Insights

  • A 5-Step Roadmap for Your Web Development Project

    by Primus Poppiti | Jan 30, 2019

    a 5-step roadmap for your web development project

    So you’re about to start a project to build a new website. And by website I really mean any digital property, such as an ecommerce site, intranet, mobile app, etc. Where do you start? Everyone usually wants to jump in the water and start building right away. But, build what? And why? These are critical questions that will help you compile a roadmap for your project. Roadmaps begin with fundamental high-level business objectives and end with a clear path for development. Below are the five steps to use to build that roadmap for your web development project. 

    1. Document Your Business Objectives

    Treat your business objectives as your bible for the project. These should be high-level, project business objectives, i.e., the business reasons for the project, which should come from the primary sponsor of the project and the various stakeholders and can be distilled from interview sessions at the very start of the project. These objectives should be written in business vernacular, so that anyone in the organization can understand their meaning. Normally, you should have between three to seven objectives for any given project. Once the objectives are defined and approved by the sponsor and stakeholders, every aspect of the project should be tied back to the overall objectives. Each Functional Requirement (see step 2) should connect to one or more objectives. This is a good test of the requirements: if it doesn’t meet an objective, it should not be a Functional Requirement. The rest of the project will flow from them, from UX and creative through development and test cases. You should also be able to determine your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) from the objectives. These also should be directly tied to one or more objectives. Your KPI should be used to determine your measurements for success of each objective. Therefore your success is based on your objectives.

    2. Document All Your Functional Requirements

    The next step is to document all your high-level functional requirements—the “WHAT” your project needs to do. They usually are written with the opening phase of “The system shall” or “The website shall." Similar to writing the objectives, functional requirements should be high-level and in business vernacular, so that everyone working on the project understands their meaning. Requirements should be succinct—don’t make them about more than one thing.

    Requirements are not the “HOW” something will be implemented. Those details should be left to design and architecture discussions. But, sometimes for practical explanation, a note of “how” can accompany the requirements (but not be part of the requirements).

    As noted above, all functional requirements should support a business objective. Now, that’s a nice little bow around this project.

    3. Prioritize and Add Additional Data Elements

    Now that all the Functional Requirements are defined, it’s time to add more data to them. Since there can be hundreds of requirements, this is a good point in time to categorize them. For example, if you are building an ecommerce system, you might use categories like product display, product recommendations, cart functions, checkout process, etc.

    The next vital piece of information is the prioritization of the requirements, which should be set by the business team and approved by the project sponsor. Use simple priorities like high, medium, and low, where “High” is a must have. Use this scale: “High” requirements are critical to the business activities; “Medium” requirements are important but not a business critical function; and “Low” requirements are “nice to haves.” This is a tedious but necessary step that can cause a lot of discussion and dissent among the business team. Provide an outlet for rationale of these comments.

    Optionally, a good piece of information is a high-level of estimated effort. This is somewhat contradictory, since we haven’t determined “HOW” we will accomplish the requirement. But it’s good for the business stakeholders to get a sense of the complexity of the requirements. If you want to add this information, at this point, use a very general estimation scale such as T-shirt sizes (X-Small, Small, Medium, Large and Extra-Large) or the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21).

    4. Determine the Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

    In this step, the work you have completed to date starts to come together in a roadmap, which will have multiple releases. The first release in the roadmap is the Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The MVP will usually consist of the “High” priority items identified in step 3. But, due to some of the complexities of requirements, some may be removed from the MVP. Contrarily, requirements of “Medium” or “Low” may be added to the MVP if they are less complex or easier effort (low hanging fruit) requirements. This provides some quick “win” within the MVP. This process of determining the MVP should be a team effort but approved by the project sponsor. The requirements that do not make it into the MVP will be placed into other releases of the roadmap.

    5. Build Releases in the Roadmap

    Now that you have determined the MVP, this will be the first release of the roadmap. Now review the remaining requirements. Naturally, “Medium” priority requirements should be in the next release(s). This release(s) should also include the “High” priority, more complex requirements that were removed from the MVP. You may add some “Low” priority requirements that have dependencies in these releases. The final release should include any remaining “Low” priority requirements.

    There you have it: a functional roadmap for your business project. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? If you’d like to discuss this in more detail and see how we can assist you, contact us at Trellist.

  • The Power of Employee Ambassadors and Micro-Influencers

    by Neil Dougherty | Nov 06, 2018

    The power of employee influencers in marketing

    It’s no secret that achieving marketing success in today’s digitally-transformed world requires looking beyond traditional communications and media channels. Regardless of your industry, simply pulling the same levers you always have in earned, owned, and paid media will only get you so far. Yes, you may have a standout website, top-notch marketing collateral, and growing social media presence. But so does everyone else in your space.

    To drive additional awareness and build trust in your mission and products, you should also be focusing on influencer marketing. It’s a buzzword that’s bandied about often – and for good reason.

    Seventy percent of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions, according to a survey of 14,000 consumers by Collective Bias. In comparison, channels like digital ads (4.5 percent), print ads (4.7 percent) and TV ads (7.4 percent) have a declining influence. These millennials are taking this mindset into the workplace, where they rely on peers and trusted influencers to help them make purchasing decisions.

