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Business Case vs. Business Plan Research

Introduction
is no better way to ensure success in business than having comprehensive business documents. Although the old school of thought can tell that success in business rests with the entrepreneur, modern research and studies have shown that a business requires both a business case and business plan for success. However, a business may not stand to gain much from the mission-critical documents without understanding them. Comprehensive understanding of the documents requires differentiating them and knowing their application areas.

Business plan
A business plan is among the most important business components. A business plan is an important roadmap through which success in an organization will be achieved. It helps to evaluate business goals, comprehensive reasons why the goals are achievable, and plan for achieving the goals. A business plan documents the future of a business and where the business is headed. A business plan is not complicated as many would have thought. It ranges from a few sentences to hundred pages. However, as much as it will be simple, the few-sentence business should have a detailed business strategy for the future. Therefore, there is no standard way of writing a business plan (DeBoer, 1998).

It is clear that the size of a business plan does not matter according to the above description. However, the business plan should have some formal sections such as title page. Such formal sections will enable understanding and acting on the business plan. Furthermore, a business plan should have three important sections of business concepts, marketplace, and financiers. Such is a successful business plan that is likely to get approved in case it is necessary. The above three sections are further divided into (Viana, 1990):

Executive summary
Organization and management
Funding request
Company Description
Product line
Financial projections
Market analysis
Market sales
A business plan may focus on changes in company’s perception and branding by the customer. If the existing business would like to carry out a major change or would like to have a new line of product or service, it requires a business plan for at least three years. The investors are likely to expect a return on their investment after that period. A business plan can either be external or internal (Viana, 1990).

Business Case
Besides the business plan, there is a business case that may look similar. However, a business case is a comprehensive persuasion prepared by a company’s department or another unit of the company to help in justification of a proposed project by anticipated income. Therefore, a business case helps to capture the reasons for initiating and funding a certain project within the company. It should be presented well and in written document. However, it may be presented verbally or in presentations. A business case works in such logic that an organization’s resource such as money should not be consumed without going to support a particular business need. A comprehensive business case should adequately capture both quantifiable and non-quantifiable features of a proposed project. A business case depends on the attitude and volume of the business (Carroll, 2010).

Project management methodologies require comprehensive and highly structured business cases. Therefore, business cases range from comprehensive and highly structured to informal and brief. Formal business cases include information that also serves as the project background, the anticipated business profits, other options, anticipated costs, gap analysis, and risks involved in the project. The business case project team should also consider doing nothing as an option, but it should include the risks and costs of doing nothing. The company then derives the justification of the project from the above information. It should be noted that business case is not prepared and developed by the project manager. The business case is prepared and developed by the stakeholders and the project sponsors. The business case is argued regarding cost-benefit analysis. The cost-benefit analysis includes both financial and non-financial costs and benefits. The cost-benefit analysis helps the business to have understanding and account of environmental benefits thereby understanding economic effects in details (Hart, 2000).

Similarities between Business Plan and Business Case
Both are mission-critical business tools with an aim of bringing success to the business. Their implementation requires approval by the company’s management if they are to proceed to the next stage. They are also comprehensive and have several divisions thereby making them formal. Unavailability of any of the components may make the management disapprove the documents by the lack of details. Although they may look different, they look to seize an opportunity in the market whose achievement may propel the business to the next business level thereby making the business gain competitive advantage (Boehler, 2009).

Both documents should be developed adaptable. It means that they should be tailored to both the size and risk of the business proposal. Additionally, they are business oriented in that they are focused on the impact and capabilities of the business as opposed to focusing on the technical side of the business (Boehler, 2009).

Differences between Business Plan and Business Case
There are as many differences as similarities between the two business documents. A business plan covers the whole business. Therefore, business plan impacts are felt in the whole business. On the other hand, a business case addresses a single line of product or department. Therefore, its impacts are felt along that product or in that department. A business case also gives room for choices in case the proposed choice is not considered. However, this is not true with a business plan(Walker, 2002).

The two documents are different in what they aim to achieve during their developments. A business helps to give explanations about the company by giving facts and figures where necessary. A business case is driven by the need to implement a project in the organization. Therefore, a business case helps the business in reaching certain goals and objectives by focusing on the current state of the company and how it can be improved. A business plan is about planning for the business now and in the future (Walker, 2002).

Conclusion
There are more about the business case and business plan than what the paper has discussed. However, it was worth to have knowledge of the two mission-critical business documents. There is the need for more research in the areas to unearth more information about them. Although the discussions in this paper may not be detailed, it can be used by organizations that would like to have an understanding how they can strategize for their businesses using the two documents.

