This page lists the material I developed in fulfillment of Regis MSCIT course MSCE630 - Planning.
Topics this page:
Burdman, J. R. (1999). Collaborative web development: Strategies and best practices for web teams. Addison-Wesley (Pearson). ISBN: 0-201-43331-1 soft with CD. $24.46 from Amazon
I think Tomsen makes on page 9 a startling statement: "very little on the Web, in terms of content, services, or product, is unique." So what can a publisher offer? “the enhanced services layered on top of the Web site's core competency.”
Over a decade ago -- in 1990, "Futurist" Thomas Nesbitt wrote a popular book called "Megatrends". He didn't predict the internet. But he did propound a principle of balance that businesses ignore at their peril:
Technology, a "cool" medium, is made "hot" when imbued with caring human interaction.
The ascendency of companies offering CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software such as Broadvision and Vignette prove that an organization shows its caring not with multimedia pizzaz, but with the immediacy and relevancy of the content it delivers to individuals.
One company that is taking advantage of the "high tech - high touch" paradigm is bookseller Barnes and Noble with its http://www.barnesandnobleuniversity.com, which offers short classes with instructors and students interacting with each other -- all free of charge (for now, anyway).
A few months ago, MIT decided to put all their curriculum materials online and publicly available to all. They said that it's the interaction with professors and the relationships students build with each other that people go to MIT.
On the Other Hand ...I am astounded with the WebCT software we use with Regis online classes, which extend the "mighty teacher-to-lowly student" pedagogical approach to learning we've inherited from the middle ages.
I think it would be more useful if students could respond topically to the week-by-week missives from the instructor rather than in a forum completely separate from the lecture materials.
Structuring the site on what's due each week, while easy to apply to every class, detracts from the utility of focus on content of value -- the topics.
All this makes the current learning system coldly temporary and trasactional in nature rather than warmly relational and long-lasting.
Most importantly, it's incredible to me that all vestige of student interaction are erased at the end of each class. What greater learning there would be, and what greater value a Regis degree would offer if Regis could somehow help students build on the rapport they've developed with others in their classes so that it benefits their entire career.
But Regis and WebCT is not making that easy with the system they are using now.
I find it rather ironic that it's used to teach students to collaborate.
Borrowing a sound byte from a previous US presidential campaign...
It's the Relationships, _____!Successful sites facilitate the building of relationships because content alone is not unique. Amazon remembers what I ordered and recommend similar items. Match.com, the most successful internet dating site, each week emails each of its subscribers a list of potential dates match.com has found compatible. These successful sites constantly help their constituants connect with each other.
Similarly, I think that the most valuable "enhanced services" WebCT and Regis offers are relationships. In this fast-changing world, where half of one's knowledge becomes obsolete in six months, relationships among specialists are more important than ever. One person can't be knowledable and skillful in everything. Increasing rate of change make what any individual knows on his/her own less important than who that person knows.
I'll get off my soapbox now.
Value Exchange (week 1)Maybe it would help to think about a specific function necessary within a business. For example, Legal, Market Research, Advertising, Sales, Finance, Operations, R&D, Website technology, etc.
Every business needs these functions covered whether we ignore it or not.
As a one-man consulting shop, perhaps an office supply site can get me forms, such as a contract I give to my clients, invoices I'll send, and telephone message pads.
If the office supply site offers only a list of the forms, that only takes me so far. But what if I need to answer a question about the form? What if I need to modify the form?
The Value Chain speaks to such issues.
To provide value throughout my value chain, the office supply site could link me to lawyers and other professionals in my area. Their name could appear right next to the page I noted interest in the paper forms.
Note: Much data from the interview will feed the phases and work items that will be listed in your student project.
A simplified architectural diagram of the different types of servers used:
A diagram of the progression of our relationships:
Vendor Interview (week 3)I interviewed the technical team at the bank's internet infrastructure support group.
PURPOSE: 1. Get enough material to get a good grade in the class. Duh!
GOALS: A summary and a pretty picture to show for my time.
APPROACH: Take the guys to lunch and bring a notepad.
QUESTION: I heard about how some large companies have a problem keeping the various sites having a consistent look and feel. How have you coped with this issue?
ANSWER: We have the same challenge. Each country around the world esentially runs its own business. None of them have to use us here if they don't want to.
Our customers keep coming back because they can take advantage of our R&D. We have to work hard to stay in front of our customers by offering capabilties before they ask for them.
As technologists, we try to leave the enforcement of business logic to the customer's control. There's a corporate executive from among the customer ranks that does that. The run-time behavior of the software is configurable by businesses themselves. We write our software to refer to separate rule files before determining what functionality to exercise. Businesses then can have great control over the behavior of the software without waiting for more programming.
These packages help us select and display the most appropriate advertisement to each person coming in. We try to turn visitors into friends by encouraging them to register. If a person registers, a business can specify that the system not show them the same message. We try to turn friends into customers by giving them different incentives until they finally buy. A business can also time limit each display. This feature is not just for banner ads, but text as well.
