Managing Remote Agile Teams: 7 Strategies

How can teams maintain effective communication when they are separated by location and time zones?

Principles like “software over documentation,” “responding to change over following a plan” and “quality interactions over tools” take on whole new meaning when managing remote teams.

Why Agile prioritizes communication

Agile methodology recognizes face-to-face communication as the most efficient and effective means to share ideas. The benefits of sketching on cards or a whiteboard are two-fold — improving the level of understanding and reducing the time it takes to deliver the core message.

 

Most credit the adoption of Agile thinking as the primary driver to create more open, collaborative office spaces no longer punctuated by rows of cubes and team members appearing every so often. Open spaces led to more drive-by conversations between team members and more feedback collected throughout the development process naturally.

 

Unlike smaller teams who do have the option to co-locate, enterprises managing remote teams often don’t have the luxury of sharing the same physical space each day.

 

Team structure options:

  • The stakeholders and the development team share the same physical space.
  • The business is physically separated from the development team with the stakeholders in one office and the development team in another, often offshore or nearshore.
  • The stakeholders and the development team are separated by distance and time. Additionally, the development team itself is distributed across cities or countries.

 

Distributed teams must actively work to avoid falling into communication traps that shift the project process away from Agile development to a decidedly waterfall one. But, the world is a small place even for distributed teams — made smaller by the available communication platforms from Microsoft Teams, Trello, Slack, Jira, or Skype. Promoting the same close communication expectations is the key to supporting the Agile process on distributed teams.

7 Communication strategies for managing remote agile teams

Foster a culture of continuous integration while builds are regularly reviewed and planned.

 

Creating a culture where continuous integration is the norm is especially valuable on projects with extended timelines or while managing remote teams. In this structure, it’s easy to opt for dividing work for teams along technical boundaries. These technical boundaries may be divided by frontend/backend work or even database and services layer/frontend. Team bandwidth or security might drive the boundaries. Additionally, some businesses may be cautious of releasing intellectual property into a cloud-based platform like GitHub.

 

This usually results in the maintenance of two source code repositories with a commitment to merge them later. Resist this. The technical debt that results from this fractured code is more time-consuming to overcome than if the teams had increased the communication necessary to manage just one code repository in the first place. Overcoming any communication barriers to work on the same code base is worth it in every way.

 

The team manages successfully at leading remote teams and achieving this culture will begin to see evidence manifest in the daily communication and behavior of team members:

  • All members actively strive not to break the build.
  • They will provide visibility to broken builds.
  • All will react with a sense of urgency to adjust build issues.
Commit to frequent builds, so you don’t prioritize upholding the plan over agility.

 

It’s easy to produce a giant spec instead of communicating daily with the remote development team or let distance become a reason to stay the course and avoid developing the solution when challenges or barriers arise.

 

Building on a weekly schedule is good, daily is even better. Hold your team accountable to submit a change set to the source code control each time. Then, take advantage of your compiler as a stand-in team member to ensure your source code has reached or exceeded quality expectations. Adding smoke tests can propel this even further.

 

Welcome the human process of developing custom software.

 

Most people assume custom software development is a purely technical process. While it’s true the process is highly technical requiring years of training and experience to run successfully, software development is a human process first and relies on trust between individuals.

 

Promote knowledge sharing on every team. This is less about documenting processes in a Wiki and more about nurturing this behavior in daily stand-ups or any time team members give updates.

 

Support your team to share beyond what concerns to that day’s work. If a team member expects something they are working on may impact another role the next day, call that out. Once team members master the habit of sharing important, forward-looking insights, that’s when true knowledge sharing has been reached.

 

Foster communication between UX designers and business analysts to accelerate throughput by a factor of two.

 

Fostering close collaboration between designers and business analysts, urging extra attention to the graphical interface. This mean additional time is spent creating visual artifacts for the technical team to complement related user stories. The prize? Less questions related to aesthetics and less iterations created as a result of the mismatched expectations.

 

Consider even non-functional requirements.

 

For teams who are co-located, it’s easy to address questions around performance and scalability as they arise. Imagining and documenting requirements with the appropriate level of detail serves as the link between the business and technical teams.

 

For distributed teams, understanding non-functional requirement feature plays an even bigger role. Without specific directions documented for the technical team, it might result in the production of an architecture that makes assumptions about the non-functional requirements resulting in increased rework, and time waste later.

 

Managing a distributed team may mean documenting more.

 

While all Agile teams strive to write “just enough” requirements, managing a distributed team means accepting “just enough” may still mean documenting more than would be created for a co-located team.

 

Distributed team members can’t quickly sketch on a whiteboard to work through a complex concept. Rather than leaving your development and testing teams left guessing on the nuances that would otherwise be delivered verbally, document them and “give the answers” before the test.

 

By augmenting user stories with test or acceptance criteria you can set the technical team up for success without drastically expanding the narrative.

 

Choose a set of communication tools for your team that allows for the usual escalation of communication needs.

 

When teams are co-located, the level of communication needed escalates naturally. It might begin with co-workers speaking one-to-one in the breakroom. If clarifying details are needed, additional subject matter experts may be pulled into the conversation. Then, the conversation shifts from many-to-one or many-to-many, depending on the context. Maintaining this escalation process is essential to create outlets for quick answers or more in-depth conversations despite any distance that may exist between team members.

 

Types of Communication

  • Chat 1–1
  • Chat many-to-1
  • Voice call
  • Visual call
  • Screen share
  • Collaborative Board

 

The ability to ask quick clarifying questions is inherent in how most teams work. In the past, this could be accomplished with face-to-face drive-bys in the office. But, increasingly even teams who are co-located are relying on instant messenger or video calls to accomplish this.

 

Instant messaging is a powerful tool for managing remote teams that include non-native English speakers. The tool allows them the space to craft replies without the pressure of discussing directly (and quickly) with a native English speaker. That said, tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack allow for escalation from messaging to voice and video calls and even screen sharing if needed.

