Intranet Project Names Some Ideas

Intranet Project Names Some Ideas

by: David Viney

กWhatกs in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other word would smell as sweet.ก

In this famous quote from Act II of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and the fact he is a Montague and she a Capulet (warring families) means nothing to their love.

However, there is some strong evidence from the UKกs Cranfield University and elsewhere that the name one gives a project does have a marked impact on the behaviour and motivation of the people involved. It may surprise you, but the name you give to your Intranet Project could well be the most important decision you make in the early stages of mobilisation!

The Direct Approach

There is an argument in faour of naming your Intranet Project the wait for it กIntranet Projectก! Often, socalled กsecret squirrelก names (where one has to ferret out from colleagues what Project Banana is all about) serve only to create an unnecessary air of mystique (fit only for secret M&A projects). They can also serve to be divisive, by separating กpeople in the knowก from people outside the immediate project audience.

The functional approach

A functional name focuses on what the intranet does (e.g. search, find, access). This enjoys the same benefits as the direct approach, but affords one a little more poetic license. What about names like กProject Connectก or กProject Gatewayก, which serve to signal the core กmust haveก requirements for the project?

The conceptual approach

There is a problem with the direct or functional approaches; Research from Cranfield has demonstrated that people on projects tend to be very heavily influenced in their actions by the name of the project itself. If you call your project the Intranet project, it is a working intranet (i.e. the technology) that you will get. If your ambition was something much more visionary, such as a wholly new way of working for your people, you are likely to be disappointed!

The conceptual name targets what is achieved by the functionality, rather than the functionality itself. For example, if your company name was BigCo and your purpose was seeking to get everyone in the company working together, you could call the project กProject OneBigCoก or กProject Unityก. For the aforementioned new ways of working objective, you could use กProject Future Workplaceก.

The abstract approach

The abstract approach deals with how the project makes people feel. For example, กProject Blissก (for happiness), กProject Wizardก (for magic) or กProject Pulseก (for fastpacedness). Although one world usually fails to capture all you are trying to achieve with an Intranet Portal, this approach can prove highly effective (particularly where countercultural).

If all else fails

Nothing grabbed you so far? Well there is no saving you, then! I suppose there are always the standard fallback options: names of greek or roman gods, names of planets, names of birds and names of dances. These have the added value that if you spawn followon projects in a sequence you have readymade logical followon project titles. Incidentally, กProject Mercuryก would be my recommendation for planets or gods (as Mercury was the roman god of communications).

For more ideas on project names, why not check out my presentation in the Intranet Portal Guide.

About The Author

David Viney (david@viney.com) is the author of the Intranet Portal Guide; 31 pages of advice, tools and downloads covering the period before, during and after an Intranet Portal implementation.

Read the guide at http://www.viney.com/DFV/intranet_portal_guide or the Intranet Watch Blog at http://www.viney.com/intranet_watch.

This article was posted on November 08, 2004

by David Viney

Want to Make More Money? Fish in a Bigger Pond!

Want to Make More Money? Fish in a Bigger Pond!

by: Kimberly Stevens

Setting prices is a dilemma most service business owners encounter at one time or another. This week, it was Susan’s turn. ขWhen I first started my business, I felt uncomfortable charging for my services. Since I was doing it to make a living, I finally just picked a price I thought wouldn’t scare too many people away. Now, based on my available work hours, I can’t really take on more clients but at the rate Iกm charging them, Iกm not going to make enough money to keep the business alive. How do I raise my prices without losing my clients?ข she wanted to know.

For whatever reason, it is uncomfortable for many of us to look a person in the face and state our hourly rate or the cost of a project they want us to complete for them. This is usually rooted in our fear of rejection. We think, ‘What if the prospect gasps and falls out of his chair convulsing on the floor?’ or ‘What if he snorts with disdain or launches into uncontrollable laughter?’ At the beginning, we really need the work and generally decide weกd rather start getting some clients to build our reputation and skills, thinking weกll charge a rate we know theyกll accept. Besides, we can always raise our prices later. Well, now is กlaterก, so it’s time to bite the bullet.

First, understand you aren’t asking for their firstborn child you are asking for money in exchange for the service you are offering. Shakti Gawain, author of กCreating True Prosperityก, introduced me to the concept of thinking about money as just another form of energy. Just as you put energy into the service you provide, the client puts energy into their field of interest in order to make money to pay you for your service.

On the businesstobusiness side of things, the clientกs business has clearly made the decision to outsource the service they are discussing with you. They have decided to use their internal staffกs energy to focus on their core business while outsourcing those things they don’t have the skills or time to do. The same is true of individuals they could paint their house, but they’re calling you. Clearly, they don’t want to do it and know itกs going to cost money to get someone else to do it Either way, they are going to hire someone to do it, so why not you?

That said, itกs time to raise your prices. Youกve got two sets of people to deal with here your current clients and your future clients. Future clients are easy simply start quoting the higher hourly rate or basing your flat rate proposals on the new hourly rate with no mention of a recent price increase. Your fear that you will lose out on some bids WILL come true. Youกve been fishing in the pond that attracts the lowerend clients, so you will probably have to start marketing to and networking with prospects on the next higher rung. But, so what? Itกs still your choice – you can stick with the lowend guys and struggle to make your business profitable or you can start charging a respectable rate for the skills and professionalism you bring to the table to create a prosperous business. Itกs up to you.

