Technical Writing – How to Write Project Justification Documents

As part of building the overall project scope a technical author will first need to lay out the justification documentation. This document which can also be considered a “business case” lays out the fundamental reasons for implementing the project. Here’s a simple guide on creating a project justification.

State the Problem

Businesses don’t carry out projects for fun; they perform them in order to solve a specific issue or issues. You need to describe the problem clearly and accurately at the start of your document so that you can then present the solution to that problem.

For example if you intend to implement a new HRMS (Human Resource Management System) your problem may be; “The HR team currently spends nearly 80% of its time on non-productive administrative tasks, reducing the effectiveness of the function dramatically.”

State the Solution

This should be a simple statement to define your project. This enables your reader to understand what it is you’re proposing.

“We intend to implement an automated HRMS system to reduce manual administration by half.”

Supply Supporting Information

The problem and solution aren’t going to justify your project to the stakeholders and decision makers, so you need to provide the right level of information to enable them to support your recommendation.

Examples of the kind of information you should use:

  • Market Demand – Not always the strongest argument, but if you can show that all your competitors are implementing similar systems, it certainly suggests that it may be worth considering in your organisation.
  • Business Need – In this example the business need is clear, the HR team are spending the majority of their work time on non-specialist tasks and that costs money.
  • Customer Demands - what is it that your customers are screaming out for? Don’t forget to include internal customers as well as external ones.
  • Technological Progression – what’s going on in the world around you, is there are compelling case to be told in terms of the way IT and systems are developing?
  • Legal – Don’t forget the all important obligation to the law, if you can show that your project brings compliance or makes it easier to comply with those requirements you have a stronger case.

Writing a business case or project justification is an essential part of the larger project scoping process. Ideally you should write this early in the lifecycle of your project to help you obtain funding and support. You will also then be able to clearly identify the objectives of your task so that team members have a clear message to take away.

How to Talk to Your Spouse Who Says You Work Too Much

Strong marriages and relationships require attention from both partners. This balance of attention to spouse versus earning a living or furthering your career can be difficult to find. And, once you have found a balance that works in your relationship, things change and you have to find the balance again.

Why do some people overwork? The Overworking Spouse may be under considerable stress on the job, or may have a boss that demands long hours. Or maybe there are layoffs coming up and the less productive workers are the first to go. Maybe one partner has to work long hours just to support the family. On the other hand, the overworking spouse may be strongly identifying with career advancement to the exclusion of the marriage. Of course, we should be involved in work that is worthwhile, fulfilling and financially rewarding but over focus can put the marriage at risk.

What can happen when you put your work/career first? Your spouse may be feeling emotionally disconnected from you and lonely. There may be a buildup of resentment which can lead to anger and finally bitterness-towards you. This situation often leads to unhappiness and discord for the entire family.

As a psychologist who has worked for 20 years counseling couples in my therapy practice in North St. Paul, MN, I met with Amy and Josh with just this complaint. Amy was complaining that she was overburdened because Josh worked too much and left her with the responsibilities of home, children, and her own 40-hour job. He knew she was right but he felt defensive when she tried to tell him how to manage his work schedule. He’d started complaining that when wasn’t very affectionate lately and always blamed her disinterest in their physical intimacy on fatigue. He asked to meet with me individually after Amy had had a session to talk about her “side”of the problem. He was appreciative that she was not as naggy as she had been in the past, but he still felt blamed and criticized.

When Josh and I met, we talked of the reasons that he was spending so much time at work. The usual reasons people overwork is that they are feeling under considerable stress on the job, or may have a boss that demands long hours. Or maybe there are layoffs coming up and the less productive works are the first to go. Maybe one partner has to work long hours just to support the family. On the hand, the overworking spouse may be strongly identifying with career advancement to the exclusion of the marriage.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman, in their book 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, suggest the following questions:

1.What does your work mean to you?

2.What pleasure or satisfaction does work bring to you?

3.What need does working fulfill in your life?

4.Does your work related to some personal legacy you would like to contribute to the world?