 

While the importance of instant messaging cannot be over-emphasized for distributed teams, watching body language and physical reactions to comments or questions are also critically important, especially when discussing challenges or questions to estimate feasibility or understanding.

What does it take to win with distributed Agile software teams?

No digital tool or communication strategy can replace the determination of the leaders needed to achieve the Team highest potential.

 

Co-Innovate with us.

 

Towa SoftwareBoosting Digital Transformation with best ROI – Remote Tech Teams. 300 strong.

 

Towa joins Arcadier Marketplace Expert Partners Program

Helping companies reach their full potential

San Antonio, Texas, February 2020 – Towa Software, Inc. a leading software engineering company, today announced a new partnership with Arcadier, world’s leading online marketplace builder to better serve its North America customers seeking to customize and expand their marketplace to suit their business needs and co-innovate functionality.

With more than 18 yars of deveopment experience, Towa has successfully executed numerous projects spanning a variety of industries, including, Retail, Banking, Financial & Trading Services, Telecommunications, Professional Services, Transportation, Higher Education and Utilities. Beyond web development, Towa also has depth experience with mobile technologies, developing solutions for international clients under iOS and Androind platforms.

Carlos Mendoza CEO at Towa said, “At Towa, we are very excited about the enormous co-creation possibilities this partnership opens for both companies! We truly believe we are giving a big step that will strengthen and extend our current capabilities.”

“We are excited to have Towa Join our Arcadier Expert Partner programme as we are seeing strong demand for our marketplace technology in North America.” Commented Kenneth Low, Arcadier’s Chief Commercial Officer. “With this partnership, we can better serve our marketplace users in the region with strong reputable local software deveopment expert partner.

 

About Towa

www.towasoftware.com

Towa was founded in 2002, by Gerardo Lopez with the vision of using the most advanced engineering disciplines to deveop a new concept in the delivery of software products. Towa has devoted over a decade to the research, development and application of engineering processes around the analysis and development of information systems. Towa’s Value Proposition to the clients is to deliver Software Projects with Certainty, delivery without defects, which fulfil all of the requirements efficiently. Our goal is to become an agile co-innovation strategic partner with our customers.

About Arcadier

https://www.arcadier.com

Arcadier is the world’s fastest-growing online marketplace builder and is the recognized global leader of multi-vendor ecommerce marketplace technology with users from more than 170 countries. Founded in 2013 in singapore by senior PayPal executives, it has offices in 5 countries including Singapore(HQ), Australia, Philippines and most recently the United States and the United Kingdom. Arcadier enables Enterprises, SMBs, Governments and Start-Ups to build their own white-labelled marketplaces efficiently and cost effectively. Arcadier’s platform supports various eCommerce models including B2B, B2C, P2P, Service & Rental, across industry verticals such as retails, consumer goods, commodities, wholesale, manufacturing and services.

Recently Arcadier also launched Arcadier Enterprise to target needs of large corporations and multi-brand retail companies for their marketplace development needs.

To see more Arcadier Expert Partners, visit:
https://api.arcadier.com/expert-partner

Towa Software Media Contact

To learn more about Towa Software – Engineering Culture of High Performance Teams or to speak to Towa Software VP, contact support@towasoftware.com, or visit the website at www.towasoftware.com

towa

TOWA SOFTWARE INC.

MSc. Adrian Lopez
Customer Success Manager
(512) 4877734
adrian.lopez@towasoftware.com

 

“At Towa, we are very excited about the enormous co-creation possibilities this partnership opens for both companes! We truly believe we are giving a big step that will strengthen and extend our current capabilities.”

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Tips for distributed agile teams

“Agile development isn’t any longer considered to work for collocated teams only. Also, teams, projects, and organizations that are distributed are asked to focus on delivering value. Yet, with Agile’s emphasis on -among other things- face-to-face communication, this seems like a contradiction. So the question arises, how to adhere to the Agile principles when applying them in a distributed environment.”

H

ere you will learn about the key success factors for distributed teams. Readers will understand that also distributed teams can benefit from a value system and from principles that are beneficial for small teams. In fact, the two trends – distribution in terms of globalization and Agility – can even complement each other.

Many organizations find themselves faced with the challenge of making distributed agile work. Mergers and market consolidation, geographic expansion, and offshoring have made multi-site development the norm rather than the exception. Companies with sites in competitive labor markets can find distributed team members as an alternative when they can’t recruit locally.

Agile can work in a distributed environment, but it requires work; more effort than you’d expect if you’ve never done it before. Here are eight hacks that can make it easier.

Why distributing the team might make sense

You might not be able to get all the people with the right skills in the same location, but the world is filled with talented, motivated people, and being open to working in a distributed way opens up your options.

Besides, today’s technical professionals have more choices about where they live and work. They may like where they live and not want to move. In short, the people you need may not all live in the same location.

Local culture matters. If you’re developing a product that needs to appeal to customers in different countries around the world, you’ll need people who know the local culture and language. There are also political or security reasons for distributing development—from tax advantages for doing work in certain countries, to restrictions on data crossing country borders, to the need for people on the team with particular security clearances.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons a business would choose to have a distributed team, and whether we like it or not, the number of remote workers is only going to grow. With that in mind, here are eight simple distributed-agile hacks that can set the right tone for a successful remote team.

1. Recruit motivated individuals

It is possible to make distributed development work; open-source projects do it all the time. They have a couple of advantages that other initiatives often lack.

  1. Their team members are often exceptionally self-motivated, at least if they are committers.
  2. They often don’t have to deal with stakeholders or requirements, because they are often building a project for themselves, so they know the problem domain very well.

In more normal situations, having highly motivated team members is really important, and the remote team members are going to have to be exceptionally self-motivated. that’s because they are going to have to work harder to communicate, stay engaged, and stay focused and productive. They won’t have the informal network of co-located team members to fall back on.

The co-located team members are going to have to work harder, too. They are going to have to make a special effort to engage their remote team members.

