Tuesday, 31 August 2010

PRINCE2: Themes

Today we're focusing on the singular aspect of themes in the PRINCE2 project management theory method. These are atypically the most problematic elements of projects, often due to the diverse way that they can be handled and equally due to no one single solution existing.

Each organisation that encounters problems and has to solve them will have to do so in a different manner. As said before, while PRINCE2 is generic and can fit a wide range of projects- it is limited in that to effectively use it you have to view it more as a framework than a checklist.
Therefore, when problems arise even this method has no concrete answer for them.

The seven themes are:
  • Business Case
  • organisation
  • quality
  • plans
  • risk
  • change
  • progress

Business Case
Business Case focuses heavily on creating mechanisms or resources to judge whether the project is desirable, achievable and whether it will continue to be. This echoes some of the previous theory, however, in this case we are looking at how not if the project is viable.
The existence of a viable Business Case is one of the reasons that a project is considered and should it cease to exist, or lessen in its effect, the project should be reconsidered.

Organisation focuses on laying out a list or hierarchy of who is responsible, accountable and which levels of management are involved with the project. As you would manage resources such as raw materials, you must also manage labour as an entirely viable project could fail without leadership.
Or without the necessary skills for this kind of work.

Quality is the next of the themes and (as mentioned before) is a rather different outlook to quality than usually found. Instead of focusing on quantitative methods of quality checking, PRINCE2 considers whether a product is fit for purpose and whether it meets all the needs of the project.
Again, should these not be met or quality is not ensuring a fit for purpose project then the project should be reconsidered or stopped altogether.

Plans is to define where and how communication exists between project staff and to provide a constant stream of feedback, information and resources on how well the project is going. This is to make sure there is no gap between the Business Case and quality, while strengthening the organisation of a project to make sure that everyone knows their role and purpose.
If this is successful the project can move along much faster and to a higher standard of quality than previously thought possible.

Risk is rather self-explanatory (and again partly covered before); this is where you analyse and assess the risks associated with a project and then decide how viable it is. It is expected that a certain amount of risk will be associated with every project, however too much or too little could mean the project could pay off large rewards or simply falter. Or it is something with very little value.

Change is another of these essential project elements. No project will stay entirely the same from start to finish and if it does there should be cause for concern, however, even if it should change, the change should be managed. Otherwise you could face changes that spiral out of control and erroneously or adversely affect the project.

Finally progress is at the heart of all good projects. This is where we monitor what progress has been made and how far along the entire project you are, much like Business Case this is not an if but a how as we need to know how/why it has progressed.
And more accurately if you're going to continue progressing in this fashion.

This concludes one of the last posts on PRINCE2 and aside from a conclusion round-up tomorrow we have shared all of the available theory. We hope this has been informative and that you have discovered more about the expansive project management.

Thank you for reading!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

PRINCE2: Structure, Principles, Success.

When using PRINCE2 it is important to understand the difference between processes and themes, but more so you should understand the seven key principles. These are not rules, or strict guidelines, but contributing factors which make a project sufficiently more successful.

Themes dictate what we have to manage or create in order to complete a project successfully. Many of the processes we will describe later will use one (or more) themes. However, while we may be able to generalise each theme in a specific way- the level of detail required in each project will be vastly different.
This is because, with such a generic process, we cannot assume what the level of detail will be for any given project (nor should we). Therefore it's best to leave that to the individual project managers and to provide a strong, flexible and versatile framework.

Each process details one of the activities in the project but not necessarily the order. It can be said that the order of standard processes is not overly important, either, as long as they are all finished by the end of the project end date.
However, the ordering of main processes is very important as this provides a schedule for when to do activities and provides a timeline for the project.

Referring back to the opening, the seven key PRINCE2 principles are:
  • continued business justification
  • learn from experience
  • defined roles and responsibilities
  • manage by stages
  • manage by exception
  • focus on products
  • tailor to suit the project environment

Continued business justification.
Business justification is quite simply the continual reasoning of why we are undertaking this project. If we lose sight of the project aims, or we continue projects with few real benefits, then the project will succumb to failure or continue but prove to be incredibly costly.
It's always the best idea to keep a grip on why you are doing the project in the first, as without the project the rest of the PRINCE2 framework is inconsequential. Even forced changes such as updated legislation will require some justification, albeit not as much as optional projects.

