ZSoft Solutions is start-up Software Company whose vision is to deliver software products and services of various scales. These products range from websites, software as service (SaaS) applications and mobile apps to large scare high traffic applications. ZSoft Solutions is customer oriented company focus on suprior quality of products and services with customer satisfaction and user experience (UX). The e-business across variant cultures and languages is challenging, our products will bring revolution in the industry of business across the globe with multilingual software products and services. The Company’s mission is to provide high quality, cost effective products and services. Information Technology is a hot market in modern day world and it is becoming increasingly important by each passing day with new devices like; smart phones, home security systems, smart watches, self-driving cars and online shopping etc.
IT is essential need for any type of business and its very rich industry, it is growing and will continue to grow in years to come; investing in this field is money-spinning business. In a nutshell everyone uses software in one or another form; running a business, self-driving car, GPS navigation, online shopping, advertising your products on social media, social websites like Facebook and Twitter; all these required to use software, which makes this industry more fertile and that is the reason ZSoft Solutions is landing its feet into this market. ZSoft Solutions evolutionary software products will bring e-business to new horizons and make cross language communication and interoperability easier than ever.
ZSoft Solutions is Virginia-based software firm whose mission is to provide software products and services. We are group of professionals with extensive experience in all kinds of software products ranging from smaller applications to large scale enterprise applications. The word “Solutions” in company’s name has distinct meaning “we provide complete software solutions”; a complete solution comprises of whole Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) including designing, developing, deployment, hosting (either on premise or cloud), and maintenance and provide customer support; that’s all we do. These software solutions can be targeted for various platforms based on customer and business needs. Our services and products available in both fixed cost and variable cost licensing models; for cloud services we support fixed and pay-as-you-go model.
Our target customers will be business of variant scales, who need to have software for their businesses. The software and services provided by our company are well designed and supreme quality which adds more value to their business then they spend on building software. Customers spend more money on software maintenance then the original development cost the biggest reason for maintenance being so expensive is the poor software design and architecture; software designed by us are mature in design, extensible and well architecture which enables enhancements and maintenance very easy and cost effective.
Secondly, we follow Agile software development model and well exercised project management practices which helps us to contain and mitigate scope creep for projects; one other advantage of agile is that it is based on sprint usually two weeks which helps us controlling scope creep at very initial phase as compared to traditional waterfall development model where scope creep my chock down the project.
Like most of the other software companies we also write code to build software but unlike others we don’t just focus on the code to get it working we write professional supreme quality software with focus on security and performance; that is the reason why we are the prime choice of our clients and clients want to work with us again whenever they require any new software related services or products. User experience is also one of the main focus areas for us, we take user feedback for using particular software or service; these users are the operators on our client sites who actually uses the software to operate the business. This feedback for end-users is also called user experience (UX); has vital importance in improving product usability and ease of use.
All of our products & services has built-in error reporting and feedback mechanism which enables reporting all kinds of errors as well as feedback about particular components including crash-dumps, server side error and client browser side errors; this data is very important in improving quality of products as well as quality of service, data privacy is very important while collecting this data we make sure that we don’t collect data that is private to client system or business.
We use agile software development model for all of our products and services. Agile is widely used and proven most successful software development methodology which enhances the stockholder interaction during the development of product which leads to successful and cost effective delivery of product as per client expectations. Our products supports variety of operating system platforms including Windows, Linux and Mac OS for desktop applications and websites; we also develop mobile applications for IOS and Android. We provide complete end-to-end software solutions including design, development, testing, hosting, maintenance and support. We also provide technical documentation and coaching for end-users to use software.
We provide consulting for clients who needs to upgrade their existing systems to latest technologies, new hardware systems or cloud. Could Computing is growing very fast as most of the enterprises moving their systems to cloud because low cost infrastructure and maintenance; for cloud service they have to pay only for the resources they use which is very economical as compared to building their own data-centers, buying hardware, hiring people to maintain the infrastructure 24/7 event if when nobody is using the system; for example overnight, on weekends or holidays. We offer cloud services from two top cloud service provides Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
Overview and Structure of the Business
Modern day world is the era of technology and digital transformation. Information technology has influenced every aspect of life including but not limited to: personal, business, social, economic, health and, education and ethics etc. Information technology is on its peak today and human race is at most innovative stage ever in history. As an individual if you look around at your daily routine, how many time you need to use technology or software in your daily life? You use smart phone, smart watch, self-driving car, online shopping, make friends on social websites and even using dating sites for relationships; as consumer you use all these services and as produces all these business also need to have these services available all the time.