2. Create self-organizing teams

The worst thing to do when forming any team is to assign people to work on it; it kills motivation and destroys initiative. Since distributed work is even harder than co-located work—because it requires even greater motivation—the distributed team needs to be strong, with members who are committed to the mission, to the way of working, and to each other. That level of commitment doesn’t happen by accident.

Letting people choose to be part of the team—to work with one another—is an important first step. They must want to work in an agile way, and they must want to work with one another. Let people volunteer to join the effort, and then bring them together to establish their norms and working agreements.

3. Co-locate, at the start, to let teams form, storm, and norm

Forming a team usually takes at least a couple of sprints, sometimes longer. You will make your life, and theirs, much harder if you don’t invest in helping them develop into a high-performing team. It takes time and experience working together as a team to develop the trust, commitment, and mutual accountability that they need to perform well together and to be transparent about the state of the work.

Artificial team-building exercises do little to help teams go through the forming-storming-norming-performing process. Bringing teams together for a couple of sprints is really the best way to develop the working relationships that are essential to future performance.

4. If the effort is large, have co-located teams at each site

Let’s say that an organization has sites in multiple locations, as well as multiple teams, each with team members at every location. In this situation, you’re going to end up maximizing the amount of extra work for everyone.

Instead, you should try to form co-located teams at each location and let them figure out how to share the work among themselves, extending Scrum with a scaled agile approach such as SAFe or Nexus. In this approach, multiple teams are working on the same product.

With a scaled Scrum approach such as Nexus, you help multiple Scrum teams simplify cross-team collaboration by resolving and preventing cross-team conflicts and ensuring that they deliver an integrated product increment with every sprint.

Regardless of which framework you use, you should make sure each team has a Scrum Master. Masters will not only help their own team perform better, but they will also help everyone else who needs to collaborate with that team.

5. Co-locate development teams with their product owner

This sounds obvious, but I’ve encountered plenty of strange situations where this is not the case. I’ve seen companies with the development team in one location and the product owner in another. This really hurts collaboration and communication, so don’t do it. Find a different team or a different product owner, move the product owner to the same time zone, or empower a local delegate for the remote product owner if the product owner is co-located with another team.

6. Invest in collaboration, but invest first in teams

Collaboration technology really helps teams be more effective—distributed source-code management, continuous integration, continuous delivery tools, wikis, video conferencing, and chat platforms such as Slack all help high-performance distributed teams be more effective. But they can’t make a low-performance team into a high-performance team. Lack of these tools can decrease the effectiveness of even a high-performance team, however.

7. Share the pain of time-zone separation

When a team has members at multiple sites, they demonstrate mutual respect by sharing the burden of working odd hours. Some teams make the mistake of having the team with the most members set the workday rules, but this sends the message to teams at other sites that their contributions are not valued as much. Making everyone share the burden is not only fairer, but it also creates a sense of empathy with what other team members have to endure.

8. Minimize wait times

Different time zones increase wait times. When a person at one site must wait for a team member at another to start the day to resolve a blocking issue, the rest of the day is lost. These delays add up. The daily stand-up can help uncover these problems, but the team will have to look not only at today’s work but potentially at tomorrow’s as well to know what issues might block them. It won’t be perfect, however, and some additional delay is inevitable.

Flattening roles and refining the product backlog to spot potential conflicts earlier can help. With dependencies reduced, and with teams having members who potentially can work on any product backlog item, blocking issues and slow hand-offs will be less frequent. But the issues can’t be eliminated.

No shortcuts to great teams

Distributed agile development is harder than co-located agile development. Time zone differences make collaboration more challenging. However, teams with members working at the same site but in different buildings will find collaboration more challenging as well. Being agile requires transparency, which doesn’t exist unless team members trust one another, and developing trust requires time spent working together.

Organizations make a big mistake when they think of teams as simply a group of individuals. A great team is far more than the sum of its members’ contributions. Being part of a great team is motivating—it challenges people to do their best, and it rewards them with a sense of shared accomplishment that individual accomplishment cannot. Great teams take time and investment to build, and they are worth preserving when they come together.

“When distributing work, for whatever reason, focus on forming great teams at the beginning. These teams can be formed with distributed individuals if they are motivated and supported, but it does take more practice on everyone’s part.”

Risk Management Banking Industry Trends

Fintechs and nonbanks now have a substantial influence in the banking industry. They are highly agile, innovative, and aim at exceeding the demands of modern customers in banking services and experiences. Established retail banks need to compete and often play catch-up. Still, they acknowledge the need to change, and change fast.

 

 

 

Agile culture for remote teams

Distributed teams or remote teams are more important now than ever, the new normal requires teams and individuals to work from home or in different locations to deliver products and services. How can we use it to thrive agile culture?

 

Agile development was originally conceived for clustered teams, or teams physically located together in the same room. In keeping with the idea that “the most efficient and effective method of communicating information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation”, early agile teams were meant to work together in proximity.

 

But today most businesses have a few–or many–distributed teams. This isn’t just a trend; it makes good sense. Distributed teams can work on projects around the clock, and strong talent can be found in less competitive markets. (Not to mention, talent is easily retained by not requiring an undesired relocation.) But the benefits of distributed teams aren’t without some trade-offs. For many distributed teams, it’s difficult to adopt the agile practice of face-to-face interactions.

 

Other challenges that emerge for distributed software teams:

  • Coordinating across time zones
  • Building rapport when everyone is not in the same office
  • Collaborating among different development cultures
  • Scheduling meetings or informal conversations when both teams are online at the same time for only a few hours (or less)

These are real problems. But not impossible ones. Let’s walk through some strategies to help bridge the distance gap between local and remote teams, and ideas to help mitigate other potential issues as well.

 

How to structure cross-border teams

Good software architecture dictates modular design, so structure your teams the same way. Every team should be self-sufficient in developing a single piece of technology, which minimizes the amount of collaboration required with teams in other offices/locations and makes them generally autonomous. When a project does require teams in different locations to pitch in, they can focus on their integration points and APIs.

