Adriana Cacoveanu

Adriana Cacoveanu

ADRIANA CACOVEANU, Content Writer

Adriana is the OPTASY team's digital content creator and copywriter. Her “mission” within our team is to masterfully blend the 2 main ingredients' listed in any valuable blog post's recipe (valuable information + the reader-friendly writing), as well as to craft informative and engaging content promoting our work: study cases on Drupal.org, fresh content for various pages on our company website, e-book content etc.
 

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Artificial Intelligence Consulting: What Are the Typical Activities?
So, you've (finally) overcome your skepticism regarding it: artificial intelligence does have the potential to propel your business right into the future! To drive productivity, enhance efficiency and flexibility and, overall, to transform your brand from the ground up. But how do you know what AI technology to go with? What are the AI use cases perfectly suited for your own business? And this is where artificial intelligence consulting comes in! An AI consultant/AI consulting company's role is precisely that of answering all your questions and pointing out to you the right AI approach, the AI-powered solution(s) suitable for your own business:   Which artificial intelligence technologies should you integrate (according to your industry, specific challenges and opportunities, data & analytics capabilities, tech know-how, growth plans, budget etc.)? Which are the most valuable AI use cases for your own company? What is the current and future potential of AI?   And now let's talk facts, shall we? Let's see what are the typical artificial intelligence consulting activities that such an expert would engage in during your collaboration.   But Why Is There An Increasing Demand (and Low Supply) for AI Consultants? There's an entire cause-and-effect circuit here, leading to:   a high demand for AI-powered products too many companies with huge potential that aren't leveraging AI to their/its full potential   And why is that? What's behind this intriguing paradox? Well, studies revealed the following 2 key aspects:   companies do see all the opportunities deriving from the “do more with less” principle of the AI technologies and they nourish high expectations from AI yet, they're having trouble choosing the right AI services provider/AI product(s) for them   The result: too many companies, with significant potential, that aren't leveraging low complexity, high-benefit AI use cases.  A disappointing reality of an unbelievable potential left unexploited! Yet, one that artificial intelligence consulting experts can change.    Artificial Intelligence Activities: Developing a Long-Term Strategy How precisely should you be using artificial intelligence?  This is the question that your consultant will try to answer while identifying the strategy to be developed. And it all comes down to identifying the AI-centered, business-specific initiatives to implement. A strategy which he/she won't be able to put in place until he doesn't:   fully understand your company's current strategy … the specific challenges that you're dealing with … the opportunities opening up for you … and your data & analytics capabilities   With the results of his “investigations” at hand and his understanding of AI's present and future potential, your artificial intelligence consultant can “detect” the most valuable AI initiatives for your organization. Note: a wise enough consultant will suggest you to rethink your existing strategy from the ground up instead of just “tweaking” it to your present AI needs. For some AI technologies might just “take over the future”:  Just imagine Google translate reaching human-level translation capabilities in 5-10 years! Hence, you need to future-proof your current strategy, making sure it will still be “relevant” enough to stand... the wind of change blowing its way on a longer term.   Artificial Intelligence Consulting Activities: Implementing The Suggested AI Initiatives During the strategy developing process your consultant will identify a certain number of initiatives to be implemented:   by the AI consulting company itself or in-house, by your team(s)   And speaking of such recommended AI-powered activities, let me point out to you a few of the most relevant examples:   project management planning business processes improving, so they should level up, in terms of efficiency and productivity, to your current AI project vendor selecting development   And even if:   it's in-house implementation that you'll choose (even global tech firms care for their budgets and relying entirely on an AI consulting company for implementation can get costly) but your team lacks the tech know-how to implement some pressing initiatives   … your consultant can intervene and speed up the implementation process   Artificial Intelligence Consulting Activities: Staff Training on the New AI Technologies Now don't think that such an AI consulting professional will just:   come in put together your company profile develop an AI-strategy accordingly point out to you the initiatives and AI technologies to be implemented and... that's it.   Of course that your team will still be lacking the skills and the know-how to properly leverage the suggested new technologies. And so, it goes without saying that training your staff on the recommended emerging technologies is one of your consultant's key responsibilities.  “Training” and instilling the right mindset and proper approach to innovation and innovative tools and technologies.   Final Word Artificial intelligence can't go anywhere else but... up. With more products to be launched, more technologies aimed at boosting productivity and enhancing efficiency to emerge. Hence, the future belongs to those (companies) wise enough to see some powerful advisers in these artificial intelligence consulting experts. And bold enough to implement their advice, as well! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 17'2018
What Is Business Process Consulting? 5 Reasons Why You Should Use These Services
Has that time come yet? The “time” when you realize that your once a start-up business, involving just a few processes and people, has gradually grown into a hard to manage infrastructure? One having plenty of... “holes” to be plugged for better efficiency? Then it's a fact: you need to look for a business process consultant! But what is business process consulting anyway? And this is just one of the questions that I'll do my best to answer in today's post. Besides this, I'll be:   pointing out to you, as clearly as possible, what a business process consultant does, more precisely how a business process consulting campaign works, from step A to step Z 5 reasons why you should opt for such services (or 5 “benefits” that you'll reap from opting for such services, if you prefer)   So, shall we delve right into it?   