Month: November 2014

Delivering a project and presenting to a multi-level audience

The final step of the project has finally arrived. Developing and completing the project is one thing, but trying to get people to buy and use the product is a completely different animal. Just because you believe you’ve created something amazing, and the client believes it will do well, doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone will support it. When product stakeholders create their user stories, they always have an audience in mind. Whether it be for children, adults, or the elderly, the product itself, as well as how it’s being presented needs the team to keep in mind its development and presentation.

The most general form of presentations in a company.

Presentation can be in the form of advertisements, keynotes, and various other formats. Generally it really just depends on the audience targeted. Teenagers tend to be easily targeted by word of mouth and celebrity advertising, whereas those interested in technology are the ones watching keynotes. Different targets call for different formats.

Depending on the demographic you’re targeting, this new product you have created must be fresh and something worth having. If your company is fairly new in the scene, there is going to be some trouble getting a foot in the door if the product offered is stale. There is no demographic, save for maybe the elderly, that enjoys the same old thing time after time again.

As for internally within a company, generally teams will present projects in a traditional PowerPoint keynote. The vocabulary used within the keynote should fit that of the expertise of the audience. For example, CEOs and Vice Presidents of companies tend to be more business-orientated and may not understand technical specifications, and therefore lose interest fairly quickly. Basically, you just need to keep in mind of your target and have the sense to adapt to your target.

Steve Jobs believes you too can give a great presentation.

 

Furthermore, you aren’t going to be the best at presenting right away. Most people aren’t born charismatic and will have trouble trying to convey and sell the product to others, but that’s okay. According to BusinessWeek columnist Carmine Gallo in an article describing the presentation practices of Steve Jobs, a major key in his presentation style is practicing. “Nobody is born knowing how to deliver a great PowerPoint presentation. Expert speakers hone that skill with practice” (Gallo, 2012). The famous proverb states, “Practice makes perfect”, and in this case, practicing your presenting skills will only make it easier on yourself.

Presenting and getting your product out there can be a difficult task, but these steps can help the product succeed. Keep the target audience always in mind as they are who the product is for. Make sure to utilize the correct type of presentation, as different demographics are exposed to different types more often. Make sure that the product is something worth having, and isn’t just dust on the shelf. Finally, make sure you practice your skills. Presenting is a useful tool and can greatly enhance the product itself if the team makes it shine.

 

Gallo, C. (October 2012). 11 Presentation Lessons You Can Still Learn From Steve Jobs. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2012/10/04/11-presentation-lessons-you-can-still-learn-from-steve-jobs/

Image credit to http://pandodaily.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/freevector-presentation.jpeg

Image credit to http://cdn.bgr.com/2011/09/jobs_point110825140829.jpg

 

Handing off a project to a client; what are the risks and challenges?

Finishing up a project is a large accomplishment and the easiest part of it should be handing it over, right? Sometimes the answer is no, and the hardest part has just arrived. Handing off a finished project a client sounds simple enough, but in some cases there is just no easy way to give it to them. In the case of our project with STEM NOW, our largest challenge was giving them the website itself. We were not able to just give the officers of the club the website we had created by transferring the website files and database to them. The easiest way to hand off our project was to utilize the WordPress plugin, Duplicator. It was able to back up the website and migrate it into a Zip file for the officers to easily move onto the final live website.

Making sure we could transfer the website was a huge hurdle to overcome.

A large challenge in handing off a project is making sure the clients are able to maintain and use the project as self-sufficiently as they can. The project should be tailored towards the proficiency level of the clients. Sometimes, there are live applications and programs on the market that are convoluted and just terribly designed for the target audience, and end up doing awfully. However, there are going to be moments where the clients will not know how to use the product, and will come to the development team for support. In the off chance the product is not thoroughly tested and crashes, the development team needs to be able to answer and remedy the problem immediately.

Get those agreements documented between everyone!

