How to Write an Efficient RFP

Ask A Developer Feature Article
A regular column featuring answers from the team at OmniSpear

The benefits of having a system customized to your business workflow are often motivating factors in deciding to hire a custom development team to reorganize your business workflow and improve operations. We often find that one of the biggest challenges of hiring a custom software development shop to build your application is ensuring the development team understands your business’s needs and how the application will be used by your team. 

To help bring each of the teams together to reach an end goal of developing a custom application that is functional and efficient, we recommend working with a good in-house business analyst or hiring a development shop that provides that service as a part of their process. A business analyst will capture your business requirements, clarify needs and expectations, and write practical use cases that represent the way your team will use the software. After your team agrees to the requirements and use cases, the business analyst will work collaboratively with the lead developer on your project to design the system architecture, database and technology stack that best serves your needs.

Without this critical step of translating the application design into terms familiar to the entire team, along with clear direction and team synergy the final application may not be exactly what your team was hoping for. Whether the project is fixed-bid or hourly, any good development team is committed to efficiently coding the application and without thoroughly defined use cases, their commitment to code-efficiency could motivate developers to streamline the application, often resulting in the loss of critical workflow features. While technically meeting functionality requirements, the overall usefulness of the application to your business is lost.

When scoping projects and putting together your next RFP it is critical to outline clear needs for your application, put together thorough use cases and be upfront with needs and expectations with your development team. Our development team has 100+ years of combined experience over 35 projects. We’d be happy to work with your team and are committed to supporting our clients through each phase of the development process.

Have a question? Email info@omnispear.com for answers from the OmniSpear team.

OmniSpear is looking for a C# .NET Web Application Developer

Our 18-year-old business is stable, growing, and committed to providing customers with the best quality and services. The cornerstone of our business is our employees. We have an immediate need for a .NET Developer to build and maintain custom business solutions. This is a full-time position in the Miamisburg/Springboro area of Dayton, Ohio. Activities will involve a variety of tasks, including new development and maintenance of new and existing web and mobile applications.

The ideal candidate will be an experienced and forward-thinking developer with 4+ years’ experience using Microsoft Technologies. We seek a team player with good communication skills and an excellent grasp of .NET (ASP.NET, C#, .NET Core) and MS SQL Server. The developer will consult with users to identify current operating procedures, support internal business requirements and clarify program objectives. He or she will have knowledge of standard development concepts and best practices and will rely on experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. A wide degree of creativity and latitude is expected.

Desired Skills/Experience:

  • 4+ year’s professional software development experience
  • 4+ years’ experience with .NET framework, ASP.NET / C# / MVC
  • 4+ years with relational databases, mainly SQL Server
  • 4+ years with web services/SOAP/XML/XSLT
  • 4+ years integrating APIs
  • 2+ years with ORM framework (Entity Framework preferred)
  • Experience with HTML, CSS, JavaScript or other web technologies
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Desire to expand knowledge and experience and commitment to continuous learning

Company Benefits:

  • IRA with company match
  • Health Insurance
  • Growing Company
  • Qualified and available candidates please apply here.
  • Required experience: Application development – 4 years

Apply Now!

Ask A Developer: What can I do to keep my website secure?

When your website is hacked or taken offline by a hacker, getting it cleaned up and running again can cost you time, money and your customers’ trust. We understand how painful the experience can be, and have helped many clients both prevent hacks and complete repairs when hackers get through.

As hackers get more sophisticated, it’s critical our defenses continue to evolve and stay ahead of them. Working with multiple clients in maintaining and developing open-sourced content management system websites on platforms like WordPress and Drupal led us to develop our own content management system: OmniCMS.

Open-source CMS platforms are so popular because they are often user friendly, intuitive and offer flexibility and easy-to-use design applications at little-to-no cost, offering an inexpensive way to boost functionality and user experience. However, users should beware that these cheap plug-ins can be poorly maintained or written and pose the biggest security risk to websites built on open-source CMS platforms. To help best protect our clients and bring security in house, while still offering fully customizable and user experienced focused websites we developed OmniCMS.

