You have your plan, you have a fair idea of what’s ahead and now you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get the project delivered.
Now the hard part of project management…
Getting all the pieces to work together and get the project completed! Easy right?
No… You need a team!
The Project Team
“The Project Team is the group responsible for planning and executing the project. It consists of a Project Manager and a variable number of Project Team members, who are brought in to deliver their tasks according to the project schedule.” (Read more about Project Roles and Responsibilities here)
So, the Project Manager is more like the public face of the team. You have a problem? You go to the Project Manager. You need something, you go harass the Project Manager. Something is late? You hammer the Project Manager with a dozen emails in one day.
What is the Project Manager doing? Why are they taking longer than 10 minutes to answer the 7 emails I just sent to them in the last 10 minutes? (Ok, ok, slight exaggeration…) They are taking those emails and working with the Project Team to get you the answers you need.
The Project Manager isn’t the architect, the technical lead, the developer, the technical writer, the billing department OR software support. They can’t and won’t be able to answer every question that hits their inbox or ear. BUT, they know who to get those answers from.
When the right team is put together, WOW! Amazing things can happen. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with a number of GREAT Project Teams, I’ve seen them deal with some of the messiest challenges imaginable and turn them around. I’ve watched a group of strangers at the beginning of a project barely know how to talk to each other and yet by the end of the project there’s a COMPLETE turn around, you can’t shut them up!. Why?
I’ve seen clients at the beginning of a project have no idea what they want and then watch as their concept moves into a reality, where they have become so engaged that they have felt like they are part of the family. Why? Common Goal
THAT is one of the greatest feel good factors for me as a Project Manager.
Watching a concept go from a seed to a fully blown, fully blooming Apple Tree!
MCFTech can help you with your next business technology project. Contact us today!
As a native of Medellin, Colombia, I worked in the health industry for about 7 years. Two years ago, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime when I found the MCFTech (www.mcftech.com) post on oDesk (www.odesk.com). With Spanish as my first language, I never thought of working for a US-based company, English as idiom was always something I would like to learn and not something I was planning to use for my work life.
The stress after a knee injury was affecting not just my work but my life. It seemed like my home was the best place to recover. I replied to the post on oDesk and harassed the MCFTech CEO for about one week to get an interview… he is a very busy guy, but I wasn’t about to give up! Lucky is the word that I will always use to describe the amazing opportunity that it is to work for MCFTech!
Working across borders works for me
The freedom, the great work team, the motivation you get by working from home, the knowledge that you gain, the entire new culture and even the exchange rate are just the tip of the iceberg when talking about benefits. It’s challenging every day, but I still consider this opportunity as a blessing… besides, who doesn’t LOVE a challenge?
To mention some challenges, I can say that the language barrier has been really challenging. As I mentioned, my native idiom is Spanish and I learned English on my own. When I started with MCFTech, my vocabulary was pretty limited; now, two years later and thanks to my co-workers, I can say my vocabulary and pronunciation are really good.
Another challenge I faced was to learn how to stay focused when working from home. The freedom is awesome, but very difficult to manage when you have a lot of distractions all around you. I focused my energy on organizing my priorities and schedule… to be honest, I Keep trying, because there are challenges that you can’t overcome that easily! Now, my family, my friends, and even my pets understand that work time, is work time. I also remind myself that my home and family time is not work time. That work/life balance is SO important.
Since the MCFTech team and our clients are located throughout the world, dealing with various time zones has been another challenge I’ve become accustomed to. In Colombia, we don’t have different time zones. In the beginning, managing schedules for people in various time zones, and trying to keep track of where everyone is was pretty difficult. I couldn’t believe that being in the same country didn’t mean having the same time zone and adding the additional time zone on Outlook calendar has been a great help at times! (Outlook Help Topic)
Life is full of challenges and I’m ready to assume all of them as they come. For now my only concern is to give back to MCFTech at least a part of what they already gave to me. Working across borders (remotely) is different, is better and definitely something I want to keep doing for a long time.
