If you’re just learning the Android ropes, you might get tangled up in a mistake or two. Here are 10 ways to avoid problems and get the maximum benefit from your Android device.
Android is the most widely used platform on the planet. That means it is being used by a variety of skill levels. If you exist on the newbie end of the scale (or if you have to support a group of newbies running Android), know that there are some common mistakes made with this Google-centric platform. Some mistakes come from the adjustments you have to make when migrating from another platform. But others are a bit more grievous and could even cause some form of data loss. All these mistakes can be easily avoided with just a bit of knowledge. So that’s what I’m going to give to you — in the form of 10 preventable newbie mistakes.
1. Don’t expect it to act like an iPhone
Many users who migrate from the iOS platform expect Android to behave the same way. Sure, fundamentally it does. It will make and receive phone calls, check email, and view web pages. But once you get beyond the basic functionality, the Android and iOS platforms have little in common. If you assume that Android and iPhone smartphones are the same, you are in for a frustrating experience. Each platform approaches tasks differently, and if you assume your Android device is similar to an iPhone, you’ll miss out on a lot of features.
2. Secure it now
You have plenty of data on that smartphone… data you do not want getting into to the hands of other users. To that end, you must secure your smartphone with a password, or a pattern, a fingerprint, or whatever your device offers. No matter how you approach it, don’t leave your data open for all to see. In the case of your Google account, consider two-step authentication. You want your device as secure as possible.
3. Avoid that POP
The single most common question I get is, “Why are emails disappearing from my phone or desktop?” It’s because you set up your email as a POP account and didn’t configure your phone or desktop to retain messages on the server. The best way around this is to avoid configuring your email account as a POP account. With Android you can set up many types of accounts… but just avoid POP as much as you can.
4. Don’t drown yourself in widgets
I’ve seen Android homescreens so dense with launchers and widgets, it looked like the app drawer vomited up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unfortunately, the more widgets you have on your homescreen (especially those that display data from online accounts) the more battery you will use. If you really want a few widgets on your homescreen, choose wisely and don’t overdo it.
5. Don’t overlook Gmail
Android and Gmail are like peanut butter and chocolate — they work perfectly together. If you get an Android device and don’t have a Gmail account, create one. Why? You’re missing out on a LOT of features (the Google Play Store, backups, and more). Make sure you create your Gmail account before you set up your phone. It’ll make things far easier in the long run.
6. Be smart about permissions
When you install an app, you’ll be warned about what permissions that app requires for use. Do not ignore those permissions, as they can give you insight into the app’s nature. If you’re installing an app that will serve as a mirror and it requires permission to use your location and your email, don’t install it! There are certain permissions that should be given only to certain apps. Do not ignore the permissions warning. Period. Learn what it means and how it works. Know when to stop installing an app based on the permissions it requires.
7. Red-light that Bluetooth
If you don’t use Bluetooth for anything, why leave it on? It’s only going to drain your battery (and Android does that well enough by itself). Shut off Bluetooth from within the Settings app and you won’t have to worry about added battery drain. The same can be said of shutting off Wi-Fi when it is not in use.
8. Stop hoarding those apps
Open up your app drawer. Do you see a veritable cornucopia of unused apps? If so, uninstall them. Your Android device is not a dumping ground for cutesy apps of the day. If you know you’re done flapping angry birds get rid of the app. Those unused apps take up precious space, and in some cases, they could be helping to drain your battery (even if they’re unused). It’s not that those apps are going to suck your battery dry. But why take the chance that they are even draining it in the slightest? If you don’t use it, lose it.
9. Tap into all that power
One of the biggest differences between Android and iOS is the degree of flexibility and control. You have much more control over what your phone can do on Android — so much so, that many new users are overwhelmed or intimidated by all the bells and whistles. Don’t be. If you turn your back on all the possibilities, you miss out on a lot of features that could make your mobile life far easier. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just start randomly tapping buttons. Use that power with intelligence and understanding.
10. Don’t neglect updates
There are reasons why you get warnings about updates: because they are often necessary for device security or efficiency. Apple pushes out only major updates and does so as a whole package. But there are instances when Android pieces can be updated. Many times these updates will occur without your assistance. However, you should still go into the Application Manager to find out whether there are updates for certain apps or elements of Android (the Play Store is a good example). Make sure you are updating on a regular basis. And be sure to install (and use) Secure Update Scanner so you don’t fall victim to the pileup flaw.
Reap the benefits, avoid the pitfalls
Android is a powerhouse of a platform and has eclipsed all other mobile platforms in global usage. That means there are a lot of first-time users. Don’t fall prey to any of these beginner mistakes and you’ll enjoy a long and productive life with Android.
Have you made some newbie mistakes on Android? Do you think there are just as many mistakes to be made by iOS novices? Share your thoughts bellow.
