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Showing posts from September, 2015

Software Demos: It's Not About You

Since software is my business, I am obliged to attend quite a few software demonstrations.  I was reminded last week of a rule that is all too easy to forget when you are running a demo: it's not about you, it's about what the audience needs.

When you give a demo, do not feel obliged to cover every feature and suppress questions until you finish.  Your audience comes to the demo with expectations and sometimes prior knowledge of your product, so listen to their feedback.  Speed up or skip sections that they have already seen, and go to the areas that they care about the most.

Too often I feel like the presenter of a software demo thinks he is being paid on a per-feature basis, and most bring all of us in the audience along with him.  Nothing good comes from this approach.

If we wanted to see an exhaustive list of features rather than participate in a conversation with a human being, we might be tempted to read the manual or watch a training video instead.

Consider what you wou…

Software Requirements: Is it a Toaster or an Aircraft Carrier?

Building software solutions begins with identifying business requirements, and many project failures can be traced to poor requirements.

Part of the problem is that features and requirements language is often too broad or ambiguous, leading to conflicting interpretations, as I discussed in a blog post Stuff Passing as Requirements. These include meaningless expressions such as "intuitive," "user friendly" and "seamless integration" as well as impossibly broad statements like "meets all applicable compliance requirements."

One of my favorite classic information technology textbooks is Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design by Donald C. Gause and Gerald Weinberg.  The book is a great foundation for understanding product development, not just for software development.  It will encourage you to ask more questions and think about requirements in new ways to make your projects more successful.
Another, related problem, is that information tech…

Learning from the Bank ATM Experience

When I first opened my own bank account, the only way to make a deposit or withdrawal was to go to the bank during business hours, wait in line, and interact with a human teller.  If a bank wanted to provide more service to its customers, their main options were to open more branches, open longer hours, and hire more tellers.

When automated teller machines (ATMs) were introduced, many customers were wary because they were afraid of errors and uncomfortable interacting with a machine rather than a person.  It didn't take long, however, for customers to learn that the convenience of the ATM was too good to resist for a large number of transactions, which allowed banks to change how branches were staffed and open ATMs essentially as micro branches to serve new neighborhoods.

The latest continuation of this trend is the growth in web-based customer self service, allowing customers to find answers to questions and solve problems online rather than on the phone.  Most of today's con…

Grants Manager Plus: Theme and Variations

I have written before about how software solution implementations vary in order to serve the unique needs of customers.  One size does not fit all, and this is particularly true for implementations of Microsoft Grants Manager Plus.

When InfoStrat designed Microsoft Grants Manager Plus, the goal was to cover the entire life cycle of a grant, from creating a funding source to publishing grant opportunities, review, award, post-award reporting and closeout.   Our clients may choose to automate some of all of these processes, depending on the grants involved.

The downloadable solution has a large number of features, and is designed to be extended and integrated with other systems as well.

Some grant programs have large number of grants but small amounts of money for each grant.  They may need simple application forms and review processes.  Large grants tend to have more complex applications and review processes, such as review groups.

Fraud prevention and detection are a priority for so…

Dynamics CRM Deployment Planning Services from Microsoft

Microsoft offers software assurance customers a number of benefits, including planning assistance from qualified Microsoft partners such as InfoStrat or Microsoft Consulting Services.  These services are included in your software assurance plan, and cover a number of products such as Office, SQL Server, Skype, Cloud, SharePoint and Dynamics CRM.

InfoStrat's clients have used planning services to analyze CRM implementations, prepare for upgrades, evaluate cloud deployment options, and other services.

Planning Services days are available in increments of 1, 3, 5, 10, or 15 days, and may include a Proof of Concept or Pilot.  You can access these days through voucher creation and redemption at the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center.  InfoStrat or your Microsoft representative can help you through the process.

Dynamics CRM Integrations for Government Contractors

Dynamics CRM can be the centerpiece of capture management for government contractors, but it is even better when integrated with other office systems.  Here are some of the most common scenarios that we encounter, and integrations we have done for our clients and ourselves.

Document Management

SharePoint integration is included in Dynamics CRM, and it provides a great place to store proposal documents such as technical proposals, price lists, resumes, and more.  You can automate the generation of folders in SharePoint and populate the folder with standard templates and documents.

Dynamics CRM may be integrated with other document management systems if you are not using SharePoint.

Accounting

Accounting systems such as Dynamics AX, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL can play a role in capture management.  They are likely where you create cost codes to track the activities of a project team.  Price lists may reside in these accounting systems.   Microsoft offers a Dynamics conne…