Doing business on the go has become the new norm. So does dealing with all sorts of financial transactions through your trusted smart phone or device. From purchasing stocks, making wire transfers and quick personal deposits - mobile finances has exploded in popularity the past few years
The industry keeps growing. Over 1.75 billion users are expected to conduct banking operations through mobile devices by the end of 2019. With this explosive growth what are the benefits for financial enterprises? As more of banking moves into the digital realm, the less money financial institutions have to invest into brick and mortar locations, as well as all of the personnel that goes along with that. When technology can perform all of the functions of a bank teller, and when all of those functions can be safely and easily accomplished by a user app, everyone wins.
But there’s some bad news as well - not all of those users are particularly happy with the kind of user experience they are currently having with their mobile banking. According to the latest J.D. Powers survey only 32% of bank customers say they trust mobile banking and most respondents indicated that they are not “fully satisfied” with the current app proposed by your bank.
The bottom line is this - while financial app development definitely is a promising sector, product owners should specifically focus on building a user-friendly, secure and personalized product rather than deploying just “some app” to stay in trend.
Building That App – Key Elements to Consider
There are several steps in the process of creating a financial app that users will find friendly, safe, and easy to use. If you can accomplish these three things, you will keep customers and your costs down. Consider the following critical pieces.
Know Your Customer
Just who is our mobile consumer? Most would say it is the millennial and younger generations. And they would be mostly correct.
But here’s the thing: Gen X’ers and even 45% of Baby Boomers are using online banking too. And people are interacting with their banks far more frequently than they used to. It’s now so easy to check a balance, transfer funds, and pay bills, if, and this is a BIG if, the app is well done. If not, customers will be lost.
So, what are the biggest objections/frustrations of our potential app users? You have to find this out before you can begin to build or remodel an app.
Here is what consumers are saying about their current banks’ mobile apps:
The other critical information you need to get from your customers is what exactly do they want to be able to do on your app. You can use data analytics to track customer behavior or you can ask. But, in general, here is what most consumers do on their financial apps:
List the Elements You Will Include
Don’t just make a simple list. Create a scenario for each element. How do you want the customer to go through the process involved?
Once you have all of this, you are ready to look at developers, if you don’t have the in-house expertise. Seasoned financial app developers can take what you want and recommend the best technology stack for your needs.
And speaking of financial app developers, be selective as you search for the best one. They should be willing to show you case studies and put you in touch with clients for reference.
Security – It’s the Most Critical Challenge
You already have security measures in place if you offer online banking through your website. Translating those to a mobile app means the following:
Make sure your developer understands your security policies
Application servers must be carefully configured, so that phishing is avoided
Use the most current digital signature technology – you want everything secure and yet easy for the user
Utilize encryption for all user stored data.
Have a password strength checker – never allow your customers to use simply and easily-hacked passwords.
Be firm with your customers on how they are to behave when using your app. They must password-protect their phones; they should never store their passwords with you; they must logout when finished; they must install app updates. They have to do their part to protect their information too.
Keep it Simple
You know the features your customers want. Limit activities to those features only. If the majority of your customers pay bills on the app, then focus the application around that feature. Don’t waste time building features, such as applying for loans, that are hardly used by your clients.
As the app matures continue adding features in a methodical and customer centric way.
Sleek Design and UX
Here are the things to think about:
Only a couple of steps to get to functions - reduce the number of clicks.
Users love notifications - make sure you offer that to them.
Analyze & track the features most frequently used, and focus the user interface on those functions.Test, Test, Test
While security is important, make sure you have a fully refined QA process in place to reduce any problems with the software.
And don’t forget user testing – you’ll get great feedback.
Plan for Diverse Devices
Make sure you app works well across all devices and screen sizes. There are a number of services that offer online emulators for you to test your applications - make use of that.
Consider adding a mobile analytics piece in your application to track detailed information about usage, and better visibility into any problems your customers might be facing.
Cost – It’s Not Your Primary Concern
When looking for a developer for your application, cost should not be your only concern. Financial applications are complicated and require experienced developers who understand the intricacies of the industry, security and functionality. Don’t just go after the lowest priced developer.
Building a financial app will be key to retaining your customers. If even Baby Boomers are using them, the proverbial “handwriting is on the wall.” Take these eight “criticals” and find the right developer now.
So, you have a great idea for an app. You think there is an audience out there, and you are hell bent on developing it so that you can get it to market as soon as possible. Yes, it will be a costly project; yes, it will require hours upon hours of wireframing and development.
