FAQs

My PCApps Project Design & Development Team?

Every PCApps client is assigned a Project Manager (PM) who is responsible for leading you through each step of our standard design-build process. The PM is your primary day-to-day contact at PCApps to coordinate project planning and execution. Client teams are also comprised of a principal engineer who directs PCApps engineering resources, and staff engineers who are assigned to your project.
Your PM and principal engineer remain constant throughout the entire project.  Staff engineers may change from time to time, depending upon the resources required and specific technical needs of your application e.g. design, architecture, security, report development, etc.

Does PCApps Outsource Any Development Tasks?

No. we do not outsource any aspect of our design process or development tasks — every service is performed by full-time PCApps software engineering professionals.

Who Owns The Application?

You do. PCApps Smart Client applications are owned by our clients, and are license-free and royalty-free. The cost is the same whether you have 5 users or 500 users. We utilize a generic webservice and component library built on Microsoft technologies to make all of our Smart Client applications highly functional, standardized and scalable, and this component is proprietary to PCApps.

How Does PCApps Handle ‘Feature Creep’?

Feature creep aka scope creep is a term used to describe a software project that over-emphasizes new, additional features at the expense of simplicity, stability, cost, and / or schedules. We take a disciplined approach to constraining project scope. Our consultants will challenge you to separate must-haves from nice-to-haves capabilities that are necessary to meet your minimum, essential business needs. It oftentimes makes more sense to defer a new capability to keep the project budget and schedule on track.

In addition to resulting in a more manageable project budget and schedule, this keep-it-simple approach results in a more manageable budget and schedule, allows PCApps to focus on building a strong foundation of known application essentials, and avoids reinvesting in items that are likely to change as the new application evolves and takes shape.

How Does PCApps Manage Change Requests?

We anticipate a certain level of changes and refinements throughout the design / development process, and this is factored into our project estimates. Project budgets and schedules can however be adversely impacted by requests for new substantial items or extensive changes to existing capabilities, especially when the timing of a significant change request occurs late in the development process. Significant changes become increasingly expensive the further we get into application development.

Why Not Packaged Software?

At Practical Computer Applications (PCApps) we find that one of the first questions asked by most clients is “Why Not Use Packaged Software?” The truth is that if you have a truly industry standard operation and that you can find a software package that offers everything you need, buy it. The fact that you are researching alternatives means that you are already unsure of that answer.

In making this determination, some of the key issues that you want to explore include:

  • Functional Fit — Does the software package offer the core capabilities that you need? Are you paying for a lot of features that don’t need?
  • Customization — What is the additional cost to configure or customize the package to suit your specific data management needs?
  • Robustness — Is it a commercial-grade offering built on a real database (e.g., Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle), or is it simply a user interface built atop MS Access or something else?
  • Integration — What is the additional cost to integrate the software with your existing business applications (accounting, manufacturing, inventory, etc)?
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) — What is the actual cost to own and use the system over time, taking into account all the factors, including licensing, training, data conversion, configuration, integration, annual maintenance, and support?

When you take into consideration the software licensing costs, the professional service fees necessary to customize and integrate the software, and the annual maintenance and support fees, our clients often discover that it is far more cost-effective to build a custom solution from scratch. The results are far more superior and relevant to your business needs.

A typical outcome of licensing:

  • You pay a lot more than you originally anticipate to “fit” the software to your specific business needs.
  • You are saddled with ongoing licensing, subscription, maintenance and support fees (fees which grow in proportion to your use).
  • You are locked into with a single vendor solution, with a significant cost-to-switch.

PCApps believes there is a better way.  Smart Clients provide an ASP-like approach to centralized, repeatable application deployment and security, with ZERO ongoing licensing fees. End-users get a highly-functional, high performance, easy-to-use and reliable application powered by industry standard MS SQL Servers.

Why Not Offshore Development?

Today, it is well understood that “off-shoring” is appropriate and can offer significant cost-advantages for certain types of projects. However, for many other projects, off-shoring turns out to be a significant mistake. Some of the problems include:

  • Engineering Quality — The quality of most off-shore engineering practices is hit-and-miss. Expect to receive what they know how to do, not best practices that are developed and applied through years of experience and project management rigor.
  • Project Communication — Effective communication is the most critical factor to the success of custom development initiatives, yet this is where most off-shore efforts fail. Does it take ten (or more) attempts to get something right, due to disconnects in communication?
  • Business Continuity — Where is that small team half way around the globe going to be in six months or a year from now?
  • Critical Thinking — Most foreign cultures simply do not challenge the status quo or offer the critical thinking that is necessary for most projects to succeed (they do what you ask for, not what you need!)

If you have very well-defined need, with super-clear, detailed requirements, and you have a project manager who is dedicated to riding herd on the off-shore development effort, then you may have a project that is a good candidate for off-shore engineering.

If on the other hand any of these conditions are not true, you will very likely end of paying more in the long run. The result is likely to be a solution that misses the mark.

Here we compare factors for off-shore development versus development by Practical Computer Applications (PCApps):

PCApps believes there is a better way. We provide experienced engineering, coupled with transparent project communication, and Smart Client solutions that provide an ASP-like approach to centralized, repeatable application deployment and security, with ZERO ongoing Licensing fees. End-users get a highly-functional, high performance, easy-to-use and reliable application powered by industry standard MS SQL Servers.

No License Fees

Practical Computer Applications (PCApps) does not charge any licensing fees involved. You will own an exclusive, license-free and royalty-free rights to the application.

Instead, we charge professional fees for consulting and engineering services based upon the following factors:

  • Scope and complexity of your business application
  • Functional gaps that exist between your current application and what you actually need
  • Experience with clients in the same industry and with similar types of applications
  • A bottom-up engineering assessment of your existing business application
  • Knowledge of your key business needs and priorities

With custom development, recognizing what we do not know is just as important as recognizing what we do. Depending upon your situation and needs, incremental steps may be required to develop the right approach and a reliable project estimate. With any project, our goal is to establish a high degree of confidence that your business needs and any special considerations are fully understood and reflected in our estimate.

Why Not In-House Development

Most in-house programmers lack the business experience to insure that your needs and ideas are compatible with your business objectives and budget. Many programmers lack the real-world project management experience needed to meet critical business objectives. Because many in-house programmers tend to recommend only what they know, it’s hit or miss as to whether the solution is actually coded properly, and maintainable over time.

With Practical Computer Applications (PCApps), you get an experienced team, and a higher quality outcome with less investment and lower risk.

If you have already invested considerable time and money with internal developers, and lost confidence in their ability to deliver a critical business application, we specialize in picking up complex and heavily customized database projects, and quickly figuring out what needs to be done to get the project back on track.

PCApps is frequently called on to take over internal application development or SQL development efforts that are stuck, failing, or just growing over budget and schedule. We know how to rescue a custom application development project, and get the project back on budget and schedule.

Contact us at 877-843-3405 or review our process.

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PCApps is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with an impressive list of satisfied clients represent a broad range of data and process-intensive industries.

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