 

Code reviews also play an important role. Since people are online at different times, distributing knowledge of the code between teams makes support and maintenance much easier. If a production issue emerges when the team is not online, another team can easily step in to support and resolve the issue, thanks to the know-how they gained from cross-team or cross-location code reviews.

 

Building rapport and co-worker affinity

It’s important in any team, especially in agile projects to have solid rapport across the team. Personal connection builds trust, minimizes missed expectations, eases self-organization, and boosts morale. Within your office, take the time to get to know everyone on your team. And, as much as possible, do the same with the people you work within remote teams. Personal connections are important. The stronger they become, the greater the chance of seeing these colleagues as any other, rather than distant coworkers from unfamiliar places without good relationships.

 

TIP: At Towa, each new employee posts a “intro blog” on our internal Communication tool, Towa’s content collaboration platform. The blog introduces the new hire professionally as well as personally (hobbies, interests, family, etc.) which really helps bridge the gap between offices. The more we know each other as people, the stronger we are working together as teams.

 

Above all, nothing replaces meeting face to face. Team members in each office will benefit from regular face time, and that includes video conferencing as well as visits to remote offices.

Video conferencing tools like Zoom help bridge the gap between teams, especially for distributed agile teams. However, teams that rely on Zoom should be aware of certain limitations.

 

  • Video conferencing often allows for a very short window of communication, while working in the same office gives significant visibility into another’s world: challenges, successes, and opportunities.
  • Zoom has done well to address network hiccups. Still, there may be times when network issues occur between buildings that can make video and audio choppy or difficult to understand.
  • Most people still think of Zoom video conferencing as scheduled time. Create a culture of using video chat for spontaneous casual conversation. Also, use instant messaging tools like Slack, Whatsapp, or Teams for quick communication.

 

To help mitigate some video conferencing issues, encourage team members to have regular 1:1 video chat sessions. These can be less formal, and help facilitate knowledge sharing in a casual way. Teammates can use these moments to build rapport and work better together.

 

Remember, tone, voice, and posture play a significant part in communication. In-person time helps the team know their remote colleagues in higher fidelity, which, in turn, makes future video conferencing more effective.

 

 

Building a united culture

There are four simple ways teams can make working across offices easier and share a common culture:

  • Over communicate decisions across all teammates
  • Setting up the development environment for easy collaboration
  • Clearly define the definition of Done
  • Create guidelines for filing effective bug reports

 

Let’s talk more about it.

 

First, when moving from a co-located office to a distributed culture, communication becomes significantly harder. The first challenge is training the team to understand that, when decisions are made, they need to be communicated. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget! Oftentimes important decisions are made in hallway conversations, informal local team meetings, or by individuals. Plus, it can be easy to dismiss small decisions as unimportant.

Communicate even minute details until both teams find a healthy groove.

When decisions are made, everyone in each office needs to understand the decision and ideally why it was made. Don’t use email. It’s too easy to lose important information. Use a content management system like a wiki where team members can easily browse for updates across the team (and get notified of updates via email or Slack group chat tool). You can also use Slack to create channels for individuals and teams to communicate and see updates. Delays caused by team members working on outdated information, hitting a roadblock, and then asking a question costs the team significantly more time than proactively sharing information.

Second, consistent development environments across the team make it easier to work together and track down issues. Spend time creating a simple “Getting Started” guide and overcome first-day friction by automating the setup as much as possible.

Third, when working between teams, clear standards around the definition of “complete” makes it easier to manage expectations and build agreement across teams. A firm definition of complete eliminates the ambiguity in the work. For instance, when shipping a release that involves multiple teams, make it clear what it means to be complete: code written, pull request created, code reviewed, tested, and merged into the appropriate branch.

And finally, when problems come up. Having clear guidelines for bug reports and troubleshooting how-tos makes it easier for anyone on the team to track down an issue. Code review and good automated tests also share knowledge about the code base and empower the affected team to make the fix and validate that the change doesn’t have any unexpected side effects. Thus, no team becomes a blocker.

 

Maximize the golden hours

Every photographer knows “the golden hours” – just before and after sunrise and sunset–is one of the most effective times to take great landscape photos. The golden hours for distributed software teams are when the local and remote teams are both in their respective posts at the same time. When all teams are online, this is a great time for stand-ups.

For teams that share work between time zones, stand-up is a great time to pass the baton so the team just coming online can pick up where the other team left off. And holding stand-up via video conference makes it easy to ask questions and get up to speed so everyone is off and running as soon as the meeting is done.

 

Sometimes teams are so far apart that meetings will cause some form of pain for one team. (Get up at 6 a.m. for stand-up with the other team? Umm… no thanks.) Rotate the meeting time so it’s a shared burden, rather than continually subjecting the foreign team to the odd hours–a sure-fire way to destroy morale. Closely monitor the entire team’s engagement at stand-up. If there is an undue tension, or the team is not getting a lot out of it, team members will begin to disengage and stop listening or sharing. And stand-up doesn’t absolutely have to be a daily meeting. Meet with the remote team a few times a week and use the other days for a local stand-up. Similarly, a stand-up doesn’t have to be a morning routine, either. Whatever time of day is most convenient for everyone involved is the best time of day.

 

Every team is remote

In a distributed organization, the reality is that every team is remote. All teams need to adapt and learn how to share work between locations, communicate effectively, and grow a consistent culture across geographies. The most effective teams don’t just make the remote team adapt to their own culture because they understand that every team can learn something from the others. They seek to find and share successful practices across all locations. They also embrace “we” rather than an “us vs. them” culture.

 

Because the new reality is that most will become distributed. Businesses are working at home, we all need to manage a work/life balance. Teams that embrace both structure and transparency scale more efficiently. When your project scales beyond your location, the culture will be set up to do the right thing.

 

 

 

Android or iOS for retail?

Develop apps for both platforms using cross-platform development tools, like React Native or Flutter 

Many retailers face a difficult decision: should their mobile retail shopping app support Android or iOS? They feel their limited resources cannot be stretched to build and support both platforms, so they often pick just one. Some retailers may have already committed to one platform, but are unsure if they made the right choice. Others have not yet developed on either platform and are exploring options for their first mobile shopping app. With our past experience working with large retailers, we believe that to maximize revenue from mobile, companies need a presence on both Android and iOS in order to avoid losing the opportunities that each platform provides.