In a discussion with Josh, he pointed out that he was trying to make headway in his career now, while he was still young and had the energy. He knew his wife was doing a good job parenting their two small children (3 years and 9 months) so he wanted to focus on earning good money for his family. At first, he couldn’t understand why Amy was complaining so much because he was doing all this work for her and their children. He felt it was his responsibility. He wanted to provide his children with a fund for their education.

I suggested he consider the questions listed above. He said that his work is very satisfying in that he felt very confident and capable at work. He also wanted to meet his father’s expectations who had had a successful career. His older two brothers had moved from job to job and he knew his father was disappointed that they had difficulty supporting their families.

It was important for Josh to understand the underlying reasons for his excessive hours at work. He did not have a demanding boss and he was in no threat of a layoff. He just wanted to do the right thing. He had not thought of himself as having value over and above that of a worker and wage earner. He resigned himself to have a discussion with Amy. He said he would try to listen carefully about what Amy was longing for when she complained to him. I suggested he try to imagine the experiences she wanted to have with him and not to focus on her criticisms.

When Amy and Josh came for the next couple’s session, they wanted to further discuss the overworking situation. (They no longer saw the problem as residing inside one of them but as a problem the two of them need to figure out.) Any was able to explain to him what she missed when he work so much. He came to get a sense that his contribution to their family was not solely a financial responsibility. He heard her tell him he was also loved, appreciated, and needed as a friend, confidant and co-parent. She especially enjoyed his easy humor with their children and felt he was the only one who would be able to provide that.

This was a difficult issue for this couple and it was not resolved quickly. They were able to discuss their needs and wants in a different way when they addressed the questions about the underlying reasons for their positions.

Dedicated Hosting Servers – Choosing the Best

What are dedicated hosting servers?

Dedicated hosting servers, as the name implies, are servers leased to a single client and not shared with any others. In other words, if you were to sign up to a dedicated hosting plan, the server would be devoted and committed entirely to hosting your websites.

Why should I use dedicated hosting?

Dedicated hosting has a variety of advantages over shared hosting, particularly if you plan to run an ecommerce website or if you prefer a high level of control over resources.

The key advantages can be briefly summarised as follows:

  • CONTROL: over operating system and software applications
  • RELIABILITY: Reliability: quicker server response time and better performance as the server is not taxed by sharers
  • SECURITY: extremely high security is provided and you can implement your own security measures
  • RESOURCES: greater bandwidth available, ideal for high traffic and resource-intensive websites

What do I need to use dedicated hosting?

MANAGEMENT SKILLS

Although dedicated web hosting gives you the opportunity to fully manage your server, web hosts will provide varying levels of management for you, depending on your host and plan. In these cases, you will not need a high level of management skills.

FINANCES

Expect to pay more for dedicated web hosting that for shared.

What should I look for in a dedicated server?

RAM

It is crucial to have enough RAM. You should aim for at least 2 GB of RAM and the more the better. The number of concurrent users able to visit your site will be greatly affected by the amount of RAM you have. If you do not have enough RAM, under a significant load from a number of simultaneous users accessing your site, your site will crash (i.e. the Slashdot effect). This can particularly be a problem if you have database driven applications.

PROCESSOR

Choosing the best processor for your needs is also important. Intel Xeons and AMD Opterons are the current standard in server CPU architecture. Other CPUs are most likely outdated or are standard desktop CPUs and may not perform as well as the former under a significant network load.

DISK SPACE

Choose a plan with the amount you will need. Unless you will be serving up file and data archives and/or audio and video content (i.e. streaming media, mp3 downloads, etc) then disk space should not be a concern as all plans provide more than adequate amounts of disk space (e.g. 250 GB+). If you anticipate expansion, look into the flexibility of upgrade options.

BANDWIDTH (Monthly Transfer)

Look for 1000-2000 GB+, depending on your needs.

DATA CONNECTION SPEED

Look for 1000 Mbps, particularly if you are streaming video or have a large number of concurrent users. Otherwise 100 Mbps might suffice.

OPERATING SYSTEMS

Look for which are offered and what costs are involved. Many Linux distributions and BSD systems are available for free from the open source community, while Microsoft Windows Server involves a cost. Expect operating system updates to be provided.

