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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Top 4 Benefits of Demand Planning Software

In today’s dynamically changing business environment, organizations have to be agile and quick in responding to market changes and internal factors to minimize losses and leverage opportunities. Demand Planning Software is essential to gauge customer demand and market changes in real time and pass on the information to the supply chain. It creates the perfect balance between market demand and supply. However, these are not the only benefits that a demand planning software offers. It has many other benefits and some of them are listed here.

It Helps in Accurate Revenue Forecasting: A good demand planning software help in accurate revenue forecasting by correctly analyzing the market demand and forecast results based on that. Without proper information and software to process that information, organizations bring products by guessing the customer’s demand. Some even take sub-par data that has not been properly processed to reach conclusions. Being a result of guesswork, this information or data does not always deliver favorable results. This software helps in analyzing data properly and then forecasting the revenue accordingly.

It Assists in Aligning Inventory Levels: When there is a huge demand in the market, a business can lose out on the opportunity of fulfilling it on its own if it not prepared with the right inventory. By knowing about the possible future rise or fall in the demand for a product, they can align the inventory levels to make sure that they reap the benefits and their customers are satisfied.

It Enhances the Profitability for a Product: If there is low demand for a product, a company may or may not decide to carry on with it. However, if it is bound to bring bigger profit margins despite low sales, it is worth investing time and money in. Using the Demand Planning Software, businesses can find out how to enhance the profitability of a product.

It Allows for Re-planning Based on Given Data: It is important to keep an eye on the market during the production and marketing lifecycle of a product. And the simple reason behind it is the need to re-plan or alter strategies to get maximum attention and beat the competition. By looking at the changes, decision makers can make amendments to the approach as well as the strategy to meet their business goals.

Their cloud platform mPower supports various aspects of businesses such as demand planning, retail planning, business integration management, supply chain planning, etc. The platform’s design allows business to do smart resource management and make intelligent business decisions.

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What Are the Advantages of Using a Web Based Project Management System

Every project needs a large number of people for the completion of any task. Projects are of several kinds, and there capacity level is also variant. In order to help the managers control all tasks, management system was introduced. Project management system is used to make the managers feel easy. The first type of a project management system is manual.

However, nowadays much web-based project management software is available in the market. There is no need to process data manually. Everything is computerized; managers just have to enter the basic information into the system. Nowadays, lots of project managers are opting for web-based project management systems. They have access to the web-based project management software’s, and tools.

Using a web-based management system has several benefits. Project managers can reach their computers from anywhere, not only computers, but they can also contact their team members and check the progress of work. Discussing any problems that arise with the team is a lot easier. Team members can also interact with each other via e-mail.

Project scheduling is the basic solution of web-based task management plan in a large organisation. In many ways a web-based activity management plan can help your managers achieve optimum results. Whether a project is based on finance, marketing, construction, or information technology (IT), and web-based project management plan can help t.

Web-based activity management plan helps managers to make a proper scheduling plan of the project. Web-based software has many tools which help in managing time, and activities. The software includes spreadsheets, network diagrams, or Gantt charts to control the task management scheme.

In project-management scheme, HTML, ASP, or PHP are the supported languages coded into the software, and browser. The team can access it through a web browser. Moreover, main software is installed on to the server for multiple clients.

Project management scheme helps managers to supervise all the team easily. If the manager finds any team member late in the completion of the task, he/she can track the problem, and change that member, thus, avoiding any delays.. Web-based project-management-system enables the mangers to distribute the workload according to the capability of human resource (HR). In addition, he/she can monitor the performance of each person involved in the completion of a job. This web-based project management system also enables the manager to measure the achievement, and performance of the team in accordance to the strategy chalked down for completion, or achievement of the target.