When we build client websites on OmniCMS, we develop with security in mind:

  • Any changes to code are code reviewed at the highest standards.
  • All code is closed-source.
  • We alert clients when security issues are found and work quickly and diligently to implement security updates to resolve the matter.
  • Each revision of the content management system and its modules are tested rigorously by our team to identify and mitigate security flaws.
  • OmniCMS includes personalized, expert care 24/7.

Unsure about your website’s security? Let’s talk about potential weaknesses and how to solve them.

What you need to know from Apple’s live event today

iPad 7th Generation:

  • Starting at $329 for 10.2 inch model, available later this month
  • New customized operating system, the first designed just for iPad (iPad OS 13)
  • Improved retina display (10.2-inch, 3.7 wider viewing angle, 2x performance, 3.5 million pixels)
  • 8 MP Cameras
  • AI / machine learning in new OS
  • HD facetime camera
  • Touch ID 

Apple Watch Series 5:

  • New Series 5 available $399 and up, $499 for cellular –  available now online, in-store September 20th
  • New always on display (watch face is always visible, auto-dimming)
  • Built-in compass with elevation and incline
  • International support for emergency calling
  • New titanium and white ceramic finishes

iPhone 11:

  • 3 new phones $699 (iPhone 11 Standard), $999 (iPhone 11 Pro), $1099 (iPhone Pro Max) pre-order available this Friday at Apple.com
  • 6 news colors on standard model (purple, white, yellow, green, black and red)
  • 3 Models (11 Standard, Pro, Pro Max) Starting at $699 
  • 6.1 inch display on standard model,  Super Retina XDR Display on Pro (5.8 inches) and Pro Max (6.5 inch) models
  • Dolby Atmos sound support
  • Camera – Triple camera support on Pro and Pro Max models, Standard 11 comes with Dual 12MP Wide Camera and new 12 MP 2x Ultra wide camera, automatic night mode
  • Camera – New “Deep Fusion” feature automatically takes 9 images and automatically picks and chooses the best pixels 
  • Awesome Video Taking – Best phone video available – Ultra wide support works with video taking, 4k, 60 frames per second, new quicktake video feature (for small video clips)
  • Improved Front Camera – 4k support and now slow-motion support!
  • CPU – A13 Bionic Chip, 4 core, fastest CPU ever in any phone, 1 trillion operations per second, 20 to 40% faster than A12 with lower battery usage
  • Battery Life – 1 more hour life than current iPhone Xs, Pro and Pro Max models 4 to 5 hours longer battery life than iPhone X
  • Wifi 6 support
  • Faster charger included standard

Microsoft is ending support for major products. Are you affected?

We’re reaching another round of ending software lifecycles from Microsoft. Here is a brief summary of the following products that will no longer be supported in 2020.

January 14, 2010
– Windows 7
– Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2
– Hyper-V Server 2008 & 2008 R2
– Exchange Server 2010 (all editions)

October 13, 2020
– Office 2010 (all versions)
– Office 2016 for Mac (all versions)

What does this mean?
When Microsoft ends support on products, they no longer give free or paid technical support but more importantly you no longer receive any updates from Microsoft. This includes further security updates as well, leaving you vulnerable to any security flaws that are discovered and exploited.

I already have a working Windows 7 computer, why can’t I upgrade to Windows 10?
The short answer is, you can. But newer operating systems require more system resources and your system may slow down dramatically to the point where it us unusable and problems usually occur with programs when you do an upgrade install from one version of Windows to another. This is why we recommend purchasing updated hardware.

I am still running on Office 2010, what do I need to do?
If you’re running on Windows 7, see above. If you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1, you can upgrade to Office 2013 or 2016 but Office 2019 is not supported on Windows 8 / 8.1 either. We recommend upgrading your computer to Windows 10 to support Office 2019 and later versions.

I’m running on Windows Server 2008/2008R2, what should I do?
You’ll need to purchase updated server hardware with a software license to Server 2012 R2, 2016 or 2019. We would recommend 2019 since it’s the latest version. Afterwards you’ll need to migrate from the old server to the new one.

