How Has Technology Changed Art?

We all are witnessing the changes being made in the art these days. Technology has the power to change anything. It is changing the traditional art into digital art.

Amazing digital art has taken place of traditional art. Digital art is exploring itself in many different ways that one can imagine. Different software is developed to increase the presence of digital art.

Photoshop Artists are one of the most common digital artists who give an amazing look to a picture with the help of imaging software and different applications.

These applications are developed with the help of technology. Anyone can be a digital artist having knowledge and proficiency in Photoshop.

Difference between traditional artists and digital artists is that traditional artists use paint and cement for their art and digital artists use imaging software and applications in their art. Some of the applications have the power to create 3D art work.

Technology has taken art into a new level of creativity. Let us talk about how technology has changed traditional art into digital art. We know that internet is ruling the world with its power. So, artists decided to present their art online with the help of internet. This is possible with use of technology.

You must have seen art galleries and attended painting exhibitions in your life. These doesn’t work well these days so artists find a way where they can get more attention and more praise for their work. Most of the artistic stuff is now seen online and is circulated to the art lovers.

There are some places where exhibitions are held and we do respect them. But presenting paintings, sculptures and art work online is in trend. Some of the artists are also showing their art on the basis of card swipe panel or coins.

How this work – when you enter coins or swipe card in the panel, the panel shows you some of the art work for a few minutes and then gets closed and if you want to see it again or explore more, further you need to swipe your card or add coins into it. This is how artists are using technology.

How digital artists are using technology for their art work

Digital artists already in touch with technology are aware of the systems that are in trend and use them to create their art work and sell them online.

Some of the professional digital artists are earning a lot of bucks by selling their art work. They can also design the ones that you want and are also ready to make any modifications you need.

They use different software to explore their skills and made it more impressive. They are using technologies that offer new ways to express their art work in a realistic way for much more time.

They are using different types of media and mix them to provide a more creative art work. Their 3D art work looks as real as it is present live in front of you.

Technology not only brings changes in education, medical field, industry and business but also brings a huge change in the art work and the artists as well.

Technology opens different paths for the artists to enter into for a good earning. They made their profession more powerful along with their art work.

In our busy lives we hardly get time to meet each other and our loved ones. How can it be possible to see exhibitions and galleries? So technology has brought this change in the art workers to show their skills and talent to people from anywhere in the world.

Technology is getting advanced and making more useful for the common man as well as artists. Technology has provided us with several things that we should be thankful. One of them is digital art work.

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Computer Hardware Course – The Advantages of Taking It

Computer hardware courses are an excellent way to learn how to manage the inevitable computer failures that you will encounter as you find yourself hanging on your computer more and more everyday. While you do have the option of taking your computer to the service center it can cost you a lot of time and money. Your computer hardware course is invaluable for helping you understand the hardware requirements for your computer that will be enable you to jump to the rescue instead of trudging along to the repair shop.

It does not take an engineer or a technician to be successful in learning about computer hardware. If you are interested in engineering or technician positions however, a background in computer hardware can make you a far more valuable person in your field and can enhance your employability tremendously.

To troubleshoot your computer you can do very well with a simple computer hardware course. You can become your own specialist and forgo spending the money on an IT specialist.

The time invested in a computer hardware study program will pay off quickly when things go wrong. But, this is not the only reason taking a computer hardware course would be a good plan.

Not only will you be able to fix your computer, but you will have the knowledge to build a computer from scratch. The cost of computer parts is often far less expensive than buying a pre-made package. You will also be able to customize your computer so that it is perfectly designed for your needs.

By avoiding the cost of labor from the computer store you will have a far less expensive computer that is perfect for you. You will also no longer need to worry about taking your computer in for repairs as you will know just how to fix what goes wrong.

Computer knowledge is in high demand no matter what career you are involved in. With the information you learn in a computer hardware course you will be able to take on an IT position. Such positions are in high demand as a limited number of people have the knowledge to take on an IT role.

