5 Reasons why your business should be using Twitter

There are numerous reasons why I think every business should be using Twitter but here are my top 5 and why: 

  • Connecting with current customers and finding new ones:

Twitter is an excellent networking platform to interact with potential and current clients. Social media has integrated itself into most people’s daily routine and if you don’t look at your phone at least once before leaving for work in the morning, then you’re in the minority. The famous yet under appreciated #hashtag allows you to find other users who are tweeting things of a similar interest to you. Through simple interaction via tweeting or direct message you could end up finding potential clients or partnership opportunities. As well as this, it gives yophoto_40449_20150902.jpgu another avenue to listen to your customers and improve the products or services you are providing.

  • Humanise your brand

Engage your customers through real human interaction not through automation. Having a business account on Twitter is a fantastic way to keep users updated with your business, whether that’s a new deal or product giveaway. Stay current with your tweets, tweet potential clients directly and try not to automate, this way you’re engaging and showing the Twittersphere that you are more than just a faceless company hiding behind a logo. As well as this, use personal accounts to reach out to your customers through an alternate avenue, where you can use your own personality, opinions and skill set to shape your tweets.

  • Researching your competitors

In February there were an estimated 1.3 billion registered Twitter users so it’s likely that your competition will be using it too. Twitter is a great tool for researching and analysing your competition, seeing how they go about selling their brand and finding out what their customers say about them. There could even be a potential to swoop in and suggest your service as an alternative if they tweet their own dissatisfaction with one of your competitors.

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One of the biggest benefits of social media these days is the speed in which you can get your message out there.  If you’ve got a promotion or new product, you could be tweeting it to your followers in seconds.

  • Experiment

Something users often forget with Twitter is the opportunity your business has to experiment. If you’re a relatively new business you may not know how your customers view your brand. It’s important to develop and build on your company’s brand image and in turn, refine your brand. Engaging with other users on Twitter, whether that’s new customers or potentials, you can determine what works for your business and what doesn’t.

 

I’ve barely scratched the surface with how your company could benefit from using Twitter. In this day and age its not enough to have just a website;  in order to achieve a successful amount of online presence you have to branch out across all social media platforms. It’s time businesses recognise the enormous potential of social media platforms like Twitter, everyone’s using it – so should you.

 

Businessman holding hologram with social media network icons

 

 

5 Reasons why your business should be using Twitter

Remote working: Why the Stigma?

In this increasingly digital age the ability to work remotely is easier and more popular than ever, so why does the Office of National Statistics show that 87% of us were still hunched over office desks last year?

It would seem many business leaders are being told that their employees are not working as efficiently from home as they would be in an office. The ever-tempting Netflix and home baking may be being blamed.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously ended the work-from-home policy in 2013, believing it to be a less successful way of working. This despite the fact that remote workers are more productive than those based in an office. I believe remote working to be an effective, flexible, and ultimately more successful method of getting work done. There are undoubtedly benefits of working in an office but, having experienced  both environments, I believe there are four main reasons why remote working works for us at B13 Technology.

 

  • Flexibility

Ask anyone we’re big fans of flexibility – just check out our website.

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One of the incredible benefits of working from home is flexibility. Do you work better in the evening or are you an early riser? Working remotely enables you to take advantage of the hours you work best and allows you to fit business calls and meetings into your own custom-made schedule. This is particularly important when you’re dealing with teams in offshore offices. As long as you’re meeting deadlines and, quite simply, getting the job done, working from home makes sense.

  • No Commute

It’s no surprise that this makes my top four reasons for remote working. In London alone there is an estimated 3 million people who make the daily commute to work via the London Underground. This commute is subject to numerous frustrating but equally unavoidable delays including traffic, tube strikes, late buses, and car problems. Consequently employees can arrive at the office late, flustered, and their motivation to work can be substantially affected. In comparison, remote workers can wake up knowing the journey to the desk downstairs is (generally) hassle free, quieter, cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and made in their pyjamas!

  • More Enjoyable

This, for me, is an incredibly important aspect of working from home. For some, it is the ability to work in the aforementioned pyjamas, for others it is the control you have over your day. One colleague found working from home more enjoyable simply because they could play music in their office without disrupting anyone. Whatever the reason, I believe the happier you are, the more motivated you are to work.

Illustration concept for mobile apps - People communicating thro

 

  • More Productive

The final reason I find working from home to be more successful is increased productivity which is a culminated result of having the ability to create your own schedule, the flexibility, and general enjoyment of working from home.

 

What do my colleagues say?

Charis: ‘This is the first experience I have had of working remotely and I have found it to be far more effective than working in an office. I work to my own schedule and can still contact my colleagues whenever I need to. In this digital world it’s not surprising remote working is on the rise.’

Elizabeth: ‘For me the benefits of working remotely are three fold:
1. My space is set up for my disability and I don’t have the difficulty of the commute

2. I can work to my schedule. This usually means I do some work in the morning, take a break at about 2 for a few hours and then do some work in the evening.

3. I really like that I no longer have to fuss about having a packed lunch every day.’

With the positives of working remotely, it’s only appropriate we also explore its flaws.  Generally speaking these are the result of employees falling into bad habits.