Now, the current clients are the ones you are likely most afraid of. What will they say? Will they never want to work with you again? The best time to raise prices is at the beginning of the year, either calendar or fiscal, or at the beginning of a new contract with an existing client. Never try to negotiate a price increase in the middle of a project. If a project is taking significantly more hours than you quoted for a reason out of your control or it’s directly within the clientกs control, you can consider discussing it with them. However, if you want to be sure to maintain positive client relationships, you may choose to learn your lesson from this one and protect yourself with a contract that outlines contingencies such as that going forward. But, in most cases, never try to increase your hourly rate on a client in the middle of a project. This sends a message that will likely get you the response you most fear that you are a moneyhungry soandso who only cares about him or her self.

Instead, wait until a natural beginning, ending, or transition period to communicate your price increase. One way to do it is to send your client a beginning of the year letter that expresses your appreciation of their business in the prior year, outlines any policy changes youกve made for the coming year, communicates your price increase, and states your anticipated pleasure of working with them in the coming year. If you are raising prices at the end of one project and are about to bid on another project with the same client, during your discussions tell them you have raised your hourly or project rate and hope they still find it to be competitive and will continue to work with you since youกve really enjoyed collaborating with them.

Notice you did not hear me guarantee you will keep every single one of your current clients. Like you, your clients make purchasing decisions based on a variety of factors, each person weighing each of the factors differently. If youกve been the lowest price available in your field, youกve no doubt attracted clients who make decisions based mainly on price. Increasing your price so you are no longer ‘the lowprice guyก, may send them packing. So be it. Once you raise your prices to a respectable rate you can profit from, that’s competitive and fair, you will begin to attract clients who will pay it. Itกs all about positioning. You can position your company as the lowprice guy, the topoftheline guy, or the value guy (middle of the road price with a quality service).

The lesson here … it’s your business and your revenues are what you make them.

About The Author

Kimberly Stevens is the author of the ebook series, *The Profitable Business Owner: A StepbyStep System for Starting & Running a Successful Service Business*. Download Sample Chapters & get her free MiniCourse, *The 10 Most Common Mistakes Business Owners Make & How To Avoid Them* at: http://www.askthebizcoach.com/ebooks.htm

kim@askthebizcoach.com

This article was posted on February 07, 2003

by Kimberly Stevens

9 Tips for Great Design of Your Marketing Material

9 Tips for Great Design of Your Marketing Materials

by: Neroli Lacey

1) Don’t just hire a good designer. Hire someone who has had plenty of experience designing business collateral. Your designer needs to ask you the right questions about the project. And he/ she needs to be able to turn the design round reasonably fast too.
2) Write the copy first. I believe the copy drives the project. (Unless this is a print ad, in which case the visual and headline will often dominate).
3) Read your copy word for word to your designer. You’d be amazed how often designers don’t understand the project because they haven’t been properly briefed. Your designer is going to be expressing in design the same persuasive arguments that you / your writer will be articulating in words.
4) Ensure that your designer communicates your branding i.e. the values you are trying to communicate.
5) Check that the copy is easy to read once it has been laid out by your designer. If the design takes too much attention to itself, then your readers won’t be following your arguments.
6) A professional designer will give you a creative brief: he sets out on paper the brief as he understands it. This includes the brand and the benefits of the offer in question. The creative brief means misunderstandings get cleared up before it they are too expensive to change.
7) He’ll then present you with 23 design options for your review, about 3 weeks later.
8) Remember, you aren’t choosing the color for your sports car, you are choosing the piece that best reflects the brand and personality of your company or offering.
9) Finally your designer brings you the finished product. He instructs printers and oversees production.
WOULD YOU LIKE A WORLDCLASS JOURNALIST TO GHOSTWRITE AN ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION FOR YOU? Contact Neroli Lacey NOW!
How clear and persuasive is your website, brochure copy or direct mail? Call Neroli Lacey NOW to win more business TODAY.
CALL ++ 612. 215. 3826 or email: neroli@beyondcommunications.com

About The Author

Iกm Neroli Lacey of Beyond Communications Inc. in Minneapolis, MN. I’ve been helping executives transform their businesses and their lives with outstanding marketing materials since 1995. VISA, 3M and Perot Systems are some of my bigger clients. I have worked with clients in Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Austin, Minneapolis, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin and Delhi. I used to be one of the top journalists in Britain writing for The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, New Statesman, Vogue and Tatler.
Before newspapers I was an investment banker. I grew up in London, England, studying Latin with Greek at Bristol University.
Please visit my website: www.beyondcommunications.com

Or contact me at: neroli@beyondcommunications.com

6122153826

This article was posted on April 30, 2004

by Neroli Lacey

Seven Deadly Newsletter Sins (and How to Cure Them

Seven Deadly Newsletter Sins (and How to Cure Them)

by: Claire Cunningham

Newsletters can be great communication tools, but they take work. Here’s a quick list of common problems newsletters run into and how to fix them.

1. The snoozeletter a newsletter so boring it puts readers to sleep.

Cure: Find out what your readers want to know and write about it. Keep the tone lively. Don’t know what readers want? Ask!

