Thursday, January 31, 2008

Excellent execution can save a bad idea

In the corporate world today, and perhaps others, the idea, the concept, is idolized, while sadly, the ability to execute is more likely than not taken for granted. And this will ultimately lead to an organization’s demise. Google was not the first to do Internet searches – their design and execution in improving the results lead to their success. YouTube was not the first to do online video. But they were the best at making it easy – and thus the design and execution, and not just the idea lead to success. Microsoft is often criticized for rarely having any new ideas. Perhaps justified, but what they do is execute better than others. Again, their success is due to the dirty work of execution, not the idea.

During the first Internet wave, those companies with sound execution (the dirty work) appear to have succeeded more often, while those with just an idea, and poor execution seem to have failed. The trend is clear - Excellent execution can save a bad idea, but all ideas are doomed with poor execution. The question is, do you get it? Does your competitor?

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Great, Free Prototype and Documentation Tool

Amazingly, this free tool is still available for download (as of May 4, 2016) . I first discovered it back in 2008. I'm not sure it has been updated recently, but it's still an excellent tool for layout workflows, and other aspects of systems design. If you are still looking for a design tool, this is a good place to start.

It's a free, community edition tool to build software prototypes, design workflows and document requirements. It’s called Prototype Composer. And as of this writing, Serena is giving the tool away for free. ( after requesting, they send you an email to download the tool)

While it does have a few shortcomings, overall it is easy to learn, easy to work with, and does a very nice job of combining GUI wire-frames with a business workflow. In the end, you get a working “demonstration-only” prototype, and numerous word documents (template driven) that document the project, the GUI requirements, and the workflow process, among others.
The one major complaint I have is that the prototype can only be run from within the Prototype Composer. There is no ability to export the project as a sample web site. Hopefully, this will be part of their product enhancement in the future.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Vendors and the Black Box Vision

I am endlessly amazed that organizations continue to focus on technology tools as magic black boxes. True, some of the tools are magical, but only if they are understood, and focused on solving the business problem. Vendor demo’s show amazing results, but hide the hard work to get the tools up and running, along with the even more important work of assessing the businesses needs, organizing the information, and targeting problems, issues and results.

To some extent, the vendors drive the problem. Their goal is to sell the tools, and they do a good job of selling -- perhaps too good a job. No matter how excellent the tool, organizations still need a plan, architectural drawings and construction blue prints, before they start building. The tech vendors may have the best, most cutting edge Bobcat or backhoe, but you still do not ask the crane operator to design and construct the building. Except in technology. And we wonder why so many projects fail?