This makes interested cycle of software consumers and produces; if you look closely everybody needs to use software from individual person to businesses of various scales. Our company ZSoft Solutions landed its feet to software industry based on these facts and potential growth of rich and fertile software industry in year to come. ZSoft Solutions is Virginia based is Startup Company offers various software products and service, company has plans to open off-shore offices in south Asia in long run. ZSoft Solutions business model is S Corporation and our local client base is Washington DC metro area.
ZSoft Solutions is committed to provide supreme quality software products and services with 100% customer satisfaction. We do write code like other software companies; but unlike others we don’t just write code to make it work on top side; we write top-quality code with excellent design which makes the product easier to maintain and update. If software product is poorly designed then it makes changes or enhancements challenging and more error prone which costs more money to client; since our products are built with industry proven design patterns and our design is highly flexible and customizable; it is very economical to enhance and maintain the products we build.
Structure of Business
Organization structure is one of the key items that you need to master before starting new business. There are basically two types of structures an organization can be based upon: hierarchical and flatter. Hierarchical is classical model and used by most of the smaller, medium and large scale organizations uses this architecture. Flatter is fairly new concept and it is being adopted by good number of organizations. Despite of the issues in hierarchical model ZSoft Solutions will be adopting this model because it is battle tested and proven to be successful for many organization of present and past. There are various layer of management from president to end-worker or employees, the detail of each one is stated below.
Top level management. The top-level management includes President/ Chief Executive Officer and Vice President. These people have decisive authority for making any decision for company. Their responsibilities includes setting various goals for company; making plans regarding potential opportunities for company growth; develop various strategies. Top-level management roles evolve around planning and coordination. ZSoft Solutions off-shore offices feasibility and planning will be done by top level management.
Mid-level management. The mid-level management includes Chief Operations Officer, Chief Technology Officer and various department heads including: Marketing, Sales, Finance/Accounting, Human Resources (HR), Development and System Administration. The chain of command between top-level and mid-level management will flow through Chief Operations Officer; and in some cases Chief Technology officer also interact with top management. The department heads will manage their corresponding departments and all the employees will be reporting to their department head except for development department since that particular department has more layers of people within the department.
Lower-level management. Low-level management here only applicable for development and System Administration department and includes project managers, resource managers and tech-leads for each project within development department. Each project or product will have team of workers consist of one technical lead, programmers, quality assurance engineers, business analyst(s), and Dev-ops engineer(s). Each employee within the team have resource manager. The resource manager role is played by one of the project managers other than the project employee is working on; the resource manager role is essentially addresses any question or concerns between a team might have about their project managers or technical leads or any other member.
Non-management employees. The non-management employees or workers are actually the people who work within aforementioned departments. Each employee has different responsibilities base on their role within department; for example employees of development department can be: programmers, QA engineers, business analysis, data analyst, database administrators, and database developers.
Your Company’s Infrastructure and Information Systems Needs
Information Technology infrastructure is the core part of business setup; choosing right infrastructure model help business to steady start. IT infrastructure becomes more vital if your business is software firm; choosing right model between cloud, on-premises or mix of both (hybrid) improves business management and helps reducing running costs of your business.
Our Infrastructure Model
Information Technology infrastructure consist of hardware, networking topology and software for company’s resources that provides podium to operate business. There are various infrastructure models that can be used based on your business needs; it can be fully cloud, on premise or mix of both approaches which is known as hybrid or hybrid cloud. Cloud infrastructure is ideal for non IT business it significantly reduces cost of running business processes; in our case the right choice would be hybrid cloud; some part of infrastructure will be in cloud and some locally on premises.
In software business the IT resources are use very heavily; for development of software products we will be using development and testing servers heavily keeping these resources in cloud may cost more money. The software applications needed to run the company business will be hosted in cloud these application include but not limited to: Accounting and Payroll/Timesheet system, ERP System, Marking software, Human Resource Management software, Employee Performance Management System, System Administration Portal (SysAdmin), Email and scheduling System and various database servers. All development, testing and performance related work will be handled by local servers. All of our Operating Systems and servers are running Microsoft stack on-premises and using Azure for cloud services.
Company has one System Administration department which deals all IT related operations and SysAdmin Portal. SysAdmin portal is a website that will be used to serve any IT related service request from employees; these request include but not limited to: requesting new docking station or LCD, installation of software, reporting issue with laptop etc. Laptop computers will be provided to employees whose responsibilities required using computer.
