Blog

integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

Tag: professional services

The 10% factor: taking longer than planned

July 4th, 2017

Routine I.T. fixes are usually quick, whether it be at the software, middleware or database level. Experienced I.T. professional service providers have a track record and method for resolving some of the most common problems.

However, sometimes despite everyone's best efforts, the perceived simple solution becomes a time-consuming fix. This is nerve-wracking for the I.T. professional, and frustrating for the client. Extra time required can cause business delays and create additional cost.

After years of working on I.T. issues both big and small, we can give a general idea for how long it will take to resolve common problems. But about 10% of the time, despite our experience and best efforts, the resolution takes longer than we anticipate. In our profession, we refer to this as the 10% factor, which every I.T. professional encounters.

Here are some things we do to prepare for this situation.

Communicate

When speaking with a client about their I.T. problem, we clearly communicate the possibility of the 10% factor up front. We let them know that while our goal is to resolve their problem in the estimated time period, sometimes issues take longer. We also know that our professionals have an extreme desire to solve the issue which we openly recognize as the catch-22 in managing expectations.

This conversation allows us to discuss appropriate expectations. We believe this is the first step in transparent, honest service to our clients.

Plan

Once appropriate expectations are set, we create a plan. This plan will include what the client desires if we encounter issues that will extend the time we originally estimated regarding the problem.

Some clients tell us to keep working on the issue until it is resolved. Other clients want to be notified immediately of any challenges the technician encounters in order to make decisions based on that conversation.

Discuss Risk

As human beings, we unfortunately often avoid discussions of risk. Yet, we know that effective planning includes identifying potential risk. We want our clients to have insight into the remedy for which they are hiring us, and educating them about possible risks and solutions is part of that discussion.

We want to help you resolve your I.T. issues so your business keeps moving forward. We believe communication, planning, and discussion of risk is the best way to tackle any issue.

If you have questions regarding this or any other I.T. challenge, please contact us to discuss how LSG Solutions can serve your business.

Comments: None

Winning the software development wars

October 18th, 2016

software-warChances are if you’ve worked in the software development world, you know the debates that rage regarding different development environments. Some developers wave the Java flag, while others hang on to .NET. At LSG Solutions, we believe customers should be comfortable with whatever development tool is being used.

LSG specializes in Java, .NET, and Oracle Application Express. We think that providing options allows us to meet the unique needs of our customers.

Past experience has shown us that while Java and .NET remain the heavy hitters in the industry, many of our clients simply don’t need their complexity.

Think of building a house. Some people want to build a custom home, with endless design options. The customization will allow them to have a truly unique house, but the trade-off is an extended build time. For others, having a quality home built with a quick turn-around time is the most important thing. Customization takes a back seat to efficiency.

These software development options offer the same type of scenario, making it ever more important to work with an organization who understands your unique business needs.

For companies needing something extremely complex, like a trading platform, the flexible customization of Java or .NET is essential. However, a business needing a simple platform developed quickly will find that Oracle Application Express is a better fit.

Over the years, we’ve found that businesses usually make their software development decisions based on the existing environment they have in place. If, for example, a past developer used Java, that customer will naturally gravitate to Java.

By partnering with LSG Solutions, we can help you understand which available options may be best for your needs. Since we specialize in Java, .NET, and Oracle Application Express, we have the flexibility and expertise to provide a custom solution for you.

You won’t get caught in the crossfire of developers championing their own favorite platform. By working with us to figure out what best suits your needs, you come out the winner every time.

Questions? Reach out to us today to discuss your options, and find out how we can help your business move forward.

Comments: None

We’re ready to take our relationship to the next step

August 2nd, 2016

Choosing a backup and recovery partner is a lot like choosing your partner for life. You’re looking for someone to be by your side in the best and worst of times. Sometimes, it even can feel like a competition to get the best backup provider.

You need a strong partner who can protect you. After all, there’s a world of problems out there and those solutions aren’t in most people’s wheelhouse. Start asking random folks what they know about the cloud and you’ll see what we mean. The data world is complicated and without a caring mate, it’s easy to get in trouble and lose data that makes it critical for your business to operate.

