We cater to a diverse clientele spanning across various industries.
Our highly-qualified Alexa Skill Development experts specialize in building customized, creative and highly-interactive web and mobile applications. Whether you are a startup or SME, our experts will get the job done.
We employ the agile methodology to keep you in the loop. Throughout Alexa Skill Development, we focus on delivering solutions that meet your business goals, timeline, and budget.
Whether it is Alexa Skill Development, we offer the most competitive rates on the market. Our personalized services meet different budget needs of our clients from across the globe.
Our Alexa Skill Development company ensures complete project visibility right from the time you approach us with your requirements. We use email, phone, Skype, Slack and other mediums for regular communication with our clients.
Our designers, developers, quality analysts, and a project manager – all strive for customer satisfaction. We deliver Alexa Skill development services that align with our clients’ needs.
Our WORK speaks louder than our WORD. Find out how we helped clients overcome challenges and succeed.
Very good communication at all stages. Always prompt to reply. Excellent quality of work. The team at Third Rock Techkno was communicative, responsive, and accommodating as they produced high-quality work.
Jonathan Wood, Smoovr
It was a pleasure working with the TRT team. Prior to contracting this group, I had a system created that was absolutely terrible and poorly developed. I also worked with a few freelancers that couldnt cut it either. TRT was actually able to execute on our concept and have built a truly solid system for our company.
Karl Pierre, Ontime
The account Linking Feature can authenticate users on the Alexa Voice Assistant platform via Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.
Alexa provides built-in support with Amazon Pay. The user simply has to give permission to Amazon Pay from the Developer Console. Next, the user can use Amazon Pay through custom skills.
Alexa Assistant can be synced with Amazon speakers. Furthermore, Amazon speakers are optimized to work with Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and SiriusXM in addition to Apple Music.
Alexa Voice Assistant consists of built-in features that enable users to set reminders and get results for search inputs ranging from music, news and weather information and forecast info of your area, call, messages, etc.
Echo communication enables interaction between different Alexa Echo Devices. This interaction happens when one echo device gives a voice command to another echo device and uses the Alexa drop-in service.
Alexa Voice Assistant enables users to have an easy food ordering experience. Alexa Voice Assistant users can also listen to updates about their favorite sports teams. Users simply add their preferred Alexa-supported sports team to the list under Alexa's Sports Update app section.
HIPAA is short for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. [https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html] Passed in 1996, the act outlines a number of rules and regulations for the protection of patient health data in any form. Applicable only to the US territory, the act protects the patients and their data security. If an organization fails to comply with these rules, they have to pay hefty sums of money as penalties. Hence, if you are a company that is planning to build a healthcare software solution, ensure that you understand and adhere to the complete HIPAA compliance checklist for software development. HIPAA Compliance Rules and Requirements HIPAA rules apply to the collection, storage, use, transfer, disclosure and destruction of medical data by all the stakeholders. Before you go on to read the rules, let’s first understand the legal terminology associated with HIPAA requirements. 1. What is Protected Health Information in HIPAA? The subject matter of HIPAA is Protected Health Information or PHI. The main purpose of the act is to protect PHI. PHI of patients includes their personal details like contact numbers and addresses as well as their medical records. 2. Who are the covered entities according to the HIPAA Act? A covered entity is anyone who works in the healthcare industry and/or can access PHI. In that sense, hospital admin staff, medical staff, or insurance agents, can be covered entities under the HIPAA. 3. Who are Business Associates under the HIPAA Act? Business associates are those who do not work in the medical field directly but closely function with the covered entities. Examples include IT specialists and lawyers. Since they collaborate with medical institutions, they also have access to the PHI. The complete HIPAA compliance checklist for software development is majorly useful to this category of stakeholders. HIPAA Compliance Rules For Software Development Today, electronic PHI storage solutions have replaced traditional paper-based methods. However, the same electronic modes pose additional risks of data breach [https://healthitsecurity.com/news/70-of-data-involved-in-healthcare-breaches-increases-risk-of-fraud#:~:text=Published%20in%20the%20Annals%20of,sensitive%20medical%20data%2C%20like%20diagnoses.] . Most