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Communicating More Effectively

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Communication should be a main focus of every organization. Without properly established lines of communication, important information can easily get lost in translation. How does your organization communicate with employees on a daily basis? For most companies this day in age, the most common form of intra-organization communication is email. Moreover, with the ever increasing popularity of smart phones that enable users to check email remotely 24 hours a day, face-to-face communication is, sadly, becoming a thing of the past. While every nonprofit has a bottom line to consider, management staff should never lose sight of the importance of using technology to more efficiently facilitate the flow of information between members of the organization. Despite the many free or low cost tools that exist today, resources to increase intra-organization communication are often overlooked. A quick Internet search returns hundreds of results for these types of tools. However, weeding out the good from the bad can be a lengthy and somewhat frustrating process. To get your search started in the right direction, offered below are a few free or inexpensive tools that can help promote effective communication in the workplace.

Communication Within Your Organization: Email, Chat, Shared Docs, and More

Google for Nonprofits – Email and Beyond: If your nonprofit is looking for a way to improve internal operations, engage supporters and promote your cause – then Google for Nonprofits is right for you. This program offers functionality, flexibility and many valuable tools that help to increase communication and collaboration between members of the workplace. What’s included?

  • Free or discounted version of Google Apps for your organization – Nonprofits with fewer than 3,000 users are eligible for the free version of Google Apps. Organizations with more than 3,000 users receive a 40% discount on Google Apps for Business.
  • GmailA leading email service offering 7 GB of storage per email account. Easy to use and even offers the ability to have email accounts on your organization’s domain.
  • Google Calendar – Increase productivity and streamline workflow by assigning and tracking group and individual tasks through Google Calendar. Use Google Calendar to create company-wide sharable calendars to coordinate meetings, set calendar reminders for pending “to-do” tasks, and communicate more effectively with team members.
  • Google Docs – Google Docs is cloud-based word processor and file sharing application that enables users to create, share, and store files in “the cloud.” It’s an easy and efficient way to collaborate with team members. Google Docs allows you to set up folders and even control privacy settings so that only those who you want to “share” the file with have access to it. The best part is there is no software to install, no additional hardware necessary, and no files to back up. Access your files from anywhere – at home, in the office, or on your smart phone – 24 hours a day.
  • Google Chat – Need to have a quick conversation with a team member? Google Chat is perfect for doing just that. With text chat, you can send instant messages to co-workers and even send and receive files. For times when a face-to-face conversation is necessary, Google Chat has a handy video chat feature.
  • Other great resources – Google AdWords, YouTube for Nonprofits, Google Earth Outreach Grants. Be sure to check out the eligibility criteria to see if your nonprofit qualifies for this great opportunity.

BigMarker – Free Web Conferencing Tool: BigMarker is a free online tool for web conferencing. There are no restrictions on time or group size. Users can chat via voice/instant message and share desktop views, PDFs, and/or Word documents on conference participants’ screens. All that’s necessary is an internet-accessible computer, a microphone, and speakers.

Microsoft Software Grants – Discounted Software and More:Another important piece of the puzzle to improving intra-office communication is software continuity. Increase office productivity and efficiency by ensuring that all office computers are running the same version of the same software programs. By doing so, you will ensure that all documents are easily accessible to everyone within the organization. Purchasing software programs can get quite expensive, especially for nonprofits on a tight budget. To help reduce the financial burden on nonprofit organizations, Microsoft offers free and low-cost software and even software donations. Your organization may be eligible to receive popular programs like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint and more for free or a at discounted rate. Click here to learn more about this program.

YouSendIt – Large File Sharing Made Easy:Every once in a while, you may need to send or receive files that exceed your email mailbox limit. YouSendIt makes sending and receiving large files a breeze. Sign up for YouSendIt Lite and receive many of the benefits of the paid program – for free. Send files up to 50MB and allow up to 100 downloads of every file. Your files remain available for 7 days, giving your recipients plenty of time to download what you’ve sent.

