Different Types of Hospitality Management Systems

Hospitality management systems are the software that runs your hospitality business. From the food ordering system in your restaurant, to online accommodation booking software, it enables efficient communication and management of your operation, ultimately increasing revenues.

With a range of hospitality management systems to choose from, understanding what is offered is important in order to find the right system that is tailored for your needs and budget. Depending on the type of operation you manage, you should consider the following systems, their advantages and suitability to your company.

Accommodation management software:

Accommodation software packages range from those aimed at B&Bs and small motel owners to ones for running big hotels, clubs and resorts. The basic package offers simple guest and room management, while the more complex ones cover every aspect needed to manage and run a big hotel chain. This includes reservations, service, retail, inventory, staff roster and training, accounting and much more.

Front desk: A front office software package should enable reception staff to keep track of all bookings, state of rooms, guest details and charges, coordinate restaurant reservations for guests, plan housekeeping duties and process guest check-in and check-out. They should also provide a means to communicate effectively with all travel agents and activity operators linked to the system. Features you should look out for include: Reports for arrivals & departures on a specific date. Guest ledger and reservation details, including activities and special requests. Room rates, discounts, package deals, group bookings, etc. Visual schematic of hotel rooms and status. Visual schematic of calendar with room availability. Facility for printing check-in cards for guests. Flexibility in re-assigning guests to different room. Facility to easily add charges to rooms from restaurants, spa, gift shop, etc. Incorporate all payment options upon check-out and print receipt. Print work roster for staff Facilities for storing guest history Communicate efficiently with reservation and travel agents

Housekeeping/maintenance software: Easy-to-use software for the housekeeping and maintenance departments of your accommodation place will increase the efficiency of cleaning and servicing of rooms. Main features of this module will be: Keeping track of room status – dirty, cleaned, inspected, check-ins and check-outs, etc. All information such as number of guests, number of beds, length of stay, special requests (e.g. baby cot, high chair) should be visible to both housekeeping staff and management. Staff can enter maintenance issues as they arise, and those are automatically sent to the maintenance department. Staff can request cleaning materials and toiletries ordered. Staff can keep track of laundry status for uninterrupted linen supply.

Online reservation system: This software package is essential to any accommodation place. It helps you increase direct online bookings instantly. Prospective guests can view hotel rooms (size, choice of beds), availability and prices, plus services and facilities offered. The systems should have instant confirmation of credit card payments or other secure online payment method. After payment of deposit and confirmation by email, guests should be able to login to view or change their reservation details. Cancellation policies should be stated, airport transport options mentioned.

Hospitality management systems for point of sale (POS) operations: This includes restaurants and bars, the hotel gift shop, spa, tour desk and other guest services. It should have the options of direct payment or charge to room. Apart from recording normal vending operations, it should include issuing daily transaction reports to management or the accounting office, and a daily revenue report.

In the POS sector there are many operating hospitality management systems catering for the food vendor sector, namely restaurants, cafés, takeaway shops and delis.

Restaurant (POS) management packages. For POS management packages, you have the choice of an off-the-shelf system for restaurants and cafes, where you can set the options that suit your operation, or a customised one, specifically configured for your business. Most systems are quite easy to use and are cost effective. Their features vary, but most offer the following: Order taking, tallying, and cashier options using a hand-held PDA system. Credit-card processing interface Receipts customized for your business. The more advanced systems also offer: Integrating all transactions with your accounting software. Full inventory/stocktaking facility Translation facilities to selected languages.

Administration software: This module is directed at top management and offers access to all levels of the organization. It provides instant access to the data base of all sectors, ensuring total transparency of operations Overseeing and early intervention by senior staff can prevent mistakes being made by inexperienced employees and save money and the reputation of your business. · Other facilities in this package may include:

Tools for setting different rate systems for rooms and services: daily, seasonal, special promotions, etc. Statistical data – percentage occupancy over set periods, and other data used for policy making and customized reports for board meeting presentations. Organizing promotions and package deals. Inventory for different departments. Employee accounts and employee training programs

Remember: with the high staff turnover common to the hospitality industry, it is important to choose a system that needs minimal training to use, and has ‘secure areas’, which only authorised personnel (with the proper clearance) may access and use.

Choosing and introducing hospitality management systems for your business is a significant undertaking, both operationally and financially. But once up and running, the system will increase efficiency, cut costs and improve the service in your company. You will have happier staff and happier guests, who will promote your business and ultimately increase your revenue.