Skype ID: lina_deveikyte
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development
Quick, grab all of your devices and check what release of Android they are using. Are they all the same? If so, consider yourself one in a million. The Android platform is plagued with numerous releases on numerous devices — even the same devices from different carriers can suffer from different iterations of Android!
Because of what I do, I have numerous Android devices. The different releases are:
All of the above are on devices ranging from a Samsung Galaxy Tab to an HTC One Max (and just about everything in between). As I work with one of the various devices, I have to bounce back and forth to remember where something is located on a certain release. Although this isn’t a deal breaker for me, imagine having to support hundreds of devices, all with varying releases. Now, we’re talking about the breaking of deals.
But this issue goes deeper than that. It’s common knowledge that certain providers and certain device manufacturers are quicker to update than others. Motorola, for one, has always been at the top of the heap for updates. My Moto X always has the latest version of Android (almost immediately upon release). Samsung devices? Not so much. And if you’re with AT&T — good luck.
At one point, Google created the Android Update Alliance. That failed, but not because of Google. The blame here lies at the feet of the carriers and hardware manufacturers, including:
This update issue isn’t only widespread, it’s also very counter to rolling out new devices. How can Samsung (or any manufacturer) or AT&T (or any carrier) sell a device with an out of date OS? And with KitKat showing off how much more efficient it is at memory management, it’s become imperative that Android devices are released with the latest version.
I know this is a challenge for all involved. The second you release a piece of hardware, it could quickly become out of date. And each manufacturer has a different spin on the UI:
- Motorola Motoblur
- HTC Sense
- Samsung Touchwiz
When a new release of Android hits, each company has to integrate the underlying platform with its UI, so there’s another slowdown.
Here’s my beef with this — I can go to the Google Play Store and install any number of home screen launchers, nearly all of which play well with whatever version of Android I’m using (with a rare exception). In some cases, these home screen launchers are developed by a single person who must constantly keep up with changes made to the kernel and various stacks that make up the Android platform. And they do it with aplomb and efficiency.
So, how is it that a single developer can manage this, yet a large company cannot? It truly baffles the mind.
Well, I’ve come up with some ideas that might help this along. Some of them are unlikely, and some of them just might actually work. Let’s take a look:
- All hardware manufacturers drop their in-house home screen launchers and go with vanilla Android (they can offer their versions on the Google Play Store).
- Google develops a set of standards for all hardware manufacturers to use for developing their home screen.
- Set up an OS upgrade check during the first run wizard? Out of date? Update.
- Carriers stop selling out-of-date Android devices that won’t run any version of Android other than the most recent two major releases.
I know it’s a lose-lose scenario. The carriers, the manufacturers, and Google are not going to see eye-to-eye on this issue. But they need to lose their egos and stranglehold on their devices and come to some sort of unified structure that allows Android updates to roll out in a universal fashion. Having carriers selling devices with out-of-date operating systems does no favors to Android. And users not getting the best possible experience, because a carrier or a manufacturer can’t seem to get the upgrade process refined, does nothing but frustrate users.
KitKat is a substantial improvement over an already solid release. Every Android user should be enjoying the speed and features brought about by the latest iteration of the platform. Every entity involved needs to step up and make this happen… soon!
What do you think? Are you one of those suffering from an out of date release of Android? What do you think needs to be done to resolve this problem? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Skype ID: kristinakozlova
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development
There have been esimates that when Microsoft releases Office for the iPad, likely later this month, it could end up bringing in billions of additional dollars to Microsoft’s coffers. Is that hype and overkill, it will it really add that much to Microsoft’s bottom line?
It’s widely expected that on March 27, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will announce Office for the iPad. If that’s true, that will finally put an end to the “will-they-won’t-they” speculation that has swirled around the fate of the suite for years.
How much additional revenue will Microsoft bring in when it releases the suite? Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt says that Microsoft could get $2.5 billion in new Office revenue by releasing Office for the iPad. And Gerry Purdy, principal of MobileTrax, offers even bigger numbers. He believe that Microsoft could gain an additional $1.25 billion in revenue in the first year Microsoft releases Office for the iPad and Android tablets, and $6 billion in annual revenue by 2017.
I think both numbers are wildly inflated. Take a look at Purdy’s reasoning,which is based on Microsoft releasing Office for both Android and the iPad.
He assumes that 25% of iOS and Android tablet users would buy Office and that Microsoft would net $50 per copy sold. He believes that Microsoft will sell Office for the tablets as standalones, rather than include it as part of a subscription to Office 365.
Purdy is likely wrong on both counts. It’s hard to imagine a quarter of all iPad and tablet users buying Office, especially because there are so many free or very low-cost alternatives, including the free Google Docs and Google’s Quickoffice. I’m sure that the percentage of people willing to pay for Office is far, far under 25 percent.