Care is also important. And we don’t stop caring. In fact we care 24 hours a day and seven days a week, which is how often we’re available for technical support or to start recovery in the case of a disaster. To some of those backup bachelors out there, you’ll just be a number, just another notch in the server rack and nothing more. Don’t fall for their sweet talk and limited-time promotions. Choose somebody who really cares about you all the time.

Now, you’ve got to know that we’re in this for the long haul. If we weren’t serious about a relationship with your business, we wouldn’t put all of our qualifications on the table. You can see them here. If you would choose to give your company’s data heart to our Biz-E line of services, you’d feel safe knowing that our mission is to give you peace of mind.

It’s scary out there. There are countless ways to stumble and create a lot of problems. But when you have somebody serious about caring for you by your side, it takes an edge off the worry.

So what do you think? Do you see us together?

Comments: None

Oracle resources for developers of all skill levels

July 5th, 2016

Online researchWhether you’re in search of information about a specific application that you’re working on or simply want to learn more about Oracle, there’s a place for all of your needs - Apex.world.

What is Apex.world and what can you do there?

Apex.world is a community for the discussion of all things Oracle. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this community is that it’s a place where developers of all skill levels can network and exchange information outside of the world of conferences. For many developers, this is a way to meet and learn from the best in the industry.

This forum isn’t only a place to find information about your projects. Apex.world also frequently features announcements about job openings, conferences, presentations, code sharing, and more.

What makes Apex.world so special?

There were plenty of resources for Oracle before Apex.world came around. However, these resources were very spread out. If you were new to Oracle and searching for help, finding it could be a daunting process. The founders of Apex.world brought all of that information to one location. Using the Slack platform, they made it easy for people to get answers from other specialists.

Who is Apex.world for?

To put it simply, Apex.world is a community for anybody involved with Oracle. Developers at all stages of learning will find content that’s helpful for them. Apex.world is also a great place for managers and recruiting agencies who are looking for talent.

The most common use of Apex.world, though, is to help developers finish excellent work. Developers value this community as a resource that will help them complete projects and get the desired results form Oracle.

Comments: None

Non-innovative software development

March 15th, 2016

I'm not listening“The customer is always right” can lead to a disaster if followed too literally. Obviously, software developers shouldn’t try to override their client’s needs or ignore requests, but there’s always a reason for a business to hire outside IT assistance. It’s typically because the staff at that business have reached a problem that lies outside their scope of expertise, and they want someone with software development expertise to help them solve it.

A developer should trust that the client knows what they want on a high-level, but it’s unfair to assume that they know all the details or best-practices of how they need to get there. They wouldn’t have called for help if they did!

We recently spoke with a client about their experience with a large systems integrator company whose technicians made that exact assumption.

These technicians did the bare minimum work in order to achieve exactly what the client requested. So, for example, when the client asked for a form with fields for different entries, the developers did just that. They didn’t talk with the clients about the options of how to achieve that end result, or make any suggestions for slight variations that could mean a much more efficient system.

When these clients asked their former IT team why the fields didn’t autofill any repeat entries, the developers responded that since they weren’t asked specifically to do that, they didn’t do it. Their mission was to fulfill requirements at a minimum effort and nothing more, offering no innovation or suggestions.

Here’s why this is so problematic: IT is the expertise of the software development team, not their client’s expertise. Even when a client has a substantial background in new system development, their reasonable expectation is that they’ve hired experienced professionals to do the work. They shouldn’t have to explain user-interface best-practices to them!

Another way to look at it is thinking about a different type of work. If someone hires me to paint their room blue, there are some questions that I will ask them and some assumptions that I will make because of my experience. I’ll ask them what color blue and if they want anything special done, and then I will use my own best judgment on how to do that best.

If I painted a room with a toothbrush and didn’t use painter’s tape or a tarp on the floor, it would be silly of me to object that you didn’t tell me to use a roller and tape or protect your floor! Those things fall under the realm of expertise that can reasonably be expected.

The most striking part of our conversation with our clients about the team that they worked with in the past came out in a meeting. One of the staff members made a great point, saying “We didn’t know what they didn’t know!”

The bottom line is, no one can read minds. When you hire a developer, programmer, or an entire IT team, that starts a conversation between all parties. Everyone needs to be transparent about the decisions that are made, but also take ownership for those decisions.

When both parties put themselves in the shoes of the other party, good communication will occur and that’s how problems get solved.