This article will explore the options available for retailers with only one app or no native mobile app at all. We will show you why supporting both platforms is the only choice, and how using a cross-platform development tool like React Native or Flutter, provides the resources to support both platforms at 60% of the cost.

Should you have a mobile retail app at all?

Our research shows that any retailer interested in keeping up in the current, competitive omni-channel environment needs a mobile presence. The number of retailer mobile apps actively used by consumers has doubled in 2019, from an average of four apps per phone to eight. According to studies:

  • 72% of consumers use apps for browsing products
  • 60% for accessing discount coupons
  • 57% for making purchases
  • 86% are happy with the customer experience provided by retail mobile native apps.

What about relying on a mobile website instead of a native app? Let’s look at the data:

  • The average time a user spends on their mobile phone: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • How long a user spends time browsing the mobile web: 32 minutes 
  • How long a user spends time using mobile apps: 3 hours 40 minutes 

Users no longer consider the mobile web as a viable alternative as 90% of mobile usage time is spent on apps. The mobile web does not seem as responsive to user inputs as a native app. For the user, a native app is a much more immersive experience. For the retailer, a native app offers a superior branding opportunity. Clearly, not having a mobile retail presence is a costly mistake for any retailer. Your customer expects the convenience of mobile shopping, and the responsive performance of a native app.

What each platform offers

Both platforms have plenty to offer. Internally, there may be discussions about whether marketers should target heavy spenders among iOS users, or whether they should cater to Android users, who continue to outnumber iOS users 6-1?

The decision will depend on many factors, such as your app category or your target audience. In some regions and demographics, Android dominates, while in other areas, iOS dominates. It is important to prioritize your targets and tactics based on the audience you want to engage.

A case for Android

According to IDC, Android phones have 85% of the global market share as of 2019, while Apple iOS has only 12%. The other 2% is split amongst all other mobile operating systems.

Statistics show that Android users spend slightly more time interacting in the app than iOS users do. In the case of retail shopping apps, Android users spend an average of 7.6 minutes vs. the 6.6 minutes iOS users spend.

So, given the high lead in market share, Android seems like the logical choice for your first app, right? Not so fast…

A case for iOS

It is generally accepted that iOS users are more profitable for retailers than Android users. Figures released by Google and compiled by Benedict Evans provide some hard data on just how big that gap is.

“Google Android users in total are spending around half as much on apps on more than twice the user base, and hence app ARPU (Average revenue per user) on Android is roughly a quarter of iOS.”

A study in 2014 shows that the median iPhone app user earns $85,000 per year, which is 40% more than the median Android phone user, with an annual income of $61,000. Even though Android has far more downloads than iOS, iPhone users spend twice as much on their phone than their Android counterparts. Another study of small retail purchases found that on average, Android users spent $11.54 per transaction. iPhone users, on the other hand, spent $32.94. Independent research indicates that the perception that iOS users are the “Big Spender” platform is more than a stereotype — It’s an observation supported by facts.

Impressive engagement rates suggest that iOS users offer better value for money than their Android counterparts. So obviously iOS development is more cost-effective than Android, right? Well, there is still more to consider…

Regional differences

The physical location of your target audience can make a large difference in the type of platform used. Note that iOS is favored in regions with large amounts of disposable income. Android sees high usage in lower-income areas of developed markets. In emerging markets, Android extends its lead even further.

The demographics and income profiles of the target region can also have a significant impact on the choice of the platform the retailer chooses to concentrate on. User age, gender, education, and other factors not covered here may also impact the platform choice. The decision process can become quite complex with no conclusive answer.

The cost of developing for both platforms

To maximize revenue from mobile, companies need a presence on both Android and iOS to avoid losing the opportunities that each platform provides. We have seen that Android downloads far exceed iOS downloads. We have also seen that the iOS purchase value exceeds that of Android. To further complicate matters, target regions, and other demographics matter. Even the type of purchase may favor one platform over the other, so the most ideal solution is to develop apps for both platforms.

Recall that the reason we were forced to choose between the two platforms in the first place was to control development and support costs. Two apps, one for each platform, will cost twice as much as developing one app, says conventional thinking. We are glad to report that this is no longer the case. Cross-platform development tools, like Facebook’s React Native or Google’s Flutter, have come to save us.

Buy one, get one free

Both React Native and Flutter are an excellent cross-platform development framework. The initial investment in app development using these frameworks will yield applications for both platforms with native app performance.

They offer strong support and backing of the biggest technology companies with a highly-attractive UI and excellent native performance. Once the developer is up-to-speed using the programming environment, development time is faster than any alternatives.

To learn more about React Native and its advantages over other cross-platform development tools like Iconic or Flutter, check out our blog post Why React Native should be your next mobile development framework.

If you do not have any app neither Android nor iOS

Developing in React Native or Flutter will yield an app for both platforms with the same resource cost as building for a single platform. We estimate that it is 60% cheaper to use React Native or Flutter as your development platform than using Swift and Kotlin. The code is only written once for both apps. Also, from our experience developing in native and cross-platform applications, we estimate developing with React Native or Flutter is about 15% more resource-efficient than the native languages.

If you already have an app on one platform

Already have one platform app developed? Using a cross-platform tool still makes sense. Using React Native or Flutter for developing your second app will incur the same development resources as developing using a native language, possibly slightly less. However, both applications will now use common code, saving future costs for maintenance and upgrades. Consistency of look and feel between the two apps will also have a positive effect on corporate branding.

Conclusion – You can afford to have mobile apps on both platforms

The days of choosing between Android or iOS have long past. It is now a requirement to support both platforms. Ignoring either platform has direct negative consequences on your revenue stream. Fortunately, the days of having to choose platforms based on development costs are behind us. Both React Native or Flutter development tools can build a cross-platform application for both Android and iOS with the same performance as development based on native application language for the same cost as a single platform. The cost savings extend to app maintenance as well. Contact Towa Software for further information or a quote for us to build out or update your mobile application portfolio.

