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What a Nashville Azure Consultant Can Do For You

nashville azure consultant

Atiba is Nashville’s Leading Azure Consultant

Originally published December 24, 2019. Updated October 21, 2020.

Do you have your head in the clouds lately? For those looking at cloud migration services, you’ve probably had your head stuck in the clouds for more than a few weeks now.

That’s OK, we often have our head stuck in the cloud as well.

One of the hardest steps is determining which cloud service you’re going to choose. The main players in the business are Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud Platform. For businesses, you want to make sure you choose one and stick with it. After all, that’s where all of your business data and information is going to be stored. Plus, you’re going to want the added security now that your employees are working from home in their pajamas.

As die-hard computer nerds, our crew at Atiba likes them all!  All three provide similar services and all three have proven to be reliable and cost-effective.

But, we’ve found a lot of people like to go with Azure. Not just because it has a cool name (OK, maybe that’s part of the reason). Below, we’re going to run over what makes Azure so great and what you need for a Nashville Azure consultant.

Our Favorite Things About Microsoft’s Azure

nashville azue consulting

Azure is Highly Secure

We’d be lying if we said we weren’t looking forward to using that rhyme all day.

In a nutshell, Azure is the most secure cloud platform out there. Microsoft prides itself on having a secure model and uses a Detect, Assess, Diagnose, Stabilize, and Close model. Maybe a bit too long for a catchy title, but the proof is in the pudding with how secure their service is.

Azure takes extra steps into protecting your data from unauthorized access, including Microsoft personnel. In a world where data is a commodity and big tech companies are often under the microscope for what they do with your data, it’s reassuring to know that Microsoft is taking the step to leave your data in your hands.

One feature we really like is the Customer Lockbox. It’s a way for you and your clients to upload and securely download documents. It’s better than sending things over email or meeting in a sketchy alley

Top-Notch Scalability

Those who have been browsing cloud options have no doubt come across this word. What exactly does it mean?

Let’s say that your business is running reports daily and 25 out of the 30 days of the month, these reports are normal and require minimal computing power. However, on those other five days, you notice a huge uptick in reporting which requires an influx of computer power.

Azure really shines here and makes it incredibly simple to scale your computer power depending on your needs. Just how easy do they make it? You only have to click a button. That’s it.

While some of Microsoft’s other tools may not be as flashy or simple to the everyday user, Azure makes it easy for you to scale your power based on your business needs.

Extremely Low Downtime

Think about the last time your internet went out. Even if it was just for five minutes, it was annoying and a pain. We rely so much on technology and we need our devices and items to be working all the time.

Azure goes a step further and offers a service level agreement, or SLA, guaranteeing 99.95% of uptime over the course of the year. For those keeping track at home, that’s about 4.5 hours of downtime for the entire year or only 40 seconds for every day. About the same amount of time that it takes us to daydream about our dream vacation.

That’s because Microsoft has data centers all around the globe, meaning that their services are guaranteed to be up and running whenever you need them.

Cost-Effectiveness

It’s all about the money, right?

We know that IT costs can skyrocket if left unwatched and a bill can come out of nowhere to surprise you (oh yeah, we did sign up for that service).

Another reason Azure has been a favorite with many of our clients is that it offers a pay-as-you-go pricing option. This means that small and medium-sized businesses can finetune their budgets and only use as much of the cloud as they need to.

Plus, costs can be reduced because both customer applications and internal apps can be launched in the cloud. This will save money on IT infrastructure while also lowering any costs of hardware and overall maintenance.

Why Your Business Needs a Nashville Azure Consultant

With all of those benefits, why do you need to hire a Nashville Azure consultant? While we love Azure, it does come with some drawbacks. That’s where we come in. As leading Azure consultants in the Nashville area, we provide a number of different services.

It Requires Expertise

Although Azure does have some easy parts, getting the most out of Azure does require significant platform expertise. In order to make sure that everything is working together efficiently, you do need a consultant to maximize your platform.