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Computer Viruses Problems and Solutions

We all are now aware with the term Computer Viruses

Let’s understand this simple definition: Computer Viruses can be considered as small software application which tends to take control over computer operation. The computer virus may delete contents from the hard disk and even take a ride on e-mail programs to become pandemic. Computer viruses be in various formats like in form of images, audio or video files. They may spread while downloading files from the Internet. Sometimes they may be purchased along with the pirated software too.

Let’s concentrate on symptoms of Viruses

There can be difficulty in accessing any disk or drive. The system might be running slow. Sometimes it may freeze. You may see distorted menus and dialog boxes. Any program may disappear on its own without any action. Sometimes you may see some new icons on the desktop. Application will not be running smooth. You may get error of any system file missing. Your windows may restart automatically sometimes. If you see this kind of symptoms on your system, then install any latest version of anti virus which you think compatible with the Operating System you have. Scan your system for the Computer Viruses. Even in severe condition you may need to format your system completely.

Let’s see what we can do to remove a Virus

You need to apply a Computer Viruses removal tools for the purpose. Sometimes you may find specific problems which are associated with some unwanted software programs which carries Computer Viruses You may get those viruses again in your system after uninstalling those programs. So you should be very much smart while choosing for the Tools for Computer Viruses removal.

To remove virus, follow these steps

1. Visit the Microsoft website to get latest updates from Microsoft Updates.

2. Perform regular scanning of your system with any updated Anti- Virus.

3. Download, install, and then run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool to remove Computer Viruses the system.

Preventive measure for Computer Virus

Its highly recommended you to keep your Operating systems updated. If you are not online don’t forget to check for Windows updates frequently. This is important because the Virus creator always tries to make use of any void in your Operating System to install their software Computer Viruses. If you are online user then make sure that your web browser is also an updated one. Try to use the most compatible and latest of the Web browser may be from any one like IE, Firefox, Opera or anyone else, because the Virus writer always tries to find mistakes in your browser.

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Why Computer Hardware Is Important

In this day and age, it is hard to deny the influence of technology in our lives. We live in an era where pretty much is automated and computerized. And amidst all the technological advancement that humankind has achieved, one important device has been created that will only sure to become more relevant to our lives as technology progresses, the computer. No one can deny that computers are now an essential part of our lives, the same way a cell phone and television does. It is safe to say that in this day and age, having no computer would be an inconvenience. Which is why it is important that we know the way our computer works so that we would be aware of the things that we should do in case it stops working. The hardware of the computer is considered to be the most important because without it, it will simply not work.

Simply put if you know how to handle the hardware of a computer and know each of their function for the unit, then you can easily determine what the problem is in case the unit stops functioning. In order to be familiar with basic computer troubleshooting, then you also need to be familiar with computer hardware. A good example of this is the memory of the computer (RAM). All programs and applications that are ran in a computer needs memory. Without RAM it simply will not function. Aside from that, even if you have a RAM but it does have the specifications to keep up with the programs that are being run, then the operation would have slowed down to a crawl. So when it comes to computer hardware, you have to make sure that it is not obsolete, so you need to upgrade depending on what sort of program that you are usually using.

When handling computer hardware, you have to keep in mind some safety measures so you can manipulate the unit safely. Before opening any computer cases, you have to make sure that the unit is unplugged or you might risk electrocution or shocks. While checking your hardware components, always check for damaged parts because that is most likely the one that is causing problems. When inserting components and parts, you have to remember that if it does not fit, then most likely you are inserting it on the wrong slot. If it does not fit, then do not force it or you will risk breaking the component. Before touching any parts inside the unit, make sure that you discharge yourself first by through a grounded metal object or you can use an anti-static wrist strap or mat which is sold in stores for cheap.

By knowing and analyzing every computer hardware part you will know about its importance and if it ever breaks down then you can perform the proper troubleshooting steps. Every hardware component is important for the computer's operation. The performance of your computer largely depends on how good your hardware is, so be sure that they are always in good working condition.

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Website Design – Hardware and Software Tools You May Need

Before you get started with your new website or editing your current site, you need to consider which hardware and software tools you may need to support your efforts.