The time needed to take a computer hardware course is well worth the investment. Learning about software and programming can only make you even better with your computer goals. If you are limited in time, not to worry. Many courses are available online or on CD for you to do at home.

Take some time to discover exactly what will be covered in your course. The computer technology field is huge, so you will need to focus. You will never be able to learn everything about computer hardware in a single course. It takes a lifetime of study to learn, and with technology constantly changing you will need to continuously work on keeping your knowledge up to date. A computer hardware course will bring you a chance to get ahead of the game and keep up with your own computer.

Louis Zhang, computerhardwarecute dot com

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Learn How to Fix “Runtime Error 53 File Not Found” Easily

Computer errors generally plague us a lot. They have to be removed immediately before they can cause any further problems. One such error is the run time error 53. It shows the message “runtime error 53 file not found”.

In this error, problem occurs when a software program that is installed on the PC shows this error because it is trying to reach a DLL file that has been removed from the windows registry. This registry contains all the files that are used by Windows for executing any kind of commands by human users. This DLL file might have never been installed on the computer itself.

To fix runtime error 53 from your system, some simple steps have to be followed. Such steps include clicking on the start menu and then landing at the control panel. After you reached the control panel, open the programs and features icon. Open up all the programs stored in the computer through it. Uninstall the program, which produced the run time error 53 message. A window will also open up telling the user that the program has been removed from the system.

To make sure that the DLL file is stored again on the computer, one has to remove the program and then put it back. The program can be reintroduced into the system through a hard disk or a CD. Instructions will appear on the screen as this program gets installed. After clicking on the install it now option, the user will see the option of terms and conditions on the screen. Click on the “I agree” choice to continue with the installation. The operating systems that generally display this error are Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Run the program to ensure that runtime error 53 is not displayed again. If the error is still being produced, then contact the company, which supplied you with the software.

It is also intelligent on your part if you find out about the compatibility of your software with the operating system of your computer or other software. You can find out about this compatibility through an online research. The website of the software developer can also yield you such details. Tell the software developer about the intricacies of your system to get an adequate response from him about the runtime error 53.

However, the last and most easy solution to fix “runtime error 53 file not found” error is using windows registry cleaner software. Registry cleaner software can always eradicate any registry errors produced by wrong entries, which cause a runtime error 53. It can delete all the useless entries in the registry that are causing such an error. Using such software can ensure that you get an error-free system.

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How to Repair DBF Files by Using DBF Recovery Software

As a computer user you must have heard about a DBF file or some of you have used it. DBF is a database file format used by various database software programs, such as: Visual FoxPro, Clipper, dbFast, CodeBase, MultiBase, dbXL, Arago and similar database programs. A database file is a collection of data organized in a tabular form. A DBF file can be easily opened, edited and saved by any of these database programs therefore, this file format is very popular among computer users.

The most common use of a database file is to store a large amount of data and information. The file is widely used in almost every sector, such as: corporate and educational sectors to store the data and information. It has become an essential file format for an individual and an organization.

Where this file format is very useful for users on the other hand, it may create some serious problems as well. Sometimes a DBF file may become inaccessible or invalid due to corruption. DBF is not immune to corruption; in fact, this file format is prone to corruption due to its large size and complex file structure. It might be easily corrupted due to various reasons, such as: virus attacks, malfunction in database application, hard disk drive failure, software collision, unexpected cancellation of DBF, human errors and many more. These are some common reasons which can play an important role in database file corruption.

While opening a corrupt DBF file you may receive some error messages something like these:

  • “File .dbf does not exist”.
  • “The fields in table did not match the entries in the database”.
  • “Access to table disabled due to previous error”.
  • “Database file appears corrupt: Page is of wrong type.
  • “Corrupt table”/ “index header”.
  • “Filename .dbf has become corrupted”.

These are some common errors which frequently take place at the time of corruption. For example: you are working on your DBF file, everything is fine. But all of a sudden your database application (Visual FoxPro or other) starts hanging. You have no other option other than restarting the system. But when you restart your system and open the same DBF file, in which you were working earlier, it does not open or you get an error message saying the file is corrupted or damaged. This must be very frustrating situation for any user since all the hard work will go into the vain. All the data and information stored in the file might be lost forever. You have to re-create the file, which might not be possible in some cases.

