By paddloPayday loans

Collaboration 18 Jan 2007 04:25 pm

Topic 1: Collaboration Case Studies Results

Here are some of the preliminary notes from our discussion yesterday. To allow everyone to keep track, I have reproduced the case studies then placed the notes underneath in italics.

Since this session is a little different—it is the opening discussion about how we might better collaborate and communicate–we will be posting more updates about this and asking people to help out with new developments as they come.

In the following case studies, we were looking at

• How are we managing the case/circumstance today?
• What are the advantages of how we are managing today?
• Are there different ways that we might manage these cases in the future that would be better?
• What tools, processes or changes would we need to make to take advantage of those different ways we have identified?

Here are the some of the results of our conversation on Wednesday, to the best of my notes. Feel free to comment and correct any of these observations.

Case Studies

1. Writing Specifications. We are all working on writing specifications for a client CMS.

• How do we share?
• Where is the specification “located”?
• What “form” is it in?
• Is someone the “author”? (Who is in charge of the document?)
• How do we assert version control?
• Are there places for comments to be stored if we are having a discussion about a topic?

How do we share and collaborate (DIAGNOSTICS)?

[It may not be true, but I am taking it that the term “specifications” can cover more than formal specifications and we can use it to refer to nearly any document we develop for or with a client. Is that true?]

• We share specifications through Portal, VSS and e-mail
• People get lost in the versions, not sure whether they have the most recent version or not (not “automatically updated”)
• Too many people in the process to keep coordinated
• Client requirements do not necessarily come in through a predictable path, or find their way into the mainstream

• There is an “author”, single “gate keeper” [is this true?] but heavy burden on the single author to manage the process

• Sharepoint has version control but many people do not trust the version tool, so hesitant to rely on it.

• May be issues with file naming [?]

• VSS is considered more reliable but cannot gain access when outside the office (which is often the case with interested parties), except through VPN

• Many clients do not allow FNC employees to gain access to the Internet through their systems while on client premises.
• People have very different experiences with VPN and Internet access. Some find VPN connections work well, while others have persistent problems with it, so not necessarily good basis for FNC wide process
• People use Sharepoint when the specification is considered “done”. However, even when done, the specifications are still alive.
• After the specifications are “done” they are really distributed by e-mail, so it is very easy to lose track of versions.
o While it is possible to distribute a document by link to Sharepoint, that is really only considered reliable for people inside the network. Those outside the office are more likely to receive the document by e-mail.


o There are Internet versions of VSS
o But, there still needs to be rules

• Source code should not be available in the same place as the design documents (not clear whether source code should ever be available through unprotected means)
• What portion of the specifications would we make available on an Internet based VSS?
• What portion of those specifications would we make “public”, that is, available to clients (and using what protections)
• What portion of those specifications would we make available only to FNC
• How do we decide? How do we do that?
In general, everyone is unhappy with the way this works

2. Client Meeting. We are all meeting today to make some decisions about a client, such as how to approach a specific issue they have raised.

How do we get everyone together?
How do we set follow up meetings?
How do we distribute documents to everyone?
How do we assign tasks, and track those tasks?
How do we “report back” on our assignments to each other?

• Results of my assignment
• Make information available to everyone who needs to know it

How do we report the final results of our discussions?
Do we keep a permanent record of our discussions?
How do we weave this information into the general discussions and information we maintain about a client?

• Where do we keep general information about a client?
• Where do we keep track of past decisions and actions about clients?

5. Panic Phone Call. We just received a panicky phone call from one of our clients saying that their flux capacitor is broken and they need it fixed before 10:04 pm, when they need it for a very quick spin.

How do we get everyone together who can help?
Where do we find the necessary tools and information to fix the flux capacitor?
How do we coordinate?
How do we keep everyone up to date on progress
How do we know when we are successful?

We combined the two (case #2 and #5) for purposes of our discussions.

• This process seems to work, except [see below]
• The “author” or “director” in this case is the Project Manager
• Project Manager sets up the meeting

• Uses meeting function in Outlook

• Sets time
• Distributes materials (attached to meeting notice)
• Helps with assessment of both severity of the problem and its priority within all of the other tasks (for this client, for all clients)

The Project Manager is the record keeper and reports out to the group

Most typical action is a “change request” which is a very organizing document, since it incorporates essentially all the issues into a single format and has an established process associated with it

• Once a specific action has entered the “change request” process, it tends to document itself.
• Next step is to enter RAID, which tracks all changes
• Note also that once a project is in process (which is bigger than the “issue” based discussion we started with here), it tends to be documented in the project logs

This method is less successful when the issues are “non-critical”

• No further details on this. Can someone elaborate?
• Does the problem become an “orphan” somehow?