Web-based project-management system keeps the human resources satisfied from the point of view that whatever performance he/she is given is being registered, and is not over looked. If, a company is using a custom-made programme, which is flexible to different projects, it remains cost effective, and is not a burden on the bottom line. For different projects, which have different dynamics, companies may need a tailor-made programme for them, This can be a little costly, but it ensures better management, proper monitoring, and timely completion of tasks, ultimately ensuring good performances. Nowadays, this web-based project software is a very important tool for the management of any project. Furthermore, using the correct project management scheme, and software, can help managers to manage their project smoothly, and effectively.

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3 Main Causes of Kernel Errors

A kernel error is a failure in some code critical to Windows. If you have ever encountered a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD), then you have seen a kernel error. Windows is actually several layers of programs made to work together. You can think of Windows as if it were your body, with many pieces working together to make a whole, and, like your body, some parts of Windows are more important than others.

The kernel is the most important part of Windows. It includes critical programs to handle things like memory management and device drivers for the graphics card. These programs are like a body's heart and brain. If something in the kernel crashes, it will often cause all of Windows to crash.

Software Failures

Because there are a lot of programs in the kernel, there are many opportunities for bugs to appear. Although Microsoft does extensive testing to get rid of bugs, their testing facilities can not run through all the combinations that billions of computers use with Windows when some bugs get through.

However, many of the kernel failures are in device drivers written by companies that make hardware, not by Microsoft. Your graphics card, for example, probably uses a driver created by the video company. These companies often work with Microsoft to test their drivers, but having companies working together adds an additional layer of complexity.

Hardware Failures

A hardware failure can cause a kernel error. If your graphics card fails, it can send bad data to the graphics device driver, which then crashes, creating a kernel error. If your hard disk fails, it can corrupt files used by Windows and cause the programs that use those files to crash.

Registry Failures

Registry failures can cause kernel errors. The registry is a database of information that Windows uses to store information about programs. If the registry gets corrupt, the programs that use it can cause kernel errors.

Registry corruption can come from either software or hardware failures. Software corruption can come from a bug in one of the programs that writes information out to the registry. Or if you turn off your computer without doing a complete shutdown, the registry files may not get completely written to the disk. Hardware corruption can happen when the hard disk fails causing parts of the registry files to be lost. It's a good idea to do some research on kernel errors and other registry issues.

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Computer Viruses Problems and Solutions

We all are now aware with the term Computer Viruses

Let’s understand this simple definition: Computer Viruses can be considered as small software application which tends to take control over computer operation. The computer virus may delete contents from the hard disk and even take a ride on e-mail programs to become pandemic. Computer viruses be in various formats like in form of images, audio or video files. They may spread while downloading files from the Internet. Sometimes they may be purchased along with the pirated software too.

Let’s concentrate on symptoms of Viruses

There can be difficulty in accessing any disk or drive. The system might be running slow. Sometimes it may freeze. You may see distorted menus and dialog boxes. Any program may disappear on its own without any action. Sometimes you may see some new icons on the desktop. Application will not be running smooth. You may get error of any system file missing. Your windows may restart automatically sometimes. If you see this kind of symptoms on your system, then install any latest version of anti virus which you think compatible with the Operating System you have. Scan your system for the Computer Viruses. Even in severe condition you may need to format your system completely.

Let’s see what we can do to remove a Virus

You need to apply a Computer Viruses removal tools for the purpose. Sometimes you may find specific problems which are associated with some unwanted software programs which carries Computer Viruses You may get those viruses again in your system after uninstalling those programs. So you should be very much smart while choosing for the Tools for Computer Viruses removal.

To remove virus, follow these steps

1. Visit the Microsoft website to get latest updates from Microsoft Updates.

2. Perform regular scanning of your system with any updated Anti- Virus.

3. Download, install, and then run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool to remove Computer Viruses the system.

Preventive measure for Computer Virus

Its highly recommended you to keep your Operating systems updated. If you are not online don’t forget to check for Windows updates frequently. This is important because the Virus creator always tries to make use of any void in your Operating System to install their software Computer Viruses. If you are online user then make sure that your web browser is also an updated one. Try to use the most compatible and latest of the Web browser may be from any one like IE, Firefox, Opera or anyone else, because the Virus writer always tries to find mistakes in your browser.

