Just yesterday someone showed me an app on iTunes. "If we develop something like this, how much will it cost?" he asked. "Can you give me a ballpark figure?"
He's not the only client that asks questions like this. In fact most all of my clients ask me for ballpark figures without them giving detailed project specs. My best approach is simply to educate the client on the cost factors. This, assuming the client is not from the industry and doesn't have an idea. (If the client has an idea and still bullies me into giving him a ballpark, then am gonna kick him in the ass and send him to outer space. =) Just kidding.).
In this post I'll outline some of the factors I consider when estimating app development projects.
Purpose of the application - what is the applicaton for?
Audience - who are the intended users of the app? The design of an app will be dependent on the audience type. If it’s a kids app, for example, the mechanics and the design should cater to the needs of kids.
Platform & operating systems - which platforms & operating systems would you like to support? The more platforms and OSes you support, the bigger the development cost since we’ll have to spend extra time with testing and optimization.
Features/mechanics - which features would you like to include? Features which include a highly tuned user experience, integration with third party APIs, complex databases, massive backend infrastructure, would make the app more expensive.
Our participation - what is the extent of our participation? Do you need us to cover certain aspects only, or should we cover everything including maintenance as well?
When needed - if you need us to rush the project, we might need to add more resources in parallel early on.—Oftentimes this would mean an addition to the budget.
Once we have the requirements in, we’ll review them with our technical personnel, and then sit down and make estimates.
There are times when we make disclaimers and advise the client the budget may change after project discovery. Often, only when we’re done with discovery are we able to fully drill down the specifications to the level where we can confidently estimate development costs. This happens a lot on large projects. We'd indicate this in the contract and rework the budget after full discovery. If the client agrees, then we proceed.
Overall budgeting is a tricky business. Developers want to have more projects and would desire that an agreement with the client be closed the soonest. On the other hand, if they rush too much, they could get into trouble. I've fallen into this trap many times. Took me a while to learn.
I got inspired by an idea from Greenbiz.com. What if we build an MBA school where students do not need to go to class?
In this school there will be no lectures, no exams, no class activities. The campus will serve as laboratory where students can come and get to work, be with teams, and together collaborate on new ideas to bring businesses into the future. Of course, they don’t need to be in the campus all the time. They go out there and explore the world, where much of the learning must happen.
As part of their requirement we throw problems to the students:—a series of local, national, regional, and international challenges. In the Philippines for instance, what sort of business initiatives can be done to alleviate poverty? How can we make growth sustainable? How can we improve the economy? How can we establish better partnerships among key sectors of economy: businesses, the government, organizations, NGOs, and etc. What do we do to make our businesses more competitive? All these challenges are ones which the country is grappling with. Why not allow MBA students to think of ways to solve them?
Let’s go to internal business problems. How do we make operations easier and more fluid? How do we build sustainable organizations? How do we empower employees and businesses? How do we encourage more people to venture into startups and new businesses? How can we develop better leaders?
Greenbiz has a novel suggestion. "Students accepted into the program would have access to a building with different work spaces and tools to enable them to work on these challenges, as well as to create and test out prototype solutions. There would be access to a range of interdisciplinary resources and experts based on the assigned task. There would be no tuition, rather it would be funded via the businesses and organizations that sponsor projects as well as alumni." (The Future MBA, Week 6)
Rather than training people to become managers, we’re shaping them to be problem solvers and innovators.
What do you think?
I know of people who’d die if they’d get less-than-satisfactory grades at MBA school, so for them am putting together this list. This is based on my own experience while studying. I hope you’ll find this useful too. :)
1. Comply with requirements on time
Professors ask stuff from time to time. Student papers, reflections, blogs, presentations, etc. Do comply with all these requirements and make sure you get to submit them on time.
2. Be friends with classmates
This is very important. Working with others can help reduce workload and provide an opportunity to clarify information.
At AGSB, we always connect with classmates on Fbook. We have Facebook groups on almost every subject and we talk there about assignments and projects. We share thoughts too about certain topics. The interactions make assignments less difficult.
3. Don’t be shy
In class, talk. Contribute. Ask questions. Of course I’d recommend that you read lessons ahead so you won’t look stupid and waste everyone’s time unnecessarily.
4. Be organized
At MBA School, you often have to juggle a lot of things at the same time. Plot your schedule and balance your time. If you think you’re spending too much time on something and it’s getting you nowhere, drop it and shift your mind to something else. You can go back later once your mind is already better conditioned.