Communicating To Your Audience: Spreading the Word with Social Media

You may be thinking to yourself, “Can social media really impact my organization that much?” Well, the simple answer is yes. For example, consider Facebook. With over 500 million (and growing) active users and some 700 billion minutes a month spent on Facebook by people around the globe – Facebook offers a world of opportunities for organizations looking to reach a completely new demographic. The bottom line is that if your nonprofit has failed to implement a social media strategy into the daily operations, then you’re behind the times and missing out on a great opportunity to spread the word about your cause. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide organizations with an excellent tool to connect with current volunteers, recruit new participants, and even communicate and support other nonprofit groups. Announce and promote volunteer opportunities, share event photos, recognize volunteers, collaborate with other organizations, facilitate group discussions and more – all at the click of a button.

For organizations considering implementing a social media campaign, here are a few important things to keep in mind.

Be consistent. Social networking requires interaction! If you think that simply logging on to Facebook or Twitter once a month and posting an occasional update will get the job done – you will be sorely disappointed with the outcome. Yes, managing your social media accounts can be very time consuming and somewhat frustrating. However, there are many free tools available to help you streamline this process. HootSuite, for example, is a social media dashboard that allows you to manage multiple social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, and more) at the same time. Monitor keywords, schedule messages, and track your success – all from the HootSuite dashboard. If you’re looking for a tool that will save you a great deal of time – HootSuite may be the solution for you.

Provide meaningful content for your followers.If used correctly, social media can serve as a gateway to building lasting relationships with volunteers and other nonprofit organizations. Therefore, much emphasis should be placed on providing meaningful content for your followers. Share resources that both volunteers and volunteer professionals may find useful. Engage your audience by starting discussions, asking questions, sharing photos, uploading videos, and more. Your social media success will depend upon the overall experience you provide for your followers.

Participate on pages other than your own. Take the time to interact with other groups’ social media pages – comment on Facebook posts, “Retweet” important messages from other nonprofits on Twitter, take part in surveys, share articles from LinkedIn groups. Show your support for other nonprofits and they will likely do the same for you.

Be patient. Social networking takes consistent effort on your part. With time and a lot of hard work, you will slowly see your fan base grow and interactions increase. However, do not expect this to happen overnight.

Find free resources to help with social media management.Many tools exist today for the sole purpose of simplifying the management of social media. A couple great resources to help get your search started in the right direction are: Heather Mansfield’s “33 Fun, Useful, and Totally Random Resources for Nonprofits” and “50 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits” by Chad Norman.

Communication With Volunteers: Utilizing Technology to Simplify Volunteer Management

Volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization. Without dedicated individuals who are willing to donate their time and skills because they believe in a particular cause, many nonprofits would cease to exist. The paradox, however, of having a volunteer-based workforce is that it takes time to recruit, schedule, and manage them. For years, organizations have depended upon inefficient paper-based systems to manually track volunteer activity using such things as spreadsheets and handwritten notes – resulting in a huge amount of unnecessary administrative labor. Under paper-based systems, communicating with volunteers can even be a challenge. With so many constantly changing variables like phone numbers and addresses to track, the task of manually keeping a current list of volunteer contact information is a nightmare.

Thanks to the introduction of cloud-based systems, nonprofits can transform the formerly time consuming, frustrating task of volunteer management into a fully automated, worry-free process. With volunteer management software, like VolunteerHub, organizations can improve overall efficiency by spending less time on minuscule administrative details and more time focusing on big picture goals. Post volunteer opportunities online, print sign-in sheets, track volunteer hours, send email reminders and thank you messages, limit registrations, generate rosters, and more. Participants can search and register to work events, track volunteer hours, and even update and manage their personal account information – freeing up valuable time for your staff to work on other important tasks. If your nonprofit still depends on a paper-based system, it’s probably time you consider a cloud-based system. If you’re not sure that volunteer management software is right for you, check to see if the system you are considering offers a free trial. This is an excellent way to check out all of the available features and ensure that the system fulfills your every need.

Technology at Your Fingertips

If you’re considering whether or not your nonprofit can afford to invest the time and money into implementing technology, the real question you should be asking yourself is can you afford not to. With the many free and low cost resources available to help manage such things as intra-office communications, social media, and volunteer coordination – technology that will improve the overall efficiency of your organization is literally at your fingertips.

Custom Software Development

Outsourcing and outstaffing are relatively new terms. Both firmly stepped into the IT sphere, and sometimes get confused. Indeed, they both involve remote work; after all, IT is all about remote work nowadays. But the core difference is that where outsourcing hands a whole business process (read: software project) to a third party, outstaffing presupposes hiring dedicated employees of a software company to work on the project controlled by the business owner.