often, PHI data breaches result in financial loss irrespective of the number of records stolen. Hackers steal private information with the intention of selling it for money. Although, unauthorized exposure of data is only one of the risks involved. Modifications in the classified data is not an uncommon threat. Moreover, changes made in a patient's medical records and certain diagnoses can mislead the course of treatment. Such situations put the patients at a greater risk of personal damage and can even prove to be fatal for them. To avoid all the above risks and disasters, the HIPAA defines 5 major rules that all healthcare software applications must follow: 1. The HIPAA Privacy Rule As per the latest update, the HIPAA Privacy Rule constitutes the requirements regarding PHI protection. Therefore, clinical history, payments for healthcare treatment, and any other medical information must be secure and inaccessible to third-parties. Additionally, the rule describes those certain situations under which certain people can access PHI without patient authorization. It also defines the limitations and rights of the patients. Under this rule, the patients can examine their personal medical records and request copies of the same. In case of a mismatch or an error, the patients may also request corrections. 2. The HIPAA Security Rule The HIPAA Security Rule lays down conditions for PHI security. It includes specific recommendations and limitations regarding health information security. Essentially, this rule helps in identifying, correcting and preventing future security risks [https://www.amazon.com/Healthcare-Information-Security-Privacy-Murphy/dp/0071831797/ref=sr_1_16?dchild=1&keywords=HIPAA&qid=1596031546&sr=8-16] . The rule dictates that the covered entities are required to conduct a periodic data breach risk analysis in order to ascertain reliable PHI protection. 3. The HIPAA Enforcement Rule The HIPAA Enforcement Rule clarifies the investigation provisions and financial penalties in situations of a data breach. However, the penalty amount varies with the number of medical records exposed and the frequency of data breaches in an organization. Generally, a first-time breach can cost an organization from $100 t0 $50,000 but the subsequent breaches can cost as high as $1.5 million. 4. The Breach Notification Rule According to this rule, if the data breach has affected less than 500 individuals, then the organization must send a notification to all those individuals within 60 days of the discovery of the breach. The company must also inform the Office For Civil Rights of the US Health and Human Services within 60 days of the start of a new calendar year. If more than 500 individuals are affected by a data breach then the organization is obliged to notify the media as well. 5. The Omnibus Rule The Omnibus Rule was added in January 2013 and adds to the above-mentioned rules. Typically, this rule extends the obligations of business associates to comply with the HIPAA rules while dealing with PHI. Complete HIPAA Compliance Checklist for Software Development Building web or mobile applications for healthcare providers is a serious business. Naturally, it comes with its fair share of repercussions if the app breaches any provisions of HIPAA compliance. Therefore, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of how to make a healthcare software application HIPAA compliant. The Security Rule of the HIPAA lays down certain requirements as a foundation for data safety in all software tools. To help you develop secure solutions, we’ve come up with a complete HIPAA compliance checklist for software development. 1. User Authorization The US government classifies the degree of identity assurance in software applications into four levels. The lowest levels employ only a single-factor authentication. Thus, if a user is able to freely access the system with only a password, the level of security is the lowest. Higher levels make use of multi-factor authentications wherein users need to verify their mobile phones, email addresses, etc. To make your software HIPAA-compliant, you need to include at least two of the below-mentioned factors: Knowledge: A visitor is required to enter a unique data, the knowledge of which is held only by the legit user. Example: PIN or password. Possession: The users are provided with additional data, like security code, by the platform. Thus, the visitor needs to enter that data so as to ensure legal possession of the information. Inherence: A biometric scan is used to verify an inherent characteristic of the user that can't be copied or modified. Location: Allowing access only if the user is located in a particular location at the time of access. A HIPAA-compliant software solution must remember its users. Moreover, it should allow doctors to access patient data without having to follow the complex protocol every time they need vital information. 