Also - if you can, try and avoid having to cram. As soon as you have been given your assignment - get started right away!
5. Research, dig, and study
There are MBA books that you can purchase, but there is the internet too with a universe of information that’s available for free. Spend time on research. Professors like papers that are thorough and well researched.
6. Make use of technology
There’re tools and technologies now that can make studying easier for students. For instance, there are videos and tutorials online that can teach you stuff. There are even sites dedicated to MBA subjects. My favorite sites are www.learnerstv.com and http://hbr.org There’s also this site called mbabullshit.com. The url is funny, I know, but the content is certainly not.
When collaborating with classmates on coursework, make use of Dropbox and Google docs. Many people are using them already in their offices, so it shouldn't be so hard to use them at school.
If you need to do presentations, try and use videos and interactive stuff. Videos can break the ice and make presentations more entertaining.
7. Be competitive, but in a positive way
Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with aiming to be on top of class. This gives you motivation and direction. Of course, don’t sacrifice your morals in the process. Help others and encourage them to be successful too.
8. Be prepared for exams
During exam day, come to class earlier. :) This way you can condition your mind and prepare beforehand. I know this by heart because I’m slow as turtle and I often come to class late. Pretty bad example, I know. If there was anything I could have changed about my style, this would have been it.
When taking exams, read each questions carefully before you start answering. Once done, review/rewrite/correct again and again until you’re satisfied (or until time is up).
9. Read regulations
Every school has its own student handbook. Your school should have guidelines and policies for students. For instance about grades, about what not to do, about requirements you’ll have to comply prior to graduation, etc etc. Me and two of my hard-headed friends are perfect examples of this. AGSB requires students to finish all requisite courses prior to taking the final Strama subject. We read the guideline but didn't take it to heart. This mistake cost us several months of delay in graduation.
10. Learn and have fun
Reading and complying is not what MBA is all about. We’re not trained here to be robots. We’re here to be better human beings. What we learn is not as important as what we do with what we learn. So it’s important to understand context and be able to connect learning with real life.
Lastly, have fun and make beautiful memories. Hang out with classmates, drink beer, talk, dine together. My classmates and I even climb mountains together. Some of my closest friends are people I met at MBA school. Despite all the problems, I am having a great time with them. I'm sure I will never forget.
This is a repost of an article by MBA venture capitalist John Gannon.
“How to outsource” – a course where you have to build something (that actually works) using only offshore teams or individuals.
Syllabus is simple. Give each student $500 in credit on eLance/oDesk and let ‘er rip. Students can pool resources to build bigger/cooler stuff or they can go it alone. Throw in a mentor or two who have run some serious but scrappy outsourced dev projects to help people when they start flailing.
Benefits to the students are huge:
I think the above is increasingly relevant, not only for Western companies that contract work offshore, but also for local companies in the PH that get work done through freelancers. What this means is that if you're the manager, and of course as an MBA student you need to know this ahead, you'll have to deal with a diff set of issues:
These are some of the things MBA students need to prepare for, and sadly these are not being taught right now. Oftentimes one has to contend with real life as a place to practice. This should be ok, except that the costs of failing are just too high.
There are universities in Cebu offering MBA programs for interested students.
I am taking mine at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB). Their offsite campus in Cebu offers both executive and standard programs. The executive program is shorter, offered only to students with managerial or supervisory experience of at least 5 years. They call it Ateneo-Regis MBA as it was developed in partnership with the Regis University in Denver, Colorado.
The cost per subject is about P17k+. There’s a total of 14 subjects throughout the executive program, 19 if you take the standard program. Below diagram shows the subjects I have to complete under the executive program.
(Click here for the required subjects under the standard program).
Each term lasts for 8 weeks, and a total of 5-6 terms are offered per year. You could finish the executive program in 2-2.5 years, less if you are able to take up more subjects per term. A friend of mine was able to finish MBA in 14 months. But he had to give up work temporarily just to concentrate on school, something I didn’t have the luxury of doing.
If you’re working at the same time, a max of 2 subjects per term is acceptable. However, if you ask me, I’d go for just 1 subject per term. Anything more will totally stress you out. Aside from classes, you’ll need to spare time for assignments (a lot of them), meetings with teams, research, class presentations, and etc.