What Is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is basically handing projects, functions, or activities to a third party, which has all the available resources to conduct it – such as qualified staff and equipment. With the importance of IT growing, businesses from various industries hand IT services to remote contractors which offer high-value IT products and services for lower labor costs.

The actual task of outsourcing is not saving money, but rather the opportunity to free the available resources and focus on new directions of core business activities, or develop those which need extra attention.

Why Is Outsourcing So Popular?

If IT is not the core activity of a business (which can be said about the overwhelming majority of businesses around the world), outsourcing is a reasonable solution to control the budget, avoid extra costs, help by lack of local resources, eliminate the need for hiring and/or training IT staff, and allow remote and efficient work in any part of the world.

There are several obvious pros to outsourcing that keep it running:
• lower costs of salaries and procurement (the latter is often left to your software contractor);
• you don’t have to overtake the HR record keeping, taxes, etc.; generally more responsibilities are delegated to your contractor;
• your contractor hires IT professionals and has the necessary equipment for development; therefore you get an easy way to access the state-of-the-art technologies and high-class IT professionals;
• your contractor manages and supplements project documentation – you receive it at the end of development, along with the source code and the deployed product;
• you are enabled to free your internal resources for core business activities.

The drawbacks include increased amounts of time required for communication: discussing details, clarifying requirements, and so on. Your contractor will have to adapt to your business environment and expectations. However, the problems of distance is what outsourcing successfully struggles with, and the more streamlined the contractor’s work processes are, the more successfully they overcome these problems.

What Is Outstaffing?

Outstaffing is much less talked about, yet has occupied its place in the IT sphere. The general mechanism is as follows. Your business hires the outstaffer’s employees, who continue working at their regular workplace, but basically ‘change’ their employer. In a nutshell, these are designers/developers/QA engineers who work on the tasks that you give directly. That’s the main difference from outsourcing.

Where outsourcing is the complex support of the whole project, outstaffing is all about hiring – the rest is a matter of contract and its details. Generally outstaffed employees work on a remote basis; sometimes people are invited to relocate and join the team permanently. The client may say, ”I need this person for further work, I don’t want to hire anyone else, and I’m fully satisfied with his/her work.” Actually the companies that work in outsourcing, receive such proposals as well, but in most cases they cannot guarantee that the same developer will be free when the client needs him/her. Outstaffing also presupposes problems of psychological tension, motivation, and adaptation (especially for new employees from different countries).

Which One Is For You?

These two options can provide high efficiency by urgent need. The choice of the method depends on the situation. Hiring a dedicated specialist makes sense if you are ready to guide their activities and take more responsibility, since you are in full control here. And if you require a certain amount of workforce which you don’t have at the moment, outstaffing can be the means of getting it.

If you are already acquainted with these employees and satisfied with their work, you may hire them to continue their work, for example, regularly maintain and/or test your website.

If you have a whole project to be completed (the actual majority of all cases), it’s more reasonable and convenient for you to outsource it to a competent team. Even if you don’t have any experience of work with an offshore software company, there are freelance marketplaces that ensure the needed level of transparency, and NDAs for protection of your confidential business information that might be disclosed to your contractor for the successful completion of the project. Outsourcing is more of a partnership, and very often the business and the software company grow fruitfully together through lasting business relationships.

What Is Open Source Software

Open source software is available under a software license that allows users to access the source code and edit it according to their requirements thus offering the ability to customize the software for different purposes. The software license protects the right of the user to edit and modify it in any way he wants. This characteristic is the prominent difference between open source software and closed source software model. The closed source model allows only the creator of the application to access and modify the software in any way.

Some of the advantages of open source software are mentioned below:

Customization: As discussed above, the ability to customize the software according to the requirements is the prime difference between open source and closed source model. The option of customizing the software allows developers to create a solution that specifically targets the requirements of their clients. Organizations and enterprises can extract the maximum benefits from this feature as they can get customized solutions for managing their day to day activities.

Freely Available: One of the other great advantages of using this technology is that it is usually available for free. Users just need to download the software from internet and start using it. This allows the user to utilize the saved resources for software enhancement and other activities. This also helps in reducing the overall cost of the project.

Support: Usually such popular software are supported by a large community of software developers who are always available online and help out developers who face problems while developing solutions. These software usually come along with a well formulated documentation that is very helpful while setting up and working on the software.

