Delivering a project and presenting to a multi-level audience

It is now time to deliver the project to the client.  The preliminary stage of development is over, and now, the real challenge awaits.  Whether or not your project is successful largely depends on how you handle addressing diverse audiences, fixing unintended problems, and delivering the product itself.  The video game industry is a great example of a customer-driven business style that improves itself based on customer feedback.  The developers are constantly fixing bugs and creating new in-game content to encourage people to continue playing.  Pretend you are developing the newest Star Wars video game.  So far, you have programmed a fully-functional game, mass-produced copies of it, sponsored trailers, and filled every major retailer’s stores with your product.  Now, the question is: will it sell?

Video-Games

Again, this largely depends on how the product is handled.  Understanding buying influences, the reasons that a consumer would buy something, is vital to a customer-oriented company (Shapiro 3).  In other words, who would buy your game?  Obviously, the majority of consumers would comprise of the existing Star Wars fan base.  Within this demographic, a number of them may already be satisfied with their older games.  The key to success is to be able to convince this group that your game offers something unprecedented, something so unique and interesting that they just have to buy it.

After securing the majority, the next goal would be to try to appeal to diverse groups to reel in new fans and customers.

diversity

Let’s be honest: of all these people shown above, how many people are actually going to buy your game?  My guess is just as good as yours.  I’m going to be generous and say that among those 35 people, 15 of them are Star Wars fans.  Remember: the majority of the consumers will be Star Wars fans, but it doesn’t mean all of them will buy it.  So we’re looking at about eight people buying the game in a very favorable situation.  It would take nothing short of a miracle to convince everyone to buy it, which is why the focus will be on the fans.

On opening day, two people buy your game.  Both of them are dissatisfied with the numerous graphical glitches in the game.  As a developer, it is important that these problems are handled right away by aggressively researching public opinion (McMinimee 6-5).  Now that the issues are taken care of, your two customers are impressed and spread the word that the game is excellent.  The rest of the fans are delighted and buy the game, which becomes a success.  As shown by this extensive explanation, a customer-oriented strategy allows for improvement.

References:

Family (Video) Game Night » Rockin Mama™. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2014

Retrieved from: http://rockinmama.net/family-video-game-night/

McMinimee, J. C., Schaftlein, S., Warne, T. R., Detmer, S. S., Lester, M. C., Mroczka, G. F., … & Yew, C. (2009). Best Practices in Project Delivery Management (No. NCHRP Project 20-68A).

Retrieved from: http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/nchrp20-68A_07-01.pdf

ODE programs. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2014

Retrieved from: https://personnel.ky.gov/Pages/diversity.aspx

Shapiro, B. P. (1988). What the hell is market oriented?. HBR Reprints.

Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1Fdcczh

Handing off a project to a client; what are the risks and challenges?

You’ve done it!  You’ve completed your project: you’ve completed every user story you can think up of, you’ve written everything from backlogs to retrospectives, and you’re ready to deliver your final project to your eager yet patient client.  If you’ve mentally checked off everything in the previous sentence as a “yes”, chances are, you’re good to go.  If not, then get back to the workshop.

Recall my earlier post on what “done” means.  Done is the embodiment of perfection, an impossible-to-achieve yet desirable goal.  The final hand-off to the client does not mean your work is done.  The fun has only begun.

not-done

After the product is complete, the client will undoubtedly do his or her own final review of the product before marketing it.  This is to ensure that the product is satisfactory to both the client and the intended consumers.  The reason why the development team does not get to rest upon completion is that the client may find the product unacceptable.  In this case, the team needs to revise it until the client is satisfied.  Is it over?  No.  Just because the client is satisfied doesn’t mean the consumers are.  What if the product was a total flop?  The client now faces potentially huge losses and must coordinate with the group again in order to mitigate the damage.  This process is called collaborative product development, which is a way to appease the relentless consumers (Wognum, P. M., Fisscher, O. A., & Weenink, S. A., 350).

Remember what Netflix did to Qwikster?  The client will do exactly that to the team’s paycheck if an abomination like that is created.

qwikster

If the word Qwikster doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps this logo will.  Netflix removed Qwikster just as quickly as they introduced it.  It was a disaster.  They took out everything that made Netflix good, and introduced a clunky new system that was about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.  Fortunately for them, their quick reversion prevented further damage and preserved their reputation.