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Double Towel Racks – The Easy Way To Increase Space

Bathrooms almost always pose a storage challenge. They often have minimal space to do all the jobs we need to do in there and to store everything we use while we're in there.

When a bathroom is shared by a couple of people, or even an entire family, unique storage challenges come up, and they require unique solutions. When, say, four people use the same room for bathing, an obvious problem is: where do you put all the towels? Bathroom hardware manufacturers came up with a better solution: double towel racks.

A traditional single towel rack provides sufficient space to dry one towel. If you've got four people using four towels each day, and you have a typical bathroom, you'll need a wall covered with towel rods to provide enough drying space.

Double towel racks provide an innovation solution to this all-too-common bathroom storage problem. You'll find double towel racks come in traditional finishes like polished chrome and polished and antique brass, and popular finishes like brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze. You can find economic versions of double towel racks in unfinished wood and ceramic-and-plastic. Regardless of the amount the wall space you have available to install this hardware, you'll find one to fit your space; They come in the range of standard sizes.

If your bathroom is short on storage, you'll usually be open to considering any new space-saving solutions. You can find bathroom suites with a double towel racks installed below. Imagine-in the space where you could normally dry a towel or two, you can double your hanging space, and have room to store a few fresh folded towels and other bathroom essentials, too.

Double towel racks are an excellent solution when you've got lots of damp towels to handle, but other solutions do exist:

• Install a row of pegs or hooks along the wall of the bathroom.
• Install one or more multi-prong hooks on the back of the bathroom door.
• Buy a shower curtain rod with a towel rack incorporated in its design.
• When you purchase shower doors, look for ones where the handles double as towel bars.
• Install suction-cup hooks inside the tub surround.
• Place a swing-arm towel bar to the wall next to your tub or shower. This way, the towel bars extend into the room; They are not limited to hanging against a wall.
• Hang a hook over the bathroom door, linen closet door, or the door of the water closet. These over-door hooks come in single, double, and multiple hook versions in colors and finishes that either stand out or blend in.
• Repurpose an old-style coat rack and use it to hang towels in the bathroom. It takes up only a single square foot of precious floor space.
• If you want to add furniture to your bathroom, look for a hall tree, which is usually reserved for use in the foyer or a mudroom. They come in many styles and finishes, equipped with hooks, mirrors, storage benches, and shelves.
• If you've fortified enough to have a sizable linen closet in your bathroom, visit the closet organization section of your home improvement store. These stores have trained personnel who can help you look at the space you have and redesign it to suit your needs.

Installing a couple of double towel racks can provide a simple way to add storage space to your bathroom. But investigate all the possible storage options for your unique bathroom design challenges. You're not limited to one solution-think creatively and combine them to make a bathroom that works for you.

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Mortgage Loan Origination Software – 10 Functions of Mortgage Banking

Regardless of a mortgage lending organizations’ size, mortgage loan software, data security solutions and automation tools and services should be able to assist with mortgage loan automation requirements. In today’s chaotic mortgage lending environment origination and document security systems need to be easily configured to emphasize a company’s special needs and increase efficiencies across all aspects of the loan origination process, allowing lenders to increase quality and productivity.

Technology-driven automation is the key to succeeding in the increasingly complex, deeply scrutinized mortgage industry. Web-based (Software-as-a-Service), Enterprise mortgage software that supports the ten primary functions in mortgage banking will provide lenders with the necessary competitive advantages to succeed in today’s mortgage industry.