Compare and Contrast Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) Models

Introduction
SDLC is a conceptual model integrated into the system development process that consists of a series of phases to plan, analyze, design, implement and support an information system.

Seven-Step SDLC Model
Planning
Planning is the first phase of the seven-step SDLC model and is essential in determining the necessity of a proposed system so as to achieve efficiently and effectively the organization’s strategic goals. Planning phase entails of determining the project scope and the IT specialists and analysts define the location for the execution of the system functions. (Ahituv, Neumann & Zviran 2002)

System analysis
System analysis involves the IT specialists and analysts, and the end-users to work together to identify the need for change or the source of the problem. (Babers, 2015) The development team that got identified in the planning phase works together with the system users in modeling and the definition of the business process in detail.

Design
This phase involves the determination of the information requirements of the new system. (Shim, 2000) Simply the description of the necessary features, specifications, and operations of the new system get done in detail.

Development
The development phase involves the transformation of the design documents into the actual system. (Ruparelia 2010) System designers build and program information technologies and information system projects at this stage.

Testing
The purpose of integration and systems testing is to determine whether the new system meets the set of business objectives set out in the planning phase and to check for bugs, errors, and interoperability. The typical approach to testing of the design is to move from an individual element to the view of the entire system. (Norton, & McGraw-Hill, 2002)

Implementation
The implementation phase entails of the distribution of the new system to all the organization’s personnel and installation in the various departments. After installation in the departments, the workers get training on the operation of the new system. (Crnkovic, & Larsson, 2002) They also receive documentation such as system manuals and user guide to instruct them on the use of the system.

Operation and Maintenance

The final phase of the seven-step SDLC model involves the evaluation and maintenance of the new system. During the systems support and security phase, the IT staff is responsible for the maintenance, improvement, and protection of the new system. Maintenance involves correction of errors and adaptation to the changes of the environment. Improvement involves the alterations to provide new features and benefits while protection includes the safeguarding the new system from internal and external threats. (Shelly, & Rosenblatt, 2011)

Four-step SDLC Model
Definition Phase
The definition phase is the initial phase of the four-step model and consists of preliminary analysis, feasibility study, information analysis, and system design. The preliminary analysis gets used to determine the problem that requires a new system or system modification in an organization. The feasibility study also determines the necessity of the project and draws a preliminary plan on how it should proceed if justified. The information analysis consists of an analysis of the present system, the determination of the information requirements and the conceptual design of the proposed system. The system design entails of developing a program and procedure specifications that would get used by IT specialists and developers of the proposed system.

Construction Phase
The construction phase comprises of the programming, procedure and development. (Ruparelia, 2010) The programming activity involves the coding and testing of the computer programs on the computer system. The procedure and development include writing and the testing of procedures for various users and operators. The programming results in computer instructions whereas the procedure and development results in instructions meant to guide the people involved in the proposed system.

Implementation Phase
The third phase is the implementation phase that involves conversion in Information systems technologies. The implementation phase involves the training of the workers that will operate and use the new system, breaking the system in, and finally acceptance testing by the end-user. (Li, 1990)

Operation and Testing Phase

The last step of the four-step model comprises of operation and maintenance, post audit, and termination. The new system at this stage operates as a production facility, processing and producing information, and at the same time undergoing maintenance. Throughout the functioning of the system, periodic post audit review forms control points. The purpose of the reviews is to indicate when the operation cycle of the current system approaches the end, and a new cycle life get indicated. The current system gets terminated when its operation in the organization is not worthwhile. (Ahituv, Neumann & Zviran 2002)

Compare and Contrast the seven-step and four-step SDLC Models
The seven-step and four-step models are systematic processes used in system development by organizations and businesses. They also have closely related processes though with different activities at each phase. Both processes are used to produce new systems that assist in corporate transactions, the connection of businesses and office data, and also support users in the architecture of strategy. The life cycle of the two models starts at initiation and ends after termination. (Isaias & Issa 2015) However, there are several differences between the two SDLC models. The seven-step model is highly preferable and produces high-quality systems because it entails of more stages that allow the solving of complex problems, end-user involvement, and flexibility. Unlike the four-step SDLC model, the seven-step SDLC model consumes more time and resources in building, implementation, and construction of information systems. The suitability of the seven-step SDLC model is handling complex problems that require more concentration. The four-step SDLC model gets suited for the less complex issues that get needed in a short period.