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Methodology
Managing complex software development projects is about efficient utilization of resources, risk management, accurate estimation of budgets and timelines, experienced selection of appropriate technologies, and scheduling feature development to meet time-to-market requirements
 
The most important question to answer before starting product development is: Why is this product needed in the marketplace?
In a traditional Waterfall lifecycle model, the project plan organizes the four phases in a strict serial order.
Using an Iterative lifecycle model, the four facets of a software product are integrated so that business objectives drive the entire process

Method Competency
emalgam's R&D takes place in focused research in technology labs where software engineers identify the technology, tools and methodologies which are most appropriate to solve specific customer challenges and work with clients to develop proofs of concept. The R&D team also develops re-usable frameworks and components to solve generic industry problems. Our R&D team is constantly looking at new technologies from leading vendors and alliances with industry leaders contribute significantly to our R&D approach.

As new technologies are more widely adopted by customers, we launch competency centers which stay at the forefront of a new technology and are the first ones to execute customer projects in that competency. As the processes and tools specific to that competency are defined and documented, a team of professionals are trained to take project execution responsibility. A core group remains dedicated to the center to perform future R&D.

Our current, technology competency centers include:
Microsoft .NET
Sun J2EE
Open Source
Oracle
PeopleSoft
SAP

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Quality

We take every care to ensure that the software we build satisfies our client's requirements. The only way to ensure that is to perform quality assurance throughout the software lifecycle. We typically involve a lead quality engineer in the early phases of a project to participate in requirements elicitation and analysis, to ensure that our quality assurance team understands the business objectives and the detailed requirements. This understanding enables the team to develop a comprehensive quality assurance plan for the project that includes the following elements:

  • Test Plan and Test Cases - We develop a complete testing plan based on the requirements. The test plan includes unit, integration and system testing. The test plan includes all the test cases that typically cover functionality, error handling, performance, scalability, and fail over, among other required tests. The test plan and test cases are validated with the client during the early stages of a project, and are refined and enhanced during the downstream activities (detailed design and coding).
  • Traceability Matrix - During the software lifecycle we trace the requirements to the design components, to the code modules, and to the test cases. This enables us to track changes to the requirements and to validate the test plan covers all requirements and all design elements.
  • Peer reviews of designs and code - Depending on the size and duration of a project, we conduct design and code reviews with architects and engineers from outside the project. These reviews provide an opportunity for valuable feedback and independent perspective.
  • Acceptance Plan - At the beginning of each iteration of a project, we develop a detailed acceptance plan that describes all the expected deliverables during or at the end of the iteration. The client signs off on the acceptance plan to indicate agreement on the expected results.

The quality engineers staffed on a project are responsible for implementing, tracking and adjusting the quality assurance plan to make sure that it is completed successfully by the delivery date. They often use test automation tools to help them in conducting the required testing and establishing a complete regression test suite for the product that is as automated as possible.

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Development

Managing complex software development projects is about efficient utilization of resources, risk management, accurate estimation of budgets and timelines, experienced selection of appropriate technologies, and scheduling feature development to meet time-to-market requirements. Risk is a reality in every project; emalgam's iterative methodology for software development is designed specifically to mitigate risk.

The most important question to answer before starting product development is: Why is this product needed in the marketplace? The answer to this question constitute the business objectives of the product that should drive its entire lifecycle. A software product's development lifecycle is comprised of four facets:

  1. Requirements: What features will the product have?
  2. Design: How will the product offer these features?
  3. Coding: How will the features be coded and unit tested?
  4. Testing and delivery: How will the product be tested and delivered to customers?

These four facets are managed by a project plan that determines when the software product will offer the required features.

In a traditional Waterfall lifecycle model, the project plan organizes the four phases in a strict serial order. A lot of time is spent up front to define and analyze requirements and to complete the design of the target system before a line of code is written. This model does not handle changes in requirements or design well. In addition, it creates an artificial separation between business analysts, architects, designers, and programmers, leading to the risk of miscommunication and divergence between the business objectives and vision of a software product and its implementation.