Availability of Resources: A successful software is always in demand therefore almost all the software development companies offer skilled resources who can utilize these software for creating a meaningful and useful solution for client. The developers also need to keep themselves informed and updated with latest and popular technologies if they want to survive in the tough job environment.

Enterprise Management Solutions: Each and every business is different with other businesses in some or the other way. This also implies that their problems and requirements are different just like the solutions required for them. It is almost impossible to make a software that will completely fulfill the requirements of any one type of business. However, open source software can be customized according to the business specific requirements of the client to create a solution that can fulfill the requirements of a particular business organization.

Currently there are numerous open source softwares available over the internet and can be freely downloaded. Some of the famous Open Source web technologies are Joomla, WordPress, Magento, Ruby on Rails, PHP, Java etc. These technologies along with numerous other OS technologies allow the developers all over the world to create client oriented solutions that are flexible and reliable. The OS technology is a boon for web developers who are usually working on stringent budgets and need cost effective platforms for developing and delivering quick and useful solutions to their clients.

What Makes PHP Social Networking Software

The huge success and growing popularity of sites like Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook have led to the introduction of social networking software designed to help individuals create and establish their own site. Among the many different types of community software applications available today, the PHP social networking software seems to have captured the interests of many individuals and has become a popular option among online businessmen.

The popularity of such software is primarily attributed to its open-source nature as well as to the convenience and ease of use it provides to users. It has the ability to run on any platform, whether on Linux or Windows.

Another reason why this software is such a huge hit is its simplicity. It’s easier to install and use this software. In the event that users are having difficulties with its installation or use, there are always online forums from where they can post their questions or ask advice and suggestions. Its huge popularity makes it very well documented and supported.

While PHP may be a highly complex and difficult programming language to learn, most especially to those who have no or little knowledge about computer programming, PHP social network software can prove to be beneficial in numerous ways. It provides users huge opportunities and options to customize their site according to their style and preference. Such software also has the ability to integrate different components with other software to produce a highly and completely-customized site. Most importantly, PHP software allows for a site that is stable enough to handle the different needs of a large network of members.

Such software may either be free or paid. If you are in the process of selecting the best software or are just starting out, using free software can be very helpful. They may not have advanced features but they definitely have basic tools and functionality like instant messaging; music, video, and photo sharing; profile search and profile comments; and online messaging and discussion forums. A free PHP social network software application also gives you the opportunity to try as many software as you can so you can better determine which will best suit your needs and which you are most comfortable with.

Meanwhile, if you want more advanced features and functionality, you can always go for paid PHP software. Of course, the more features and functionality you have for your site, the better it is for your business. Depending on your chosen software application, you can have access to more advanced tools and options like 3d chat, video chat, geo social networking, RSS feeds, games, and even VoIP communication. Some software applications may also require you to pay for add-on features like plug-ins and other applications.

With all these exciting features and functionality, as well as affordable options, it wouldn’t come as a surprise why PHP social networking software is a better and more popular option. Hundreds of vendors of this type of social networking software abound online. It’s just a matter of choosing which among these will best address the needs of your business.

Community Organizing

Oh no, don’t worry… this is not a political article.

The term does tend to bring to mind visions of activists on the streets of major cities corralling folks together to discuss, protest, or even support a common cause.

Thanks to social media, primarily social networking sites, we can now move some of our community organizing efforts off of the streets and on to the digital backbone of the internet.

Most of these sites offer features called groups or communities. Often we see and hear of the group or community function being used for such worldly important items like fan pages for popular music artists or pages supporting a favorite movie.

But many social network sites offer full community features that can go much deeper and can be very beneficial to local and national organizations, businesses and more. These community pages offer a full array of tools such as blogs, photo albums, discussion areas, wiki pages and more all dedicated to the particular community.

Member of a booster club for a school club or activity? Form a community and invite others to the community. There you can share ideas, photos, calendars and more all dedicated to that community and only its members.

Have a business and are working on a particular project that involves many different people and/or departments? You got it…. start a social network community. There you will be able to keep up with progress, share photo albums and files and more all dedicated to that project.

Some sites allow you to customize notifications so that you will be notified if any changes or additions are made to the community content.

Think of the benefits a good community site could offer to a teacher. Form a community for a particular class and you could post project and exam dates on the community calendar, help with questions on the community discussion board, and more.