One of the most common rookie mistakes we see is administrators over-provisioning their cloud services. This can lead to a huge financial setback for a business, oftentimes in the thousands of dollars range. Since Azure is used by so many small and medium-sized businesses, those extra costs are burdens you don’t want to pay for.

It Requires Consistent Management

Unfortunately, Azure isn’t as plug-and-play as other services out there and requires consistent management, especially when working with a large number of end-users.

Azure, like most other cloud services, requires regular patching and server monitoring. Does this mean that you need someone monitoring it 24/7? No, of course not, but it helps to have someone be managing your cloud on a consistent basis.

Atiba Can Serve as Your Azure Consultant

As you can see, there are lots of reasons why you want to go with Azure. Its scalability, cost-effectiveness, and high levels of security make it one of the best cloud service options for all types of businesses. If you’re looking to get set up with Azure or just want to know more, feel free to reach out to Atiba. We offer the best Azure consulting services in Nashville and have been working with various businesses for nearly thirty years.

Not only are we Azure experts, but we also pride ourselves on same-day response time. We offer 24/7 support and 1-hour response time on critical issues.

Interested in learning more or want to see how we can help? Reach out for a free quote today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nashville Software Development Company Announces the Hiring of Chief Growth Officer 

jay-kelley

Atiba, a Nashville custom software development, network services, and digital marketing company, is thrilled to announce the recent hiring of Jay Kelley as Chief Growth Officer. 

Atiba has seen tremendous growth over the past yearTechnology is playing an ever-growing part in our lives, especially in regards to remote work, virtual learning, and increased cyber threats. The demand for custom software solutions, robust websites, and secure network solutions is rapidly expanding. With this in mind, Atiba chose to bring in Jay Kelley to oversee the newly created sales and marketing teams. Jay will oversee strategic growth opportunities as Atiba looks to expand into additional markets and channels.  

“Jay continues to impress me with his creativity and diligence. He is a brilliant problem solver and truly cares about putting client needs first. I know he will bring tremendous value to our internal team, as well as our clients.” 

David Callahan
Chief Legal Officer/Chief Strategy Officer 

Jay brings a wealth of knowledge in the technology space. As a self-described “repeat entrepreneur,” Jay has spent his career creating innovative solutions. His unique experiences in a variety of fields allow him to truly understand client needs and serve as a bridge between developer and end-user. 

Prior to joining Atiba, Jay Kelley served as the CEO and a founding member of Peak Money, the first mobile app that combines goal-based savings with mindfulness tools. Peak began operations in January of 2018 and launched in the App Store in the Fall of 2018. 

He is also a Board Director at Spire Labs, a digital innovation company that builds products to support wellbeing. Spire Labs technology includes Spire, an enterprise social wellness platform for employers and health plans, and Rove, which offers simple, automated step tracking and competitions for individuals and organizations. Spire Labs has a small portfolio of other IPs and is a shareholder in Peak Money.  

Previously, Jay was a Founding Executive of The Documentary Channel, a national cable and satellite network that grew to more than 25 million homes before it was acquired by Participant Media in 2012. Jay raised the initial capital for the channel and served in a variety of top executive positions during his nine-year tenure with the company. He oversaw marketing and PR, commercial operations, digital and social platforms, advertising sales, strategic partnerships, and branded entertainment. Jay was instrumental in growing the network from idea to profitability, and in developing multi-platform partnerships with a number of Fortune 500 brands including P&G, ExxonMobil, and Red Bull. 

Before his involvement with The Documentary Channel, Jay worked in advertising and marketing, developing creative and strategy across all media for brands in the wireless, consumer packaged goods, and energy categories. His clients included Cricket Wireless, Litespeed Bicycles, TVA, Brach’s Candy, Krystal Restaurants, Five Star Ranges, and BullFrog, among others. 

Preceding his career in media and entertainment, Jay taught history and creative writing for several years, both at Johns Hopkins University and at international schools in Latin America and the Middle East. Jay has a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Sewanee. He currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and two sons. 

Jay will focus on growing the Nashville software development division, as well as the network services offerings. He will be a great addition to the Atiba team. Welcome, Jay!