Ten Primary Functions in Mortgage Banking

  1. Mortgage Web site design, implementation, and hosting to provide product, service, loan status, and company information to mortgage customers and business partners
  2. Online loan applications for gathering information from borrowers and business partners that issue loan terms, disclosures, and underwriting conditions
  3. Loan origination software for managing loan data, borrower data, property data, general status reporting, and calculations
  4. Interface systems to send and receive data from real estate service providers, such as credit reports, flood determinations, automated underwriting, fraud detection, and closing documents
  5. Internal automated underwriting system that is simple enough for originators and sophisticated enough for underwriting portfolio loan products
  6. Document generation for applications, upfront disclosures, business processes, and closing documents
  7. Integrated imaging that is used from loan origination to investor delivery and for file archiving
  8. Interest rate and fee generation along with program qualification guidelines
  9. Secondary marketing data tools to track loan revenue and investor relationships, including warehouse line management and interim servicing to complete the back-office system
  10. Reporting such as loan delivery, year-end fee reporting, and HMDA reporting for loan application disposition

Web-Based, enterprise mortgage software that supports the ten primary functions of mortgage banking simplifies compliance, maximizes operational efficiencies, and increases profitability.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Professional Shopping Cart Software

Advantages & Disadvantages of professional shopping cart software As e-Commerce is becoming a regular technique in the business industry it appears that more and more software development firms are developing professional shopping cart software to be released in the market. There is currently a huge range of free shopping cart software that has been released, and it seems that most e-Commerce website owners prefer these free systems over paid for professional shopping cart software. In this article we are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of professional shopping cart software.

Advantages

• Even though you will have to pay for the solution, you get a cart package that has been fully developed, tested and used in the real working world by other e-Commerce websites. If the solution is used by a popular website service then the chances are it has been under more than enough testing to be deemed ready for use.

• Professional shopping cart software will be supported by the people who developed it. A lot of free solutions out there are simply developed and then discontinued as the freelance developers move onto their next project. Support is essential if you are going to want upgrades as mentioned in our next point.

• As the system is supported, the development team are likely to fix any bugs that may occur and provide patches and security fixes. This means the shopping cart software will only get better as time goes on and furthermore improve your e-Commerce website.

• Your site is likely to be more secure when using a professional software solution as in most cases the it developed house private content management systems. This improves security as public content management systems such as WordPress are constantly under threat from hackers as they try to compromise the free source code.

• Another huge advantage of using professionally developed software in e-Commerce is that they will already support a huge range of different payment options for your customers. There are various carts – that only offer PayPal for payment by standard, and it can take a very long time to find plug-ins or figure out how to add other methods yourself. With professional software you can save time and possibly money as it is all included.

Disadvantages

• Your e-Commerce venture might be a small time project and professional cart does cost money which you may not have. In this case you may have to make do with a free shopping cart solution. The good part of conducting business online is that after you have made profit with the free system you can reinvest your money to buy a professional package.

• You trust the developers to do everything they promise to ensure the best experience. It might be slightly difficult to use at first and you might have to spend some time getting used to the bespoke system. You also have to understand that you are vulnerable until patches are made if a security flaw is found.

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Different Types of Hospitality Management Systems

Hospitality management systems are the software that runs your hospitality business. From the food ordering system in your restaurant, to online accommodation booking software, it enables efficient communication and management of your operation, ultimately increasing revenues.

With a range of hospitality management systems to choose from, understanding what is offered is important in order to find the right system that is tailored for your needs and budget. Depending on the type of operation you manage, you should consider the following systems, their advantages and suitability to your company.

Accommodation management software:

Accommodation software packages range from those aimed at B&Bs and small motel owners to ones for running big hotels, clubs and resorts. The basic package offers simple guest and room management, while the more complex ones cover every aspect needed to manage and run a big hotel chain. This includes reservations, service, retail, inventory, staff roster and training, accounting and much more.