2. Remediation Plan The remediation plan is a security plan that details the measures taken by the business associates for patient data protection. So it documents safety best practices, including the following aspects: * A list of all the tasks that will be undertaken to ensure data security * Clear identification of each team member’s responsibility for the same * Plan of action to overcome challenges in future Hence, the remediation plan is the main document that you need for HIPAA compliance in terms of safe software development practices. However, the main challenge here is to figure out the exact tasks that your organization needs to fulfill security compliance. So a combination of medical and software expertise is essential for composing an all-encompassing remediation plan for HIPAA compliant software. 3. Emergency Mode An emergency mode plan guides an organization's plan of action during an attack. It specifies the methods, tasks, and practices to keep the records of the patients safe during an emergency. Therefore, this emergency plan of your HIPAA compliant healthcare app must contain the following information: * A complete list of all the team members along with their roles, contact, and responsibilities. * Details of all the digital healthcare systems that the organization uses * A step-by-step procedure for implementing the plan (how, when, by whom) * Recovery procedures In this plan, business associates must clearly specify the possible risks and characterize the emergencies in which the plan can be effectively used. This helps in performing better threat assessments and be prepared for an actual crisis. 4. Authorization Monitoring The app developers and owners should check the efficiency and safety of the access algorithms at regular intervals of time. So the following authorization precautionary measures are a vital part of the complete HIPAA compliance checklist for software development: Activity logs and audit controls Employ an automated system of risk detection in order to easily identify any suspicious attempts made to enter the system. By keeping a track of the activity logs of all the users, you must be able to learn the patterns of interactions with the app. Automatic log-offs Any healthcare software should be designed in such a way that a user automatically logs-out from the system as soon as their shift is over. Thus, you can reduce the chances of profile penetration. Access control in emergency situations The system must have an option to let the organization access the user’s profile in a case of emergency, even if those team members aren’t physically present. 5. Data Backup According to this provision of the HIPAA, all the electronic protected health information (ePHI) must be duplicated on another dependable data storage. This implies that you must create a backup of the patient details, records, images, etc, regularly. It is important for the organization to concentrate on the following aspects to make their software HIPAA-compliant: Redundancy: The data on your system must be copied at least three times. Additionally, you must store it on at least two different storage at different locations. Encryption: Data encryption is an easier and faster method for the protection of data. The applications should use a 256-bit AES protocol and two-factor authentication for maximum data security. Transfers: In the event of a transfer to public services or cloud providers, the data must be encrypted with a 256-bit AES protocol. This ensures that even if a file is leaked on the server, its contents are not revealed. Monitoring: In an unfortunate event of backup system failure, the system must be immediately able to alert the organization’s team. A great advantage of consistently backing up the data is the fact that even if the initial file copy is jeopardized, its contents will remain safe. Moreover, you can easily recover original data from the secondary copies by the organization. HIPAA Compliance Software Certification The federal governing body for monitoring HIPAA compliance is the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). It falls under the purview of the Department of Health and Human Services in the US. They do not give out any certifications for HIPAA compliance. Moreover, they do not endorse or encourage any other organization claiming to give HIPAA compliance certification. So there is no certificate that you can get for your HIPAA compliant software. Instead, just follow the complete HIPAA compliance checklist for software development to ensure patient data. Choose Trusted Development Agencies to build HIPAA Compliant Software Solutions Now you have a comprehensive HIPAA compliance checklist at your disposal. So the next step is to onboard a team with in-depth knowledge and expertise in healthcare applications. It requires years of technological experience to build the right software solution for healthcare organizations. At Third Rock Techkno [https://www.thirdrocktechkno.com/], we build software solutions that meet all the security standards applicable globally. Over the past 7 years, we have put together the best development, design and testing teams that leverage industry-leading trends to deliver top-notch solutions to our clients. If you have a healthcare app idea, our expert developers [https://www.thirdrocktechkno.com/hire-us/], best development practices and time tested processes can turn it into a market-ready and lucrative web or mobile application.