In addition, it’s quite likely that Office will be sold as part of an Office 365 subscription, not as a standalone piece of software. Microsoft has made clear that subscription-based Office is the future, and standalone Office is the past. As just one piece of evidence, Microsoft recently announced a cheaper Office 365 subscription, called Office 365 Personal, that appears to be aimed at those with iPads. It will cost $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for a year for one PC or Mac and one tablet compared to $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year for five devices for the normal subscription version of Office. That means that only some part of additional Office revenue shoud be attributed to the iPad, not all of it.
But that doesn’t really matter. Releasing Office for the iPad is not only about additional revenue. It’s also being done to protect existing revenue and market share. Microsoft needs to fend off Google Docs, which is free and works on all platforms. Releasing Office for the iPad is an important way to do that.
That will be even more important in future years. Rumors are that a 12-inch iPad may eventually come down the pike. If true, that would put it at the screen size of a laptop, and make it more likely that iPad owners will want a productivity suite. If Microsoft wants to keep its hold on the office productivity market, Office needs to be available for the iPad, and at some point, Android tablets as well.
Skype ID: lina_deveikyte
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development
Every business starts from the question: ”Which direction to take, how to choose the right niche…”. Most start-ups choose software development as the direction to start with because of quite low launching costs, easiness to start the business, high popularity of IT and the well-known postulate “software will eat the world”. But when choosing IT sphere it is quite important to understand this market and find new perspective areas in it. As investors and business angels are much more eager to invest not in what is popular today, but what will be the future of tomorrow.
In my article I would like to draw your attention to some trends that seem promising in my opinion
The Internet of things
The Internet of Things is likely to have a staggering impact on our daily life and become an inherent part of such areas as electricity, transportation, industrial control, retail, utilities management, healthcare, petroleum etc. For example, GE predicts that the oil and gas industry will be able to save more than $90 billion a year thanks to the reduced operating costs and fuel consumption that smart components will deliver. The health care sector may save more than $63 billion because of improved resource usage and modern equipment.
Also the Industrial Internet will make transport more economical, and safer too. Jumbo jets, loaded with sensors that record every detail of their flights, will help engineers to design safer aero-planes and know which parts need to be replaced. On the road, fleets of trucks and even ordinary drivers will be able to tap into the web, monitoring traffic in real time, with automated programs suggesting alternative routes in case of accidents/traffic congestion.
Of course, all of these benefits mean plenty of business opportunities for those who are brave enough to make the first step. Profits will grow exponentially as the Internet of Things itself matures. Today, there’s around 1.3 billion connected devices in the world, but by 2020 this could well exceed 12.5 billion devices. Similarly, the M2M (machine-2-machine) industry is said to be worth around $121 billion a year today. By 2020, that value will grow to almost $950 billion, according to the Carbon War Room. Don’t lose your chance!
Computer Science health
This sphere suit startups that plan to develop software to diagnose and treat diseases (i’m not taking about Biotech, but about Information Technology). As a rule it is a noninvasive methodology. The technology will help to avoid costly and dangerous procedures: instead of an operation it will be enough to use a specialized device Different kinds of fitness applications have already filled the market. Apps that evaluate sleep state and help to wake up at the most opportune moment, that evaluate quality, caloric value and allergenicity of food are not a rarity anymore. More and more people keep track of their daily activity: number of steps made, calories burned, heart rate etc by using bracelets and kardiosensors. But the real revolution will produce a system that will combine sensor data and sensor condition of the body with genetic information. The Apps will give an opportunity to influence the physical state, recommending an appropriate lifestyle and a specific diet, supplements and medicines.
In 2012 and 2013 we saw significant data breaches across multiple industries and governments impacting millions of users. For instance, according to a recent study conducted by Ponemon Institute, nearly 1.5 million Americans have been victims of medical identity theft. Individuals whose medical information has been stolen often deal with erroneous medical expenses, insurance issues and incorrect data on medical records that can lead to fatal medical errors. And data security issues compromise more than patient privacy and personal data.
Is this an uncertain future we will have to live with? Can we accept degraded privacy and security and billions of dollars in lost revenue, damage, reduction in brand value and remediation costs?
Such issues will become the concern of more and more enterprise leaders. Thus, Data Security could be the biggest challenge for startups.
“Green Energy” field
We live in the world of limited subsoil resources. We may experience and in fact we do already experience their shortage. The time of “users” is close to the end and the era of “creators” is coming instead. The “creators” are sure, that the potential of the “Green Energy” is huge… and they are right. Every fifth kWh is got from renewable energy sources in the developed countries. Let’s see what is happening in the world:
Elon Musk, the creator of PayPal, has opened a company that produces electric cars Tesla. For three years they have produced quite expansive super-cars and rectified technologies …btw the technologies are still being improved ( hope you understand what I’m driving at…). Also the super-cars require refueling …with the help of solar batteries, which are quite widespread in the USA and Western Europe. By the way it is predicted that America, South Canada and most of Europe will be covered with solar stations by the end of 2015 year (another niche ;) ) and the solar batteries will be used not only for the refueling).
