The role of the sales person when creating a software solution

A short explanation of the role of the sales person during the software development life cycle.

By Andrew Cuthbert & Alison Young

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The software development life cycle from a buyers perspective

The software development process on an enterprise project from a clients point of view.

An overview of what to expect at each stage of the software life cycle.

By Andrew Cuthbert & Alison Young

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The Software Life cycle from an internal company perspective

The Software life cycle process from an internal perspective.

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How our roles define us: Can Entrepreneurs change their spots?

 

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Recently I gained a new understanding of how my role as an entrepreneur has defined me. I have come through a major period of change and hence I was open and interested in changing my role in life.

As an entrepreneur I was willing to reshape my skills in new directions and to learn new skills that I did not currently possess. This was curbed by an interesting situation, brought about by the perception of others of me.

Every entrepreneur has a first job. My first job was as a gardener at 14. I can remember I was scared I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to fill the job properly. My mother would worry did I have the social skills to talk with work mates? Like others I developed grew and was able at that age to adapt to the challenge.

Now further on in life with 13 years of management experience under my belt, 8 of those in full time entrepreneurship I begin to face another challenge, one of identity. My colleagues, friends and family say I am an entrepreneur through and through I couldn’t do a standard job, I’d want more, Id work to long hours or to hard, and yet what if I genuinely wanted to focus or change?

Like all entrepreneurs I have management experience, I have consultancy experience, I have sales experience, I have business analysis experience and yet others will look at me openly and shrug, I just don’t think you could do a 9-5.

As an entrepreneur I have stated that I wanted to feel I was seen as a normal member of staff, and to perhaps do a more focused role for a short time. As with other entrepreneurs I am sure my peers where not so convinced.

I and other entrepreneurs face a challenge I have realised that the outside world still looks at us as  risks as job takers. “What if,” he wants to go off and start a business, “what if,” they get ideas and becomes a competitor? The answer to both questions is that neither would happen, our integrity wouldn’t allow it. For myself with only 1/3rd of my own life in business I am identified as a business person, and there doesn’t seem like a way back, even if I did want one.

In my earlier days I like I would guess many entrepreneurs are was a loyal and hard-working staff member who went beyond the call of duty, just as I was when I became an entrepreneur and business founder.

Many entrepreneurs have been involved in many aspects of business. Entrepreneurs often understand their strengths and weaknesses well. I feel I as one entrepreneur can see where I am weak. Generally entrepreneurs see where we lack experience, where we need a team and finally where we just needed a darkened room in order to identify the best ways forward.

Do all entrepreneurs question their place in life as I do? Are we only capable of the tasks we did on a day to day basis. Are entrepreneurs capable? Is it right for them to adapt and do different things? Does doing new things mean bringing new values?

To me I believe the answer to be yes, but my question is will the world accept the changes within entrepreneurs when or if they choose to change pathways?

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Inspiration

ImageInspiration is a commonly used word and one that means a great deal to me. From the Shakespeare “Oh for a muse of Fire,” to the simply mundane everyday aspects of life that inspire us we are touched by many things in life that influence our path. The simple things are open to debate and interpretation we often dismiss them before they have a real chance to inspire us.

I recently became influenced by an extra ordinary act of kindness, from someone who was to all intensive purposes a stranger, that is until recently. Things have happened in my world that truly transformed my perception in a way that I could not have predicted. Theology has began to influence me. How could I claim to have a full logical scientific view of the world when someone has carried out an act beyond my explanation or comprehension? I could try and pretend the event was normal, but then that would fail to explain it or its influence and power over me.

Whether a believer or not, surely there should be a word for that thing that goes beyond explanation, surely there should be a way of describing something beyond explanation. Inspiration doesn’t seem to cut it when it comes to acts beyond comprehension.

In difficult times we have nothing to lift our spirits we have in a true sense a dark sense of self unenlightened and for a while uninspired. In a clinical sense we now call this depression, and depression and unhappiness surrounds us today especially in the quiet moments. I would question how do others live in a world surrounded by darkness for long, do they struggle as I did? Do they feel that failure is a direct reflection on they themselves or do they see it as a journey and experience needed for their personal path to enlightenment?  

Religion has come to me at the right time in life, I have had logic to guide me so far and truthfully as a single explanation it has now failed to give me a full picture of the world. Faith has entered my understanding of how things work, experience has shaped my perspective on the lack of knowledge in areas not yet fully understood or comprehended. Areas most likely never to be fully comprehended due to the mysteries in science of chaos and perspective.