When it comes to hardware needed this can be very simple or reasonably complex depending on your particular needs. Of course, if you plan to create a new website (or even view your new website later) you need a computer. Simple enough, right? Not necessarily. We prefer to work with Apple Macintosh (OSX Leopard on MacBook Pro) as we do a lot of intensive graphics work and have previously invested in Adobe Creative Suite software (Photoshop, InDesign, Flash, Dreamweaver, etc.). It is just as easy to create your new website using your Windows PC but we would suggest you stay away from using Windows Vista (any version) and migrate to Windows 7 or stick with Windows XP. These operating systems are just much more stable and reliable.

Another consideration for hardware should be some sort of backup hard drive or removable USB memory stick(s). It is important that you back up all of your website data to a removable drive in the event your computer crashes, is broken or is stolen. When you create website files, most of your data will be stored on the website hosting servers but, in many cases, you will have many other “builder files” that usually never make it to the hosting servers. If you lose this data you will be forced to start from scratch in many cases. Another piece of hardware that many forget about is a HD Video Camcorder. If you plan to include video on your site, you should be investing in something half decent; you can normally pick up a good video camera that also captures “still photos” for under $500.00.

When it comes to software needed, this can be somewhat more complicated, again depending on what your website design goals are. At the very least, you will need some sort of text editing software, FTP (file transfer software), graphics creation software and then a variety of other tools as you progress.

Here are some of the most common subjects you should consider when planning the design of your website product.

COMPUTER

Do you currently have a computer that can process large files (i.e. – video files) quickly and efficiently?

WEBSITE SERVER

Are you planning to host your own website portal? If so, do you know what type of hardware and server software you will need?

BACKUP HARD DRIVE or USB STICK

Do you currently have some sort of backup hard drive equipment or plan?

VIDEO CAMERA

Will you be creating custom videos for your website and, if so, do you have a HD video camera ready to go?

MOBILE WEB DEVICES

Are you planning to make your website “mobile web friendly”? If so, do you have an iPhone and an iPad? Android phone? Blackberry device? These will be needed for testing purposes!

WEBSITE CREATION SOFTWARE

Do you have any website creation software (i.e. – Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Front Page) installed, licensed and ready to use?

GRAPHICS EDITING SOFTWARE

Are you planning to create your own website graphics or edit pictures? Do you have the necessary software (i.e. – Adobe Photoshop or Photo Studio)?

DATABASES

Are you planning on creating a database for your website and, if so, do you know which software to use for this purpose?

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What Are the Advantages of Using a Web Based Project Management System

Every project needs a large number of people for the completion of any task. Projects are of several kinds, and there capacity level is also variant. In order to help the managers control all tasks, management system was introduced. Project management system is used to make the managers feel easy. The first type of a project management system is manual.

However, nowadays much web-based project management software is available in the market. There is no need to process data manually. Everything is computerized; managers just have to enter the basic information into the system. Nowadays, lots of project managers are opting for web-based project management systems. They have access to the web-based project management software’s, and tools.

Using a web-based management system has several benefits. Project managers can reach their computers from anywhere, not only computers, but they can also contact their team members and check the progress of work. Discussing any problems that arise with the team is a lot easier. Team members can also interact with each other via e-mail.

Project scheduling is the basic solution of web-based task management plan in a large organisation. In many ways a web-based activity management plan can help your managers achieve optimum results. Whether a project is based on finance, marketing, construction, or information technology (IT), and web-based project management plan can help t.

Web-based activity management plan helps managers to make a proper scheduling plan of the project. Web-based software has many tools which help in managing time, and activities. The software includes spreadsheets, network diagrams, or Gantt charts to control the task management scheme.

In project-management scheme, HTML, ASP, or PHP are the supported languages coded into the software, and browser. The team can access it through a web browser. Moreover, main software is installed on to the server for multiple clients.

Project management scheme helps managers to supervise all the team easily. If the manager finds any team member late in the completion of the task, he/she can track the problem, and change that member, thus, avoiding any delays.. Web-based project-management-system enables the mangers to distribute the workload according to the capability of human resource (HR). In addition, he/she can monitor the performance of each person involved in the completion of a job. This web-based project management system also enables the manager to measure the achievement, and performance of the team in accordance to the strategy chalked down for completion, or achievement of the target.

Web-based project-management system keeps the human resources satisfied from the point of view that whatever performance he/she is given is being registered, and is not over looked. If, a company is using a custom-made programme, which is flexible to different projects, it remains cost effective, and is not a burden on the bottom line. For different projects, which have different dynamics, companies may need a tailor-made programme for them, This can be a little costly, but it ensures better management, proper monitoring, and timely completion of tasks, ultimately ensuring good performances. Nowadays, this web-based project software is a very important tool for the management of any project. Furthermore, using the correct project management scheme, and software, can help managers to manage their project smoothly, and effectively.