Interested in a Career with MCFTech? Check out our Careers page!
Business information challenges tend to break down into two main structures, data-driven and document-driven. These are not discrete concepts, but rather represent two ends of a spectrum of managing the creation, movement and retention of information in an organization. Modern business information systems are automating and systematizing work but haven’t fundamentally changed the nature of how we relate to content.
Not a New Concept
Long before the invention of the PC, Internet and Cloud, organizations had to manage information. Abstracting information management concepts from the modern technology focused environment we can better understand core principles. Content exists in a continuum from loosely organized documents to highly structured records. Consider an ancient example of capturing information on Papyrus. A scribe might document visitors to the Temple by filling in a record of their visit either as an individual sheet of Papyrus for each visitor (form) or as entries on a list of visitors (table). Simultaneously, a scholar may be hunched over a desk writing a history of the day (document).
Times Have Changed … Or Have They?
Technology has fundamentally altered the mechanism by which we create, share, find and store information. Technology has not changed the shape of content. Modern workers continue to enter data on forms or lists and create documents. The vast majority of activity performed by knowledge workers involves working with documents, forms and lists of one type or another.
Different Technical Approaches
As a result of basic differences in how users interact with documents as opposed to forms and lists, most information systems approach user interaction from either a document-centric approach or data-centric approach. The assumptions that make each type of system work well create challenges when those systems attempt to address different types of content. For example, SharePoint was designed as a document focused system and has attempted to evolve into stronger data focused support through the addition of Lists and InfoPath Forms. While these expansions add substantial value, they can’t be seen as an ideal candidate for solving data-driven application needs.
On the flipside, data-driven applications such as Intalio|Create have addressed the need to add elements of document-based interaction through database document records, blob storage and threaded commenting. While this provides for a baseline of critical functions, document management in a database environment will remain a challenge due to the unstructured and highly iterative nature of most documents.
It’s important when making technology systems decisions to understand how different tools support either a document or data-centric approach. A decision for a document-centric approach will reduce the data-centric capability and vice-versa unless an integrated multi-system approach is used or until a technology emerges that elegantly addresses the full spectrum from unstructured document management to highly structured data-driven requirements.
MCFTech can help you determine the best approach according to YOUR business needs! Contact us today!
Profitability has been, and will always be, the main driving focus for any business. If a company is not making a profit, the long-term health of that organization may be at jeopardy. In today’s world, many factors have emerged that continue to erode a company’s bottom line: rising fuel prices, inflation on materials, competition, overseas outsourcing, labor costs and many more. In order to combat these variables, companies have invested numerous cost savings programs.
These programs take on a wide array of naming conventions and focus. To name a few, in my relatively brief experience, I have encountered: CIP teams (Continuous Improvement Practices), PMO (Project Management Offices), SIA (Service Improvement Initiative), CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) and countless others. These teams and philosophies usually have the same foundation and basics. Many of you may know them more as Lean and Six-Sigma programs.
Lean Six-Sigma are methodical practices that help to remove Muda (waste) out of a value stream. These wastes usually fall into 8 categories:
By examining these wastes, companies have been able to save thousands, if not millions, throughout an annual life cycle and process.
The current economic landscape of today is one where companies are no longer merely competing against each other by whoever has the best widget or service. It is a competition of supply chains. These supply chains extend all the way back to the supplier and manufacturer. In other words, the company that can streamline the entire process from beginning to end the best, will be more efficient, easily adaptable and ready for the ever-changing consumer needs and habits – thus becoming more profitable.
As we dive deeper, let’s examine each cost savings event or Kaizen. Teams are often faced with the challenge of implementing rapid solutions so that the results and forthcoming cost savings dollars can be achieved with quicker and greater efficiency. For example, if we were to hold a Kaizen event at a manufacturing plant, one may suggest that we re-arrange some work cell layouts, reposition inventory, eliminate unnecessary tools etc. These improvements are usually pretty quick to implement and you can witness the results first hand.