In such critical state a BKF file will definitely help you. If you have backed up the database file (which is now corrupted), then you can easily restore it from the BKF file. But sometimes the BKF file may not be available or corrupted or invalid. In this situation you can use third-party DBF recovery software. This is one of the most efficient and effective solutions to fix corrupt DBF files. The DBF recovery software is designed to repair an extremely corrupted DBF file and to restore maximum data from it. It is highly capable to resolve or fix all the errors from corrupted DBF files. The software supports all popular database applications, such as: dBase III, dBase IV, dBase V, Visual FoxPro, Clipper, dBFast, CodeBase, MultiBase, dBXL and Arago. The best feature of the software is its self-describing user interface. It requires no technical knowledge or skills to use this software. Any tech savvy and a novice user can easily and comfortably use this software to repair corrupted DBF files. The DBF Recovery software is available with free demo version. Users can download the demo version before buying the full software. This helps users to examine the features and performance.

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What Is The Difference Between ERP And Enterprise System?

Enterprise system and Enterprise Resource Planning System terms are similar but there is difference between an enterprise system and an ERP system. An ES or enterprise system is a large scale system which includes packages like ERP and CRM. ERP is a subset of Enterprise System or it can be said that ES is a superset of ERP. It contains a variety of solutions. ES contains applications and packaged solutions which can be directly used in an enterprise. On the other hand ERP system is the automation of the business processes and the solutions are in the form of modules which are designed according to the client’s requirements.

The functions are customized according to the client’s business environment. Enterprise system does not include architecture of other solutions whereas an ERP implementation automates systems using technical aspects. ERP system includes architectures and databases and is client server architecture. The system is server based therefore the consultant needs to be aware of the technical aspect too.

Another difference between an ES and an ERP system is that the ERP is aimed at improving the functionalities of the organization whereas the ES helps to improve the overall maintenance and accuracy. It provides for better solutions and aids in decision making. ES is difficult to implement compared to Enterprise resource planning and even the timeframe needed for implementation maybe more. The overall impact is high but so are the risks involved. If the ES is not implemented in the right manner, it can cause business failure and if implemented properly it can increase the efficiency and profits of the business organization. It is normally required when there is a big drawback in the current procedures and methodologies in the organization and need to be corrected. The company going in for enterprise system needs to be careful while choosing the software and the vendors due to the risk of failure involved.

The difference between an enterprise system and an ERP system is that ERP is mostly used for medium scale companies to big companies and ES is restricted to the big companies. There are many complex functions involved in big companies which cannot be provided solutions for alone by ERP. The role of ERP is restricted when compared to enterprise system because it does not include customer relationship or vendor management.

These applications are needed when the business process is complex and on a big scale. Therefore bigger organizations need to go with ES instead of enterprise resource planning alone. ERP is also an important system to streamline the internal processes but it does not provide for taking care of the external processes. Enterprise system takes care of the end to end business process of organization since it involves other applications also like SCM and CRM. There is quite a lot of difference between an enterprise system and an ERP and it depends on the company whether it wants to go with an ES to streamline the entire process starting from supplying, production and customer or whether he wants to go with an ERP system to streamline the internal process.

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Turn Your Basement Into a Virtual Shooting Gallery

An indoor shooting simulator is easy to add on to most projection based home theater systems, and in most cases is an inexpensive way to add hours of entertainment for the whole family. People of all ages enjoy playing the wide range of games that are available for the system, everything from “Baseball Challenge” to “Elephant Hunter” will keep your family and friends entertained. Utilizing a shooting simulator is not only a great way to add excitement to your home theater room; it is also a get way to keep your shooting skills sharp.