 

 

User Guide on Mobile App Development Cost Calculator

Lots of people want to know the cost of mobile app development. Actually, this question is quite difficult, because the accurate cost of any project is fairly a complex task, it depends on the scope of work and the features, the product should have. However, to make our potential clients’ life easier we developed an online calculator for an app development cost.

It should be kept in mind that the estimation is imperfect, but still, it will provide you with some understanding of the budget required for your app development. You can find the calculator on our site in the Business Application menu.

The project value estimate is based on the calculation of the total time needed for each chosen feature development or implementation, including Backend Development, Interface Design, Mobile, Quality Assurance, and Project Management. The hours needed for each phase are then multiplied by the rates of the engineers’ work and the final cost of the project is determined.

The first thing you should register is what kind of an app you want and pick the platform: iOS, Android, or Both. Then you will be given the list of features you can include in your app. In the right-side panel, you can see the total cost of each development phase.

You can also send a PDF file to your email, with the information gathered and the cost of every feature development in the context of a particular stage.

The following features are possible for integration into any app we develop, and you can define the set you need particularly later with our business consultants.

  • E-mail login It’s a typical login scenario when the user has to provide his email/username and password for authorization. This feature also includes e-mail verification function and the password recovery in case of need.
  • Social login. It’s a secure way of user authorization, which does not require a password but allows signing in with social media credentials. Though relatively new, this form of login is now preferred by more than 75% of users. The most popular platforms for that are Facebook and Google, followed by Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and other platforms.
  • Dashboard. To balance an enjoyable experience of your users and your management data, a data dashboard is a feature to implement. It’ll provide an at-a-glance view of KPIs relevant to your business processes. The dashboard usually contains numbers, charts, and other data types visualized. A dashboard is useful because it can provide relevant information which can be turned into action. Each client indicates which data exactly he or she wants to see in the dashboard of the app ordered.
  • Activity Feed. It is a list of the user current activities in the app. It helps to track the most interesting recent activity taking place in the application.
  • Rating System. It allows users to rate the content of the app or other users. Recommendations are a very powerful thing nowadays and thus your users can see who provides expert opinion or most useful advice, who is most reliable or trustworthy in some aspect. The credibility of the content thus becomes more valuable automatically.
  • Camera /Photos. Today, there is hardly a person who does not have a high-powered digital camera in their pocket. The smartphone camera can become quite useful and beneficial through granting your app access to it. It will allow taking and saving photos right away.
  • Gallery — Photo / Video. The feature which can be implemented to make it possible for the user to store photos and videos in the application, create albums, and adjust visibility settings.
  • Camera / Video. You can also provide camera permission to shoot and save videos in the app.
  • GeoLocation. The current user location can be useful for many reasons, allowing to spot the place he is in and find the way around in the first turn as well as for the app to provide the most up-to-date info based on locality.
  • Maps. The maps can be integrated into the app to visualize the user locale or some objects position on the map as well as for creating routes. Here offline mode is also worth consideration.
  • Compass. A good feature for many apps to prompt the user the way around to certain places nearby.
  • Custom User Interface. In case you want to add up personalization to the software solution you develop, it’s one of the options — allow the users to choose the interface to their individual liking.
  • Accept Payments.In case your app has something to do with commerce, various secure payment options are a must. The most usual systems we work with are Stripe, PayPal and Apple pay. However, we can integrate almost any payment method. Once we faced the integration of two local Scandinavian payment facilities and adjusted their flawless functioning. The variety of payment systems will facilitate transactions for your users and add up to your app rating.
  • Sync Across All Devices. Nowadays it’s possible to synchronize the app data across various devices. You can implement auto-synchronization or a back-up function to synchronize data when it’s necessary.
  • User Profiles. You can customize the way your user profile has, how the information associated with a user arranged and what settings are available.
  • Audio / Music. In case you want the users to listen to audio messages or music, you can provide them with such opportunity in-app. While streaming can be convenient, it eats up mobile data, so the feature is valuable for the applications dealing with audio data or music.
  • Messaging. The feature which can be implemented to facilitate communication between the app users.
  • Shopping Cart. In case your app sells goods or services, shopping cart is an inevitable feature, which will help you gain and keep your users, people now value the opportunity to make orders in a single click.
  • Search. To facilitate quick and convenient data obtaining and usage, the function of search is absolutely necessary. It will help your users get the necessary info right away and in no time.
  • Task List. In case you need some kind of administrative functions and team management, you can benefit from a task list feature.
  • Barcodes. Scanning of barcodes has become a required feature for many popular mobile apps. It helps to compare prices in stores, tracking assets through the supply chain or managing inventory. A proper barcode scanner can turn your app into a powerful business tool.
  • QR Code. It facilitates the detection of QR Codes for scanning and retrieving additional data. Nowadays it is possible to detect a QR code on an invoice or shipping note and additionally save it as a PDF. The feature can be quite convenient for business purposes.
  • Calendar Integration. To plan and track the activities, users will always appreciate having all in one place and that’s where an integrated calendar can come quite handy.
  • Social Sharing. It’s not only a means of data sharing and social involvement but a powerful tool to engage the audience and convert it into paying customers. Being a modern trend it’s a feature worth considering.
  • 3rd Party API Integration may be useful for a number of reasons, it’s a common thing nowadays to integrate payment options in such a way, however, a number of other services may be integrated in such a way: Redmine, Jira, Slack, Channel Manager, Google Calendar, etc.
  • User Privacy Settings. The privacy of a user should always be the first priority, however, you can implement certain settings by default or use a customized approach so that each user can adjust the privacy and visibility of his info to his liking and preferences.
  • SMS Integration. It may become quite a handy function allowing to send SMS right from the app, without the necessity to switch to smartphone functions. It’s a handy feature to integrate for certain system notifications, to confirm authorization, for instance, or to notify the user that the car has arrived in case of uber-like taxi service.
  • Push Notifications. Most use cases required to notify the customer about a promo in a timely manner. To have the ability to send push notification right from the start is important to keep an active community of users.  It’s a feature to integrate for certain user notifications, promo, call to action, and trigger events..
  • Approval / Moderation. In case you allow your users the possibility of providing feedback, leaving reviews or commenting, approval or moderating function is essential, to manage the content published by the users.
  • Reporting.The feature should be integrated for the convenience of data administration and quick access to various data layers. It’s reasonable to implement it for management and analytical functions.
  • Content Management System. To publish information of various kind and administrate it, you should be able to manage your content and schedule it. To have such functionality Content Management System should be implemented into the app you work on.
  • Payment Administration. Payment system integration has two sides to it: – possibility to make payment for the users and the possibility to manage payments for the admins, in case you integrate a payment system think of the possibility.
  • User Administration. To provide the users with certain opportunities and manage their roles inside the app consider user admin feature implementation.
  • Ticketing System.It’s the opportunity to create and close support queries by managing and streamlining the process of issue resolution. Through the individual elements called tickets a context is provided what issue is set in and its related characteristics — category, priority, etc. To have a single point of contact between the service provider and the consumer you should consider implementing the system into your app.
  • Feedback System. At present people rely more on the reviews and feedback from other people than on some formal information about the place or service they are going to use. A good idea is to include the feature to your app.

