In order to get stakeholders or management to approve your project, you will need to build a business case to demonstrate why the project is needed and what the benefits of the project will be when it is finished. The reasons and benefits of your project may seem perfectly obvious to you and others who are intimately involved with it, but to stakeholders and other decision makers it may not be so obvious. Oftentimes, they are dealing with a myriad of different business units and objectives and tasks that need to be done. A well prepared business case can help your project standout in the crowded field of everything that is happening in the company and might just be the key to getting approval and finances for your project. Here are the basic steps for creating the business case.
I'm reading an article about Steve Ballmer's efforts in his waning days as Microsoft's CEO and I ran across this in a CNN article...
Ballmer has made a lot of changes at Microsoft over the last year, including a giant reorg. "... we are well underway in implementing the new organization structure announced in July," Ballmer said in the letter to shareholders. "The teams are working together in new and exciting ways. The key change we made is deceptively simple but profoundly powerful: Instead of organizing our teams around individual products, we've organized by function, including, for example, engineering, sales, marketing and finance. It ensures we have one strategy and work as one team with one set of shared goals."
To this I say "b***s**t". It's a nice idea to say that you've moved away from product-centric teams to functionality-centric groups. But it's BS. It's just another way of doing things. Yes, you may enable yourself to focus more on the common goals of the organization. But because you no longer have experienced product-focus individuals bring their honed skills to the table for that product, you're now risking the product quality itself. And unless that was sorely lacking before, this just means you're going to start producing more lemons in the near future. It's a bad move in my opinion. Thoughts?
Is your business struggling? Are you losing customers or money and don't know how to plug the hole? Here are three things to look at when your business is failing.
We like to talk about successes and how to succeed in business, but the truth is many (most?) new small businesses fail. So, understanding how to recognize when things start to go south is obviously important. It’s not the end of the world though… at least not yet. There are always some steps you can take to try to “right the ship,” so to speak.
For the full article, go here....
Ideally your project moves out of Sales and into the actual engagement stage with expectations properly set and a solid timeline and budget in place. Ideally… But we all know that there bumps in the road and incorrectly documented or relayed expectations, requirements, etc.
Customer requirements and expectations may not be on par with the actual derived budget and that potentially major issue may rear it’s ugly head early on or it could even come up very late in the project causing major issues, work stoppages or project cancellation. It’s our job to avoid those events at all costs, but sometimes they do happen – and we have to react.
Delivery Team Funding Issues
There are several issues that can cause delivery team funding to hit the wall. Here are some examples:
In reality, the delivery organization is more likely to eat the budget overrun in hopes of completing a successful implementation and retaining an important customer. Ultimately the amount of the budget overrun will play a role in the decision, but if the budget is being tracked along the way as it should be, then the delivery team has likely been strategizing for some time to lessen the overall financial drain while still working to keep the project going and the customer at least somewhat satisfied.
Customer Team Funding Issues
The more critical issue is when the funding problem is on the customer side. This can present itself in two forms:
The outside possibility may remain that the customer will restart the project when funding increases or returns. If that is an option – and it very well may be (at least the delivery organization is likely to retain that hope for quite awhile), then the deliver organization is faced with a new dilemma…how to keep the project team relatively intact if the project may resume soon.
If there is a possibility that the project will resume, then discussions must happen quickly with the customer to determine what timeframe within which that might occur. If a restart is a possibility, then it may be possible to make strategic assignments to other projects for the key project personnel can be made in order to keep them somewhat available if the project resumes.
Budget issues may be the single biggest problem that can occur on a project. If you’re out of money, you’re out of money. Throwing more resources at it won’t help – it will only make this particular problem even bigger. And either way, the project is still dead, and one or both organizations are embarrassed, experienced major failure and may have personnel issues to now deal with.
The best that can happen is to learn key lessons from whatever issues caused the budget issues. If it’s a poorly run project, then retraining or termination of certain personnel may be necessary. If it’s poor planning or a sales issue, then measures need to be taken to not repeat the same issues again. If it’s a delivery organization budget issue, it’s critical that the causes are reviewed, documented and understood so that history does not repeat itself.
This article was originally authored by me for the PM Tips site. It was originally posted here and appears now on my site with permission.