What I’m driving at …want to say that there will be need in different applications (including mobile apps as well) for its ordering, managing etc.
In conclusion I would like to wish you to find your niche and not be afraid of putting your ideas out and trying them. Good luck and thanks for the reading :)
Skype ID: elviragolyak
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development
Fear of surrendering control is probably the main factor holding many IT directors back from realizing the benefits of outsourcing IT services. But if you can find an IT services supplier who will work with you in a genuine partnership, understanding the specific needs of your business, it soon becomes clear that this fear is misplaced. It is perfectly possible to retain your strategic power while outsourcing the fundamental and mundane elements of your IT service and support. By opening the door to outsourcing some niche services or even your entire application or database management infrastructure, you can generate a host of business benefits.
The top 10 benefits of outsourcing
- Reduced service and support costs within a managed and predictable budget
- Better quality of service, fewer IT failures and less downtime thanks to well-defined service level agreements
- Access to the latest applications without high up-front license costs
- Access to accredited engineers, skills and technical expertise without having to train your own staff
- Reduced risk of employees leaving and taking their knowledge with them
- Round-the-clock access to a help desk primed to resolve problems remotely and rapidly
- Compliance with the latest regulations
- Guaranteed data security at remote, hosted data centers
- Real accountability via contracted commitments from a third party supplier partner that wants to keep your business rather than reliance on an in-house group that is hard to pin down
- Remove high IT staff costs from your balance sheet and shift to an opex budget
For some time, there have been signs that IT directors in smaller enterprises are increasingly receptive to these benefits and are even embracing them with greater agility than their global counterparts. A survey from Computer Economics suggested that 27% of businesses now outsource applications management, while 21% outsource database management.
According to Information Week, as this level of outsourcing gains credibility the benefits quickly accumulate in terms of greater flexibility (particularly for companies that are growing rapidly); access to cost-effective expertise, techniques and programs; access to third-party resources such as the help desk, which liberates IT staff to focus on more productive business-focused activities; and the wider savings achieved by not having to invest in infrastructure and licenses.
Take email services as one example: Gartner estimates that outsourcing just this one application could save businesses with fewer than 300 employees a significant amount because an outsourcing partner has the dedicated infrastructure to manage it at a much lower cost.
Five reasons to outsource
Here are five good reasons why you should think about outsourcing your IT services:
1. You could save significant staff costs.
Not just on the recruitment and hiring front. Skilled people with strong application-based credentials don’t come cheap and have long-term costs. Why spend time and money training somebody to support a core business application, only to see them poached by another employer and taking their expensively-acquired skills with them? Or send them to costly training to keep their skills current? And why not liberate your in-house IT staff to focus on projects that add value to the business rather than spending their precious time on firefighting duty?
2. An outsourced call center/help desk frees your resources.
Providing round-the-clock support for your users in-house is expensive. Depending on the size of your business, you might need a dedicated facility that is operated by key IT support staff and is a significant cost center in terms of facilities management overheads. Even in a smaller IT operation, somebody—it might even be you—has to be on call outside office hours to provide IT support for an increasingly mobile workforce. Thanks to greater economies of scale, a dynamic IT services partner should provide a superior help desk at a greatly reduced cost.
3. You can save money all around – with the right outsourcing strategy and partner.
A good IT services partner will work with you to identify the pressure points that make sense for you to outsource. These can vary tremendously from one business to another. Toolbox.com points out that cost savings vary with the number of employees who need support and to what degree, the number of devices involved, the types of applications that you use, the ratio of employees using office space to remote workers, and even your geographic location when it comes to the price of on-site support. These are complex calculations that deserve patient analysis.
4. Your business will be more flexible in its use and consumption of IT services.
Infrastructure is expensive. Why invest in servers, complex networks and other hardware just to deliver vital but everyday applications to your users when you can have those applications managed and distributed as a service direct to the desktop without the expense of hardware maintenance? Because your applications are being managed and hosted by a third party, they can be scaled up or down to meet fluctuating demand, and your costs will be more tightly controlled as a result.
5. Peace of mind.
Why let worries about more complex issues such as data security or disaster recovery keep you awake at night when they can be managed and supported by a third party who has all the necessary expertise and infrastructure to meet your security and business continuity requirements? Yes, they are important, but by choosing the right partner to provide relevant support services, you are prioritizing them rather than allowing them to become distractions that need constant attention from your in-house IT team.
Negotiation is the key to getting your relationship with your IT services supplier off to the best start and making sure you realize the business benefits that you expect. And it starts long before the contract is signed. It should be more profitable if you decide what you want from your contract before you choose your supplier.
Select an IT service partner who demonstrates they understand your business and clearly articulates the value they can bring to your operations. By combining and matching your goals with an IT service partner who has the vision to match them and deliver the latest service desk technologies to provide you with complete service performance visibility, including measurable indications of performance quality, you’ll soon become part of the rising tide of SMEs that are living proof of the benefits of outsourcing.