Learn from experience.
Learning from experience is quite self-explanatory in that we look at other projects, products and similar processes to identify where the mistakes were. If we can eliminate some of these mistakes this could prove to cut costs, time and hassle when it comes to producing the product.
Therefore, research not only into the product you are designing but what has come before it. If you know there is an inherent weakness in one stage or in one component then find an alternative, research into other methods or simply reconsider the project altogether.

Defined roles and responsibilities.
Defining roles and responsibilites has a two-fold effect. Not only do we have the right people (or the best people) for the job in the right place, we can also save on unnecessary hangups and hassle.
If the structure is truly transparent then the process can run much faster, should there be any kind of problem the staff will know where to go and who to talk to.
Throughout the process there will be contributions from various stakeholders (internally and externally) which will require some responsibility, someone will have to make sure that the needs of all interested parties are met. Meeting some requirements is not effective enough.

Manage by stages.
Managing by stages allows us to break down the biggest problem we have with projects- the project itself.
It wouldn't be possible to work on the entire project all at once, nor would it be prudent to do so, therefore we need to break the project down into smaller stages and work through those. Slotting those stages into an overall framework which will hopefully be successful.
Another key reason for managing by stages is the number of people involved at the end of a stage. We can't simply say that as Part A is done now we should move to Part B. There are factors that need to be checked, decisions to be made and the overall decision of whether this is still viable.

Manage by exception.
Managing by exception mostly involves a great deal of delegation. It is not possible for one person to do everything all of the time, therefore we need to break things down into smaller segments and assign them to certain staff. To make this more effective we will also use a series of tolerances.
These are designed to keep the project running on time and to the correct standard, but equally, should they not be met they can be raised to the next level of management.

Focus on products.
Focusing on products is rather the heart of any good project. With this we put greater attention on the product itself, not the activities to create it, which means from the very start the focus is on a quality product.
Therefore, in each stage and each process we are looking at what makes a good product and are building our project around that. Were it to be the reverse we would create a highly-efficiently produced inferior product that doesn't meet our aims.
This can also solve disputes as when using this approach we will always have a near-perfect image in our mind of what the product will be. Thereby, should anyone question it- we will know the answers.

Tailor to suit the project environment.
Tailoring to suit the project environment is why PRINCE2 works as well as it does. The only way such a universal and generic process can work is to be focused, and in order to be focused it needs to be tailored to the expectations of the project.
It wouldn't work if we blanketed several "standard" options without realising the real options available to us, nor would it work if we just used the basic idea of PRINCE2 but none of the methodology.
In order for it to truly be a great project it has to be tailored to every aspect of the product and the organisation that creates it, without this, the project could succeed but to an inferior standard.

This was rather a long post today but covers one of the deepest aspects of PRINCE2. Next week we shall continue and eventually round up the topics to do with this form of project management- until then, thank you for reading!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

PRINCE2: Exploring the Project.

Continuing from yesterday we are beginning to explore the factors of a project and how project managers and PRINCE2 take these into account. In any project it can be said that there are six controllable variables and that these are universal (and pinnacle) to any project. These are: cost, timescales, quality, scope, risks and benefits. Each is explored more fully below.

Cost is always a concern for almost every corporate activity and projects are no exception. While we may start out with the best intentions and have an idea of how much we want to spend, where we want to spend it and so on- there's always the possibility of overspending. Which is where this is useful, we can use it to see just how the project is going and possibly identify ways to cut costs.
Having a good grip on finances at all times can also identify how viable the project is as if the projected returns are less than the initial costs we know it's a bad idea.

The other permanent concern of almost every corporate activity is time. We always want to know when things will be done, what our projected window of opportunity is and so on. There's always a chance it could be done on time and more of a chance it will be done later than expected, though, often when things are done before time they've been rushed and are not complete.
Or the initial timescale was not analysed and simply decided for convenience or fitting into a particular sale season/festive event.

Quality is a concern for the end-user more than the organisation, as only the end-user will decide what level of quality they expect, but for the organisation they will need to meet some kind of production standards. In PRINCE2 terminology this is when a product is "fit for purpose and conforms to requirements."
Tied to timescale above and even cost, quality is the culmination of the time spent to create the product and the materials and processes used. Too little time or cost and cheaper processes materials may be used, lowering quality, and lowering the possibility that concern will pass the PRINCE2 test.