It’s time to take a step back and just breathe for a minute. Before you launch headlong into a complex and costly app development, make the smart choice to do the research, determine the need, and then develop an MVP that will “test the waters.”
Developing a minimum viable product is not something new, nor should it be considered a “negative.” It’s normal to want to develop the entire product from the “get-go,” but it is not wise. Consider this: Google and Dropbox both created MVP’s before they moved forward. And look where they are today.
If you have never developed an MVP before, it can seem a bit scary. How do you actually do it? Here is your simple guide to MVP development - five steps that will take you from conception to the creation of a product that can be tested and marketed before you develop full functionality.
Define the “WHY?”
If you are developing an app because you think it is cool, then you may be sorely disappointed. Every app, even a game, is built to solve a consumer problem, not your need. So, do the research. Who is your target demographic and what do they want? Creating a customer persona is a major and critical first step. From that persona, you can then identify individual consumers who are willing to participate in user acceptance testing.
Blue-Sky It – the “WHAT” – The Product Requirements Document
This is the step during which you will develop your product requirements list. It the “What” of your app.
Begin by developing a workflow diagram of exactly how your app will work. You need two columns. On the left, identify the input and on the right, the output. From this diagram, you will be able to identify the product features and create that PRD.
Your Product Requirements Document will describe in detail all of the features, relative to the design and user experience. It will become the “bible” for developers. And those developers must be “in” on these discussions, for they will determine the software architecture that will be necessary, the projected time and cost involved in each feature development, etc.
Features should also be ranked – otherwise there is no way to determine the “what” of an MVP.
Another critical piece of the product requirements document will be the criteria for release. At what point will the MVP be ready for testing by your audience? This part of your document may indeed have to wait until you have completed Step 3.
From the workflow diagram that you have crafted, it is now time to start eliminating features and functions. There is one question that you must continually ask as you move through this process – “What is the least important function of those that remain?”
As you eliminate, of course, you will want to keep a listing of what you removed and in what order. Because, once the MVP is released, tested, and proven to be successful, you will want to add those functions in the reverse order in which you took them out. Your engineers must have this list as well, so that they may what functions will be developed next and in what order.
Once you are down to the minimum viable product, you and your developers(s) can craft that section of the product requirements document that includes the criteria for release:
Are all the mandatory functions in place?
Is the app, in its current MVP state, intuitive and user-friendly?
Does performance provide a great user experience?
Short Development Sprints
Divide the development process into short chunks. As working code is developed and tested in-house, pause to ensure that each chunk is still compatible with the “why” of your product development. Sometimes, the nature of software development means that the scope of a function may change. New ideas may emerge. While these may not be on your plate right now, keep track of them for future scaling.
If a new idea is added, what will you take out? Remember, this is an MVP.
What are You Doing About a Business Plan?
If you are a first-time entrepreneur, and our app is your startup, what have you done about a plan to acquire the funding you may need to fully develop? It is time at this point to look for business plan writers, especially if your strength is in tech and not in marketing/writing. Do not wait until your MVP is finished and tested to do this. That plan must be ready to present to potential investors. At this stage in the process, you have the information you need to craft that plan, and you want it polished and ready.
The Beta Testing
Once the minimum functions are in place and once the criteria for release have been met, it is time for actual user testing. For this step in the process, you and the developer(s) must create a list of tasks you want your testers to perform.
During the testing phase, performance of tasks must be closely monitored. Where are there issues with navigation, speed, etc.? Are there “fails” that must be fixed? What bugs must be worked out?
The other key component of beta testing is tester feedback. Is their experience enjoyable? And, most important, does this product provide a solution to the problem or gap you originally identified? User feedback may also generate ideas that will cause you to re-think the additional functions you originally envisioned – all the better! Remember – it’s all about the user, not you.
Your final development revisions and “fixes” will be based upon actual user testing.
Get Your MVP and that Business Plan Out There
You may not love the idea of marketing and investment-seeking, but it is a reality you must face. There are places to start, obviously. App reviewers abound, and you can offer incentives to reviewers to perform this function for you. You may need some professional help or, at the very least, to conduct some research on your own about marketing options.
There are also an amazing number of funding resources today, so check them out and find the best options for your product.
Ecommerce. Even brick and mortar retailers also now sport a website for online shoppers. In fact, shoppers can go to an online big box retailer, purchase an item, and then pick it up at their local store. Then, of course, are the small retailers who only have an online shop. Add to that all of the newer concepts in online ecommerce, such as subscription-based product purchases (coffee-of-the-month; razor blades, diapers, etc.), and you have perhaps the most major disruption of any industry.