 

Another problem is making sure there is a complete agreement between the product stakeholders and the development team. Ben Ferris states multiple different steps to make sure handing off a project between parties goes smoothly. Deadlines need to be agreed upon between all parties involved as to avoid potential mishaps on delivery dates. (Ferris, 2012). Also, clients tend to add and remove different goals for the team at times, and depending on how on track the team is, it might set the release date off track by a large margin. Missing the original set date may miss the market share for the product, and would lose an enormous profit. This would not be worth it just for adding a few features. “No longer is one party (often the supplier) subordinated to the other, but all parties are mutually dependent with respect to knowledge, continuity, and care” (Wognum, Fisscher, & Weenink, 2002, p. 350). Everyone, from the product stakeholder to the target audience has a part to play in building the project, but if everyone’s on the same page, then the project will succeed.

 

Ferris, B. (June 2012). How to Hand Off a Project Successfully. Cobalt PM. Retrieved from http://cobaltpm.com/project-hand-off/

Lamle, Cory. (February 2014). Duplicator. WordPress Plugin Directory. Retrieved from https://wordpress.org/plugins/duplicator/

Wognum P.M., Fisscher O., & Weenink, S. (March 2001). Balanced relationships: management of client–supplier relationships
in product development. Technovation, Vol. 22. Retrieved from http://mx.nthu.edu.tw/~chchu/CPD/Data/Paper/BR.pdf

Image credit to http://www.dexmedia.com/media/duplicate-content.jpg

Image credit to http://blog.certifiedbb.com/2011/05/non-compete-agreement-negotiated.html

What five technical skills are employers seeking? What five soft skills put you on top?

Technical skills and soft skills are both extremely valuable assets to employers when looking for a great new addition to their company. Depending on the position, technical skills will depend on what the company is looking for. However, soft skills will usually stay the same regardless on the job. According to Investopedia, soft skills are the skills used to interact with others, including communication, organization, and teamwork skills. In the future, I hope to obtain a position in IT, which would require skills such as communication, project management, teamwork, and teaching (Tech Republic).

The typical IT professional

 

Communication plays a long way in IT, as it requires the ability to speak to many different branches in the company, and ranges through all types of technological expertise. IT personnel must be able to be to convey and explain according to the level of their clients.

Project management can include a multitude of different soft skills, but will culminate towards the art of getting things done. The structure put into creating a project translates into how IT is set up. A messy network ultimately ends up in a giant disaster. IT professionals need to be organized and have to always think about Murphy’s law. Murphy’s law basically means, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” and you always have to think about a backup plan. Project management makes sure that the individual is prepared to handle the worst that could happen.

Everyone works together for one goal, even the guy stuck in the middle.

Teamwork is a necessary in a variety of jobs, but is an extremely vital tool in IT management. In the IT field, technicians work with a variety of people, from the bottom to the top. Maintaining and improving the digital infrastructure takes the effort of not just one person, but an entire team of professionals relying on one another. Being able to take initiative, being the glue to keep everyone from biting at one another, and keeping track of time and making sure everyone progresses well make teamwork such an invaluable tool. It’s all about understanding social cues.

IT professionals also need to be able to know how to teach. Entry level positions tend to be helpdesk and a lot of answering questions. Going in hand with the communication soft skill, many companies have different competency levels of technology knowledge, from baby to technological wizard. Beginners aren’t going to be able to understand complex lingo that professionals would know.

Technical skills are much more specific and specialized according to the position. These would probably include languages and specific skills meant only for certain fields. According to Computer World, there are a large number of technical skills in demand. Various web development languages as well as programming languages are a given for needed technical skills. Recently, companies have been moving into cloud computing so knowledge about the cloud and virtualization are a large benefit. Finally, a large portion of IT work is utilizing networking administration, which makes it highly sought after.

In general, skills will define how you can contribute to the company. The more you hone your skills and broadcast yourself out to employers, the better chance you have at attaining that dream job.

Pratt, Mary. (September 2012). 10 hot IT skills for 2013. Computer World. Retrieved from http://www.computerworld.com/article/2492784/it-management/10-hot-it-skills-for-2013.html

Shacklett, Mary. (May 2013). 10 highly valued soft skills for IT pros. Tech Republic. Retrieved from http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-highly-valued-soft-skills-for-it-pros/

Soft Skills [Def. 1]. (n. d.). In Investopedia online. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/soft-skills.asp

Image credit to http://www.trackersuite.net/rl_it_administrator_software.html

Image credit to http://1977ca8db5199587c696-5e63259377cc7aef802a7f39d8ade0b7.r31.cf2.rackcdn.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013-10-3-teamwork.jpg