Secondly I believe that most applications will have those activities which are only seldom performed, or performed only as a “fix” to something gone wrong. The infrequently performed operations which just don’t fit into the everyday flow of the business function, and therefore also not of the business application should be documented for users. Of course, any documentation available will be only as good as its availability.
Ready availability of documentation for an application, or more explicitly documentation specific to a particular operation is crucial. As long as I’ve been around applications this has always been an issue. First off, creating good user documentation (read this as usable user documentation), is not an easy task. It can also be a costly task. Ineffective and it won’t get used, unavailable and it won’t get used, confusing and hard to find answers and it won’t get used!
More often than not what I’ve seen is an attitude of “Why document – nobody ever looks at it anyway”, or, “Document the obvious, don’t worry about the details – let them (users) ask!”. Personally I think application users deserve more respect than that.]]>
While there are many criteria to focus upon I believe there are two areas in particular that warrant looking at very closely. Certainly the overall value of the application to the business is one critical criteria to be considered. Where does the application fit? What will it bring in the way of added value to the operation? Can this added value be quantified? Is this an application which when completed will result in the saving of time, labor or materials? If so, to what extent?
In addition to the added business value of the application I believe that the testing procedures being used with the project be clearly monitored. Test for value to ensure that the desired or expected return can be achieved. Test especially for data integrity, try to “break” it, ensure solid product through your testing. Be creative in the testing wherever possible in an effort to prove usability.
I believe that any project which can’t produce a high “value add” probably shouldn’t be done (at least at this time). However, any project given such high “value add” is worth taking the time required for testing which will produce a reliable and valuable application. Now more than ever, extensive testing should be the order of the day.]]>
Even the most high-energy type “A” personalities can appreciate times of slowdown as they may provide an opportunity to not be “pushed” or to “push oneself”, but rather provide an opportunity to slow the pace down, smell the flowers or just work to live rather than living to work. Slowdowns not affecting ones economic security and well-being can actually be nourishing. Welcome to 2009 and economic insecurity!
So now what? Some of us will completely destroy any economic security by upsetting the work-life balance so drastically as to destroy relationships with spouses and children. This seems to be one of the first changes that I’ve seen workers make (…voice of experience here…) — they’re gonna’ work longer and harder — the better thing to do would be to work smarter! (…easier said than done I agree! ) Now that I’ve mentioned working smarter you might wonder just how you can work smarter – what might working smarter look like for you? I’m glad you asked.
I believe that for the independent developer working smarter might just look like finally getting into the “project” that has been dwelling in the far recesses of the brain for a long time — something like perhaps “..learning how to …”, or “…re-writing something to make it more manageable” — that kind of project – something for yourself and your own peace-of-mind. It may not bring about any immediate income, but a project like that can provide peace-of-mind, confidence and some sense of security as it strengthens your own sense of capability. It can also help you shut out the negative “voices” trying to get you to despair. Heck, it may open doors never seen before – areas that you can eventually delve into profitably.
In my opinion (I get to voice it here as this is my blog ), the most dangerous of all ways to handle the times we’re all going through right now is to shutdown. Don’t shut down! Shutting down just gets one deeper into the spiral, the black hole so to speak. Keep active, strengthen your relationships, be creative. These are times to become creative if you are not naturally that way, or to activate your inate creativity to its fullest! “Yankee ingenuity” isn’t only for us Yanks!]]>