However, when the Lean Kaizen team begins to examine ‘process’ related improvements, the solutions tend to converge on system related enhancements. For example, if we were to examine a Return Material Authorization (RMA) process some process steps may be:
- Product created by manufacturing
- Product stored in warehouse
- Customer orders product
- Product ships to customer
- Customer receives product and determines defect
- Customer sends product back and is shipped new
- Defect product is examined by quality team
- Defects are stored, analyzed and tracked
- Product scrapped
Any suggestions to examine issues and implement change in this area may involve IT support, as a lot of these processes tend to interact with core IT systems. As we discussed above, LEAN and continuous improvement are meant to be quick Action Workouts (AWOs) that show cost savings results quickly. Changing any core IT system may take months if not years to alter, implement and begin seeing cost savings results.
So how can Platform Technologies such as QuickBase, Intalio|Create and Microsoft Business Solutions help the typical LEAN Six-Sigma Engineer?
Platform Technology systems offer a robust solution that is easy to customize, integrate and implement within any environment. A manual process such as writing down a defect on a piece of paper or even logging the event in Excel may not drive the desired Quality Improvements that is needed to improve an RMA process and more importantly the customer experience. By implementing a Platform solution, one can implement a solution in a matter of weeks that includes:
- Automatic emails to desired departments
- Safety alerts to Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) Managers
- Quality Metric Dashboards
- Executive Dashboards
- Root Cause Corrective Action tracking
- Pareto analysis of top defects
- Project tracking for major quality improvements
- Frequent Defect Databases
- Customer notifications
- Multi-site/location data compiling
- And so much more…
Through Platform solutions, LEAN Six-Sigma Engineers and all continuous improvement managers can implement robust IT solutions at a fraction of the time/cost and with all the bells and whistles to make a typical Lean Kaizen event into one that will be sustained and remembered for a long time.
Ready to reduce waste in your processes? Our Client Solutions team can help you do just that! Reach out to us today by completing our Contact form.
Visit our QuickBase partner site: quickbase.intuit.com/partners/mcf-technology-solutions
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Learn what Intalio|Create can do for you: www.intalio.com/products/create/intaliocreate/
For more information on Lean Six Sigma visit: www.goleansixsigma.com
Working for a technology company that provides development, integration, and various other services to our clients requires an intimate knowledge of not only the strengths and weaknesses of the various platforms we support (Intuit QuickBase, Microsoft Business Solutions and Intalio|Create), but also a deep understanding of business processes and which available technology offerings will suit our clients’ needs the best. Selling custom technology solutions differs drastically from selling widgets, as we are often selling ourselves, as much as the services we offer.
While it is important for us to demonstrate our capabilities to our clients, the story of how we begin to work together sometimes actually starts with our Channel Partners including Intuit QuickBase, Intalio, and Microsoft. Members of our Client Solutions Team work closely with sales teams at our various partners to identify potential clients, understand their business requirements, and propose potential solutions that will deliver strong value to our now mutual clients. Working closely with our Channel Partners requires a mutual trust and a solid relationship, both of which are built in a variety of ways outlined below.
Establishing the Channel Partner Relationship
As we continue to grow and add more and more great people to the MCFTech Client Solutions Team, it is important to establish relationships with the various sales representatives we will be working closely with. Typically, this is done with a brief phone call to introduce ourselves and begin to establish a solid foundation for the relationship. It is best to keep this initial phone call brief, we are always sure to touch on some of the following:
- Basic personal introduction including what our role will be, career experience, etc.
- Preferred contact method for both parties
- Establishment of a communication plan which could be anything from weekly meetings to casual communication as the need presents itself
It is important for our Channel Partner sales representatives to see us as the main liaison to our company early on, which will help keep communication streamlined, and also begin to help cultivate the relationship.