Scope is more complicated than the previous factors and is often decided not only by the organisation but by the suppliers and retailers. Most products will have complementary goods which are designed to work with them, or to add functionality, it is important to know what these are as well as to produce the project- but always keep in mind what you are producing.
In the case of an Mp3 player- is it up to you to design the player? The cables? The case? All of these need to be designed but without any idea of what you're making it can easily go from a 6-month to a 12-month project, not to mention become incredibly costly and frustrating.

Risk is an inherent part of corporate practice and many believe that with the greatest risk comes the greatest reward. However, how much risk are you taking on? There are many risks but some are worse than others from a production point of view. Looking again at an Mp3 player, will you risk not having a USB charge facility and only allow it to be charged via a plug? If so, how much of that decision is going to affect the rest of the project? The promotion, for instance, would have to sell an extra feature to the user in hopes that the lack of a USB charging facility can be overlooked.

Benefits is one of the most interesting factors as most of the time people don't ask, "Why am I doing this?"
And it's a good point from the point of view of an organisation, with limited resources (financial and otherwise) what makes this project a good idea and what will you get out of it? Equally, there is the other side of the coin that even if you produce a brilliant product- what good is it if you can't use it or sell it because of a singular factor?
Keeping in mind why each project is important and what benefits it will bring is important not only for the viability of projects but the expected return.

This is a lot of information for today, so we shall leave it there for today and move onto structuring projects and the principles of a project in the next post.
Until then- thank you for reading!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Monday, 23 August 2010

PRINCE2: Introduction to project management.

It is widely accepted that PRINCE2 is the best generic project management theory available, this is because it allows the manager flexibility and versatility where they need it most. Instead of some project management theories which try to pigeon hole projects, staff and resources- PRINCE2 is truly generic and can suit any project, organisation or idea.

Why is project management important?
Efficiency is the only way to ensure consistent profitability, or, more simply, in order to make the most of the resources and staff available they need management. If resources are wasted or initial risks or considerations are not taken into account then the project could be a failure.
And a costly failure, at that.
Project managers are employed for just this reason- to manage the project. However, corporate structure denotes that sometimes there's less transparency than there should be. Anyone involved with the project will have different ideas about what is most important, what should be completed first, what should be considered and when the end product should be delivered.
Without a method it becomes an incredibly difficult task as there is no way to assure that certain aims or considerations have been met. Nor will there be an indication of when (or if) it will be done.

Is PRINCE2 as flexible as you say it is?
Widely accepted as one of the most useful project management methods available, it isolates the individual and specialist considerations for a project and focuses on the heart of the project. For instance, it can be used as easily for an organisation in construction as it could be for one in medicine.
The smaller, specialist aspects are not as important to PRINCE2 as they can be easily intergrated.
What is important is narrowing down the particular aspects to create universal transparency for managers, staff and anyone else involved in the process. Not to mention creating a strong framework which allows the organisation to continue to function, yet equally develop.
Any organisation that simply stops functioning at the start of the project management process will face two problems: lack of resources and the inability to change, as change should be controlled not done in real time.

What exactly is controlled change?
While innovation and staying one step ahead is always a good organisation practice, sometimes this eagerness can be equally harmful. When a new project or system is introduced it is important that it works and any errors are only minor.
Introducing this change in real time will be harmful as any errors (or complete failures) will be costly, frustrating and will require a period of further development.
Simply put, should you spend more time introducing a new project in a controlled environment and routing out any errors or complications- it will save time, money and resources in the long run. Therefore it's best to see if it works and if it doesn't, well, no harm done as no-one has seen it yet. It's still "in development."
It can be equally cost-effective as you can save repeated implementation costs.

What are the derived benefits?
If you use a singular generic project management method it can provide many benefits, such as:
  • a repeatable and understandable approach
  • an approach that can be taught easily
  • a proactive outlook which identifies problems and other factors quickly
  • an approach built on collected knowledge and previous experience
  • understanding who is in charge of what, where and why this is

This is all for the first part of our series of posts on PRINCE2 and project management theory.
Be sure to check back soon for the next part in which we will explore some of the more specialised qualities of this exciting project management method.