We provide a web front-end for businesses to up and download images they create with their local agency. Any changes can be instantly propagated to all pages because we dynamically build each page based on internal business configuration specification tables.
Our content management system, based on Interwoven technology, can display messages appropriate to each customer's account balance. A banker can set certain offers to go out to only those with a certain amount of cash to spend. We give our businesses a way to make sure that a customer who already has a certain type of account is not shown an incentive for a product they already have. That would be a waste of time for everyone.
We also have a campaign management system that tracks the effectiveness of ads. It tracks loggable events preceding each actual sale. We're able to analyze what customers do online on a rather granular scale because each of our applications write out log records.
QUESTION: Doesn't all this slow down response time?
ANSWER: Our server now generates an about 5 pages per second. We're working on brining that to 7 pages. In one country, we have 56 servers at each site.
Our strategy to achieve consistency is by offering services that allow business people a simple yet flexible way to put up webpages. For starters we provide businesses in the company with a physical infrastructure of servers farms. We put applications in two datacenters across two different states so that apps can be redundantly hot swapped. They are of course staffed by technicians around the clock who monitor our telecom links with two primary carriers. So if AT&T has a bottleneck, we also have capacity though IBM's lines. For security reasons, we also use our own internal network that runs to our ATMs around the world.
Our servers are load-balanced with Cisco switches that send work to the least busy server. We load software on each server to report their status to a central monitoring server, much like Tivoli software.
We also offer a performance monitoring service such that if when customer service people get a call froma customer reporting slow links or that they can't get through, the CSR can lookup a website we put up for reporting traffic reports from several agents around the world. These are either machines managed by KeyNote or our own machines using Segue software.
QUESTION: Some time ago I read somewhere that our company was rated poorly in how quickly we respond to emails.
ANSWER: They called us “eSnubs" I think.
Our job is to enable the bankers to operate with less people. 'Nuf said.
We have actually turned that situation around by making sure that our web work is integrated into each business' workflow applications. We've built our website so that customers can send and receive messages right from the website just like hotmail. They don't need an email account. Customers' messages are sent into each bank's Lotus Domino server farm. This allows each message to be tracked and routed to the appropriate people. An important part of the workflow application is to escalate an item automatically up the management chain if it doesn't get answered in a timely manner.
You of course know about all this since you're doing the QA on it for us.
That's another article.
Comment on other interviewsMary, You have identified a very important issue, in fact a whole paradigm -- both dimes! Your comments?? made me realize that we have a bias -- an assumption about the value of documentaion. Why should we get dumbfounded when we find that people can actually make money even though they don't write books? It's because we learn from those who write books or teach from books. Book people of course will say that everyone should write books. But do we really? People may think that upper management wants documentation for themselves. But in my experience upper management rarely reads documentation. They just ask for it thinking that they can improve the process and because it seems like that's what people should do. In some places, people are productive despite the time they waste writing documents no one will use. There are also upper management types who tell their people not to write things down. One boss I had once criticized me for taking notes in a meeting. He said that I should be able to remember everything and that my note taking was distracting. Another boss from hell had a clean desk policy. Cluttered desk cluttered mind, he said. So he told the cleaning lady to throw everything away on everyone's desk every night. This went on until he didn't get back to the office like he intended and the papers that got tossed cost him an expensive court battle. What idiotic managers like him don't realize is that improvements need to be realized by the people doing the work. What I hope school can do is teach us to evaluate when it's productive to document and when not. The owner of the business you interviewed may have an alterior motive not to let the project manager know how much money is in the project. If the project manager knew, she may realize how much money the guy made off her and she'll have ammunitioin to ask for more money.
It's one thing for you to make notes to yourself. But's quite another to document for someone else.
What I was questioning is whether there is an adequate amount of cost-benefit analysis before companies require people to create documents. How much time will it save those reading it?
I think the reason why most don't like to document is that they intuitively understand the lack of value.
I'm not making a general statement that all documentation is bad. It's not a black and white thing.
What I'm saying is that I don't think enough people recognize that documents are a means, not an end. As a project manager in a big company, it's too easy to put down paper output as the ultimate deliverable.
To me, agreement and teamwork after communication is the deliverable. Satisfied customers who end up better off is the ultimate deliverable.
But when people are interested in getting their own way as the goal, then documentation becomes the deliverable because it's a visible sign of compliance.
Anyway, I agree with you that plans are helpful if they are actually used as a tool.
Note: Data from this exercise should be included in the final student project
Tool and Method used in Information Architecture
Information Architecture Tool/Method (Week 4)Use Cases
Procedure for Group Evaluation (week 5)
Value Exchange (week 1)I struggled with how to make the Value Chain concept relevant and useful to me. I didn't see value in the value chain idea until I realized that I need to use it in context with the most valuable business advice I remember:
I achieve value (earn my money from my customers) when they can make better money from their customers.
If I want to be a consultant, I should look at the what the best consultants do:
Consultants demonstrate their innovation by commenting on technologies and markets way before most companies think about it. Then as more companies want to find out abou the new stuff, there they are: timeliness.