- Outsourcing IT services does not mean all or nothing.
- You can deliver genuine benefits to your business by outsourcing IT services if you negotiate service levels that are customized to your company.
- Fear of surrendering control is the main factor holding many IT directors back from outsourcing IT services—but you can keep control if you select the right partner.
Feel free to share your thoughts.
The most important aspect of launching a startup is the team behind the idea. Here are best practices and helpful tips for identifying your ideal co-founder.
Entrepreneurship is a journey, and is often shared with other people. Choosing who you surround yourself with as an entrepreneur is critical, but choosing who you will found your business with is paramount. In fact, some VCs consider the business idea secondary to the team itself.
Whether you’re a first-time founder or a seasoned entrepreneur, choosing who you’ll go to battle with is, quite possibly, the most important decision you will make in the process. The co-founder relationship is like a marriage based on a large pool of shared resources. If you’ve had spats with your significant other over money, imagine you’re fighting over millions of dollars that have the potential to make you millions more.
“Behind the glamorous facade of founding and working in startups, being a founder (and especially a CEO founder) is one of the most stressful and LONELIEST jobs in the world. Having co-founders means you have people who are going through the same struggle and challenges as you are every single day with you,” said Tim Chae, entrepreneur-in-residence at 500 Startups.
There is no standard formula to help you find your startup soul mate, but here are a few things to consider when choosing a co-founder—or multiple co-founders.
Go with who you know
“The most successful true co-founder situations are ones where the people have known each other in other contexts, prior to the company at hand,” said Andreas Stavropoulos, a managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
This isn’t a license to go out and found a company with your childhood friend, it’s more of a charge to connect with someone on the interpersonal level beforehand. Spending time socially is not enough, you should spend time together working on a project—spending time together for the business. According to Dane Atkinson, CEO of SumAll.com, this can make or break a company.
“Co-founders are the foundation block that rocks most failed companies and strengthens winning ones. You MUST have a lengthy relationship with a co-founder PRIOR to founding. The ideal is a being part of another fox hole work environment where you can learn about each other through trials. As counterintuitive as it sounds, friends are your second best bet. In both cases you want to have common ground at the moral ideology level with a serious dosage of respect.”
The goal is to learn to work with someone before you learn to start and run a business. Relationships are hard, and it is best to work out the kinks before you decide to put it on the line starting a company. There is a honeymoon period for founders, when you feel like your ambition to disrupt will carry you to exit; but that period will end. According to Stavropoulos, investors are looking for a team that can weather the storm together. They want founders to “get through their first couple of fights before the money is in.” Stavropoulos said he is looking for a track record of getting things done, not just an impressive idea or rock star résumés.
Skill, style, and ego
Human beings tend to gravitate towards people that are similar to them. According to research on twins published in the journal Psychological Science, even our genes play a role in who we seek relationships with. With founders, the goal is to find the right amount of similarity.
“You’re looking for complementarity of skills, but similarity of styles,” said Stavropoulos.
In complementarity of skills, he means skills that enhance one another and help to fill in the gaps that may be lacking in your skill set. In addition to filling out your repertoire of skills, founders need to be looking for someone who can help complement other aspects of their business mindset. But, according to Scott Friend, a managing director at Bain Capital Ventures, it goes beyond just complementary skills.
“The crux of my opinion is to focus on complementary skills, capabilities, AND egos,” Friend said. “While the first part probably sounds obvious, it really comes together with the last (ego). It’s critical that co-founders not only have complementary skills—the classic ‘inside-outside’ split is common where one co-founder is the lead on sales, marketing, fundraising, business development and the other focuses on engineering, operations, product, etc.—but that their egos are wrapped up in different areas too.”
What Friend is getting at here is the concept of partnering yourself with someone whose sense of identity or victory is tied up in a different aspect of the business than yours is. That concept of “ego” has to do with where your pride in the business comes from. Does it come from giving presentations about your business or from building a team and meeting a deadline. Typically, the spotlight is only big enough for one person, and you need to establish who that person will be early on. The tech industry’s archetypal examples of this are Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at Apple and Bill Gates and Paul Allen at Microsoft.
Up to this point we have talked a lot about complementarity, but similarity of style is just as important, especially in the early days. Most startups employ just their founders for quite some time, so you need someone whose style or work is similar to your own. You can diversify as you grow, but when you’re first starting out it is important that your rhythms are in sync. A morning person needs a morning person, an extrovert needs another extrovert, and so on. The way you work together needs to be compatible because you will probably be the only two people working.
Once you have an idea, you need to be able to pursue it, even in the face of adversity, if you want your startup to succeed. Although it is a great idea to support your pitch with data, investors want to know that you are going to follow through even when it is difficult. With that being said, there is a difference between being courageous and being reckless.