First Things First: What Is Business Process Consulting? Take it as a “diagnosis & prescription” applied to your business process. It's a process where an external consultant:   comes in to closely analyze all the processes being carried out within your organization … and to identify any inefficient use(s) of resources, redundant processes that could get easily automated etc. then present the results of his/her “investigations”, along with his recommendations to you, top management   And, if requested, he could also run simulations to test the suggested process improvements. That's the whole process broken down into its essential steps!   And... How Does It Work? The Entire Process in 4 Simple Steps Now don't imagine your business process consultant running his/her investigations “undercover”. Or locked somewhere in an office, studying documents, infographics and stats and “thinking up” his recommendations for your business workflow. For it doesn't work like that! He/she will need to get out there and to actually observe your team “in action”. To detect, on the spot, any proofs of inefficient use of time or simply to understand how each process works. For, you can't improve something that you don't “intimately” understand. Now that we've settled this, here's a business process consulting campaign... broken down into 4 steps:   a. The business process consultant starts by doing what it takes to gain a deep understanding of all the processes that your business's based on. And his/her methodology could involve tactics ranging from:   interviewing your team members to watching them closely as they carry out their regular tasks   b. The observation phase and the issues-detecting phase take place simultaneously. Therefore, once your business process consultant identifies all the areas of improvement and the “weak links”, he'll start putting together his “battle plan”. His list of recommendations for clearing all those detected inefficiencies. And these “efficiency holes” could be:   bottlenecks, leading to work getting piled up in one specific area from the whole workflow system inefficient use of resources (time being the most valuable of them all) too complex layouts that might delay the completion of certain tasks repetitive processes that could be automated areas where lack of accountability or bad communication impacts productivity   c. The business process consultant presents his/her report to you, along with his process-focused recommendations for improving efficiency   d. You might want to see those suggested improvements applied to your workflow and the new system “in practice”. This is an optional step where you require a test to be set up.   What Does a Business Consultant Do? He/she puts together an accurate and realistic picture of the workflow within your organization and points out all the “cracks” in this picture. And eventually delivers you the solutions for...filling them in. And this definition could be an equally viable answer to the question: “What is business process consulting?” Now to sum up a business process consultant's “mission” to even fewer words, it would go something like this: He/she documents your business processes, “equipping” them with clear sets of instructions, so that each member of your team should know, at any phase, what are the next steps to take  Why hire a business process consultant instead of assigning someone in your team to handle all this documenting and structuring your workflow into repeatable processes? Because in case of overly complex infrastructures, with tasks, varying a lot, depending on too many factors, documenting and organizing them gets unexpectedly challenging. Especially if you (your team) don't have the know-how or the needed time for analyzing, in detail, every single little operation in your workflow.   5 Reasons to Use Business Process Consulting Services Now let's talk... clear advantages! Here are the main benefits that you'll reap from opting for such services:   1. Less Time for Managing Details, More Time for The Big Picture Do the math yourself: How much of your time do you waste/invest in managing all kinds of day-to-day... details? Now just imagine how much time you'd save if you took all these burdening tasks, all these time-consuming responsibilities, off your back! And this is precisely what the business process consulting services are aimed at:   helping you stop “wasting” time on details … by automating all those day-to-day management tasks … so you can focus more on those new projects that you have been postponing, on exploring new revenue opportunities … and on your customers, too   2. A Consultant Will Instill Responsible Attitudes Within Your Team Without every member of your team motivated to adhere to certain quality standards and best practices... any attempt to improve efficiency is useless. And this is another valid answer to your “What is business process consulting?” It's all about motivating your team to feel some sort of ownership over the results of the tasks they perform. A business process consulting not only that will “detect” those team members who:   skip a few (maybe crucial) steps when performing a task come up with their own shortcuts for carrying out certain tasks, which might impact the final product's overall quality   … but he/she will also work on motivating your team to adopt the recommended best practices and a certain work ethic. For one of his/her key responsibilities is to make everyone in your team feel responsible for his work.   3. You'll Be Expanding Your Capabilities as an Organization And it's a “cause and effect” process if you come to think of it: More efficient business processes lead to enhanced capabilities in every sphere.  And I'm talking here about enhancing efficiency when it comes to:   scope scalability (by seizing and leveraging opportunities for improving your infrastructure, your organization gets to grow internationally, as well)   4. You'll Be Simplifying All Your Business Operations Mobile media, cloud computing, social media... and all the latest technologies will only give your business processes a major efficiency boost. And it's that business process consultant that you'll hire who'll be:   handling the IT assimilation process selecting the right technology(s) for each process reducing the IT complexities simplifying and automating workflows   5. You'll Be Cutting Down Costs And here you get another valid answer to your “What is business process consulting?” question: "It's process-re-engineering." … during which all the business processes included in your workflow get closely audited, evaluated and properly optimized. And a certain hierarchy set up:   resources get reallocated to more important projects and a plan for investing in technology (for automating key processes) is put together    Time to Let an Expert Document & Improve Your Processes Now! Now that you know what business process consulting is, it's time to:   stop using the budget “excuse” and consider all the resources of time and money that you'll be saving … or the “dangers” menacing your business if you allow it to run on undocumented processes (anytime someone in your team could make a mistake from lack of a well-structured workflow & a set of clear instructions) realize that such a complex process does call for an expert   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 14'2018
Collecting Requirements for Your Project: Best Tools and Techniques