Cultivating the Relationship
Once we have established a relationship with our Channel Partners, it is important to begin building that relationship in the hopes of providing our mutual clients with the best solutions to fit their needs. Sales representatives we work closely with must not only have faith in us personally, but also in our ability to deliver world-class solutions to potential or existing clients. Utilizing the communication plan established above, it is vital to provide our representatives with updates on a variety of different things including:
- New solutions or projects we have completed that fulfill a common use-case or business-case
- New publicly available case studies to assist in their sales process which can help position the technology as the best possible solution to the client
- Updates on the progression of projects
One of the best ways to build relationships with our Channel Partners is the demonstrated ability to deliver successful projects to our clients. Working together to deliver world-class solutions requires quite a bit of collaboration; the more experience we have in working with various sales reps allows us to collaborate more efficiently and effectively to provide these solutions.
Maintaining the Relationship
Once we have established a strong relationship with our various Channel Partners utilizing the above mentioned strategies, the relationship often turns to growing and expanding existing accounts. While we work with companies ranging in size from Enterprise to SMB, to startups and non-profits, one of the most common scenarios we encounter are clients who want to utilize similar solutions in other aspects of their business. Often times the future “big-picture” vision for technology is discussed early on, or sometimes it is uncovered once a solution is live and end-user feedback is positive. Regardless of when another need is established, it is crucial to maintain relationships with our Channel Partners for a variety of reasons.
- The client may have product feedback that may be used to improve the technology offering
- The client would like to utilize the technology in other aspects of their business and require additional user licenses or other assistance from the Channel Partner
- The client would like an overall product or solution demonstration for other team members which requires the collaboration of both MCFTech and our Channel Partners
Continuing to work closely with our various Channel Partners allows us to evolve our offerings to meet the ever-changing technology needs of the modern business world. Our success is dependent not only on how well we work with and listen to our clients, but also on how well we work with and listen to our Channel Partners.
Want to discover first-hand how our Client Solutions Team works? Contact us today!
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Bill Gates once made the comment that applying a technical solution to a broken process just makes it worse; while applying technology to working processes makes them more efficient. After hundreds of technical solutions implementations I can say with certainty that these are true words of wisdom. Our most challenging projects (the ones that have often gone poorly) can generally be identified by an attempt to implement a technical system where the human work process is not yet clearly defined. On the flip side our best projects have come from improving an existing business process by automating already decently defined human activity.
As our business has evolved we’ve added processes to better flesh out process before we design a technical solution, such as business process modeling (BPM). While we’ve seen improvements as a result, many challenges still exist. I believe the reason for this is that business system end users have a very difficult time imagining how they work so any attempt to invent process through visual or written description will end up playing out differently than expected when actually put to practice.
The Pizza Game
While still in the corporate world I participated in a training exercise sponsored by our division VP that I still reflect on often today. The basic idea is that two teams are formed to operate a pizza production system with what seem like impossible requirements for speed and accuracy at first. After a few iterations though, not only are the requirements met but even more stringent and complex needs can be met. I often find myself asking why we can’t do the same thing with our own business or the clients we serve on a regular basis … usually the rationale is that our process is much more complex or that we can abstract it to something like making paper pizzas.
Real World Games
Several months back we identified that the top challenge preventing operational growth for our company boiled down to operations scheduling. So… as a tech company we decided that we needed the right tool. Since we develop technical tools it was clear the answer was to develop our own tool. After several design iterations of possible technical solutions we realized we needed more process definition in order to build the tool, so we initiated a BPM process which went through a few more iterations until it looked great on paper. The immediate and obvious outcome was that we had simply uncovered more questions than answers and had designed something we all knew would not work well.
Rather than build the solution we decided to try another approach… we allocated a resource to “try” the process manually using limited technical tools such as emails, phone, chat and spreadsheets but to try to follow the process. Immediately, it became clear that the BPM served well as a guide but needed refinement to work in reality. We also found that much of the process could be supported with existing systems and tools without requiring a lot of technical work. We also found that as some of the basic requirements were achieved through a low cost implementation, the need for a bigger and more sophisticated process emerged that would not have been visible without operating the more granular activities.