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

An Ethical Turnaround.

Being an ethical organisation is more than just "going green" and doing your bit for the environment, it's also about honesty and transparency to your suppliers. Every organisation sources some kind of raw material from somwhere and if you want to be ethical- this is your first port of call.
After that we can start to focus on our production methods, retailing and how to promote a cleaner and honest corporate image.

How it works.
Being ethical can be an expensive process at times, it is (however) profitable and a number of organisations have taken a similar route in previous years.
There's many reasons for this: some organisations are proud of their ethics (see below), it has become more profitable than it was in the past, more organisations are trying to be more transparent, there's a range of rewards and there's a unique customer base to tap into.
Generally any organisation can be ethical as long as they take into account a number of factors and fairly source their products, not to mention produce them safely and contribute to local environments and governments they work within.

As an example we shall look at Innocent Smoothies.
They produce fresh fruit smoothies in a variety of flavours and for a variety of customer bases. They only use fresh fruit, no additives, they're environmentally friendly and have recently begun research into a biodegradable form of plastic.
This pretty much embodies ethics for the purpose of this post. They wouldn't have half as much appeal or as good an image if their healthy smoothies polluted local environments, for instance. And even in the face of many recycling groups who would probably criticise their use of the TetraPak packing technology- they're woking on creating a new kind of plastic which is biodegradable.
Which, in fact, they have produced and is now bundled with all their bottled smoothies.

Corporate imagery.
Many consumers these days will only back products they personally approve of.
Even if they love a certain brand of shampoo (for example) if it is found that they test on animals or dump gallons of chemicals into the river, they will cease to buy it. More than ever your corporate image should be both professional and personable.
This can also be (as the title suggests) an interesting turnaround for organisations who are currently struggling to find their niche, or progress as an organisation, into more lucrative markets. Often consumers will tend to notice you more even if you're not a big brand name just because you're ethical and responsible. Not to mention, you're doing yourself a favour by being a decent person and giving back to those that help you get where you are.

There are hundreds of examples of ethical organisations (maybe some in the same industry as you), so give it some time and research what sort of things they're doing and what you could do too.

Thanks for your time!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Artificial Intelligence.

Described as the science and engineering of making intelligent machines- just what is artificial intelligence and how does it affect your organisation? Well, if you're a modern organisation and you've been using some of the newer technology available you're probably already feeling the effects of it.

Brief overview of the technology.
Artificial intelligence is (in very basic terms) giving machines and technology a full set of tools with which it can solve problems, think for itself and essentially work without any given user input. More than this, it can solve problems to a super human level and react in real time as a person would.
To give a relatively simple example and one that everyone should be familiar with: when you insert a new plug and play device into a USB port of a computer running a Windows operating system it will look for new drivers, download them and install them. It does this without the information on the hard disc (as in, it doesn't have all the drivers on the main drive) and it does it without being told where to look. It thinks, identifies the hardware and then figures out where it would downloaded from.

An exciting new development!
In business terms, it's a bit more complicated but just as easy to explain for what we're trying to say today. Any kind of automated stock system, self-sufficient production line or even business process management software suite displays artificial intelligence.
In the case of a business process management software suite, it displays a form of computerised intelligence in that it is given the basic data required for a situation and then calculates it itself. Using its own intelligence in the form of algorithims, calculations and parameters. Although this can be limited and in severely complex situations the systems may simply not respond, as they cannot process any efficient or logical conclusion.
But this is why they are valued by many modern organisations- they revolutionise how you can interpret data and turn it into useful information.

Thereby it allows the user to set their own parameters, their own needs and their own expectations to which the system is then able to work out the solution. Rather than simply sorting the information or recompiling it.
This is also a rising concern of many of just how far these computerised systems will advance and what kind of an impact it can have. Though, there are benificial situations in which super human abilities and non-living organisms are required. In the case of working with dangerous chemicals, toxic fumes or potentially fatal situations for instance. Instead of asking someone to brave the potential risks, a system with artitifical intelligence can sort it out safely and easily.
In scientific terms it's an exciting development of technology in a way we had previously never thought possible.