So you see… you don’t have to be standing down on the corner or at the local community center with a clipboard gathering signatures and giving out information. You don’t even have to spend the time and resources forming your own site using complicated CMS software.

Changing Paradigm of Software Development

Open Source Software (OSS) has gained considerable importance in the software industry with extensive development and is now being widely accepted as a new model of business. The open source model is far more acceptable today due to the decreased degree of defects and errors as compared to proprietary software.

Technical Variations

Open source software, as the name suggests, allows accessibility to source code of a software program in order to make modifications to the software. Issues surrounding accessibility involves drafting licensing of the software in a manner which allows access to the source code. Whereas, in proprietary software the source code is not shared, viewed and modified. All modifications are done by the software developer as per the licensing agreement. Users of the proprietary software are required to purchase any upgrades of the existing software from the author of the software, as users are prohibited from copying, distributing, and modifying the software.

Although deviations have altered the arrangement between a vendor and customer of proprietary software, users are allowed to view and modify the source code without distributing it others. An example would be Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative (SSI) which allows the user to adapt its proprietary software as per their requirement by allowing them to make modifications in the source code.

Usability

A major point of difference between open source and proprietary software is the element of usability. OSS not reviewed by professional testers does not cater to a greater audience. Users generally discuss issues associated with an OSS in forums, online communities having fine documentation, news groups, and even live chats to review and modify the code base as against the proprietary software.

Enhanced Targeting of Customers

Users of open source software act both as the innovator and user.The software is targeted on the users and proprietary software, whose users and developers, are different so user requirements and expectation from the software might not be gauged correctly. Open source software allows for greater customization.

Cost Factor

OSS versions are released regularly and come free of cost. Proprietary software versions are released from time to time and needs to be bought. Highly priced compulsory virus protection, up-gradation expenses, support expense, and vendor-lockin involves high technology cost to a business opting for proprietary model.

Interoperability

Open source software is better in sticking to open standards in relation to other businesses, computers, users, and is not restricted to the proprietary data formats.

Innovation

OSS enables high levels of innovation by a large number of skilled people who can make modifications in source code for improved performance as per user demands and requirements. Proprietary software involves huge costs on research and development by a restricted number of developers writing the code. The team size might change with fresh applicants who may or may not have the capability to completely understand and write the particular code with the same level of efficiency.

Security

Due to the organizational nature, proprietary software is developed by a team of developers with a common goal in a restricted environment. The source code is accessible only to the team members who can modify the source code as per the requirements. This lowers the chances of error and bug penetration in the source code considerably. The level of security for the software against viruses is quite high in a proprietary model. With the OSS model, software is developed in a controlled situation, in a non-continuous structure, without a single objective and without communication between software developers. Lack of validation increases the possibility of virus.

However, there is a flip side. In open source software, a lot of people can access and view the code source, thereby making the possibility of bug detection quite certain.Quoting Linus Torvalds, founder of LINUX, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. OSS allows a lot more people to view and test the code thereby making flaw detection and fixing quite viable. Bugs detected in open source are fixed quicker. Developers of proprietary software on the other hand, might take weeks or even months to track a flaw and patch it up.

Changing Landscape

More companies are adopting the OSS model which has led to drastic reduction in technology costs, making OSS a feasible option for many small and medium sized enterprises, who can have Live CD’s and USB’s for LINUX software distribution.

Many large companies such as IBM and HP are considering open source software and the trends are going to spread at a faster rate for other companies too.

Important Aspects of Online Project Management

Project Management and task management software has one logical aim is to manage the projects in an effectual way to achieve their objectives. For individual point of view, the aim is to deliver the projected results with in stipulated time period, budget and most important as per excellence. However, for those who manage multiple projects, their expectation from online project management software is far more. It should provide the benefits like Task Management, Resource Management, Time Tracking, Collaboration tool, Real time chat, and in fact, Real time management. It should be easy to use and have centralized data facility. Now companies are more interested in having online management service so that their team members, clients as well as stake holders have access to information and data from any location. A software which can provide up-to-date information and generate a customize reports for all of them. Through which all log in member can view, communicate, discuss, and work freely. Moreover things like file sharing and proofing become effortless.

So, if these are the requirement, how can online web based project management software deliver such benefits consistently?