Consultants create relevance by comparing industry numbers with surveys conducted in-house at clients.
Consultants create utility by coming up with mental models their clients can use to manage their work, such as the Value Chain model identified below.
Value Chain (week 2)Tomsen's five factors of value for Internet users (Tomsen, page 10) should be used throughout the performance on processes.
Use the Value Chain from the viewpoint of a particular type of customer working in a particular industry solving a particular functional problem for his/her customer (my customer's customer).
To ensure consistency of format and quality (no typos, grammatical errors, and legal concerns), consultantancies require that all documents released go through the quality assurance group consisting of graphic artists, proofreaders, content editors, and even lawyers. These professionals refer to a document that specifies the standards for how an organization's documents should look like. These specifications include the color of logos, fonts, tab positions, and many other minute details.
This attentiveness carries forward to client operations. To create value, consultants must make it fast and easy for clients to install, configure, and use their products. The larger consultancies establish "strategic partnerships" with vendors so that they receive information on products still on the drawing board and in-depth training before others.
To prevent "buyer's remorse" (Value Assessment), large consulting firms have people in their organization who are on each of the equivalent level as the client organization. The Senior Partners go to the same country clubs as client corporate top management. I experienced the value of this first hand when I was an independent consultant. I spent months planning a project with a mid-level manager. When he presented the plan to his management, his manager took my plan and gave it to a large firm to implement. I could have sued, but I didn't have the money or the inclination to embarass my sponsor (as useless as he was to me).
Upgrades is where most profits are made. Sales from existing customers are a lot easier and cheaper to get than new customers. Book publishers, movie studios, food products companies, sports teams, etc. make this an artform. They take the same concept and package it different ways to extend offerings to customers and to get new customers from a different medium. Book readers end up buying audio tapes. Movie goers end up buying videos and DVDs.
posted by Reginald Slater (reslater)
I found your essay logical, clear, meaningful, and helpful.
I salute you. It takes unusual insight and discernment to apply Value Chain analysis (which is normally used either to design firm level strategy or to analyze economic conditions in industrial sectors)to the operating dynamics of consultant/client relationships for a consulting firm. One would think that Value Chain analysis would not be the preferred assessment method for the type of questions we are dealing with.
Wilson you rose to the occasion. You have turned a lemon into lemonade. You have shown unusual insight. You have done a superb job! Your future is assured.
Keep up the good work!
posted by Naina Mahale (nsmahale)
The message in Wilson's essay was pretty clear to me. Everyone follows the apparent leader of the group. The hypocrisy in the attitude of the top management is also something to be noted. His personal example where he lost his hard worked project to a bigger fish is totally frustrating. I guess this exemplifies the 'Dog eats dog' nature of big companies.
The lesson I've learned in the difference between Tripod and About's free sites is the SPEED is king. Many site developers don't pay enough attention to it until it's too late when they realize all their potential customers went to a competitor.
Performance considerations need to be planned along with everything else, starting from the get-go, including the budgeting for load balancing switches and time and tools for monitoring and tuning.
Why build something if nobody is going to use it?
The writer is noticing the Pareto Principle, that the top 20% of effort generates 80% of the results.
I work at a bank which spent millions on a site/service before they found that only 5 customers were profitable. One single customer generated 30% of total profits.
QUESTION 4: Do you have VB 6.0 programmers, since both the customers environment is Windows and our main tool vendor provides VB integration tool sets?
ANSWER 4: Well we have a few people that can do VB, myself included, says Mike. I ask, what is your primary integration language? Java, says Mike. Great language I say.
Vendor Programmers (week 3) Post 279The tone of their answer to #4 (We have few people that can do VB) speaks volumes. There is a vast difference between people who CAN do a language versus someone who LIVES a language. My preference is to hire people who say they dream in the language I want to use in the shop. Programming is such a complicated endeavor that it takes dedication to the craft. I have seen very few people who can code professionally as a dabbler. Learning the intricacies of efficiently using a language takes a lot of time and self discipline. Sure, someone can learn the rudiments of a language and think they can program in it.
But a true pro sweats to find out how to take advantage of every nuance of the language. There's only time to get really good with only one language at a time, in my opinion. Otherwise, one is too fragmented. Maybe I m too dumb to do it myself, but thats my observation of others.
When I interview a programmer I always ask what libraries of reusable code of functions he/she has used. If the person says he/she doesn't know of any or (worse yet) doesn't use them, then I avoid hiring them because my experience is that those who don't use other's code won't listen to me as a boss, either. They have too big of an ego to work well in a team.
The problem with a mixed shop is I find it difficult to maintain a peaceful coexistance between the camps. There is always an undercurrent of competition that I don't think is entirely healthy. It gets personal more than I think is useful. Some of it is rather self serving on the part of the programmers. One reason programmers push to get on the latest language or OS or whatever technology is ego so they can appear more knowleable to their competitor friends. I wish more programmers would brag about how much money they saved the company. Instead they brag about how they shaved a tenth of a second off a program after 3 days of company time. But true professionals focus on their customers and seek to provide value - the most bang for least buck. Sometimes that means using COBOL and an old computer running MS-DOS. Others, perhaps XOR, focus more on their status. Hence the steel floors and use of one-off technologies. People like you see through them.