When investors like Stavropoulos are evaluating a team, they want to see people that can push to accomplish the ultimate goal of a company. With that in mind, they also want to see founders that are wise enough to know when one approach is not working and nimble enough to be able to change direction.
This is where a co-founder comes in handy. Founders will typically arrive at conclusions like this at different times, so it helps to have someone who is willing to point out flaws in an idea early so the course of action can be corrected.
Aside from these things there is one more trait a founder can have that VCs look for, according to Stavropoulos: “The ability to inspire others.” This is going to look different for different founders, but you want someone who will inspire people in their domain; whether that is finance, technology, business, or something else.
In evaluating your founding team, you must ask yourself: If you two are leading the charge, will others follow you into battle?
Every discipline has its own vocabulary, and project management is no exception. Part of the process of successfully deploying project management in your organization is to standardize the terminology. That way, when one person talks about risks, scope, issues, requirements, and other project management concerns, everyone else knows what he or she is referring to. This glossary contains common terms used in project management and can help start the standardization process in your organization.
There may be external circumstances or events that must occur for the project to be successful (or that should happen to increase your chances of success). If you believe that the probability of the event occurring is acceptable, you could list it as an assumption. An assumption has a probability between 0 and 100%; that is, it is not impossible that the event will occur (0%), and it is not a fact (100%) — it is somewhere in between. Assumptions are important because they set the context in which the entire remainder of the project is defined. If an assumption doesn’t come through, the estimate and the rest of the project definition may no longer be valid.
Client / customers
The person or group that is the direct beneficiary of a project or service is the client / customer. These are the people for whom the project is being undertaken (indirect beneficiaries are stakeholders). In many organizations, internal beneficiaries are called “clients” and external beneficiaries are called “customers,” but this is not a hard and fast rule.
Constraints are limitations that are outside the control of the project team and need to be managed around. They are not necessarily problems. However, the project manager should be aware of constraints because they represent limitations that the project must execute within. Date constraints, for instance, imply that certain events (perhaps the end of the project) must occur by certain dates. Resources are almost always a constraint, since they are not available in an unlimited supply.
The cost variance (CV) is used to measure the cost difference between a project’s earned value (EV) and the actual cost (AC) to deliver progress to date (CV = EV – AC). In application, positive CVs indicate the project is under budget, since it is delivering more value than incurring cost. If the project has a negative CV, it is over budget. Even positive CVs should be examined for root cause.
The critical path is the sequence of activities that must be completed on schedule for the entire project to be completed on schedule. It is the longest duration path through the workplan. If an activity on the critical path is delayed by one day, the entire project will be delayed by one day (unless another activity on the critical path can be accelerated by one day).
A deliverable is any tangible outcome that is produced by the project. All projects create deliverables, which can be documents, plans, computer systems, buildings, aircraft, etc. Internal deliverables are produced as a consequence of executing the project and are usually needed only by the project team. External deliverables are created for clients and stakeholders. Your project may create one or many deliverables.
Earned value (EV) is an EV management term used to determine the total work completed at a specific point in time. A project’s EV is determined by adding up all the budgeted costs for every task in the project schedule. The actual EV calculation can use a variety of calculation methods, including 0-100%, 50-50%, or an actual percentage to determine a task’s credited value.
The functional manager is the person you report to within your functional organization. Typically, this is the person who does your performance review. The project manager may also be a functional manager, but he or she does not have to be. If your project manager is different from your functional manager, your organization is probably utilizing matrix management.
A Gantt chart is a bar chart that depicts activities as blocks over time. The beginning and end of the block correspond to the beginning and end-date of the activity.
An issue is a major problem that will impede the project’s progress and that can’t be resolved by the project manager and project team without outside help. Project managers should proactively deal with issues through a defined issues management process.
Lifecycle refers to the process used to build the deliverables produced by the project. There are many models for a project lifecycle. For software development, the entire lifecycle might consist of planning, analysis, design, construct/test, implementation, and support; this is an example of a “waterfall” lifecycle. Other lifecycles include iterative development, package implementation, and research and development. Each of these lifecycle models represents an approach to building on your project’s deliverables.
A milestone is a scheduling event that signifies the completion of a major deliverable or a set of related deliverables. A milestone, by definition, has duration of zero and no effort. There is no work associated with a milestone. It is a flag in the workplan to signify that some other work has completed. Usually, a milestone is used as a project checkpoint to validate how the project is progressing. In many cases there is a decision, such as validating that the project is ready to proceed, that needs to be made at a milestone.
An objective is a concrete statement that describes what the project is trying to achieve. The objective should be written at a low level, so that it can be evaluated at the conclusion of a project to see whether it was achieved. Project success is determined based on whether the project objectives were achieved. A technique for writing an objective is to make sure it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound (SMART).