A few setbacks/drawbacks.
Artificial intelligence can be universally useful for all kinds of organisations, although it is worth taking into account that the level of effectiveness is linked to the organisations themselves.
If you don't have a lot of processes, systems to implement or lots of information to deal with then an artifical intelligence system may not be too effective for you. As you'd simply be asking something of incredible potential to do menial tasks, which would be a (costly) waste.

That's all for now on this brief introduction to the exciting world of artificial intelligence. Thank you for your time!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Monday, 16 August 2010

Aquima: Seamless integration and presentation.

Software (in general) is incredibly useful and can provide us with beneficial quirks in our daily lives, but sometimes negotiating with software can be a bit of a hassle. Setting up this template for Microsoft Word is a long task in trying to get it to look just the way you want, to merge the information you want, to display the headers and graphics you want- but what happens when you want to change it? The situation starts all over again and often any of your previous documents, papers or notices will need to be reuploaded/updated and reproduced with the new design.

Reuse, redesign and refresh.
This is not the case with Aquima.
If you're running an Aquima application/model and you realise there's a service or a condition you didn't take into account initially, then simply open the Aquima Suite and add the missing information. Then save, compile and run the application/model and your changes will be there straight away.
This can be especially beneficial for growing organisations whose needs will change over time.

So, (for instance) if you're a small company and you have an online ordering service, then initially your documentation will be quite small and only take into account a certain number of questions/requirements. Then, in six months time, you expand and start to want more information and require more details for your new ordering service. There's no horribly long compiling time, no complex programming or the sinking feeling that you'll need to ship your working model off to another organisation for a few weeks.

Versions and compatibility.
The Aquima Suite also supports a number of different versions of the same model.
Let's say that your base model is 1.0, but you're having a summer sale in a few weeks and for that period of time everything is 20% off. Instead of rewriting all of your information, you can simply add version 1.1 which incorporates a 20% discount. That, after the sale, will automatically revert back to 1.0 again.
Then if in several months time you realise your application/model is out of date, you can easily use the information from 1.0 to make your new 2.0 application/model for 2011.

Most organisations these days are quite flexible and will have changing needs. Not only for their own products and services, but new legislation and legal requirements.
Aquima is a software suite that can match that flexibility with surprising results.
You may think it's not possible for one software to do so much and to be so incredibly flexible- but that's why Aquima bridges the business to IT gap. It's all about flexibility and providing appropriate and effective IT solutions when your organisation needs them most. Equally, to match the ever-changing needs of modern organisations.

So easy- the coffee machine could do it!
Well, not really- but just about anyone use Aquima.
With Aquima you can really let your organisation flourish as you won't be paying high programming and technical costs, yet you will get the most out of your application/model. This is because those who are best to do the job of programming these important business aspects are those already working for you. While bespoke programming organisations offer a similar solution- this is a solution where those who are at the heart of your organisation are making the models to make you more productive.
And, really, who better to design these than employees who have all the information?

Thank you for your time!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Marketing Augmented by Information.

Promoting any product or service has always been a tricky affair that combines corporate knowledge with derived information about the customers. Throughout the process information can be collected from just about anywhere (internally or externally), and is often worked and re-worked until that winning strategy is discovered.

Information, information and more information!
Market research has always relied on a lot of information about customers and often from customers. Demographic studies, disposable income analysis, preferences, age and gender, previous purchase habits and direct interviews/surveys- it all fits into the wider term of researching customers.

But what if there were a way to acquire this kind of information through your existing product or service?

In a way that doesn't actually cost you anything but increases turnover?

If you're an online organisation (even just a company website) that has information about products and services online, there are ways you can use this to acquire information.
Say, for instance, you're an online retailer specialising in electronics and computer components. You notice that a handful of customers are searching for wireless internet adapters and then internet security software each day. There is a trend here that those looking to get connected online are also looking to stay safe- this is a promotional opportunity.

As you can either use this opportunity to bundle these products together (if you're the base retailer) or suggest this to them when they visit the wireless internet adapter page and vice versa. Also, if a further few of these consumers are looking at other internet and software related items that's even more information.
Now, in a weekly newsletter you can highlight the newest releases for these items and the best prices every time you send it out to them.