Successful Ecommerce Requires an Amazing Website
Given the fact that today’s consumer has the attention span of a goldfish, an ecommerce retailer has only a few seconds to engage a visitor, provide an exceptional user experience, and keep that consumer entertained, inspired, and motivated to keep looking at products/services on display.
All of this means that an ecommerce website must be exquisitely designed and developed. It must load fast; navigation must be speedy and easy; the cart and checkout process must be smooth and seamless.
How does this get accomplished?
The Early Days Vs. Now
In the beginning were a few programming languages and coders. Every part of a website had to be coded, line by line – an arduous task and one which was assumed by “gurus” of coding that accomplished mysterious miracles that no one else could understand.
But technology has a way of simplifying things. And that is just what has happened with ecommerce technology stack architecture. The components of a technology stack (called microservices) are generally created by different developers who work independently. So, in building an entire platform, there are many choices for microservices. And for those looking for the easiest solution, there are entire platforms, composed of microservices which are already configured, such as Shopify, Etsy, PayPal, or Instacart.
In essence, you will have an operating system, a web service, a database and a programming language, each with components that must be chosen based upon your current and future business goals. Choosing microservices, each one focused on a small task, will all have to support what it is you envision. But because all of those components are standalone microservices that can be easily incorporated into a platform technology stack, it is now a matter of choosing the right stack components, customizing them if and when it becomes necessary. And that is what developers do today.
The job of the ecommerce retailer is to decide what the website must have on the front-end architecture, for seamless user experience, to ensure that products are available to his customers, either through his own inventory or that of drop-shipping suppliers. Oberlo can perfectly help you with the latter. You will also need to ensure that the technology is there for product displays and descriptions, for shopping convenience, and for a perfect checkout process.
Important Considerations for the Technology Stack
Traditionally, ecommerce platforms have been built on Java/.Net/PHP and so forth. They use long-standing application servers, supported by Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). The issues crop up when a retailer needs to scale, either through expansion of product lines and/or an increase in customer base. At that point, the goal is not to sacrifice speed or responsiveness.
Typically, when scaling is necessary, there will be the requirements for increasing number of servers, load balancing, hardware, and such. And a decision must be made whether to scale horizontally (add more machines) or vertically (add more power to existing machines). Horizontal is often preferred because it utilizes less system resources and can handle larger amounts of traffic.
As an ecommerce business considers microservices architecture, they must think about the following:
They want ease of scalability and resilience
They want to modify, expand, replace, and scale without downtime or negatively impacting the system, even if only for a short time.
The following services will be mandatory
Product/Product Catalogue Search
Shopping Cart/Shopping Cart Recovery
Product Detail Page(s)
Here is an example of the microservices that could be chosen for an ecommerce enterprise that is horizontally scalable, non-blocking, and responsive.
MONGODB: This allows a document-oriented data store – products can be stored as documents and in categories – example: OpenSky.com
MONGOOSE: This is the object-modeling for NODEJS
ELASTIC: This is a search server – used by such companies as EBay
EXPRESS: Node.js web framework. Provides middlewares, error handling, and templating
MONGODB – ELASTIC CONNECTOR
PASSPORT: Node.Js authentication network. Separates web application from authentication.
WINSTON: Provides for machine-readable logs.
MYSQL: Transactional Database. Open source, scalable, flexible – stores transactions (orders, returns, etc.)
To make ecommerce site building even easier, a number of “big players” have published their technology stacks on StackShare, a site that focuses on all things “stack-related.” There are detailed listings of the stacks used by such companies as Best Buy, Airbnb, Dropbox, Medium, Vine, Shopify, and many more. StackShare also provides the latest news on tools and trends on stack architecture.
The featured stacks include microservices in application and data, utilities, DevOps, and business tools and provide lots of options for ecommerce startups and existing retailers to consider.
Is There an Ideal ECommerce Technology Stack?
The short answer is “no.” Anyone who studies the stacks on Stack Share can clearly see that even the “big boys” use a variety of microservices that are not in common.
An ecommerce retailer is just that – a retailer. S/he is not an expert on technology stacks. And so, the wise move is to do the following:
Determine what it is that the site should be and do
Look at the goals for scaling in the future
Present the requirements and specifications to professional back-end and front-end developers
Rely on those developers who have the reputation and the experience to put together the ideal technology stack for those individual business needs.