Instead of stubbornly keeping yourself stuck, thinking that “Clients don't really know what they want”, how about you... give them a hand? Helping them identify and clearly articulate their needs! Especially since there are so many effective, tried-and-tested tools and techniques that grant you success when you're collecting requirements for your project. And it sure is worth all the effort. Or, to put it this way: It will cost you/your project a lot if you're doing it wrong. In this respect, numbers make the most reliable proofs: Behind the great majority of project failures, there's a lack of clarity on requirements. Therefore, learning how to collect requirements for your project:   instead of jumping straight to the design phase way before developers start defining their own scenarios for functional tests   … is crucial to the overall success of your project. And now, here's the “arsenal” you should tap into and use to its full potential: The most effective tools and techniques to “power” your collecting requirements process with.   What Is This Process? What Is Involved in Collecting Requirements for Your Project? And it seems only natural to attempt to define this whole process, first things first: Collecting requirements is the process of identifying and documenting (and managing) the stakeholder needs and requirements. This way, you're determining and documenting all the key features and functions of the product that you're due to develop. As well as identifying all the processes that you'll need to carry out for achieving the project scope. Speaking of which: this is the process that helps you clearly define the project's scope itself. “And how come (so) many teams fail at it?” Mostly because development teams don't have a good process for effectively collecting requirements set up in the first place. And a “good process” starts with proper segmentation, into multiple key steps to take, such as:   elicitation analysis specification ...   Also, another strong reason behind IT teams-clients communication failure is underrating the iterative approach to defining requirements: A highly effective technique, since requirements are often quite “blurry” early in a project   The Facilitated Workshop: Enhance Cross-Functional Team Collaboration The purpose behind it? There are several in fact:   bringing different stakeholders together will help you identify and better understand their difference of opinion (if there's any) you'd be improving cross-team communication from the very start you'll be “unearthing” inherent challenges that different stakeholders face and that involved parties, by themselves, aren't even aware of   In short: conducting a facilitated workshop does what its name says, it facilitates stakeholders to identify and clearly articulate their requirements.   Interviews: One-On-One Meetings With Different Types of Stakeholders Prepare a different set of questions, for each one of your target stakeholders, and have some one-on-one meetings. Each of them is differently impacted by the “problem/need” that your team should come up with a solution-product for. Therefore, interviewing them all, separately, will only help you gain both: in-depth and comprehensive understanding of that specific problem/need   Leverage the Participant Observation Method A highly effective technique used in the collecting requirements process. And it becomes particularly useful when stakeholders are having difficulties identifying and clearly articulating their requirements.  Or when the given system/process is too complex and you need to actually observe people in action for analyzing it and understanding how it works. And what its limitations are. In these 2 cases, it's only by observing the participant “in action” that you can properly record requirements. In this respect, a “kindred” method that you could use during the collecting requirements for your project process is the “participant-observer” one. Where you get to actually test that system/process yourself, too.   5 Group Creativity Techniques to Explore 1. Idea mapping “What is the scope of this process?” you might ask yourself. By putting together all the different stakeholders' ideas into a mind map, you'll gain a bird's-eye view of them all! On how they're connected to one another, which are the best of them, what are their pros and cons? And speaking of grouping ideas into a “mind map”, there are several types of maps that you could set up:   archival strategies data transfer mechanism data formats   2. The nominal group method Using this method to collect requirements inputs will save you loads of time. Basically, you set up a group of stakeholders, ask them to share their ideas, and... submit them all to vote. Only those scoring the most votes will be further taken into account. And this will just streamline the entire decision-making process!   3. Related ideas diagrams  Probably the best way to neatly categorizing that huge pile of ideas that you will have collected! How does it work? You simply write down all those ideas on separate cards, then pair the similar ones together, till there's no “isolated” card left. And you end up with a diagram of ideas, nicely structured into different categories. Starting there, you can put together your cause-and-effect diagrams.   4. Brainstorming "What are the best ways to gather requirements?”  Brainstorming is (should be) on top of any To-Do list for a collect requirements process! Schedule brainstorming sessions with different focus groups of stakeholders and challenge them to share their ideas. You'll end up with a whole “pile” of diversified “steamy fresh” ideas to work on.   5. Group decision making Let's say you get several alternatives for the very same requirement. What do you do? How do you filter the best one? You set up a decision-making group and... ask them to give their inputs. It will be a collaborative decision-making process. In the end, it's the requirement that they all (or the majority) agree on that will get selected.   Benchmarking Mind you don't underrate this technique!  For, as “banal” as it may seem, it's surprisingly effective: Compare the current project with a similar one and try to identify the best practices and key processes. And to even come up with better methods to solve certain challenges, while you compare the 2 projects.   Document Analysis: One of The Collect Requirements Process's Key Steps Another great way to determine the requirements for your project is to analyze all the documents at hand:   system use cases proposal legal requirements user documentation design documents system use cases …   Create Context Diagrams Here's just one of the best answers to the following question: “What are some basic requirements gathering tools and techniques?” By putting together context diagrams, you're creating a visual representation of the whole system. Its interaction with users and other external systems here included! What's the point?  By visualizing the entire system it'll be easier for you to spot all those business scenarios that you might have overlooked. Scenarios for which you haven't collected and documented any requirements yet.   