System Administration consist of one head of department and five highly trained system administrators. The responsibilities of system administration people includes; setting up Local Area Network (LAN), configure Wi-Fi, install and configure local servers, configure virtual machines in cloud, prepare laptops for new employees, maintain hardware inventory and purchase the ones out of stock. This department also handles the onboarding and farewell of employees; when new person joins system administrators will provide required hardware and setup his account on company’s network and when he leave the company they make sure he return all company provided resources; at final step they deactivate his account from company domain. The company office will have LAN inside office which connects all devices inside office building include local servers and computers of employees with local and internet.
According to Porter’s competitive model company’s strategic position is determined by substitutable products and services, direct competing businesses and newly entering businesses. Aforementioned systems will help in wining new clients and sustaining existing by reducing costs by providing various statistics and numbers. Company’s offshore development and services will greatly reduce the cost of products and service and help in completion with other companies.
Information Systems Needs for company
Information system plays very crucial role in operating business as it automates the business processes. Information system help various management groups of company to track, manage and control the business process flow. Transaction Processing System (TPS) tracks the business transactions on day-to-day basis; these operational transactions includes any financial activity like payroll, products sales etc. Management Information System (MIS) uses these transactions to generate various reports for management based on this concise information the manager makes their decisions. In our company we need following systems to automate various business functions; these systems includes:
Accounting and Payroll system. The accounting & payroll system will be hosted in Azure Cloud, and it will be used to manage and operate company finances and employees payrolls. This system covers all the transactions happened during business process; these transactions include buying new hardware, licenses, cloud service provider payments, employees pay checks, payment from clients and any legal processing fees etc.
Human Resources Management System. Human Resource Management System (HRM) will also be hosted in Azure Cloud. This will be used to manage human resources (employees) and recruitment. The other process include, employee relations, benefits and compensation and skill development etc.
Employee Performance Management System. Employee performance manage software is also hosted in Cloud and it will be used to evaluate employee annual performance. This tool will be used by employees to define their yearly goals and manager to approve these goals at the start of each fiscal year and evaluate goals at time of employee’s yearly performance appraisal.
Customer Relationship Management. CRM is used to manage and analyze customer interactions with business and help improving business and its relationships with customers. We will be Microsoft Dynamics CRM from Cloud service.
Collaboration & Communication Systems. We will be using various collaboration and communication systems across the company these include: Mail server for Emails, Calendar & Scheduling, Skype for Business for Instant Messaging (IM) & screen sharing, Microsoft Yammer as enterprise social network, Microsoft SharePoint for document share and storage across the company’s secure network, Atlassian enterprise wiki for documentation and knowledge share and enterprise file share FTP for file or data share outside organization.
SysAdmin Request Management Portal. This is request management portal that will be used to place various procurement requests from company employees. This will be used to manage process and track various items request and provision, also useful for yearly reporting purposes.
Company Website. Company website will contain detailed information about company’s mission, privacy statement, products, customers and various insights of company. Company website will show the latest news, announcements and updates.
Your Company’s Management of Data and Knowledge
Each activity in business generates data; data generation, storage, accessibility, integrity, authorization and protection is the crucial part of business. Data in business can be think of blood in body, flows everywhere across the business. If an organization failed to do any of aforementioned items about data may cause severe consequences; for example storing product price is data, having in incorrect price listed for product may result heavy loss in sales.
The data management is done by Database Management System (DBMS); there are two kinds of DBMS relational and no-relational database management systems; the DBMS features include, data definition, data dictionary and data retrieval. Managing company’s data, knowledge and information is called Knowledge Management (KM); these assets consist of policies, processes, reports, documents, database or any written information about business.
Data Management in our company
All of our company software systems in general and databases in particular are on Microsoft technology stack. We will be using Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise edition which is Relational Database Management System (RDMS) as database management software across the company. The reason we choose SQL Server over Oracle is that it has better integration with other Microsoft technologies like Azure Cloud, MS Office, it is easier to use, create, and maintain databases, excellent business intelligence tools like Power BI, Reporting Services (SSRS), Integration Services (SSIS), Online Transaction Processing (OLTP), backup, recover, replication & mirroring services and it is better suited for small, medium and large scale systems. We don’t need to buy separate licenses as it comes free with Microsoft Azure.
As I mentioned earlier each entity in business process generates data; in some cases data gets generated and propagated between system to system i.e. employee working hours from payroll system to accounting for process pay-check. The data generated and collected by each business process is contained within its information system where it belongs to; for example account data is maintain by accounting system, and same is the case with payroll, HR, Marketing systems. Each system has its own database which is specifically designed to hold and process data of that particular system; but each system has data input and output interfaces & APIs to exchange data with other systems though.