1. Data requirements for Decisions making.

Project management software achieves it aims and objectives quite simply, by providing relevant information to key stakeholders and project managers which they can trust upon. Information can be share or view by generating customized reports which can be helpful in making decisions rapidly and aptly. Good quality reporting requires accurate data and an effective means of processing and presenting it as significant information. While it means that providing the information is important, generating and maintaining centralized data is basic to the successful use of online management software; unless the project data is total, reliable and up to date, the project management software risks never gaining credibility.

2. Real time chat, file Sharing and proofing for team collaboration.

There are always a lot of discussions held constantly about the projects. For that, lots of meetings are organized among the team, project managers and even with management. It not only increases the project cost but throw away the precious time of team. Project management software efficiently helps in reducing the time and budget wastage. Real time chat is prominently used tool in online web based software. You can interact with the clients as well as team simultaneously from any location. The only thing required is an internet connection. Proofing tools and file sharing let the team know about the updating required by clients. Team can also share and maintain the files online. Project Managers and team instantly know the new updates through dashboards and email notifications. It increases the collaboration and time management among team members. Real time chats and file sharing becomes the important aspects of any online web based project management software.

3. Project Tracking and Time Tracking.

Online Project management software has two important aspects for this. Time-sheets must be delivered in the decided time-frames, and project managers must compile progress updates at the fixed dates. These need disciplined updating procedures that must be thoroughly adhered to by all project managers. By comparing real efforts achieved against the project finances, it provides the effective performance measurement and timely cautions against the shock of poor performance. Deep analysis and earned value dimension explain these aspects and good online project management software will give relevant information, often prominently marked, to catch management attention to the problem areas, in time for remedial action to have the desired impact.

The truly online project management tools perfectly help to achieve the objectives and goals of company projects. The key benefit of the online project management is the availability of the desired and timely information and effortless communicating it to all.

What Communication Is Effective in Software

As far as the software industry grows, there appears a chance for every software developing company to occupy a perceptible place in this niche. Of course it is worth remembering that the guarantee of the software success on the market is its quality. Therefore, the testing services should not be neglected.

It does not matter what testing should be performed: mobile testing, website testing or desktop testing – for all of these types of testing exists the undisputed importance of communication. Sometimes this point can be even decisive, because if testers do not communicate with developers or customers, the achievement of mutual understanding and quality of work cannot always be guaranteed.

Many customers prefer to focus more on team building and installing the constant feedback at the beginning of the project, as they realize that the final result may depend on it. It is not always easy to establish a general model of communication that suits everyone – both customers and testers.

5 Features of Productive Communication in Software Testing:

1. Politeness.

2. Distinctness.

3. Shortness.

4. Ethic.

5. Completeness.

In any type of testing the first and almost the most important and significant point of interaction is a bug tracking system. For example, if the functional testing is performed, testers detect the functional issue, clearly describe it step by step with mentioning all the important details and location of the bug. Every ticket has the Comment field, where developers can leave their notifications or explanations. But even if tickets in the bug tracker are correctly and comprehensively reported it is not always enough to avoid misunderstandings.

Also one of the important factors of intercourse in software testing is the interaction of testing team members among each other. Testers are obliged to collaborate and submit to public discussion all the important issues and tickets, especially critical errors in the functional operation of the software.

6 Points of Communication Within Testing Team:

1. Familiarity with each other.

2. Feedback.

3. Active discussions.

4. Experience exchange.

5. Sharing news.

6. Talking the same language.

The sixth point – talking the same language – should be underlined and explained as the separate phenomenon. For example, while performing localization testing the team members may be faced with misconceptions and disorders. Most often this happens because anyone can use different names for the same concepts. In order to avoid confusion, the Program Manager or QA lead should form a common glossary of terms.

Every software testing company should pay attention to the necessity of meetings with customers, internal chats and team building to maintain the continuous communication among all the project participants. Following and implementing all these points will definitely assure the professional work within the team and the company’s prestige in common.

Best Blogging Software

The blogging platform wars are getting really interesting and much of the discussion I find myself in lately revolves around what is happening with various CMS systems. The market can essentially be defined into 3 major camps: remotely hosted, self hosted, and community based systems. I have used pretty much every blogging platform available and each of them has its ups and downs. In this article I will cover the best options for each area taking into account price, usability, market share and of course SEO potential.