Software development is quite a volatile job that requires constant efforts from the entire team in order to succeed. There is tremendous competition in the industry and all development teams are working rigorously to outperform their competitors. In such a dynamic and competitive environment, how do you accurately measure and improve the productivity of your development team? We spoke to experts from the industry and have compiled a list of key metrics to measure developer productivity. Before we discuss the metrics, let’s first understand the term productivity in the context of software development. Defining developer productivity In general terms, productivity is defined as an individual’s ability to produce goods or services. But when it comes to software development, the word ‘productivity’ encompasses much more than that. Each part of the process of software development must be taken into account to reflect the effectiveness of the team. Besides the developers, a modern-day software development team often involves personnel such as business analysts and front-end graphic designers. Thus, a team with a multi-disciplinary skillset requires a progressive guideline, must be flexible, and have an open mind. This dynamic complicates the decision of defining a universal metric or KPI that accurately represents productivity. However, it is a common notion that the success of a business is defined by its customers. In that sense, a software project is successful when the product is ultimately approved and appraised by the targeted audience or users. Therefore, your team is productive when: * It can recognize the progress made and determine where it stands at a given point of time during a project. * It delivers performance in accordance with the expected result for a user or a customer. Challenges in measuring developer productivity The world is not a perfect place and the pieces don’t just fall into the right places, at the right time. Working on a software development project can be very challenging and sophisticated. While some project management tools are of great benefit [https://www.thirdrocktechkno.com/blog/top-8-best-task-management-software-to-use-in-2020/] for the successful completion of projects, they don’t necessarily provide insights into the individual developer’s productivity. This raises some serious concerns while trying to estimate the working efficiency of developers. Some of the issues are as follows: Vague documentation Sometimes the developers are handed a substandard specification of the project in question. This raises a bunch of questions in the mind of the developers and they are often confused about the design and build phase. They’re left with no other option but to work things out on their own and refine the requirements. In such a situation, the overall build phase takes a longer time than expected, forcing the developers to cause a delay in other projects. Environmental configuration There are some projects that require developers to create interfaces for trading information across multiple environments. For such assignments, it becomes essential to configure firewalls and supply credentials. Since the developers have to wait for several permissions, they are unable to start working immediately. This adversely affects overall productivity. Many development teams are globally distributed With the kind of advanced technology available, it has become very easy for businesses to outsource their work across different continents. However, this particular business model makes it harder to measure developer productivity. This is because of the developers operating in different time-zones and with distinct user stories. Integration A developer may successfully execute functionality that has been tested and works perfectly in their developer environment. But it further needs to be integrated with another developers’ class library or functionality. An enterprise-level implementation can be particularly complex and drawn-out. The sheer volume of conference calls, emails, or instant messaging sessions, carried out to clear the doubts and put forward suggestions, can shrink overall morale. Key metrics to measure the productivity of your software development team The aforementioned challenges infer that a single metric cannot cover all the aspects of measuring developer productivity. Each developer has unique talents and skill sets and it will be unfair to judge all developers on one common parameter. However, we still need to track how things are going in a particular format. > “As dev leaders, we spend most of our time translating between two groups of people in two parallel universes. Most CEOs and board members come from the business side (sales, marketing, finance) and while they enjoy the outcomes of engineering, they don’t fully understand how we work. At the same time, many engineers don’t fully understand the business side of the organization. This is the background of most dev leaders. The right software metrics