Come Up With Prototypes This technique comes in handy in your whole collect requirements process if:   your client just can't envision and thus can't articulate the requirements the system/product/process you're due to put together is too new, too complex    Setting up and then providing your client with a simple working model, with basic functionality, will help him/her get a clearer picture of how it should work. And give him the chance to “taking it for a spin”, to experiment it. Once the stakeholders have tested it, they'll be more confident to provide you with relevant inputs.The ones you'll need to actually get this new system developed.   Get a Grip on The Gherkin Syntax  Consider learning to speak Gherkin fluently in order to guarantee the success of your requirement collecting process. The main benefit that you'll be “reaping” is a record of utterly explicit requirements. And it's the Gherkin syntax that constrains them to be so. For instance, have a look at this example here, from Neoteric.eu, of the Gherkin syntax being used for collecting scenario-specific requirements only: Feature: Logout from application Scenario: Given I am logged in When I click “log out” button Then I am informed about successful logout And I am redirected tologin page See? Zero ambiguity! Both the:   business analyst(s) developers   … in your team will benefit from leveraging this language. The first will end up with perfectly explicit requirements, while the latter will get the clear information needed for setting up functional test scenarios. A win-win situation.   The END! Does this answer your “What is involved in collecting requirements for your project?” kind of question?  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 11'2018
How to Set Up Google Analytics on Your Drupal Site: A Dead-Simple Step-by-Step Guide
Who are your visitors? Where do they come from? And what do they do precisely during their visits on your Drupal site? How long are their visits? What content on your site do they linger on and what content do they “stubbornly” ignore? Needless to say that for getting your answers to all these questions you need to set up Google Analytics on your website. Since: “This data--aka analytics--is the lifeblood of the digital marketer.” (Jeffrey Mcguire, Acquia, Inc. Evangelist) The good news is that integrating it is nothing but a quick and simple 3-step process. And the great news is that: Drupal's got you covered with its dedicated Google Analytics module, geared at simplifying the otherwise tedious and time-consuming process. So, shall we dive into the installation guide?   1. But First: Why Web Analytics? And Why Precisely Google Analytics? In an UX-dominated digital reality, that takes personalization to a whole new level, user behavior data turns into... superpower. And by “user behavior data”, I do mean web analytics. Therefore, injecting a web analytics service into your Drupal site is like... injecting true power into its “veins”. But why precisely Google Analytics? Why set up Google Analytics on your Drupal site instead of another web analytics tracking tool? Is its popularity a strong enough reason for you to jump on the trend? To answer your question, I do think that its own key features make the best answers:   audience demographic reporting: discover where your site visitors come from, their native languages, the devices and operating systems they use for accessing your website... goal tracking: monitor conversion rates, downloads, sales and pretty much all stats showing how close (or far) you are to reaching the goals that you've set for your website acquisition reporting: identify your site's traffic sources; where do your visitors come from exactly? on-site reporting: gain a deep insight into the way visitors engage with specific pieces of content on your website, so you know how to adjust the experience your deliver them on your site/app to their specific needs  event-tracking: tap into this feature for measuring all activities carried out on your Drupal site   And the list of features could go on and on. Providing you with a high-level dashboard and enabling you to go as deep as you need to with your “data digging”. For Google Analytics is only as powerful as you “allow” it to be. It empowers you to dig up both surface and “in-depth data”. Moreover (or better said: “thanks to...”), being such a feature-rich tracking tool, Google Analytics's highly versatile, too. From email marketing to social media marketing, to any type of marketing campaign that you plan to launch, it's built to fit in just perfectly. To power all forms of marketing strategies. And where do you add that it's been a while now since we've been having Google Analytics for mobile apps and the Google Analytics 360 suite, too! 2 more powerful GA tools to add to your web analytics “tracking arsenal”.   2. The Drupal Google Analytics Module and How It Will Make Your Life (So Much) Easier Let me try a lucky guess:  Your Drupal site has... X pages (have I guessed it?) The “standard” way to add Google Analytics to your Drupal site would involve: Copying the tracking ID that Google Analytics provides you with and pasting it on each and every page on your website. A hair-pulling monotonous and time-consuming process, don't you think? And it starts to look even more cumbersome if you think that you have the alternative to set up Google Analytics on your Drupal site using the dedicated module. But how does it streamline... everything more exactly?  You'll just need to paste that Google Analytics javascript snippet for tracking data right to this module's Configuration page and... that's it! The module will take it from there! It will distribute it itself to all the pages on your website. Less effort, less time wasted for carrying out in a tedious and repetitive activity. And more time left for customizing all those statistics features to perfectly suit your goals and your site's needs. Luckily enough, the Drupal Google Analytics module puts an admin-friendly UI at your disposal precisely for that:   use it to track down key data  use it for tailoring your web analytics-tracking activity to your needs: by user role, by pages etc.   3. Set Up Google Analytics on Your Drupal Site In Just 3 Simple Steps  As promised, here's a “dead-simple 3-step guide on how to add Google Analytics to your Drupal site (“leveraging the power of the dedicated Drupal module here included”)   Step 1 The very first thing you'll need to do is sign up for a Google Analytics account if you don't have one already. And then to add your Drupal site (obviously!). And here are the quick steps to take:   go to www.google.com/analytics hit “sign in” (you'll find it in the top right corner) and select “Google Analytics” from the unfolding drop-down menu click “Sign Up” and just follow the given steps for setting up your new account next, follow the instructions for setting up web tracking   Now you should be able to see your Drupal site displayed under your account, on your admin page in Google Analytics. And it's now that you should be able to retrieve your site's “Tracking ID”, as well. You'll find it in the “Property Setting” section.   