System Basics:

There are a few basic requirements for adding a shooting simulator to an existing home theater. The simulator runs on a normal Windows based computer, software is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. The image is broadcast through a projector to a screen, which most projectors and home theater screens will be suitable for use with this simulator. Now all you need to add is a basic simulator package, which includes a rifle, case, camera and five games. Installation of the simulator will only take about thirty minutes to setup and install the new software and hardware. Now you are ready to start enjoying the very best of simulated shooting. To recap the items you need: computer, projector, screen and a simulator package.

Benefits of Indoor Shooting:

There are many advantages to adding an indoor shooting simulator to you home theater room, these are just a few.

Convenience- having the ability to practice your shooting skills from within your own house, cuts down on drive time to the range and you can fire up your system anytime you want.

Cost Savings- ammunition is expensive! You will save a lot of money practicing your skills using a true to life replica laser firearm verses using live ammo.

Safety- using a laser firearm is a much safer weapon to practice will and it’s a lot better for your hearing.

Shooting Variety- with a shooting simulator you have the ability to practice your skills on a wide range of software titles. You can practice shooting skeet and with just a touch of a button you can switch over to another game and practice your marksmanship on simulated popup targets.

Entertainment- Gather you friends and family, challenge them for the highest score or for bragging rights.

Packages and Software:

With this system, there are many packages of both hardware and software available. Looking for a portable package or maybe a complete package if you don’t have a projector, computer and screen? Those packages and more are available. There are over 35 software titles currently available, which can be purchased separately or in 15 game packages. Software titles are being added, so you will always have the option to buy the latest games on the market. Do you have the best Halloween party on your block? There is a Halloween software package that will insure your party is unforgettable. Do you have a young hunter or marksman that could benefit from “Hunter’s Education” software? It is an option on this simulator. Teach them everything from ethical shooting to animal anatomy, with the hunter’s Ed package. Looking to hone your archery skills? This simulator has packages available for you bow enthusiasts. There are several optional firearms which can be added to the system, to maximize the skill development and enjoyment of the simulator.

Adding a shooting simulator to your theater room is easy and a cost effective way of increasing the entertainment value of your room as well as improve shooting skills. If you would like some more information on the shooting simulators or have any questions please contact me through the website.

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Corel DRAW – Best Desktop Publishing Software

Corel DRAW is a supreme supplier of graphics software, including the popular Corel DRAW program. Corel DRAW has tools that allow the user to both create and edit images. The type of desktop publishing tools that you use will depend on the type of project. For more information and assistance, use the Corel website.

Corel DRAW is the best Desktop publishing software that empowers users to create illustrations containing graphics, text and photographs. Corel has an extensive range of tools which enable the user to edit any shape or character with ease and precision, fit text to curves and create custom color separations. It is developed and marketed by Corporation of Ottawa. This tool can open files: Adobe PageMaker, Microsoft Publisher and Word, and other programs can print documents to Adobe PDF using the Writer printer driver, which such software can then open and edit every aspect of the original layout and design.

Several innovations to vector-based illustration originated with Corel: a node-edit tool that operates differently on different objects, fit text-to-path, stroke-before-fill, quick fill/stroke color selection palettes, perspective projections, mesh fills and complex gradient fills.

One of this software’s many strengths is the huge range of over 1,000 fonts that it comes with, provided in both TrueType and Postscript Type 1 format. Corel differentiates itself from its opponent in a number of ways: The first is its positioning as a graphics suite, rather than just a vector graphics program. A full range of editing tools allow the user to adjust contrast, color balance, change the format from RGB to CMYK, add special effects such as vignettes and special borders to bitmaps. Bitmaps can also be edited more extensively using Corel PhotoPaint, opening the bitmap directly from Corel and returning to the program after saving. It also allows a laser to cut out any drawings.

Expert believed it was the first of the Windows-based drawing programs and has built on this early start to become far-and-away the dominant drawing package on the PC. Its biggest strength – and its biggest potential limitation – is its all-encompassing approach. In the past this has led to accusations of unfocused bloating, but with version 7.0 Corel has addressed the criticisms with a far tighter and better rationalized program. Even so, there’s a huge range of functionality to cover.

Corel DRAW Download was originally developed for Microsoft Windows and currently runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. The current version, X5, was released on 23 February 2010.