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How To Select The Best Credit Repair Software

Credit repair software tools are available to assist both credit repair agencies and/or individual consumers with credit repair. Ideally, such repair software is user-friendly and allows the user to point and click to a series of questions, and subsequent options, to engage in the process of credit repair by challenging credit reports from the major credit bureaus.

There are many software companies to choose from. Some claim to be the “best” while others claim to have the “absolute best credit repair software on the planet.” They all provide a unique service with even more unique and distinct features. The issue that you need to consider most when selecting credit repair software is which feature set will benefit you the most. So let’s take a look at steps that will help you select the proper software package for you.

1. Try to find a product with good technical support. A proper credit repair software program behaves like other expert software. This means 24/7 technical assistance, recurring software updates, sufficient help/manual documentation, etc.

2. Your credit repair software must adhere to your personal needs. A lot of these products have numerous add-ons, bonuses and other things which you would be paying for, but may not need. For example, some vendors cater to credit professionals, so they have functionalities on client management, etc, which you don’t need as a home user. On the other hand, you might need financial tips or the automatic reminder system.

3. Keep in mind, that you may have to write letters and that you are a unique customer with a unique address, account number, social security number, and story behind your dispute, which will have to be inside the letter. This single activity will take you many hours to complete. Try to find a software that already has pre-loaded dispute letters. Then once the software has automatically extracted those disputes from the above mentioned credit report providers, this software will in turn suggest the appropriate dispute letter automatically within just a few seconds. Just imagine the hours, and amount of money you can save by just this feature alone. Most people have to hire or outsource this kind of work because their software does not do it automatically. So not only will you save time but you will also save money by not having to outsource the work.

4. Rank available packages through analyzing pros/cons/cost. Once you have a short list of possible software packages, try to rank them by analyzing the pros and cons of each, as well as comparing the cost to your budget.

5. See if there is a trial period for the software that you select. Now that you have selected which package you feel would be the best fit for you, make sure that there is a money back guarantee so that you can return it if you are not satisfied with the performance.

The more you work on your credit repair, the more that it will demand of your time. This is why it is extremely important to choose the best credit repair software available to help you automate the process as much as possible. Choosing the right software package for your needs can save you lots of time. Working with automated software can be compared to driving a car to a distant destination, versus walking there. One way will be significantly faster than the other. Repairing your credit will be much more difficult if you are not using an organized system.

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What is the Purpose of ERP Software?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software can be described as a complete business software solution. It is aimed at the integration of all business processes and sub-processes into a single unified system. This system is formulated and implemented in an organization to effectively and efficiently achieve the business goals of the organization.

ERP packages are implemented to manage the existing and prospective business plans and policies in an efficient manner under strict deadlines. It can be referred to as the ultimate business solution package that is predominantly concerned with making sure that the available resources of the organization are utilized in the best possible manner and coordinated with the business objectives of the organization.

It is crucial that modern day business organizations have a single unified system, which aims at harmonizing its business efforts. This can prove to be a crucial determinant in deciding the scope, area and net results of the organization as a whole, rather than running many different systems that don’t work well together. What makes ERP different from any other business solution package is the presence of a single and unified database system.

ERP software is as essential to the needs of a business today as food is for living. Businesses cannot run competitively in the absence of properly drafted and formulated ERP software. The more effective implementation and follow-up, the better are the results. ERP software is needed by all modern-day organizations, irrespective of the size, area of operations and business objectives.

Nowadays there are many ERP packages available in the global market, including SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, J D Edwards, and BAAN.

The selection of an ERP software package is dependent on many factors: previous software implementation, nature and size of operations, recommendations of consultants, and management decisions.

Before installing specialized software, a detailed study must be made and reviewed to match the business requirements with the available packages. This must be taken as a serious study as any mistake in selection or its effective implementation can prove disastrous to the organizational objectives and prospects. The ERP software must be installed by an ERP vendor or third-party consulting organization, which are expert service providers when it comes to providing Consulting, customization and support.

Some of the benefits of ERP Software:

* All processes and sub-processes are linked and unified into a single system.

* There are enhancements in the field of productivity, efficiency and achievement of business objectives.