An explanation I didn’t understand when I first searched. When I read texts and formed ideas, was the concept of faith. The idea that you need to jump off a cliff and realise within yourself that you can fly. Only through an act of faith and belief, can that be achieved not through extensive acts of understanding.

I now have evolved to a point of faith and that will guide how I act in the future and how I live and work. I hope with time to inspire others to come to similar viewpoints of what the self can truly mean, and also what loosing that depressive silence can mean when you get beyond trying to explain and understand the whole world yourself, in only a lifetime.

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Transformational Change: Power, Perception, “Fact,” “Control,” and the Iron Cage

 

 

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(based on a personal take of the iron cage) Image from unrelated article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2563953/Mentally-ill-man-freed-discovered-iron-cage-EIGHT-YEARS-mother-locked-it.html selected because displays symbolically when someone is just about to be freed with the help of others.

 

I have often considered the term “power,” in a personal capacity and tried to understand how it works from top down and from bottom up.

 

Politically aware Senior management are often strongly aware of the cyclic and changing nature of the power dynamics between people, of when is a good time to take and action and when it is not and their grasp of these concepts leaves those round them un-empowered and at the mercy of a cage that befalls them.

 

It is often difficult to get under the skin of power dynamics and use them to our own advantage simply because power centres and dynamic and the perception many have of them feel over time to turn from perspective to fact.

 

When a “fact,” is accepted within someone’s own iron cage transitioning from that mind-set takes both strong courage and will within the individual themselves. Being asked to question perceived power or take a stand is not enough, one has to visual the cage not existing in the first place and when something is very real so this becomes hard to do.

 

For the individual within it the Iron cage is very real, they will feel disenfranchised, lacking control, powerless based on perceived barriers to decision making, autonomy, barriers that often have hidden keys for those on the outside.

 

If the problem was the transition of a one to one relationship then perhaps the manager and staff member would have a chance to get to a point of mutual understanding but add in the complexity of group dynamics and modern individuality of generation X and Y and we begin to realise the full extent of the problem, it becomes just like imagining the direct relationship between how the butterfly beats its wings and the tidal wave from chaos theory, just too much information to comprehend easily. As transformational leaders need a different key to unlock each individuals cage and sometimes we cant find the right one.

 

In fact there are some cages we need the help of others to unlock for we are too distant from the language used by the caged to help them ease themselves free.

 

To explain this phenomena we need only have a phone call and realise how misinterpreted some of our actions are in comparison to our intentions. To go further we in fact have to have the same phone call twice with two different people. We quickly realise that the prejudice that both we and the other party put on each other colours the result of the conversation.

 

Talk to a sub ordinate in an organisation and you will realise the deference they show to certain symbols and principles , things such as self doubt, and a feeling of the need for external support, aspects which you feel the individual is more than capable of over coming but you fail to explain to them and know in some scenarios it just isn’t the right time or you aren’t the right person to set them free. You may have believed you had offered an open door but the other party sees a closed one, or has a worry you will lead them through a door at their risk.

 

Talk to a superior or client and notice the reversed power dynamic that occurs you in this case, there are certain questions you dare not ask, certain points you dare not make. Certain points the person makes you quickly reinterpret based on your perception of the individual you meet. The term don’t spend to long on that, becomes a defined period of time of exactly 2 weeks.

 

Perception colours our reality and defines the nature of our existence as humans and as such no matter who we are we create some form of cage in which to exist.

 

To Transform Perception, Solidarity is a powerful weapon. In the fight against the perceived “facts,” of power we find it difficult to define clear processes of how to engender a change of the cage. We need only watch game shows that hinge on everyone agreeing to take less to see how individualistic we each are and how we react to real world stimuli.

 

The worry for the person in the cage, is even if I do stand up, will I be singled out? Will I loose my position? Is that person a person I can trust? Do I believe in their opinion or abilities? Will I damage my own future? With such thinking so the person adds a few more bars to the cage, it becomes tighter yet none of their peers will blame them.

 

After all we blame the conductor not the orchestra. For the individual “they had no choice,” we each externalise the factors we don’t control. We share in that common view, it is of course a “fact,” in our minds.

 

Those who are singled out receive little support from colleagues simply because everyone has to look out for themselves and as a result relationships can be damaged and frayed unfortunately because of this everyone looses a little part of themselves.