Remotely Hosted Blogging Software
(Note: I cannot really recommend any of these from an SEO stand point as optimizing a domain you do not own or control is obviously not a good marketing plan.)

Blogger

Blogger is completely free and currently owns the majority of the remotely hosted user base, but not by a land slide . Bought out by Google in 1999, Blogger essentially fired up the blogging trend we see today. It is by far the easiest overall solution to use and if you are a novice user looking to throw up some recipes or poetry, this is for you. Blogger is completely free and includes some great features like comments, photo blogging, and a basic community feel with user profiles. Because it is so dumbed down there are some features you may not find with Blogger that are only available through 3rd party add-ons. As a side note Blogger weblogs do quite well in the search engines and this was recently exploited with it being the first choice for spam blogs or splogs. A splog is a weblog used for the sole purpose of gaining inbound links or generating thousands of keyword stuffed pages with AdSense and the like. The recent Google Jagger update cleared a large portion of this up. Free.

Typepad

Released in 2003 Typepad is a product of Sixapart, the makers of Movable Type. it is largely based on MT but there are some major enhancements and differences. Your blog can accommodate one or more photo albums with auto thumbnail generation. You can easily add music, books, and other media to Typelists, which grab a thumbnail from Amazon and other retailers for easily displaying in your sidebar. Typepad is also a great deal more technical than Blogger so a bit of HTML know how is recommended. On that note editing your blog to look the way you want it also quite easy and Typepad blogs are known for being very eye pleasing, intuitive and easy to navigate. In Sixapart’s business model Typepad is aimed at regular home and small business users while Movable Type is targeted at larger businesses or for internal intranets. Price: Basic, $4.95 a month; premium, $8.95 to $14.95 a month.

Xanga

These guys originated back in 1999 as a site for sharing book, music and movie reviews. Although it quickly morphed into a full blown blogging tool Xanga still maintains the ability to run a powerful review site. Xanga pulls data from several retailers like Amazon.com including thumbnails, pricing and a cover. The software also is very usable by novices with a powerful WYSIWYG editor allowing for easy HTML editing, adding smilies, links, and other symbols. By using Blog rings it is also easy to interface with Xanga’s other 3 million users to share interests, ideas, and of course traffic. Xanga comes in a free and $25 flavor.

Mentions: Blogsome, Blogster, MindSay, Multiply,

Self Hosted Blogging Software

WordPress

WordPress originally began as a mod of an older open source package known as B2. WP is MT’s biggest competition and is often the bain of endless WordPress vs Movabletype style threads around the internet. Although launched just over a year or so ago WP has really taken the blogosphere by storm. And with good reason – WordPress is completely free under GNU licensing and is packed with many featured you will not find anywhere else. It is also much easier to install and get blogging for novice users and has a very large and helpful community. WP runs on PHP/mySQL and is quite scalable judging from some of the very large and trafficked sites I see using it. It also sports utilities to import files from Movable Type, Textpattern, Greymatter, Blogger, and b2. WordPress recently upped the ante when Yahoo recently included them on their hosting packages, in addition to MT. I have to admit I am finding myself more and more digging WP and will likely convert Profitpapers to WP as I get time (it can be a biznitch). WordPress is free.

Movable Type

Aside from maybe Greymatter (the original open source blogging tool), Movabletype dominated the blogging market share in 2002-2004. Released in late 2001, Perl based Movable Type by Sixapart has maintained a large portion of the blogging market share, due mainly to the fact that there is a free version (supporting up to 3 weblogs) and that it is incredibly powerful, intuitive and easy to customize. Template driven Movable Type also sports one of the largest communities of developers and blogging enthusiasts around, meaning lots of support, idea sharing, and of course plugins. Movable Type can be configured to dynamically generate HTML, PHP or any other kind of pages you like, meaning it is incredibly scalable, fast, and loved by spiders. It is perhaps the most well known blogging software for SEO purposes and it what currently powers Profitpapers and several of my other projects. Moveabletype is either Free with 3 authors, 1 weblog, and no support or $69.95 with unlimited weblogs, authors and full support.