Okay, back on topic.  The product was a failure, but it’s not the end of the world.  The product just needs to go back to the development phase, have its weaknesses identified, and then be revised in a way to eliminate those weaknesses (Otto, K. N., & Wood, K. L. 289).  Just remember that too many revisions after the release of the product may cause customers to lose faith in the product.

References:

Highway Trust Fund Jeopardy Remains-Members of Congress Need to Hear “The Job is Not Done” (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2014

Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1xJnZof

KN· 奥托 (美), Otto, K. N., & Wood, K. L. (2003). Product design: techniques in reverse engineering and new product development. 清华大学出版社有限公司.

Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1y4cIgB

Red Antler | Emily Heyward Interviewed by Reuters – Netflix ‘Amputates a limb to save the body’ (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2014

Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1qLbd2L

Wognum, P. M., Fisscher, O. A., & Weenink, S. A. (2002). Balanced relationships: management of client–supplier relationships in product development. Technovation, 22(6), 341-351.

Retrieved from: http://mx.nthu.edu.tw/~chchu/CPD/Data/Paper/BR.pdf

What five technical skills are employers seeking? What five soft skills put you on top?

A common misconception among students across America is that good grades translate into a good job.  While it may be partially true, it is not the ultimate factor, according to Microsoft.

skills

The diagram above indicates that communication skills are the most important by far.  However, when employers are searching for an employee, they will be looking for someone who has the best combination of skills that may or may not be listed above.  This, of course, depends on the job in question.

According to Ronald Alsop, some highly sought-after soft skills (a.k.a. people skills) include communication skills, teamwork, ethics, past experience, and time management.  Though these skills are broad and hard to assess, they are nonetheless vital to any job.  Again, communication is the ultimate skill to master because it facilitates all the other soft skills.  How are you supposed to demonstrate good teamwork if you can’t communicate efficiently?

Teamwork is a necessity.  Employees must be able to work well not only with their peers, but also their managers and bosses.  Similar ethics naturally improves teamwork, because like-minded people generally work efficiently together.  Even if employees have different religious views, ethics allows for people to be respectful by agreeing to disagree.  Past experience may look like a hard skill (technical skill), but in reality, it is more of a way to ensure and insure that an employer is hiring the right person.  Past experience tells the employer how well the prospective employee fared in his or her previous job.  Was that employee fired at the previous job because of insubordination, discrimination, or some other fatal flaw?  That is what past work experience can tell.  Last but not least, time management is an important skill, particularly among managers, because they need to keep projects on schedule as well as assign a reasonable amount of work to their employees.

Technical skills are more specialized by comparison to soft skills.  Some of those skills employers look for are Microsoft Office proficiency, logistics, problem solving, mastery of mathematics, and actual knowledge of the field.

skills2

Technical skills are essentially professional qualifications.  Technical skills are even more important than soft skills in a profession.  Then why all this fuss about soft skills?  The key here is supply and demand.  There are a lot of people with technical skills, less people with soft skills, and even less with both.  Employers are looking for people with both.  While people that only know technical skills can get away with being obedient mindless drones, people that only know soft skills are doomed not knowing how to actually do the job.  Can you imagine a basketball player that only knows how to talk?  We call them sports journalists.  Therefore, it is more important to have technical skills than soft skills, but by mastering both skill sets, the employee becomes a top prospect.

References:

Alsop, R. (2004). How to get hired. Wall Street Journal, 8.

Retrieved from: http://leeds-faculty.colorado.edu/Bhagat/How%20To%20Get%20Hired.pdf

Carnevale, A. P. (1990). Workplace Basics: The Essential Skills Employers Want. ASTD Best Practices Series: Training for a Changing Work Force. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104.

Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED319979.pdf

“Gallery For Kobe Bryant Jump Shot Over Lebron.” Gallery For Kobe Bryant Jump Shot Over Lebron. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.

Retrieved from: http://imgarcade.com/1/kobe-bryant-jump-shot-over-lebron/

“New Study Reveals Most Important Skills for Students.” News Center. Microsoft, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.

Retrieved from: http://news.microsoft.com/2013/10/15/new-study-reveals-most-important-skills-for-students/