There’s a max of 20 students per class. What I like about AGSB-MBA is that here, teachers act more as mentors and facilitators. They don’t just give lectures. Also, lessons are structured as academic dialogues amongst students. You learn not just from teachers, but from fellow students as well. I do recommend AGSB as top choice among MBA schools in Cebu. If you wanna learn more about the program, you can check the link here.
There are other nice schools as well, in Cebu, which offer MBA programs. Below are some schools you can check out if you’re interested:
University of San Carlos
Oldest school in the Philippines and one of the country’s best. Has a very nice campus in Talamban, Cebu City. They offer both executive and standard programs. Check their website here:
University of the Philippines – Cebu
Offers a 3-year MBA program. Their website doesn’t elaborate much, so you might need to call them if you wanna know more. Here’s the link to their website:
University of San Jose-Recoletos
I don’t know if it’s just me, but their website is a little confusing. All I wanted was to research about their MBA program, but I’ve spent over 20 mins now, I couldn’t find anything. I just added this because a friend of mine graduated there and he says their program is ok. You might wanna check them out here:
Offers both standard and executive programs. Check out details here:
If you still have other questions, I might be able to help you out. Please email me at christinerom @ gmail.com.
A top visual artist in Cebu once sold his artworks at P30,000 to P100,000 apiece. Imagine how collectors felt five years later when he undercut prices of similar pieces to more than half, selling them at a meager range of P5,000 to P15,000.
While price setting is a sensitive, sometimes irritating job for creatives to do, this artist owed it to his collectors to respect the value of the pieces they paid for. In the art market, buyers buy artwork as an investment. Consistency in pricing is thus a cornerstone of successful selling.
But how does one determine price?
Pricing products (artworks in our case) isn’t just about calculating numbers. One cannot simply draw cost figures against an artwork, add markup on it, and place it immediately on the market for sale without considering several key factors first: general prices of artworks from artists of similar style or caliber, buyers’ willingness to pay, present and future value of the artwork to the buyer, and others.
The point in which one’s willingness to sell an artwork at a given price is identical to the buyer’s willingness to pay for it at the same price is called “equilibrium point”. Although one isn’t necessarily required to sell at this price, it is helpful to identify the equilibrium point prior to making pricing decisions.
There are various approaches to setting prices which are applicable to the art industry; among them are the below:
As the name implies, cost-plus pricing calculates product price based on the costs associated with it plus a little extra for profit. In our artist example, product cost includes painting hours, painting materials, and framing.
A clear drawback in cost-plus pricing is that it doesn’t consider the buyer’s perspective (how the client values the artwork, how much he or she is willing to pay), the future value of the artwork (value appreciates as the artist gains more recognition, and awards).
In this approach, one sets prices by determining what others are charging.
Despite art being unique, art dealers, collectors, consultants and agents make price comparisons from artist to artist all the time. Base price ranges can be determined based on prices of artworks by artists with comparable experience, resumes and sales records.
Value-based pricing considers the value of the artwork as opposed to the cost incurred to create and produce it. To do this, one determines how much money or value, current or future, the artwork will generate for the buyer. This value could originate from factors such as increased happiness or stability, or future investment returns.
An artist who’d have been a good marketer was Pablo Picasso. A popular story was of him sitting down at a café one beautiful spring morning in Mougins in 1969. The story goes, and I quote the source (http://blog.xero.com/2012/08/what-if-picasso-had-been-an-accountant/):
A visitor sits down, orders a café, and couldn’t believe her eyes. There, sitting just two tables away was Pablo Picasso. And not only was the great artist sitting there, he had his sketchpad and materials with him.
She couldn’t believe it – what an opportunity this is. Somewhat breathlessly, she flips her hands through her hair and sits down next to Picasso. In her faltering French she exclaims how she can’t believe her luck and she wonders if Picasso could quickly sketch her.
“Bien sur – of course,” says Picasso. “I love nothing better”.
So the woman poses and Picasso studies her with the eye of a great artist. He then quickly sketches and shows her the completed piece. “Oh my God,” she exclaims, “I must pay you for this!’
“Indeed you must,” says Picasso. “that will be 400,000 Francs.”
“WHAT! I! That took you just 90 seconds to do, that’s way too much.”
“No, Madam, you are incorrect – it did not take me 90 seconds at all; it took me my whole life to know how to do that.”