2. Audience too broad a newsletter with a broad audience (customers, employees and distributors, for example) may meet no one’s needs very well or might meet one group’s needs while ignoring the others.

Cure: Different audiences = different information needs = different newsletters. Your newsletter will be better read if it provides information that’s relevant to the specific audience.

3. Too long Most folks are strapped for time. They won’t tackle a long newsletter.

Cure: Keep your newsletter short. (12 pages an issue )

4. I have a friend…. Everyone has a friend, relative, spouse, or whatever who knows something about marketing and/or communication. Doesn’t mean they know anything about newsletters. The results include poor writing, poor design, poor targeting, and poor performance.

Cure: Use people with newsletter experience.

5. Published once in a blue moon – Infrequent publication builds a reputation for poor followthrough. Probably not a good thing for your business.

Cure: Identify the problem. Is it your procrastination? Hire a pro to drive the project. Is it a complicated design? Hire a designer to help you simplify. Keeping your newsletter short will make it easier to publish more frequently.

6. Delegatophobia – Fear of delegating has killed quite a few newsletters, and many business people suffer from this disease. If you’ve been accused of being too ขcontrolling,ข you’re probably infected.

Cure: Be honest! Do you REALLY have time to write this newsletter? Do you have a writer on staff who can take on this project? If you don’t have the internal resources, hire a project manager and writer. Then let them do their jobs.

7. The disappearing act – One issue followed by…nothing. Maybe that initial issue took more effort than expected. Maybe content wasn’t planned in advance. Whatever the reason, a disappearing act doesn’t say good things about your company.

Cure: Make the newsletter a top priority. Plan ahead. Stick to your schedule. Hire help if you need it.

Copyright 2005 Clairvoyant Communications, Inc.

About The Author

Claire Cunningham, president of Clairvoyant Communications, Inc., has 20+ years’ experience developing and implementing successful marketing and communications programs. Sign up for Claire’s monthly newsletter, Communiqué, at http://www.clairvoyantcommunications.com Claire can be reached at 7634793499 (Fax: 7634792809, email: claire@claircomm.com)

This article was posted on January 21

by Claire Cunningham

Intranet The Benefits Realisation Plan

Intranet The Benefits Realisation Plan

by: David Viney

The Millennium Experience

A successful project is one that delivers onspec (‘quality’), time and cost. Right? Well consider these two projects…

The Millennium Dome was delivered on time for the 31 December 1999 and safely within a budget (fixed in 1998) of £289 million. The Project was also delivered to quality, albeit against a Specification that had been adjusted several times during the project to simplify the scope of work required (and ensure that time and cost deadlines could still be met). However, visitor number targets were greatly overestimated, the business a total flop and the whole endeavour deemed a failure by many.

The Millennium Wheel (or ขLondon Eyeข) opened one month late on a dreary February morning in 2000 (following problems raising the wheel and then safety & quality issues with one of the 32 pods). It was also over budget, with building costs of £70m (against the £25m British Airways had originally planned to spend). However, an average of about 10,000 people a day now ride the wheel, making the London Eye the UK’s biggest tourist attraction (and generating £15 million of trading profit a year) a healthy return on investment for the shareholders.

A New Mindset for Change Projects

Traditional methodologies for change / project management (of which PRINCE is an example) tend to focus primarily on time, cost and quality. Benefits are all too often only implicitly recognised and the accountability for realising them is assumed to lie outside the project.

However, the pace of change within our society, industry and business grows ever faster. Somewhat paradoxically, there is an evergreater need to ensure that changes ‘stick’ (delivering sustainable benefit and competitive advantage to the organisations making them). Most businesses have already achieved greater efficiency and effectiveness within single functions or processes; The challenge of the 21st Century is increasingly how to realise endtoend change across a boundaryless business.

Rarely (these days) will a single customer sponsor a single project, delivering a single system into a single department.

The leadership challenge is thus how to engage multiple sponsors and change agents across the whole business to deliver excellence in change and the ruthless pursuit of business benefits and true return on investment (ROI).

The Case for a focus on Benefits Management

Recent research from the Cranfield University School of Management finds that 78% of ITenabled change projects (in large UK companies) fail to deliver business benefits. 47% believed assessment of business benefits in business cases was poor or worse and 79% said that all the available benefits were not captured during that assessment. 45% believed benefits were overstated in their organisation to get investment approval.

Arguably, this will only change when project managers and their people become accountable for – and obsessed by delivering business benefits and value through Change, rather than simply projects to time and cost.

Benefits Defined

Soft Benefits (sometime called ขnonquantifiableข benefits) are those intangible improvements to be obtained from a change, including improved employee satisfaction, better customer satisfaction, increased knowledge sharing and reuse of intellectual capital. Whilst it is often accepted that such benefits do lead to financial gain, it is deemed impossible to demonstrate a proven causal link that would enable one to place a financial value on the benefit.

Direct Benefits are those which lead to a measurable impact on the bottomline of the organisation, including increased revenue, reduced costs of sale / improved margin, operating cost reduction (e.g. through reduced headcount) and improvements in working capital (e.g. through a faster debt collection cycle). An individual or team can be held directly to account for achieving them and providing evidence of their realisation.

Indirect Benefits are those which facilitate or enable bottomline impact, without leading directly to realisable items for which can individual or team had be held accountable. Such benefits include cost avoidance (i.e. costs not currently budgeted that might otherwise become payable) and capacity creation (where efficiency savings free up people to undertake highvalue adding tasks but do lot lead directly to the release of FTEs or other costs).

The Benefit Realisation Toolset

In the Benefits Realisation & Tracking chapter of my (free to access) Intranet Portal Guide, I outline a number of tools that can be used to better manage benefits on the typical portal project.

1) An enhanced Business Case

Many business cases simply do not sufficiently reference Benefits. Make sure that you dedicate at least as many columninches to benefits as you do to costs. Split benefits between soft, direct and indirect. Ensure that direct benefits are included in the ROI, NPV or IRR calculations and that the people who will be accountable for their realisation have signed them off.

2) The Benefits Blueprint

Create a document that shows how your benefits link to actual business process changes, projects or deliverables and changes to systems. Suitable tools can be found in Cranfield’s Benefits Network approach, the Six Sigma toolset and as addons to PRINCE. Position the overall result in the context of your vision and strategy. This will help you capture all the benefits and to sharpen what you need to do to achieve them.

3) The Benefits Realisation Plan

The key control document, a good Realisation Plan includes, for each benefit, (a) a description of what the benefit is, (b) how much it is worth, (c) who will be accountable for it’s realisation, (d) when it will be realised and (e) where it will impact. If there are risks or dependencies to the benefit realisation, these should be noted and managed in the plan. Finally, it should be clear in the plan how the benefit realisation will be objectively measured and evidenced (e.g. through the monitoring of key performance indicators).

4) Benefit Evidence

In my guide, I suggest the use of Benefit Signoff sheets, whereby the benefit owner identified at the Business Case and Planning stage is expect to signoff once she is satisfied that the benefit has been realised. Evidence supporting the signoff should also be attached to the signoff sheet. This is a good discipline, to keep everyone honest.

Conclusions

The 21st Century Project Manager needs to be obsessed with delivering business benefits and value through change, rather than simply projects to time, cost and quality. There are tools that can help, including in particular the Benefits Realisation Plan. Good luck and don’t forget to check back with my guide for further help and templates you can download.

About The Author

David Viney (david@viney.com) is the author of the Intranet Portal Guide; 31 pages of advice, tools and downloads covering the period before, during and after an Intranet Portal implementation.

Read the guide at http://www.viney.com/DFV/intranet_portal_guide or the Intranet Watch Blog at http://www.viney.com/intranet_watch.

This article was posted on January 27

by David Viney

The Working Case Study

The Working Case Study

by: Christine Taylor

Next to white papers, case studies are the most popular tool in the technical marketerกs toolkit
The ubiquitous case study can range from a 3 paragraph online snippet to a fullblown magazine article. The most popular case study in the marketing/PR arsenal is the 500700 word success story. They’re not as challenging to write as white papers, but you should structure them for maximum impact.
Different companies use different structures for their case studies, but all should follow the same general pattern: 1. Company overview and challenge 2. Project details 3. Positive results (of course)
Customer Overview and Challenge
Start with a 23 paragraph overview of the customerกs company. This should be very positive since you’re going to detail a problem the customer was having, the last thing you want to do is make them sound like jerks. So compliment them. Feel free to adapt the overview from their own Website text, where they’re already placing themselves in the best possible light.
Then move on to the business challenge. Don’t make the customer sound stupid or incompetent. The challenge should always be centered on something good that is happening to them fast growth, industry prominence, strategic IT changes whatever. Their challenge should be applicable to your readersก own business issues.
Project Details
No project goes perfectly, but save the debriefing for the longerform trade journal article. These short case studies should report on the successful project by briefly discussing specific products and benefits.
Don’t go all over the map. If the project is fairly narrow or specific, you won’t have any trouble sticking with the main point. In the case of large and complex installations, concentrate on the main point. For example, Microsoft Great Plains has more modules than you can shake a stick at. Concentrate on the ones that had the most positive impact on your customer.
Business Benefits
Always quantify improvement when you can. Numbers can be dollar savings, percentages, or other measures of saved staff time, more efficient workflows, better customer service, etc. Be sure that the benefits you list are the benefits the customer perceives hard costs are most easily quantified, but soft costs may have the higher perceived benefit to a customer. Ideally you will list both.
When NOT to Write a Case Study
What are the most common blocks to partnering with a customer for a case study?
1. Your customer is really unhappy. Theyกd do a case study all right, but you wouldn’t want them to. If you’re the hapless individual setting up the initial interview, be sure that the customer really is happy and is open to talking to you. Otherwise theyกll just give you an earful. Fix: promise the customer that youกll pass on all of his comments to the technical support team, or whoever you think will best handle it. Then do it, and forget about it.
2. Customers who fear their market will punish them. Prime example: legal firms with security issues. Sure you helped them through a security project and now they’re Fort Knox, but they don’t want their clients to dream that a problem ever existed in the first place. Fix: Forget it. Theyกll never give you permission to produce the study. Besides, they’re probably right.
3. Your customer is an exacting IT type who is suspicious of the success story format. This customer considers the project a success too, but they dislike purely positive spins and no project is perfect. Fix: If they are happy for the most part, get a buyin that the project really was successful. Don’t put him off about the negatives, capture those comments too and promise to pass them on. (Then do it.) This is usually enough to secure the interview.
4. Your customer is scared to be interviewed. This is usually the IT guy who did all the footwork, and prefers to stay behind the scenes. He (or she) will either be too nervous to talk, or will despise you because he doesn’t think youกve got the technical chops. Usually both. Fix: Understand the technology you’re interviewing about. You don’t have to be an engineer, but you should understand IT pressures and issues. Ask leading questions, but if they clam up and won’t talk, thank them and hang up. Tell your customer contact that you’re so happy you got to talk to the technician, and now could you talk to a project manager too?