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Strengths and Weaknesses of Waterfall Approach for Software Development

One of the most famous and widely used approaches for software development is the waterfall model. Waterfall approach is an old technique that has been in use for quite some time, but in modern times agile approach is gaining prominence.

Waterfall approach, as is evident from the name, refers to a systematic approach where one step comes after the other. It cannot go the other way round. The process works like the waterfall effect that flows in one direction, which is from up to down.

In this process the life cycle of the development process is predetermined. All the steps are defined before the start of the project. The approach is predictive, where the team is well aware of the order of each step and therefore works accordingly. It starts from the requirement analysis, the design phase and then proceeds on to the implementation, testing and the maintenance phases.

The waterfall approach can be quite beneficial for those who are quite clear on their requirements. A planned approach works for them because they want fixed processes and budget. Where fixed processes are beneficial, at the same time they can be inconvenient at times. In cases where the client is not clear on the requirements and finds in the middle of the project that he/she wants to change course, this approach can prove to be quite problematic.

Another point of the waterfall approach is that the requirement analysis and design of architectural structure can consume a lot of time. Extensive research is done initially as the next phases depend completely on the planning strategy. However, the good thing is that everything is thoroughly worked out and each aspect is studied beforehand. The developers in such cases know what is expected of them.

A waterfall approach works in a systematic order, with one step following the other and the testing phase comes in the end. If there are any big problems encountered in the testing phase, it means a long process to make the amends. The process can consume extra time and money.

We cannot conclude that one approach is better than the other, as every method would have its own strengths and weaknesses. The determination of success for each method depends on how it is being used and whether the approach suits the scope of work being undertaken. While one approach may be suitable for a particular project, it might become totally useless under different circumstances. For example, some believe that agile methods are not well suited for offshore development, as they require a closer contact and communication that is not possible in an offshore project.

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Schedule Slippage – Root Causes

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

Root Causes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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Introduction to Fixed Asset Management

There are obvious benefits from implementing and maintaining a record and control over assets. Savings can be obtained from being able to both see current asset deployment and thenby maximizing their use. Monitoring assets will reduce unauthorized use or misappropriation and insure employees leaving a firm return assets under their control. In some cases a system is mandated by government regulations, terms of lending, public grant terms, insurance terms etc. One person can maintain and manage all fixed assets of a business if they have software to assist them. Computer systems and software available reduce complexity, save time and prevent mistakes. Why use an asset management software program?

While paper and pencil methods can be used, software programs assist in the recording, maintenance and auditing of assets. This saves time and gives a clear picture of assets since sorting and viewing in different ways is quick and easy.

The most basic 'solution' would be using a spreadsheet program such as excel. Even after migrating to software specifically designed for asset management there are times that a spreadsheet program may continue to be useful.

What is an Asset?

What you call an asset often depends upon your business activities. The first thing that comes to mind is fixed assets such as computers, production equipment, office furnishings etc. You might even wish to consider employees as assets or even service and maintenance contracts. A flexible asset management software program can provide a way to track many things most of us would not consider to be assets.

What are my first steps in setting up a system or 'solution'?

1: Decide what assets will be managed.

The more assets the more work in setting up your system. Limiting assets to only those over a certain dollar value is a good idea.

2: Deciding what characteristics of assets it is important to record within the software.

Your choices will not only have an effect upon the amount of work required but also the amount to which you can manipulate and view asset information by sorting on asset information field or combination of fields.

For example if you setup a field for 'location' then you can sort data to see what assets are in each location. If you also have a field for 'type' or 'class' then you could further sort and display to show only certain types of assets such as computers at one or more location.

As in every aspect of life one has to make tough choices between what is ideal and what is feasible. Your choices will have an effect upon data data when new assets arrive as well as collecting information about existing assets. Choices you make will also have a bearing upon your choice of software since some may not handle everything you want. One such a limitation is found within the AssetTrakker Pro software program. TrackitSoftware does not provide a method of tracking depreciation because it was felt this added too much complexity requiring the collecting and maintaining of a lot more data. Additionally, they felt, handling depreciation requires superior knowledge of government rules and regulations beyond the expertise of the very people that stand to benefit most from asset management. Accounting departments already calculate and account for depreciation. * Some software does promote depreciation calculation but only limited functionality that in most cases is not the way regulations demand.

