Auriga Has Developed the First MS Project-based Mobile Application for Project Escalations

Every project manager knows that one of the dreariest tasks in a project is the constant control and problem management. An experienced PM applies his skills and experience to organize the control process, keeping in mind the major milestones and indicators of the project, but even experienced PMs cannot respond quickly while out of the office.

Some control freaks visit their project servers while on vacation at the Goa Beach or Mount Everest, but the fact is that there are few such freaks among project managers. Consequently, the mere mortals must either come to terms with the need to sift through the mountains of tickets after the holiday or trust the technology designed to solve such problems.

Recently, Auriga engineers developed a mobile client for project monitoring web-services based on MS Project Server. In accordance with complex business logic, the application collects information from various project management systems and, if a problem occurs, sends a notification to the manager’s smartphone or tablet. The push-notification service shows the number of open escalations in the corner of the widget icon of the phone or tablet desktop. At the same time, it’s not just a pure notification service; it’s also a tool that allows managers to work with escalations instantly: for example, to send an SMS or call back the responsible person. The solution includes the following functionality:

  • Ÿ Displays a list of escalations in the application
  • Ÿ Ability to close the escalation in the application
  • Ÿ Provides user authorization and authentication
  • Ÿ Calls/SMSs to employees responsible for the escalation
  • Ÿ Sorts escalations based on several parameters (date, customer, type of escalation)
  • Ÿ Integration with web-services notifications (e.g., if established deadlines, costs, budgets, or working hours are exceeded)
  • Ÿ Apple push-notification service
  • Ÿ Displays detailed information within the application without using a web-portal

The client is developed using complex business logic of the project compliance with the state of critical points (triggers). It is optimized for MS SQL database and MS Project Server. At present, the application is available for two main mobile platforms: iOS and Android. The next-step modifications of the solution include:

  • Business logic algorithms customization, based on project triggers list expansion
  • Cross-platform support for other mobile platforms
  • Synchronization with other project servers or databases

Alexander Videnev, Auriga Business Development Director:

I am sure that our application has a bright future in the market. At present, there are many applications for project management, and the mobile segment of these solutions is very active. I mean, the share of mobile devices is growing very fast. However, our analysis revealed that really simple and effective solutions that allow users to obtain timely information about projects, to contact the project manager promptly, and to get comprehensive first-hand information about the project are quite rare. However, regarding such applications for Microsoft Project Server, I can assure you that we are pioneers: Our mobile monitoring application is the only one on the current market.

Russian Programmers Prove Their Exceptional Talent Once Again

The World Finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) took place in Warsaw, Poland, May 14–18, 2012. The St. Petersburg National Research University ITMO students’ team won the title of Absolute World Champions in Programming, finishing ahead of the University of Warsaw team. The winners also gained a gold medal and solved all nine tasks with a minimum time penalty.

Two more top Russian university teams entered this year’s Hall of Fame: the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) team with third place and a gold medal and the Moscow State University (MSU) team with tenth place and bronze. Not including Russian teams, the top-twelve places are held by two universities from Belarus, three representatives of Chinese institutions of higher education, the University of Tokyo, Harvard University, and the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Traditionally, Russia has performed successfully in these competitions. Over the past 10 years, teams from Russia have won the World Championship title five times and earned 40 medals (19 gold, 9 silver, and 12 bronze). The 2009 competition was the most fruitful for Russia, as the team won the championship and three of the four gold medals as well as a bronze. In the past 12 years, Russia has won the championship seven times, while China has only won four times in the same timeframe and the USA has not won once.

Auriga is often tasked to perform complex, non-trivial projects, requiring complex computations and science-intensive software development based on deep academic knowledge and creativity. Therefore, when it comes to hiring new employees, education level and academic background matter. Auriga employs many graduates of the prestigious universities MIPT and MSU, whose teams consistently perform well in this competition. For example, since 2000, the MSU team has been permanently listed as one of the 12 prize-winning teams and has won the World Championship Cup three times. We congratulate our colleagues—the graduates of these universities—on the victory of their Alma Mater!

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, with more than 100,000 members, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers, professionals, and students to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, career development, and professional networking. For more information, see http://www.acm.org.

About the ACM/ICPC contest

The ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) (http://icpc.baylor.edu/welcome.icpc), which started in 1977 as a single-continent competition, has become the world’s most prestigious competition event in the field of information technology, inspiring the best students from top universities to challenge the World Finals.

Frequently referred to as the “Battle of the Brains,” the ACM-ICPC is focused on solving real-world tasks. Teams of three students are to collaboratively solve a dozen complex practical programming tasks under a stressful five-hour deadline. This practical approach encourages young engineers to learn about real business issues and needs. The Finals winners receive a guaranteed job/scholarship offer from IBM, the contest sponsor since 1997.

The World On the Threshold of an “All Things Mobile” Era

It seems that a new era, the “all things mobile” period, is approaching—at least that’s what the CTIA Association chose as its slogan for its International CTIA Wireless Conference, held on May 8–10 in New Orleans, LA. Hoping to get a few insights into the upcoming trends and to harvest some promising leads, Alexey Rybakov (VP, Business Development) and Andrey Pronin (SVP, Strategy, Technology, and Marketing) visited the event.

