Few Guidelines for Estimation and Replanning

1. Estimation Factors
This does not include the defined estimation process; rather, it deals with the possible factors that affect the project if not taken care upfront whilst estimating. This would list down some of factors that influence the estimation. The factors are further classified into SDLC and non-SDLC types.

2. SDLC Factors
This section is devoted to list down the SDLC factors that impact the overall estimation. However, this does not list the regular SDLC phases in the life cycle. This would be in addition to the regular estimation for the phases. These can be termed as tasks that are qualified for chargeback.

2.1 Change Request Inclusion
Once the project is approved for development, we usually come up with estimation for known, regular phases that includes development of the business requirements, functionalities. However, during the progress of the project, there could be a change in the business requirement, due to constraints or other compelling factors. The time that is going to be spent on Change Request has to be included in the original estimation by having buffer/additional.

Whilst estimating, a new task to capture these Change Requests hours has to be created in the list of tasks that are scheduled. It may include subtasks Updating Requirements Document, Design Document etc.,

2.2 Time spent on Re-work
This has to be another task in the schedule. This means, to track the number of hours to be spent on re-work. The re-work includes, defects identified in reviews/unit testing/integration testing. Once the defects are fixed, patches are ready for release; again, testing has to be conducted. Thus, the sizeable number of hours may be estimated & allocated for this re-work task. This rework is within the SDLC phases. This means, rework effort in each phase needs to be captured.

2.3 Re-planning
This could be a potential task in the schedule. The reason is, during the course of the development, considerable amount of time would be spent in brainstorming sessions, meetings/discussions to plan the hours, resources during the course of the project. A separate task in the project schedule would help us capture, track the hours.

3. Non-SDLC Factors
There are factors that indirectly impact the overall estimation of software development. Their contribution might be a small percentage individually; however, in summing the overall estimation, this could be a significant percentage and these need to be taken into consideration whilst estimating. Moreover, these can be termed as Non-CAP tasks in the schedule and these may be exempted from chargeback, in terms of cost perspective. If any of these factors is not available as detailed, then that needs to be reported as downtime. And this can be considered as Administrative hours.

Many times these are assumed to be available 24×7. This is not the reality as this work with constraints.

3.1 Systems Availability
As this is a significant factor for executing our tests (unit, integration and other types). If projects involve iterations, then, at the end of each iteration, the functionalities have to be tested and the availability of the system is very important. If the system is not available, then system downtime has to be logged. This way, the system down time is tracked.

3.2 Resource Availability – Domestic & International
This factor influences the overall time, significantly. If the resources are not available, nothing would progress. The resources’ availability has to be considered with their vacation plan etc., their presence is very vital in the execution of the project.

3.3 Network Availability
As all the systems are well-connected, any break in the topology would be a disaster. The network has to be up & running excluding any maintenance window, if any. In addition to this, the network speed is also very important. If it is slow, then it would consume more time than required. This includes connectivity to remote regions, downtime as well.

3.4 Infrastructure Availability
As a known one, by default, the required software and hardware components have to be readily available. The licenses, active period of software/hardware have to be considered. If anything is not available, that needs to be treated as downtime. This has to be considered while planning the cost of the project.

3.5 Time spent on Non-Project Meetings
This is also major factor. Since, there could be situations where staffs spend time on inter-group meetings or that are not specific to the project in development, this factor is quite significant one.

3.6 Training & Learning Curve
This is one of the important contributing factor, since, if any system/project/process specific knowledge is required, staffs do spend time on this training. And also, if a staff is new to the project, the time spent by that staff to come up to the speed also needs to be counted as part of learning.

3.7 Post Construction Activities
Many times, this activity could be ignored. Since, once the construction is completed, there is lot of steps involved in making the work products available for release. This involved, checking-in the sources into a common repository (part of Software Configuration Management), publishing the information to stakeholders, follow-ups, building and deploying the images into various regions (development, test, production). The time spent on this activity should be considered.

