A senior computer architect1 once said "some of the best ideas self-destruct when put on paper." An approach, a process, a technology can sound very attractive when discussed in general terms. Once the specifics are explored, however, serious issues can emerge. As they say, "the devil is in the details."
Somebody needs to understand the perspectives of stakeholders, marketing folks, and end users and translate their needs into the language that developers can understand. Somebody also needs to understand the technology opportunities and limitations that developers face, and present those challenges in non-technical language to stakeholders, marketing folks, and end users. At APConnsulting, LLC, we understand this need to bridge the technical and non-technical communities. This translation process is actually an exciting form of teaching, where we often employ creative metaphors as well as highly visual documents and presentations to convey complex concepts.
Communication can take a number of forms in addition to translation. Examples:
- Capture: "If it not written down and passed on, it might as well never have happened." At important meetings where key decisions are made, it is important to capture the decision and also the rationale. A decision involving tradeoffs will usually have consequences that need to be identified and addressed.
Requirements change. The rationale for making a tradeoff may no longer be valid. “Seemed like a good idea at the time” is no substitute for a clear listing of the rationale that enables easy revisiting of decisions.
- Research: You, or one of your competitors, may already have answers to important questions about usage. Or, there may be formal or de facto industry standards. Sometimes to have fresh ideas, you do need some isolation from (or ignorance of) industry trends and thinking. However, even brilliant ideas can face an uncertain future if their implementations ignore critical accepted usage patterns. For example, the success of consumer multimedia products often hinge on interoperability. With the right research, you can better target a product or solution to a particular context or usage environment.
- Analyze: Any kind of analysis, from marketing to defects, forms a portion of the collective knowledge that drives the development process. To ensure that everyone in the process understands how to proceed, especially new hires, it is important that such analyses are readily accessible in a repository and/or document.
- Present: Intellectual property and delivered products must be presented to partners and customers. The success of the delivery can depend substantially on the quality of the presentation materials—slides and documents that clearly capture value propositions and technical features.
- Explain: Complex technological concepts are often difficult to understand and explain. We can provide techniques such as metaphors, abstractions, and simplifications to help in the learning process. Our animated gifs, videos, and staged graphics can often convey the underlying concepts in a complex design.
- Visualization and Innovation:
For many technology creators and designers, architecture and design is a highly visual process. Without a diagram, it is hard for the typical engineer to see the full scope of the problem, and understand where the opportunities as well as the problem areas might arise.
Example of Architectural Diagram for Analyzing Opportunities
For example, many security experts need to see a topological layout of the target system to perform a full analysis and design. It is even more difficult for engineers to communicate tradeoffs and enhancements without a diagram.
We at APConnsulting, LLC have used architecture diagrams not only for communication, but also to enable innovation. Sometimes drawing and connecting important components can result in important insights. New products or solutions can emerge.
- Teach and Train: Classroom and Web training can make the difference between the successful launch of a product and dissatisfaction. Hands-on experience can ensure that important stakeholders are well versed in the key functions and features and the best approaches to using a product. But some people need to see the big picture before they are willing to learn details. Sometimes even the product developers cannot explain what a product is from a broader perspective. We specialize in presenting the more global perspective, and then drilling down to the details in a logical progression.
- Guide: Step by step procedures can ensure that products are assembled or installed correctly, avoiding expensive customer service calls. We can help you produce such guides, which require attention to detail and often a lot of graphics. Our quick-review crib-sheet* approach to training is based on the concept that even seasoned users may need to reference a feature every now and then, but don’t want to look deep within a thick manual.
We would be happy to meet with you and present detailed examples of the various kinds of communication techniques APConnsulting, LLC can provide. Many of the tiny images on this web site are derived from these documents and presentations.
*An example of a quick start guide is the one we developed for the Skypath AutoCourier product. (Note this is an Adobe pdf file. Click "Get Adobe Reader" if you do not already have Adobe Reader to read pdf files.)