Different Personalities Appreciate Plans Differently (week 5)I think there are several reasons why there is no standard web project template.
One is that some web projects are hugh, and a project plan to put a website together is part of an overall business plan.
Another is that consultants want to differentiate themselves. They think that giving out their plan is like giving out their secret recipie. I can't say I blame them because it takes several projects to refine a good template. A plan is an investment for them.
Also a big reason for no standard plans is that we have to deal with different sponsors.
Some hard drill sargeant types don't want to bother with any paper, just the results such as sales dollars and profits generated from the site. With such people, we have to use military metaphors and show a map where each square inch represents a task. During meetings we talk about how much territory was taken since our last report. When people quit out of the project, it was just a casualty to them, never mind the cause.
On the other hand, there are analytical types like Jimmy Carter who feel the need to understand every last detail. These are the people who appreciate detailed plans. Frankly, such people don't tend to become sponsors, but they may be the CFO trusted by the CEO who is hiring us.
There are also bureacractic managers who count the number of pages per dollar, sometimes no matter what is on those pages or how complicated they were. They are the ones who will hold you to amounts on individual lines on the plan. They don't want to pay any more than what was budgeted on each detailed line item, and then insist on further percentage discounts on the whole project. Putting a detailed plan in front of them is like handing knives and guns to your assassin.
And then there are artisans who constantly change their mind. With them, project plans are irrelevant. It's the look and feel of the site that's important. With them, working on a time and materials basis is the sane approach. There is no "done" with them, only "we're out of money".
“Value Chain" (Week 1)First of all, www.1stopHomeOffice.com is a fake site, right?
So I guess the assignment to think up possible services along our instructor's definition of the "value chain" -- specification, configuration, acquisition, shipping, integration, value assessment, service, implementation, and upgrades?
So for ideas, I went to Staples.com and OfficeDepot.com, which has a great Business Tools section with downloadable forms, small business handbook, and web directory.
But the thing I don't get about this assignment is why would I need to go to such sites? Specification includes browsing to see what I didn't know I gotta have. Configuration is unpacking it. Acquisition is giving out my shipping address and credit card. Implementation is finding room for it.
My question is, if I'm offering consulting advice over the Internet, why would I want office supplies? To setup my computer?
I'm not very inspired by the Regis concept of Value Chain.
When I think about the word _Value Chain_ I can't help but think about the chain of how value is *Added*: Manufacturer (Pampers) -- Distributor (some company) -- Retailer (KMart) -- Purchasing Consumer (mommie) -- Ultimate Consumer (a child).
In the 80's the business book _The Fifth Discipline_ sold because it focuses on this perspective, reminding us that a business make money (adds value) by increasing the value of those before or after them in the delivery chain.
The revolution enabled by the Internet is disintermediation -- where the middleman if cut out. For example, with eBay, people spend less time in retail stores and deal with other consumers. Search engines like Google let me locate and buy from manufacturers directly.
Did I miss something here?
posted by Angela Rose (alrose)
I don't necessarily agree with it as well.
I guess when you are starting e-commerce classes with little content to start with you have to start somewhere and everybody has a different opinion on how web development should be done and what is important.
I guess this is what you get for not having standards committees?
posted by Wilson Mar (wimar)
I just realized that the chain from manufacturer to consumer is also called a _Supply Chain_.
The Regis list can also be described as a purchasing cycle?
The case study is good in that it notes we ALREADY have paying customers before we send our wallet into an office supply store. I've seen too many people spend their life savings before they realize that they don't have a viable and sustainable business. Many dot bombs spent millions before they ever talked to an actual potential customer.
(week 2)I should use a Subject heading like __Week 2 Discussion (with myself)__ because I'm tryin to get some interaction here.
I have not seen many posts more than one level deep. Why is there no dialog going on here? This, more than any other class subject, should be ripe for reparte between theory and reality.
I've seen more lively discussions about programming Java arrays.
I think we've got so much busywork in this class that our attention is directed to get words out rather than on reflecting and doing battle with what each other are saying.
So I hope that Ben will give me credit for this week's Discussion post for this provocation:
Why do I think that I'm wasting my time when I write about SDLC and frameworks? I think that because I know what will happen to people who try to use it at work.
Being in a big company, in my division of about 30 people there is a lady who does only *process*. Her job is to institute what we are learning in our class. She's got a website with all the 12 steps to project nirvana. She is empowered to hold project review meetings at the end of every project. She collects project metrics, etc.
Nobody takes her seriously. I used to have her job in another comapny and nobody took me seriously, either. I used to be President of a whole group like her (ASQC TQM) and they constantly complained about not being taken seriously.
That's why I'm doing what I'm doing now.