We hope now, after reading this guide you have a better understanding of the solution you want to create and the features your mobile app requires for and a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Make the calculations, send us an inquiry, and let’s review it. We know how to deliver a cutting-edge product and valuable services, even in a very tight budget, plus we are always open to discussion.

Digital Transformation With Design Thinking

Digital transformation is reinventing business practices.

Now a days technological capabilities are continuously making upgrades and in order to stay ahead, businesses must be agile and innovative in creating new methods as they incorporate these digital technologies into their business practices. To stay competitive in any market, having a digital transformation strategy is fundamental.

The change from business to digital is not usually easy to start with, our digital environment changes quickly and variable. Staying up to date can be challenging and leave many in doubt in how to proceed. This is where design thinking comes in.

Design thinking is a five step, design methodology that does not present a solution at first but reviews both present and future details of a problem and searches for different solutions.

Digital transformation presents issues that are complicated and unspecified. So using design thinking to take in your organization’s digital transformation helps deal with these problems by interacting with consumers and come up with solutions.

Design thinking is made up of five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.

 

Empathize

A fundamental element to digital transformation is making an excellent experience for the customer. In order to achieve this, it is important to relate with them, to comprehend their inspiration and needs.

The problems we are solving are not often our own, so we shouldn’t presume to know how the customer will act.

Instead take a look as they interact with you service. Take note of what they search in Google or on the site, study click-stream data to see how they are interacting with your site or app, review chat logs to see what they are asking customer service reps, or even make surveys with your customers to ask them questions of what they want the digital experience to be.

Also, very important is field trips to what how customers interact with current alternatives, how they solve their needs, from observation one can learn a lot.

To really understand where the customer’s friction points are along the digital journey will help you with the information you need to solve their issues.

 

Define

The define stage brings transparency to the problems you are trying to solve. What you have learned from the empathize stage will help you find where you need to focus your time and energy.

After exanimating this information, it’s time to create a problem statement. The problem statement should be focused on a specific issue and adjust toward the user. We are trying to help our customers because we want them to have a good experience.

This stage can be challenging because you will find many problems that need attention. However the point of this phase is not to overwhelm, but to help prioritize them into individual, and possible opportunities.

 

Ideate

Now that we have the definitive problem, It’s time to create some ideas in how to fix it. In this phase it is important to brainstorm by using a group of persons in order to develop a variety of creative ideas. You shouldn’t be overthinking or coming up with one solution. The Ideate phase is quick, creative and collaborative.

 

Prototype

In this step the team will experiment with diverse types of inexpensive and simple models to quickly target and validate your solution ideas. Prototypes should be tested in a small group.

Observe the way people interact with the prototype, then get feedback and use this information to change and improve the next model. This phase should be very quick with efficient improvements. Create a safe environment where it is Okay to fail and learn from those failures to continually progress.

At the end of this phase, you should know what works and what doesn’t and how the customers feel when interacting with your service.

 

Test

Constantly testing your prototypes is an opportunity to improve. Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to learn and improve the customer service. In the testing phase, you recollect information from the previous stages in the design thinking process.

The quest for better customer experience is never ending. We should be constantly testing to come up with new ideas to improve and add value to our provided service.

I’ll explain more in depth in future post, what is Minimum Valuable Service, or MVS.  Lightly different from MVP or Minimum Viable Product

In the world we live today, using digital transformation for all business practices is a must, and design thinking methodology is a practical way to tackle the issues this transition presents.

Either you follow the stages above or discover your own design thinking processes; using these methods will help your company incorporate digital technologies and innovate.

5 Questions for Connected Product UX

Whether you are building an enterprise web portal or a state-of-the-art website, you always need the right modern tools. Well-built and maintained PHP frameworks provide those tools in abundance, allowing maintained PHP frameworks provide those tools in abundance, allowing developers to save time, re-use code, and streamline the back end. As software development tools continuously change to follow the latest. Despite the competition from startups and the ever-present economic challenges, the banking industry is gradually adopting what the latest technologies have to offer.

From cloud technology to cyber risk management to machine learning in investment banking, join us as we explore the banking industry trends for 2019 and beyond. Cloud is one of the current banking industry trends as well. It is expected that the technology will serve as a foundation for core modernization of banking organizations.

Cloud Technology as New Foundation

Cloud has become the new normal for nine of ten enterprises across industries. The average IT environment in both SMBs and larger companies is becoming increasingly cloud-based. Companies also diversify their delivery models, with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) gaining more and more traction. Plus, a slew of new job positions have emerged to manage different aspects of cloud in the enterprise, including architecture and safety.