Comments: None

Common software development myths

March 1st, 2016

crazy businessman thinkingUsually, clients have some kind of stereotype in their minds when they hire a team to do software development for them. Even IT professionals who don’t specifically do software development have assumptions about those of us who do!

As common as those expectations are, they aren’t always helpful for building clear communication between a business and the software developers they’ve hired. Here are 5 myths that we see pretty often-and the truths behind them.

1. Once the site is ‘up’ or the software application is now in production, the software developer’s work is done.

Your software is never done. Enhancements and fixes are ongoing because the system is never perfect upon ‘go-live’. Think about the iPhone, or Google. Those technologies aren’t really ever “finished” because developers are providing updates to fix bugs and add even better features.

2. Software developers should be given as much freedom as possible. Direction will only halt their creativity.

From a creativity standpoint, having unlimited time and resources for a project would be a luxury, but even then some direction from the client’s Project Manager is necessary to make sure the design and development fits within the budgets of time, feasibility and money. Every software development project LSG drives, there are constraints, so total freedom isn’t realistic. It’s important to discuss the boundaries for a project so all parties know what’s expected.

3. The customer’s the expert on their project, not the developer. They should be able to explain what they want so the developer doesn’t have to ask questions or make suggestions.

The majority of our customers will tell us some version of: “Look, if you can think of a better way to do this, please tell us and help us find the best solution.” Businesses should definitely know what their high-level needs are, but it’s the developer’s expertise that will help them get there. Open communication between both parties is crucial here.

4. If you don’t like interacting with people, you should do software development.

Anyone above a junior level programmer should be able to make suggestions about how to do things better in a respectful way. Programmers regularly need to run ideas by clients, discuss budget and technology, and have conversations about what’s actually reasonable for each project. Good people skills will help developers do those things with tact and respect. By the way, the junior-level programmer should be collaborating with the senior-level staff.

5. The shiniest, newest, most exciting technical system is always the best solution.

Most of the time, it’s the simplest system that wins the day. That’s the system that is the easiest to maintain and the one that improves morale. The goal is not for developers to impress their clients with IT glitter, but to help businesses have systems that operate well even when the developers are not physically there.

Good software developers know that they’re providing a service to their clients by sharing their expertise to solve IT problems. Communication between developers and their clients will help debunk some of these myths so that everyone can do their work well.

Comments: None

Managed service provider for internal benefit

February 16th, 2016

Managed servicesBusiness leaders are often reluctant to outsource IT work for a variety of reasons. Whether this leads to hiring someone to manage IT operations or expanding an existing employee’s workload, internally managing the online infrastructure required to operate a successful business requires a costly investment of time for, and often salary, payroll tax, and benefits.

The complexity of infrastructure configurations continues to increase, meaning that time spent by employees learning how to build horizontal architectures and develop and/or maintain the necessary software is time that cannot be used to innovate or focus exclusively on work that generates revenue. A managed service provider like LSG can provide those services more efficiently and affordably, allowing employees to channel their energy more profitably.

The learning curve for new technology is steep. Why spend company time and money for employees to stay on top of each progression when a managed service provider already keeps up with the latest advances?

Internal employees may have little incentive to learn a new software as quickly as possible, but people who love their professional services job will likely go home and read about the technology on their own time. A technician who has been studying a new system by reading and practicing on their own computer will be excited for the chance to implement that system in a real-world setting, benefiting an actual company. This also ensures that internal employees don’t lose valuable time they could spend on their existing projects learning technology that will become obsolete in the future.

While LSG may not be familiar with the operations of a new client’s business, we offer extensive experience in managing IT systems. When a company’s internal employees bring their knowledge of the everyday operations of their business and combine it with our proven track record of providing technological solutions to business problems, we efficiently help businesses achieve results.

For a longer discussion on the increasing complexity of technological solutions, check out this article from Forbes.

Comments: 3

Small businesses need big solutions

February 2nd, 2016

Small businesses big solutionsAs a managed service provider, LSG works with businesses in a variety of industries to creatively solve problems by drawing upon years of technological expertise. Having IT assistance reliably available, especially for a small business, can mean the difference between a productive week and a week of inoperable systems and unhappy customers.