Textpattern

Textpattern is the brainchild of Dean Allen and was written to ease publishing of content for those not inclined to learn HTML. Like WP and MT Textpattern runs on PHP and mySQL for easy administration, backups, and power. What really sets textpattern apart from the others is the integration of Textile. Textile is a tool for easily formatting content for those who do not know HTML. WP & MT have modules for textile as well but it is native to the Textpattern system. Another bonus of the app is its superior handling of comment spam due to its smaller market share. On a blogs I maintain running WP and MT I often find myself clearing out spam every day, whereas on some very busy textpattern sites I receive only manual comment spam (not bot driven). TP is open source.

Mentions: Blosxom, LifeType, Serendipity.

Community based Blogging Software

Slash

Waaaaay back in 1997, Rob “CmdrTaco” Malda launched a website known as Chips & Dips, supplied via his student account at Hope College in Michigan. In 1999 Andover.net acquired Slashdot. Shortly after, the underlying code was released as open source software called Slash. Like Movable Type and Greymatter, Slash runs on Perl, but it also has established hooks into MySQL and a very strong track record of scaling to enormous traffic levels. To give you an idea, the term ‘slashdotted’ originated from acquiring a link on this now infamous and very popular tech news website – and consequently watching your servers melt. If you have never messed around with Slash, you really should as it is quite a powerful platform. Slash is open source.

Scoop

Another well known Perl based community blogging software is Scoop. Scoop is the software that powers Kuro5shin, DailyKos and many other busy community weblogs. Scoop took the Slashdot idea and expanded on it, making the discussion rather than the news the focus of the application. Where Slashdot entries tend to have a link with added commentary pointing readers off the site, Scoop points to stories written by members of the community keeping the reader within your own weblog. Scoop is also well known for handling large volumes of traffic and a large very technical community. Scoop is free .

Drupal

Drupal is a well known open source community blogging platform with a very large community of users and developers. Not only is Drupal free but it is damn powerful. Instead of Perl, which is quite hard to decode at times, even if you are a fluent coder, Drupal uses a PHP/mySQL platform. Drupal is also a very community focused application with a built in forum, download area, and hundreds of other home brewed mods and hacks. If you are looking for a lot of functionality give Drupal a check – the project has become quite mature. It is also much easier to use and customize than either Scoop or Slash. Drupal is also another open source project.

Communication in Software

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Today, in the age of high technology, we can observe an incredibly rapid development of all sectors of Economy, Business and other substantial areas, but the most rapid growing industry is Information Technology. The expression “time is money” has never been so important, because the timely provided and processed information becomes increasingly significant.

Nowadays an outsourcing software testing has reached a great popularity. This kind of quality assurance services implies a transfer of the project for testing to a group of testers outside the company, which created and developed the software. Frequently outsourcing testing companies work in another city, country or even on another continent, i.e. remotely.

Customers applying to such a company naturally expect from its staff the knowledgeable and professional ownership of technologies that will support communication at a distance. This is due to the fact that during the testing process it will certainly be necessary to conduct online meetings, video chats, and perhaps even online conferences devoted to discussion of the project, emerging issues and controversial moments.

The complexity of remote communication is that the testing team, customers and developers can be in radically opposite or significantly distant from each other countries. This means that the different time zones and foreign languages should be taken into account, so the Project Managers should be familiar with all the types of remote interaction.

5 Basic Types of Remote Communication in Software Testing:

1. Meetings.

2. Bug tracking tools.

3. Shared testing tools.

4. Online chats and conferences.

5. Webinars.

Nominally, everyone knows these types of remote communication, but let’s look at the benefits of each of them in more detail. The first point is meetings – they should be held at least twice a week – to discuss urgent problems and issues arising in the workflow. This type of communication is very important because it may result a reduction of time costs and prevent mistakes in work.

Bug tracking and shared testing tools are quite convenient method and is suitable for any kind of testing – mobile testing, web site testing or desktop testing. In these systems testers create tickets and bug reports, and developers review each case, ask questions or make comments, accept or receive the report in processing.

Webinars, online chats and conferences are also quite useful, for example, in manual testing or automated testing, as these testing types require a constant exchange of information, and sometimes even the round-the-clock support.

4 Benefits of the Remote Communication:

1. Constant focus on project.

2. Reducing time and expense.

3. Awareness at all stages of project development.

4. Productivity and effectiveness.

The remote work requires the full commitment and testers need to pay attention not only to the process of software testing and verification, but also to their communication skills. Quality feedback ensures productive work and the satisfaction of both the customer and on the software testing company.