Step 2 The next major step to take as you set up Google Analytics on your Drupal site is to actually go back to your site and... install THE module itself. Since I've already praised its “superpowers” and how they “conspire” to make your life easier, I'm not going to point them out once again. Instead, I'll go straight to the steps to take once you've enabled the module on your website:   access its configuration page (you'll find the “Configuration” tab on top of the page, “flanked by” the “Modules” and the “Reports” tabs) there, right under the “General Setting” section, just enter your “Web Property ID” … which is precisely the Google Analytics tracking code that you've just retrieved at Step 1   And this is precisely the “magic trick” that's going to add the Google Analytics tracking system site-wide. A monotonous, multiple-step process turned into a one-step operation. This thanks to the Drupal Google Analytics module!   Step 3 Here you are now, ready to save your settings and to officially harness the power of Google Analytics on your website! Normally you should be just fine with the default settings that the service provides you with, right out-of-the-box. Yet, if you need to “refine” your searches, your entire tracking activity, feel free to do that. To explore all the options stored in the “Tracking Scope” tabs for you. Speaking of which, let me give you just a few examples of how deep you could narrow down your “investigations” and customize the modules:   roles: a setting which lets you define which user roles to track (and which roles the system should ignore) domains: indicate whether it's a single or multiple domains that you need monitoring privacy: it enables you to make visitors' IP addresses anonymous pages: indicate precisely which pages on your website you need to track messages: track and monitor the messages displayed to your site visitors search and advertising: keep track of your internal site searches and AdSense advertisements; do keep in mind, though, that some additional settings might be needed!   And... more! You actually get even more power for configuring your JavaScript setting and adding custom variables. The END! This is how you set up Google Analytics on your Drupal site in 3 dead-simple steps, a streamlined process powered by the dedicated Drupal module. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 05'2018
Mobile App Development Services: 9 Key Questions to Ask Your Potential Provider
Price, level of expertise and estimated time! These are the 3 main criteria that any organization planning to have a mobile app built use to evaluate potential mobile app development services providers, right? And yet, the cost of development sure isn't just about the money. Take time factor and commitment, for instance! They, too, get reflected in your bill. A suspiciously short time estimate might be a signal for you that they'll be skipping a crucial step or two from your app's development process. Also, a “large” team might be a numerous team of enthusiastic and hard-working... junior developers only.  So, how do you properly evaluate your potential mobile app development partner? How do you know for sure whether their services and level of expertise are enough to help them deliver you a mobile app that meets your requirements entirely? Gaining in-depth knowledge about their team members and collecting reviews from former clients are just some of the key steps to take during your “investigation”.  And since no other “evaluation method” could beat an open face-to-face talk, here are 9 essential questions to ask your potential provider:   1. "What's Your Specific Workflow?" In other words: how do they usually approach their mobile app projects? What's their work strategy? What key phases does it include (or exclude)? Everyone's “boasting” with their adoption of the agile development these days, right? Make sure you go beyond the standard talk about the agile approach and ask them to name the specific phases included in their process flow.  A good workflow would need to include at least these 5 crucial steps:   preliminary research on the type of app to be built, along with all its particularities and specific functionalities to be implemented (analyzing the target audience here included) a feasibility study the prototyping phase the UI optimization phase the MVP building phase   Do dare raise an eyebrow if your potential “partner in crime” strives to convince you to go straight to MVP. It's an alarming sign that they're not the professionals that you might want to handle your brilliant app idea.   2. "What Technologies Does Your Team Have a Deep Expertise In?" Another crucial question to dare asking your potential app development services provider whether:   you've already started working on your app and you're now just outsourcing some aspects of your project; it's vital that this team should be proficient in that particular technology that you're currently using in your project   you haven't yet started your project and you haven't yet chosen the mobile app development technology(s) that will be powering it either; it's crucial to know then how easily this team of mobile app developers can adapt to a new technology along the way   3. "How Many “X Technology” Developers Are On Your Team? Juniors or Seniors?" Expertise, hard to quantify, but crucial for ensuring that the resulting app will live up to your standards! Therefore, once you've dug through their never-ending list of technologies that they have a hands-on experience of, go deeper with your “investigations”. Identify just how many developers are familiar with your required technology. Are they mostly junior or experienced developers? And, most of all, do dare to ask for some sort of proof of their seniority levels. Some “blind” CVs or even samples of older code would be perfect.   4. "What Would Be Your Time Estimation on My Project?" And time sure is money! Do keep in mind that the average time invested in a mobile app development process is of 4-6 months. Compare the time estimate that this potential mobile app development services provider gives you with this “average time” for developing an... average mobile app. Next, ponder on their estimate a bit:   if they commit themselves to delivering you your app faster than their competition, then you might want to put their offer on top of your list if their shorter development time is counterbalanced by a higher price, don't rush to take them off your list!   A higher price might as well be a proof of the seniority level in their team. As well as of an efficiency-boosting workflow that they may be leveraging within the company.   5. "Does Your Portfolio Include Any App Development Projects Similar to Mine?" And by “similar” I definitely do not mean “identical”. Are they familiar with your industry? Have they implemented the same functionalities in some of their previous app development projects? Such as integrating a particular payment gateway, for instance? Have they been working mostly with start-ups or enterprises?    