* ERP tends to considerably reduce the response time by effectively transferring crucial information.

* ERP helps in streamlining the numerous functions performed by the organization as a whole.

* It helps the management to make vital decisions with unparalleled accuracy and in-depth study.

Thus, ERP software can effectively change the outlook of any business organization that exists in today’s cutthroat business world. Proper implementation of the ERP software is the key factor, which can benefit the growth prospects of any organization.

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Recommended Software for Arena Management

When there is a little over a month left to enter the data for a thousand plus cattle penning teams into a fickle spread sheet software program that was built by good intentioned volunteers; the last thing anyone should be doing is looking for replacement software. However, as any event/entry secretary or producer knows this is sometimes the lifeline that is needed to get the job done.

The preparation of all of the necessary data combined with balancing a three-quarter of a million dollar show in the six weeks prior to its start should have been enough to do. Throwing in a new piece of software to learn and master would be considered ludicrous to say the least. The producers deemed it to be a necessity in view of the history of inconsistencies in the program currently in use.

With a three-year old recommendation in hand and very little back ground checking, Arena Management Software became the chosen lifeline. The software was purchased, loaded onto the computers, played with for a day or so and then our team went to work. The KCI support group was there, day and night, to help with the learning curve and any snags that presented themselves. Our team quickly realized that the new user-friendly software program we had taken a chance on was going to be our ongoing choice for future events. The show was a success. The producers and contestants were happy. All was good in our world!

There have been a lot of years pass by since those short six weeks when our group became acquainted with the Arena Management Software. The program still provides a user-friendly format that has the talent to produce minimal data to realms of reports. From rodeo to cattle penning events the product continues to amaze our team with its ability to perform in and out of the arena.

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Schedule Slippage – Root Causes

“The single most important task of a project: setting realistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations based on inaccurate estimates are the single largest cause of software failure.”- Futrell, Shafer

Introduction

With global and competitive market, it is very important to launch a product or service in the market on time, ahead of competitors. Definitely, timely launch depends on on-time-completion of the product development projects. Project planning has lots of challenges to overcome in order to finish the project on time – right from schedule predictability, envisioning future/possible risks and coming up with mitigation plans.

This article talks about some of the challenges, often faced in the Software Product Development industry that causes the schedule slippage.

Schedule slippage: Delay in the project completion from its initial estimated date of completion.

Each project plan will have a planned completion date (NRA, RA), and a bounding box or upper limit in schedule. Nowadays, it is a common practice to have three dates associated with any project plan:

  • Non-Risk Adjusted (NRA) date: Project completion date assuming no hurdles – Ideal conditions.
  • Risk Adjusted (RA) date: Project completion date assuming some risks will come on the way and will need extra time to attend to them.
  • Bounding Box (BB) or upper limit: The upper limit on the project plan before which the project has to be finished under any circumstances – Generally decided by the top management based on product/services roadmap and launch in the market.

Under ideal circumstances, any project is scheduled to complete by NRA date. Considering some risks that may come on the way and would eat some time off the schedule, the project should be over by RA date. If the risks were not envisioned and hence not planned well, then project may get delayed and would complete after RA date. Project completion crossing the RA or upper limit is neither good nor expected out of a well-planned project.

Root Causes

As we always plan for a project to get over before RA date, seldom is the case it happens as expected. There are multiples reasons for schedule slippage, right from improper planning, lack of resources to unplanned requirements and rework that eat away vital time off the planned schedule.

A typical project development process – Each project will have a team (development, testing and other functions) that will work through a process (requirement analysis, schedule estimation, design, implementation and testing) to deliver a product to the customer/end user. Each entity that participate in the project – directly or indirectly affect the schedule.

From the development process, we can identify the items that can cause delay in the execution of the project – for example, misinterpreted or unclear requirement adds up to completion time, unavailability of development tools or resources can prolong the project duration. Various processes like schedule estimation, detailed design and product development if not executed skillfully, may significantly blow up the project cycle.

For better understanding all these possible causes that may result in schedule slippage are categorized .

Let’s have a detailed look at the root causes of schedule slippage category wise.