Technological augmentation.
Further to this some organisations will research and develop algotrithims that allow them to analyse consumer habits, information, purchase and seach history, wishlisht information and so on.
Many large online retailers such as Amazon and Play have such algorithims and they can be infinitely useful for consumers buying one product with another. For instance, an Mp3 player with a case. You might not know what cases are available for your player and searching could prove fruitless or frustrating- via the algorithim, and suggested complementary purchases, you'd know and you'd have it in minutes.
Although, it can be used for more than just this. It can also be used to introduce consumers to new products they wouldn't usually buy or sometimes products from the same product line. For instance, CDs by a similar kind of musician or video games from a similar genre/publisher.

Shifting tactically.
However, be wary of the information you're using as it can sometimes be folly to continue promoting after a while. This is especially the case with consumers who change their tastes often (such as young people) and may actually push people away rather than draw people in.

For instance, in the case of PC games and software, younger consumers will often buy the latest titles straight away whereas some may wait until the price is less than the RRP. It is important to note which type your consumers are, as if they're the latter then perhaps the best time to tell them is in a sale- while if they're the former the best time would be on release day.

While information is a valuable marketing tool it is also one that is often misused. Many organisations feel that as they have the information they have to use it- this is not the case, not all the time, and if you continue to push products to those not interested you will get a rather soured reputation.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Social Media: An introduction.

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blogger are no longer restricted to those who want to keep in touch and share information/entertainment- they can be used by any organisation for a new wave of internet marketing and promotion.
You may question the validity of these sites and how (as an organisation) you can be taken seriously for using them, but, as they say, everyone does it. Most of your competitors have probably got an account with one of these sites, most are probably connected to their future clients and are providing them with information to their products and services.

The basic idea...
The idea is to connect to people where they're already connected.
This means you don't have to spend time, money and other resources on finding your clients and customers as you'll already have found them by accessing these sites. Twitter is so easy to use that you can be connected to anyone, anywhere, for any reason and can send updates that they will read.
Facebook works in a similar manner as you'll be advertising yourself and promoting mostly through word of mouth, but, via the use of your own Facebook account, you can do more and even invite them to your pages.
Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal and so on are all blogging services which allow you (much like this blog) to share large volumes of information. But best of all it allows you to further customise and format your sites and bring them to the links you want them to see.

Further information.
Below is a general breakdown of some sites, their customisability and their preferred usage method.

Customisability: Limited, but can customise your theme.
Ease of use: Very easy to use, to connect with and to update.
Extra features: Mobile uploading from all major networks.
What it's used for: Updating brief concise chunks of information, "following" other Twitter users, some promotional use and keeping in touch with people 24/7.

Customisability: The main theme is fixed, however, technology such as FBML add customisation options.
Ease of use: Very easy to use and to update.
Extra features: Mobile uploading from all major networks, groups and communities, business pages and paid advertising.
What it's used for: Business pages can be uploaded which incorporate contact details, statements and information from the organisation, working hours and other useful information/links.

Customisability: With effort and patience it's entirely customisable.
Ease of use: Easy to use and easy to update.
Extra features: Through customisation you can add anything from customised graphics to flash video with a bit of time and effot
What it's used for: Uploading large amounts of information in blog format, providing links to other sites, profile information and connecting with more casual users.
Customisability: Features a range of themes and customisation options.
Ease of use: Easy to use and easy to update.
Extra features: Through customisation and use of modules you can create any kind of informational blog you can design.
What it's used for: Uploading large amounts of information in blog format, providing links to other sites, profile information and connecting with more casual users.
Customisability: Limited but some customisation offered.
Ease of use: Easy to search and view videos- uploading can be tricky.
Extra features: Subscribe to videos, playlists, commenting and a widespread user base.
What it's used for: Uploading videos, participating in community events, promotional aspects can be incorporated into videos and commenting on various videos, playlists and users.

That's all for now, later we will discuss some of the more specialised benefits of social media.
Hopefully one of the sites above can be incorporated into your organisation to help utilise a new wave of promotional, personal and corporate marketing opportunities.

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Monday, 9 August 2010

Aquima: Simplicity in Design.

With so many business process management (BPM) software suites on the market how can you be sure which is right for your organisation? In truth, they're probably all useful, but some do offer certain solutions and key points that others don't.