6. "Any Former Clients' References for Your Mobile App Development Services?" Why should your “research” be any different than that of a potential customer? Someone looking to make a purchase, who usually conducts a multi-leveled research: forums, customer reviews etc. Therefore, one of the key criteria when evaluating your mobile app development services provider is their former clients' references. Dare to ask for such recommendations and read client reviews on research company sites, such as Clutch.co, for instance. They do a wonderful job combining multiple evaluative metrics for identifying the leading companies in various industries (interviewing former clients being their no.1 research technique)  Ask questions about some of their past projects: the challenges they faced, solutions that they've come up with, time invested in those projects etc.   7. "How Much Will My Project Cost? And What Does The Price Tag Cover?" For putting a price tag on is equally important as knowing from the very beginning precisely what services your “bill” would include. Speaking of which, here are some of the fixed aspects that you should make sure that will get included in that price estimate:   research & preliminary consultancy UX prototypes, mockups design mobile app development project management all infrastructure costs guarantee licenses   Also, a key parameter to use when you're “weighting” their cost estimate is the seniority level of the developers that will be assigned to your project.  Since their proven experience and expertise would automatically influence the price. If the given price is suspiciously low, you might want to question those developers' overall level of expertise. Which, in the end, might lead to longer development times. So “cheaper” might turn out to be... more expensive actually.   8. "What Files Will I Be Given Access to During the Project?" Transparency is a strong indicator that this might just be the mobile app development company that you want to partner with. Don't hesitate to ask about the files that you can access during the project. Wanting to know what's going on, at every stage of your future app's development process, is only legitimate. And speaking of the files that you should be entitled to have easy access to, let me mention just a few:   time reports weekly updated staging and production environment source code test environments/demos the project management's dashboard itself (whether it's Jira, Taiga or maybe Trello that they're using)   The more involved you'll be in the process, the quicker you'll detect issues that you dislike or simply specifications that you'd like to create. And the more chances will be for the final product to meet your requirements entirely!   9. "How Do You Communicate With Your Clients Throughout The Projects?" And probably this is precisely the question that you should be starting your “interview” with. Knowing what:   communication tools they'll be using (Slack, Rocket) what project management boards what time you can contact them at, their overall availability and response times the calls' frequency' how often you'll be getting in touch with the team working on your project … is vital. Zero or poor communication and timeliness risks to turn all expertise, efficiency-enhancing workflow, conveniently low price and short development times into... nothing but “details”. What if you want to make some recommendations? Or to inform the team about some late scope changes? What if the team itself needs further clarifications from you? Now it's the perfect time to express your expectations when it comes to this part of your future collaboration: communication. And also, to have your doubts if the potential app development services provider doesn't seem too open to implementing your suggestions. To committing itself to frequent calls and so on.   The END! These are the 9 crucial questions to ask or the 9 things to look for in a new mobile app developers company that you consider collaborating with. Would you have added a few more? If so, what other questions? What is your own criteria when you're evaluating potential development teams in order to assess if they're the right fit for your app project?  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 10'2018
OPTASY: One of the Top Developers in New York, According to Clutch
Oops!...We did it again! We've got awarded 4 spots in Clutch's latest research highlighting the top-performing development companies in New York. It's in 4 of the industries included there that OPTASY's got recognized as one of the top developers in New York: Drupal development, PHP development, e-commerce, Shopify and web development. Moreover — as if just being listed there, among all those leading development firms in New York, hadn't been enough — we got ranked #2 as Drupal developers, respectively #3 as PHP developers. And, ranked top 15 in three other industries, as well!    Now with the risk of showing lack of modesty, we have to admit that we had been starting to feel quite “at home” on Clutch's matrices. Those highlighting the leading web development companies in Canada, in various industries. But to be recognized as one of the top developers in New York is simply an... overwhelming surprise! And it's almost an organic process if we come to think of it: it's our clients' encouraging feedback that made us open an office in New York, too (besides the one in Oakville, Canada). And it's their feedback, again, that reassures us now that we've made the best decision. We help our clients grow — powering their own ideas with our expertise and experience —  and, in return, they fuel our own growth plans. As natural as that. And this is precisely why we're particularly honored not just to be recognized as one of the top developers in New York, but to get ranked as a leader by Clutch itself.To get listed as a leader on any of their researches is already an honor for us. This because the Clutch team doesn't apply “just” the conventional evaluative metrics when analyzing the “candidates”. Metrics such as industry experience or market presence.  And it's not just data-driven content that they support their selections and hierarchies on, either. Instead, they actually interview both past and current clients of the given companies in order to identify both their strengths and weaknesses. In other words: First it was our clients that named us one of the top leaders in New York, then the Clutch team came to pinpoint their recognition.  See why we're overly honored whenever we get listed on Clutch? Why we can't thank our clients enough for sparing some of their time to answer Clutch's questions; to put their experience with our team and their opinion on our work into words?  Having our passion for what we do reflected in our clients' feedback is such a confidence-booster for us! And receiving, once again, a Clutch recognition can only confirm to us that: our client-centered approach and commitment to excellence make the best long-term strategy. And that we should stick to it. A big “Thank you!” to all our clients for their recognition and a big “Thank you!” to the CLUTCH team for the dedicated efforts put into each one of their famous researches. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 07'2018
Drupal SEO Best Practices for 2018: 8 Easy Steps to Take to Boost Your Google Ranking- Part 2
