Business-focused custom software

  • How to select a support vendor

    Before you select a vendor to provide on-going support for your custom software, consider these items:

    Availability. Many customers only require support during regular business hours, but some require more robust support. If your business needs to provide services outside a traditional 9 -to-5 workday, then make sure that your vendor will provide the same level of support.

    Response time. How quickly will the vendor respond to requests (especially emergency requests)? No vendor can guarantee with 100% certainty that they will provide a fix or solution within a small timeframe, but they can guarantee that they will start investigating the ...

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  • The secret to picking the right technology for your application

    Recently a prospective client contacted me about upgrading her e-commerce site. She had been researching e-commerce options and had found one that she thought was a good fit. Unfortunately she was having trouble finding a local vendor who supported it because there are lots and lots of e-commerce choices and everyone has picked something different to support.

    My suggestion: stop focusing on the shopping cart or technology choice, and instead focus on the features that are important for the business. It is likely that there are many different choices that will meet her needs, and by settling on one without ...

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  • Why you should care about errors

    One of my customers has a web application that uses the out-of-the-box exception handling instead of a custom error page. So every time a user encounters an error, they see information that is useful to the developer, but isn't understandable by the end-user. There are several reasons why this is a bad practice:

    • Usability #1: All this error information is typically fraught with technical details that can be overwhelming to the end user, and doesn't help them understand what occurred and how to deal with it.
    • Usability #2: Often the generic pages do not include navigation links or menus to ...

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  • What everyone ought to know about software development estimates

    I recently delivered some software to a customer that took more than double the time of my original estimate. Since my bids are typically at a fixed rate it didn't affect my customer's costs. However it could have affected their planning timeline for implementation.

    Here are some things you should keep in mind about software development estimates:

    Estimates are by their nature imprecise

    An estimate is called an estimate because we don't really know for sure how long it will take. If we knew for sure, we'd call it something else. The only way to know exactly how long something ...

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  • Motivating Programmers

    Frank Kelly has published some good ideas about how to motivate developers. If you manage programmers, you will find it valuable.

    I think one of the things vastly overlooked in some large, complex corporate environments is the drag that non-programming activities can have on productivity. In my experience, the more busy work to be done (meetings, status reports, team-building exercises, etc.), the more productivity can take a major hit.

    What many don't realize is that it isn't just the time these activities take that suck the productivity from the programmer. It is also the illogical aspects of some of ...

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What the critics are saying...

From my experience with Avonelle, she can be relied on to deliver whatever she promises--always on time and for the quoted cost. She'll ask the right questions to make sure that what she delivers truly meets the business need. Her expertise has been invaluable. All that at a very reasonable rate!

Kim Merriman, Operations Manager @ HousingLink