Throughout my career there have been challenges, and then there have been CHALLENGES.  In this case study, I was tasked with researching and designing a secure, enterprise collaborative work environment for software life-cycle development… in four months.  The prior taskee had 5 years.  I met the deadline.  Here’s what happened.

Project Manager:  As the Project Manager for the task, I developed the budget, Concept of Operations, worked with the contracting officer to obtain the proper contracting support, wrote the contractual requirements, kept the contractor accountable to delivering his requirements and managed multiple teams in diverse locations throughout the course of the project.  The project was delivered on time, and on budget, and the solution eventually adopted by the organization.

Requirements Gathering:  The user communities were from different organizations, time zones and job requirements.  Facilitated several web-based communication groups and phone cons.  Developed needs based surveys and reviewed initial assumptions.  Many initial assumptions on technology had to be revised due to software changes in the marketplace.  Drafted requirements documentation.  Critical factors for success were variable workflows and cross-platform integration ability.

Software Assessment:  Based on requirements documentation, setup software trials of multiple collaborative suites. Each had their own deficits and benefits based on the initial software purpose of the Manufacturer.  Software assessment included interviews, business analysis, on-site discussions, and web-based conferences where practical.

Analysis and Recommendation:  After extensive research, including the user community, and incorporating best practices for software design, maintenance and quality control, a shopping cart approach was finally recommended.  Each software system had its pros and cons, and no one suite offered the complete solution.  With a focus on a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and a workflow based approach, the final recommendation was a best of the best solution, using the best pieces of the software out there with the workflow tool pulling them together.