Learning the tricks of any trade will take time and dedication. However, IBM offers developers a way to connect, learn, and grow with six different types of developer events including hackathons, workshops, meet-ups, web casts, conferences, and premium events.
Hackathons are unique to the developer community. Although the name sounds bit sinister, hackathons are actually a legitimate way to grow as a developer. During these events, developers have the chance to build innovative apps, typically based on a theme or challenge presented at the hackathon.
The events are competitive, and participants are often encouraged to use IBM Blue-mix for their applications so that they can build, scale, and extend their applications quickly.
A hackathon is currently scheduled for Oct. 20-22, 2017 at Galvanize, located at 315 Hudson St., New York, N.Y. During this hackathon, developers can learn how to take blockchain ideas from concept to creation in just a week. The event will be hosted by IBM.
Possibly the most versatile of training types, workshops come in many formats and styles, ranging from smaller coding sessions or panels to more hands-on activities. The events are held around the world both in person and virtually and cover themes such as Big Data and Analytic, Mobile, Watson and Internet of Things.
The events give developers the opportunity to learn more about developing apps quickly and E efficiently with Blue-mix, IBM's Cloud-based platform for building and managing apps of all kinds.
Don't have time for a workshop? Meet-ups are probably the best option. A more condensed version of a workshop, participants meet in an informal environment to take turn their ideas into real projects while networking with fellow developers.
Virtually learn all there is to know about developing by attending webcasts. During these webcasts, developer professionals discuss the ins and outs of several different aspects of developing, including security, the Cloud, data and analytics, and more.
Conferences are great ways to immerse fully into the world of developing. Usually spanning multiple days, conferences are events containing keynote speakers, demos, workshops, and specialty tracks designed for all levels of developers.
The developer Works Premium events are accessed through an annual membership. The membership gives developers access to the tools and resources they need to grow their skills and complete a project they can really be proud of.
Developers with the developer Works Premium membership can receive up to 50 percent off developer event registration fees. Discounts are limited and are first-come, first-serve.
We generate a huge amount of health related data; from our fitness tracker mobiles apps to electronic medical records. The average person is likely to generate more than one million gigabytes of health related data in their lifetime which is enormous. Clinical trials and researches also add up a huge amount of data. The medical industry is unable to keep up with the tremendous rate at which the information are produced. Here comes the IBM Watson Health cloud.
As modern medicine improves it also gets more complicated. Hundreds of thousands of medical articles are published every year. New discoveries are constantly being made and more powerful technologies create better tools for diagnosis prevention and understanding of illness and disease. The huge amount of personal data could unlock insights to longer and healthier life. So the question is how can the healthcare professionals keep up? And the answer is IBM Watson Health.
The IBM Watson Health cloud brings together a vast amounts of medical data into one centralized thinking hub on the cloud, combining traditional analytics with the advanced cognitive capabilities of Watson. . So, we can say that cloud brings together individual clinical research and social data from a diverse range of health sources creating a secure cloud-based data sharing hub. The ability to learn and overtime refine its analysis based on what it is learning to turn this huge pile of data into knowledge. With the help of IBM Watson, we will be able to do even more to make the data about our health work for us. This Watson Heath value-based offerings delivers more efficient care, engages patients and consumers and optimizes business performance. IBM Watson Health will help redefine paths to better help by putting data to work for all of us.
In spite of these advantages, numerous doctors report challenges fusing shared basic leadership innovation into their immediate patient interactions. The new solution could be intended to address these challenges by incorporating inside the doctor's work process in the electronic health record system. It could summarize key cognitive insights about a patient's health status, assemble a de-identified cohort of people similar to the individual, and describe the results of those individuals under different treatment alternatives.
Imagine if you had a rare, un-diagnosed disease that’s any doctor is not being able to tell of. What if there were a single secure database which could read your symptoms of that disease and run through thousands of clinical studies, similar patient records to determine the disease? Just after one year of its launch, IBM Watson Health is already starting to make this unimaginable impossible task to reality. And its all because of its powerful cognitive computing platform and a wide-reaching partnership strategy.
For instance, say a patient has an uncommon,, genetically linked form of lung cancer. A generalized cancer doctor likely hasn’t had the time to keep up with the latest in specific lung cancer treatments. In the most recent year alone, there have been no less than seven new lung malignancy drugs approved by the FDA. . That doctor may not be aware of how best to use those drugs or even if they apply to this patient.