Let’s dig a little deeper into data generation and flow within the company. If we start form employee, when company hires new person its hiring and personal data goes to HR Management System; when employee start working his/her check-in, checkout time and charge code data goes to and payroll system, which internes calculate working hours, adjust leave balances and performs bunch of other calculations, and finally give data to accounting system which handles pay-checks and deposit; payroll system also utilizes data from Human Resource Management System for employee ID and other personal information.
Employee Performance Management System collects data about employee goals for year, and their measure scale, which interns rated by employee manager at end of year for performance appraisal (the most awaited time by employee). Sales and Marketing systems contains data for products and potential sales against marketing campaigns. Collaboration systems generates steady streams of data in form of emails, meeting invites & schedules, text messages, phone calls, enterprise social activities like company posts on Yammer about company, file transfers etc.
Data can be categorized in two way mission critical and non-critical data; mission critical data include any financial transactions which if compromised my cause heavy financial losses and damage reputation of company. The main issue with handling mission critical data is authentication, authorization and privacy. Authentication is the process of validating user identity; authorization is the process that checks if that authenticated user is authorize to access particular part of system as every user is not allowed access to each part of system.
We need to make sure that only authenticated users will be allowed to access the system having mission critical data; and that authenticated person can only access the part of the system he/she is authorized for. Data privacy applies to email, chat messages various other collaboration activities; achieving privacy for data is also signification amount of effort. Data security and integrity applies to all forms form of data critical or non-critical. For all activities in running business generates significant amount of data daily; managing data collection, storage, integrity and retrieval is challenging process.
Knowledge Management Systems in our company
Knowledge Management is process of creation, storage and application of knowledge across organization to improve business processes. It is a continuous process where an organization learn from its own process and apply that knowledge to improve them. Knowledge Management can be derived into three categories, enterprise-wide knowledge management, Knowledge Work System and Intelligence Systems.
As software company we heavily rely on enterprise-wide Knowledge management system these include but not limited to; Microsoft SharePoint, Atlassian Enterprise Wiki & Yammer. We use SharePoint for various kinds of document management and sharing, these documents include various project design documents, project plans, cost metrics, feasibility reports and Software Requirement Specifications (SRS); enterprise wiki is mainly used to create various help documents, project specific documentation, internal blogs and various forms of knowledge used internally on company network; we use Yammer for various enterprise wide social community, where people across different projects and portfolios shares their idea, experiences, technology trends and innovations, which we think is the most effective form of knotweed as people now a days relay heavily on social media; although Yammer community is limited to same organization but it is still very useful as nobody can make fake or false post because everybody know everyone inside organization or at least we are sure he/she is authentic user.
As far as the other two categories of knowledge we don’t fully use Knowledge Work System or Intelligence Systems as they are more effective and useful in Big Data environments or business where Big Data is required. We do use Photoshop and few diagraming tools like Visio during various documents creation; which somewhat touches the Knowledge Work System’s boundaries.
Your Company’s Use of the Internet
Digital economy has effected many business positively and negatively; the positive side is now business can be run more effectively and efficiently as we can have the information in just few seconds as compared to few days or weeks historically; the negative side is because of so much advancement in technology and automation many people lose their jobs. The digital economy is the very reason that our business came into existence, or we can say it is our bread and butter.
Collaboration technologies used by our company
As we are on Microsoft technology stack our mainstream collaboration system is Skype for Business (formally Lync) along with SharePoint that comes under Office 365 cloud package which is unified office management, collaboration and communication system; we also use MS Dynamics CRM for customer relationship management. All these collaboration technologies are used for various kinds of communication and collaboration within the company and with customers.
E-Commerce technologies being used
Our whole business is based around information technology so e-commerce is core part of our business model. All transactions including sales, purchases, marketing and payments are done digitally. Our revenue model is based on e-commerce transactions including sales or our software licenses, cloud services sales, contract based project deals with other companies and some of the marketing based transactions etc. Some of our social products and mobile apps uses m-commerce which is finding better deals on various food, gas, medicine and hotels on different locations.
Your Company’s IT Planning and Analysis Processes
IT strategy is very important in company’s strategic planning, it is even more crucial for companies based on IT or software business. The company goal to provide supreme quality products and services to clients; our whole focus is to achieve this goals and ultimately client trust which interns wins new clients. For this vary reason the information systems used with our company are mostly purchased software’s, these systems developed by some other software companies and we purchased the license to use them, like our payroll and accounting system is from Deltek. In the initial phase company don’t want to take risk of investing on various information systems as our focus is on client’s projects and other products we develop; and these products and services are our core business; we do have plans to build these systems in house with passage of time and sell the license as our products. We do conduct various surveys and feedback from various user groups with company about the information system we used across the company.