Wireless products and services are a powerful agent of social change that allow billions of people around the world anytime, anywhere access, according to the report released by BSR and CTIA, named “Socioeconomic Impacts of Wireless Technology.” It is mentioned that due to wireless technology, billions of “underbanked” or “unbanked” people worldwide have access to market information and banking services, so they receive a fair price for their goods and services and protect their money. Our colleagues also noted the high share of interest, announcements, and applications presented at the CTIA Wireless 2012 event and devoted to the mobile banking market.

For example, Sprint CEO Dan Hasse made the following key points in his presentation:

  • Ÿ Globally, more people have mobile phones than electricity
  • Ÿ There are roughly 6 billion people with mobile devices in the world, and less than 2 billion bank accounts
  • Ÿ There is 60% growth in payments with mobile devices, and this is expected to grow from about $200B in 2012 to over $800B in 2014
  • Ÿ Still, about 85% of global payment transactions today are via cash, and only about 15% of transactions are electronic using payment methods like credit cards or mobile devices

The question is how to translate this set of sometimes-conflicting evolutions into a single trend? According to Dan Hasse, some obvious problems need to be addressed at the organization or even industry levels (e.g., the lack of cross-platform support for existing applications, the variety of competing digital wallets and payment systems with their historical limitations). Banks are well known for their information protection policies, leading to application limitations for end users. Hasse also outlined the critical importance of building trust with customers and the need to improve the reputation of the wireless industry. In fact, it turns out that more than 82% of users do not have safety or security applications installed on their device, and most don’t entrust their savings to the net.

The CTIA Wireless Trade Show was shaken up by two big mobile payment-processing announcements from MasterCard and VeriFone. This leads us to believe that the mobile finance story has enough potential to stir the market.

MasterCard announced its entry into the digital wallet fray. The revolutionary wallet service dubbed PayPass will help merchants to add contactless payment options for consumers. It allows the users to accept and send electronic payments across multiple channels at the point of sale with NFC technology or online; to use American Express, Discover, Visa, and other branded credit, debit, and prepaid cards; and to connect the digital wallets into the PayPass Acceptance Network, leveraging MasterCard’s check-out, fraud detection, and authentication services. Barnes & Noble and American Airlines will be the first major companies piloting the payment technology, but more are expected to follow suit, particularly because MasterCard has opened up its API to allow anyone to build on the technology’s architecture.

Payment-processing giant VeriFone also announced a new payment technology called SAIL. Offering the sellers a free credit card reader that connects to iOS and Android devices without much effort and a $9.95 monthly subscription for power retailers that want to lower their per-charge fee from 2.7% to 1.95%, VeriFone is going to seize a rather large market share from competitors. The most likely users of the new payment service are small businesses such as cafes, roadside shops, and private enterprises. Existing VeriFone customers worldwide can also integrate their operations in SAIL, with a special program and a mobile wireless terminal that accepts NFC-payments from various systems such as Google Wallet. In the long term, VeriFone plans to release the SDK for developers so they can create various applications and plug-ins (e.g., sales analysis system, providing “live” data on purchases, modules for integration into existing ERP and CRM systems).

To stay ahead of the changing market, Auriga engineers developed a comprehensive mobile banking application for customers to manage their bank accounts, transactions, and payments. The application was created in close cooperation with banking analysts and experts. It combines the best practices of our core service lines—financial and mobile development. The app is targeted at iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, RIM (Blackberry), and Bada platforms, and it follows the stringent security standards of private personal and banking information. Therefore, our business analysts and engineers examined all recent trends in the information-security domain. The following features are in addition to the standard features of the banking apps on the market:

  • Secure data storage
  • Complete cleaning of temporary storage
  • Data encryption of information
  • Ÿ Data disclosure in the code of the application, preventing usage of the information after hacking
  • Access qualification from the application to system data
  • Solid protection mechanisms ingrained in the solution
  • Implementation of so-called operations templates that eliminate the possibility of making payments and transfers to third parties and organizations
  • Ÿ Timeout payments for a period of one to three days in cases of payment transactions to counterparties not listed in the templates

These protective measures reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions on customer accounts. Several large Russian retail banks are currently using this application.

Alexander Videnev, Business Development Director, shared his insights on the current trends and perspectives of mobile banking development:

In fact, we’re not going to limit ourselves by developing applications designed for individuals only. One of the most exciting and rapidly developing areas is the segment of small businesses that is perfectly illustrated by the new product releases of MasterCard and VeriFone. In fact, we are ready to launch a project to develop an application for small enterprises in the short term. It’s expected to provide them with the ability to check enterprise accounts and payment options on-line and track payment documents. At present, we are examining the issues related to ensuring the highest level of security for this solution.

About CTIA Wireless

CTIA, The Wireless Association® (http://www.ctia.org/), is an international nonprofit membership organization that has represented the wireless communications industry since 1984. Association members include wireless carriers and their suppliers as well as providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products.

The association advocates on behalf of its members at all levels of government. CTIA also coordinates the industry’s voluntary efforts to provide consumers with a variety of choices and information regarding their wireless products and services. This includes the voluntary industry guidelines, programs that promote mobile device recycling and reusing, and wireless accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

CTIA also supports numerous important industry initiatives and operates the industry’s leading trade shows as well as equipment testing and certification programs to ensure a high standard of quality for consumers.