Brief introductions.
So today we shall be looking at a comparison between Aquima and ARIS.
ARIS (Architecture of Integrated Information Systems) is a complex approach to enterprise modelling. It offers methods to analyse processes and take a holistic view of process design, management and application processing. It is similar in functionality and could be considered complementary to Aquima, each provides you with a similar end result and model/application but the methods to design them are vastly different.

Process development and management.
The major difference between ARIS and Aquima is the simplicity of designing processes.
ARIS uses a coded approach to designing the processes, while Aquima states that "if you can handle Excel, Powerpoint and Visio you can create an application." Both use a visual representation of the process for easy understanding and design, however.
With ARIS this means that you could get even more functionality from the software if you can code to the level required, allowing the highest level applications to be created to specification.
While for Aquima this means that there is an easy to use process design environment available to every level of the organisation, though possibly lacking the power of ARIS.

This in turn also defines how models/applications can be edited and developed.
With ARIS it is possible to develop the model/application and then edit it, however, it requires an incredible amount of foresight and all the initial coding skills.
With Aquima it is possible to prototype a model/application almost immediately. This provides two benefits: one is that you can engage short-term testing straight away and get real feedback immediately, the second is that it provides a more complete and hassle-free design process.

Designing, deriving and everything else.
From there we can also compare how the models/applications are initially derived and designed.
With ARIS you are required to have all of the information (or as much as possible) when starting the design as you need to work on a process-by-process method. This provides some benefits in the consolidation and accuracy of information available and used. However, it will have a longer set-up time and be more complex.
Aquima is almost the opposite in that you create the models/applications more by specification than by processes. Of course, as part of the design, the processes are a part of the development. But initially all you need is a specification- an idea- and you're ready to create. However, it doesn't require the levels of information management you would need with ARIS.

International customer base.
Equally, the customer base of both is important as a comparative note.
ARIS is quite well-known and has both a national and international customer base, while Aquima is still developing a mature international customer base.
This can be important for many reasons. In the case of introducing a new business process management software suite into the organisation, what are the current employees going to expect? Something like ARIS or something new and exciting?
Also, the intergration from organisation to organisation is going to be different with different systems.
Though, this is not to say that you shouldn't use Aquima as it is likely unknown to many- just that it is one of the many points on which they differ. Instead of one of the many more points in which they are similar.

Brief conclusions.
In conclusion, (as mentioned above) Aquima and ARIS are mostly complementary and share many relevant and useful features. While Aquima is a more "hands on", easy to use and easier to design software it could lack the specified functionality of ARIS. However, the same could be said of ARIS in that while it has a lot of power, functionality and high-level possibilites- it can be inherently hard to use for those with no coding experience.

Thank you for your time!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Aquima: Health and Safety (example).

Having an injured co-worker is the absolute last thing you would want to think about as an organisation- but it does happen. How do you know that the department within which it happens will know what to do? What if the employee has a specific medical condition? Or some kind of allergy?

Effective and agile IT solutions.
With Aquima you can put all these fears to rest.

As an organisation of any level your employees will most likely have basic health and safety training, and notices will be available around the offices detailing what to do in an emergency. But what if you could provide an easy to use, low-maintenance, fully-understandable option in an application/model that could detail what to do in any situation?
Say, for instance, an employee collapses and is allergic to aspirin but is also a diabetic.
What would you do in this situation? Would you know the specific health concerns and correct procedures in this instance? With an Aquima-built application/model you can let that help you get to the most helpful conclusion.

Rule-based simplicity.
Due to the rule-based functionality of Aquima it works on a series of questions or rules.
The first process would be whether or not an employee has collapsed- which in this case would be "Yes."
The next would be whether they have any allergies- which would be aspirin- but further than this the actual process could branch out in to what to do with any allergy.
The next would detail any medical conditions they suffer- which would be diabetes- but again this could detail any medical condition or concern.
The final process would be what to do next under the conditions you have requested. This would deliver you the information of what to do under these conditions, who to contact and who best to report this information to and maybe even as far as what to tell emergency services.

Of course, this doesn't replace actual health and safety training- but it does help those who could see an accident/injury respond to it better.