About The Author

Christine Taylor is an expert copywriter for the technology industry. Call her today for help with your white paper, trade journal article, case study, positioning document, or any other B2B marketing piece. Call 7602496071 or email her at chris@keywordcopy.com, and start that white paper selling!

This article was posted on July 07, 2004

by Christine Taylor

Stakeholder Analysis and Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder Analysis and Stakeholder Management

by: David Viney

What is a Stakeholder?

Try ขdefine: Stakeholderข in Google and you will be surprised by the huge differences in the way this simple word is defined. It perhaps proves in a way just how confused people get about Stakeholder Management and how inconsistent the different approaches to it can be!

My simple definition is ขanyone affected by a decision and interested in its outcomeข. This can include individuals or groups, both inside and outside your organisation.

Stakeholder Analysis

The first step in Stakeholder Analysis is to assess the Influence and Importance (two different things!) of each individual Stakeholder or Stakeholder group.

Influence is defined as the extent to which a stakeholder is able to act on project operations and therefore affect project outcomes. Influence is a measure of the power of the stakeholder. Factors likely to lead to higher influence include the extent of control over the project funding and the extent to which the stakeholder informs decisionmaking around investments in technology and business change.

Importance is defined as the extent to which a stakeholder’s problems, needs and interests are affected by project operations or desired outcomes. If ‘important’ stakeholders are not assisted effectively then the project cannot be deemed a ‘success’.

Where Stakeholders are both important and influential, then they are primary stakeholders and must by fully engaged in the governance and steering of the project, if it is to succeed. Where Stakeholders are either important or influential, then they are secondary stakeholders and need to be actively managed during the project.

The second step in Stakeholder Analysis is to understand the current position of each Stakeholder with respect to the project objectives and expected outcomes. For this purpose, a series of Stakeholder Interviews and Surveys should be undertaken, to understand the degree of engagement and the degree of commitment.

Engagement is a measure of how well the Stakeholder understands the challenges the project seeks to tackle and the strategy, plans and outcomes. A low engagement score signals a lack of understanding.

Commitment is a measure of how supportive the stakeholder is. A low score signals hostility, whilst a high score signals strong support.

Ideally, of course, any project wants engaged, informed stakeholders who actively support the project objectives and outcomes. An illinformed supporter can be just as dangerous as a wellinformed objector!

Stakeholder Management

There are many different suugested approaches for Stakeholder Management. In the chapter on influencing (stakeholders) in my (free to access) Intranet Portal Guide, I offer a simple, tried and tested, fourway approach:

1) Partner

Primary stakeholders (with high influence and importance to project success) are likely to provide the project ‘coalition of support’ in planning and implementation. As such, you should partner them to increase their engagement and commitment (revising and tailoring project strategy, objectives and outcomes if necessary to win their support).

2) Consult

Secondary stakeholders with higher influence but lower importance need to be ‘kept on board’. You should consult with them to actively seek their opinions and input for key decisions (and not only those which may affect them directly). It is unlikely you would alter your strategy as a result of such consultation, but you might well alter your tactics (e.g. the who, when or where of project plans) to maintain higher levels of commitment.

3) Inform

Secondary stakeholders with lower influence but higher importance need to be kept informed of decisions taken that may affect them directly. It is unlikely that they would play an active role in making those decisions. However, were they to highlight a particular issue with a decision, it is likely serious consideration would be given to refining the decision made.

4) Control

Control is appropriate where a stakeholder isn’t important or influential and they need help only to respect any decisions taken. Objections to or issues raised are unlikely to be given serious consideration (as they would otherwise divert valuable management attention and resources).

Conclusions

Stakeholders are key to successful Project Delivery in the modern organisation. Both Stakeholder Analysis and Stakeholder Management are vital tools and should be used iteratively throughout a project to keep everyone on the same page. Be aware that different approaches are appropriate for different Stakeholder types. You can’t keep all the people happy all the time. Check out my guide for more hints, tips and tools.

About The Author

David Viney (david@viney.com) is the author of the Intranet Portal Guide; 31 pages of advice, tools and downloads covering the period before, during and after an Intranet Portal implementation.

Read the guide at http://www.viney.com/DFV/intranet_portal_guide or the Intranet Watch Blog at http://www.viney.com/intranet_watch.