Front desk: A front office software package should enable reception staff to keep track of all bookings, state of rooms, guest details and charges, coordinate restaurant reservations for guests, plan housekeeping duties and process guest check-in and check-out. They should also provide a means to communicate effectively with all travel agents and activity operators linked to the system. Features you should look out for include: Reports for arrivals & departures on a specific date. Guest ledger and reservation details, including activities and special requests. Room rates, discounts, package deals, group bookings, etc. Visual schematic of hotel rooms and status. Visual schematic of calendar with room availability. Facility for printing check-in cards for guests. Flexibility in re-assigning guests to different room. Facility to easily add charges to rooms from restaurants, spa, gift shop, etc. Incorporate all payment options upon check-out and print receipt. Print work roster for staff Facilities for storing guest history Communicate efficiently with reservation and travel agents

Housekeeping/maintenance software: Easy-to-use software for the housekeeping and maintenance departments of your accommodation place will increase the efficiency of cleaning and servicing of rooms. Main features of this module will be: Keeping track of room status – dirty, cleaned, inspected, check-ins and check-outs, etc. All information such as number of guests, number of beds, length of stay, special requests (e.g. baby cot, high chair) should be visible to both housekeeping staff and management. Staff can enter maintenance issues as they arise, and those are automatically sent to the maintenance department. Staff can request cleaning materials and toiletries ordered. Staff can keep track of laundry status for uninterrupted linen supply.

Online reservation system: This software package is essential to any accommodation place. It helps you increase direct online bookings instantly. Prospective guests can view hotel rooms (size, choice of beds), availability and prices, plus services and facilities offered. The systems should have instant confirmation of credit card payments or other secure online payment method. After payment of deposit and confirmation by email, guests should be able to login to view or change their reservation details. Cancellation policies should be stated, airport transport options mentioned.

Hospitality management systems for point of sale (POS) operations: This includes restaurants and bars, the hotel gift shop, spa, tour desk and other guest services. It should have the options of direct payment or charge to room. Apart from recording normal vending operations, it should include issuing daily transaction reports to management or the accounting office, and a daily revenue report.

In the POS sector there are many operating hospitality management systems catering for the food vendor sector, namely restaurants, cafés, takeaway shops and delis.

Restaurant (POS) management packages. For POS management packages, you have the choice of an off-the-shelf system for restaurants and cafes, where you can set the options that suit your operation, or a customised one, specifically configured for your business. Most systems are quite easy to use and are cost effective. Their features vary, but most offer the following: Order taking, tallying, and cashier options using a hand-held PDA system. Credit-card processing interface Receipts customized for your business. The more advanced systems also offer: Integrating all transactions with your accounting software. Full inventory/stocktaking facility Translation facilities to selected languages.

Administration software: This module is directed at top management and offers access to all levels of the organization. It provides instant access to the data base of all sectors, ensuring total transparency of operations Overseeing and early intervention by senior staff can prevent mistakes being made by inexperienced employees and save money and the reputation of your business. · Other facilities in this package may include:

Tools for setting different rate systems for rooms and services: daily, seasonal, special promotions, etc. Statistical data – percentage occupancy over set periods, and other data used for policy making and customized reports for board meeting presentations. Organizing promotions and package deals. Inventory for different departments. Employee accounts and employee training programs

Remember: with the high staff turnover common to the hospitality industry, it is important to choose a system that needs minimal training to use, and has ‘secure areas’, which only authorised personnel (with the proper clearance) may access and use.

Choosing and introducing hospitality management systems for your business is a significant undertaking, both operationally and financially. But once up and running, the system will increase efficiency, cut costs and improve the service in your company. You will have happier staff and happier guests, who will promote your business and ultimately increase your revenue.

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How to Retrieve Deleted Text Messages & Not Go Crazy in the Process

It’s happened to all of us. We’ve deleted a text message only to realize a short while later that we either deleted the wrong message, or we need to retrieve information off one of the deleted text messages. We then frantically search out ways online how to retrieve deleted text messages hoping to find an easy solution. We pour through websites pulling our hair out because we can’t find an easy solution.

Ultimately we walk away dismayed because either we were not able to find any solutions on how to retrieve deleted text messages, or the solutions we found seemed to require so much “detective” work, that the solution itself should be on a an episode of CSI.