 

The question I would pose is this, Would it not be a surprise if everyone in your workplace left or expanded their iron cages at once? If solidarity was possible and you could set new boundaries. If you did trust the likely good intention of those round you more than the worry that other forces are out to crush you.

 

Imagine If in your office, stakeholders could work together understanding their own role and not crossing over in the roles of others, accepting what people say, in a way that resulted in both managerial and staff empowerment.

 

I would ask would your life not be better? If you where indeed free in the perception of the iron cage or at least you had others who where locked in the same cage to keep you company? This new shared care could help you get on with a new view of life in a new and more empowered role and position.

 

Here’s to sharing cages with our colleges, and sharing more common goals and perceptions.

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Senior Developer Role

The Role: Senior Developer

You will work within a team developing a series of bespoke web applications within Education and Healthcare using C# and ASP.NET MVC.  

 

As a senior developer we would ask that you are skilled in a wide range of .NET technologies with experience of working in, and providing technical leadership to, a small team. The typical work stream will focus around a programme of work for well-established global clients hence meaning you will be part of a project that has real impact upon the world.

 

You will have a significant input on outcomes and the chance to shape and to deliver innovative solutions, bringing about real benefits for the client as part of a phased delivery process. These projects will be of potentially global importance and will we hope lead to a new career, enabling you to begin to “be the change,” you want to see, through enabling and contributing to new more effective in organisation processes.

 

Successful candidates should be able to estimate and prioritise tasks effectively in order to ensure that deadlines are met, and have experience working under both traditional and agile project management styles.

 

Desired Skills and Experience

Essential:

  • Third level Computer Science or Software Engineering qualification
  • 4+ years commercial experience of developing C# ASP.NET applications
  • Experience using SQL Server and associated tools
  • Knowledge of IIS configuration
  • Developing and consuming both REST and SOAP web services.
  • Knowledge of project management processes and life-cycle methodologies

Desirable:

  • Microsoft Certification
  • Project management qualification
  • Experience delivering medium-size websites using Kentico, Sitefinity or SharePoint
  • Experience of ASP.Net MVC, Razor and WebApi
  • Experience of Javascript / JQuery / AJAX / HTML / CSS
  • Experience in a customer facing role or experience of dealing with clients
  • Knowledge of online marketing and SEO techniques

Personal Qualities:

  • Highly motivated and adaptable
  • Ability to work within a team
  • Ability to provide training and guidance to junior employees
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Good presentation skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills

About Omnisoft

Omnisoft is an organisation that focuses on creating software that improves people’s lives. Focused in both the education and healthcare sectors Omnisoft has worked for a series of global organisations, in its short 3 year history. The company is open for change and we offer you the chance to make a significant impact and be a leader in what is a new company that you can make a real difference to.

 

Focused round C# and new methodologies facilitating the benefits that Azure can bring for our enterprise level work. With a use of javascript high quality, responsive, UX/UI and LESS on our front end work, we are rapidly growing to develop new processes and systems to delivery projects between £20,000 and £2,000,000 as part of our ongoing quest to shape the future of Healthcare and education.

 

As a part of our senior technical team you will have the chance to help steer from within our architecture team, helping us build a new wave of development from the ground up.

We aim to do things better and more efficiently and welcome those who share our viewpoint that the world truly can be a better place.

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Programmed to play tiddlywinks- An understanding of the phrase know enough to know that you know nothing

ImageAnyone born in the 1980’s like me should remember Johnny 5 the lovable robot from that classic set of films “Short Circuit.” Johnny was a military robot but a freak electrical storm brought him to life and gave him a personality. He had certain problems like we all have and he also had many strengths.

 

Johnny 5 from short circuit taught us that we could not read books at the speed of a robot and yet previously we didn’t know that that was the bar to be set.

 

I remember in younger years pretending to read and in my mind copying Johnny’s famous phrase: “more input.” I would flick through books and imagine the facts going in.

 

I did this and yet it wasn’t like I was a poor performer I simply wanted to better myself and in my head Jonny was the best reader round.

 

I had many skills that I saw as valuable and as such my attention was very split.

 

With each separation of focus the less likely I was going to excel at anything. I knew early as we all do, that I wasn’t going to be a book a minute reader, a world beating musician, or even a world class tiddly winks player. The chances are in a world sense I would be mediocre in most things I did. Mediocrity of course scares us all, we crave to be special in some way, somehow.