Social media is out there and it isn’t going away. It’s not just Facebook either. I’m not going to even mention Myspace….sorry Justin Timberlake…it’s not relevant anymore and never will be again. What about Twitter? What about LinkedIn?
Facebook is for friends and family. It can be about business – but not so much in corporate environments…except possibly for closed groups allowing collaboration among team members. And yes, it’s for Red Lobster reaching out to you with couplons for your next meal. But is really a business tool? As a collaboration/discussion tool, it can bel. In those instances I see it as highly useful and I’ve used it successfully on a few projects and consulting engagements with team members.
Is Twitter a proper social media tool for businesses? Definitely. It’s quick, efficient, and can definitely be far reaching. Great promotional capability. It works like people think these days…quick snippets of information – or misinformation – but quick. Becasuse we want it real-time and we don’t want to much of it. Say…140 characters…and then our attention span is gone…we’ve moved on to something else. It has a more uninhibitated,anonymous, and sassy aspect to it than Facebook can ever have. Meaning it’s more of a cross-over. Think country meets rock.
LinkedIn for business. Absolutely. Though more for networking, sharing ideas, looking for work or gigs or whatever. And promoting your own skills. “Has anyone else managed to get ‘x’ to work with ‘y’?” Post something like that in the right group on LinkedIn and you’ll get lots of responses and generate some great discussions.
Now, does your small to medium sized business need a social media presence? Should you be promoting yourself through social media? Do you need any of these tools? Yes, you actually do - and all of them. If you’re not in the game now, you’re already behind. And if you’re lingering around with 40 Twitter followers and posting tidbits here and there you are wasting your time.
A recent survey reported in InformationWeek had some eye-opening results. While two-thirds of the organizations surveyed had a Facebook presence, only 17% had a formal process for responding to customer complaints through Facebook. Only 19% have had an external presence on Facebook for more than two years. 24% of consumers surveyed stated that they were more likely to do business with a company they can interact with through a social media tool. 25% stated that social media comments influenced their opinions about companies and brands.
The real bottom line here is this….many organizations don’t know what to do with social media or how much to spend on it. And they’re probably a long way away from understanding the ROI of dollars spent on social media. But you have to spend it. Period. If you aren’t doing it now or very, very soon….you are definitely losing ground to your competitors and with your current and potential customers. It’s 2012….and social media is the new frontier. It’s real-time. It’s what every consumer, business professional and company executive uses in some way, shape, or form to gather information, form opinions, and yes – make some buying decisions.
I’ve realized this…partly on my own, partly from reading articles like the one in InformationWeek and partly because I have clients who realized it and came to me for help. I’m not saying I can solve all of your problems. I certainly can’t sell your product for you. But I can use content mixed with social media promotion to increase your traffic – increase the number of potential buyers to your software, training and professional services so that you can start seeing some ROI.
I have many clients who ‘get it.’ They understand that they must reach potential customers and increase traffic in order to obtain and sustain long-term growth in their challenging marketplace. And then I sometimes run into those potential clients who simply don’t get it – like two I’ve had just this week. They are afraid to spend money without proof that their sales will increase. Newsflash: I can’t sell your product for you! If someone downloads your free trial and doesn’t like your product, that’s not my fault…that’s yours because your product doesn’t match up well with the customer’s needs or against your competition apparently. I can’t fix that – unless you bring me in to consult on your product’s capabilities…and that’s a different type of consulting relationship altogether. But I can get the traffic to you. I can lead the horse to the water…and I can get that horse to your webinar, or to your website, or get them to download your free trial of your software. The final sale is up to you.
If you’re interested in discussing how I can use my industry expertise, marketing creativity, and entrepreneurial flair to help your organization the way I’m currently helping dozens of others, contact me at email@example.com or visit my website at www.bradegeland.com and fill out the contact form. Or call me directly. Leave a message – I’m here to help you. I require no long-term commitment. If you’re not happy after a month of working together, we simply quit. But I promise I’ll do everything I can to retain your business first and tweak services so you do get the results you need.
This is big news...wow...today is the day that Steve Jobs announced to the world that he is resigning from Apple as their CEO. Sure, he's planning to stay on as the chairman of the board, but for all intents and purposes his run at Apple is over. The reins are now turned over to his planned successor...former COO Tim Cook.
