Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 7 project-killing "Best Practices" - which ones are you falling for?

Whether you are a developer or consultant getting down and dirty or a business person or project manager in charge - this may very well be the most revealing technology article you've seen in years.

The project killers I'm about to reveal here are nothing like those plain old "watch for this" common pitfalls everyone is aware of, like testing the expertise before you hire, watching the project scope and making sure you get lots of comments in your source. Nope. The ones I'm talking about here will snick up on when you least expect it... Geez, many folks are even proud of adopting those and get complimented for using them.... all the way to post-mortem project reviews.

Sure, they may not kill the project in one fell swoop, but given a little time, they are certain to do its job.

What I'm about to describe now is these commonly-reinvented bad solutions to typical problems you'll encounter in almost any Oracle UCM implementation. And once you see their ugly faces for what they really are - you won't be making the mistakes and your projects will run much smoother. I’m also giving you my best tips for getting yourself out of these situations on a short notice.

So now let’s get down there and take a look. I've collected the most common and the most deadly ones I've seen in my 7+ years in the frontline trenches of Oracle Stellent UCM.

The Kiss of Death

The worst thing of all is when your new Oracle ECM is not accepted by your organization. If that happens - the project is not going to make it. When people don't like your system, they won't be using it... When they are not using the system, no one can not benefit from it. End of story. The next three patterns give you some scoop:

Idiots In Charge

Almost every talented developer has a point in their career when they laugh at business people. These folks use CD trays to hold their coffees! "Incorrect version of user" huh? It’s true, they may act funny when it comes to technology, but chances are - those “dummies” are actually paying your bills!

Oracle ECM - just like SharePoint, Vignette, BroadVision - you name it - is just a framework. All it does is allow you, the designer, to quickly and easily automate business processes. Eliminate paper. Help them find the information faster. Destroy when it has to be destroyed...

You need to adjust your content collection, management and presentation systems to processes and demands of your organization. That's the real goal, not the software installation!

So guess what comes first?

If you misunderstand your organization's culture, processes and business requirements - no system out there will save your project.

Take the time to understand the real needs of business people. Understand the goals of your enterprise. Then go ahead and automate them. You won't be stuck trying to automate a bad process!

And be sure to read about UCM Gold Plating later in this article.

Metadata Marshlands

When it’s that easy to add new metadata fields, you gotta be on the lookout!

If you store Project Plans - you might like to add a project managers name, completion date and expense account number. But will those fields make sense in a vendor invoice? If users don't understand a purpose of a metadata field - they'll skip it, put wrong stuff in there or just type up some garbage - so the system lets them submit the form.

Check out these tips for successful metadata design - they are expensive to ignore...

Don't ask for all of your fields every time.

If they check in an employee record and you're asking them for PM name - guess what kind of name you'll get. It must make sense. So be sure to hide irrelevant fields with Content Server profiles or custom check in forms.

It’s also must be as quick and painless as possible. Business people are busy or, at least, they like to think that they are.

Ok... You’ve got the first three. Try guessing the other four will you?

Or you could simply stay tuned...

Happy Holidays!
D