Meanwhile IBM Watson Health has been fed previous case studies on patients like this by lung cancer specialists. So IBM Watson Health understands the threat and list out a potential treatment for the doctors, with a percentage rank of certitude and risk next to each option. The doctor then reviews the decision and consult the patient about his treatments.
That’s how Watson Health Imaging and Merge are working together to deliver cognitive medical imaging solutions for radiologists, cardiologists and healthcare providers who treat a wide variety of diseases around the world in 2017 and beyond.
In today’s age of technology, there has been a substantial growth in the number of educational activities for kids. Kids growing nowadays usually see their older siblings and parents on the laptop. Hence, their interest is likely to peak about also making use of the device. They will want to get on there and also play games as grown-ups do. However, it’s best that you pick educational activities so that the time spent on entertainment will likewise facilitate learning without the children knowing it.
As parents, you can find educational activities and games on the Internet for children of all ages. Moreover, you can also find several educational related games. If you are looking for arithmetic, there are plenty of websites that offer fun things for kids to do that deal with concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. Studying is also enjoyed by participating in fun activities. Some sites read stories to kids while they follow along with the words on the screen.
There’s no doubt that technological advancement has brought important changes to humanity. It has also influenced the way kids experience entertainment and learning. Mobile gadgets such as tablets, laptops, computers, and smartphones are the source of entertainment for several kids. Tablets, along with other gadgets can have both negative and positive effects on the overall mental development of kids, but as parents, you can turn these mobile tablets into an educational tool for your kids. Using the best tablet for kids, your child can have a more entertaining and safe learning experience.
Tablets like these come with several essential features that set them apart from regular tablets. For one, the overall design of the tablet is nice-looking, child-friendly and durable, and offers several brain-boosting benefits. Though, for kids to get the maximum benefits, it is necessary to choose one with the right features.
Apart from allowing kids to use educational gadgets, parents must also allow their kids to indulge in outdoor activities and explore the real world. The open-air environment provides experiences that can facilitate the improvement and enhance the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual skills of kids. One great way for your kid to explore the outdoors is with the use of an electric dirt bike that specially designed for kids.
Electric dirt bikes allow kids play outside of their homes, providing them with a perfect opportunity to explore many things around them. An early daybreak biking activity to your much-loved biking trail or even around the neighborhood will allow kids to observe individuals, animals, plants and so many other things that will spark their interest. However, not any electric bike will do. You will have to choose the best electric dirt bike of kids that’s safe, fun and exciting.
In a nutshell, educational activities are great. They develop the kids’ interest and enhance learning. At the end of every session, they learn something new that helps them become smarter, more patient, and allow them to have a better understanding of the world.
Not all startups are high tech, although it would almost seem so these days. Even if you are producing the next best gardening tools, however, you will need technology. And as your business grows, the tech needs do too. Consider just the minimum your business will need, even if it is operated from a home office at first.
Hardware – computers, printers, modem, phone system, mobile devices
Software – These needs may vary, but could include everything from customer databases and management/service, to project management, to accounting, to security, to marketing tools and beyond.
IT Support is Not Optional
Startups, especially low-tech ones, will not have an IT expert on their teams. That’s a huge cost and one that really need not be. The current “wisdom” is that in-house tech support makes sense when a team grows to 25-50.
Yet, when things go wrong, there needs to be quick fix, and planning ahead to get that “fix” will be an essential part of your operational strategy.
There are two operational IT functions that must be considered – support for hardware, networking and security, and support for software that you are using.
Fortunately, as you purchase SaaS packages, there is support built in. It is a matter of contacting the tech support people and getting issues resolved as quickly as possible. This support function comes with your purchase or subscription.
It is when other things go wrong – things with networking, with hardware, with security breaches, with system crashes, with disaster recovery, etc. - that an IT professional is necessary.
So, what are your options? Actually, there are many, depending upon your budget and your unique needs.
Best Practices for Getting the IT Support You Need
As a small startup, your best option is to outsource your IT support. Before you sign on the dotted line, however, you need to do your own homework.
Define what you need. Do you need setup functions, or do you need methods for back up and security of what you have already set up?
Get these needs in writing, so that when you discuss options with potential vendors, you have your “list.”
Will you need an “on call” tech support service, 24 hours a day, or will you go for an “as needs” contract, which could result in some down-time.
Can you handle remote support or do you want someone local who will physically appear to resolve your issues?
Is the support vendor able to handle your support needs as your business grows and the level of support needs expands? It makes no sense to bring in an individual who is only good for initial setup. You will be out looking for someone else soon.
