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Innovation Process & Planning Quality Assurance Implementation Post Launch Services      
  Sonik's Process & Planning services follow the Innovation phase. Generally at this stage, the business vision, objectives and strategy are generally agreed upon, the initiative has been approved by the management team, and budget has been approved/allocated.

The Process & Planning phase involves the primary activities that usually comprise a majority of the effort at this stage in the project lifecycle. Note that, while these services can take place throughout the project, these components are key at this stage.

Process & Planning services include:

» Project Management
» Business Process Design
» Vendor Selection
» Marketing Planning

Project Management
The iSDM Project Management framework is generally based on the principles of an iterative development approach. Furthermore, this approach is essentially founded on direct experience on larger development and implementation engagements; it is easier to manage toward success when the project itself is of a manageable size. The iterative process also allows for easier end-user and stakeholder involvement. Common project management activities include:
  • Develop Project Charter
    The project charter is created and owned by the Project Manager, with input and direction from stakeholder representatives. Typically, these documents are 20 – 30 pages in length. Components are a typical Sonik SDM Project Charter include:
    • Definitions
    • Project Organization
    • Management Process
    • Activities & Schedule (high-level)
  • Create / Manage Detailed Workplan
    A detailed workplan is first sketched out with the team members, using the high-level activities & schedule used in the Project Charter as the starting framework. Key inputs include:
    • a solid understanding of team member capabilities: project ‘skills inventory’
    • required project activities / tasks
    • Time-to-Completion (TTC) estimates
    • milestones and deliverables timelines that have been requested by client management
  • Conduct Status Meetings
    Project status meetings are a mandatory component of effective project management. In general, status meetings are held at regular intervals and are kept to within an hour if at all possible. The main intent of the status meeting is to keep all team members informed of overall progress and ensure issues are addressed. Status meetings are generally not intended to be working meetings to resolve specific issues. Two common project meetings are weekly team status meetings and stakeholder / steering committee meetings.
  • Issue Status Reports
    Project status reports are distributed to the project team on a scheduled basis. Status reports indicate the progress to date, and upcoming activities that the team needs to be aware of. Status reports also highlight issues based on a priority or severity ranking.
  • Create / Update Project Team Site (or Directory)
    A central project site or directory is created at the outset of the engagement. The purpose of the site is provide centrally managed storage for all project materials, and allow access to common project materials based on user permissions. Document version control is another benefit of maintain a central repository. Lastly, the site can be used for communications among team members.
  • Close Project
    Project completion is often overlooked. Within the Sonik SDM framework, the Close Project activity is the final main activity for the Project Manager. A project must meet the following exit criteria to be considered complete:
    • all baseline activities have been completed
    • all project documentation is complete and published
    • formal approval / acceptance of project deliverable has been received from the client (sponsors, stakeholders)
    • deliverables have been accepted by next ‘owner’ within organization; this may be another development team, operations team or functional department.
Business Process Design
Sonik uses a three-phase approach to model and document business processes.

1. Requirements Analysis
The Requirement Analysis component is generally based upon the principles of Joint Application Development (JAD), a requirements analysis technique considered to be best practice. The Requirements Analysis service can be applied to either Process or Product requirements. Effective requirements analysis calls for an individual experienced in group facilitation, systems analysis, and requirements gathering. The requirements analyst should understand the languages of both the technical group and the business end-users.

2. Gap Analysis
The SDM Gap Analysis evaluates current ("as-is") to future ("to-be") states, and provides a roadmap for management based on organization objectives, priorities and constraints. Various techniques are used in conducting this analysis, including:

» interviews of end-users, customers and stakeholders
» questionnaires / score card evaluations
» application / system inventory audits

3. Process Modeling
Using the documented processes and requirements from previous phases, new process models are developed that will take advantage of new technologies and change concepts available. The usual application of process modeling is to:

Document new processes with change concepts that will satisfy future requirements.
Analyze implementation requirements for new processes.

Two of the more common techniques used for process modeling are Use Cases and Swimlane Diagrams.
  • Use Cases
    This modeling technique illustrates interactions with (and within) the system from the end-user view. Use Cases show how entities interact, and are usually presented as structured text or diagrammatically. This technique allows the business analyst to capture the business knowledge from the user perspective, and transfer this information to the programmer analyst.

  • Swimlane Diagrams
    Swimlane diagrams are effective tools that can map interactions between actors within a system. More specifically, this SDM diagram methodology can be used for mapping:

    • end-users to required application functions and data
    • process owners to required process activities / tasks, and process activities / tasks of other actors within a system
    • process activities / tasks to supporting data sets and systems infrastructure
Vendor Selection
Vendor selection is often the least appreciated and understood component within the development / project lifecycle. Oftentimes, obtaining an objective evaluation is difficult. The SDM approach requires that Sonik has no vendor alliances or partnerships, a fundamental requirement for providing a vendor selection service to our clients.

Phase 1: RFI - Request for Information
The RFI process basically involves evaluating vendors of a given product or service on a common set of basic requirements - architecture, functionality, estimated cost. Another key factor is the stability of the vendor - factors such as company financials, market position, and future growth opportunities must weigh into the evaluation. The RFI process allows for the creation of a vendor shortlist, which leads to the RFP process.

Phase 2: RFP - Request for Proposal
The RFP process essentially breaks down the requirements into specific functional components (required capabilities of the system or service), maintenance issues, vendor support, underlying technology, and systems integration requirements. More detailed cost estimates are also sought at this stage in the vendor selection process. The vendor selection team conducts an evaluation of the vendor RFP responses based on a pre-determined scoring grid. The scoring criteria are published in the RFP and known by all vendor participants. All vendors are notified of their score and comparative ranking through a follow-up process that is executed in a consistent manner.

Phase 3: Competitive Prototyping Sessions
Competitive prototyping sessions/demonstrations are effective tools to provide the project team and stakeholders a real sense of a vendor's product or service. These sessions also often lead to a refinement of requirements that provide a better overall solution. Competitive prototyping usually takes place once the RFP has been issued, and the requirements have been largely determined. In its basic form, competitive prototyping involves the RFP vendors providing a demonstration of their product / service functionality based on a pre-determined set of demonstration requirements.

Marketing Planning
The SDM Marketing Planning service offering encompasses a customer-centered approach to the market. By understanding the customer, offers can be created to address the underlying customer needs. This methodology allows the comparison of various offers to each other and the selection of the best marketing program in which to invest to obtain the maximal return. Our focus is on ensuring that the appropriate knowledge transfer occurs so that the processes are ingrained in the company culture. Marketing Planning components include:

» Identify Customer Segments and Products
» Identify Opportunities
» Create Offers
» Prioritize and Finalize Offers
» Implement Campaign
» Assess and Measure Campaign

Case Study
The Challenge
Our client required a Risk Management System to handle credit card fraud for non face-to-face sales using an IVR system. The functional specification documents of the current system were incomplete, and were not consistent from one system to the next.

The Solution
Using the Swimlane methodology, Sonik was able to identify new process activities / tasks and decisions, and identify data and systems required to support the new process flow.

The Result
The Swimlane methodology provided the project team members a common view to the underlying data and systems required to support the process flow. The team also identified undocumented functionality in the existing systems, and determined additional data requirements.