System breakdown. This method also breaks down when it involves a “joint project”(a term I am using for projects involving more than one project manager, such as a joint CMS and Data and Analytics project with two project managers).
• There is no real “integration” project manager
• No system for tying the two projects together (no one is really in charge at this point)

3. We are having a series of management roundtables. People walk out of the meeting and think of things they want to share, or discuss after the meeting, and before the next meeting.

How do we add reference materials?
How do we suggest additional reading?
How do we allow people to post and circulate comments?
The current blog is a good start, but it does not have the capacity for managing documents, only postings and links.
• We will have to see over time how this works.
• More people need to start using it to see.
• We may need to look at other programs.

4. Knowledge Base. We have a boatload of knowledge about how to do many things, from how to format Word documents to how to solve the most arcane issues inside of CMS.

How do we record (or perhaps retrieve) this information?
How do we share this information?
How do we organize?
Who should be in charge? Or should it be a Wiki where no one is “in charge”?

There was considerable interest in this issue, however,
There was serious concern about
• Who would be in charge? That is, take authorship of the documents
• Can anyone be an author? Not sure everyone was in favor of this.
There needs to be a standardized location for everything
• Some place everyone can reach
• Adopted by everyone
• Maintained
Need to explore the idea of knowledge base
Is the knowledge base just a place for answering people’s questions or is it a general index to all issues, projects?

6. Corporate Calendar/Corporate Awareness. What is the best way to keep people apprised of corporate issues and events?

Where and what should the corporate calendar be?
• What are the important dates?
• What should be on it?
• How do we make sure that everyone can see it?
What about the Monday Morning Memo?
• What is the function of the Monday morning memo?
• Does it satisfy that function?
• Does it need to be reformed or discontinued?
I keep getting confused about all our products and service
• What are our products and services?
• What are do all those acronyms mean?
o PDF scan, OCR, AP Pro, XMS, etc
And what about all those other offices? What do they do?

Monday Morning Memo. There was the feeling that this was not doing what it was originally intended to do (not clear what it was originally intended to do).
• Perhaps issue it less frequently
• Perhaps introduce new employees (how about a photo?)

Corporate Calendar
• This was much more popular.
• There was the feeling that it was hard to plan with respect to all of the events that occur
• Would like to see a nice central location for a corporate calendar
• Might be nice to receive reminders of upcoming events (is that a calendar function?)

4 Responses to “Topic 1: Collaboration Case Studies Results”

  1. on 06 Mar 2007 at 7:07 pm 1.nfolson said …

    ktaylor said…

    In regards to this statement in the blog: This method is less successful when the issues are “non-critical.” For those issues that do not result in a CR, the resolution is most often taken care of though e-mail, meetings, or a combination of the two. We come to a conclusion, but it isn’t documented anywhere. I’ve found that sometimes I may come across a similar issue, but it has been several months since we’ve dealt with. I usually have to dig through e-mail to find out how we resolved it, or call on others that were involved in the previous discussion. I’m not sure how we can resolve this. It may be possible to develop a non-critical issue log. This log would include all non-critical issues and the resolutions for each. This would allow us to look at one document for your client and see how issues were resolved without having to dig through e-mails.

    February 7, 2007 12:33 PM

  2. on 06 Mar 2007 at 7:08 pm 2.nfolson said …

    Diana said…

    I agree with the idea of having a running issues log as well. One of my clients, OOMC, maintains one and it not only keeps track of the critical issues, but the lower priority issues as well. I think this sort of logging should implemented for our teams.

    February 8, 2007 11:31 AM

  3. on 06 Mar 2007 at 7:08 pm 3.nfolson said …

    Lisa Blair said…

    I also wanted to comment on corporate awareness. In my experience, the client teams do a good job sharing information about client projects because they work together so closely. Many times it is the company-wide information that isn’t shared effectively. One of the items mentioned in this blog entry is “how to format a Word doc” – where is the standardized location and who is in charge? For example, I want to provide a piece of documentation to my client, but I’d like my client to know that the information contained is confidential. Should I “brand” this doc a certain way? This may not be the best example, but I think it is important that employees know where to find and who is in charge of certain company-wide information (and that it is kept up-to-date).

    Lisa Burr (

    February 7, 2007 3:42 PM

  4. on 06 Mar 2007 at 7:09 pm 4.nfolson said …

    Lisa Blair said…

    I like Kim’s idea of having a living issues log, or issues/resolutions could be put into a searchable Wiki. When a client team discovers a non-critical issue that could apply to other applications, its resolution would be documented. An example issue that WaMu CMS recently experienced: single quotes in the property address (123 O’MALLEY AVE) causing problems. This issue likely occurs/has occured in other applications in addition to WaMu’s CMS. It would be nice to be able to see how other clients have resolved this issue without having to email everyone.

    Lisa Burr (

    February 7, 2007 3:26 PM