But one of many uses...
This is but one of many examples of how the Aquima software suite could improve the efficiency and reliability of your organisation under any situation.
For further information you can find a direct link to the Aquima website to the right of this post.

Thank you for your time!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Aquima: The revolutionary BPM software suite.

Aquima is part of a revolutionary wave of powerful business process management (BPM) software suites. It combines high-end functionality with a familiar and easy to use interface and engine. While no prior programming knowledge is required and it is so flexible it can be used to design thousands of processes, decision trees, models or complex decision structures.

What are the main features of Aquima?
Aquima is an entirely rule driven software suite. This is perhaps its greatest feature as through this the applications/models become not only easier to create, but more transparent, there's no complex theory involved- just point and click.
Flexibility is one of the other key features of Aquima, as with this software suite you can create thousands of applications/models and put them to work. There's no limit on the number, the number of versions and no annoying version-limited features whereby you have to spend more money to unlock them. You get all the functionality of a bespoke system (and more) for a fraction of the price.
Unlike other business process management software Aquima also features a document creator. This allows organisations to tailor letters, contracts and reports to their specification and produce them instantly and professionally.

Does Aquima update in real time?
Yes. There's no need to worry if months of research have gone into this new application/model and then an error is discovered, simply reload the application/model and make the necessary changes. From there, just re-compile the application/model and give it a few moments to refresh and all the newly updated information will be available.
Best of all as Aquima can support multiple versions of the same application/model if any changes are made it is easy to revert, change or update other versions as well. Quick, simple and without a whole host of implementation and maintenance costs.

For more information about the software suite, video presentations and much more visit the Aquima website here. You can also find a link to it from our sidebar at any time.

As an introduction this is only the first part of a whole group of posts we have about this exciting new business process management (BPM) software suite. Check back soon!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Networking with Clients.

Networking is one of the best methods of reaching new clients to further your organisation.
The concept is simple and effective in that you need only meet and speak to new clients for it to be effective, however, what you say as an organisation will relate to how effective this will be.

Good presentation makes for better results.
That's where most networking opportunities are lost.
At the point where you have to physically (or virtually) present yourself and your organisation to the client. There are many reasons for this and often they are to do with advertising yourself, your product or your organisation in the wrong way. Sometimes this is because it was too formal, or you pushed the message across rather than delivered it- so the first key point is what do you do (and not do) when networking.

Networking is no different than a conversation in many respects.
While you may be there on official business or representing an organisation, it's not just about you. The client may have questions, suggestions or a product of their own they'd like to offer you. Be polite and build up a rapport with your client.

Looking towards the future.
Sometimes networking is about tomorrow, not today.
When you connect with clients and organisations there are several benefits besides selling your product to them. They are most likely going to have contacts, products and clients of their own and this is a great opportunity for you. Consider all forms of networking and try to put yourself across as much as possible.

Finally, understand what kind of networking you are going to and plan accordingly.
There are so many different types of networking available and each will require a different outlook from you before it can be successful. Researching is a must. Always check the policies of the organisation or website you're going to network with/on and make the right decisions.

Networking opportunities.
So where do you network? Or, rather, where can you network?
Well, for this there are so many options; trade shows, business networking seminars, corporate events, at other organisations, via the internet, using social media (ie. Facebook/Twitter) and even some smaller online communities.

The beautiful thing about social media is just that- it's social.
Most people will have access to one of the social media resources, if not several, and this is a great way to deliver information straight to them on something that actually use. Rather than directing them to a website or using an electronic newsletter, you can send updates straight to the sites they actually use and keep them connected all the time.
It might seem like a time consuming process and like you would need a whole department to run all of these social media networking sites- but it can be done effectively with just a few people. From these people you will gain countless opportunities to connect with clients, products and organisations.
Not to mention it's free.

Further information.
The above suggestions are also a small part of the wide range of networks available.
There are hundreds more and not all of them will be applicable or useful to your organisation but they are there and people are connected to them. Finding the ones that best suit your organisation will make all the difference in successfully networking online.
The same principles also apply with physical networking at trade shows. There are so many different shows, events, seminars, meetings and so on that it's not possible to go them all. Nor is it profitable. But, again, finding those who are useful to you will make all the difference.

That's all for now- thank you for your time!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation