Saturday, April 20, 2002
Friday, April 19, 2002
SureTrak was designed with features that practicing project managers need, not glitzy fluff. Among its features are:
- Multiple calendars - you can have up to 31 base calanders per project, giving you absolute control that is not possible with other PM applications in this price range. This feature allows you to model different resource baselines, which is powerful. Also, unlike MS Project, SureTrak does not assume it knows better than you and change the project in strange and mysterious ways after you've made an adjustment. This alone makes SureTrak worth using.
- Earned Value project management is built in and works correctly. If you're a PMP you'll not only appreciate the solid implementation of earned value, but should also know that the earned value portions of the PMBOK were developed by members of the Primavera team--Quentin Fleming and Joel Koppelman--who also authored Earned Value Project Management, second edition (see my 18 March 2001 review on Amazon for details). This adds a high level of trust in the way SureTrak works.
- Project resource leveling works (it's somewhat challenged in MS Project), and the ability to automatically forecast resource shortages, trace PERT logic, and use precedence diagramming method if you so choose. It also gives you the ability to jump from WBS, resource, activity or PERT views with a mouse click shows your project from any perspective. Another nice feature is the cosmic view of the PERT view that shows the entire network in one window and details in another.
- The reports, profiling and analysis options are too many to list. Suffice it to say that if there is a view or report that isn't shipped with SureTrak (and I cannot think of any), you can easily create one.
If you make the leap from MS Project to SureTrak I strongly recommend investing in Planning Using Primavera SureTrak Project Manager Version 3.0 by Paul E. Harris, which will get you quickly started.
Thursday, April 18, 2002
- Identify your customers.
- Identify their requirements. (Maps to ISO requirements 5.2, 7.2.1).
- Determine what you're going to measure, and how.
- Measure satisfaction based on step 3. (Maps to ISO requirement 8.2.1).
- Analyze the data. (Maps to ISO requirement 8.4).
- Report the results.
- Communicate the results and employ continuous improvement methods. This complies with the change from the 1994 version in that continual improvement is now required, where it was only implied in the 1994 version.
Additional value in the form of worksheets and checklists covered in the appendices (and provided in electronic format on the CD ROM) make this book absolutely essential to any company that is pursuing certification (or are re certifying under the 2000 version).
Other factors that make this book invaluable include:
- The author's extensive experience in customer satisfaction management is condensed into this reasonably short book
- Layout of the book makes it easy to follow and find information
- The straightforward manner in which necessary information is presented.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
Microsoft isn't the only culprit. Consider the ramifications of Data Mine—Or Yours? by Diane Savage, then read World Without Secrets that Linda discussed in her last entry. That book has an associated web page from which you can download a sample chapter and read related articles.
The only reassuring news in the past week is an Associated Press article titled Web Group OKs Privacy Standards.
This book is thorough, clear and filled with useful information. It's organized in two parts. Part 1 defines CRM in chapter 1 and in the next six chapters covers the reasons and issues for implementing CRM from five perspectives: (1) Marketing, (2) Customer Service/Call Centers, (3) Sales Force Automation, (4) E-business and (5) Data Analysis. The case studies, all based on real clients and situations, add life to the well written chapters on marketing, customer service and sales force automation. In addition each chapter contains nuggets of insight, clear discussion of the topic and numerous checklists and tables that you can use for your own projects.
Part 2 covers delivering CRM and is structured in the logical sequence of planning, tool selection and CRM project management. Like the first part of the book the four chapters in Part 2 contain case studies, checklists and excellent advice. It is in this part of the book where you'll benefit from Jill's experience because she reveals common traps and pitfalls, and gives advice on how to deal with them or bypass them altogether.
What I like about this book is that it covers the business and technical parameters, requirements and issues. Jill's writing style makes it not only readable, but engrossing as well. She goes into considerable detail about how and why CRM is important to meeting business requirements and gives business metrics, explains differences between CRM and business intelligence, and the pro's and con's of all issues and factors. Because she covers the subject from the five perspectives I listed above this book is valuable to all possible stakeholders in a CRM project. I especially liked her use of the Porter value chain and how she leads you through the development of a business case for CRM.
If you're involved in CRM, or are in a company that is implementing ISO9001:2000 (which requires that organizations have an effective method of measuring customer satisfaction to achieve ISO certification), then this book will be your most valuable source of information.
The Dark Side of CRM. It's ironic that after finishing Jill's The CRM Handbook that the next book I pick up is World Without Secrets. This book is chilling for a number of reasons, but the top ones (in my opinion) are:
- As an IT professional I am involved in CRM (customer relationship management), which has a goal of knowing your customer and providing individualized service. This requires knowing your customers and collecting data. After reading this book I had to step back and think about the impact on privacy and customer rights. This is a Catch-22 situation wherein providing high levels of service requires a great deal of data, but the same data eats away at privacy.