One of the new trends in the banking industry, ensuring fail-safe security will also be a core question regardless of the type of a cloud solution and its scale. Cloud is one of the current banking industry trends as well. It is expected that the technology will serve as a foundation for core modernization of banking organizations.

Risk Management Banking Industry Trends

Existing risk management systems at banking organizations might not be ready to face the challenges of the rapidly changing world. Poised to become the top banking industry trends for 2019 and years to come, AI-driven solutions with machine and deep learning algorithms provide a solution. As for cyber risk management, experts at Deloitte point at the following trends in the banking industry:

  1. Strengthen basic controls like IT asset, patch, and vulnerability management to identify and manage risks related to implementation of cloud and migration to open architecture.
  2. Use analytics tools and AI with security in mind.
  3. Build an IT infrastructure with security as a top priority: it should be able to withstand systematic attacks and long stress periods.
Risk Management Banking Industry Trends

Fintechs and nonbanks now have a substantial influence in the banking industry. They are highly agile, innovative, and aim at exceeding the demands of modern customers in banking services and experiences. Established retail banks need to compete and often play catch-up. Still, they acknowledge the need to change, and change fast.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

– Paul Tournier

Thus, adopting the same approach is a potent solution for retail banks that aim at adopting the latest trends in the banking industry quickly and impactfully.

Augmented Reality Platform By Google

Whether you are building an enterprise web portal or a state-of-the-art website, you always need the right modern tools. Well-built and maintained PHP frameworks provide those tools in abundance, allowing maintained PHP frameworks provide those tools in abundance, allowing developers to save time, re-use code, and streamline the back end. As software development tools continuously change to follow the latest. Despite the competition from startups and the ever-present economic challenges, the banking industry is gradually adopting what the latest technologies have to offer.

From cloud technology to cyber risk management to machine learning in investment banking, join us as we explore the banking industry trends for 2019 and beyond. Cloud is one of the current banking industry trends as well. It is expected that the technology will serve as a foundation for core modernization of banking organizations.

Cloud Technology as New Foundation

Cloud has become the new normal for nine of ten enterprises across industries. The average IT environment in both SMBs and larger companies is becoming increasingly cloud-based. Companies also diversify their delivery models, with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) gaining more and more traction. Plus, a slew of new job positions have emerged to manage different aspects of cloud in the enterprise, including architecture and safety.

One of the new trends in the banking industry, ensuring fail-safe security will also be a core question regardless of the type of a cloud solution and its scale. Cloud is one of the current banking industry trends as well. It is expected that the technology will serve as a foundation for core modernization of banking organizations.

Risk Management Banking Industry Trends

Existing risk management systems at banking organizations might not be ready to face the challenges of the rapidly changing world. Poised to become the top banking industry trends for 2019 and years to come, AI-driven solutions with machine and deep learning algorithms provide a solution. As for cyber risk management, experts at Deloitte point at the following trends in the banking industry:

  1. Strengthen basic controls like IT asset, patch, and vulnerability management to identify and manage risks related to implementation of cloud and migration to open architecture.
  2. Use analytics tools and AI with security in mind.
  3. Build an IT infrastructure with security as a top priority: it should be able to withstand systematic attacks and long stress periods.
Risk Management Banking Industry Trends

Fintechs and nonbanks now have a substantial influence in the banking industry. They are highly agile, innovative, and aim at exceeding the demands of modern customers in banking services and experiences. Established retail banks need to compete and often play catch-up. Still, they acknowledge the need to change, and change fast.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

– Paul Tournier

Thus, adopting the same approach is a potent solution for retail banks that aim at adopting the latest trends in the banking industry quickly and impactfully.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

- Paul Tournier

Content Ideation: Tools & Techniques

Whether you are building an enterprise web portal or a state-of-the-art website, you always need the right modern tools. Well-built and maintained PHP frameworks provide those tools in abundance, allowing maintained PHP frameworks provide those tools in abundance, allowing developers to save time, re-use code, and streamline the back end. As software development tools continuously change to follow the latest. Despite the competition from startups and the ever-present economic challenges, the banking industry is gradually adopting what the latest technologies have to offer.

From cloud technology to cyber risk management to machine learning in investment banking, join us as we explore the banking industry trends for 2019 and beyond. Cloud is one of the current banking industry trends as well. It is expected that the technology will serve as a foundation for core modernization of banking organizations.

Cloud Technology as New Foundation

Cloud has become the new normal for nine of ten enterprises across industries. The average IT environment in both SMBs and larger companies is becoming increasingly cloud-based. Companies also diversify their delivery models, with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) gaining more and more traction. Plus, a slew of new job positions have emerged to manage different aspects of cloud in the enterprise, including architecture and safety.

One of the new trends in the banking industry, ensuring fail-safe security will also be a core question regardless of the type of a cloud solution and its scale. Cloud is one of the current banking industry trends as well. It is expected that the technology will serve as a foundation for core modernization of banking organizations.

Risk Management Banking Industry Trends

Existing risk management systems at banking organizations might not be ready to face the challenges of the rapidly changing world. Poised to become the top banking industry trends for 2019 and years to come, AI-driven solutions with machine and deep learning algorithms provide a solution. As for cyber risk management, experts at Deloitte point at the following trends in the banking industry:

  1. Strengthen basic controls like IT asset, patch, and vulnerability management to identify and manage risks related to implementation of cloud and migration to open architecture.
  2. Use analytics tools and AI with security in mind.
  3. Build an IT infrastructure with security as a top priority: it should be able to withstand systematic attacks and long stress periods.
Risk Management Banking Industry Trends

Fintechs and nonbanks now have a substantial influence in the banking industry. They are highly agile, innovative, and aim at exceeding the demands of modern customers in banking services and experiences. Established retail banks need to compete and often play catch-up. Still, they acknowledge the need to change, and change fast.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

– Paul Tournier

Thus, adopting the same approach is a potent solution for retail banks that aim at adopting the latest trends in the banking industry quickly and impactfully.