Some help!

Below is a listing of Asset Attributes 'fields' for your consideration. You will not want to use all of them for your own 'solution' and may well have additional ones you need.

Asset #: The key identification reference used to track assets. They can be straight numbers or a number with an alphabet prefix. (0001 or A001). This number is used for audit purposes and for cross-reference.

Make: Manufacturer

Model: Use when arranging service or buying parts. Use as allowed grouping by model type.

Serial #: Specific asset identification. Needed when making warranty or insurance claims.

Cost to Repl .: Estimate the cost of replacing an asset. Useful for planning, risk assessment and insurance.

Cross Ref. #: Reference other asset number or tie together group of assets.

Type: Can be used for general grouping such as furniture, computer, shipping, etc.

Condition: Helpful to see what is likely to require replacement or decide on service needs.

Description: Other detail in addition to make, model, and serial number.

Memo: Additional information about the asset. If a computer you might want to list details of the hardware configuration or even the programs installed on it.

Department: This is helpful for sorting assets by department to assist in auditing.

Location: Good field to have so that a search / sort can give you a clear view of where assets are located.

Used by: Necessary if you have assets in the personal possession of an employee and / or assets off business concessions.

Date Assigned: Useful if assets are moved around or for telling how long an asset has been at its current location.

Expected EOL: The anticipated date when the asset will no longer be useful.

Funded by: Source of funds if provided by Bond Issue, or outside funds (loan) or a grant.

Cost: Total cost of acquiring an asset.

Date Acquired: Helps give some idea when replacement may be required.

Disposed: Indicates an asset has been disposed of.

Disposed Date: Date asset was disposed of.

Business Use%: Used if an asset is not used full time by the business to break down asset use. Not for everyone, but a field that imagination might find an indispensable use for.

OUT: Used for Tool / Equipment Tracking,

Taken By / In From: Used for Tool / Equipment Tracking to indicate who is taking or returning item.

Date Due: Used for Tool / Equipment Tracking to show when an asset is due back.

Recovered Value: Net proceeds of the disposal of an asset.

Disposed Detail: Notes on how and where an asset was treated of.

Warranty: Indicates if asset is covered by a warranty or could be used if covered by a service / maintenance contract.

Warranty Expiry: It is useful to see what expiries are approaching for tracking maintenance or service agreements. Helps prevent paying for service covered by warranty as well as prompting the repair of items before expiration.

Image: Can assist in asset identification or where 'look' is an important feature. Useful if insurance claim ever made.

Value: Could be amount the asset is insured for. Risk exposure control.

Leased: Helps keep track of Leased vs Owned assets.

Lease End: Used to warn when assets have to be replaced or the lease has to be renewed according to the terms of the lease.

Lease Start: Commencement date of lease on leased equipment.

Lease Co: The name of the company from which an asset is leased.

Audit Date: This column records the date the batch scans of assets were made for audit purposes.

Auditor: Record the name of the person who performed the audit.

What next?

By now you have a good idea of ​​what asset information you want to track. Before looking at the various software packages available you should consider how many people will be entering data and how many will be accessing the data. For a smaller organization it is likely that just one person will be involved but in larger firms despite a number will wish to participate. Your situation could require purchasing more than one software license and the software must support multiple users.

Use a Barcode Scanner?

A barcode scanner can be used to speed data entry and auditing. This will add to the cost and most lower priced software packages offer limited support for barcode scanners. If properly incorporated into software a scanner can provide excellent value and save a lot of time, particularly for annual audit purposes.

Below are outlined the types of barcode scanners used with asset management software.

A 'dumb' tethered ccd scanner is cheapest and purchased for around $ 70. This can only be used when plugged into the computer and acts just to a keyboard in that you scan a barcode and it is put into whatever cell or space you are in.