 

Nashville Software School

JumpStart into Coding: Nashville Software School

By David Williams, Atiba Software Development Intern

Before I took the Nashville Software School’s JumpStart class, the most coding I had done was on my calculator in 9th grade. The course is a mere three weeks long and totals 33 hours of one’s time. It meets Saturdays from 9:00 am-2:00 pm, Monday and Wednesday’s from 6:00 pm-9:00 pm.

Who takes this class?

My JumpStart class had ten students, one teacher, and four TAs. My classmates ranged from bartenders trying to learn a more stable skill in the time of COVID, to marines returning from duty to me, a former teacher looking to switch career paths.

What does this class teach?

The class provides front end development in the languages of HTML, CSS, and JAVA. I had no idea what that meant either when I started. HTML is the language that tells computers what words are displayed on a website. CSS is the language that tells computers what those words should look like (font, borders, backgrounds, etc.).

And Java is the language that allows people to interact with a website. For example, Java enables people to click on items on your website. By the end of the three weeks, I was able to create my very own website from scratch.

 What is this class like?

The class has no homework, no out-of-class reading, and no grades. You get out of it whatever you put into it. It is structured perfectly for true beginners who just want to dip their toes into coding.

The teacher spends about 15 minutes going over a few commands and explains what the commands do and how to use them. Then the teacher takes about 15-30 minutes coding themselves and plays around with those commands.

For instance, one small section of a class was spent on the CSS commands for creating borders around the text. The teacher showed everyone how to make the border solid or dotted, how to increase its thickness, and how to put a background within that border.

After the demonstration, its time for the students to work. There is a 30 min individual mini-challenge. The challenge walks you through using the commands and makes you think about how you can apply it.

There are always TA’s available to help if you are confused. One mini-challenge for Java had the class create a button that displays text when you click on it. When about 75% of the class finishes the assignment, the teacher goes over the answer.

Other Points

Nashville Software School uses the group messaging app Slack. It provides every member of my group, the teacher and the TA’s included, a platform to chat. Slack was a great way to ask questions when not in class and is an even better way to network when the class is over. NSS is upfront about the importance of networking in finding a job, and Slack allows people to stay in touch without exchanging numbers.

Lastly, I should point out that the course emphasizes how to self-study afterward. NSS provides tools and websites to learn and practice after the three weeks are up. There are thousands of YouTube tutorials online, but part of this JumpStart course is to give you the vocabulary and the agency to watch those videos without feeling overwhelmed. It is well worth the $650 price tag.

 

 

How Microsoft Access Helps Small Businesses Leverage Data

In 2017 The Economist published a report titled, The World’s Most Valuable Resource is no Longer Oil but Data. That’s a pretty punchy title that garnered plenty of attention, and for good reason.

There seems to be no dispute these days that data can make or break a business. While large companies pump huge budgets into their data machines, small businesses have to find affordable and effective ways to leverage the data available to them.

“If you run a business, and you want to do anything with your data, the first thing you need to do is create the infrastructure required to store and query that data. Data does not live in spreadsheets.” –Samuel Flender

Gathering, sorting, and making meaning of all that data can be a huge undertaking.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Tools like Microsoft Access help small businesses do big business tasks by offering custom database solutions.

Despite the dynamic landscape of IT, there are some tools that have stood the test of time, continuing to show value for users. Microsoft Access software is one of those tools that businesses turn to again and again to help make the most of data for understanding cost, opportunity, and clarity.

It might not have a flashy name, but it’s quite the workhorse. Let’s talk about what Microsoft Access software can do for your business.

What is Microsoft Access?

First things first, let’s talk about what Microsoft Access actually is.

We like to describe Microsoft Access as “Excel after 100 Red Bulls.”

All jokes aside, it’s a versatile database development tool that’s available in the Microsoft Office suite. It helps small and medium businesses gather, organize, and utilize multiple sources of data to help run their business.

Over the years it’s gained a reputation for its value. It allows businesses to gather, analyze, and use data in ways that would otherwise require expensive custom databases built from the ground up and maintained by an in-house IT team.