can help provide a common language between dev leaders and business executives.” - Dan Lines, COO, LinearB [https://linearb.io/] Thus, despite the limitations of rigid metrics, software development teams do need metrics to make data-driven decisions. So what are the ideal metrics that you should use to measure a development team’s effectiveness or productivity? > “As an engineering leader myself, I've come up with the formula that's been working well for a long time: reasonable goals multiplied by the team's overall happiness equal a productive and efficient development process. Thus, the most powerful software metrics to track revolve around the cycle time and the way your team collaborates.” - Alex Sokolov, Senior Software Engineering Manager, iTechArt Group [https://www.itechart.com/?utm_source=Alex] Having said that, there are certain key metrics that can be used to assess the effectiveness and productivity of developers: 1. Sprint Burndown Reports [https://www.scruminc.com/sprint-burndown-chart/] These reports are a key element in the agile scrum methodology [https://www.thirdrocktechkno.com/blog/agile-scrum-methodology-scrum-lessons-i-learned-as-a-beginner/] . In software development terminology, sprints are time-boxed periods (1 week – 1 month) during which developers have to work on and complete planned projects. At the end of a sprint, developers update the manager with the progress they have made. Using this data, the managers create a sprint burndown report that reflects the performance of each team member. These reports offer important insights such as: * Consistent early sprint finishes indicate that the work allocated to the team members is less than the acceptable standard. * Constantly missed deadlines signify that the workload allocated is too much as compared to the given time frame. A gradual reduction in the ‘remaining values’ is better than a dramatic drop as the latter phenomenon shows that the work was not assigned in granular pieces. 2. Team Velocity [https://www.scruminc.com/velocity/#:~:text=Licensed%20Scrum%20Program-,Velocity,all%20fully%20completed%20User%20Stories.] The team velocity metric tracks the ‘amount’ of work completed during a specified sprint. It is calculated in terms of story points or hours. This metric is extremely useful for the estimation and planning of work for future sprints. It helps the managers in: * Setting realistic sprint forecasts and delivery expectations. * Point out unforeseen challenges that were unknown during the planning phase. * Evaluate if the changes in the process have produced any results (stable/increased velocity) 3. Throughput [https://www.mazzlo.co/post/agile-metrics-throughput] This metric is used to track the exact number of tasks completed during a sprint. In other words, it measures the total value-added work output of the team in a given time period. It is crucial to align the results of this metric with the business goals as it shows the real-time performance of the team. Throughput metric assists in: * Detecting whenever the team is blocked. * Learning if the team is overloaded. This can be done by comparing the average throughput with the current workload. 4. Cycle Time [https://screenful.com/blog/software-development-metrics-cycle-time] Cycle Time refers to the total time taken by the team for the completion of a task. It also helps in estimating the speed with which a team can deliver new features to the users and whether it can manage multiple issues. Consistently recording and analyzing the cycle time helps in identifying the bottlenecks in the process and setting more accurate user expectations. 5. Bug Rates [https://stackify.com/measure-defect-escape-rate/] This metric is used to track the number of bugs generated as new features are deployed. A developer team may release a product or an update quickly, but it is good-for-nothing if the code is bug-ridden [https://www.thirdrocktechkno.com/blog/what-is-code-review-and-why-is-it-important-2] . Bug Rates metric helps you in determining whether a product is of value or not. You can measure bugs in two aspects: (a) Severity of the bug (b) The number of bugs. A team can record the number of bugs shipped during each sprint and set a limit for acceptable bugs. Also, the severity of bugs should not be in the range of Medium to High. Using developer productivity metrics the right way How do you make the best out of these metrics and what are some of the mistakes team leads, project managers and CTOs should avoid? Let’s hear what these experts have to say. Learn the art and science of software estimation > “The metrics we use are based on estimation. Software estimation is both an art and a science. On any project, developers provide estimates for building a software application. These estimates are then tracked to determine how well a team and team member are doing against an estimate. When tasks require more than the estimated time, developers request more time and provide a reason. Ideally, in retrospect, you