MANAGEMENT / EASE OF USE

Look for how much management is included in the plan price. For ease of use, look for free inclusion of cPanel (web based administration). Look for hosts supporting server configuration, software, application, security and anti-virus updates, firewall services and monitoring. Be wary of the term “fully managed” as this means different things to different hosts. Investigate thoroughly.

SOFTWARE

What options do you have? What is included? Microsoft products? Look for control panel software.

SUPPORT

Look for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year phone / email technical support.

BACKUP AND RESTORATION

Look for what backup and restoration options are provided. Some plans come with two hard drives, allowing an easy back up solution.

IP ADDRESSES

Look for more than one, particularly if you plan to do ecommerce.

UPTIME GUARANTEE

Look for hosts guaranteeing 99.9 to 100% uptime and find out their compensation if it is not reached.

WEB HOSTING PRICE

Find out if there is a setup fee. Expect to pay $200+ per month for hosting.

Who provides top rated web hosting?

No doubt you will read different opinions in different places, but based on the criteria outlined above, I have identified a few stand-out dedicated web hosts with excellent reputations for quality and reliability. You will find details of these hosts at Web Host Choice [http://webhostchoice.info]

Top 11 Reasons to Use Social Media in Business

Over the past few years, to say social media has exploded would be an understatement. Members of social media sites have discovered it's the easiest way to find, learn about, and share information that directly influences their purchasing decisions. It is this reason alone that every business should be on multiple social media sites in an effort to reach as many people as possible.

Below are the top 11 reasons to use social media in business:

  1. Build relationships – personal and professional; connect with all types of people – past and present coworkers, current clients, prospects, vendors, competitors, and marketing professionals to build your network
  2. Share your blog posts; share interesting and useful articles, other blogs, webinars, podcasts, presentations, and poll / survey results with your fan base
  3. Gather valuable information – research similar products / services, competitors, prospects, marketing tips, blog ideas, create your own poll / survey – the amount of information available is endless
  4. Join a social network of like-minded individuals or start a new interest group where you can further brand your product / service, build relationships, and share ideas and information
  5. Stay current with the latest trends – write a blog or join a discussion on a trending topic; become aware of new social media sites that might fit the needs of your business
  6. Land a great new job – using your new connections on various social media sites, you can get the inside scoop on companies that are hiring, as well as resume and interview tips
  7. Discover a new passion in life, become a volunteer, or start a fundraising event
  8. Get found by prospects by using inbound marketing tactics – spread the word about your product / service through social media sites; to form a complete marketing plan, combine this with outbound techniques (interruptive marketing)
  9. Build business reputation and brand – constantly add value to all your posts and become a trustworthy leader in your industry; to quote Bob Burg, "All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust."
  10. Build a marketing department inexpensively – for start-ups, employing inbound marketing tactics is a cheap way to start marketing your product / service; most social media sites are free to join, while others have a minimal monthly or annual fee
  11. Help increase conversion rates – use social media and inbound marketing to steer more organic traffic to your website and convert more leads into sales; the average conversion rate is 2.3%, but varies by industries according to ClickZ, Marketing News & Expert Advice, http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/1691779/benchmarking-average-conversion-rate .

I recommend choosing a useful of sites to manage and start getting your feet wet. Not every social media site available will be right for you or your business and it would overwhelming to try them all. For example, consistently maintaining a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages, a YouTube channel, as well as a Twitter account might be a great place to start. Depending on the type of business, a Pinterest, Tumblr, or Flickr account might or may not be worthwhile, but obviously they are great certain brands.

If you need help getting started, there are countless different types of resources. I have used the An Hour a Day book series on Facebook Marketing, Twitter Marketing, and Social Media Marketing. They address each entity in a step-by-step fashion that is very user-friendly. I also find Hubspot to be extremely helpful. They are continuously publishing user guides that contain valuable information, tips, and tricks. Lastly, when creating your profile on the various social media sites that best fit your marketing plan, it's a good idea to connect with other marketers to check out what they are doing to boost business.

Do you have a tip or trick to share with newcomers to social media? Share it with us; you are more than welcome to post questions and / or comments here!