Automating business process is a great way to scale a business and support growth but automation needs to be focused on already well-defined processes to succeed. Invention of new processes or automation of broken processes needs to begin with simple exercises to define and test execution in low cost, low overhead ways before investment in technical solutions should commence. Some ideas for how this can be achieved are:
- Create simplified BPM flows using a tool like Intalio|Create (www.intalio.com) and test them with human handoffs before automating them.
- Walk through possible workflows as a story to see if they hold up (i.e. first I do x, then you do y).
- Consider strategies to simulate or play act process to see the results and try different approaches.
- Identify the lowest cost method to get to an initial working process, even if it’s not a good long term solution and then refine based on the experiential outcomes.
- Use a task based BPM tool and simulate all process steps as human activities and then gradually introduce automation.
Want to see what a BPMN workflow looks like? Check out Meghan’s Bairat’s blog on BPMN here.
My Surface Pro 3 experience
So I am one of those guys who is considered pretty smart, technical even in my social circles and typically a fairly early adopter of new tech, IF it’s good. I am in fact a senior member of a technology based company, MCFTech (www.mcftech.com), so most of the technology I use is within a business user context. However, I am a “middle aged” man, with a full time career, have 4 kids with my amazing wife Wendy, a dog, a guinea pig, two lizards, a fish tank, frogs…. well you get the picture. In short, I am a really busy person, and I just do not have a lot of “extra” time to research things deeply. So, if it is going to work for me, and the millions like me, things need to work well, pretty quickly, or the frustration level rises in a hurry.
I realize that I am not alone, that there are others like me, who don’t have the luxury of being able to just “figure it out” like we used to. Back in the day, we could geek out for hours at night on something interesting, instead of eating a meal. Well, nachos aren’t really THAT bad for you, are they? I have decided to start sharing my experiences with the technology that is supposed to make our lives better. For my first installment I have a doozie: The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet. Yes, the one that they are spending millions on to convince us that this baby can replace our laptops; for real this time.
The Business End
There are really two basic aspects of the Surface Pro 3; the hardware and the software. As I have been using the Surface now for 3-4 weeks, I think I will simply follow my own journey and see where it takes me. My intent is to make this interesting, but to hopefully help others, like me, figure these things out more quickly. I have also included at the end a summary of TIPS, so you can skip right to that if you want.
The larger screen size, the fact that it came with some good Intel processors like the i5 and the i7 (which I waited for from Best Buy), the new digital pen which is very cool, and a decent Solid State Drive (SSD) are the reasons I decided to take the leap. I also travel a lot and my awesome Lenovo laptop was just getting too heavy and too big to use in coach. So after picking up my jaw at the total cost of my shopping cart, I dove in and purchased the top of the line Surface Pro 3 with the i7-4650U CPU and about a 500GB SSD and 8 Gigs of RAM.
Here I hit my first Con. I still needed to buy a lot more, even though I just plunked down a healthy chunk of change that would have purchased a nice Gaming laptop for high performance fans. So I bought the cover/keyboard. I went ahead and paid extra for the one with real keys vs the membrane type, I need that feedback and feel. Then, I bought an extra micro SD card to add 64 GB of memory. First Pro: this was awesome, even though on the Surface Pro 3, I have a nice SSD, just being able to use the SD card, and write to the card from my tablet (Apple iPad fans cannot do this, and Apple should be ashamed to have never supported that for photos, music, etc.). I also bought an inexpensive softie case to protect my shiny new tablet, and a special adapter for the mini-display port to run my other monitor, and lastly I spent even more for the docking station, as I really want to replace my laptop, which I use at my desk almost every day. Whew… with my wallet dry, I was ready to convert.
The First Date
Ok, that first date was rocky at best and I was pretty disappointed after only a short time. Sure she was beautiful with that big sexy screen and the heavy aluminum back, it felt really good as we sat down at my favorite restaurant (our kitchen table) for that first blind date. But then I started hitting nasty little speed bumps and potholes that quickly took away the giddy excitement of opening the box.