Free IT Support
There are a number of free IT support resources online, many of them run by volunteer geeks who have a passion for solving tech issues. In fact, your tech issue may be one that has already been addressed by the resource, and the “fix” may be simple. All of this, of course, takes time and the assumption that you will fully understand the fix that is being presented. Using free resources can be a cost savings but can also be inefficient.
With purchased software and services, there is always free IT support, so long as you have the contact information you need. How many of us have had our Wi-Fi go out and then find ourselves scrambling for the tech support number we need? If you have a reliance on a lot of utility and tech vendors, it may make sense to subscribe to a service that provides customer support numbers for everything from your electric utility to your Wi-Fi provider. Most of these services have a mobile app for download, so you have access to the number from anywhere.
Contracted IT Support – Remote or Local
If you want efficiency and minimum downtime for tech support, your best practice is to contract with a service. You may find them quite reasonable, and, after all, how much does your “downtime” cost?
This is one of the best ways to keep support costs down. When you contract with a remote service, you simply contact a support technician who then accesses your system from anywhere and fixes your issues without the need to come on-site.
You may want to see your IT support guy/gal face-to-face. While this is more expensive, it is an option that many small businesses choose, because it allows a relationship to be built over time, and the consistency of having the same individual who understands the history of your tech issues. If you go this route, be certain that you have checked many references before signing any contract. Usually, contracts can be designed for a “pay as you go” hourly rate, or a retainer option with a set annual fee.
Combination Remote and Local
There are vendors, such as the Geek Squad, that provide both remote and on-sites services. This group offer a huge support network, 24/7, and provides ongoing maintenance as well as troubleshooting when needed. There are usually several contractual options which allow you to add services as you grow. This IT support is owned by Best Buy, a retailer that is likely to be around for many years, so there is the security of knowing that your contract will be honored.
Other Important Considerations
Now that you understand the necessity of tech support and the options you have for getting what you need within your budget constraints, here are the other guidelines for a successful relationship with any vendor you choose.
Make sure that any individual or vendor operation you choose has people with the education and certifications to back up what they claim to be able to do. You want someone who understands how IT fits into your business and who can make suggestions and recommendations that are state-of-the-art. Security is a good example. Hackers target small businesses because their layers of security are much softer. Nothing could be worse than for your customers’ personal and financial information to be stolen.
This may seem like a “touch-feely” non-essential, but it is not. You want tech support people that can feel your pain when things go wrong and are able to see issues from your perspective.
Choose the simplest solution for you, not what any individual or company vendor thinks you should have. IT support should make things run smoothly for you with minimal stress or frustration on your part.
IT support people need to accept accountability for their services. Follow-up on their part is important. And if a specific provided service has not fixed every issue, then they need to return and make it right. Dump any provider who falters on accountability.
This information should be helpful as you look to find the IT support you will need today and that will evolve as your startup grows. But your job is to be proactive – looking at your needs, knowing what you can do yourself and what you cannot, and planning for support over the long-term – will mean that you will minimize downtime and your own frustration.
PRINCE2 is a structured project management methodology which was developed in the UK. While it was initially used exclusively within UK government projects, its use soon became widespread across the UK and eventually managed to reach international organisations as well. Many now consider a PRINCE2 certification to be a necessity for a project management role, but some may still question whether becoming qualified in PRINCE2 is worth the investment.
If employability is the only factor to consider, then the answer is absolutely yes; too many companies simply will not hire a PM without them having at least some experience in working with the PRINCE2 methodology. On the other hand, it’s important to manage expectations and consider what it is about a PRINCE2 certification that is worth the cost.
PRINCE2 Can Get Your Foot in The Door
If you look through project management job listings, you will likely see PRINCE2 as a prerequisite quite frequently. For some people, that may be reason enough to bite the bullet and get certified. Just make sure to keep things in perspective and don’t jump the gun. A five day class isn’t going to teach you some of the nitty-gritty details of project management that you only learn from experience. For example, while PRINCE2 will teach you how break down complex tasks and allocate responsibilities, it won’t teach you how to effectively assign these tasks within your team to fully utilise your pool of talent. This is something you can only learn by getting to know your team and examining independently which tasks are relevant to which skillset.
