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Starting his career in data processing operations, Robert quickly transitioned to software development, system & database design, and business analysis. He has worked in the insurance, transportation supply, and healthcare industries. Robert’s early career influences included Structured Analysis and Structured Design as evangelized by Tom DeMar...co and Edward Yourdon, and IBM and Microsoft project management methodologies. He led a start-up company that developed Docuscan, a system that utilizes an optical mark read scanner in physician offices to record patient encounters. As a consultant, Robert contributed to the products of several major healthcare application vendors and led numerous enterprise-wide application deployment and process improvement initiatives. He has maintained a Project Management Professional certification since 2007, contributed to the PMI Project Manager Competency Framework, taught PMP preparation courses, and led the formation and operation of project management offices for two major healthcare systems. For pmNERDS, he has participated in the development of the Continuous Performance Improvement (CPI) practice. Robert is currently the Practice Lead for Value Realization within the pmNERDS' IBM consultancy. More

Define Acceptance Criteria

Define Acceptance Criteria

“If projects have defined acceptance criteria, then project managers will be able to better manage stakeholder expectations, but how project outcomes will meet the needs should be discussed and documented early in the planning.”

Boy oh boy! Isn’t it “fun" trying to define acceptance criteria? You have to know your requirements cold. And usually, you have to do this early on in the project scope when you know least about the project.

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Enable Value Realization

Enable Value Realization

“If a project enables value realization, then the business will experience a higher return on its investment, but the worth of the project outcome and the cost to produce it needs to be calculated and measured before and after the project is finished.”

What exactly do we mean by “value realization”? And if we should help it come to be, what is “value” then?

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Establish Project Scope

Establish Project Scope

“If you establish proper project scope, then your project planning and execution is much more effective, but you must spend time with your customers ahead of planning to define and agree on what’s in and what’s out.”

If your day job is building houses, you can call me “Captain Obvious” after hearing what I am about to say. What goes into a house and what doesn’t is an ongoing source of negotiation, compromise, and often controversy. So, builders are well aware of the importance of knowing what their housing projects include and don’t include; it’s the “air” that they breathe.

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Feature Validation and Verification

Feature Validation and Verification

“If the features of the product or service you have selected to produce are validated and verified, then it will be more likely that the project development investment will increase your competitive edge, but you should consider discovering what customers do in addition to what they say about your product or service.”

Focus Groups

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Features, Product Strategy, and Product Lines

Features, Product Strategy, and Product Lines

“If you create products with reusable features, then you can offer the same features in multiple product lines and gain a cost advantage, but make sure the product lines offering those features remain aligned to the product strategy.”

Great cost advantages can be gained by creating products with features that are reusable in other of your products in one line or another. The trick is understanding how the proposed and prioritized features align with product line strategies and how they support the overall product and/or corporate strategy.

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Performance Requirements and Features

Performance Requirements and Features

“If the things that your product or service offers are compelling to your consumers, then it will stand out and be more attractive to your market, but you must take care to craft requirements that specifically address how the consumer will experience the value of those features”

The difference between features and requirements is often blurry. That’s because in casual conversation, we normally allow for imprecise descriptions and explanations. But as integrated project managers looking after resource-intensive and risk-prone development efforts understanding, and expressing these differences clearly, will result in products and services that are more satisfying to buyers, and at a cost-position that is sustainable or competitive.

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Problem Definition Formats

Problem Definition Formats

“If you use a common format to define problems, then you will be enabled to correctly compare and rank the value between various projects that are competing for resources, but you need to overcome the tendency to define problems without sufficient attention to perspective, levels of detail, and bias.”

It has been said repeatedly and in some variation or other, that defining the problem well is half the effort of coming up with the solution. Since problem definition is so important, it makes sense to be as rigorous in the language, and format of the definition, when it’s time to put the results of problem discovery or hypothesis into a problem statement.

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Problem Validation and Verification

Problem Validation and Verification

“If problems that are addressed by projects are validated and verified, then development investment decisions are made more wisely, but the problems may not be the right ones unless you understand the voice of the customer.”

 

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Problem Vetting & Levels of Innovation

Problem Vetting & Levels of Innovation

“If problems to be addressed are ranked according to level of innovation, then your limited resources will be used most wisely to create the largest competitive edge, but you must be careful to understand how much change you and your market are willing to make.”

Two important drivers of product development are knowing how much you can differentiate your solution, and how much innovation you can afford. Develop a me-too product at a reasonable cost, and your buyers may ignore yours because they can get it elsewhere. Develop an advanced capability at a higher cost, and your buyers may ignore it as well because they are not ready for it. Finding that sweet spot between satisfying your buyers desires better than the rest, and your cost-position to do that, is the challenge you need to meet in order to stay competitive.

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