This article was posted on December 18, 2004

by David Viney

Microsoft Great Plains Project Accounting – overvi

Microsoft Great Plains Project Accounting – overview for IT Director/Controller

by: Andrew Karasev

Microsoft Business Solutions is now in process of creating so called Microsoft Suites: Microsoft Financials, Microsoft Logistics, Microsoft Manufacturing, Microsoft Professional Services this last one will be based on Solomon Project module. The long story of Great Plains Software Project Accounting it was originally created by MatchData, which was bought by Great Plains in late 1990th and renamed into Great Plains Project Accounting. Great Plains Project accounting future is uncertain it will not ( according to rumors in Microsoft) become the base for one of the Microsoft suites. However right now it is used by variety of businesses and has good functionality to fit general project accounting needs.

Strong Points:

It is very simple and intuitive if you are certified accountant and know the GAAP on project accounting you should be able to understand all the data flow and distribution in GL Great Plains Project Accounting is following the rules.

Simple budgeting and project tracking if this is your goal consider it, especially if you already have Great Plains implemented in your company.

Microsoft SQL Server platform allows you to deploy all the industry tools, such as Crystal Reports, SQL Stored Procedures and Views

Seamless integration into Great Plains interface Great Plains Project Accounting is Dexteritywritten module, so it is in Dexterity interface and security model.

Weak Points:

Poor customization possibilities I would say that Dexterity is now a good option here, because Project Accounting is itself Dexterity third party dictionary Dexterity is good to customize core DYNAMICS.DIC, not third parties. VBA/Modifier are available but we would not recommend them, because they are now legacy technologies.

Poor integration with Microsoft Office tools as of right now Microsoft is in process of moving all its ERP packages: Great Plains, Navision, Solomon into .Net platform. So, this is where all the efforts are applied. Microsoft Office is now the second priority

Good luck deciding and implementing and if you have issues or concerns – we are here to help! If you want us to do the job give us a call 18665280577! help@albaspectrum.com

About The Author

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies – USA nationwide Great Plains, Microsoft CRM customization company, based in Chicago, California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia and having locations in multiple states and internationally (www.albaspectrum.com), he is CMA, Great Plains Certified Master, Dexterity, SQL, C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK developer. You can contact Andrew: andrewk@albaspectrum.com.

akarasev@albaspectrum.com

This article was posted on September 15, 2004

by Andrew Karasev

What do you want to achieve in 2005?

What do you want to achieve in 2005?

by: Richard Grady

Welcome to the New Year everyone 🙂

So what do you want to achieve this year…..?

To start your own business?

To lose some weight?

To give up smoking?

To quit your job?

To spend more time with your family?

To live a healthier lifestyle?

The statements above are some of the more common goals that people set themselves at the beginning of a New Year. This time of year is traditionally the time when we make กNew Year Resolutionsก those little promises to yourself that are usually forgotten about by the middle of January (if not sooner)!

So what can you do to ensure that your resolutions are not just a distant memory by Feb 1st? Well, everyone is different and I can’t promise that the same techniques will work for all but one of the best ways of staying on track is to put some proper planning in place and that usually means writing things down.

It is all too easy to think to yourself กYup, Iกm going to lose a few pounds by Marchก but if that is all you do, you will almost certainly fail. You need to take action and one of the easiest ways of forcing yourself to do this is to work to an action plan. Let me explain…..

With any major goal that you want to achieve, it should be possible to prepare a plan of how you wish to achieve the goal and over what timescale. To take the weight loss example above, you may have decided that you need to workout three times a week and cut out various foods if you are to achieve your target weight. Therefore put this down in writing and monitor yourself on a weekly basis to ensure that you are actually doing what you are supposed to be doing. If it helps, stick the entire plan/calendar on your wall or fridge so that you can’t help but see it everyday.

If you want to start your own online business, you will need to be dedicating a certain amount of time to this each day, letกs say two hours. So draw up a plan that covers the next few months which details exactly what you want to have achieved by the end of each week/month, for example:

Week 1 Prepare basic template for website

Week 2 Learn how to use a basic HTML editor

Week 3/4 Design and build actual website

…..and so on.

Of course, the above is a very simplistic example and your real plan will probably be far more detailed but the point is that having a plan to work to WILL help.

Many people like working to lists that is, they like having a list of outstanding tasks to do because they enjoy ticking the jobs off once they are completed. Working to a plan is very similar because you can ‘tick offก each milestone as you pass it.

One thing that I wouldn’t recommend though is spending too long drawing up the actual plan. I once worked for a company and was involved in a major project that had various timescales etc that had to be worked to and the Managing Director asked me to draw up a project plan in a particular format. Now this format was incredibly detailed and it would have taken me about a week just to prepare the plan. I felt this was wasted time and as the project leader, I refused to prepare the plan in the way that he wanted and instead spent a couple of hours drawing up a much simpler กcheck listก. He wasn’t impressed but I guess he was just one of those people that prefers to spend their time planning rather than DOING. The end result was that the project was completed on time and without too many problems but had I spent a week on unnecessary planning, we would have probably ended up a week behind schedule.

So plan your actions by all means but don’t turn the actual planning phase into a project all of its own. People can sometimes be reluctant, even scared to take action and therefore drag the planning out as long as possible in order to put the กhard workก off.

Don’t let this happen to you and be sure you plan in the right way don’t use it as an excuse not to take action in the first place.

Planning won’t guarantee that you achieve your goals but it will certainly help and will definitely give you the edge over the majority of people that simply don’t bother…..

