the 6 expansion teams entered the league. Not one of those teams finished with a winning record. The best of them, the Carolina Panthers won a commendable 44% of their games while as a group the winning percentage was 21 percent.

Win %
1976Tampa Bay Buccaneers0140%
1976Seattle Seahawks21214%
1995Carolina Panthers7944%
1995Jacksonville Jaguars41225%
1999Cleveland Browns21413%
2002Houston Texans41225%

Ever watch the NFL Pro-Bowl? Because according to their ratings, you were the other person that sat through that crappy show. If you were expecting to watch two pick-up teams play a complicated game that is dependent on strategy, coordination, discipline and the knowledge of a teammates habits, strengths and weaknesses and expected to see good football… you were surely disappointed. Continue…

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The #1 Way To Avoid Software Development Change Order Hell?

Imagine putting out a bid for a home.

You ask for 5 bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. You want a large eat-in kitchen with stainless steel, top-of-line appliances. You put it out to bid to 5 contractors and get 3 bids. All priced within 20% of each other.

You check out the homes built by the least expensive bidder and they’re beautiful. It’s a no-brainer… you select the low-bidder.

When the home is completed exactly as you asked, the only problem: you didn’t ask for windows and doors. You didn’t get any either. That’s going to take a change order.

In most cases your dream home is not actually a “specific” type of home; the reason being… no one else has built that kind of home. The idea is unique or has a twist that has not been implemented in the market. The bidding party makes assumptions about what you really want in order to provide a fixed-cost proposal. In most likelihood, these assumptions will vary from bidder to bidder. You end up with a new headache, i.e., a price variation of 10x across your partners responding to the RFP.

Often times we get bids at 10Pearls and we know they’re deficient. Usually the client fails to specify the administrative tasks required to manage users, permissions, security, and redundancy… the boring stuff. Much like the doors and windows priced in on the high-priced home bids. In other cases, we get the “dream house” specifications, where even the major details have not been completely fleshed out. For example, is the house going to be three levels, a ranch-style home or actually an efficiency apartment?

It is no secret that more often than not, software development projects run over budget and time. When the job is finally done, the bait and switch change orders result in a 60-day delay and a 50% increase in cost.

There are 2 ways to avoid this scenario:

  1. Engage A Trusted Firm To Perform A Discovery Needs Analysis Process – hire a firm that develops software applications for a living to do a needs analysis and develop a professional scope of work. That’s the equivalent of engaging an architect to design your home. That’s the way to ensure that your application has the right number of windows and doors. Then put that out to bid, or;
  2. Engage With Complete Transparency – share your budget, your needs and have the firm share their rates. Then manage the product in an agile fashion. By ‘agile’, we mean “a group of software development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. It is a conceptual framework that focuses on delivering working software with the minimum amount of work.” (Wikipedia)

At 10Pearls, we are experts in developing comprehensive software requirements documents, where every nut and bolt is specified; or if you prefer, we are Agile Software Development Artists. We actually have great success in running a hybrid process, where we take practices from Waterfall and combine them with the values of Agility. This guarantees that while development is iterative, we maintain a handle on overall costs and delivery timelines.

What we’re not? While our rates are extremely competitive, we’re rarely going to be the low cost Vendor on an RFP because we never leave out the doors or windows. We’re not in the business of ‘bait and switch’ where you will have multiple change orders slapped on you.

We engage as true partners. Our business is based on the satisfaction of our customers and the word-of-mouth recommendations that loyal customers fervently produce.

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Top Washington DC Investors on Twitter

Every year StatSocial (owned by PeekAnalytics, Inc) releases their list of the Top 1,000 Tech Investors On Twitter. This year saw 5 new Washington DC area investors join the list: Maria Thomas, Tien Wong, Jonathan Aberman, Harry Weller and John Burke. 10Pearls’ own Glen Hellman made the list for the third year in a row, while Steve Case and Ted Leonsis cracked the top 100. All the DC area investors moved up on the list with only one investor, Acceleprise’s, Sean Glass dropping from the top 1000.

This is a positive turn of events as it reflects higher entrepreneurial and venture capital activity. DC has been aspiring to fuel both growth and entrepreneurial activity, especially in the tech sector.

Here are the DC Area investors that made the list:

DC Rank
Last Year
Twitter Handle
11124Steve Case@stevecaseRevolution45999067
279170Ted Leonsis@TedLeonsisRevolution7158045
3106241Paul Singh@paulsinghCrystal Tech5565984
4309-Maria Thomas@pesmouAngel1572551
5360-Tien Wong@tienwongAngel1238036
6429515Jonathon Perrelli@perrelliFortify.vc1013385
7464623John Backus@jcbackusNew Atlantic Ventures920114
8568686Glen Hellman@glehelStardust Venture Partners676046
9607908Thanasis DelistathistdelistathisNew Atlantic Ventures614073
10638733Tige Savage@tigesavageRevolution560802
11669694Don Rainey@drainey1Grotech Ventures507827
12781-Jonathan Aberman@jabermanAmplifier372262
13809-Harry Weller@harrywellerNEA331513
14858-John Burke@andemcaTrue Ventures270246

PeekAnalytics is an enterprise-class social audience measurement platform that provides rich consumer insights to marketers allowing them to better identify and qualify social audiences. What Nielsen® did for television and radio audiences and ComScore® did for web traffic audiences – PeekAnalytics claims to do for social audiences.

This list of the top technology investors on Twitter is ranked by one of PeekAnalytics’s key metrics – what they call the Pull Quotient (PQ) is a good measure of how influential any given Twitter audience is, compared to the average Twitter account – 1x is average, 2x is twice as much as average, and so on. Influence, for the purposes of this calculation, is gauged by how well connected someone’s Twitter followers are not just on Twitter, but across sixty social sites, compared to the average consumer.

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