My environment still uses Exchange 2010, what will it take to get us updated?
Unfortunately there is no way to jump straight to Exchange 2019 as it’s not supported. You would have to migrate to Exchange 2013 or 2016 first, then make the jump to 2019. You will most likely need new hardware for 2019 as well. The main reason being is Exchange 2019 can only be installed on Windows Server 2019 and requires a minimum of 128GB of RAM.

Along with this however, there are other environmental requirements:
– All domain controllers need to be running at least Server 2012 R2, 2016 or 2019.
– The AD functional level should be Windows Server 2012 R2 or higher.

How do we fix this?
For all instances, we recommend you upgrading your hardware and software to support all the latest technology standards, but you don’t have to do it alone. OmniSpear is here to help you with all your migration needs from a single computer to a multi-server, enterprise environment, we have the technical knowledge and experience to prepare you for the next generation of technology.

Give us a call today at (937) 643-4037 or (513) 834-8654 or contact us here.


Practice Making Money, Not Spending Money

Basecamp CEO Jason Fried talks about taking an “intentionally small” approach to building a business for the long-term on a recent episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher.

Listening to Basecamp CEO Jason Fried on a recent episode of Recode Decode, we’re inspired to think differently about our relationships with our custom software development clients.

In the interview, Fried talks with Swisher about being intentionally small and the risk of growing too big, too fast.  Losing money for years to fuel fast growth is accepted, even expected. Fried’s warning: “By the time you finally need to actually make money, you don’t have any skills. You don’t know how to make money because all you know how to do is spend it.”

Listen to the whole podcast or skip to minute 35:30 to hear the discussion about being intentionally small and focusing on intentional growth.

Whether you’re launching a new business or growing a small one, you’ll be spending money on infrastructure.  In today’s world, some or most of that will be invested in custom software — even if you’re not a technology company. How you schedule that investment can make a difference.

OmniSpear has experience growing profitably since 2001.  And we’re open to talking about scaling that giant custom software project into a series of smaller projects to fit within your intentional growth budget. Listen. Develop. Deliver.

Contact OmniSpear for your custom software development needs.

Outsourcing Custom Software Development

You’ve decided to invest in technology to take your company to the next level. Now what? OmniSpear shares its perspective about outsourcing custom software and mobile app development.

Eighteen years of custom software development experience provides perspective. The growth of cloud computing, the power of bandwidth and advancements in programming languages have increased the complexity of software development and created pressure for companies to invest in technology to remain accessible to their customers. A website is no longer enough. Both consumers and business-to-business customers are enticed by customized online and mobile connections tailored to their specific needs and interests.

Creating customized connections requires more than a CMS with a shopping cart plugin.  Many small and medium-sized businesses are investing in custom software solutions and mobile applications to create unique experiences for their customers.  And some have the opportunity monetize the connection through the creation of subscription-based services known as SaaS.

Embarking on a custom software development project is a very different endeavor than designing a website.  Website mechanics are pretty well set and the key to success is good graphic design and marketing content. A well resourced marketing department and website development partner can successfully launch a new website for a company.

With custom software, mobile apps and SaaS offerings, the development project will draw upon operational and technical experts within the company as well as marketing.  A successful development partner carefully listens to the needs of all company stakeholders and coordinates the differing perspectives as they relate to the project goals.

Across eighteen years, OmniSpear has been in the trenches with hundreds of clients.  Won some. Lost some. And through these experiences, OmniSpear knows what it takes to succeed. Listen. Develop. Deliver.

Contact OmniSpear for your custom software development needs.

Delivering Value for Clients

New relationships begin with excitement and optimism about the future.  In custom application development, new client relationships are no different.  Clients start out with clear goals and management consensus to invest in growth or efficiency for their company.  Development teams commit to aggressive timetables and provide glowing references from previous clients.  Over the course of a project, maintaining open lines of communication and building trust are key to sustaining that initial optimism and excitement through the inevitable rough patches and to building momentum necessary for successful project delivery.