Using an Iterative lifecycle model, the four facets of a software product are integrated so that business objectives drive the entire process, and the requirements and design are continuously refined while the code evolves. The project plan arranges the development into small releases, and mandates continuing integration of all coded components, incremental builds, and periodic validation of refined requirements and design. By doing so, it encourages a shared ownership of the product among business analysts, software architects, designer, programmers, and testers; this shared ownership reduces the risk of miscommunication and divergence. It also enables continuing refinement and integration to avoid any unpleasant surprises just before the delivery date.

The Benefits of emalgam's Iterative Methodology are the following:

  • Quick feedback loop from business stakeholders to engineering back to business stakeholders
  • Rapid software product conceptualization and materialization through prototyping
  • Ability to refine requirements and design, and handle changes in both in the early phases of a product lifecycle
  • Focus on getting the highest priority features and the highest risk features implemented as fast as possible
  • Ability to validate pieces of design incrementally, providing continuous analysis and mitigating the risks

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Project Management

In any outsourced project, establishing the most effective project management is crucial. That is the reason why we take utmost care in assigning a project manager to a project. In some cases, the project manager is local to the client and works closely with the client liaison(s) throughout the project lifecycle. In others, we assign a project manager in our offshore office to correspond with the project manager from the client side.

The very first task of the project manager is to develop a comprehensive Project Management Plan (PMP) that establishes the following:

  • Process Customization - Any deviation or tailoring from emalgam's standard Global Delivery Process and the reasons for such a deviation (budget, time pressure, etc.)
  • Communication Plan - How will the team communicate across geographic locations, daily and weekly status reporting mechanisms, use of instant messaging, email, video conferencing, web conferencing, telephone and other communications tools.
  • Roles and Responsibilities - Who does what on the project team; reporting and escalation mechanisms.
  • Project Audit Plan - How will the project checkpoints be audited to ensure that they have been followed consistently.

In addition to the PMP, the project manager and technical team leader are responsible for developing, tracking, and adjusting a Microsoft Project Plan (MPP) / Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) that details all the tasks to be carried out, who is assigned to work on each task, milestones and deadlines for deliverables, and overall phasing of the project. Our MPPs are often developed in latest version Microsoft Project, but our team can use other tools if so desired by the client.

Project manager takes up following responsibilities to organize the management of the project from beginning to end:

  • Project Scope Matrix (PSM) - Limitations of the scope, the major milestones and timelines that must be achieved, and the overall business objectives of the project.
  • Software Configuration Management Plan (SCMP) - What tools to use for version control, build and releases.
  • Change Control Process - The objectives process of requesting a change to the scope or requirements of a project and how to reach sign off by both the client and our team on each change request.

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Project Confidentiality

We understand the importance of IP and secrecy of our clients' confidential information. We see this as the critical element for maintaining a long-term relationship with our clients. We are committed to protecting customer IP throughout the project cycle.

Key areas of our IP protection policy & project confidentiality include:

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) with Client
To ensure the security and confidentiality of information, a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is executed with each client and all private information is respected. Our NDA clearly explains:

  • What will be collected from client?
  • Why will it be collected?
  • How will we use it? Steps we will take to protect it.
  • With whom it may be disclosed / shared – for legal and security issues etc.
  • Rights for access to information
  • Levels of Risk (data loss, unauthorized alteration, etc.)
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with Employees
  • At the time of joining, all employees are required to sign a proprietary information and inventions agreement. Individual NDAs are also signed with every employee on joining
  • Employees cannot disclose any proprietary information directly or indirectly to anyone outside the project team or company, or use, copy, publish, summarize or remove such information from the company premises
  • Employees cannot use any unfair competitive practices upon termination of employment or engage in any business during employment
  • Any confidential information received from third parties and clients are held in strictest confidence and employees are not allowed to disclose or use it, except as necessary to perform his/her obligations as is consistent with third parties
  • Any "invention ideas" and relevant records has to be disclosed to the company and all information and records pertaining to any idea, process, trademark, service mark, invention, technology, computer program, original work of authorship, design, formula, discovery, patent, or copyright conceived or developed has to be promptly disclosed to the company
Project-related IP protection
  • Dedicated resources made available for all projects. This prevents unauthorized usage of resources and protects all proprietary information of our clients
  • We have a strong ethical framework that forbids exchange of IP between projects
  • Every team dedicated to a particular client can have its own secure physical location and its own segment of the LAN.
Confidential Document Control
  • Access to public email systems is disallowed and floppy and CD disk drives/writers are disabled on all desktops. Prior written permission of the Project Manager is required for usage of respective drives
    Random checks are made on emails that go out of official mailbox that exceeds permitted size (with or without attachments)
Other Security Measures
  • The India Development Center is fully protected externally and internally with secure and restricted access to all sensitive resources. Every employee is provided with an Identification card.
  • Security staff monitors the facility around the clock and checks the goods going inside and coming out of the development center.
  • Our strict staff selection and personnel policies allow us to build stable and highly professional working teams for both offshore and on-site software development projects and ensure non-disclosure.
  • We perform background checks on each individual we hire. This includes reference check, peer-references, verification of academic records, police record verification, home/permanent address verification on each employee of the company. Since bank accounts are opened through our company that provides us with an extra layer of cross verification.