As far as the system development methodologies concern we follow Agile model; in Agile we break the project into smaller working pieces and develop in multiple iterations call sprints; a continuous feedback is acquired from stakeholders at the end of each sprint or two. We follow object oriented approach as software design and development model; in object oriented design each business entity is represented as object which can have certain properties and functions called methods. Inheritance, polymorphism, encapsulation, abstraction, reusability and dynamic binding are features of object oriented programing model. Test automation is also compulsory part of our software products which give clear advantage in quality as compared to products from other venders; these tests include automated unit-testing and continuous integration, automated UI testing like selenium and Coded UI tests.
Decision support and intelligent systems
Decision making can be structure, semi structured or unstructured; each level in the company is responsible of making certain decisions; top level management makes unstructured decisions, middle level makes semi structured and low lever structured. All these decisions are made after analysis of various reports and charts provided by different information systems. Since most of information systems we used are produced by some other companies, they have excellent reporting and analytics build-in; which provides nearly real-time data which interns helping us making right decisions at right time.
Some of the data we collected internally by various surveys and feedbacks from customers; we use Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Power BI for that data to do the analytics and generates various reports and matrices. We don’t use Hadoop for data analytics as our scale of data is small; Dynamics CRM and Power BI is more than sufficient to do the analytics for us which let us make intelligence, choice, design and implementation decisions.
Our IT Security and related policies
Digital information is vulnerable by its nature, it can be easily breached by hackers over internet, local area network or Wi-Fi network. Hackers use variety of techniques to steal sensitive data these include but not limited to: denial of service attack, various injection attacks, viruses, spywares, malwares, malicious software and spam emails. Sensitive information or data regarding business; once compromised can do sever damage to company and its customers. Therefore new laws enforce companies to implement various information security policies for example HIPAA compliance and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act etc. these policies has strict security standards and ensure privacy and security of information. Information systems audits also help companies to identify the security effectiveness.
We have employed numerous security measures in order to protect our data. First step is to security work facility, we have secured all entry points to our office, all employees required to swipe their employee cards to enter into the work facility; any unauthorized person is now allowed to enter to work area. For new work security we have deployed hardware firewall, all of our local area network is behind hardware firewall. For employees working remotely we have configured Virtual Private Network (VPN), which let them to connect to company network from anywhere outside company network.
Further tightening the security we have software firewall on each computer distributed to employees, and each virtual machine in cloud also having software firewalls; software firewalls also monitors and restricts certain traffic going outside or coming inside to computer. All of our web-based products and services are secured by SSL certificates. We implemented public key cryptography like Kerberos wherever needed by our customers. We have MacAfee Enterprise Virus Scan and Anti Spyware configured on each machine. In order to protect emails we configured various span filters on email server which automatically filter any malicious emails and attachments.
Regarding disaster recovery and business continuity plans; for information systems hosted in cloud we don’t have to worry much as Azure cloud has excellent disaster recovery and replication plan already built-in; Orchestrated disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) help to recover in case of any datacenter outage or natural disaster; Azure also have simple replication service which replicates everything to another stand by alternative. In case of local area network we have stand by servers in case of hardware or any kind of server failure.
Ethical & Social issue in IT Planning
Information technology plays important role in today’s era of modern world. It is involved in every aspect of life including but not limited to social, economic, personal, political and business. The idea of ZSoft Solutions is based on this fertile soul of Information Technology; companies stakeholders invested in IT market by keeping in mind its current growth and future predicted increase in usage of IT services and software.
Starting a business in competitive market is not easy thing to do; in the initial phase of your startup you would face enormous challenges, including setting up work facility (location), setting up IT infrastructure, registration of your brand, choosing right information systems to run your business processes and various legal matters. Launching startup business required through study of existing market where you are going to land your feet; you need to be crystal clear about your business idea, what you are going to do? What problem you are going to solve that would potential attract customers.
Once you are clear about all aforementioned things, then you can start plumbing it to reality. You can determine the scope in initial production, how many people you are going to hire to kick start and what roles they are going to perform. You can setup work location for your operating office, then you decide IT infrastructure, what part is going into cloud and you are go to keep locally. Which information systems you need to run your business etc.
Now your business is ready to start production. The story does not ends here it’s just start; when your business is up and running then you continuously need to perform monitoring and diagnosis tasks throughout the lifetime of your business. As successful business you need to learn from your mistakes and experience and adopt the changes required to grow your business and you need to continue improving and sustain quality of your products and services which gives to steady ground against competitors; that is the key of success for ZSoft Solutions.