Please note that this is a kind of, dependency with Network Availability and Software Availability

3.8 Post Implementation Activities
There may be times, we feel, we have completed the implementation (turnover) successfully. But, it is not over yet. The factors for the defective implementation or turnover could be, incorrect version of sources deployed, deployment on few regions – missing out on the remaining, defects/fixes/meetings/analysis time and many such more can be included in this activity.

Implementing Building Information Modelling in Small Firms – Best Practices

Building information modelling is one of the newer construction and engineering technologies available and it is much like any other capital improvements to the business. In the short term, it requires an investment of time and money. In the longer term, both employees and managers wonder how they did without it. With careful planning and management and some expert help at critical points, you can help ease the transition to using building information modelling in a small firm and be reaping the benefits much sooner. We look at how, with guidance on timing issues, human issues, and equipment issues, the transition to BIM can be a small business success.

Obstacles to big change in small firms

With their greater resources and flexibility, it is often the big firms that lead big changes in the way an industry does business. Yet small firms are just as able to change and in some cases will have even greater benefits. There will be obstacles to consider in a smaller team, including:

* The impact of training on schedules, which are often much tighter in a smaller firm

* The impact of different personalities and the willingness of some team members to accept the change

* The resources to conduct pilot projects in house

The change process – a human phenomenon

No matter how well you plan for the implementation of BIM in your firm, it will take time for people to run the gamut of mental processes associated with change. In reality each of us goes through them every time we face a major change. In preparing for the transition to building information modelling for structural engineering, steel detailing, and project management your employees will face these phases:

* Anticipation

* Confrontation

* Depression

* Acceptance

* Enlightenment

Managers must allow time for the team to go through these phases in the lead-up to BIM implementation.

Other timing issues

It is also crucial that managers select the timing for the changeover appropriately. A period of training, followed immediately by the chance to implement the new skills, is ideal. Look at having three days to a week’s break for building information modelling training, where a new project will immediately follow.

Human issues

Having a single leader is crucial for structural engineering, steel detailing and construction teams switching to BIM. The leader’s role will involve administering the implementation of the technology, organising the training, and testing the new skills as they are acquired role in new skills.

Having staff properly trained for the new system is the single most important factor in determining how successful the changeover will be. Ensure that everyone has an equal chance to test their skills – don’t assume that the proactive volunteers represent the skill level of the entire ‘class’. Make sure that questions are answered thoroughly – the trainer should use active listening techniques to ensure full understanding. Have participants re-state the answer to the question, or demonstrate a related skill after hearing the answer.

The client is also part of the human equation when it comes to implementing building information modelling on a project. Make sure they are kept in the loop, firstly with the benefits and secondly with the possible problems.

Hardware issues

Speak with your construction software or building information modelling package reseller about the optimal requirements for the system – not just the minimal requirements. There are two main elements in hardware performance: the CPUs themselves, and the network connecting them. It is standard practice to upgrade the CPUs at the outset of a BIM project if the metrics are less than optimal. The network can be upgraded reactively though, when performance becomes an issue.

Some Information Concerning Fixings

Precisely what comes to mind when you come across the word ‘fixings’? If you are the person who prepares the meals in your household then you will probably start wondering whether you have the necessary fixings for dinner and if you will have to go to the supermarket to buy a few ingredients. If you are a home handyman or proprietor of a hardware store then you may think of rawl bolts and silicone sealant. Or, if you make clothes for a living then hooks and eyes or buttons might spring to mind.

The term has numerous other meanings, one of which may have popped into your mind as you read the previous paragraph. However, the meaning we are most interested in here is the one that pertains to hardware. In this sense, fixings are devices or substances used to attach one object to another, or are themselves the attachment. Because they are associated with attaching things, they are often associated with other types of fastener like screws, nails and nuts and bolts. However, fixings fall into a specific category all their own and within this category are fixings of different types that are used for different methods of affixing.