Because Microsoft Access is an “out of the box” solution, design and maintenance are easy to contract out. It can be customized to the needs of the business while operating off a standard design foundation. That means as long as the company you contract has a knowledgeable Microsoft Access development expert, they can build your database or jump in and maintain or modify a design set up by someone else.

For an “out of the box” solution it’s surprisingly powerful and adaptable in the hands of a knowledgeable IT expert. This makes it an affordable, dynamic, reliable database option for the small business.

How Would a Small Business Use It?

Let’s say you’re a small landscaping company, how would you go about using this tool? Microsoft Access can help stream-line tons of office work for you with the right setup. You have a lot of info coming into, and going out of even a small office. Microsoft Access development can help you make and utilize all that data.

microsoft-access-business-data

Even a landscape business has lots of business data

Things like rent, materials, equipment purchases, maintenance, payroll, accounts payable, insurance, taxes, and more all come from various sources. Plus, they all get billed and paid at different times, to different people.

And because your business is impacted by seasonal changes, you also need to plan ahead for things like ordering, staffing, and advertising. It’s a lot of information and it all impacts your profitability and budgets. You can use the various Microsoft Access templates to get the best results for your business.

“Executives often underestimate the financial returns that can be generated by using data to create operational efficiencies” – Barbara H. Wixom & Jeanne W. Ross 

A Microsoft Access database can help you bring all of those costs and expenditures into one place, allowing you to view them in meaningful reports, and share that information with those in the company who need it. It also reduces opportunities for errors from duplication or entry mistakes, ensuring more reliable and useful data.

You can help plan ahead by analyzing data and building reports based on trends from the previous months and years. You can identify where time, money and resources are well used, and when they’re bleeding you dry.

If you set it up on a cloud source, you can even make all that information as mobile as you are.

Why Doesn’t Everyone use Microsoft Access?

With all these benefits, why isn’t every business out there making use of this stellar tool? While Microsoft Access will look and feel like other Microsoft tools, it definitely requires some knowledge and expertise to set up and manage.

Many small business owners find hiring consultants is the fastest way to get the most bang for the buck when using it. A good consultant can help you build the intake, analysis, and reporting tools that make Microsoft Access so valuable.

How Atiba Can Help You With Microsoft Access

Finding a knowledgeable, reliable team to consult and provide Microsoft Access development services may seem hard but that’s where we come in. Atiba has been a Microsoft Partner for over 20 years now and our team of experts knows just about everything there is to know when it comes to Microsoft tools.

Here’s what we provide:

  1. Local Knowledge. Because Microsoft Access’ function is to personalize your business data, it can be really valuable to have a company that can work directly and personally with you to customize the setup and functionality of your data.
  2. Microsoft Experts. While Microsoft Access looks a lot like other Microsoft tools that are very user friendly, it takes knowledge and experience to set up and maintain. Our team is knowledgeable and experienced with the tool.
  3. Continual Support. Even the best setups for Microsoft Access will require support over time. We can partner with you so that you have a great experience on day one and years down the road. A well supported Microsoft Access database can adapt with you as a business grows and changes.

As you can see, Microsoft Access comes with a myriad of options to help your small business grow and leverage data effectively.

Ready to get started?

No matter what problem you’re having, we can fix it. As leading IT experts and consultants, we provide immediate response times and 24/7 support.

Reach out to us today!

 

 

Is Remote-Only the way of the future?

A day in the life of a Nashville computer geek:   Remote-Only

Published April 12, 2020, in The Tennessean – JJ Rosen

It was just a few short weeks ago that a day-in-the-life at work meant shaking hands with people, meeting over coffee, flying places, and grabbing an occasional beer with some co-workers.   Online meetings were not uncommon, but face-to-face was always preferred and often needed to be efficient.

Flash forward to today.

With an ongoing global pandemic, everything about work has changed.  This change from our daily norms has not only been drastic, but it’s also been sudden.  For most of us, the transition to being  100% isolated at home, doing all meetings virtually, and having work and family-life become one and the same has been challenging to say the least.