It has Windows 8.1, of course, and in typical Windows fashion, you really needed the second release to have a decently solid experience. So, after about 24 updates and reloads, I was ready to roll and BAM! It got worse. OK, I get the concept of 8.1, the very ambitious and cool idea of unifying all of our devices into a common OS experience. Heck, I drank that Kool-Aid right away, but my mobile phone was an Android and I loved my Windows 7 at work, so switching everything over was just not practical, much less something I really needed.
Now, to qualify things before I start getting too negative, I had used Windows 8 on my home PC for a while (to my entire family’s frustration and disdain). The Metro apps were soooooo confusing and I really didn’t use that PC very often. It didn’t have touchscreen so I never did learn any of the new Gesture interface tricks, but I had figured out a few things; like where they moved the control panel, the search, the power off and shutdown, etc. So back to the Surface Pro 3. I quickly learned that she had a very different interface in 8.1 that assumed an IQ of 1000, and that touchscreen gesturing would just magically come to me… Did I miss something? They just had to move EVERYTHING?!
The Second Date
So after my frustrating first date, I determined that I would lick this thing. After all, I had spent a ton of money on it, and my partner was a few weeks ahead of me and seemed to have figured it out, so it was time to get serious.
Frustration #1 – You can’t close an app, and all the menus, etc. are just not obvious or even there!
There are no familiar little controls in the upper right to size and close apps…and pretty much every menu on my most used apps had been moved, deprecated, changed…. hmmm. So before I just tossed this thing and went out to get a Mac, I decided to use my “phone a friend” and learned three key things:
- The apps that come with Windows 8.1 are not the normal desktop apps, so friends like Outlook, Skype and OneNote (which I love BTW, future entry for sure) did not look, smell, feel like themselves, as they are kind of “mobile” tablet versions of the app. If I really wanted all the features, menus and controls I was already good at, especially to use with a mouse, I had to go get them. Fortunately for me, I had a Microsoft Office 365 E3 license and only had to find, download, and install them. Finding was nowhere near as easy as it should have been, but I got there eventually. I instantly started to fall back in love, and could feel the frustration level melt down a bit.
- You can close a Windows 8.1 “metro” app by swiping quickly from the very top of the screen to the very bottom. WOW! That works well but is in no way easier than clicking an X. so again, she was complicated but I don’t like boring dates, so this date was looking up.
- OH, this is true for all my Office apps too…. so I went out and downloaded the desktop versions of Excel, Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, etc. The Online versions of those apps are OK but are still not 100% yet…again that will be another blog entry in the future.
Frustration #2 – The keyboard
OK, like I said before, I did buy the expensive one, and the keys, while a bit tighter than my full sized laptop, they ain’t too shabby. I really do like that they are backlit, worth the extra money right there. BUT, then there is the trackpad. I wish I knew how to make an Angry Face emoticon. It’s just way too sensitive, and like all the modern trackpads there are no extra left and right click buttons, in other words you have to click the pad. It does provide a feedback “CLICK” feel so it’s doable, but it also allows the tap and double tap functions without actually depressing the pad and that is where it goes wrong IMHO. As I tried to type emails or documents, it constantly jumped around as my palm brushed the trackpad. Often, it will select a big chunk of text and as I keep typing it replaces it… ARGH! The worst is when you accidentally do some menu shortcut and it takes you somewhere you just don’t want to be. Again, I am no quitter, so I diligently looked for somewhere to lower the sensitivity. I could not find it intuitively anywhere, not in control panel, PC setup… crap… so I just turned the darn thing off for now. Problem solved, and with a touchscreen interface I really don’t need the trackpad anyway. When using it at my desk as a laptop, I use a mouse too, so I have not really missed the trackpad. Although, one day last week it mysteriously turned itself on again, seems like certain software still activates it or something, but today back in MS Word on a flight to Los Angeles it is not on, which is just fine by me.
Frustration #3 – Why did they do away with the start menu on the desktop?