It’s also important to note that many organisations that ask for you to have a PRINCE2 qualification may not fully implement the methodology within their organisation. Because the methodology is comprised of a set of general principles and techniques for project managers, organisations may pick and choose which elements of the methodology they implement according to which are relevant to their method of working. Not all projects are the same and while PRINCE2 is a useful tool, your suitability for a project management role and your success within it depends on your ability to adapt the methodology and think independently, so potential employers will often ask for project management experience in addition to a PRINCE2 certification.
PRINCE2 May Not be Necessary For Project Support Roles
If you don’t want to be a project manager, but are interested in other roles on a project team, it may not be necessary for you to become a PRINCE2 Practitioner. However, there are many features of the course that you can utilize in your own work and if PRINCE2 is implemented in your place of work, then it will help if you familiarize yourself with the methodology, even informally. Risk management, for example, plays an important role in PRINCE2 and by learning the methods of preparing for and managing risks within a project, you may find errors in your work being reduced as well as time spent recovering from mistakes. In which case, you may want to learn the basics of PRINCE2 Foundation rather than completing the course in full and becoming a Practitioner, or you can purchase the PRINCE2 guidance and study some of the information in your own time.
Being a PRINCE2 Practitioner Can Help You Secure A Project Management Role
If your ultimate goal is to work as a project manager, PRINCE2 is a highly beneficial certification to have on your CV: this is true if you already have project experience and can be doubly true if you are coming from a different career background. As a practical matter, investing in PRINCE2 training courses is simply a necessity if you are looking to enter into a project management role without any prior experience. It will teach you enough for you to understand the basic principles and responsibilities of your position and it will also make you a stronger candidate for employment than if you had applied for a project management position with no experience or understanding of what the job would entail.
Just be aware that you may not be enamored with the methodology initially. Many project teams find PRINCE2 too inflexible for their types of projects. However, becoming qualified in PRINCE2 makes available possibilities to expand on your knowledge and make the methodology more relevant to your industry and projects. For example, PRINCE2 Agile is a qualification that is an extension of the PRINCE2 Practitioner course which mixes together elements of PRINCE2 and the highly flexible methodology Agile PM. For some project managers, paying for two or three certifications to learn the relevant methodology may not seem like a worthwhile investment, which is something you would need to think about before you consider enrolling.
PRINCE2 Does Not Make up For Lack of Experience
A good project manager has done more than master a particular project methodology. They have learned to communicate effectively, make time estimates, use resources, manage project scope, resolve conflict, and deal with inevitable catastrophes.
While a project management methodology like PRINCE2 might teach you the importance of these skills and the basic principles, much of what you will use within your team will come from experience. PRINCE2 does not supply you with a rulebook that you can refer to, so you will need to learn these skills through successes and failures and by collecting experience as a project manager.
PRINCE2 Methodologies Can be Applied in Multiple Industries
While there are some methodologies that only work well in particular industries, PRINCE2 can be applied virtually anywhere. In fact, it’s been said that PRINCE2 can even be used to plan parties or other personal life events. What this means to you, as a fledgling project manager, is that the skills you learn in PRINCE2 can be applied to any industry you are interested in working in. For example, your PRINCE2 skills used in an IT company can be fairly easily translated into skills that are useful at a manufacturing plant or marketing firm. This means you have a fairly wide variety of industries in which you can seek employment.
PRINCE2 is Not Widely Used in The United States
If you plan to seek out project management positions solely in the United States or within firms that do business primarily with American firms, the PRINCE2 Practitioner designation may not be quite as lucrative for you as it would be for a UK professional. This is because, in spite of its popularity in many other countries, PRINCE2 simply hasn’t gained traction in the United States.
While the PRINCE2 certification may be useful to professionals working with multinational companies, or for projects executed by US firms overseas, you might consider learning other methodologies that you may find more useful within the United States. Agile, CPM, Scrum, Kanban, and others are some of the more popular project management methodologies used by American companies.
It may be helpful to think of PRINCE2 certification as getting your high school diploma rather than being the one and only methodology you learn. It is one of the oldest project management methodologies still being used today, and so contains many elements from which most other methodologies were derived. While it is useful for many professionals, it may not supply you with the complete knowledge that you will need in order to excel in a project management position and not always will it be relevant to the industry or organisation you enter into.
If you are going to seek work as a PM in countries such as the UK or India where this methodology is highly popular, it will definitely benefit you. However, it cannot replace project management experience and while it can give your career a boost, it cannot be relied upon entirely to ensure your success as a PM. Think carefully about the requirements of your current role or the role you are aiming for when you consider whether a PRINCE2 certification is worth the cost and learn what you can about the methodology and others before you decide which you would benefit from the most.