For me, a creature of habit (for better or worse), I was completely out of whack for the first couple of weeks of this new life.  But as time has gone by, new routines and work habits have formed. Although it’s taken a bit of getting used to, I’ve started to settle in and somehow feel comfortable.  The whole situation is still weird, but I guess I’ve managed to adjust.

But what’s been interesting and unexpected is that some of the friends and co-workers I talk to are not just feeling more comfortable working only at home, but they’re also beginning to feel more productive working only at home.

I don’t think there are any silver linings to a global pandemic that is causing so much suffering.  But in the context of work, the situation we all find ourselves in these past few weeks is presenting some alternative ways of doing business.

Virtual meetings over Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams, have cut down on the amount of time it takes to physically gather.  All of a sudden, it’s become acceptable to video conference with co-workers and clients in faraway places rather than to deal with the time, expense, and hassle of travel.   And even meetings that you would normally have face-to-face in your office have become faster and more efficient when they are moved online.

Commutes have alternated from 30 minutes of driving to 30 seconds of walking from the kitchen to the quietest place in the house to get some work done.   There is now more time in the day to manage as each person sees fit.

Business phone calls have become less formal and less stressful.   Who would have thought I could take care of several business calls while simultaneously walking around my neighborhood getting some exercise?   Where it used to be embarrassing to have your kid crying or a dog barking in the background of the conference call, it’s now no big deal.

Will these new ways of working stick?

No one knows how long we will need to stay home.  But, if working this way makes employees happier, more productive, and more efficient, we may be in for a transformation from the way business has always been done.  At least for some sectors, fancy conference rooms and corner offices may become obsolete in favor of simply working in an old chair at the dining room table.

There are some companies, especially in the tech world, that we’re already seeing the upside of being a completely remote workforce before the pandemic was forced upon us.  Studies of these early-adopters have revealed that ditching the office and making an entire company remote-only does indeed increase employee happiness and productivity.   Which in turn increases retention and profits.

As technology advancements make it simpler and easier to keep us connected no matter where we work, we can expect our new norm to become a permanent change to the way many of us work.

 

While you’re here, be sure to check out our blog on how to stay safe as a remote worker or head to our services page to learn more about what we do.

JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba, a Nashville IT consulting and custom software development firm.  Visit Atiba.com or AtibaNetworkServices.com for more info.

 

We’re looking for SharePoint Admins and Developers to join our team!

About Atiba – Our Nashville SharePoint Consulting Practice:

Atiba is a custom software development and IT consulting company located in Nashville, TN.  We have been in business since 1992 doing technical project for clients ranging from small startups to large enterprises.

We work in multiple tech platforms both Microsoft and open-source based.    We have a very easy-going culture but at the same time we work hard to be the best techies we can be with a focus on doing great work for our clients.

Many of our employees have been part of Atiba for 10 years or more.

We offer:

  • Flexible hours
  • Self-managed vacation time
  • Peer to peer training and learning
  • Options on what technical platforms to work with
  • Small company, family style culture doing large and impactful work

 

 

About this job:

Job Role:  SharePoint Developer                                 Industry:  Technology Consulting Services

Job Type:  Permanent                                                    Company Type:  Private

Experience Level:  Senior                                           Company Size:  50 to 100 employees

Location: Nashville or remote                                     Culture:  Coder-centric, flexible, supportive

 

Technical Skills Required:

SharePoint, C#, SQL Server, InfoPath, JavaScript, CSS, HTML5, XML, XSLT

 

Bonus Skills:

Project management, .Net coding in general, Experience developing web services

 

If you worked for us, here are some of things you would have done over the past month:

  • Developed a custom web part on SharePoint in C#
  • Implemented SharePoint design template on SharePoint Online
  • Fixed a workflow and form
  • Worked on Jira tasks
  • Participated in daily standups
  • Logged your time
  • Answered emails directly from clients
  • Debugged C# code that runs against SharePoint API
  • Setup QA for SharePoint on premise
  • Fixed migration issues for a SharePoint on premise deployment to SharePoint Online
  • Attended a lunch and learn at our office on automated testing