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Security Policy

emalgam security policy is aimed at maintaining greater levels of physical and information security. We follow ISO 17799 standards for security management.

Physical Security

  • Photo ID cards and access cards with easy-to-identify bands are issued to all employees
  • Visitors are provided with separate ID cards and are not allowed beyond specific access points. They are accompanied by internal staff during their visit to the office premises.
  • Restricted access for each employee
  • Presence of security guards and 24x7 surveillance system
  • We have fire protection and fire extinguishers available at comfortable distance.
  • The entire office premise has been designated as a non-smoking zone.
Data Access Security
  • Security Firewalls are installed to prevent unauthorized access to the network
  • Group policies in place for accessing PCs and workstations for authorized access
  • Access to important files and directories is given only to specific personnel
  • All email and web servers are located at an independent internet data center
  • GFS Backup policy in place. Monthly backups are stored at an off-site location and removable backups are kept safe with logs duly maintained. Daily backup are stored in fire-proof safe.
  • External security audits are enforced to assess any breach with multi level security management in control
  • By default, all ports (USB, Serial, Parallel) are disabled on PCs. Enabling of the required ports is done only on specific requests by the client
  • Physical security ensures no CDs, Pen-drives, movable media goes in and out of the facility without written permission from the management
Network Security
  • Each client's process is run on a separate VLAN/VPN when run off-shore/off-site
  • Software defined secure tunnels through the internet
  • Only client authorized personnel is allowed to access the VNC/VLAN/VPN. This setup prevents others from accessing the project information
  • Real-time Anti-virus and SPAM protection for desktops and servers
  • Annual maintenance and scheduled preventive maintenance in place for critical assets
  • Adequate spares are available for all critical infrastructure, thereby minimizing downtime
  • Wireless LAN in the office is also security protected
Voice Calls Security
  • Authorization for use of VoIP lines and is provided on a need or project basis
  • VoIP is password protected
  • ACD reports are generated on a weekly basis and analyzed

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Business Continuity
Our Commitment to Business Continuity
emalgam has a robust and time-tested Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that ensures that the business operations of emalgam are not disrupted by any natural or unnatural disaster.

The BCP reiterates our commitment to delivering the highest quality solutions using the onsite/offshore model, and protecting our clients from risk. Our business continuity plans are based on the need to protect professional staff, computing infrastructure, and intellectual property in order to help our customers remain in business through any contingency. That includes provisions to ensure the mobility of professional skills along with fully redundant communications backbones and computing infrastructures.

Power & Utilities
Our entire facility can be run on auxiliary power. We have multiple back-up options to enable us to run the facility without power for an uninterrupted period of 2 days. The electrical supply into the facility is conditioned using a three-phase servo stabilizer. All power supply to computers is provided by online Uninterrupted Power Supply systems. Load balancing and redundant clusters stabilize voltage and frequency to within 1%. An underground water storage tank has the capacity to service the entire emalgam facility for 2 days. We also have our own bore well.

Internet Redundancy
We have three parallel high speed connections (512 mbps each) from different service providers. This ensures 100% connectivity to the cyber space.