A 'laser' tethered scanner is more money but will be able to scan smaller barcodes and sometimes have a defect field of view (easier to scan a barcode quickly).

A ccd or laser scanner which has built in memory so scans can be made and then the scanner can be brought back and plugged into a computer, and those scans uploaded. This is extremely useful for audit purposes. For maximum utility your software should be optimized to take advantage of this 'batch' memory capability. A capable unit can be obtained for around $ 150.

A laser scanner with internal memory, as well as an input screen and keys, means that after scanning a barcode you can add additional information. These are more expensive and again their use has to be integrated into your management software. While prices are coming down you are looking at units in the pocket pc price range plus scanner cost. It is usual for software utilizing these units to also, for some reason, be priced higher.

Asset Management Software

The range of prices for asset management software is $ 200 to $ 10,000 and all require you to do the entry of existing asset data as well as some setting up for your requirements. Some offer telephone advice at additional cost but hands on assistance only comes with expensive packages (this level of software requires expensive sales force and marketing expense so possibly their price, for the features provided, may seem high).

Purchasing Criteria a lot of people seem to use. You may have more.

1: Price 2: Ease of implementation of system 3: Ease of use 4: Ability to fit the business 5: Functionality 6: Potential to handle growth

What you can obtain for a reasonable price

A program with full relational database, such as MS SQL Server Express, or open source database. Today there is no reason to set for less power or quality. Microsoft provides their SQL 2005 'Express' DB version at no cost.

A program that allows you to attach images of assets. While not necessary for everyone it is something that someday you might want to use.

A program that integrates the use of inexpensive 'batch' memory barcode scanners because, if not now, at some point in the future such an accessory will save time and money. Used in auditing it assures an asset was actually seen as barcode had to be scanned.

A program that will permit the management of 10,000+ assets. With decent memory in your computer and a fast full relational database engine there is not much of a limitation anymore and while certain functions may slow down a bit even a low cost program should handle over 10,000 assets.

A program that is flexible so you can take advantage of features later instead of having to implement everything at once.

* If more than one person is to be given access to the database then you should ensure that different levels of access can be set for different users to prevent unauthorized changes to data.

What you can get but not cheaply.

A program that integrates directly into your current accounting system.

A program that has full professional depreciation calculations.

A program that runs directly off your company server (lower cost software runs off workstations and while a central database can be located on your server and accessed by individual workstations this is not the same as complete software being server based with applets on workstations.

Hand holding and in house training to get your system up and running. There are firms that will sit down with you and ask you all the right questions, set up your software, audit and list all your assets and then train your staff how to operate and maintain your 'solution'. Most, to my knowledge, will recommend a mid to high priced software because it is easier to sell (commission higher as well) and easier for them to install due to their familiarity with it.

Nuts and Bolts

Gathering your Asset Information How you perform this step depends upon your situation. In our discussion below we assume you do not have existing asset information, in an existing excel spreadsheet or other format. If you do then you would save work by exporting / importing that data into your asset management software.

Starting your Asset Listing and Numbering from Scratch

This is an advantage because you are not limited by inherited constraints. Of course it is more work, as you can not just load in existing asset information but have to collect everything yourself.

Collecting asset information is time consuming. Getting this information accurately, with as little work as possible is important. Thinking about how to do the job and planning will help make this big job easier.

The following is how I suggest doing this but you may have your own, sometimes better plan.

Create data entry sheets that you will have people write in information about assets under their control. Your asset management software may create these or you could make up an excel spreadsheet to obtain them.

Try and obtain some 'buy in' from the department or location manager with control over assets. The closer to the asset you can allocate some responsibility the better that asset will be controlled. 'It's my department's asset' is more powerful an incentive than 'it's IT Dept's asset'.

Final steps

After entering data, that your co-operative managers helped you obtain, it is time to work with that data within your asset management software. It should not take long to become familiar with how it can present information to you on screen and in reports.

Now sit back and enjoy how easy it is to manage your assets.

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