Copyright 2005 Richard Grady

About The Author

Richard Grady has been helping ordinary people earn online since 1998. He writes a free newsletter which is published every two weeks. To subscribe (and claim your free gifts), visit: http://www.thetraderonline.com/newsletter.html

This article was posted on January 10

by Richard Grady

Managing Your Identity

Managing Your Identity

by: Nigel Lew

Managing your identity can seem hopeless at times. Here is a primer to assist you in creating great graphics that work.

Flexible vs. Static

If the company is new is it best to make sure that your brand is ขflexibleข meaning it can be modified to accommodate changes within the infrastructure of the company. Typically changes such as adding of new departments, removal of departments, or general changes in focus.

If the company has been around for quite a while and has it’s focus nailed down then its time to create a graphical element that is more authoritative and defining or static would be the proper term in this case.

Capturing your clients ethos

Now keeping these few guidelines in mind, how do we go about ขcreatingข said graphic? There are a number of things to take into account on the creative side of things and its important to really listen to the client as you are now attempting to create what they ขseeข not what you see per say. Your clients may not always know that they need but you need to extract what they think it will look like ขto themข. This is one way we capture the ขethosข of the company within the graphical element.

Here is an example, we did some suggestions for a firm in London. The product was called system angel which is a program that remotely oversees networks for security purposes.

My information for the project was something blue, manly, and of course would suggest an angel overseeing a network.

logo is called system angel and is located here.

Take note the graphical element is flexible or could be modified to suit various changes within the company. This could be done with various line work or the addition of further elements, to reworking of the font, which is in this case intentionally soft.

Keep in mind there is usually much to consider when creating a brand for someone such as target market, location, length of time in business. This should however serve as a good starting point.

About The Author

Nigel Lew is the Owner and ECommerce Project Manager of Ultimatech Computer Consultancy located in Aspen Colorado. You may reprint this article by leaving his name in tact.

ultimatechcc.com

nigel@ultimatechcc.com

This article was posted on January 07

by Nigel Lew

How to Hire a Freelancer Using Elance

How to Hire a Freelancer Using Elance

by: Matt Bacak

If you have a project that you need to outsource but don’t know where to turn, Elance might be your solution. Elance connects businesses with a pool of professional providers from around the globe. When you post a project on Elance, providers compete against each other to give you the best price and service. You can choose either an open bid where all qualified Elance professionals can bid or an invitation only bid where you can peruse portfolios and choose which providers youกd like to invite to bid on your project. Signing up with Elance is easy and itกs free. Hereกs a stepbystep guide to start you on your way to finding the professional thatกs right for you.

1. Go to Elance.com and click on the ขBuy Servicesข tab located at the top of the page. This will take you to the next screen.

2. On this screen youกll be presented with three choices: ขPost Your Projectข, ขSearch For Providersข or ขGet Project Reviewข. For this guide we are going to focus only on posting a project for open bid. So, click on the first button, ขPost Your Project.ข (You can always come back later to investigate the other options.)

3. Here, youกll need to enter your contact information. If you do not already have a username and password, click on the ขclick hereข underline next to the password box to get to the next screen. If you have a username and password, enter it now and skip to step 5.

4. Youกll see a screen with eight empty boxes. Youกll need to create a ขusernameข and choose a password. Enter each within the assigned boxes. Reenter your password in the ขReenter passwordข box. Remember to choose both a username and a password that youกll remember. Next, enter your email address, first name, last name and phone number. Youกll also need to reenter your email address for verification purposes. Then, click ขcontinueข.

5. Choose the category which best suits your project needs. There are 11 categories to choose from. These include: Administrative Support, Architecture & Engineering, Audio, Visual & Multimedia, Graphic Design & Art, Legal, Management & Finance, Sales & Marketing, Software & Technology, Training & Development, Website Development and Writing & Translation. Once you choose your main category, youกll be asked to choose a subcategory. This allows you to receive bids that better match your project. After choosing your subcategory, youกll be taken to the next screen.

6. On this screen there are three main boxes of information to provide. In the first box, youกll need to Choose a Title for your project (e.g., 12 Business Articles), describe your project in detail (how many words, project deadlines, etc.), choose how many days you will allow providers to bid on your project, choose an estimated start date, a projected budget and attach any files that may be relevant to your project. The more detailed you are in describing your project, the easier it will be for qualified providers to give you detailed proposals regarding your project.

7. In the next box, youกll be asked if you want providers to able to seek clarification on your project via the private message board. If so, check the box. If not, skip to the next box.

8. Finally, youกll be asked to choose how you receive your bids. The Select Level will provide you with higher quality providers. Providers will give you more competitive bids as Elance charges providers a higher rate to list as a Select Provider. Youกll also be seen as more serious about your project if you choose this level. The lowest amount you can receive for your project is $250 and you also must pay a refundable $25 deposit to post your project. If you choose not to go this route, you can pick the Basic level which allows you to post your project without a deposit but youกll still need to be credit card verified (so that Elance knows you can pay for projects you award.) After filling in the required information in each of the boxes, click ขContinueข to move to the next screen.

9. Here, youกll need to provide your credit card information. Unless you chose Select providers you won’t be charged. If you want to pay your provider with a credit card through Elance, youกll need to verify your credit card. Elance will make two small posts against your card and then refund them once youกve posted your project. Once you supply the required information, click on ขContinueข.

