Briefing as an investment. We introduce the intranet correctly
Last month, we talked about the relationship between the customer and the contractor. We continue by reasoning about the briefing, its components, and the responsibilities of partners.
The implementation of the portal is an individual process, there is no questionnaire for all cases of life. Based on N answers to specific questions, it is impossible to understand the pain, needs and needs of the customer. There is only experience, the accumulation of knowledge and the ability to plunge into the client's business. Below Maxim Schennikov, commercial director of the interactive agency AREALIDEA, and Pavel Meldazhis, leading specialist of the department of corporate solutions, based on 15-year practice, share personal observations, feedback and pitfalls.
first article - You need to understand how mature the client is for the implementation. If he does not grow up, as a rule, we hear: "Oh, I want the same instrument!". And the questions: "Why?" How will this facilitate the work? Is there any need? "- it is difficult to get an answer.
The "ripe" customer read something, knows something about the possibilities, the platform, and comes with specific questions, and sometimes formalized tasks: we want to automate the 360 degree assessment, here is the schedule, here is the structure of the survey. This is a huge rarity and plus for the implementer.
A separate story is individual processes without a formalized statement of the problem. Our partners, the Far East Development Foundation, came with the task of automating an end-to-end application review process. It is necessary to shift to the IT-system its way, from submission to supporting a live project. You can go in two ways: for a long time to brief each participant of the process or ask for regulations. The first is labor-intensive for both parties. The second can not fail to be in the company of this level. After all, employees are somehow trained, by certain parameters they control the process of project management.
In the case of the FRDF, this was a special policy that reflects the way the project works in the Fund. We analyzed it in detail, identified reference points, asked questions for clarification, held several meetings with those responsible for different processes. As a result, a solution for was formed. project .
So, what do we discuss with the client?
Processes. What specific tasks should the portal decide? This is the defining step in the briefing, from which a further dive into the client's business is built. The desire to make these processes more convenient and easier - the reason for contacting the agency.
Regulations. How processes work here and now, before implementation. Along the way we request in the company registers, charters, any descriptions of what needs to be automated.
Disappointment. That in current processes is not satisfied. We define major milestones target (desired) business processes and their difference from current ones.
Functional modules. How everything should work?
Each business process is the basis of a separate functional module, which the developer will have to create.
In this block of questions the performer helps the client to understand in detail and in detail how the target business process inside the portal should look, which function and how it will be executed.
Unfortunately or for joy, not all the processes that occur live, also occur in IT. The board of honor in any form, - photos at the entrance, monthly dispatch - to transfer to IT simply, the module has the same form.
Electronic document management and paper - the principles are the same, but in practice they differ. We came across the fact that the customer imagines a specific part of the process and does not look at it in its entirety. For example, the procedure for agreeing a contract.
This process differs from the very beginning. The chain of approvals in a vacuum: the contract must be agreed with economists with lawyers to send to the head, he puts a visa.
However, contracts are not concluded in a vacuum and difficulties arise:
Someone did not put a visa, at which stage does the contract return? At first or remains on the current?
How is the interaction with the person with whom the contract is concluded? Who communicates with him? There must be a registry.
Notifications are sent in person or is it an automatic mode?
Internal discussion is required, are there any limits (temporary, tender, procurement)?
Do you need to keep the versioning of documents?
Is concordance parallel?
Delegate something that the employee has already been delegated earlier, you can? This is an automatic process or an employee with a temperature of 40 should go into the portal and tick the box, what passes the task? Or is it the administrator's competence?
In order to find out all the nuances, it is necessary to study the prescribed regulations and real practices.
In many similar processes, a lot of clichés are put into the customer's stupor. The task of the agency to immediately ask point questions, to talk about possible difficulties.
Of course, various variations of the same processes, not to mention custom automation, the contractor, even with a million projects behind him, can not know. IT-agency - not a guru of metallurgy, construction, investment.
A detailed preliminary analysis of some of the most important functions will help to understand whether you are speaking in one language and how interested the project is to the customer, is he ready to dive into the development, root for it and popularize the project in the company. We talked about these aspects in last article .
leading specialist of the department of corporate decisions
What do we discuss in conversation about the functions?
Actually functional modules. What tools should be used to solve problems. The set and complexity of the functional modules directly affects the cost, duration and complexity of the development.
Underwater rocks. We show the options for solving problems, explain the potential complexity of various options for implementing functions, if foreseen. Simple to look at the sections and implementations can be added to the composition simply, without due attention. The agency's task is not to teach, but to pay attention to bottlenecks.
And again the materials. We find existing (and only!) Descriptions of processes, instructions, any materials that will help to understand the imaginary or apparent complexity of automation.
Access rights. Is everything standard?