I am a woman of my word and so, as promised to you in yesterday's post, I'm back now with a handful of Drupal SEO best practices to follow this year. Best practices, valuable tips & tricks and key Drupal SEO modules waiting for you to unlock their optimization power and “inject” it into your website... All which, once put together, will give you a significant boost in (Google) ranking. So, shall we?   5. Build Your Keyword List, One of the Drupal SEO Best Practices to Stick to So, you've given your links a “deep clean” (as seen in Part 1), turned on your Google Analytics “tracking” power and your Drupal SEO Checklist's engines, too. What next?  Putting together your targeted keyword list! And this is one of those Drupal SEO best practices that can either “turbocharge” or turn your entire site optimization strategy into worthless effort. That if you underestimate its “superpower”. And here are the tools to rely on when you go “keyword hunting”:   Google Keyword Planner:    it shows the no. of searches for each potential keyword that you could rank for so you'll know whether it's worth adding it to your list or not, depending on the traffic that it can generate   Google Trends:   it gives you an insight into how a specific keyword has “performed” over the years    Moz:   a whole SEO toolkit put at your disposal, including tools for keyword research, link building, site auditing, reporting, you name it...   WordTracker:    it puts a whole “ecosystem” of keyword-identifying tools at your disposal   6. From Lifeless Keywords to "Living", Keyword-Optimized Content Now it's time to sprinkle your keywords across your website. And not just anyhow, but... strategically! Your “battle plan” should include the following content optimization steps:   create (if there isn't one already) one page for each target keyword  consider removing certain keywords from your list before designing new keyword-optimized pages; some keywords may just not be suitable for your particular business write custom page descriptions, page-focused titles, add page-relevant keywords … and make sure to optimize the content on each one of these targeted pages, pulling off a proper keyword density    7. Add 2 More Essential Modules to your Drupal SEO Toolbox 2 Drupal 8 SEO modules, to be more specific: the RDF UI module and the Linkit module (available in Drupal 7, as well).   RDF (Resource Description Framework) UI:   it's built, from the ground up, with the idea of empowering you to (seamlessly) integrate Schema.org with your Drupal site (whether during or after the development process) … another one of those Drupal SEO best practices with a clear impact on your Google ranking with this on-page markup “on”, it will be fairly easier for search engines to “understand” what each page on your site is about … and thus deliver richer search results   Linkit:   it “spoils” you (or I'd better say your content team), with a convenient UI for easily setting up links right in the WYSIWYG, using the autocomplete field it sees that they're properly formatted, that they use the right path and that they're up to date, as well   8. "Fast" Is Just Another Word for "Optimized" As fast as your budget allows! Fast-loading pages will:   have a huge impact on the overall user experience “please” the search engines and signal them that your site's optimized for speed and thus for enhancing UX and implicitly give you the boost in rankings (the reason why you've put together this whole Drupal SEO strategy in the first place, right?)   From the dozens of techniques, tools & modules at your disposal, that you can leverage for optimizing your website for high speed, I outline just one: the Google AMP module. Integrating it with your Drupal site you'll be killing two birds with one stone:   you'll give your site a massive performance boost you'll make it mobile-responsive    A Note of Caution as a Conclusion Focusing on your links and forgetting all about the right keyword density across your site's content. Or injecting high speed into your website and forgetting to setup Google Analytics for your website.  Or undermining the meta tags' critical role and focusing exclusively on building your target keyword list, won't give you that boost in ranking that you're aiming at. Make them ALL work together! Take these 8 Drupal SEO best practices as a clock mechanism: in vain do 7 parts get all your attention. If you neglect just the 8th component, the whole mechanism/SEO strategy won't work /won't give your site that boost in ranking that you're expecting. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 14'2018
Drupal SEO Best Practices for 2018: 8 Easy Steps to Take to Boost Your Google Ranking- Part 1
Aiming high? Do you have big plans for your Drupal site? Maybe even propel it right to the front page of Google? Well, you're already one big step closer to your goal: you've chosen Drupal, a content management system geared at granting you unparalleled functionality and flexibility to optimize its every node, snippet of code and view. But which are the essential Drupal SEO best practices to adopt in order to harness this SEO machine's full potential? Which are the right Drupal modules for SEO, the updated tips & tricks: the SEO essentials of 2018 for optimizing your Drupal website? For Drupal (and even so more Drupal 8) might be "spoiling" you, the marketer, with an ecosystem of SEO-focused tools and modules to “fuel” your optimization strategy with. Yet, you can't actually rock Drupal SEO if you don't know exactly: which of them are the truly "can't live without" ones how to put them all together and (most of all) make them all work together... to your site's advantage In short: what precisely do you need to set up and tweak on your Drupal site to give it a mega boost in rankings? And this is why we've put together this step-by-step guide on how to use Drupal's out-of-the-box potential for SEO to the fullest.  Here's your list of 8 tips, tricks, Drupal SEO best practices for 2018: 1. Start By Giving Your URLs a "Deep Clean" Enabling clean URLs on your website should be on top of your Drupal SEO best practices list! Why? first of all, because all Drupal URLs get unique IDs instead of meaningful names secondly, because readable, clean URLs wearing the pages' titles, enhance both the search engines' crawling and the overall user experience And although in Drupal 8 you get clean URLs by default, there still are 2 particular scenarios that call for special Drupal SEO modules: when you move a piece of content to another section of your site and change its URL (Drupal won't automatically remove the old path and you run the risk to end up with duplicate content on your website) when you're facing the cumbersome SEO chore of manually naming each and every URL on your website Introducing the Redirect and Pathauto Drupal modules! Redirect: it creates 301 redirects which... redirect (obviously!) from the old URLs to the new ones it guarantees you that the links on your site preserve their value even when you apply changes to your Drupal content  it pretty much takes the burden of fixing every broken link, manually, off your shoulders Pathauto: it automatically creates SEO-optimized URLs based on the content that you, yourself, define for instance, you can set the URL for your blog posts to always have the following path alias: /blog/[blog title] also (and this is a huge SEO factor) if you have ideally keyword-packed page titles, the Pathauto-generated URLs will automatically contain all those valuable keywords, as well  2. Install The Drupal SEO Checklist Module: One of The Very Best Drupal SEO Modules  And, implicitly, the very first one to install before you go ahead and add any other Drupal tool or module to your SEO essential kit. “Drupal SEO Checklist is the most powerful Drupal module that "does nothing.” Robert Shea, IBM. And this says a lot, yet... not everything. For it's true, the Drupal SEO Checklist module doesn't show you how to optimize your website, yet it delivers you a full list of Drupal SEO best practices to adopt. Or a to-do list of actions you should take, modules you should consider implementing if you prefer. One covering several key sections on your site to focus your SEO efforts on: title tags paths content and more ... 