Musings

Microsoft Remix SEA 07 with a focus on Silverlight

Attending Microsoft’s ReMIX SEA 2007 at DBS Arts House. There’s some pretty interesting topics on Silverlight usage and the ease of deployment. It should be interesting to develop a application since have been coding using Visual Studio for some time. I think especially for businesses with huge consumer focus would benefit from a richer user experience on the internet as we cross the threshold from static web sites to rich interactive ones.

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Musings

Interviewing for the right Sales Person (Why its important for Small Businesses)

Being in a small business means having to wear a few hats, one of which is to screen and hire the right people for the job. Since I’m mainly a technical person, the interviewees I’ve had to handle are mostly for Developer roles. Its pretty easy to gauge on a technical skill level what type of developer a person is but its not always fool-proof as we’ve encountered some bad hires one to two months down a project.  Especially in small businesses, bad hires are detrimental to the company’s cashflow and morale once people have to leave. Its also a huge waste of time to have to keep up the constant cycle of looking for the right person.

While I am currently more involved in the sales process, I haven’t conducted interviews for sales people before and so had to quickly do some research on the types of questions that can gauge a sales person’s abilities and personality. I would say the questions asked aren’t that much different from a developer’s role although it is probably more skewed towards personality, ethics and creativity at selling a product. Have prepared a quick guide for myself so let’s hope its useful to hire the right sales person for the company. Already have had some bad experiences with disastrous sale people so anything that can help avoid mistakes is a plus.

Some links that helped a lot in my research and preparing a hiring guide:

http://www.mediaselling.us/MSM_AppendixB-InterviewingGuide.htm

http://www.3r.ie/resources/sales_articles/hiring_sales_people.htm

http://www.sitepoint.com/article/care-feeding-sales-people

http://www.recruitersnetwork.com/articles/article.cfm?ID=1516

http://software.ericsink.com/bos/Closing_the_Gap_Part_1.html

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Musings

Pros and Cons of Working for a Small Business

My work often lets me deal with small businesses and its a pretty interesting experience since their needs (and budget) are often very much different from huge corporations. However, I’ve also recently thought about how its been like to work in a small business seeing as I’ve been in one for over 3 years now.

Its definitely a huge challenge to have to oversee more areas to run a business as compared to a specialist position in a large company. Also, hiring is a major problem since most people don’t really fit into a small business even if they say they would enjoy the challenge of juggling multiple roles (HR, Accounts, Project Management, Developer, etc).

Reading a recent article, Ten Pros for Working for a Small Business, I would agree that I definitely enjoy not having to play the office politics game since the team is small (#4). I definitely also enjoy the freedom of not having to report to the office at a fixed hour since I can work virtually anywhere nowadays (#10).

Of course, all is definitely not rosy in any situation and so reading Ten Cons for Working for a Small Business also made me realize its true that with lesser pay (#1) and sometimes increased workloads (#2) makes me think about days when I was on-site at larger corporate customers doing consulting work. Having just one job and project on hand meant less overtime (and yet more $$!) and more personal time also once I left the office. Definitely an interesting bit for those in (or planning to start) small businesses to ponder on.

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Musings

Were you at MEDC @ Suntec?

Was a little late attending MEDC today but nevertheless managed to register myself at Suntec after running from Bt. Merah to Jln. Peminpin to meet customers. I’ve been developing Windows Mobile Applications for businesses for close to 3 years now and its been pretty interesting. Was rather excited to attend MEDC this year since Windows Mobile 6 is being released.

Unfortunately, work has kept me pretty busy this week so was unable to register for the Sumo-Robot competition that uses Roomba’s to duke it out on a mat! Saw the final where #5 (Popfly) won but think micromouses in my JC days was a bit more interesting to watch 😉

I think the more interesting session I managed to catch was the one where Wei Meng presented on Networking Programming with Windows Mobile. Have always toyed around with the idea of creating a mobile app coupled with GPS that would warn of the traffic cameras in operation in Singapore. Anyone interested in such an application?

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Musings

Wondering if blogging is a good way to market your company?

If you’ve been wondering about whether to take the plunge into blogging as a medium for spreading the word about your business,  take a quick read through the article below. Most useful for small businesses who might not have the financial muscle to engage a marketing guru but yet wants to kick something off. All you need is a website (preferably with your own domain) and a blog!

The best quote in an article is from your customer telling the world why they love your product. The worst is you telling the world why they should love your company. That is unless the quote is from your mother telling the world how hard you work, that you are such a nice boy/girl and that her greatest wish is for a grandchild.

Source: 10 Startup Marketing Commandments – Startupping Forums

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Mac and PC guys meet up

In my line of work, I develop software and solutions using primarily Microsoft technologies with the occasional dabbling in open source software like Joomla and WordPress. So far, I haven’t had the change to develop for the Mac platform but having just gotten an Ipod Nano and seeing what it can do, I think that may change soon 🙂

It was real interesting to see two pillars of the software (and hardware) industry, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, come together during the recently concluded D5 conference. Read the transcript of their conversation or view the interview in the links below.

“You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead,”

Source: Gates and Jobs share stage, friendly banter at D5 | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone

http://d5.allthingsd.com/20070530/d5-gates-jobs-interview/

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What goes into pricing a project?

Following up on a previous entry on my ideal hourly rate, I found another article that talks in more detail the various factors that goes into pricing a project.

A crucial problem to accurately pricing projects is that proposals happen so early in the process, as the vendor we only have a couple of meetings, phone calls or a document to understand the project. We do our best to come up with a fair and accurate price, but it often feels like a shot in the dark.

Source: Pricing a Project | Blue Flavor

Its a good read if you often are faced with having to create proposals (as a vendor) for customer projects and have been using lots of guesswork and estimates to come up with the magic figure. 

In my work, I often break down the project into tasks and examine the resources assigned to the project to determine the complexity, experience of the person assigned to it to come up with the cost. This usually comes up to a reasonable figure that I can show the customer without hiding behind vague figures. A good formula to use would be like : task x time(complexity x effort) x rate = price (where complexity depends on resource assigned).

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Are you using Google Analytics? It’s time for a new look!

In my previous post on search engine marketing, you might have noticed I had a little traffic graph that showed the traffic for Love Me Love My Dog. One of the reasons I had the graph in the first place was that I had used Google Analytics to monitor the site’s traffic for some time before we decided to embark on the SEM campaign.

By monitoring the traffic of a site, we can identify the extrance and exit points to the popular pages and also various other factors like duration of visit, popular articles, etc. This types of metrics can help a webmaster design a website that engages audiences and create visibility. (Which is why you should take note of the free service provided by Google).

The above diagram (take a good look) is from the older version of Google Analytics. The development team just announced on their blog that a new look would be unveiled to existing accounts soon.

Can’t wait for it to be propogated to my account so that I can help my customers monitor their websites even more effectively! 

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