HR at the briefing asks: "And how do people appear on the portal?". This is one of the absolutely banal, but frequent and important issues.
In most projects, the issue is solved by integration with the AD client.
It seems to be a standard procedure. There is a standard gateway. But, as usual, difficulties arise in the implementation process. The seeming simplicity of integration is confusing to the client. It is important to clarify where there can be difficulties and how to avoid them. For example:
Access rights are directly related to the hierarchy. In AD, it is not always correct - there are no two subordinates. Sometimes the structure is unloaded from 1C: ZPP. As a result, from the small task of setting up accesses on the portal, there are two integration: the credentials from AD, the structure of 1C: ZPP.
Closed data. In AD, complete information about employees is stored. Security rules do not allow you to open information on the Internet. Sometimes you have to come to the client's office, sit in the local network and edit the structure.
Terms of access. Inside the portal, a list of available functions and documents is assigned to a user of a certain level. The matrix of roles is born in big arguments. There are situations when an employee can not be accessed, but he is involved in this block at a certain stage in a small role and must see only a part. The process of such configuration of accesses is not trivial.
Extract from the matrix of roles for one of our projects .
What else is discussed?
A pool of user groups listing the corresponding accesses. What to add, rename, where to change the rights.
Systems that accumulate employee accounts. Where is the hierarchy best displayed, and where is the personal data, with what will have to be integrated.
Order in the structure of AD. For the needs of the company, technical users are created: a printer, a conditional secretary. On the portal, they should not be. So the structure should be straightened. Who will do this? The customer, for example, hands or contractor code.
Data transfer. Whether the client is ready to transmit personal information via secure web channels.
IT-environment. With what else to integrate?
In the part on access rights, we touched upon the issue of implementing a portal into the company's general IT infrastructure. However, the infrastructure is not only AD, it can be SAP, all kinds of configurations 1C, LMS, calculators for goods /services, self-written systems, etc., etc. Integration with each of them is a separate topic of conversation during a briefing with specialized specialists from the client side.
What do we find out?
Availability of systems, which may affect the implementation of the portal. These can be systems that will transfer part of their functions. For example, the conductors of the OS access to local disks are transformed into a disk "file store" with the ability to send colleagues and partners links that are limited in duration and password-protected.
Is there something that does not suit the current systems? What do you want to shift to the shoulders of the portal? For example, a forum on an obsolete engine (yes, they still live) will move to "working groups".
The integration with telephony stands apart. Here you need to talk different usage scenarios, from CRM to internal communication and replacing the current PBX.
Providing access to integrable systems. The customer is ready to provide them or his specialists organize the unloading of the necessary parameters to obtain data from the client's systems.
Does the client have specialists ready to work on the side of the participating systems or, at a minimum, to consult on the current work of these systems?
Is the portal supposed to be inside the local network or is it possible to access from the outside (to use tasks, groups, mobile applications, etc.)? What are the restrictions on the part of the information security department?
Are the specialists of the client ready to organize the server infrastructure according to the requirements of the developer? Will it be possible to organize a DMZ if necessary?
A small part of the IT infrastructure of the personal office of a legal entity of one of our customers, which displays all the synchronization elements for proper operation with external systems.
As an example, let's look at the bottlenecks of the most common and "simple" integrations.
Synchronization with MS Exchange
There are Outlook - mail, shared calendars, contacts, scheduler of meetings, convenient indispensable tool in large companies. Exchange - the server where the employee accounts are stored, and accordingly all the data from Outlook.
Transplant employees with Outlook to personal calendars and mail on the portal is a bad idea.
The first argument. Outlook is customary. The program closes all tasks, and duplication of functions in the portal - extra time, effort and money.
The second argument. The possibility of painless and successful synchronization with the Exchange server is a question of its version. Integration with versions 13 and 16 is not supported in principle. We openly say that this tool is not working on the portal, there is no clear, established rules of synchronization.
What are we discussing?
The version of Exchange. Is it possible to do integration at all?
Rationality of synchronization. Synchronization with personal calendars of employees from Exchange makes the portal a global aggregator of working tools. But this integration is often not justified due to its complexity and unprofitability for the client.
Suggest an alternative. Some Outlook tasks close standard functions - the Bitrix negotiation module, correspondence within the working group, a specific task, as an analogue of overloaded communication by mail.
Integration with 1C
1C - a flexible and individual tool that is tailored to the needs of the company. Meet the same set up programs is impossible, no one uses the standard configuration.
There is a situation: for integration of 1C with the corporate portal there is a sample module, but 1C is not a standard one anymore and the module does not work. Integration is still possible, but it becomes many times more complicated.