would go through all the tasks and see what can be learned from the tasks that went over budget to use for the next estimation effort.” - Michael Daoud, Founder & CEO, Visus LLC [http://visusllc.com/] Not all metrics apply to each team > “Different teams have different goals, and it doesn't work to try to force one productivity metric on everyone. Instead, let each team come up with the measures they want to be evaluated on. A team that builds a website might want to be measured on fast turnaround time. A team that builds critical backend systems might want to be measured on high availability and low bug count. The only thing the leader needs to do is to ensure that every measure has a counterbalancing measure to avoid the risk of a team gaming the system. If a low bug count is the only measure, the team might never deliver any new functionality. Once you have agreed with each team on their measures, challenge them to improve them, and agree on a reward for a given improvement.” - Sten Vesterli, IT Consultant, More Than Code [https://www.vesterli.com/] Learn from the insights and keep adapting > “Enforcing these metrics at a management level is not enough. The team has to adapt and use it as well. These metrics can provide great insights into the efficiency of the team but are of no use if you don’t understand where the process is lacking and make the necessary adjustments. This isn’t a unilateral process. You need to have a discussion with the team to figure out the best way to implement those changes.” - Deepu Prakash, SVP - Process & Technology Innovation, Fingent [https://www.fingent.com/] Don’t let numbers deceive you > “The most common mistake done by managers is to measure work done in absolute numbers. Depending on your task, you may take days to figure out how to even get started. Although doing highly valuable work, it is misrepresented on your git log and might even affect how your developer does things, with the mindset that thinking = working.” - Mauricio Giordano, CTO, InEvent [https://inevent.com/en/] How to improve the performance of a software development team As we have mentioned earlier in this post, the insights you get from these metrics will serve as a cue as to what needs to be improved. In addition to that, certain basic measures like providing developers with a noise-free, pleasant workstation and conducting regular training sessions go a long way in enhancing productivity. Lastly, clarity in objectives, motivation, and boosting developer expertise are keys to improving your development team’s productivity. Encourage them to keep learning > “You can help your team be productive by supporting and boosting their expertise. Give them a chance to use their skills to improve their performance. Guide them to learn new techniques that will provide desirable results.” - Dennis Bell, Founder & CEO, Byblos Coffee [https://bybloscoffee.com/] Have your own definition of performance > “It’s key to define what performance means to you and your team. For us, it is developing what the user actually needs. Doing that in a high-quality manner, and as fast as possible - while keeping our automation up to date. Then you'd need to set up specific goals & key results and create an environment to help your teams focus on those goals. As soon as the goal is not clear enough, or there is too much noise with other stuff - it gets difficult to achieve it.” - Atanas Georgiev, CTO, Enterprise League [https://enterpriseleague.com/] Don’t ignore the importance of code reviews > “If you deploy often, a risk is not QA'ing the code properly, which could lead to lots of bugs and time spent fixing them. If the goal is to reduce that time, that pushes the team to automate testing, integrate QA effectively, and set up monitoring that rapidly pinpoints issues. Combined, we believe this creates a rapid and high performing team that has the side benefit of being very productive.” - Neal Taparia, CEO, Solitaired [https://solitaired.com/] Daily reports are the key to long term growth > “I request regular reports from a team on progress. I want to physically see what they have accomplished or changed and what problems have come up since our last check-in. Keep the communication open. Trust your team enough to allow them to work as independently as possible but be there as back up for when they need you." > - Sarah Franklin, Co-founder, Blue Tree AI [https://bluetree.ai/] [https://www.thirdrocktechkno.com/hire-us] The Bottom Line In a nutshell, improving your development team’s productivity first requires you to define productivity and performance for your team. Even though metrics won’t necessarily give you the most accurate insights for individual developers, you need this data for a collective understanding of how things are going at your organization. When it comes to improving your team’s productivity, motivation, one on one meetings and relevant training sessions can do wonders for you.
Is your mind buzzing with ideas?
Let us know about them!