  • One such habit is failing to create schedules and tasks for each day. Working from home requires discipline and without it, you run the risk of failing to meet targets.  Employees should be realistic but also strict with themselves.Slave to Time - Overworked Man
  • Work and personal spaces should be kept separate. Although it can be very tempting, employees should try not to work from their bed. They should be able to mentally disconnect from work when finished and working where they sleep won’t help with this! You don’t just have to stay at home,  why not work in a local coffee shop? A different environment often improves productivity.
  • Just as an employee should be strict with schedules, they should also be strict with their hours. If they start answering emails at 9 pm as well as 6 am, they will struggle to switch off and clients and colleagues won’t have the consistency needed for effective communication.
  • Finally, healthy eating and exercise are important when the everyday commute to work no longer applies. Employees should get out of their chair, rest their eyes, and take regular breaks.  This will enable them to  feel refreshed, healthier and, in turn, will increase their productivity.

 

While not suitable for everyone or every company  working remotely has been proven both effective and logical. An employee might attend work every day but why does their presence alone ensure productivity? Online platforms like Sococo, a method of communication between distributed teams, make working from home even easier. With a mixture of reasonable goals, schedules, and reliable methods of communication working remotely is extremely successful and I believe that eventually most of us will look back on the commute to work as a thing of the past.

 

Remote working: Why the Stigma?

The Problem With Scrum

As a framework for managing a project Scrum is all about continuous adaptation, so why does the methodology itself seem resistant to change?

I am an agile software developer and have made Scrum the foundation of my company, B13 Technology , because of its continuous adaptability and flexibility to change. However, I do think Scrum is pre-occupied with an obsession with planning and monitoring.

What is Scrum?

In the mid 1990s the methodology that is now known as Scrum was born out of a growing discontent with the then popular Waterfall methodology. In contrast to Waterfall’s regimented approach Scrum was all about flexibility and adaptation.

In accordance with Scrum I completely acknowledge that, dependent on the client’s wants and needs, a project is always susceptible to change.  I do have a problem however, with Scrum’s obsession with sprint planning and daily stand-ups or ‘scrums’.

What is a Sprint?

In its most basic form, a Sprint is the measure of development within scrum and aids the development process by providing a framework (see Figure 1):

Figure 1
Figure 1

So what’s the problem with this?

The Sprint Plan is important – but I don’t think it requires all of the developers to be in a meeting for a whole day. For a team of 8 (6 developers (including 1 Scrum Master and 2 testers) the Sprint Planning would take 8 worker-days. If you include the Product Owner this goes up to 9 worker-days. At B13 Technology we do the sprint plan in a very different way.

What B13 Technology does:

  1. The scope and features of the sprint can be decided by the Product Owner and Scrum Master/architect in a meeting that takes a couple of hours. Total so far: 0.5 worker-days 
  2. These features can then be analysed by the Scrum Master/architect and split up into short tasks of approximately 2-4 hours. This stage involves the architect’s knowledge of the system and the tasks are broken down to a detailed level. This will take about 1 – 1.5 days, but can be done ahead of time before the previous sprint is complete to keep production going. Total so far: 2 worker- days
  3. Once these chunks of work are small enough they can be sent to the development team for accurate estimates. Each task is estimated only once by one developer. So for a two week sprint each developer is estimating around 80 hours of work, or 20-40 tasks. This should take about 0.5 days for each developer. Total so far: 5 worker-days
  4. Once the estimates are all in the Scrum Master/architect can go back to the Product Owner and remove low priority tasks that may not fit into the sprint duration. I find this is normally a 1 hour meeting. Overall Total is about 5 worker-days

This way of working cuts the time required for the traditional Sprint Plan in half. What’s important to recognise here is the time saved, time which the developers and testers can better use writing BDD scripts and test plans. Furthermore, the resulting plan is far more detailed than one put together by a room of people working on high level tasks one after the other. Here, each estimator is working on a much more in depth task in parallel.

Potential objections –

Objection:

 “Estimates are better when the whole team estimates a task – planning poker.”sprint plan   person

Response: At B13 Technology, we look to improve estimates over time. Modern issue tracking tools make it very easy to spot where estimates are consistently inaccurate. This makes it easy to address the problem with specific developers and to help them improve estimates over time.

Objection:

 “The Scrum Master shouldn’t be more important than any other developer”

Response: Maybe, but there should be at least one architect on the team who is most suited to planning the tasks in detail. If you can save nearly half the worker-days and end up with a more detailed plan, then maybe parity becomes less important. The team can and should be consulted on the most important design decisions. These can generally be thrashed out in a short breakout meeting.

The Scrum guideline asks three questions:

  1. What did I do yesterday that helped the development team meet the Sprint Goal?
  2. What will I do today to help the development team meet the Sprint Goal?
  3. Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the development team from reaching the Sprint Goal?

If you have a well defined and well thought out Sprint Backlog then the answer should be as clear as ‘I completed tasks 123, 567, and 789’.  The answer to point two should be: I will pick up 3-4 more tasks from the backlog and complete them.

Image courtesy of Jack Moreh at freerangestock.com
Image courtesy of Jack Moreh at freerangestock.com

Impediments are a different kettle of fish. If a developer has an impediment then they should raise it with the Scrum Master, which can be done at any time. If a developer was to hit an impediment 5 minutes after sitting down from the standup would you expect them to wait until tomorrow’s standup to raise it? The resolution should be as simple as turning around to ask the room, speak to the scrum master or post a note to the group on Hangouts.

Impediments can and should be sorted out using the instant communication and collaboration that Agile development prescribes.

Sprint Planning and Daily Scrums may well work for some companies. However, for me personally their downfall is the fact that they are often over complicated and time is wasted that could be better and more efficiently used within the project. Pre-planning and monitoring fail to accommodate the uniqueness of each project and client; there is no one size fits all!

The Problem With Scrum