 

What I came to learn was that I was going to be a strong generalist with specific strengths in specific areas, I also have glaring weaknesses. What I came to realise was that the way I tended to get things done was that I had a passion for an outcome and shared that with those more talented than I. I learned to work with the A Players those with world class talent and I learned to accept that “it takes two to tango,” so to speak.

 

I became but a spoke in a wheel, a team player rather than the stand out individual I had perhaps before my epiphany based on Johnny Five aspired to be.

 

I realised there where many people more talented than myself, people who really could change the world if only they got the hunger and motivation to do so, and as such I put all my efforts into becoming someone who could enable those people to reach their potential so that together we could change the world.

 

For me I knew that I knew nothing, and I realised this was strangely my greatest strength.

 

So the moral of this story: You may not have the pre-programming to be the worlds greatest tiddlywinks player, but often for a generalist excelling in one game or another is irrelevant.

 

Those of us who aren’t great, can indeed become great by becoming knowledgeable enough to grow to the level that we know we know nothing. To accept that not every question can be answered, that not every fight should be our fight.  That our myriad of talents between ourselves as individuals and our teams aren’t the ones that unlock the safe, or flip the counter.

 

For me and those like me we should be like Socrates. Become the gad fly of our eras  and when others question why? We need to question why not…

 

 

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An MBA is for life not just for Christmas.

MBAAfter considering the unhappy situation of sitting in studying today on the Saturday before Christmas and having to meet up with family later this evening to get some time in on my latest assignment, I also look forward to the future of my MBA qualification and the improved lifestyle it can bring myself as an entrepreneur.

Important I feel is as an entrepreneur learning from the great managers who are on my course, they are the cream of the crop and strive for self improvement each of us with a variety of different settings and viewpoints. Equally important perhaps is putting in to practice what I learn in my own company and I have no doubt going forward Ill be able to remove communication barriers and make ideas fit for those I work with in a much more methodical and easy explained way, no doubt making my job as a leader much easier in its own right.

Over the time I have learned a lot and also feel although I have only had a short time to engage in each topic I receive more detailed information than I ever had before on why certain working practices within my organisation hadn’t succeeded and why I will now be armed in the future to make them work better.

Most people when I tell them I am studying an MBA ask me, “why your already a business man?” My simple answer to anyone even floating the idea in their minds is because it will make me a better business man. I see a lot of hard work ahead especially balancing study with growing a company but the fruits of my labours will no doubt be a better understanding of business functions from HR, to Corporate Finance and Marketing and I will no doubt change practice based on what I understand.

You get out what you put in, so I better get back to the MBA itself, so that I at least have some time for Christmas itself.

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The Entrepreneurs place in the world: A post for Entrepeneurs

entrepeneur tickHaving been an employee and now having run a company of some sort or another since 2001 in this time I have amassed a large amount of experience. I have formerly run a small charity, a gardening business, a web design company and most recently a software house. I have worked with both high skilled and low skilled staff and worked with both volunteers, paid staff and contractors.

In my time I feel I have had the best paid education possible for my own future success. An entrepreneur’s salary when they start out is actually a negative number. Between 2006-2009 I effectively earned zero, however this is normal in the context of establishing a business. My actual spend was £125,000 hence I lost money in the course of doing my obligatory 100 hours a week as an entrepreneur. Similar to how the professions work, unless lucky the entrepreneur earns their stripes before earning significant returns.

For an entrepreneur the first 5 years are the hardest after that the mind-set is generally becoming solid and perhaps more importantly so the team that has been built up round the entrepreneur can deal with them, and sometimes actually enjoy their time working on new and exciting things.

Entrepreneur’s are very hard for everyday people to deal with they think outside the boundaries of what others consider practical and often challenge the general staff members feelings of personal contribution, and self-worth in a way that can be uncomfortable for both parties concerned.

Entrepreneur’s tend to be the “trouble shooters,” the “fixers,” of general economic problems while they can struggle to see the issues present for the everyday practitioner. Perhaps the most famous entrepreneur of our time Steve Jobs, was deemed to “bend reality,” for his colleagues, this meant that the individuals in his team achieved things no other person could dream of achieving and yet in the process Steve Jobs was distant from people and had few long term friends, in comparison to the amount of effort and enthusiasm that he had for people.

There is a time shift present in how the entrepreneur sees the world and how the practitioner does. The Entrepreneur in their plans and designs can see the future actually happening. Whether planning a yoga class or a software project, the entrenepenur sees the people on the Matts or on the site as and when they make changes to their plans.