What does this mean for Apple? Probably not a lot. They're on the right track, Jobs has set the proper course for the organization...the innovation isn't going to just cease. Cook & company will carry on. But this is sad news. Ever since I was wooed into the Apple family by my wife when I purchased my first - and only - Macbook (which I'm typing this on right now) back in March of 2009, I've been a full-fledged Apple believer. An iPod followed, then an iPad, though this and the follow-up iPad2 purchase became purchases for my wife as I still am not sold on a tablet...too much in love with my Macbook. Then there's the iPhone, God's gift to...well, to anyone smart enough to buy one. Droid was good, but the iPhone is a new world. Love it...love it...can't live without it.
Now I've gotten off track a little. What are your thoughts on Apple's next steps? Will they miss a beat without Jobs? Will they remain the leader...the incredibly innovative money-making machine that they have been for so long? Will I still find my happy place inside the Apple store at the Fashion Show mall on the Las Vegas strip?
And what about Jobs? This won't be a Brett Favre thing. I believe he's truly done this time. This is more like Magic after his health situation. Retired, back for the all-star game, and then off into the sunset. Seriously, Jobs health is not good....and that's sad. We all should be praying for him...I know I am. And I wish him the best and I hope that Apple continues to stay on track without him.
As a relatively new convert (two years ago) to the world of Mac and all things Apple, I thought this might be a good topic to cover today - especially with all eyes on Steve Jobs and the iCloud announcement. What is your favorite Apple tool? I'm finding - based on my own experience - that once you make the move to Apple products, the full conversion is not far behind. Rarely do you have just one Apple toy. Get a Macbook or Macbook Pro, and an iPad or iPhone is not far behind. And for those hardcore Photoshop users and other creative individuals, the iMac has no Windows-based desktop competitor. Period.
For me, I have a Macbook and an iPhone and basically access to an iPad, though it's really my wife's iPad. My Macbook is #1 - I use it for everything I do in the world of IT consulting. My iPhone is a great companion - I use it constantly for email and occasionally for writing professional articles. I briefly used the iPad but I didn't see the need for it once I had an iPhone in my hand.
As for my wife - the photographer - she simply can't bring herself to rate one above the other. Ok, she doesn't use her older model Macbook Pro any more but can't bring herself to part with it just yet. But her iMac, iPhone, and iPad are constant productivity tools for her and each one is used extensively every day.
What about you? What's your favorite Apple productivity tool in terms of hardware? Is the new iMac your most used tool? Are you finding the iPad or new iPad2 to be more useful than you had even hoped it would be? Are the keys of your Macbook or Macbook Pro nearly worn out from constant use? Can you not imagine life without your iPhone and how do you use it for business productivity? Send in your thoughts....
As an independent IT professional / consultant, the need to advertise what I do is very real. Certainly, at some point you acquire repeat customers and you're set, right? Get real...that's a perfect world. Now, fast forward to today's economy and realize that if we rely on what we've done in the past and what's always worked before we'll be out on the street wondering what happened!
I've written and promoted hundreds of thousands of professionally authored words of my own which have helped me promote both my services as well as promote the offerings of many of my clients. Additionally, I offer my site for articles promoting the products of others and make available space on my website (note ads on the right here an other pages of my site) as a way of promoting client services, software, and other product offerings.
If you're interested in promoting yourself or your product on my blog in the form of one or more articles or with 6-month or 12-month long logo/link advertising terms, please contact me either through the contact form on this site by emailing me at brad (at) bradegeland (dot) com. For articles promoting your services or products, I'll promote them to my Twitter followers (which usually are retweeted to thousands within hours reaching many potential customers), to the 25-30 LinkedIn professional groups I belong to, and to a professional project management group that I administer on Facebook. Your information will propogate quickly to many eyes.
Let me know if you'd like to discuss further. Thanks!
Thankfully, Foxconn, the plant in Shenzhen where Apple's iPhones are manufactured, has taken some proactive and preventative steps following 11 employee suicides ONSITE in 2010. The first, and harshest, is shown below - yes that's yellow netting to catch jumpers because employees were jumping out of the plant windows...
The other proactive measures include a 50% salary increase and a large full time staff of counselors. Apple isn't their only high-profile client - the others are IBM, Microsoft, and Cisco. Think they're trying really hard to retain business??