A program is the umbrella structure established to manage a series of related projects. The program does not produce any project deliverables — the project teams produce them all. The purpose of the program is to provide overall direction and guidance, to make sure the related projects are communicating effectively, to provide a central point of contact and focus for the client and the project teams, and to determine how individual projects should be defined to ensure that all the work gets completed successfully.
A program manager is the person with the authority to manage a program. (Note that this is a role. The program manager may also be responsible for one or more of the projects within the program.) The program manager leads the overall planning and management of the program. All project managers within the program report to the program manager.
A project is a temporary structure to organize and manage work and ultimately to build a specific defined deliverable or set of deliverables. By definition, all projects are unique, which is one reason it is difficult to compare different projects to one another.
The project baseline is used to establish the original set of budget and schedule estimates based on the approved project scope prior to project execution. Effective project managers compare the project baseline to the current project status to determine specific cost or schedule variances.
Project definition (charter)
Before you start a project, it is important to know the overall objectives of the project, as well as the scope, deliverables, risks, assumptions, project organization chart, etc. The project definition (or charter) is the document that holds this relevant information. The project manager is responsible for creating the project definition. The document should be approved by the sponsor to signify that the project manager and the sponsor are in agreement on these important aspects of the project.
Project Management Office
The Project Management Office (PMO) is an organization within a company that develops and enforces project management processes, tools, and techniques. A PMO may form at a program level, a department level, or at an enterprise level. A PMO typically provides support for program or portfolio governance, project portfolio management, resource management, and issue and risk management.
The project manager is the person with the authority to manage a project. The project manager is 100% responsible for the processes used to manage the project. He or she also has people management responsibilities for team members, although this is shared with the team member’s functional manager. The processes used to manage the project include defining the work, building the workplan and budget, managing the workplan and budget, scope management, issues management, risk management, etc.
A phase is a major logical grouping of work on a project. It also represents the completion of a major deliverable or set of related deliverables. On an IT development project, logical phases might be planning, analysis, design, construct (including testing), and implementation.
The project plan (not to be confused with the project schedule) is the document that describes the processes, tools, and techniques used to manage and control the project. Common processes include specific project level processes such as change management, issue management, risk management, document management, and time management for project schedule updates.
Project schedule / work schedule
The project schedule is commonly associated with Microsoft Project or a similar scheduling tool. The project schedule is the series of tasks with durations, resources, and specific dependencies that forecasts the project end date.
The project team consists of the full-time and part-time resources assigned to work on the deliverables of the project. They are responsible for understanding the work to be completed; completing assigned work within the budget, timeline, and quality expectations; informing the project manager of issues, scope changes, and risk and quality concerns; and proactively communicating status and managing expectations.
Request for proposal
The request for proposal (RFP) is a formal request used by organizations to identify potential solutions and services from a list of vendors. Based on the RFP, the organization will identify a smaller list of vendors to issue a request for quotation.
Request for quotation
A request for quotation is a formal request for a vendor to provide actual costs for a specific service or scope of work. The client typically provides a vendor with a set of requirements and instructions on how to respond to the request. The vendor provides its response, including details about the solution, assumptions, and pricing.
Requirements are descriptions of how a product or service should act, appear, or perform. Requirements generally refer to the features and functions of the deliverables you are building on your project. Requirements are considered to be a part of project scope. High-level scope is defined in your project definition (charter). The requirements form the detailed scope. After your requirements are approved, they can be changed through the scope change management process.
There may be potential external events that will have a negative impact on your project if they occur. Risk refers to the combination of the probability the event will occur and the impact on the project if the event occurs. If the combination of the probability of the occurrence and the impact to the project is too high, you should identify the potential event as a risk and put a proactive plan in place to manage the risk.
The schedule variance (SV) is an EV management term used to measure the project’s schedule performance by comparing the project’s EV to the project baselined planned value (PV). The formula is SV = EV – PV. A positive SV indicates the project is ahead of schedule, while a negative SV indicates the project is behind schedule.
Scope is the way you describe the boundaries of the project; it defines what the project will deliver and what it will not deliver. High-level scope is set in your project definition (charter) and includes all of your deliverables and the boundaries of your project. The detailed scope is identified through your business requirements. Any changes to your project deliverables, boundaries, or requirements would require approval through scope change management.
Scope change management
The purpose of scope change management is to manage change that occurs to previously approved scope statements and requirements. Scope is defined and approved in the scope section of the project definition (charter) and the more detailed business requirements. If the scope or the business requirements change during the project (and usually this means the client wants additional items), the estimates for cost, effort, and duration may no longer be valid. If the sponsor agrees to include the new work in the project scope, the project manager has the right to expect that the current budget and deadline will be modified (usually increased) to reflect this additional work. This new estimated cost, effort, and duration become the approved target.
Sometimes the project manager thinks that scope management means having to tell the client “no.” That makes the project manager nervous and uncomfortable. However, the good news is that managing scope is all about getting the sponsor to make the decisions that will result in changes to project scope.