"I wanted to take a quick dip in the pool but ended up drowning instead in the middle of an ocean." =(
That's what I told my mom when she came to the room a moment ago asking what's going on with me. I haven't showered, haven't gone out for 2 days now. I've just been here in front of my laptop staring at this giant spreadsheet full of numbers. A whole world of numbers and percentages. I'm mesmerized, intrigued by all this information but at the same time overwhelmed. You can drill down on almost every aspect and get confronted with all sorts of details. And there's just no end to it.
My deadline for this report is later tonight, but I am nowhere near completion.
I am more pressured now because I've promised that by hook or by crook we're gonna deploy by July. But this Numbers file is key to that, and here I am hopelessly stuck.
TBH, designing the product was much easier. It's the love of my life. I dream about it even when I sleep. I can visualize every report it generates, every use case, every lingering bug. I've memorized all the remaining features prior to phase 1.5 and beta launch.
But creating a financial model for it is another thing altogether.
The other night I spoke to my friend/colleague T and he reminded me about my MBA - with that background things should have been easier, shouldn't it?
But uhm, we didn't learn about churn, about MRR, about tactics for user conversion for SAAS products in MBA class. When forecasting traffic and how much of this will lead to signups -- which figure do you start with? Should you reverse calculate and start with bottomline?
I'll write about this soon, perhaps when I've reached the final point. I'll share more about this experience. Who knows this will be successful? I'll go back to this post and talk about perseverance and staying sane through it all. Meanwhile, brb.
A few weeks ago our Proj Management class went to Bogo City.
We were to hold a career orientation seminar for some 100+ graduating high school students of a small school called La Paz National High School.
Only months ago Yolanda, the world's strongest typhoon to ever land, struck the country, killing tens of thousands and causing millions in devastations. One among those badly hit was Bogo City. It was already February, yet everyone was still struggling, trying to pick up the pieces and start again. This was a huge effort considering the amount of destruction the typhoon caused in the area.
Our goal was to help by providing encouragement to young kids, particularly the high school graduating students since classes were just ending. We figured they must be thinking about college and what to do.
We brought in representatives from government and private bodies with us to the event. There were representatives from TESDA, DOST, and a private organization called Viscal. We asked them to speak about scholarships and similar opportunities the students could avail of after high school. A few of us in class talked about the industries each of us represented. Some also spoke about possible career paths and how to go about making career choices.
That Saturday morning, we took the 3-hour ride to Bogo at 6:30. This was my first time to travel out of Cebu after Yolanda.
When we arrived at almost 10 am it was drizzling. The venue was the small Chapel of St. Nazarene. It only had grills for walls, so we could see the students inside, behaved and anxiously waiting. Someone already put up a makeshift stage in front, near the priest's officiating table. At the left side of the table was a small room with a woman and a sewing machine. How could a priest hold mass with someone near him sewing clothes? That seemed strange.
I went back to checking on the students. I could see the tired look in their eyes. I wondered what they were thinking. Their teacher, a smiling woman in tight, green blouse and very tall clogs greeted us. We greeted her back.
The night before, I spent hours polishing a game dev powerpoint presentation I used before during a career roadshow in another city. It was a successful one, and I remember students flocking around us wanting to know more. They were so thrilled. This was the first time they learned they could actually make a living out of making games.
I thought the students in Bogo would be equally thrilled. After all they were as young. Which young people didn't like games?
But then these kids were different. They were appreciative yet they seemed to be holding back.
They must have been through a lot.
Perhaps there were things more pressing than the idea of college. Most all of them came from very, very poor families. They worry about dinner, about lunch, about fare, about surviving for the next day. Being able to go to college was a far bigger worry, and something they could set aside by just not caring--I think.
I decided to deliver my presentations in the local dialect. I tried to come up with examples that I thought would be understandable to them.
Still, something was amiss.
I wasn't resonating. I wasn't tickling them. They smiled, laughed, but I knew no one was interested in taking the route to game dev. Most all of them were unsure if they could take even step 1 to college. Some of these kids have lost the will to dream.
On my way home I wanted to scream. Should we have focused on other things instead? Perhaps added more scholarship speakers? Perhaps brought in LGUs to hear their concerns? What could have been the better approach?
Should we choose certain games over others because they're made by Pinoys, or should we first evaluate based on quality, regardless if the superior one turns out to be the one made by non-Pinoys?