The confusion is also caused by the isolated nature of the 1C service. Integration is carried out both on the side of the portal and on the side of 1C. For the proper functioning of 1C, as a rule, an outside company, an internal employee, an employee on outsourcing is responsible. It is always access to commercial information. Changes in 1C are carried out with one hand. For an IT agency, this is a foreign vegetable garden and it's wrong to climb there, even if the agency in the state has excellent odnoseniki.
Consequently, the work on the 1C side should be carried out by the customer himself, which adds an extra level of interaction, complicates the process, increases the integration time.
And then the client should think about whether or not. Will not it make a pointless duplication of the system. Often integration is required for the reconciliation of accounts, contracts, unloading of reports. If the processes associated with instantaneous interaction with 1C are not embedded in the portal, then the entities need not be multiplied unnecessarily.
If we work on the basis of 1C-Birix, the Customer can object: "1C and 1C-Bitrix - one field of the company, there can be no complications between them." In fact, nothing to do with the technical point of view, there is no food between products. These are absolutely third-party solutions with a different set of modules.
What are we discussing?
The need for integration. If the portal is a tool for reconciliation, sighting of accounts, contracts, then the integration procedure makes sense. This is an understandable task for an online store, but controversial for an intranet, which is not always paramount in interacting with financial data.
Uploading data. Whether the client is ready to give any access to 1C, or he himself will unload the necessary fields from the program.
Additional development. Warn that the standard gateway for data transfer is not applicable in most projects, its customization is required.
Interfaces. Beauty will guide?
The first contact of the user with the portal
Home page - the first impression that users will receive from the portal. If they do not understand, it is difficult, inconvenient, then the work on the implementation of the portal can be done in vain.
The corporate tool will not fly, it will be abandoned and will not be dealt with, because the old-fashioned way is clearer and faster. Of course, the user-friendly interface is only a small part of the process of introduction into the corporate culture, but with its own separate role.
Formation of the main page is a matter not only of user experience, usability and navigation, but also the tasks of business customers:
Why does the block need or need not be displayed?
How deep should these instruments be hidden?
Which notifications are priority?
Here you can build on the needs of the client. We need a task tracker - we output, we do not need anything, except for news and a telephone directory - we act according to the same scheme.
What are we discussing?
Priority tools. Stakeholders should be well acquainted with the routine work of their subordinates, which will become easier due to the competent structure of the main page.
Hypotheses. What should become a custom habit? Many elements are hidden in order not to press and simplify the interface - this is normal. Turning Intranet into 1C, where you get lost and do not understand what to do, is not practical. Using the Word, you understand perfectly well that the three dashes to the left are aligned to the left, and three to the right on the right. The user works on the system every day and gets used to new solutions quickly.
Every day work in a space that reflects the corporate identity of the company - maintaining the corporate spirit, culture and a little pride. Customers and contractors see the corporate style in different ways. On the fact:
Change fonts, background, add a logo - it's a simple story. It does not require additional costs. A basic level of.
Move, remove, add blocks, widgets, change the modular grid - this is another story and also about design. Advanced level.
We can completely modify the design template from the authorization page to the "ok" button when creating the task. But we always need an answer to the question: "Why?".
One of the pages of the corporate portal of the First Freight Company. For the project, not only the individual interfaces are changed, but also the own design system is maintained.
What are we discussing?
Importance and necessity. For most clients redesign is an optional task. It becomes necessary for very large companies, where questions of conformity to the corporate style are prescribed and established.
Brandbooks, guidelines, design systems. Is there anything at the client? If the logo, slogan, symbols, corporate color is not present, - we come back to the first point or we advise to address in a branding, marketing agency.
Frames of standard visual changes. Indicate what is included in the basic level of visual change of the portal.
Subtlety and complexity of deep redesign.
Interaction and approach to the introduction of
At the briefing we ask the client to invite all interested persons: they are the initiators of the project, LPRs, project managers from the client side, heads of departments of future users - depending on the type of system. Perhaps technicians, if they have a specific vision and specific requirements for the platform, although we believe that business tasks are primary, and not technical limitations.
Questions are not about the product. They are no less important and determine not so much the result itself, but the way to achieve it. The answers help to organize the process correctly, prioritize and plan interaction, both at the implementation stage and at the decision-making stage.
What are we discussing?
Business customers in the client's company. Who is the task of implementing the corporate portal? What, when and with what step-by-step do they want to see as a business result? Are there any criteria for the success of the project?
Reasons for implementation. What became the catalyst for the solution? Is this related to any KPI?
Formation of business requirements for the portal. Does the artist need help in collecting feedback, forming business requirements for tasks, developing business solutions?
Readiness of the client is tight and regular participation in the implementation processes. First of all, the allocation of a separate manager or working group on the client's side, for the implementation of the project. Equally important, the regular participation of all business users of the system in making key decisions on the project.