10. On the next screen, youกll confirm the information you supplied regarding your project. If you need to make any changes, this is the place. You can either click on ขPost Project Nowข to make your project active or on ขSave & Post Laterข to post the project at a later date.

11. Now that your project is live, bidders can bid on your project. When you receive a number of bids, pick the provider best suited to your needs and your project is on it way to being completed.

About The Author

Matt Bacak became ก#1 Best Selling Authorก in just a few short hours. Recent Entrepreneur Magazine’s eBiz radio show host is turning Authors, Speakers, and Experts into Overnight Success Stories. Discover The Secrets http://promotingtips.com

This article was posted on August 08

by Matt Bacak

Why a Project Manager Manages More Than Just The P

Why a Project Manager Manages More Than Just The Project

by: Blair Ballard

So your Project Manager is responsible for getting your Project whatever it may be, completed. This is going to involve more than just managing time and resources. Above all it requires good people management, in particular managing You, the Client!

Let me give an example from กHistoryก. We were engaged in the development of a large (several million dollar) project. It required development of software, building of a company intranet, a web presence, a big database and overcoming lots of security issues.

The กClientก was actually represented by 4 parties.

An IT Manager, who is in overall control of the budget, but doesn’t actually have any involvement in the hardware or software.

The Systems Manager, who looks after the operating of the Clientกs hardware and software.

The Sales Team, for whom this product is being built.

The boss, who pays the bills, but doesn’t appear to understand what all the money is being spent on.

It is important to appreciate the characters and dynamics involved. I won’t go into too much detail to protect their identities. The IT Manager is extremely demanding. The IT and Systems Managers are best of buddies. There appears to be a power struggle between the IT Manager and the Boss. As will become apparent, we don’t know about the Sales team. By the time I am involved, the IT Manager has already fired 2 project managers, supposedly on technical grounds, but realistically more because the two sides didn’t get on.

Part of project management involves soliciting information from the Client what do you want? How are you going to use it? So far, are we on the right track? As I said this system was to help the Sales Team and to a degree, the Accounts Department. The IT Manager explicitly refused to let us talk to anyone else in the Clientกs company except himself or the Systems Manager. He is the one approving our pay, so what he says goes. He feels that he alone is capable of determining the result of the project and therefore can manage all aspects on behalf of the Client. Unfortunately, project management is all about collaboration.

The Systems Manager, before any coding has started or even the system processes are worked out, decides to spend $300,000 on hardware and some specialized software for this new system. It may be the best, fastest, biggest, most powerful, most prestigious, newest on the market, but at this stage we had no idea whether we really needed something that powerful. As Project Manager, you determine the technical specifications of the project and advise the Client. But at the end of the day, itกs the Clientกs money!

Not surprisingly, with the size of project and the many skill sets required, there were several different people involved on the กSupplierกs sideก. We were in charge of the project management and a substantial amount of the coding. We had 4 people full time working on the project management team. One of our number could probably have been described as fulltime Liaison/Buffer to the Client, while the rest of us got on with the job.

In addition there were yet 4 other parties working under the direction of our project management team.

Party ก1ก was involved in designing the database.

Party ก2ก was involved in building that database and doing the required coding.

Party ก3ก had to provide communications between the several applications we were building.

Party ก4ก had to look after security measures, review code and do final testing (and keep an eye on us).

The project was is to be built in phases. Party ก4ก has just lost the contract to look after the project. It is therefore in their best interests to see us fail. As I mentioned they are to review our work. They have tasks to do for the project and naturally itกs the responsibility of the project management team to ensure it happens properly and on time. So due to the obvious conflict of interest, requiring them to do their part in the project, is always an issue to be handled with care.

Another case of kid gloves: We need the $300,000 worth of hardware and software to be configured in order to set up the environments for our work. Without it, we are spinning wheels, กitกs a Milestone on the Critical Pathก. It transpires that the Systems Manager is in over his head. As a result we have to delay the project. Given that the last Project Manager was fired when she voiced her view that several delays were due to the Systems Manager, we accept responsibility. Unfortunately though, we are not able to address the root cause.

However the environment has all been set up by the Client, since they chose the development teams and had already purchased the hardware and a substantial amount of กOff the Shelfก software. As a Project Manager you cannot really tell what the issues will be until you get into it. Sure, we knew what was needed to do to make the product, but we also needed information from the Client and support from the whole development team. Add to the mix, the fact that we are all working out of the Clientกs offices and that half the team speak English and half French as their first language, communication takes on an even greater significance.

We end up expending significant energy (and hence Client money) on trying to extract this information and keeping the Client happy that work was progressing. All the while knowing that the real end users are yet to have any input into the product.

When we finally finish the product (really just a phase of development) and give a demonstration, we are finally allowed to present it to the Sales Team. They duly watch the demonstration กLooks nice, getting there, but doesn’t exactly do what we need, we have a few questions . . .ก Interesting feedback to receive after supposed completion.

About The Author

Blair Ballard is founder of the MARKET YOUR WEB group. His experience spans from that of Corporate Project Manager to Webmaster for a Non Profit organisation. http://www.marketyourweb.com.

blair@marketyourweb.com

This article was posted on February 22

by Blair Ballard