Not everyone is comfortable outsourcing their IT solutions, though. Here are some fears that keep people from partnering with a managed service provider:

  • Will our technician be available when needed?
  • Are service fees and surcharges going to wreck our budget?
  • Will internal employees feel threatened or unappreciated?
  • Do I want to admit that I need help in this area of my business?
  • If the IT people make money when our system is down, do they have our best interests at heart?

While we at LSG can’t speak for every professional services company out there, we know that our job is to keep you going-to make sure that your systems are operational so that you can do the work you need to grow your business. How will you have time to be an innovator if your time is eaten away by keeping up with the constant progression of technology?

We are in the business of enabling companies to achieve and sustain their annual and long-term growth goals, and we do that in a variety of ways. Our flat-rate pricing ensures that our clients can effectively budget for our services.

We can assist with everything from the simple things that create the dreaded backlog (like collecting data or adding fields to existing forms) to large-scale management of servers and networks (including moving databases to new servers or creating an infrastructure for your business’s software needs).

We wrote a blog post last year explaining how DBA services help business owners. By partnering with us to provide IT solutions, business leaders can choose to hire staff that will increase their bottom line and still rest assured that their online programs will run smoothly.

Comments: None

How Biz-E Changes SMB IT

January 5th, 2016

Small business IT solutionSmall to medium businesses face particular challenges not seen in large business. One of the most notable is managing IT needs. From data inaccessibility to the changing face of mobile systems, IT demands on organizations can be problematic.

For most SMBs, changing technology along with hiring a dedicated IT employee is simply cost prohibitive. LSG understands the challenge and has developed a solution.

What is Biz-E?

As a way to meet the data needs of small business, we developed Biz-E. Biz-E provides managed computer services for small to medium businesses. Imagine being able to concentrate on your business production instead of spending countless hours on IT problems.

Why Biz-E Works

One of the major benefits of Biz-E is the tight control over IT costs that it gives. Businesses can sign up for a plan that fits their needs, enabling them to plan for fixed IT expenses.

Another benefit is accessibility to talented IT professionals. Stop searching for IT professionals. Biz-E service allows organizations constant IT support from professionals who understand small business needs and timelines.

Biz-E also serves to bridge the divide between data stored in the Cloud and a business’s other office systems. We can provide greater accessibility and interface of stored data. This saves business owners times and resources.

Meeting the Challenge

Maybe you don’t think your business is big enough to warrant managed computer services. Maybe your business is experiencing rapid growth, and you’re unsure of what your future IT needs will be. Whatever the case, LSG Solutions can help you craft a plan to meet your specific needs.

Contact us for more information on Biz-E or any of our other IT services. We stand ready to help you move your business forward.

Comments: None

Sex Offender Notifications

October 6th, 2015

Easy alertsOver the past few years, we have continued to update Oklahoma’s Sex Offender Registry. We have worked to ensure the system is current and easy to access. We believe it not only keeps the community informed, but also provides people peace of mind.

One of the features we’re particularly proud of is the email alerts. Users can go to Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, and sign up to be alerted when a sex offender registers their residence address in the radius of your specified address.

For example, you could enter your home address and set the radius for one mile. After entering an email address for the alerts to be sent to, you will receive notification if a sex offender registers an address in that radius. We recommend you register your children’s school too.

The feature also allows you to set multiple physical addresses for one email address. So, you may want alerts for a radius around your home, family member’s home or other location you frequent.

Benefits of the Alert

The alert feature allows you to receive notification in real time. As soon as an offender registers an address and a law enforcement agency adds it to the registry, the system automatically sends out alerts if the address is within the radius of a location you selected.

The ease of use is another benefit of the feature. You simply enter a physical address, a radius of 1, 3 or 5 miles, your email, and first and last name. There are no passwords to set up or remember. You simply need your email address to maintain your monitored locations.

Finally, when you are notified by email of an alert in your selected area, a link is sent with the email. You simply click on the link and are taken to the system. From there, you can search and learn more about the offender.

Our Commitment

At LSG Solutions, we are committed to the continued development and improvement of the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry. We believe a registry with current, easy-to-find information is essential in keeping the community informed. We believe this feature will benefit law enforcement agencies and communities alike.

Comments: None

CONTACT

501 E. 15th St., Suite 200B
Edmond, OK 73013
(405)285-2500
info@lsgsolutions.com