Sponsor (executive sponsor and project sponsor)
The sponsor is the person who has ultimate authority over the project. The executive sponsor provides project funding, resolves issues and scope changes, approves major deliverables, and provides high-level direction. He or she also champions the project within the organization. Depending on the project and the organizational level of the executive sponsor, he or she may delegate day-to-day tactical management to a project sponsor. If assigned, the project sponsor represents the executive sponsor on a day-to-day basis and makes most of the decisions requiring sponsor approval. If the decision is large enough, the project sponsor will take it to the executive sponsor.
Specific people or groups who have a stake in the outcome of the project are stakeholders. Normally stakeholders are from within the company and may include internal clients, management, employees, administrators, etc. A project can also have external stakeholders, including suppliers, investors, community groups, and government organizations.
A steering committee is usually a group of high-level stakeholders who are responsible for providing guidance on overall strategic direction. They don’t take the place of a sponsor but help spread the strategic input and buy-in to a larger portion of the organization. The steering committee is especially valuable if your project has an impact in multiple organizations because it allows input from those organizations into decisions that affect them.
A waterfall methodology is a predictive life cycle methodology with sequential phases, which include Analysis, Design, Development, Testing, and Deployment. Predictive methodologies work well when the requirements and design are well defined, as found in the construction or manufacturing processes. For software projects, an agile methodology is recommended despite the abundance of waterfall methodologies found across industries.
Work breakdown structure
The work breakdown structure (WBS) is a list of major deliverables that the project team will complete during the project. The WBS is organized in a hierarchy and is typically decomposed into several sub-levels. A WBS can be used to visually define the project into smaller chunks, so the team can better understand and plan the activities needed to complete the deliverables. Diagramming tools such as Microsoft Visio or mind mapping tools such as Mindjet or MindGeniuscan be used to build a visual WBS.
The project workplan tells you how you will complete the project. It describes the activities required, the sequence of the work, who is assigned to the work, an estimate of how much effort is required, when the work is due, and other information of interest to the project manager. The workplan allows the project manager to identify the work required to complete the project and also allows the project manager to monitor the work to determine whether the project is on schedule.
Agile project management terminology
An agile methodology is an adaptive systems development lifecycle methodology that delivers software in incremental chunks known as iterations or sprints. In agile development, time is fixed, and scope is allowed to float from one iteration to another based on the team’s user story progress. An agile methodology is best used when requirements are not well defined.
Burn down chart
A burn down chart is a graphical view of the remaining work left versus the time in an iteration. A project backlog or hours can be expressed on the vertical axis, while time is indicated on the horizontal axis. A burn down chart is often used to determine when work will be completed on a project or an iteration.
An epic is a set of related user stories. They are also considered a “really big user story.”
An iteration is an iterative development concept that establishes a short time frame to deliver a set of software features or user stories. Each iteration includes typical waterfall activities such as analysis, design, development, and testing, yet they are time boxed within a one to four week window. At the end of an iteration, the progress is reviewed with the business customer, and recommended changes can be incorporated into future iterations.
Planning Poker is an estimation game created by Mike Cohn of Mountain Goat Software. Planning Poker is used to estimate individual user stories as a team activity. The team gathers and reviews user stories one at a time. As stories are presented, the team discusses the user story and provides an estimate of the work from their own deck of cards. All estimates are presented and discussed until the team arrives at a consensus.
A release is a set of working software delivered to the business customer resulting from a set of iterations. During release planning, teams will review a product backlog to organize user stories into the specific releases and iterations that deliver a functional product to the business customer.
Scrum is an iterative development methodology used to manage software projects. In scrum-based projects, there isn’t a specific project manager directing project team tasks; the team is self-directed, with co-located team members relying on communication over documentation for effective project delivery.
A sprint is a scrum-based agile methodology concept that is similar to an iteration. A sprint is time boxed to deliver a specific set of user stories and produce working features within a set time period. During sprint planning, the business customer or product owner specifies the user story priority, and the development team commits to the scope for a given sprint. During a sprint, user stories can be removed from the sprint scope, but new stories cannot be added; this allows project teams to focus on the goals of the sprint and deliver rapidly.
A story point is a relative estimation method used to determine the size of user stories so teams can determine how much work can be done during an iteration. Story points can be expressed in a simple Fibonacci sequence, t-shirt sizes, or a relative number. By adding up the number of user stories and associated story points, the project team can establish its velocity for future iteration planning.
A user story is an agile version of a project requirement. A user story is comprised of a couple of sentences that defines who, what, and why for a given requirement and can be documented on index cards or sticky notes. User stories are written by the business user to communicate the software need or want. User stories are intended to be concise, as communication between the business and development team is used to elaborate the user story and develop working software.
Hope this glossary will help your IT project teams standardize on frequently used project management terms, from critical path to work breakdown structure to scrum.