Blog

Blog2020-07-13T14:21:05+00:00

How to Test Without Access to the Test Environment

How to Test Without Access to the Test Environment In many of our previous articles, we have expressed the importance of achieving a high standard of testing. Potentially blocking this achievement, several factors can come together to affect the quality of your testing, factors that include your test environment. As the virtual office that forms an essential part of any testers working day, a well-built test environment will allow a developer to simulate the conditions that a system will, and could, experience once moved into operation. However, it is not unusual for a developer to be without access to [...]

By |June 30th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Safe Through and Through: Developing For Safety Related Systems

Safe Through and Through: Developing For Safety Related Systems Software systems should always be both robust and reliable, however the moment you introduce a safety element, this need for reliability increases significantly. The level of safety required is governed by the severity and frequency of the hazards identified. Though safety related systems do not have the full responsibility for hazards such as loss of life that safety critical systems do, a malfunction or failure would pose a significant risk to the people involved i.e. the passengers on a train. Everyone will be aware of software development lifecycles, but there [...]

By |June 24th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

The Technical Workshop – How to make them work for you

The Technical Workshop - How to make them work for you Anyone experienced in product design will understand just how valuable a facilitated workshop can be. Bringing together a project's key stakeholders into a single space allows for the exploration of diverse opinions and ideas, while simultaneously striving to achieve "consensual validation". Software systems are typically built with support from a large network of stakeholders. You have your product owners, multifaceted development teams, service providers such as Zircon and of course your end-users. By bringing these groups together, you will be bringing together people with differing opinions, interests and agendas. [...]

By |June 1st, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

How to Choose an Outsourcing Partner

How to Choose an Outsourcing Partner Having recognised a need to outsource, and worked your way through the initial preparations, you are now in a strong position to seek out a suitable partner. Choosing an outsourcing partner is no trivial affair, so taking the time to do your research will undoubtedly be a valuable investment. With years of experience as a trusted outsourcing partner, we have collated some pieces of advice to help you find the best partner for your project. Do they have the skills needed to complete your project? There is no point in engaging a partner without [...]

By |May 18th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Preparing to Outsource: A How to Guide

Preparing to Outsource: A How to Guide So you have recognised a need for external assistance. You have weighed up all of your options and concluded that outsourcing would be the best course of action. Now you are probably wondering what you need to do in preparation before you jump into collaboration with an outsourcing partner. To help find some answers we have prepared the following guide, written from the perspective of an outsource partner with many years of experience working with people who have already gone down that path. Before we get down into the nitty-gritty of the body [...]

By |April 30th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Tried and Tested: Can Open Source Boost CCTV into the 21st Century?

Tried and Tested: Can Open Source Boost CCTV into the 21st Century? With funding from the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK, Zircon Software Ltd is working to find out whether security surveillance systems and associated analytics can work in a station environment without disrupting the rail network. To achieve this, Zircon are planning to utilise advanced video analytics, taking functional open source Machine Learning libraries wrapped in bespoke software, to boost the efficiency of established CCTV systems. Though cameras produce streams of data while filming, the systems that sit behind them need modernising to keep up with the video capability [...]

By |April 29th, 2020|Company News|

Why do People Outsource?

Why do People Outsource? Throughout our years of operation, we have had the opportunity to help many different clients realise the software components of their business goals. As one can imagine, to reach the position that we find ourselves in today, we have had to make our way through the process of approaching potential client's more times than we could hope to keep count of. However, one thing that has continued to stand out is the repetition of a single phrase, 'We have an internal team so we will never need to outsource'.While the preference for many organisations will be to [...]

By |April 21st, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Already Looking to the Future: Where Do We Go Next?

Already Looking to the Future: Where Do We Go Next? Over the last couple of months, we have shared our journey to develop and implement a more flexible approach to project management. We have shared how a combination of Agile and Waterfall allowed us to overcome the challenge of our business environment. We have shown how we were able to drive adoption through the definition of critical success factors, and we have explained how active portfolio management will ensure the health of all our in-flight projects. Now, as we stand at the finish line, we are already looking [...]