1) Schedule Estimation: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

For a project to be executed on time, it is very important to have it planned very well. Any mistake in project schedule estimation reflects as delay in the project completion from its deadline. There are several factors that contribute to improper schedule estimation:

· Underestimation of technical complexities: At the start of the project, many of the team members may not have thorough knowledge of technical complexities and hence their estimation would be incorrect. Sometimes it may so happen that the person giving estimates for a particular task is having no idea about the technical challenges involved in carrying out that particular task. You might hear, towards the mid/end of the project life cycle when the task is not finished on time – “Oh, I didn’t know that this feature also requires 5 more tasks to be done!” or “I was thinking this task to be so simple, but I under estimated it!”. · Lack of Design/Big picture: It is important to have a bigger picture / overview of the complete project to understand how a particular module/feature would fit in to complete project. Product or system level design helps in understanding the interfaces among other modules and the required coordination for product assembly and hence, a better insight into the work involved. Often, estimates without focus on detailed design tend to deviate more from the actual time taken for finishing the job. · Integration Testing: While making a project plan, testing also needs to be accommodated in the schedule. At times, the unit testing or testing done by individual contributors on their module is taken into account but not the system level testing. Toward the release, when all the individually tested modules are brought together, a system level or integration testing is a must. Having the time for integration testing not accounted in the overall project schedule will cause delay in the project completion.

· Unplanned dependencies: Project planning is not only about breaking the project into minute tasks and managing them. A well-planned project schedule also needs to consider certain unplanned dependencies. Some of these are:

o People: Optimum utilization of human resources calls for same set of people working in multiple projects. A person may not be available to work for currently planned/assigned project due to extended/unplanned work in another parallel project. Another issue related to people could be unplanned/unexpected attrition that will affect the project plan. Time is also lost in mentoring of new member by a senior (more experienced) person which goes unaccounted if not planned.

o Tools & Equipments: Project can be delayed if team is waiting for release of upgrade or procurement of any vital tool (hardware or software being used in the project) or if the equipments required for development and testing are not available. “We had a 3-months project for validating our existing solution on new product platform using customer DUT (device under test). We had to wait for the DUT for nearly 1.5 months as it got stuck in customs. After getting the DUT, we realized that it’s been damaged partially during transportation. As a result we had to ask for another DUT and whole project took more than 5 months to get finished.” – I am sure that such cases will be quite familiar to many organizations. Other reason for timely unavailability of tools / equipments is that they are shared among various projects to reduce the operating cost. Any unplanned dependency on their usage or wrong assumption about availability of these shared resources would cause delay in the program. Team members might have to work on shifts to optimize the usage of shared resources which can cause reduced work hours and/or productivity loss and results to schedule slippage.

“I was waiting for Matlab license to be released by another person in the team but he left the office without doing so and I lost 3 hours figuring out what to do?” – is it something you faced before?

o Other programs: If multiple programs have deliverable dependencies, then delay in one project will have cascaded effect on other projects, which directly or indirectly depend on its deliverable. “We got delayed because we had to wait for a critical UI component from the framework project team” or “We didn’t plan for bug fixes for a component which was supposed to be delivered defect free for our usage” are the common scenarios for delays in program which are dependent on other program deliverables. Parallel programs may affect the schedule of your program in a different way as well – Sometimes, management changes the priority of the programs running in parallel. If your project is considered as a low priority one then there might be lack of resources assigned to your project that may result in schedule slippage.

· Beta releases: How many times we seek feedback on our product during development? And how often we allocate time for it? It’s important to plan beta releases if we desire to have our product validated by expert users or lighthouse customers during development. Getting feedback from beta customers becomes important especially when their requirements echo that of a mass customer base. Process of giving workable releases to customers, collecting their experience, having their feedback analyzed, and then incorporating in the final product version takes significant time.

· Risk mitigation and plan B: Every project will have some or the other risks. These risks can be of varying severity and probabilities. While making project plan, it is important to treat the risk individually based on their severity and probability of occurrence. If high probable risks with higher severity are not planned with their mitigation plan (or plan B), they will have huge impact on schedule deviation from planned one. As in one of the previous examples quoted, getting a DUT on time for validation was a risk. Had there been a mitigate plan (plan B) like – Validate with other DUT or if DUT is not available here, let one developer travel to customer’s place and finish the validation on time, the schedule slippage would have been avoided.