The type of person we are looking for:

We are a medium sized consulting company doing work for organizations of all sizes all over the world.   We are fun bunch of techies who have been working together for years.  We are looking for fellow techies who:

  • Enjoy flexibility and are self-starters
  • Can manage their own time
  • Love all things tech
  • Have real-work experience developing with SharePoint
  • Want to always be learning new things
  • Support their fellow techies

 

Contact info:

If you are interested in learning more contact us today!

info@atiba.com  or   https://www.atiba.com/employment-application/

 

Thanks!  We look forward to talking to you.

Atiba Kids Series — Learning to Code: Day 1

Our blog series Atiba Kids features tech musings from a few of our team’s kids…  

This post is from Isaac Chomsky.   A brilliant rising high school sophomore on his first day teaching himself how to code.   Enjoy! 

Learning to Code Python:  Day 1 — by Isaac Chomsky

In our modern world, technology has become increasingly useful for everyday practices.

Because of this, it is important that we all learn how to properly utilize technology for these methods. In order to do that, I’ve recently decided to enhance my Python coding capabilities by working on a program that will notify me whenever a homework assignment is almost due.

This program is most likely something that has already been created, but it is still an excellent way of learning how to use Python in conventional ways. First, I had to figure out exactly how this program could work. One idea that I came up with was to create a calendar where the user could input their school assignments into the dates that they are due and, one day before the due date, the program would email the user to remind them of the assignment. This initial idea seemed plausible, so I decided to work on making the idea a reality.

The first step of this idea was learning how to create a program that can send automated messages. Through some short research, I learned how to use SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, to properly encrypt my messages, making the message harder to be accessed by individuals other than myself and the person receiving the email. I also decided to implement “getpass” into my program, which allows the user to enter their password without it being displayed on the screen. (Basically, “getpass” is whenever you see this for passwords: *******).

This process of implementing both SSL and “getpass” proved to be sort of tricky, as the script of the program had to be exactly right or else nothing would work.

This is typical amongst programs, at least I believe so, but what made the process even more difficult was that when there was an error, the command console I was using for the program would immediately close, which prevented me from seeing any error code that could guide me towards finding the issue. However, through some manual review of my script and some trial and error, I was able to find the problem (finally!) and successfully complete the first step of this project.

Day 1 appears to have been a success!

Overwhelmed by Software Development

Software Development – Where to Start?

One would not generally associate custom software development and healthcare but stay with me here …

Having previously spent 15 years in healthcare it’s been my observation that many people don’t know what to expect before (or after) they, or a loved one, experience a health event.  They may become overwhelmed, frustrated, and even apathetic when a health professional talks to them regarding a change.

Apprehension and/or decision paralysis seems to set in and they put off taking that next step even though it might really improve their quality of life.

It is easy to be in that same boat when it comes to understanding technology and moving forward with custom software or website that could significantly improve your business.

It is a goal of the fantastic Half Geek Half Human folks at Atiba to help demystify technology and be customer-centric.  If you are thinking about custom software development or design, but are inundated by the information out there … hopefully, this article can offer a new perspective.

An Illustration

Using a general healthcare example, let’s say a person is thinking about getting a knee replacement.  This process is not as simple as walking into the hospital and requesting the surgery, is it?  <Insert Laugh Here>

There is the progression of doctor visits beforehand – likely the general practitioner examines and recommends some exercises and maybe an anti-inflammatory medication.  Then, typically, comes a prescription for physical therapy or stronger pain medication.

Eventually, there is a referral for surgical intervention.  A couple of orthopedist visits are likely next to determine candidacy for a knee replacement and what type of procedure needs to be performed, etc.  Consulting with insurance to see what will be covered and which providers are in-network is also part of the process.

As the journey continues, the surgery is scheduled (hopefully there has been a case manager involved by this point).  A list of best practice recommendations is often provided for maximum results.  Some of these directions may include a list of exercises, medication instructions, pre-registration information, pre-op bathing instructions, etc.