Are there really any “easy” ways to retrieve deleted messages?

The good news is that YES, there are a couple options that do exist which enable anyone to easily recover deleted texts, and both are not only very affordable, but both work exactly as advertised.

Before we dig into the solutions, there is one solution that is often discussed, which does not work, although many people do still talk about it.

What does NOT work?

Going to your own phone carrier is not going to be a viable option. Yes, they are required by law to keep records of your communication (SMS, call, etc.), but they are not required to turn over their logs to you, unless requested by a court of law. You cannot call up AT&T, Verizon or Sprint and tell them you want to retrieve a deleted text message from last week because there is something really important within the contents of the message. It just wont work.

The only information AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or any other cell phone carrier is going to provide you is the number, date, and time of a call or message. You can plead all you want, but they will not be able to do anything, so it’s not worth your time to attempt this approach.

What DOES work?

There are actually two options available for anyone who is looking for information on how to retrieve deleted text messages. These options rank from the “quick and easy” to the more difficult, but also the most effective.

1) Quick & easy method.

The ‘quick & easy method’ is to buy a SIM card reader, often referred to as a SIM card spy device. This device looks like a USB reader, and the way it works is you remove the SIM card out of your phone, and then place the SIM card into the SIM card reader, and then plug the reader into your computer. Using the included software (of the SIM card reader), you’ll be able to immediately retrieve and read deleted text messages. The time frame will vary, based on what new information is overwritten on the SIM card, but you’ll at least be able to retrieve and read the last 15-20 messages and scan through your call history and contacts, even if they were all deleted.

Positives of this approach?

  • Very easy.
  • Enables you to quickly recover deleted messages.
  • Does not require software to be installed prior to the message being deleted.

Negatives of this approach?

  • A bit costly.
  • Limited cell phone support.
  • Does not work on CDMA networks.

2) More difficult, but most effective method.

The more difficult, but most effective method’ is to purchase a cell phone monitoring app that is often used to spy on cheating spouses, monitor teen cell phone use, track cell phone location, and locate missing or stolen cell phones. These apps (often called spy apps or spy phone software) are often used by people who want an easy and convenient way to back up and store all their own personal cell phone data. The reason why this method is fast becoming a popular way to back up their own personal cell phone data is because everything happens automatically. There is no “syncing” required, or any buttons or settings to worry about. Your cell phone data (text messages, call history, etc.) are automatically backed up every single day. This means if you ever delete a text message, and then need to quickly recover it, all you have to do is log onto your account and then in just a few clicks, you’ll have full contents of every message that was either sent or received from your phone. In addition, you’ll get access to all your call logs and contacts.

The reason why this is a more difficult method, is because it requires that you download the software from your cell phone’s web browser and install the application on your phone. Not everyone is comfortable downloading cell phone apps from the internet using their phone’s web browser. However, once you do complete the download, the actual installation is similar to installing an app on your computer. If you are willing to roll the dice and go with this method, you’ll be very happy with the results. It’s essentially a real time person back up solution that requires absolutely ZERO work on your part. Everything is done for you. The only drawback with this approach is that it does require you to install the software BEFORE you delete the text message that you want to retrieve. This means you need to be proactive and install the software ahead of time.

Positives of this approach?

  • Extremely effective.
  • Affordable.
  • Full contents of text messages are retrieved.
  • Large amount of cell phones are supported, including the popular models such as Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia, and more.

Negatives of this approach?

  • Can be difficult if not familiar with installing cell phone apps.
  • Software must be installed prior to message being deleted.
  • Requires a data connection such as 3G or Edge
  • May increase data fees if a large amount of text messages are sent on a daily basis.

There you go. Now you know how to retrieve deleted text messages using a couple different approaches. The next time someone asks you how to retrieve deleted text messages, you’ll know what options exist, and which one is the best for that particular situation.

Good luck!

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