Modified on by richardwatson
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It’s been almost a year since that fateful vote on Brexit. There were two quite diametrically opposed assumptions of the consequences. Those who supported the move saw great economic growth for the UK, now that it was unshackled from the “chains” of the EU. Those who opposed it predicted an economic crash.
None of these has actually occurred. In fact, Brits have awakened every day since June 23, 2016 to “business as usual.” The Pound did take a hit, of course, and that is, as with any economy, a two-edged sword. Consumers pay more for imported goods, and tech startups will pay more for such things as Amazon S3. But outside investors find it much cheaper to do business in London.
The Bureaucracy Moves Slowly
The biggest reason for the continued “business as usual” is, of course, the fact that two years of negotiations with the EU on the details of Brexit have just begun. And the “biggies,” such as trade, exchange rates, immigration visas, etc. have yet to be hammered out.
What This Means for the Startup Climate in London
Thus far, Brexit has had little impact on the startup scene. In fact, during the first quarter of 2017, UK startups attracted $1.4 billion in VC. While it is a bit less than the same quarter of 2016, it is more than quarters 2-4 of last year. The primary reason, of course, is that with the devaluation of the British currency, foreign investors get more “bang for their bucks.”
The number of new startups, as demonstrated by the still-hot demand for office space in Shoreditch, indicates that founders are betting that the Brexit negotiations will leave the UK in a good position in the long run.
While there is a shortage of techies in the UK, and while this shortage has always been easily filled by the immigration policies of the EU, founders believe that #10 Downing Street is practical and realistic and understands the need for IT skills, no matter where those skills might come from. To slam the door too hard on immigration would be a mistake, forcing startups and even more established tech firms to pull up stakes.
Already, there is some talk that Dublin could become a new tech center, if UK immigration policies make it too expensive or prohibitive to attract and secure continued tech expertise needs.
What to Watch For
One thing is for certain – no one knows what Brexit will ultimately mean for startups or investors. A recent survey, conducted by TechCrunch, polled both founders and investors of some of the largest startups and investors in Europe.
Here’s what founders said: Over the next two years, they are very high on Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Berlin, Helsinki, Paris, and even New York City (where the local government is revamping many of its commercial incentives), as opposed to London. Founders express uncertainty until the Brexit negotiations are complete, and “things” settle down. It appears that London will be losing its status as the startup capital of Europe, at least in the short-term. Founder cite as their concerns exactly those that have already been mentioned – staffing with uncertain visa/travel restrictions, and the ability to raise money in such a climate.
On the bright side, founders also cited the weaker GBP with its consequent ability to raise funds, along with the hope for governmental tax incentives and somewhat cheaper real estate.
Here’s what investors said: They see great opportunity in the same cities as the surveyed founders, but over the next two years, they will be closely watching the negotiations of Brexit. Right now, they are happy to have the devalued Pound and do continue to invest in UK startups, but remain cautious.
One of the challenges, investors believe, will be in FinTech, especially because of “passporting issues” for European banking licenses. Overall, however, investors believe that, once the uncertainty has dissipated, London will again be a highly attractive investment opportunity. They have more faith in the government’s pragmatism than founders do.
Some Other Positive Signs
A few of the tech “big boys” have recently announced expansion plans in the UK, and this can cause renewed confidence in an air of uncertainty.
In February, Amazon announced that it will hire an additional 5,000 in the UK during 2017. While most of this employment will be in fulfillment centers, 10% will be in research and development centers. – centers that are developing technology for such things as Alexa, Prime Video, and drones.
Late last year, Google announced that it would add 3,000 to its London office over the next several years. And Facebook is increasing its staffing by 50%. Adding to this positive news, Apple purchased a 500,000-sq. foot space for expansion.
Facing the Future
Whatever the Pound does, it seems the larger issue for the UK is the shortage of native STEM skills. The tech sector is now 16% of the UK economy, and if skilled expertise is not to be found “in-country,” immigration restrictions will be a serious blow.
According to the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), an organization that represents digital and tech startups, the UK will need an extra two million techies by 2020. They are not producing these people, and they will certainly not be coming from outer space. The recommendation is that the UK offer a special visa for those with this expertise, allowing the tech startup sector to continue to flourish in the UK.
“Brexit means Brexit” is a common saying among the supporters of this referendum. But for startups and investors, the meaning if still unclear. Again, the government of the UK, conservative or liberal, has always been highly pragmatic, and it is unlikely that it will let 16% of its current economy falter.