Process people are not considered *producers*. Instead, they are derided for being obstacles to efficiency. Not in the companies I've worked for anyway.
I think that the reason why any single project management structures don't last is because a manager gains power by overriding it. When peole use that manager's new forms and point to the new charts on the wall, they are showing homage to that particular manager.
That manager then gets to brab like he/she has triumphed over bureaucracy.
A manager gains more power by coming up with a *better* way, like the way Hannurabi wrote his laws on stones all over his empire. That's how to grasped control. Like an animal pissing on his territory so others know.
So we need to take this class seriously because if we are to take control in some corporate citadel, we can use what we learn here as a weapon of power building.
Am I being too cynical here?
Is Project management for farmer types willing to wait, not for those who want to build quick?
posted by Steven Sypher (srsypher)
As far as addressing your cynicism on process. I work at a sizable company that features a Program Director and 3 project managers. Their job is to ensure that all corporate projects incorporate their (the "Director's") selected project methodology. I have to work closely with that group and from my perspective, their methodologies do not always fit our development projects. They really tend to stifle creativity because they are so rigorous. As a manager, I have the responsibilities to follow corporate policy and procedures. I find myself creating task-oriented approaches to new projects. Especially during the "proof of concept" phase to avoid all the paper work. Eventually, we have to put together all the components of a project plan. I do feel they are necessary when working on cross-functional projects. Without them, product management can not set the requirements, the test group can not ascertain whether the applications functions properly or not and sales and marketing can not develop their strategies. But by time we get to that point, the documentation phase is less daunting since we've already spun some prototypes, which have been bounced off the users. So I guess I could fit your statement that managers who implement alternative approaches "gain power" by overriding the central processes. However, that is only true if the project is successful. Should a project fail, I certainly would be held totally accountable for deviating from the corporate methodologies. Such are the risk in a capitalistic state.
Customer LifeCycle Model (week 2)SCENE I - PRESENTING THE PROPOSAL
CONSULTANT: Let me go over our website project plan with you.
CLIENT: You've put in extra work and extra steps I didn't ask for.
CONSULTANT: We used an industry accepted process that has proven to be effective over many projects with lots of customers.
CLIENT: For one thing, I don't want to pay for paperwork! I'm paying you to build a website, not to write a book!. I don't want to spend money on anything I can't sell to my customers.
CONSULTANT: The design phase is to make sure that we understand what you want before we spend a lot of time on what you don't want.
CLIENT: We spent hours talking about it and you don't know what to do already? You said you had experience putting this stuff together. I'm paying you for your experience. Just do it.
CONSULTANT: Ahhh, OK.
CLIENT: You've also added extra steps. Why do I have to pay for Testing? You guys are supposed to be professionals! Why should I pay you to find your own bugs? Haven't you heard of doing it right the first time? You get sloppy on your own time.
CLIENT: I'll give you another chance. Show me a plan without the fluff.
CONSULTANT: Here's the revised proposal you asked for.
CLIENT: Hey, the total is more money than before? It's also double what it was! I thought you cut the fat out?
CONSULTANT: So do you want it strait now or do you want me to lie to you and then hit you for more money at the end when you don't have any choice?
CLIENT: All right, hit me.
CONSULTANT: I cut out what you asked. When we don't do design documents, we will likely make more revisions. That means more time. More time than if we planned it out to begin with.
If we put out a site without testing it first, we will have to spend extra time arguing or appogizing. Whether we admit it or not, there _IS_ a cost to dropping everything else to scramble at the last minute to patch things up fast. I have to pay more for good people to pry them away from their beds and their friends. If I end up with unhappy employees, they'll quit. So I either give out combat pay or people would quit. Then one way or another, I need to cover the increased costs to recuit and hire and train new people.
CLIENT: Why didn't you say that before?
CONSULTANT: You're a busy person. We have ways to save you time, just like all the other people you hire to work for you. Your secretary said that you like to get a detailed road map when you travel to a new place. We're doing the same thing with your new website. With our roadmap, what we call a Project Plan, you'll know at a glance where you are, where we'll end up, and what we will see along the way.
Information Architecture (week 3)What I see missing from the Information Architecture process is consideration of what some label Knowledge Management and the Learning Organization. Two different but related buzz words peddled by different consultants and book peddlers. The IA discussions and Case in Point seemed to have a paradigm of static pages by an authority rather than an assumption that an organized, methodical approach is better than a free-wheeling approach. Why do we deride uncontrolled growth? I wonder IF a company took a more controlled approach, whether that growth would be stifled. Some may argue that it's the better of two evils to encourage people to get the words out first, then sort it out later. Otherwise, there wouldn't be content to rearrange in a consistent manner. Not only that, without content to work with, we won't have any idea of the structure anyway. I think there is a middle ground. As we see with the way we search for information using Google and Yahoo, we benefit from both freefrom keyword search and a structured presentation. Another alternative is the about.com approach of guides to specific topics. Controlled and uncontrolled presentations.
Response to postAbout your writing: When a customer starts discussing additions, the sales team reviews the additional costs and time it will take and if the customer still wants changes a new document is signed.
