Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Few Observations on Project vs. Product Management

For pretty much my entire career, I’ve been a project manager.  When Crowell made the jump into product development, I had an unexpected crash course in product management.  I had a strong background in managing service-based projects, so it was a short leap into product management, but a leap nonetheless.

Most of the usual project management issues also apply in the product management world, for instance: scope, resources and timelines.  These are all relevant in the product management world, but the “client”, in this case, is internal; there have been no external, paying clients to answer to.  This presents its own unique set of issues to deal with.  As a services company, we have an ongoing set of projects (with external paying customers) to work on and deliver.  This has had a significant effect on the resources and timeline for developing our products.

Paying customers always take prescedence over an internal product development project.  So, as the product manager, it has been a different (and occasionally frustrating) experience for me to try and manage to a moving deadline.  Having come from the customer-facing project management world, I had a tough time not sticking to a schedule (and working toward specific deadlines).  But, since this was an internal project, it rarely became an issue.

Delivery has also been sightly different for me in the product management world.  With a services-based product, all of the code, documentation and other intellectual property belong to the client.  So there is usually no need to worry about hiding how something was designed and coded.  In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite; clients want and need to know how their software was developed.  After all, they own it.

In developing our own products, we had to have a different approach.  The code and documentation we are delivering to our clients is, and is to remain, our intellectual property.  We have had to add an additional layer of development on top of product coding in order to protect our IP.  This, in turn, has added scope and time onto the development effort that I had to take into account.

I have had lots of mentoring help in making this switch from friends and former co-workers, so it has been a fun experience that I look forward to continuing.  One book that has helped me out is: The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Successful Strategies for Products that Win by Steven Gary Blank.  The book certainly gave me lots to think about and helped guide me through the process from an inside view.

–Kate McDonald

How to Get the S1000D Answers You Need

The majority of the traffic on the Crowell Solutions’ website is visits to our S1000D informational pages.  Our S1000D Glossary and S1000D Introduction pages consistently get the highest number of visits. One thing that means is that a lot of Crowell visitors are looking for information — and answers — about S1000D.

We know that, when you are new to S1000D, getting information from the specification is like drinking water from a fire hose. If your organization is thinking about moving to S1000D, it is hard to figure out *whether* and *how* to implement S1000D.

You are most likely looking for answers to *your* questions. The faster, the better. The easier to understand, the better. So here’s an offer: talk to an S1000D expert right away. Contact us and we’ll set up a phone conference ASAP. During this meeting you set the agenda and you drive the meeting. We will answer any S1000D questions you have. For more information, click here.

–Don Smith

CapStone™ S1000D Productivity Suite

As I mentioned in our last blog, we are in the process of developing a new S1000D productivity Suite called CapStone™. CapStone represents what we are referring to as the “second generation” of S1000D applications. The first generation of tools were worried about storage and retrieval of documents. While storage and retrieval is indeed important, it is a fairly trivial challenge in the IT world. In order to make an S1000D environment truly robust and usable, additional features are required. CapStone will include the following individually available components:

  • DecisionPoint™ – For Business Rules Management and BREX generation
  • DMRL Manager
    • SNS management
    • Information code management
    • DMC (Data Module Code) component management
    • DMRL (Data Module Requirements List) management and generation
  • Applicability Manager
    • ACT, PCT, and CCT management
    • Field updates
  • Publication Manager

An interesting feature of CapStone is that it can sit on top of any existing S1000D CSDB, or database (Oracle, SQL, etc.). If you have a site license for Oracle and want to turn it into an S1000D CSDB…great! If you already have a first generation S1000D CSDB and need a more robust environment to make it work the way you need it, CapStone will fit the bill. In addition, we are building integrations to other “S” Standards, including:

  • S3000L
  • S2000M
  • S4000M
  • S5000F

We anticipate debuting CapStone™ S1000D Productivity Suite at the AIA-Joint Services Technical Publications workshop, May 12-13 in Clearwater, FL. We hope you will join us. We also plan on attending the S1000D User Forum, June 6-8 in Montreal, CA. Of course, if you want a preview before then or are interested in becoming one of the first customers, contact us and we will make it happen!

–Rick Schochler

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011! I managed to avoid (once again) having to eat a spoonful of black eyed peas (a New Years tradition in my part of the world that I am not particularly fond of) and am ready to tackle the new year. This year is an exciting one for us at Crowell and I wanted to share some of the highlights of 2010, as well as upcoming events for 2011.

2010

In 2010, we saw the roll-out of our first application. We initially developed DecisionPoint™ (www.s1000ddecision.com) as a means of solving an immediate problem:

How do companies quickly and effectively develop S1000D business rules?

DecisionPoint™

DecisionPoint has since grown to not only take on the task of developing business rules, but creating and managing BREX documents as well. DecisionPoint is the manifestation of what everyone in the S1000D community is realizing: S1000D business rules are “living”, “changing” things. As such, they need to be stored and managed in a manner that allows for easy update and dissemination. Although it will certainly continue to be available for individual purchase, in 2011, DecisionPoint is becoming one part of CapStone™, our new S1000D Productivity Suite…but more on that later.

Services

Of course we are, at our core, still a services company. We enjoyed many successful projects this year and look forward to even more in 2011. If you have not met us, ask around. We are confident enough in our reputation that we do not employ a sales staff. Instead, we rely on our reputation and word of mouth.  We look forward to continuing to serve our existing customers in 2011 and adding new customers to our growing list of references.

2011

As for 2011, we have a lot on our plate.

CapStone™ S1000D Productivity Suite

We are developing a new S1000D productivity suite called CapStone™. CapStone represents what we are referring to as the “second generation” of S1000D applications. The first generation of tools were worried about storage and retrieval of documents. While storage and retrieval is indeed important, it frankly, is a fairly trivial challenge in the IT world. In order to make an S1000D environment truly robust and usable, additional features are required. More details to come…

Well, that’s my update for this new year. Here’s to a great year and our combined and continued success!

— Rick Schochler