Before we mention any of the various kinds of fixings that exist, we feel that it is important to point out that it is vital to use the correct type of fixing for the job at hand and also to use the correct size. This is a basic principle that applies to any kind of construction work which, if you adhere to it, will go a long way to ensuring a successful and safe outcome to the building project. In other words, if you use the wrong screws your construction could fall apart on you and not in a safe manner either.

Of the wide variety of specialised fixings that are available on the market, cable ties, rawl plugs, shims, silicone sealant and expanding foam are typical examples. For more heavy-duty requirements, there is the ‘rawl’ or ‘through’ bolt, and construction resins which are basically a special kind of adhesive used in construction work. Door hinges are also considered to be a type of fixing in that the hinges are used to affix the door to a door frame. Even nail and staple guns with their respective nails and staples can be said to fall into the category of general fixings.

In case you were not aware, a shim is a wedge-shaped or flat strip of metal or plastic that can be used to fill up a small space between a door and a door frame, for instance. Some shims are u-shaped but regardless of what they look like are the quickest and most convenient way to level door and window frames and even battens. Rawl plugs are handy for fixing wall-mounted light fittings as well as shelving and brackets. Through bolts, which are typically fixed in concrete including cracked concrete, are used in the construction of elevators, balustrades, hand rails and even fencing.

As you can see from the above mentioned examples, the use of fixings is diverse and highly specialised. Needless to say, using the appropriate fixing can help to make the task of construction a whole lot easier.

Choosing the Best Type of Lease for Your Business

When it comes to leasing equipment, understanding what it can do for your business is only part of the equation. Understanding and choosing the best lease for your business is another matter altogether. The market is primed for the use of equipment leasing to expand, grow and hone a businesses assets, but at the same time there is little material out there to help a business judge what’s a good lease and what isn’t.

What You See Is What You Get

There is an old truism that says you get what you pay for. When it comes to equipment leasing, you want a lease that clearly defines your responsibilities versus the lessor’s responsibilities. You really want it to be what you see is what you get. So how do you go about choosing the best type of lease for your business?

Shop the options is the best way to get started. If you know what type of equipment you need, then comparison-shop the options with different companies. Some key figures to make sure are included in any lease option are:

o Cost Per Month

o Maintenance Contract

o Cost of Maintenance Contract

o Training Available

o Customer Service

o Availability for Software and Hardware Support

o Obsolescence Upgrades

o Term of Contract

o Renewal Terms

When it comes to long-term leases, it’s better to set the terms from the outset to deliver the best possible results to the company overhead. When it comes to maintenance, many leasing companies package that as a separate component. If a piece of equipment fails altogether, it’s likely the leasing company will replace it. But what if the piece of equipment goes down? Will there be a 2-hour, 4-hour or 24-hour response time to getting a service technician on-site and the equipment back into operation?

This information is critical because when a piece of equipment is operable, it’s just a piece of junk taking up room and preventing the business from operating normally. Upgraded maintenance contracts will have to be negotiated. But there’s also the concern about what happens when a newer, better model of equipment becomes available? Does the lease terms support an upgrade to this model of equipment or will it require waiting until the contract is up for renewal?

Beware Hidden Costs

By getting the information up front, a business can avoid hidden expenses. They can plan budgetary requirements and potentially for long-term leases, bring up training requirements for their staff. This is another concern that some companies don’t consider when negotiating a lease. Will the operator of the equipment receive training from the leasing corporation? Do they have representatives that understand the operation of the equipment and provide certified instruction? If not, how is that handled?

While this will not be a concern for every piece of equipment leased, for those businesses that require certified training it’s good to know if it will be available. Also in the case of leasing computer equipment, how is software licensing handled? Is packaged into the hardware lease or do those licenses need to be obtained separately?

Finally, understanding the renewal terms can help circumvent a rise in cost for renewing an equipment lease. Some contracts will allow locking a price for a period of five years. The lease may only last two years, but at the renewal point the cost is locked in for that particular piece of equipment. When it comes to a long-term budgetary forecast, every piece of information can help.