The practitioner of course sees the people on the Matts as they sit on them, and on the website generally on retrospect purely from stats. Often this boundary is to great for many and given it shouldn’t be possible for someone to see the future, certain people can feel aggrieved at entrepreneurs, given they “aren’t in touch with reality,” or the fact that the practitioner can’t see how the conclusion had been come to.

As a trait entrepreneurism is both a pleasure and a curse. As a condition it comes with natural flaws, obsessiveness, a desire for perfection, a controlling nature, a holistic difficult to explain view point, a tendency towards traits of aspergers or autism and an eye for detail that shouldn’t be there from a practioners point of view. An entrepreneur tends to break workplace rules simply because they did it for a “higher purpose,” they over work often being the most driven people within a team, first in and last out.

A good entrepreneur is one who in the words of Socrates “knows thyself,” a statement often used in a variety of contexts but here I refer very categorically to the weaknesses that budding entrepeneurs should look out for.

Entrepreneur’s can tend to like being round people who have common viewpoints and who idolise them, often although having high degrees of personal confidence entrepreneurs can lack true interpersonal confidence outside of the working environment and can make the mistake of hiring those that “understand them.” Recruitment and selection are the most important areas of focus for any entrepreneur picking the wrong team will set the entrepreneur back by years, and create torment, frustration and bad blood between all parties. Picking the right team that compliments each others weaknesses will create a show stopper with the right entrepreneur, a “Blue ocean,” in the words of Renee and Mauborgne, (2005) uncontested market space.

Entrepreneurs although generally very hard workers don’t tend to work well in teams if left in situ for a long basis, they need “me,” time. One explanation is that the time lapse between viewpoints works when the entrepreneur is “parachuted,” in and then leaves their staff alone, from my point of view every entrepreneur does well to learn this quickly.

Entrepreneur’s see failures as expected, and can often compensate for risks without informing others well enough to nullify the worry of others, while strong communicators entrepreneurs tend to lack the ability to turn high level  concepts into easy to understand ideas when they first start up. (this is something does come with practice!)

Entrepreneur’s work holistically thinking about consequences at social, technical, cost, strategic, market, and other levels of association all at once. This can be difficult to explain meaning often autocracy in unbounded decisions is needed to get the job done, its key the entrepreneur “fights the right fights,” don’t crush your staff, react strategically and the result will be a good working environment. Nassim Nicolas Talebs, book Anti-Fragile (2012) perhaps is a strong guide for not being interventionalist and the entrepreneur often needs to learn to step back,

Entrepreneur’s can fail to see the high degree of personal expectation they set for those round them, given they are used to setting traditionally unattainable targets for themselves. Often unfortunately there is a lifespan that most staff will be able to keep up with the entrepreneur, or indeed want to. Especially if they are in day to day regular contact with “new ideas”. Entrepreneur’s can try to lay off but it wont work unless they do indeed leave people to it. Often a natural expectation is deeply implanted in someone’s mind as to what the entrepreneur expects of them given what the entrepreneur expects of themselves and I feel I speak for all entrepreneurs when I categorically say that is not the case. This said Simply through interaction, and visible work ethic entrepreneurs can drain others as well as enthuse them  and over time people will move on, if their clocks aren’t in sink. Where this happens the entrepreneur needs to be prepared and deal with this, generally this is a late lesson and sometimes hence as a hurdle is particularly hard to deal with.

Entrepreneur’s often lead exciting and rapid lives and due to enthusiasm and skill will generally achieve a massive amount. For this there can be costs from family costs to time with friends, and a balance of enthusiasm for home and work is needed to keep for a life time of fulfilment and happiness.

The thing about an entrepreneur reading this article is that whether they like it or not they are programmed and on a trajectory for success through repeated failure, and invention followed by reinvention. At a micro level the speed at which these changes work is contributed by the experience and abilities of the entrepreneur, so all someone on the track can do is to try and get as good at it as possible as quickly as they can.

Now post my years of experience I see another 10 ahead of me as I hone my skills and become brilliant, my ability to inspire, create and work as part of a team are not where I want them to be but at a self critical level I am privileged to have learned more in the last year than I intended to through not executing on things at that point I didn’t know about myself, and I am privileged to be growing a team who together with I will be able to make a real impact on the world.

By Andrew Cuthbert

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