2) People: Ultimately, projects are executed by people who may not be skilled or talented. Hence, looking for perfection in projects involving human beings may not be a feasible thought. Certain unpredictable and hence unavoidable issues under this category are:

· Poor leadership: Before thinking of project execution, it is project planning that actually would set the platform of success. Execution of the project depends on its team while planning is taken care by the project leader. The project leader is expected to have enough technical know-how to understand the project goals and to the details of the tasks involved. Poor leadership and superficial knowledge of assignments often results in invalid effort estimation and ad hoc task delegation causing stress and possible delay in project execution. People leading the team are also responsible for keeping the team spirit and motivation level upbeat. Poor personal commitment due to lack of motivation results in loss of productivity and may cause schedule to slip. Another reason that adds up to delay in projects is inability of leadership team to track the schedule progress and take the correction action.

· Attrition: If the project duration is large and job market is hot, it may be difficult to retain people in the project till its completion. Attrition may further delay the completion especially if the person leaving the job was in critical path. A person leaving the organization would leave a gap in the project that a new person may not fill immediately, which in turn causes sudden reduction in the task force.

· Learning curve: When ever a new person or team member is included in the project, he or she may require some time to understand the project to keep in pace with other members. Learning curve is needed for new team members, joining the team either due to attrition or due to any specific technical competency requirement. · Context switching: In smaller organization or groups where people work on multiple projects simultaneously, it is important to have some buffer for context switching. A person planned to work in project ‘A’ for two hours after a gap of two weeks, would take more than scheduled time to complete that task. Gap of two weeks and the fact that he or she was involved in other project would require some time for the member to get back to the context of current project. · Global development teams: In an era of globalization and outsourcing, it is common these days to have development team distributed over different geographical regions. Project plan needs to account for different time zones and working culture. You might expect an input for your task on Monday morning your time but it may be Sunday late evening for that person and finally when the input arrives, you might be on your way to home after work.

Sometimes schedule estimation might go completely wrong if you have not understood the work culture of the region your teammate belongs to – “In my previous work, I was given a task to be completed with a heads up that its very critical task and needs immediate attention’. When I asked my project lead how many days/hours I have for it, I had been time for 2 weeks for high priority and ‘immediate-attention’ work.” Definition of ‘urgent’, ‘high priority tasks’ changes with culture and region.

· Communication Issues: People communicate differently. If important issues are not brought to the notice of the team members, or are not escalated on time, the entire project may suffer. Often fear of embarrassment stops team members from reporting issues faced during execution leading to more time being spent on that task that can easily be executed additional help.

3) Customer Involvement: These issues are quite serious if customer or end users of the product are involved in the development phase. Understanding customer’s priorities, defining your expectation from their involvement needs to be clear and in agreement with both the parties.

· Expert user testing: In the beginning of the project, expert user testing cycle needs to be planned. Process of giving builds or releases for testing and collecting their feedback, analyzing and incorporating them in your product takes significant time which, if not planned, can delay your program. · Timely feedback: “I got feedback from customers for features, delivered in development milestone-1, after milestone-5 towards the release. These feedbacks are critical but now I am worried how to incorporate them without affecting the schedule.” It sounds like a common problem. Incorporation of feedback from customers needs to be planned well taking a commitment from the customer. · Product requirement specification review: Having a product requirement review planned and executed will keep you on right track throughout the project. Reviewing the requirement specification will avoid requirement related defects fixing which otherwise would have delayed, the project.

4) Ambiguous Project Requirement: For any project to be initiated, the first thing is to have requirements for it. In the product development life cycle, requirement phase acts like a foundation. Clear requirement or vision for the project navigates the team to success. However, requirements may not be clear at the time of estimation and may result in delay in the project completion. Issues related:

· Evolving specs: If you are making a product based on a standard which is not yet matured or still evolving, you are more prone to have this risk. Frequency changes in the specs will change the requirement for the project during different stages of product development and team will continue to work on something that is not yet evolved. This results in rework that would delay the project if time for dealing with these changes is not accommodated in the schedule. “We developed an algorithm and hence measurement that was based on certain industry standard. Towards the release of the product, the specs changed and our measurement was no more valid. We had to redo the algorithm to reflect the changes in the specs. This caused our product release delayed by 2 months.” · New requirements: Sometimes new requirements are added as the project evolves towards completion. Implementation of new requirements is not planned at the beginning of the project and hence is not accounted in schedule. Adding new feature without revising the schedule may result in delay.