Maintaining this discipline is difficult. Some sales people think their job is done when they send a proposal to the customer. Sales managers have to constantly get on salespeople s case to build a culture that brings the project home.
To avoid such stress, some organizations have gone to putting a separate layer between salespeople and the builders -- a group of architects who define the technical aspects of the project and package the proposal. These are the thinkers and analysts.
This makes sense to me because it seems great salespeople are great at making social connections but are lousy at the details. On the other hand, people who are great at analysis may not be great schmoozers.
I wonder if IBM and others are using such an approach.
Project Pity Party (week 4)...
Evaluation Methods Get Real (week 5)I think the evaluation method that's most critical is an appreciation for the roles individuals have. Each role that a person assumes has When we call a person a Producer, Project Manager, or Developer, we associate certain expectations of behaviors and responsibilities. For example, we expect the Project Manager to be the one to reserve the room and invite people to meetings.
We should also recognize the needs and interests of each role. Websites offer a welcome screen for new visitors. To accomodate return visitors, websites provide links directly to content.
It is a rather intellectual exercise to cogitate on roles. But I think that websites would get a lot further by recognizing the affective aspects of roles people have in their lives. For example, the joy of a parent holding his/her baby for the first time, the thrill of a contributor cashing his/her first paycheck, the pain of defeat such as being rejected by a prospective mate or an organization one wishes to be with.
Works of fiction become great and popular because they touch our emotions, our hearts. I think websites can benefit from figuring out that aspect as well.
We would do well to evaluate the outcomes of design and development processes with what sizzles, what turns people on, what give us a thrill. This is especially important to attracting young people.
The implication of emotion is what makes Yahoo.com such a great brand name.
Ethics (week 6)I think that too often we think we have a struggle with others over ethics when what we really struggle with is our own lack of foresight, creativity, or skill.
Cultural awarenessCultural awareness is more than just showing observing cultural and religious etiquette. A project management curriculum should instruct us on how to recognize and work with individual preferences.
If my boss asked me to do a task which I feel needs more time than I could devote, what are my choices? Should I quietly do whatever I can and sacrifice my professional standards? Or should I seek to argue for more time at the risk of seeming weak?
The study of Project Management gives us tools to enable us to better communicate and reach agreement. If I use a resource load chart to show where I'm over and under utilized, perhaps my boss will understand that I'm planning rationally rather than just whining. If I use a Gantt chart to show the whole project, perhaps my boss won't feel the need to pressure me on every single task.
Project Management is about how to realistically define the scope of projects and tasks. It teach us to recognize the culture that exists within an organization. For example, I am less likely to complain about long hours if I knew that there is an unwritten rule that everyone at least appear to work hard. This gives me the foresight to only enter organizations with a culture that I am willing to adopt.
Learning as a lifelong endeavorI believe that the most productive people are those who have a spirit of inquiry for a better way. They are not stuck with insisting that only their view is correct. They are willing to be wrong in their endeavor toward the highest good. Learning is not about taking classes, it's about satisfying a desire to improve.
Ethics and social responsibilityIf I am given more time than I need to do a task, should I keep quiet and enjoy the largesse ? What's wrong with that? Do I deserve a few days off now and then? Or am I shirking my responsibility to contribute to society?
My response depends whether I believe in “situational ethics” or the Christian Bible which teaches that our reward is in heaven after we die.
In the world of formal logic, a “telelogical” argument examines the consequences of decisions and actions. An example of such logic is that “if everyone threw trash out their window, we would all die of disases”.
Leadership and service to othersThis item is based on Matthew 23:11, in which Christ said “The greatest among you must be a servant.”
The example of leadership that comes to mind is the words spoken by the character played by Tom Hanks leading his platoon past machine gun file up Normandie beach during the D-Day invasion: “I don't want to die a coward avoiding bullets. If I'm to die, I want to take some of the enemy with me”. He then was the first to make the charge.
Student Project Requirements
OverviewEach student must complete a project for the course. There are four student deliverables related to the project:
Executive SummaryThe purpose of the project is to think through the issues involved in the planning and managing of a significant scale eCommerce venture by drafting a plan to do so. The texts, articles, and discussions throughout the course are intended to provide input and points of thought feeding the Project Plan and WBS.
In the first week of the course, students will submit a project idea to the facilitator for approval. The project selected should be of personal interest to the student or from a real industry situation. There will be a check of the Project Management Plan and the WBS midway through the course, and another student (as assigned by the facilitator) must comment on a reasonably complete version of the Plan and WBS in Week 6. Final versions of all Student Project deliverables are submitted in Week 7, and another student (as assigned by the facilitator) reviews the Executive Summary.
The course Assignments page lists all assignments related to the Student Project, and details of each assignment can be found in Week by Week.