Decisions such as transportation to and from the surgery, time off work, and aftercare plans for therapy must also be made.  The surgery hasn’t even happened yet and there has been so much “front-end” preparation already.

It’s the day of surgery and the “back-end” work begins…no one can really see what’s going on inside the knee except for the surgeon & the team doing the operation.  The possible risks were explained and signed off on beforehand; such as the risk of undergoing anesthesia, risk of infection, risk of defective replacement appliances, etc.

Then the procedure begins and there may or may not be complications along the way.  For example, what may have been planned to take 2 hours, maybe takes 5 hours because of an unforeseen complication.

After the operation, the incision is inspected, ice packs applied, and precautions are put in place to minimize the risk of infection.  Immediate and continuous physical therapy must ensure to get an adequate range of motion back in the knee.  Perpetual monitoring and modifications to treatment are essential, including adequate nutrition, constant quality assurance, medication adjustments, reapplying bandages, etc.  All these little tweaks can be time-consuming and seem exhausting, yet, are vital to the overall success of the operation.

How again does this tie into software development?

Most custom software development requires a lot of planning and follow-up that many people may not incorporate into the initial cost or time expectations.  As with medical procedures, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process and frustrated with unexpected complications.  Good communication, like in healthcare, is essential on both sides of the equation.  Expectations need to be made clear, however, maintaining flexibility is also important.

As a Case Manager in healthcare, a Project Manager can be helpful in navigating the unknown territory.  Project managers can aid in establishing the timeline, being a single point of contact, and keeping the project on target.  However, just like with the above-mentioned surgery, unforeseen complications, or “bugs” can surface and delay even the best-planned project.

The Process

Think back to the knee replacement example given above…custom software development/web design can loosely be broken down into two parts … front-end and back-end development.

Front-end work usually includes design content and coding skills that affect what the user sees and interacts with on a web application, it also includes developing what is known as UX/UI experience.  It is the work done that makes the interactable part of software development user friendly & efficient.

User interface know-how is combined with languages like CSS, HTML, JavaScript, XML based languages, Java, Objective C, and iQuery to name a few. Deciding a CMS (Content Management System) platform (examples: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, or Magento to note a few) can be important if the data entered on the website needs to be pulled to a database.  Other programs like Photoshop and Adobe can also be utilized as well for front end work and design.

Back-end development involves making sure the web application can communicate with the server so that changes can be made in the desired database.  This involves making sure the code on the front end is supported and using additional programming languages (like PHP, Ruby, Python, ASP.net, C#, ColdFusion, Haskell, etc) on the back-end so information can be relayed to the servers and Database Management Systems.  Then when someone clicks on the website or is using the custom software program the information can be generated immediately when summoned for the user.

This construction takes time.

Continuous quality assurance and testing must be performed, either by the customer or the provider, but it must happen.  And just as the incision needs constant monitoring & cleaning so no infection sets in… the code will need frequent testing as “bugs” pop up and patching needs to occur for the program to be continually functional.  It will be an ongoing process that needs to occur over the lifespan of the code… (Which is why apps, programs, and operating systems need ongoing updates).

Software Development … The Take-Away

Yes, there are a lot of moving parts to technology, just as in healthcare.  As patients must trust doctors, hospitals, and healthcare teams, be assured that a project manager/software development team uses the best tools to create websites and custom software based on individual situations.

It can seem overwhelming, but just remember how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

Fortunately, the great folks here at Atiba can help get you started on the journey and walk you through every step of the way when it comes to custom software development and web applications!

Don’t put off improving and growing your business any longer!  Give us a call (615) 353-1921 or send an email to info@atiba.com

 

 

 

What is Technical Debt?

Does technical debt actually exist?

“Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.” — Benjamin Franklin 

The thought of debt can be a scary one that conjures up images of credit cards, mortgages, car payments, and sleepless nights.  To most of us, it’s simple to define:  an amount of money you owe someone else. 