Ok I get the new interface with Windows 8.1 and the live tiles are kind of fun once you figure out how to use them well. Just hold them down to rearrange things and size them, pretty intuitive so not much problem there. One of the tiles takes you to your Desktop, which feels good with its familiar Windows 7 like feel… BUT they left off the start menu, which gives you nice compact access to so many things, what the heck? Luckily I asked the Audience of other users and heard overwhelming response… use Classic Shell. It’s free and awesome. A quick Google search away and there it was as a free download, installed and voila! I was back in business with my start menu. YEAH! (I think I actually cheered out loud in my office and people might be thinking I have mental issues, but man this relationship was looking up!)
Some Good News
There are a couple of key bright spots, to be fair.
- The new “pen” stylus by the way, is a serious bright spot in this adventure. It is especially awesome in OneNote and I look forward to using its advanced features and seeing more software developed to take advantage of its capabilities.
- The High Resolution screen is also awesome, although I have had some issues with Web conferencing solutions like GoTo, Webex, and Fuze, where it will not render correctly on a screen share, the bleeding edge strikes again. I found that as long as I used another monitor (after making another purchase for the adaptor cable) and show that monitor in the correct resolution, I can get a decent screen share, but sometimes with older lower resolution secondary monitors, it shows a small slice of the tablet screen on the web conference as well, which is weird and annoying.
As promised here are the tips in a quick reference form:
- Get the good keyboard
- Turn off the trackpad until you can adjust the sensitivity
- If you want the normal Windows apps, you have to go download them, then either uninstall or remove the new “metro” apps from the home screen, the good old ones have different tiles.
- Outlook – http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/
- Office 365 install for desktop apps http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/store/store-FX102759646.aspx
Skype – http://www.skype.com
- Download and install “Classic Shell” to get your nice desktop start menu back http://www.classicshell.net/
- Get the mini-display port adaptor and connect your second, larger screen for ease of viewing and to help display correctly on web conferencing.
Workflow in Business Analysis
Often while designing business solutions for a client application, one needs to represent the workflow and count on it over the lifecycle of the project. Business decisions, Roles and Technical aspects of the project are laid out in this workflow. Thus, it is vital that the workflow is prepared using an accurate approach.
Out of the numerous methods, most of the time it comes down to using either Flowchart or a BPMN. Flowcharts are a graphical representation of different characteristics of a system and evolved out of a notation system developed in the 1920’s without strict standards. BPMN stands for Business Process Modelling Notation and is currently in version 2.0. It is a standards based approach to graphical representation for specifying business processes along with illustration of other tiers of the system.
Practical Example of a BPMN workflow
In this example support system workflow, our objects are Cases, Case Managers, Technicians, response time process and client communication (feedback process).
BPMN provides a standard set of shapes & symbols, that with some study, will be well understood by all viewers. In our example, flow objects like message start events, user tasks, and events are especially useful when compared to just using process (rectangular), manual input (quadrilateral) or conditional (hexagonal) shapes in a flowchart.
BPMN has evolved the simple concept of a flowchart decision block into different types of gateways (shapes). These have been used in the support system example for the response time & communication process. For instance, if there is no response on a case for 10 minutes after it is created then an email is triggered to the Case manager.
Since BPMN is a standard, it can be used by companies to plot their business process in a visual language that can be understood by all parties without misinterpretation.
BPMN helps you:
- To visualize your business process
- To document a process
- To do analysis on your business processes
- Discuss process using a common language
Initially, BPMN may have a steeper learning curve but once an organization adopts the standard the learning accelerates as users gain a common language to visually express how work gets done.
If you are struggling with ad hoc Flowchart-based diagrams to answer these types of questions, try BMPN instead.
- Who triggers a process
- Who does a proposal
- Who makes decisions
- What happens if someone forgets to perform a task
- Map multi-level approval workflow
The amount of detailing in a process is always directly proportional to the level of the difficulty needed to build it. BPMN provides more details than a flowchart when it comes to defining processes.
Do you need help with your business processes? The MCFTech team is here for you!