I know by asking this question I also risk questioning my own actions, being a staunch promoter of Pinoy games myself. At GDAP, our role is to put Pinoy games on the limelight by promoting them through various channels. We do all sorts of stuff to make Pinoy games known both locally and internationally. (I admit, some of us do so carelessly and without deliberation sometimes. So I guess this may be a good time to stop a bit and evaluate.)
The local entertainment industry is flooded with debates about how to grow it. There's this movement called Buy Pinoy, which is an old movement to encourage people to support Pinoy products. They even have logos showing the Philippine flag and the words "Buy Pinoy" or "Tatak Pinoy" stamped on products. As if they're marks of excellence, although I don't think they really are.
One of my fellow Board Members at GDAP suggested adding this same logo on interfaces of Pinoy games. No one really agreed with it. This was an unfair play on guilt or people's sense of responsibiliy (i.e, help the economy by patronizing local products). Quite short lived and doesn't necessarily solve bigger problems.
This is also what's happening in the local music industry. They say it's dying, and that the way to revive it is to force people to support local music. Which is funny, actually, because local singers these days are doing nothing but covers. Where is the originality? We have good musicians, but most all of them are singing songs of others. Look at MYMP, Nina, Jed Madela, etc. They even have entire albums dedicated to covers.
I heard that taxes for foreign musicians holding concerts here are much, much higher than those of local ones. The idea is to make local acts cheaper, so that people will favor them more. That doesn't say much about quality really. Just the price. Because people assume everything is about price. Of course, not.
On the other hand, there is also the problem of awareness as well as our general skepticism with things Pinoy. One colleague from Manila complained about a full animated movie they launched in 2010. That must have been RPG Metanoia or Urduja, I can't remember now. But those were full-length films with excellent CG, great music, and really great stories behind them. In terms of quality, they were supposedly up there. But Pinoys easily dismissed them. Didn't even watch past trailers. The films became massive flops. If you're the publisher investing millions for these films, you'd be traumatized for life. Have you heard of any new Pinoy 3d films these days? There's none.
On TV, don't get suprised if they're showing lots of Koreanovelas. Morning up to night, night to sign off.
Pinoys have plenty of love, you know, but none that is self directed.
That's why they say there is sense in holding Film Fests where they force movie houses to show only Filipino movies for a period. Because without any of these film fests, Pinoys don't stand a chance.
In terms of Pinoy games, there's not a lot of original IPs at this point because everyone's doing 3rd-party contracting. But we have more local developers now than previous years, and some are boldly venturing into self publishing. The question is, should they put Tatak Pinoy marks on them?
As a developer I'd like to rely on my ability to deliver quality. (We'll, I'm not really a programmer by profession, but I work in a company that makes games, so let's say I'm an industry insider). That's the only reason why people should buy. The Pinoyness part could be used in terms of driving awareness. Like for instance not a lot of people know that there are games made by Pinoys. However, at the end of the day, people should decide based on merits. Honestly, I don't mind zero downloads for my games versus a million downloads made out of mercy. I wouldn't feel very good myself if that's the case.
Let's take this as a challenge for us. In the first place, no developer should put their fellow Pinoys in such a predicament: to have to choose between a superior game made by another and an inferior one made by a fellow Pinoy. The buying decision ultimately should be driven by the basic question -- is it really worth it?
I found out that the project am supposed to do a PERT-CPM on is a wedding project. This has a list of activities and assumed duration for each of them--including booking for venue, finding the wedding dress, etc.
There's a whole list of things to do, except it's missing the part where you have to look for a willing groom. :) That must precede everything, right? :D
Quick update on Project World Wonder. It was not approved. :( :(
I got another make-up case instead. This one's a PERT-CPM one, due on 2/12/14. Good luck to me.
I was late for 1 hour from Proj Man class last Saturday. I overslept thinking there'd be a typhoon and that classes would be suspended. I particularly remembered reading some announcement about it the night before. But when I woke up at 9 am, I was in for a sad surprise. It was bright and sunny!
Worse, when I arrived at school, everyone was there. And they had a quiz in my absence!
I had not choice but to propose a makeup project. My professor seemed open to the idea when I approached him last weekend. I just emailed him earlier with a plan to do a case study on the pyramids of Egypt. Quite a colossal quest (also not really necessary considering it was only a 10-pt. quiz), but I think it's gonna be interesting. Besides I'm really curious.