3. One of The Key Drupal SEO Best Practices: Adding Meta Tags to Every Web Page "Letting Google (and other search engines and social media sites) know what the content on your web pages is all about", this is how we could sum up the meta tags' role. They're snippets of text that not only that: let Google know what each one of your web pages is all about but also indicate how you want the content of each page on your site to be described on other websites.   Now, can you imagine the arduous task of manually adding a custom browser and page titles, descriptions and keywords to every single page on your website? No need to, for you can always install the Metatag module, one of the must-have Drupal SEO modules to add to your toolkit! Here's how it works:   it enables you to add all the needed meta tags automatically, to each page on your Drupal site it places both the meta tags and the meta title in the pages' headers, which translates into less code to write for you and faster rendering   And since we've reached the meta tags "chapter" on your Drupal SEO best practices list, let's put another key module into the spotlight: the Alternate Hreflang Module! A particularly vital module if it's a multilingual Drupal website that you're about to optimize:   it adds hreflang tags to every page on your site alternative hreflang tags that search engines can then reference in order to serve the right language/regional URLs in their SERPs   Pretty convenient, don't you think?   4. Set Up Google Analytics for Your Website & Other Must-Have Drupal Modules to Enable "Help them help you!" Ease search engines' "job" of crawling and indexing your website, by making your website... easy to crawl into and to index (obviously!).  And by tapping into all those Drupal SEO tools put at your disposal for better “communicating” with them (the search engines). … for gaining a deep understanding of where your site's standing when it comes to its relationship with search engines and social media sites. Which brings us to 3 Drupal modules/tools that can intermediate (and enhance) your site's communication with the search engines: Google Analytics, XML Sitemap and Cron. Google Analytics:   it automatically adds the more-then-valuable Google Analytics code snippet to your site ... that you can control (deciding how and when it should be used) to your liking it "injects" Google Analytics superpower into your website: priceless insights into your site visitors' behaviour on your site, what keywords they've used to land there, their demographics etc. moreover, the module fixes Google Analytics' known drawback of tracking down ALL visitors, admins here included ... and it does that by showing the code snippet only when "regular" (non-admin) users are visiting the website   XML Sitemap:   it generates an ideally formatted XML sitemap listing the content on your website, that you can submit to the search engines this way, they (search engines) get to crawl in easily and index ALL the pages on your site (all those that you want them to crawl)   Cron:   a system that keeps your Drupal site conveniently updated and "clean" it checks for updates itself, it recreates the XML sitemap if needed, keeping it up to date, it indexes the newly added content...   End of Part 1! The second half of this post on Drupal SEO best practices to adopt in 2018 will tackle aspects such as: building your keyword list and using it to "fuel" your content with a few more essential Drupal SEO modules to add to your toolbox valuable tips and tricks on how to speed up your website (since top speed and search engine optimization go hand in hand) ... and more! Stay tuned! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 13'2018
On Reflection: OPTASY’s Journey to Canada Development Leaders
Continuing coverage of our latest recognition on Clutch’s annual report of leading firms in the United Kingdom and Canada, we wanted to dive deeper into what enabled us to achieve this success. While we are proud to showcase our leadership among web, ecommerce, Drupal, Shopify, and Magento developers in Canada, it is important to reflect on the past projects and relationships that drove us to these heights. Having evaluated our team across various development sectors, Clutch has taken the time to conduct interviews with many of our clients, framing an accurate picture of what it’s like to work with us; their conversations cover an array of questions regarding the challenges, solutions, and results of our time working together. Dedicating much of our success to our clients, we wanted to look back, not only to share some of the things they’ve had to say about our work, but to share how we’ve become a Canada development leader as well: “They really know their stuff in Drupal, more so than any other development shop I’ve worked with…their team was essentially available at any time to answer our questions, solve an emergency, or fix a mistake that we made,” referenced the Director of Design & Development for a digital agency. They went on to describe the measurable impact one of our team’s suggestions had on their project’s success: “After he made the switch, the site’s response time decreased by 53%. Immediately, the site started working faster. The dependencies that the site relied on went from over 200 to under 125. Overall, his recommendation made a huge impact on our business to the point that at the end of 2014, we grew by 400%. By the end of 2015, we were doing about 12 million pages with the website he developed.” Additionally, the Technology Coordinator for a school division, remarked on our project management expertise: “From day 1, the communication has been the hallmark and has been phenomenal. There have been no issues whatsoever with project delivery as a whole. They are far quicker than other services we have been involved in.”  Another client, the Technical Product Manager of a sports company, spoke on our dedication to the project and beating expectations: “Considering what we asked of them, and knowing they didn’t receive our mockups and wireframes until 3 weeks out, it was crazy that we managed to launch. They stepped up in terms of commitment.” To learn more about our clients’ experiences and how we’ve distinguished ourselves as a Canada development leader, follow our Clutch profile here.  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 08'2018