Project DescriptionDue at the end of week 2 is a description of an eCommerce project. The project must be of a significant enough scope to require a significant development team and timeframe to design and implement. The eCommerce project itself will not be implemented for the course, but the plan must be of sufficient detail that a professional skilled in the art could utilize the plan and reasonably assemble a team and implement the eCommerce initiative as envisioned. Specific decisions about the project do not need resolution, such as the determination of the operating business model or marketing plan, but the plan must include discussion about how to come to such decisions and line items within the WBS to track the progress and completion of each issue. The description should describe the type of eBusiness envisioned and enough detail about the initiative to determine high-level scope and direction for the purpose of planning within the time frame of the course. Each description must be accepted by the course facilitator.
Project Management PlanThe management plan should be split into several sections covering all major issues necessary to complete an eCommerce project. The plan can be organized according to any of several methodologies, such as the classic waterfall or spiral project life cycles, but must follow a methodology researched by the student that is proposed by the industry in some manner (as opposed to the student simply "making it up" along the way). Many considerations, such as team and configuration management, should be detailed as well as project design and implementation philosophies and general methodologies.
For a sample guide of a SPMP from the software development industry read the article A Guide for Preparing Software Project Management Plans by Richard E. Fairley available from the Regis Dayton Memorial Library through electronic reserves.
Other industries can provide guidance, such as Managing Multimedia Projects, by Roy Strauss, or from within the eCommerce industry, such as our course text by Jessica Burdman. General practice information can also guide many details of the plan, such as Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps' book on working with virtual teams.
The Work Breakdown Structure (top) resources, and timeframes should be produced to show how the project could actually be completed. Each task should include a descriptive title, expanded description, resources required (people and material), completion criteria, acceptance criteria, estimated effort (in hours or days), and dependencies. No task should be estimated at more than 40 hours to complete. Tasks should be rolled into manageable groupings and any critical path elements should be identified.
The WBS can be drafted in any project management tool, such as Microsoft Project, MacProject, StarOffice Enact, or a simple spreadsheet, but should be presented online in a PDF or HTML format for universal display without special software requirements.
Location of Project FilesMy class project is located on several files. My Sample Project Plan references my reading notes from three domains of knowledge:
I first thought of creating website to coordinate business pros who volunteer various skills (IT, marketing, etc.) collabora ng on a project.
Then I remembered about what I learned serving on the advisory board of United Way. They were giving away free computers and free help from interns. But we found that most agencies couldn't even file an application.
So I went looking to help an agency that was already along. I went to volunteermatch.org which matches volunteers based on zip code and interest. They are a lot better GUI than idealist.org.
There I stumbled across Kathleen Daly's OfficePlease Foundation -- a non-profit organization that supports other npo's with technology resources, training and support - provide an internet based unified business service that provides a single point of entry for staff or volunteers to access needed business tools and information. All that is needed is access to the internet and a browser.
We are now corresponding.
She's just getting started, so I hope to work on a real plan rather than a play plan.
I saw your posting on volunteermatch.
I find your organization intriguing.
I'm writing because I'm looking for a project for the masters program I am taking with Regis University. It would involve me planning this quarter, designing next quarter, and so on for the next year.
For two years I was on the United Way LA TeamTECH advisory board, so I'm rather familiar with some of the issues with technology and nonprofits.
By day I work in Quality Assurance for a big web bank in Playa del Rey.
Could you please let me know whether you could use some help?
Her ReplyDear Wilson,
I appreciate your inquiry regarding OfficePlease Foundation (OPF). We are a newly formed nonprofit located in the SF Bay Area. OPF delivers low-cost, easy-to-use IT resources to other small/medium nonprofits. Our goal is to bring relief to NPO organizations that suffer from a painful lack of affordable IT infrastructure.
We have developed an Internet based business service designed specifically for the non-technical user. The only requirement for using the service is access to the Internet and a browser. The service was developed on an ASP model using best of breed technologies. We recently launched a pilot program that has started rolling the offering out to select NPO's. The feedback has been very positive.
The SF business Times has generously donated a full page Ad to OPF. It will run in their Dec.7th issue. This issue will be listing all the Bay Area Foundations so it is a perfect time for us to introduce ourselves. In the ad I want to extend an invitation to the readers to visit the OPF Website.
Here's the catch: we don't have a Website. I do have an organization who has donated their services. They have agreed to provide structural construction of the site. I will need help with content development and would love to have a demo of the service available.
We have some exciting opportunities ahead of us. There are additional organizations waiting to come on the service, viable partnerships developing and an opportunity to serve a worthy sector of NPO's. This is one of the final pieces of the puzzle and I would welcome your participation.
I would love an opportunity to talk with you at your convenience (weekends or weekdays). I am happy to call you, so please feel free to forward a phone number and good time to reach you. Also, OPF has other volunteer opportunities that might interest you. For example, we are developing an education program using the "Peace Corps" model.
I look forwarding to hearing from you and thank you again for your inquiry.
Kathleen Daly, President
Volunteermatch had you listed in Glen Ellen, CA.
Me writing to you now is amazing "kismet" because for the longest time I've felt the need to create an organization like you are doing, but I've got my own job and a family, etc. so I haven't bothered. Perhaps this will help me fulfill my dream in a small way.
