Sharepoint project management

A large international organization currently switching to a Sharepoint platform using internal resources required help in managing the development of a learning document library. WPA was hired to manage the process and ensure that business requirements were understood by the developers. Also as part of the project, WPA is keeping track of all deliverables, QA and approvals.

The project has a very tight deadline, and WPA has been entrusted to ensure that the library is built on time and on budget. With our knowledge of Sharepoint development, and a thorough understanding of the organization’s needs, the library will meet the requirements, and improve users’ ability to find relevant learning material.

E-learning Modules Quality Analysis

Our client, a large international development organization, uses e-learning as an efficient way to train their staff about its processes and new initiatives as well as part of its on-boarding program. These online courses follow a very strict storyboard, design development and test cycle which requires multiple iteration. During this process, many errors can occur and a thorough quality control ensures that the product delivered matches the specifications established at the start.

WPA Consulting has been engaged to oversee the testing steps. This involves the following tasks:

  • Test all functionality and links
  • Ensure compliance with user experience guidelines
  • Compare content to source
  • Approve modules

“We are very fortunate to have our client entrust us with this very important step in the production of their e-learning module,” said Stephan Beauchesne, WPA Consulting founder. “We normally perform these steps as part of our own development process, so it’s a role we feel very comfortable in playing.”

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IT Assessment for the Lycee Rochambeau

The Lycée Rochambeau engaged WPA Consulting to help them assess the state of their IT team including roles and functions as well as the state of the network, infrastructure, software and hardware. The engagement was produced in multiple stages with clear recommendations and advice provided at each stage. The discovery stage resulted in a restructure of the team and the hiring of a full-time IT Director. In the subsequent stages, WPA recommended a series of enhancement to improve the network and the move to a cloud-based environment.

How to outsource IT

Outsourcing IT is not new.  For years, companies have used staff augmentation firms, had their call centers and help desks managed by other firms, and used consultants to work on specific tasks. Recently, though, outsourcing has become popular for start-ups and small businesses who need help with their IT-related projects. Done well, you can use outsourcing sites to find talent on a retainer basis or for working on some or all your IT projects. From developing a Website or an app to monitoring your network and servers and even designing your brochures, managing your accounts and provide legal advice. All aspects of your business can benefit from using outsourced resources.

There are pitfalls and the attractive hourly rates can be more expansive than you think if the work is poor quality or takes a lot longer. So, you have to really shop around before choosing an outsource resource. Your hope is that you find a pool of individuals or firms you can count on to cover your IT needs. When well-managed, these relationships will become key to your IT success.

The article below covers specific Web sites you can use to find resources. They all basically work the same way:

  1. Post a project;
  2. analyse proposals received (sometimes dozens);
  3. eliminate obvious ones;
  4. select a few to ask questions via the built-in message board;
  5. Narrow your choices to 2 or 3 and conduct more personal interviews (using Skype for example).
  6. At that point you can ask for specific examples of work performed. Some will even offer to do a quick prototype at no charge.
  7. Award your project to the selected firm

Time management for IT

I just attended a time management Webinar by the Dale Carnegie Institute. The focus was to announce a new Live online class, but I got some good tips and tricks on improving time management, although it was a little too light-weight for me. I think GTG (Getting it Done) is a little more my cup of tea. But in any case, it made me think time management is something that can benefit all IT projects and initiatives: Email use, group calendars, collaboration tools and web conferencing tools are just a few of the tools that can help or hinder your time management capabilities. So, the next few blogs will be about the use of these technologies from a time management perspective as opposed to purely an IT perspective.

Small focus groups

We had a mock-up review meeting today where the outcome really surprised me and re-enforced the old adage that a few users will be able to give you most of the feedback you need. I’d say in this case, it took 3 users to make us realize we were heading in the wrong direction. Their perspective was invaluable in that they identify a crucial flaw in the premise we adopted early on in the site re-design project. Make sure you test your designs, layout, wireframes etc. before going down too far on a path that may be costly in time and money.

Web governance?

Has anyone thought seriously about Web governance? Really, this is not something at the top of a Webmaster’s mind. Content freshness, new content, dead links, new design, etc. That’s what we worry about on a daily basis. However, a successful site is one that is planned and resourced like any other IT or communication project.

Many seem to forget that when they create a site. Information architecture, standard look and feel, access rights, workflow, content reviews, and other WCM issues is what they focus on. I used to think the same way… However, a good governance will ensure that the right people make the right decision about the WCM system. Business objectives need to drive the Web site. And business objectives come from all parts of a company, not just sales and marketing. That’s why setting up a governing body is critical to the success of a site. The Web team and content providers do their work, but the strategy of the site is developed by the governing body.

Strategy before anything

It seems that every Web developer or Web designer will talk about ad nauseum about the importance of Web usability. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that a site that does not adhere to basic usability principles will not be offering its full potential ROI; however, the conversation should be focused on Web strategy. I have a few posting son this blog about the importance of a solid Web strategy. And, I’m not referring to a Web work program, which is actually derived after a strategy is put together. The plan can only be sketched once a set of common goals (which form the strategy) is agreed upon. This is true no matter how big or small is the site, whether informational or e-commerce.

Keep it simple

When companies want to build their Web presence, or re-design their site, they tend to think big. In most cases, thinking big is a good idea. However, on the Web, that’s usually not the right way to go. If you take on too much, and your site is too large for your team to maintain, you will be wasting resources in producing the site in the first place. In my many years of managing Web sites, I think that this is the number one problem I’ve encountered. People do not realize that you’re not done when the site is launched. Building a Web site is not putting most of your resources on building site, but rather you should be focusing your efforts on maintenance and future enhancements. That’s better planning.

The CEO wants a new site!

That is the scariest thing I hear in my business. Although the CEO may be right, it’s usually a bad sign if the CEO wants to be involved in the site re-design. The site is built for a company’s constituents, and that’s not the CEO. Too often, a CEO will see a competitor’s site, and uses that as a benchmark: “I want to have our site like xyz corporation!”. Unfortunately for the Web project manager (or the person assigned with the ungrateful task of managing a company’s Web presence) this is the kiss of death. Today, everyone is a Web expert, and the CEO always seems to be the most knowledgeable. A Web site is designed to provide information, data, service, etc. to a company’s constituents, all this taking into consideration the company’s brand. A competitor’s Web site, may or may not be the best guide for creating your site. It’s not a bad idea to look at other sites for design and organizational ideas, or to at least get a sense of direction, but this is done as part of a thorough analysis that starts with defining the Web strategy all the way to the publishing guidelines.