How does one plan and manage a project that takes 20 years and 10,000 people to complete? The sheer scale is simply unimaginable. Add to that the complexities brought about by disasters, famine, war, politics, etc. Consider the technology limitations too, since these were built thousands of year ago: no fork lifts, no cranes, no laptops, nothing.
I wonder how the project plan looked like. Did they use Gantt charts? Did they write their plans on papyrus?
I'd like to draw the staffing structure and see which cross-functional groups were involved. There may have been engineers, architects, geologists, procurement specialists, etc. I also know that there were priests and astronomers involved in the design process. Just how involved, I'd like to find out.
I'm not sure if I can make a budget, but it'd be great to know how much it cost to build those pyramids--say for example, the Pyramid of Giza. Did they make risk plans, communication plans, all other subplans? Which issues did they encounter? I'd also like to understand which project management principles would have been applicable that time.
I'd like to stay on high-level though to limit the scope. Else I'd be in danger of not being able to finish on time.
My head is spinning, but first, help me pray. I hope the professor will grant my request.
MBA students at school are Facebook addicts. Some may dispute this observation or suggest that I use a toned-down term, so let me restate: they're avid Facebook users. :) They spend a lot of time Facebooking, and it annoys them when they have to take time off from their favorite activity to do their assignments or collaborate with teammates on group projects.
But someone has invented Facebook groups, and voila! A new way to work on school stuff without having to leave Facebook. :)
So how does it work?
First, someone in your team has to create the Facebook group and add all team members in. You can set the group on Secret mode if you don't wish other people to see your posts (which should be the case all the time).
Second, there has to be some "rules" on how to use the page for collaboration. Otherwise, it'd be chaotic. In our group, we use the following rules.
We use this feature to record milestones or deadlines such as submission of final paper or exam or whatever. After creating an event, we invite all members in. Once they accepted, they get a notification when an event approaches, much as they would with other Facebook events (like birthdays, etc) outside of Facebook group.
We normally pair Facebook with Dropbox. We have a Dropbox folder where we upload all files relevant to our projects. If we want to notify team members of a new upload or update on a file, we go to the Facebook group Files tab and click Upload file. There's an option to upload a file from Dropbox.
We use this for posts that we want highlighted or tracked, like members' contact information, schedules, list of deliverables, etc. If we'd post these information as ordinary wall posts, they'd get buried later on when new posts come in.
This is the fun part. This is how we collaborate, discuss about projects, joke with other members, etc. We tag team members whenever we want them to be notified of new posts. This will work only if team members actually post. As a team, you'll have to agree and make sure everyone is aligned.
There may still be other ways to use Facebook as collaboration tool. My other friends use Facebook's group chat feature to discuss. Really, there's no shortage of ways to add fun into the poor, boring life of an MBA student. If you know of anything I may have missed, please holler or comment below.
I just completed typing answers to a whole bunch of questions in Blackboard Learn a few days ago. Believe me, the entire experience was an ordeal. I like the idea of giving students a dashboard where they can track their learning, but Blackboard is definitely not it!
I first got introduced to Blackboard Learn in Managerial Dynamics over a year ago. Dr. Lydia King spent an hour going through the tool and getting people acquainted. Many days later we were still struggling, asking questions among ourselves and Googling. It wasn't the easiest tool to use. It defied all rules of usability! It's messy, cluttered, and grossly anti-user. I wonder what the developers were thinking when they created it. And how much do they charge for this terrible thing? Even their site cannot tell you easily. Perhaps you have to call or talk to their sales reps and ask. Amazing, right?
For those of you who are not familiar, Blackboard Learn is a learning management system developed in 1997 by Americans Stephen Gilfus and Dan Cane. The tool itself is now widely used by many universities around the world incluing Ateneo GSB. There's a whole Wiki post about Blackboard here in case you're curious.
If you're thinking of getting Blackboard as a tool for students in the future, you might wanna think twice. Blackboard sucks, and here's why:
It is evident that the designers of Blackboard are not yet aware of Web 2.0 or the existence of people like Jakob Nielsen. Given its current condition, it'll take a while for this tool to adapt to modern times. You can check how it looks like through the image below. (This is a screenshot of my own dashboard. I covered the school's logo and the courses am taking as this post is not really about them. )
I still have a few more rants about Blackboard. I'll write more soon.