Clearly defining what an individual contract delivers from a leasing company can provide a business with the opportunity to comparison shop. By comparing the different options, price levels and services from one leasing company to the next, a business will be choosing the best equipment lease for their business.

Bahama Shutter Hardware – Perfect, Long Lasting Companion for Your Windows

Bahama Shutters, also known as Bermuda Shutters, are distinguished by their mounting that resembles an awning placed over the window. Since they’re found aplenty in coastal areas, hence the name Bahama Shutters. If you want to shield your windows and your home from the harsh coastal sun, Bahama Shutters are just the thing for you! These shutters open upwards and shut downwards, providing shade when they are open, also allowing adjustable air flow. And when closed, they provide strong protection from the harsh winds and torrential rains that lash the coastal areas. In fact, in some places Bahama Shutters are also aptly known as Hurricane Shutters! Bahama Shutters are available in a variety of styles and colors to suit your personal taste, and they also blend harmoniously with your home’s d├ęcor.

shutters not only boost the aesthetic appeal of your house but also safeguard it against the elements of nature. Shutters are designed to provide long-term protection. However, regular and proper maintenance is duly needed if they are to maintain their durability and integrity in serving your purpose. The choice of cleaning and maintaining materials also determine the lifespan of your shutters. The same goes with choosing the right spare parts in case of wear & tear.

These Shutters are usually mounted and bolstered by three main hardware components -

1 – Bahama Shutter stays that are fixed or adjustable,
2 – Hinges and pintle sets, and
3 – Tie-backs or shutter hooks/dogs.

Sturdy good quality hardware ensures your Bahama Shutters go a long way in enduring the harsh weather that they are subjected to all year round.

Shutter Stays -

Bahama Shutter Stays are primarily of two types i.e. of fixed length and adjustable length. Sold as a set of two arms, they are available in cast or extruded aluminum, stainless steel, and even bronze. Efficient and lightweight, they come with locking pins in a variety of metals, along with screws to fasten them.

Shutter Hinges -

Bahama Hinge is what fastens the other part of the shutter. Comprising two parts that slide together for easy installation and removal, the integrated hinge provides a top-down rotational function that causes the Bahama Shutter to open or close. These parts are of utmost importance in making the Bahama Shutter sturdy and long lasting!

Tie-backs or Shutter Hooks/Dogs -

Hinges are usually sold in a complete set per window, including fasteners that hold the shutter open or firmly closed. These fasteners are also known as shutter tie-backs or shutter dogs. Apart from serving a functional purpose, shutter dogs also add to the architectural and aesthetic appeal of your house. Shutter tie-backs are available in three mounting options, the first being Surface or Post Mount. This is the most popular shutter tie back mounting option that is used on stone, stucco, brick and frame construction. Surface Mount Tie Backs is another option that can only be used on frame construction buildings. This type of tie back includes all the necessary hardware for direct mounting onto your wood sliding. The third option is Sill Mount Tie Backs that is superbly compatible with stone construction and other types of siding. This tie-back finishes where the lag mount or surface mount tie-backs fail to be mounted securely.

Additional parts -

Several additional parts such as shutter slide bolts, pull rigs, acorn anchors can also supplement your shutters. The shutter slide bolt and lock helps secure the shutter in a closed position. Usually made of heavy-duty steel or iron, the slide bolt and lock are sold as one unit. Pull Rigs, usually made of wrought steel galvanized and mounted on steel plates, ensure ease of closure for customized shutters. Acorn Anchors, also knows as bullets, are a convenient and secure spring action shutter holdback. Used to secure the shutters to the sides of homes, Acorn Anchors help keep them open.

Bolstered with the right Bahama Shutter hardware, your shutters will definitely maintain their utility and aesthetic quotient for years. Easy to assemble, most of these are easily available online, ready to be shipped to your doorstep. And once you know which part goes where, you are ready to assemble your brand new Bahama Shutter, or tend to your old shutters that have loyally, unflinchingly secured your home by keeping the elements at bay.