Fire & Medical Emergencies
We have arrangements with a 24x7 hospital a few miles from the office. Contact details are maintained at multiple points for nearby fire stations, blood banks, police station, 24-hour pharmacies etc. We have elaborate fire safety arrangements including B and C type extinguishers, multiple exits, smoke alarms, and hose pipes within the facility.

Data and Exchange Recovery
An intelligent disaster recovery system is in place for restoring complete server information at short duration. The backup is restored on an offline Exchange server for high availability.

Dedicated Team
A dedicated team of engineers who work on a 24x7 schedule resolves ongoing operations issues. An intranet-enabled helpdesk request is followed by a structured process ensuring quick resolution of queries, leading to very low downtime of hardware and software.

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Capablities
We are committed to investing into research, training, and development for new Microsoft technologies and tools so that we can implement the right solutions for your unique situation.

We have team of professionals from a variety of industrial backgrounds and expertise in various technologies, tools and domains. Even though majority of our projects are in Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Stack, since we work closely with a number IT departments we continue to service and support technologies. Here is a list of few of the technologies we can service in house currently.

Development Environments - Microsoft ASP/ASP.NET, C#, J#, VB/VB.NET, XML, Java, JSP, J2EE, C++, VC++, VC++ .NET, Oracle Developer 2000, PHP, Cold Fusion, Delphi

Distributed Objects and Middleware Technologies - COM/COM+, DCOM, CORBA, RMI, Java Beans, EJB, ISAPI, ADO, C# and ADO.NET

Databases - Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Microsoft FoxPro, IBM DB2, Informix, MySQL, Oracle

Application Technologies and Servers - Microsoft SharePoint Server, Windows Presentation Framework (WPF), Windows Communication Framework (WCF), Microsoft BizTalk (XML) Server, Microsoft Enterprise Project Management Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Digital Dashboards, Microsoft Mobile Information Server, Microsoft Customer Care Framework, Asterisk IVR, BEA Weblogic, IBM WebSphere Application Server, Oracle Application Server, EPM Live

SaaS Platforms – Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Online Services, Force.com, SalesForce.com

Mobile – Blackberry OS, Apple iPhone, Google Android

Rich Internet Applications – Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash/Action Scripting, Adobe Flex, Adobe Air

Open Source – Drupal, Joomla, BV Commerce, SugerCRM

Testing

Automated Functional & Regression Testing - WinRunner, SilkTest, RationalRobot, QuickTest Pro, Test Complete, Test Partner, eTester

Load Testing - HP/Mercury LoadRunner, SilkPerformer, WebLoad, OpenSTA, Performance Tester, QA Load

White Box Testing - Rational Purify, PureCoverage, Boundschecker

Unit Testing - Unite, Junit, Nunit, JProbe, Rational Purify

Defect & Change Tracking - Test Track Pro, Bugzilla, OnTime, d-tracker, ClearQuest, GNATS, TeamTrack, SourceForge, Test Director, Visual Intercept, Track Record

GUI Testing - HP/Mercury WinRunner, Silk test, Memory Leak - AQtime, Rational-Purify, Jprofiler, TestComplete, DPusLite, DevPartner Studio for invalid memory references

Others

Configuration Management - CVS, VSS, ClearCase

Design Utilities - Rational Rose, ERWin, Microsoft Visio, Visual Age, Enterprise Architect

ERP/Accounting Packages – PeopleSoft, SAP, Oracle, JD Edwards, Sage MAS 90/200, QuickBooks

Multimedia Technologies - Real Audio, MPEG, Maya, Adobe Generator, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Freehand, CorelDraw, Macromedia Director, 3D Studio Max with Character Studio, Macromedia Extreme 3D, Adobe Premiere, Sound Forge XP, Quick Time Virtual Reality QTVR), Elastic Reality (Morphing & Warping)

Operating Environments - Microsoft Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/2003/XP/2008/Vista/7, Microsoft CE/Pocket PC/Mobile OS, Linux Red Hat, Unix, Solaris, Palm OS

Project Management Tools - Microsoft Project, EPM Live, BaseCamp


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