Assignment no. 2 is all about uses of technology in businesses. This is a no-brainer. Even vegetable vendors use cellphones to book orders and exchange messages with their customers. At the Transcentral Highway near Balamban City (about 2 hours drive from Cebu City), one of the Manang vendors whose phone number I saved for future inquiries, was using Viber. Very techy Manang indeed.
ln the game studio I work with, we use technology all of the time. Every year, we spend 20%-30% of our budget on technology and technology-related purchases: equipment, software and licenses, maintenance, network, and others. It's a big chunk in the company's operational budget, but that's how it is.
Below I've listed the top 10 technology applications we're using in the studio. Most all of these are generic and are being used by other studios as well. Pls comment if you have suggestions on anything else that might be useful.
1. Laptops, personal computers, tablets, servers
This is basic but I have to cover this. :)
All of us in the office are using either personal computers or laptops to perform our work. May it be as simple as writing emails or as complex as rigging 3d models, animating objects, or writing lines of code, a decent, well-maintained computer is a must.
Our computers have a life-span of 2-3 years. We normally purchase new computers regularly, although lately we’ve deferred on capital purchases, preparing to push them off to next year when cash flow is better.
We use tablets for testing and for researching. We have different devices to simulate a variety of test conditions. We have Android and iDevices with different OS versions. They can be so costly, and I feel that all these manufacturers are milking us of our money, coming up with newer gadgets every year.
2. Network and connectivity
We’re using both Bayantel and PLDT. Both are far from decent and their customer support is horrible. The downside of doing business in the Philippines in addition to high cost of power is poor network infrastructure. We have PLDT and Bayantel to blame for that.
3. Cell phones
We don’t just cellphones for software testing. We use them to communicate with people. We call our staff through their cellphones. We sometimes communicate with clients through their cellphones.
4. Instant messaging
We allow our employees to use any kind of instant messaging in the office. We don’t set restrictions, except during software deployments when we need as much bandwidth as possible. To us, instant messaging is essential so employees can communicate with people and feel alive. We take note of people’s output and the quality of their work though. If instant-messaging use is affecting their work, we will know it. Only then will we investigate and set disciplinary actions. But unless an employee abuses the leniency we offer, he won't be in any trouble even if he uses instant messaging with people outside of the office.
5. Dropbox and cloud-based data storage
We deal with massive files day by day. We upload media files and source codes for our clients. While secure FTP is preferable for security, we generally prefer Dropbox for the convenience it offers. Besides, our clients like it too.
6. Websites and social media
Our website provides an overview about our company and what we can do. Applicants use it to check open positions. Potential clients review it to vet our capabilities. “Window shoppers” view it for random information about game development in the Philippines.
We use social media to engage potential applicants in a more informal, personal way. We also it as platform for people to connect with us and get to know more about what we do.
7. Online learning
Tutorials and how-to videos have become an indispensable source of knowledge for all of us in the office. Through online videos, we get to learn about new technology trends, tips and tricks about software and design, and many more.
8. Video conferencing
When talking with clients, we use Skype or Google Hangout--well, actually just Skype. These tools allow us to video conference with clients at zero cost.
Sometimes it is necessary to see the faces of the people you work with, especially those from remote. It helps in building trust, and it helps in cementing work relationships. When working with our clients, our approach is always to work with them as if we are their teammates, thus we need their trust. Our interest is in making them successful. If they are successful because of us, then they will be pleased with us and will keep doing business with us.
9. Basecamp for project collaboration
Basecamp is a web-based collaboration tool that is simple and powerful. It allows our project managers to assign tasks to team members, monitor the progress of our projects, and update clients through an easy-to-use dashboard.
10. Design and development software
We use special software for design and coding. Among them are Adobe Photoshop, 3d Studio Max, and Blender for 2d and 3d art creation as well as Unity 3d or Cocos 2d for mobile development.
We have an IT personnel in charge of maintaining our hardware and software assets. He is involved in all technology purchases, from evaluating requests, reviewing quotations, to formulating budgets and getting them approved.
As much as we can, we try and make sure technology decisions are linked to strategy. We have a committee that evaluates budget and makes sure we are spending effectively. For us, we measure the benefits in terms of a. reduction in work time b. improvement in output c. improvement in processes.
I'm passionate about business, art, and technology. For more about me, click here.
Here's a book I co-wrote with a bunch of industry colleagues. Not sure if you'll find it useful, but feel free to check once you can.
Hobbies & other stuff
Ateneo Graduate School of Business
University of San Carlos