- The array of technologies to gather information, including those that have migrated from the intelligence community into business and/or law enforcement, further chip away at privacy. This is exacerbated by laws passed and national attitudes since September 11. Privacy and freedoms are interrelated, so these technologies, combined with laws and attitudes pose a threat to our freedom as well.
- Attitudes, business imperatives and social evolution are merging to change the entire social fabric of our way of life - and we are active participants in some aspects, and in other aspects we are facilitating this change. The ways we are doing that is through willingness to accept changes that are detrimental to privacy, and/or the pursuit of meeting business imperatives and competitive advantage without fully examining the long term ramifications.
However, the real eye-opener is the way that virtual communities are coming together in ways that could not have been predicted ten years ago. The Internet has enabled people of like interests, both benevolent and malevolent, to find one another on this planet, band together and begin exerting influence. In the same manner that maps drawn with political borders do not display cultural borders, these groups called "Network Armies" in the book go beyond cultural or national interests and are changing our social fabric in ways that the author only touches upon.
This book is well written, filled with examples and facts, and arrives at thought-provoking conclusions. It does not matter if you work in IT or another technology-focused industry, law, business or non-profit organizations, what this book has to say and the facts and conclusions that are presented are important. If the author is correct (and I think he is), our lives are changing in dramatic ways and this book is a rough roadmap to where we're headed.
Tuesday, April 16, 2002
This book is an excellent follow-on book to Computer Forensics: Incident Response Essentials by Kruse and Heiser, which introduces the fundamentals. See my 14 April entry in Postcards from the Revolution for details. This book goes much deeper and is more technical than the Kruse and Heise, therefore the ideal audience is practicing professionals who have prior experience in forensics and a wide range of hardware, software and network knowledge.
Tools and techniques are presented in painstaking detail. I was unable to find a single gap or omission, which speaks highly of the editorial and review process behind this book's 464 pages. While most technical disciplines can dispense with finer details, the nature of forensics is to overlook nothing. If you find the step-by-step thoroughness boring that is an indication that forensics may not be your forte; if you're an experienced professional you'll appreciate the coverage of every technique or use of tools.
While the discussion of tools and techniques will satisfy even the most experienced practitioner, I found the detailed discussion of legal aspects, HR considerations and overall security and incident response processes to be the book's strongest points. This area is what sets forensics experts apart from technicians, and it is here that the book (in my opinion) adds the most value. Procedures ranging from how to properly gather, preserve and control evidence, to legal considerations for designing processes are covered in clear language, as are US and international legal guidelines.
Parts that I especially like include: intrusion management and profiling, up-to-date information on electronic commerce legal issues, the numerous checklists and cited resources, and the clearly delineated process for dealing with incidents.
If you're new to forensics you will probably get more from this book by first reading Computer Forensics: Incident Response Essentials by Kruse and Heiser. If, however, you have previous computer forensics experience or are currently serving in that role this book is probably one of the best investments you can make.
The book's accompanying web site keeps it up-to-date and provides additional material and links on forensics and other security-related information.
Monday, April 15, 2002
Last summer Mike and I were playing around with Paintshop Pro (see my 29 May 2001 review) and created a graphic that depicts the evolution of process maturity. We had fun creating the graphic, and made sure that it was consistent with the capability maturity model levels. We also made sure that it was aligned to our professional focus, service delivery.
As I was pondering Dymond's books, another book came to mind: Jill Dyché's The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management. Was it the 3-letter initials, CMM and CRM? Both authors' last names, Dymond and Dyché, starting with the letter 'D'? Or the excellent writing? Minds work in mysterious ways.
However, if CRM is a topic that interests you you'll like the MS Word document titled Customer Relationship Management: Successful Implementation and Innovative Practice. This 17-page document, in presentation format, captures the essence of CRM.
I'm a loyal fan of Jill Dyché. She is smart, personable and straight-talking. I first discovered her when Mike lent me a copy of her first book, e-Data: Turning Data into Information with Data Warehousing. As luck would have it, she was checking her book standings on Amazon and noticed my 30 June 2001 review, then spotted Mike's 28 June 2001 review. She contacted me, and sent both Mike and I copies of The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management. My goal this month is to write an Amazon review, and a glowing one at that. Both of Jill's books are outstanding and have my highest recommendation.
Now it's time to return to my studies so I can complete my requirements and pass the tests for Oracle Certified Professional. Believe me, it's not an easy certification to earn.
Sunday, April 14, 2002
- Using Tcl to Rapidly Develop a Scalable Engine for Processing Dynamic Application Logic. I recently cited the findings and conclusions from this 11-page PDF document to support the use of tcl in a proposed project.
- World Wide Web Caching: Trends and Techniques. This 8-page PDF document is one of the clearest discussions of caching as a scalability technique that I've read. It's lavishly illustrated and masterfully explained.
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