Stories by Dawne Shand

Service-level agreements

Working with an application service provider (ASP) can be a risky proposition, especially for established companies that entrust the care and management of core business applications to small or emerging companies. How can you ensure an ASP will perform well, respond quickly to problems or perform regular maintenance checks?
In its march toward becoming a legitimate and permanent fixture in the IT outsourcing landscape, the ASP industry has promulgated service-level agreements (SLA) as a means of mitigating these concerns. An SLA provides some assurance that ASPs will support their customers' business and technical objectives.

Matching career paths to responsibilities

At Home Depot Inc, senior systems engineers with deep expertise in Unix may find themselves leading projects one month and playing a Java trainee role on their next endeavour.

Persistence

"It's good to be king," could easily be the mantra of information technology job seekers these days.

BANISHING BOTTLENECKS

Slow performance isn't an option for an e-commerce Web site. Customers want faster processing and quicker navigation at the same time as they're demanding more sophisticated features. Unfortunately, the most obvious solutions to the problem of slow-commerce sites-more bandwidth, more boxes, more servers- aren't always the most appropriate answers to the performance question. Dawne Shand reports

Aggressive, Yet Subtle

Passive job candidates - those who aren't looking for something new but would receptively listen to a great offer - remain the most highly prized catch by recruiters.

Sabbaticals: A New Lease on Life

As the fortunes of companies ebb and flow, so do their sabbatical programs. These aren't the simplest benefits programs to manage, but they draw much attention.

All Information Is Local

IT systems can connect every corner of the globe, but IT managers are learning they have to pay attention to regional differences.

Banish Bottlenecks

Using an e-commerce site is much like driving a car on a highway. The speed at which a request gets from Point A to Point B depends on the traffic it encounters and the stops it must make.

Get Close to Your E-Customer

Great e-commerce site performance may not help at the customer end, explains Paul Scarpa, a senior analyst at The Yankee Group, a Boston-based market research firm. The Internet itself can be a significant bottleneck.

Training Learning Unbound

John Crisp knew his Cobol backward, forward and upside down. He knew his mainframes. A business applications analyst for 11 years with Time Warner Inc.'s customer service group in Tampa, Fla., Crisp knew just about everything there was to know about the applications that got magazines into the hands of Time Warner subscribers. And Crisp knew something else. He knew he didn't know enough.

Guest column: 10 surefire ways to bomb in e-commerce

1.Ignore what already exists.
Most experts agree that an e-commerce site is doomed to failure if no one carefully considers how it fits in with the existing business model. Know how e-commerce will affect your overall business, including sales channels, marketing, order fulfillment, inventory and accounting procedures. Without this information, you run the risk of developing a technically flawless site with little business relevance.