What is your background and what inspired you to do what you are doing?
My stint with the United Way advisory board was a "close enough" participation. I am a Christian and feel called to help the needy with what I've been blessed to learn.
So know that I want to help out of an internal desire rather than the need to fulfill an assignment for my Masters in Information Technology, even though that's the immediate challenge.
certifications, but I wanted an imputus to explore some new technologies. It's tough to balance time between tech stuff I enjoy with managerial work that pays better money.
Anyway, over the long term, I could help you a number of ways: Technical (such as design the look and feel of your promotional/demo website and programming it) to Recruiting other volunteers, especially techies. I've been active in (or have been a president) of several user groups and other such organizations, so maybe that may be what you need. There are so many aspects to a website that a whole team of specialists are necessary.
But my immediate need is to fulfill an assignment -- a project plan for designing and building a website. The worst case scenario is that you get a head start on paper to whoever you were going to use to build the site anyway.
Attached are the details of the assignment.
1. We talk on the phone this week or this weekend about whether
our interests match.
The beauty of me doing this for a class is that I can't drag the process out. The 7 week class ends next month.
But I know you probably don't want to wait to start prototyping, so I hope to have something you could use to guide initial actual development next week.
I have experience working at a big international consultancy (KPMG), so I don't think that you'll have problems with my quality.
Here are the first set of bold questions I have for you:
Not wanting to be rude, may I ask who is paying for the people, space, machines, and overhead expenses? How do you raise funds? Who are on your board?
I've been a substantial contributor to several causes and have seen too many fiascos, so I hope you understand my due diligence here.
Also, if you already have a planning document, I could skip a lot of questions.
Here is the text of my assignment:
I am in Glen Ellen, CA.; Glen Ellen is in Sonoma County about 45 minutes north of San Francisco. To help minimize costs and because we are a technology based organization office space is not a requirement at this time. We communicate via email and use the tool we provide to non-profits.
The OfficePlease Foundation was formed by the founders of OfficePlease, Inc. When they started the commercial venture they include in their business model a foundation. Each founder and the majority of series "A" shareholders pledge a percentage of appreciated stock to be used in funding community based projects. OfficePlease Inc, was developing a web-intranet services platform that unified office automation, simplified enterprise applications, and messaging. Unfortunately OP was not able to secure a second round of funding and the doors closed; but not before a product was developed.
The founders and shareholders decided to move forward with the foundation. A decision was made to deliver the service to non-profits. This prevented the product from being put on the shelf and created life for the foundation. The product is currently in a Beta state but it is very functional and being used currently by two npo's.
I was the Director of Product Management for OP and was asked by the board to run the foundation. I am currently the only paid staff but I have former OP employees and vendors who are supporting the effort. I have spent over 20 years designing, developing, installing and implementing large scale systems both domestically and internationally.
I have a very strong board of directors made up of seasoned technology experts and venture capitalists. The foundation is being funded at this time primarily by a single individual. However, I have a lot of support in the form of in-kind donations. For example, 100% of legal services are donated by Pillsbury Winthrop, LLC (very well know legal firm in the Bay Area), programming time (I could use more programmers and a technical expert), graphic designer, etc.
The service we offer is a hosted internet based service. The hosting is donated (in perpetuity), the servers (hardware) are owned by the foundation and we are currently working on getting some license donations for our Oracle DB and Weblogic server.
Hopefully that answers some of your questions, I am happy to have a discussion as previously mentioned. So please let me know when and how I can contact you to discuss the particulars.
I look forward to our conversation and think your project requirements could fit nicely into an OPF project.
I left a message for you to call me at home anytime today at 310.265-0577.
I see that the op-foundation.org site is not pointing to a web server yet.
If you're interested in getting started quickly, have you thought of using the format already in OfficePlease.com and just changing the content wording?
But you may already have another plan in mind.
I look forward to talking with you soon.
Her ReplyWilson, I am sorry I missed your call over the weekend and really appreciate you making an attempt to connect. I had an emergency come up that will keep me out of the office until next week (Nov.19th). I would really like an opportunity to talk with you. So if you are still interested please give me a date and time I can call you.
Thank you again for reaching out I hope we will talk soon.
Best regards, Kathleen
Industry camps: Microsoft on one side and Sun: Grants:
We are not the first to think about this. In fact, the organization which certifies project managers in the United States - the Project Management Institue (PMI), has assembled their “top people" and defined the encyclopedic A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge Download it for free and enjoy!.
I recommend that we use the Planning phase processes defined in their Project Management Knowledge Areas from that document as the basis of judging project plans. The BOK provides an exhaustive list used by many professionals.
If we must have a 10th item, how about:
Anyway, one problem with this is that it is the basis for judging the project itself (how it is executed) rather than just the plan for the project.
Incorporation of Success FactorsThis project plan was developed so that it incorporates actions to ensure that Success Factors, within budgetary constraints.
Your first name:
Your family name:
Your location (city, country):
Your Email address:
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