But, the concept of debt is not always related to dollars and cents.   

This was weighing heavily on my mind last week as I was looking at my end-of-year-calendar. 

In the IT field, the term “technical debt” is often used to describe the habit of taking technical shortcuts that, over time, accumulate and cause more work down the road.  Because it’s hard to quantify and often hidden from management until it’s out of control, the buildup of technical debt on a project is sometimes even more dangerous to a company than money owed on a balance sheet. 

Delaying IT infrastructure upgrades to save money, not testing software thoroughly because of a tight deadline, blowing off doing a disaster recovery plan—these are common examples of shortcuts that build up technical debts that will always come back to bite you if not paid off at some point. 

There are other types of debt as well.    

Some of us (me) eat too much and build up an “exercise debt” that we must pay off at some point if we want to maintain a healthy weight.   Some work too much, building up a “sleep debt.” Others play too much and amass a “work debt.”    

These non-financial “soft” debts are more difficult to measure than what we traditionally think of as debt, but they have real costs nonetheless.  And just like money debt, if you’re not careful, you can spend all your time and resources paying the interest instead of paying down the principal. 

Proactively managing different types of debt is an often overlooked but critical skill that determines the long-term viability of every business.  Soft debts should be tracked and managed in much the same way that financial debts are. 

In tech, we call it a “backlog.”  It’s simply a list of any tech-related shortcuts, band-aids or items we skimp on because of deadline or budget constraints, along with estimates of how much work (debt) it will take us to fix them down the road.  Some technical debts are intentional – a conscious choice to save time or money. Others are accidental, discovered in the form of bugs.   

As the backlog list grows, the key is to treat each item as a debt owed, the same way you would as if you were making payments on a bank loan.   This involves planning your “savings” (in the form of time) so that you can eventually make your “payments” (in the form of future work).    We basically mark off time on our calendars for every project to pay off our backlog debts. 

Earlier this year we began to explore this simple backlog approach to managing other areas of debt in our company.   As expected, just like tech, the constraints of time and budget created a backlog in everything from HR to marketing.  Things like updating our employee handbook and standardizing our email signatures made it to our backlog.  And just like tech debt, we have marked our calendars for our end of year payments to clear out the backlogs. 

Thinking of debt as something that is beyond a purely a financial metric has changed the way we operate.  It’s forced us to justify any shortcuts we take company-wide, because we are now tracking them as real costs rather than forgotten to-do lists that will inevitably come back to haunt us. Sleep well. 

JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba.  A Nashville IT consulting and custom software development firm.  Visit www.atiba.com or www.atibanetworkservices.com for more info. 

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Nashville Angular Developer

A Day in the Life of an Atiba Nashville Angular Developer

Sharing what we do Atiba so both clients and potential employees can see the behind the scenes of what’s it like being a coder in Nashville is part of our culture.  AngularJS / Angular coding along with ReactJS has been some of the main coding we have been working on for our clients the past few years.

Here’s a peak at a day the life of an Atiba Nashville Angular developer:

  • We did our stand-up meetings with clients and/or internal development teams first thing every morning at 8 am each day.
  • From there, I usually connect into Jira to look at the user stories I will be working on for the day
  • I started in Angular but now I have been focusing in Angular 2.x development.   I have 2 main projects I am working on.  One is working on the front-end of an intranet site and the other is for a large public website we developed and support called Guitars.com.
  • Lunch! We usually pickup lunch (we have a Microsoft Teams Channel we use to coordinate lunch plans.  Sometimes we all go out / depends on the day.
  • After lunch I either keep the Angular coding going — or depending on deadlines I will use some of my learning time that Atiba builds into the week to study new tech (currently working on learning PHP Laravel)
  • Wind down ~5 pm or so, some days stay later others done a bit sooner.

I have been working at Atiba for 7 years.  I started as a C# coder and still work on some .Net but have enjoyed mixing it up a bit!

Atiba has some of Nashville’s best front-end developers with a crew of JavaScript gurus doing Angular, React, JQuery and more.   Let us know if we can can ever help you with you project!