Departments, branches and departments. The tasks in the divisions coincide with the tasks that they plan to solve in the central office, or do they have their own vision? Do I need to take it into account?
Customers have a lot of customers, either they pull the blanket on themselves or do not want to take responsibility for the decisions. They may not have time to coordinate anything, develop common tools. The agency is trying to make friends with them and create a project useful for everyone.
Negative previous experience. Perhaps the client tried to start the project with another contractor - someone said that the work was "three days". Plus, the customer wanted a quick result, because the market average (conditionally) is three days. And it turns out no one informed about the nuances and the long stage of implementation, and the client was disappointed in the tool, in the contractor, in the platform.
Further operation. How does the client plan to support and develop the solution? Does he have experts or support on the shoulders of the developer?
Formalities. Terms and procedure for selecting the performer. Does the client have requirements for holding open tenders, tenders for ETPs or is it discussed?
The role of the contractor in the project
The participation of an IT agency in the project for implementing a corporate portal can proceed in different ways, depending on the needs, capabilities and readiness of the client.
At the briefing stage, it is important to understand which of the possible options is most optimal for the parties and as quickly as possible lead to the expected result.
Agency - only hands
Tasks can be formulated by both the client and the performer. Thesis process of implementing a separate block of tasks (a set of functions) looks traditional:
business requirements are collected from business customers;
describe and prioritize;
interfaces are designed, TK is compiled;
the design is drawn;
is launched into the implementation (programming);
commissioning, pilot operation and collection of feedback;
aggregation of the following tasks.
In this approach, the implementer is not a participant in the process of formulating business tasks, optimizing offline business processes and the project manager as a whole.
The agency is also the project manager
The agency takes responsibility for the organization and interaction with the client's departments, all business customers and project users (including customer's customers), answers questions, solves the complexity of implementation. Together with the client, he strategically plans and develops the project primarily in terms of implementation in the company's processes, and not only in terms of developing specific functions.
So much communication and all for free?
From the point of view of the project launch strategy, the briefing process is needed to form the primary, conceptual implementation solution. Such a solution will allow:
Determine whether there are points of contact and understanding between the world of the performer and the world of the customer. Are you ready to work in the same team.
Evaluate the project for important parameters for the transaction and further implementation of the parameters as a whole: a stack of technologies, cost, timing, risks, terms of cooperation.
Define, specify and conclude a transaction for a specific first stage on the implementation path for the first block of functions.
How deeply to dig and when to stop, each developer decides for himself. Depending on their capabilities, competencies and interest in the client, the project as a whole. Someone is ready to invest their resources on the irrevocable basis, someone immediately asks for payment for the presale, someone transfers the cost of the preparation work to the first stage of the project (open or closed).
The more profound, thoughtful and attractive offer we want to make to the client - the more we communicate, the more we collaborate with the teams, the more we get the outputs that not only show the competence of the performer, but also represent a specific value for the client. As a rule, two or four meetings for the primary collection of information on a large, multifunctional system are sufficient.
Finally, there are several obvious, but important principles, both for the client and the performer:
Briefing only orally, communicate more often.
At meetings from the client, one specialist is not enough, even if it is an IT director. Heads of all departments, whose work is influenced by the portal, should be present.
Strategic and business issues are discussed at the briefing, on specific questions about technology, integration, etc. - Answer in correspondence.
Do not chase for detailed design. When we form a solution, we perfectly understand that the stage of preparing the project documentation will clarify all the specific subtleties of the client's business.
To relate to the formation of the decision on the presale and the briefing in particular, as to a separate project. Manage the timing, risks, communication. In a word - account.
The client is sent to wait for the presentation of the preliminary decision from the agency. The executor moves on to the stage of completing the information and actually developing the solution:
Accumulation and processing of collected data, clarification of technical issues. It is not always rational to take a technical specialist for every meeting. For exact questions one should receive the same exact answers in a formalized form.
Meetings of the working group for the formation and approval of the solution, the development of a scheme for the movement of the project (implementation methodology, in what form to implement, cost, timing).
Formalization of the solution, suitable for presentation to the client - the structure, business logic of the portal, roles, basic functions, a stack of technologies, outline interfaces, estimates, releases, roadmap, etc. The list depends on the project.
The briefing process, which we outlined in general, removes the risks of misunderstanding at the stages of the immediate implementation of the project. When the customer already pays money, the differences are more dangerous and painful for both sides. A briefing is an ideal opportunity to work with each other.
The agency evaluates the client's approach, interest, competence, reality of requests.
The customer experiences the contractor, whether he is ready to plunge into his business processes, whether he digs deeper than the list of features of the corporate portal in the regular configuration.
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