OmniSpear works with start-up and seasoned businesses to develop custom software applications.  Successful projects deliver real value to the client.  Depending on the client’s goals, value can mean expanded customer reach, improved efficiency, increased functionality, greater competitiveness, more security and much more.

software developers Ohio

 Most importantly though delivering value to a client means completing a project to spec and within the time-frame and budget agreed upon by both client and development team.

Read about OmniSpear’s work with Intellicasting, a start-up that began in 2015 and is still going strong today.  Find out how OmniSpear delivered value by designing and developing a cloud-based SaaS mobile and web application launching Intellicasting from start-up to profitable online subscription management system for the quick-service restaurant industry.

Coding Standards & Reviews – Our Motivation

Developing “clean” code is very important for any web / mobile application development firm, and making maintainable, readable, and documented code helps OmniSpear keep a competitive edge and a superior product. Our team has a strong focus on coding standards and cleanliness. This disciplined approach gives both our developers and our clients the benefit of clean, robust, and maintainable code.

Our Motivation

As a firm focused on its clients and developers, OmniSpear prides itself on delivering clean, robust, and maintainable code. This is the drive that led us to introduce our own set of coding standards, following best practices as well as some additional “secret sauce”.

Image result for coding standard memeCoding Standards are important for a number of reasons. Some reasons include:

  1. The cost of maintenance is directly affected by the cleanliness and the amount of documentation in the code
  2. Code sometimes changes ownership, and the cost of cross-training can be expensive. With documented code, there is less training
  3. And obviously, coding standards improve the quality of code by making it easier to understand and improving readability.

 

Code Reviews

Like any set of rules or guidelines they have to be enforced. Our internal process requires all new code to be checked for standards compliance by another team member before being made live to the customer / world. The time and money spent on doing code reviews has proven time and time again to be well worth it. Some of the core benefits include:

  1. Another set of eyes on the code / project is insurance for us and our clients. If one our developers goes on vacation or gets hit by a bus, the other developer(s) that did the code review will be able to pick up where they left off.
  2. We catch all kinds of things! After all we’re human and make mistakes. Two or more sets of eyes is always better than one.

 

Spotting Fake Profiles on Facebook

Facebook’s social network now consists of over 2 billion users. Not all of them are real people and not all of them have your best interest in mind. Facebook attempts to weed them out automatically using advanced algorithms. Many fake accounts still get through. In the first three months of 2018, Facebook cleared out 583 million fake accounts.

Why is it important to spot fake accounts and what is the motivation for them? Generally speaking, fake accounts are attempting to either gather your personal information, to direct you to sites full of clickbait, or to sell you other services. So how do you spot them and what should you do about it?

Spotting fake accounts is getting more difficult as the perpetrators’ techniques become more advanced. Some accounts are quite convincing, but there are a few tell-tale signs you can look out for..

  1. Profile Photos – Many fake accounts have only one or two profile photos available. Often times there will be a caption with an external website link – this is a dead giveaway. Take a look at when they uploaded the pictures and if it was within a few days of the request, chances are the account is not real. Also look to see if there are any likes or comments on the pictures. It’s very rare that a user will upload a profile picture and not have any friends respond to it.
  2. Friends – Most fake profiles only exist for a short time before they are reported. Therefore, it’s rare for those profiles to gather many friends – especially ‘Mutual Friends’. If an account has only one or two mutual friends, proceed with caution and dig a bit deeper into the publicly visible information. When in doubt, ask your mutual friends to see if they know the profile personally.
  3. Profile Activity – Even the most locked-down private profiles will have some activity visible to someone who has been sent a friend request. Take a look at their timeline. If it goes from their automatically generated birthday post directly to the post showing their profile pic, chances are very high that you are looking at a fake account.

fake facebook profiles

This is a good example of a fake account profile. Notice that Ms. Smith was born in 1956. In all that time, there is no public activity on her timeline. Also, she is extremely young looking for someone supposedly 60+ years old!

Fake accounts are rampant throughout social media and most are used for unethical marketing purposes. When one crosses your path, do everyone a favor and report the profile using the tools provided within Facebook. Look for the three dots on the profile picture and select the ‘Report’ option. Follow the instructions and help clean up the network for all of us real users!