· Untold expectation: Requirements from the customers may be of two types – implicit or explicit. It is important to have the requirements well documented. Implicit requirements needs to be better defined and documented to avoid any confusion towards the end of the project. Customers may not describe their requirements related to system performance, memory issues, user interface quality and usability but they are very keen on providing feedback in those aspects once the product is given for expert user testing. If we are not clear about such requirements, out design might not address them. Addressing them towards the end of the project may call for design changes and extra work that would delay the project.

5) Unplanned Tasks / Reworks: Bounding box for the project is set by higher management and often lack buffer for unplanned task(s). Having more of unplanned task that creep up at different phases of project can cause schedule slippage. The unplanned tasks or rework may arise due to:

· Sustaining work: In smaller organizations, some of the project team may also be responsible for sustaining / customer support of existing products. These unplanned tasks, which come on event basis, related to customer support are always of high priority. Excess or prolonged sustaining work may take resource out of the planned project causing a potential threat for schedule slippage. · Defect fixes: Defects are bad as they degrade the product quality and consume extra time/effort to fix them. It is good to have testing of the intermediate releases of the project to find and fix defects sooner in the development life cycle. If the fixing-cycle for such internal-milestone defects is not planned, then either the project is either going to slip or product is going to be of poorer quality. Poor programming skill of the team, not adapting to modern programming practices and having ad hoc development processes may lead to higher number of defects which would take more time to fix then planned and cause slippage.

· Task spillover from previous milestone: Tasks that are not completed in previous milestone, due to whatever reason (inefficiency, vacation of the team member, resource crunch etc), will have to be completed in the next milestone thereby increasing the load on the team. If adequate buffer is not planned, these tasks spilled from previous milestone over to next, can delay the project. · Requirement change / refinement: Requirement changes during the product development will result in rework of what has been previously done with first version of requirement(s). Addressing changes in the requirements needs extra time and effort and may cause schedule slippage. In some cases, the requirement from customer is misunderstood resulting in wrong system design and implementation. Additional, unplanned time is lost in correcting the design/implementation which causes schedule slippage.

Conclusion

On time delivery is the challenge software development companies are facing globally. To have a complete control over estimated schedule, it is very important to identify the elements in the development cycle that cause schedule slippage. This article uncovers and explains the root causes of delay in programs using examples from real world. Having an insight to the root causes will help the program managers to make good decisions to avoid future schedule slippage.

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Advantages to Android Game Development

The industry of mobile game development has introduced a very important aspect to the market – the ability to conceptualize, develop, and release video games on devices with far more success and ease than ever before. And with the Android app marketplace only requiring a one-time fee for submitting an application, the cost becomes almost negligible to put the product out for millions of customers to find. Even the submission process is drastically shorter than on most other smartphones, as the app regulation is far more lenient for the Android OS.

Another drawing point for developing games on Android devices is the programming language featured- Java. Java has long been one of the most popular programming languages ​​for video game developers, and that makes it extremely easy for the average programmer to pick up Android development for the first time. Compared to most other mobile platforms, which usually sport modified or newly invented languages, the learning curve is decreed to nearly nothing, so a new developer can complete a game in a fraction of the time.

Another unique aspect to Android game development is the lack of standardization in the droid phone family. As the Android OS is not licensed to a single mobile phone making company, the phones themselves can vary to an extreme degree in terms of features and hardware specifications. While one device may have a fully functional A-GPS and HDMI video compatibility, another may have a QWERTY keyboard and no GPS at all. While this is certainly appealing to some developers, as they are likely to find a phone that will meet their hardware needs reasonably, it will also restrict the potential audience, as some phones will not be able to support the more complex applications.

When the game development process has finally reached the point where it can be released to the public, the developer is presented with yet another choice- which market would the game be most visible in? Unlike the iOS, there are numerous marketplaces and app stores for Android phones, each one with it's own advantages and disadvantages. From the basic Android marketplace, built to only display the apps compatible with the phone currently being used, to the Amazon app store, which offers a different free app every day, the myriad of marketing strategies can be almost daunting, which makes it all the More useful that an application can almost always be entered into multiple marketplaces without issue. However, whenever it makes sense to spread attention across several different fields is another question entirely.

The Android game development process overall really gives the most variety on the smartphone market. From start to finish, strategies can be hand-tailored to the developer's desires, making the game as close to the original concept as currently possible. While the audience may not be as large as that of iPhone users, the Android presents itself as a strong contender, purely through its accessibility. And with the largest variety of smartphones on the current market, the possibilities for development are inexhaustible, and continued releases can only add to the capabilities the platform has to offer.

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