By |April 2nd, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Outsourcing: Do You Know All The Benefits?

Outsourcing: Do You Know All The Benefits? Despite being a newer concept than contracting, outsourcing has proved popular with large organisations in terms of relinquishing non-critical business processes. There is even some speculation as to whether IR35 will bring an end to the traditional contracting model. However, an air of trepidation and misconception still seems to be a barrier when it comes to outsourcing software projects. To demonstrate the potential benefits that companies, such as Zircon, can provide, we have pulled out a few key examples that can be overlooked. Access to a mixed skillset across multiple [...]

By |March 25th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Statement Regarding Covid-19

Statement Regarding Covid-19 As the fight against Covid-19 continues, we would just like to take a moment to reassure our clients that we are doing all we can to ensure that we continue to run as normal. "Covid-19 is creating huge challenges for all of us, both personally and professionally. Many of you will be reading this from home, some in isolation.  I hope you are all settling in to your home working and are keeping safe.   For the past few weeks Zircon Software has been making preparations to maintain its operations in [...]

By |March 24th, 2020|Company News|

IR35: What is it & Why Does it Matter

IR35: What is it & Why Does it Matter Two years ago, businesses were frantically fortifying themselves against the introduction of GDPR. Now in 2020, the private sector is bracing itself for the latest reform to IR35 with the introduction of new off-payroll working rules. What is IR35? What does it do? How will it affect me? Come April, understanding the answers to each of these questions will be vitally important. So, to aid you with your preparation, may we present the Zircon guide to IR35. What is IR35? Initially implemented in April 2000, IR35 aims [...]

By |March 16th, 2020|Company News|

Portfolio Management: The Final Hurdle

Portfolio Management: The Final Hurdle Through our continuous improvement initiatives, we identified aspects of our approach to project management that could be improved upon and took on the challenge of developing and implementing a series of improvements. To meet the needs of our diverse business environment, we combined the traditional waterfall model with a select number of Agile ceremonies. With a clearer picture of how to proceed, we needed to unwind years of learned behaviour to ensure the successful adoption of our new approach. Our solution was to define a set of factors that we believed to be [...]

By |February 28th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Driving Change: Make an Impact with Critical Success Factors

Driving Change: Make an Impact with Critical Success Factors As a general rule, human beings dislike change, preferring the sense of security and comfort that stems from consistency. However, sometimes, change is the best course of action. When we began the process of developing a new approach to project management, we knew that we would have to face the challenge of introducing significant change in an environment built on years of learned behaviour. In order to foster the adoption of our new approach, we would need a means of driving internal change that would be both repeatable and measurable. [...]

By |January 29th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Harnessing the Hybrid

Harnessing the Hybrid As outlined in the previous article, having identified several shortcomings in our approach to project management, we sought to develop and implement a series of improvements. With our diverse business environment, we looked into the possibility of adopting best practices from the agile approach, whilst retaining the critical elements of the more traditional waterfall approach. The Appearance of a New Approach - Utilising the Best of Both Worlds At the start of a project's lifecycle, our approach follows a more traditional path. A Gantt chart is produced as part of the quotation [...]

By |January 16th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|

Zircon’s Project Management Challenge

Zircon's Project Management Challenge Here at Zircon, we have adopted the concept of continuous improvement across all aspects of the business. Having identified shortcomings in our approach to project management, we undertook the challenge of developing and implementing an improvement plan. Historically we have decided against adopting a singular approach to project management, allowing our client's situation to dictate the process for their project. Our supposed need for flexibility predominantly stemmed from the business environment we found ourselves a part of. We could find ourselves working on any type of development projects, some suiting one approach and others another. [...]

By |January 9th, 2020|Articles, Blog Posts|