    Act Locally: Tapping into Employee Influencers

    One of the first places you should start to build your influencer marketing efforts is in-house with your employees. The advantage of starting here is that 1) it can be lower cost than building an influencer marketing program outside of your walls, and 2) you have control over the message. However, this doesn’t mean it’s particularly easy to be successful.

    At Trellist, we helped our global specialty chemicals client pioneer an employee influencer program to build awareness of the brand and its innovation stories among customers, investors, fellow employees, and the media. We achieved this by helping them build their Social Media Ambassador Program.

    The effort started with the vetting of existing employee social media profiles to recommend an initial class of ambassadors. This review was both quantitative and qualitative: Did they have a significant or growing number of followers? Were they engaged and sharing regularly? And was their activity aligned with the brand’s values?

    Trellist also developed strategic training and guidance, published content, monitored performance of the pilot program, and created a leaderboard to analyze program participation.

    As a result, the client experienced:

    • A 2X increase in monthly published content
    • A nearly 2.5X increase in total engagement with the content each month
    • A 3X increase in the reach of that content
    • Recognition as a Fortune 500 company by 2017 — and now has more than 34,000 followers on LinkedIn and more than 5,000 followers on Twitter

    Choose Your Influencers Wisely: Go Micro

    It’s tempting to go “all in” when building your influencer marketing program. After all, who wouldn’t want someone with a million followers talking about your brand? But the questions you should be asking are whether or not they’re the right million, and is the influencer you’re working with the right one?

    You will hear nightmare stories about brands who have tied themselves to the wrong influencer, only to have their brand reputation tarnished in the process. Keep in mind that a person doesn’t need millions or even tens of thousands of followers to be influential. In fact, the data on social media engagement bears out that micro-influencers may be higher value on a per-dollar, per-campaign basis than celebrities with millions of followers.

    This study found:

    • Instagram users with less than 1,000 followers received a like-rate of 8 percent, and accounts with 10 million+ followers only had a like-rate of 1.6 percent
    • Users with 1,000 to 4,000 followers received 4.5 percent engagement
    • Influencers in the 10k to 100k follower range offer the best combination of engagement and broad reach

    We believe it’s a better move (especially for B2B brands) to adopt a micro-influencer strategy. Traffic may be smaller in absolute terms, but activity has the potential to be more engaged, more targeted, and less costly.

    If you’re considering your own employee advocacy or micro-influencer strategy, contact socialbusiness@trellist.com to get started.

  • SharePoint as a Multimedia Communications Tool

    by Todd Metzger | Jun 26, 2018

    SharePoint as a Multimedia Communications Tool
    It can seem like change is the only constant in today’s business environment. The pressures of globalization, technological innovation, and competition continually drive the need for transformation across the organization. Uncovering new business models, revamping and streamlining existing processes, and modernizing technology and infrastructure are the keys to surviving and thriving.

    Leading organizations anticipate the forces that will require these kinds of organizational change. Even under ideal circumstances, significant revisions to your operations, vision, and principles can be difficult to communicate. When you’re an industry leader with tens of thousands of employees, it can seem like an impossible task.

    Executed poorly, organizational change can create chaos that has a real and lasting effect. Employees can lose sight of the company’s direction, their efficiency may plummet in the face of unfamiliar new processes, and morale takes a hit. In fact, according to McKinsey and Company, 70 percent of large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals. It happens when employees are not engaged, management fails to support the initiative, there’s little or no collaboration between teams, and no one is held accountable.

    Managing change correctly and efficiently requires a different approach, one that puts leadership, management, and employees on the same page. It’s only achievable when everyone receives the message about changes at the same time, and more importantly, that they actually hear, internalize, and understand that message.

    This is why tools like SharePoint are so important as a communication tool. It makes the change real for employees, and helps them decipher the signal from the noise so they can truly understand what’s important.

    SharePoint in Action for Internal Communications

    At Trellist, we recently helped a leading global agriscience company embrace digital technology to transform their business model. Such a radical transformation required an equally aggressive strategy for communicating changes to employees. SharePoint, which is globally accessible in the cloud through Office 365, was the optimal tool for supercharging employee communication and collaboration. The primary goals were to help the organization communicate:

    • What it means to be digital
    • Their transformation journey
    • Their digital roadmap
    You may think of SharePoint as a document management and sharing tool, but in this case it was equally adept at enabling consistent internal communications, video streams, and the presentation of interactive organizational charts. The media-rich environment we helped them create improved employee engagement, strengthened their internal communications strategy, and gave their executive team a voice that resonated more clearly with employees.

    Is SharePoint Right for Your Organization?

    Yes, it’s powerful, but it’s not all that it can be right out of the box. In order for SharePoint to truly help you communicate your brand message and strategies in the same way it did for the agriscience company we worked with, it needs the right UX and design to generate engagement and traffic. We’ve helped organizations across a variety of industries implement collaboration tools like SharePoint. If you’d like to explore how we can help your organization, contact us at enterprisetechnology@trellist.com.
  • Virtual Reality as a Live Event Marketing Tool

    by Primus Poppiti | Jun 13, 2018

    Virtual reality. The very phrase probably conjures up images of a futuristic, computer-driven landscape  you might see in your favorite sci-fi movie. It’s less likely that you’d associate the next-gen tech with a disconcertingly  up close, flea’s-eye view of carpet piles in your virtual living room. But that’s exactly what we built for a client who wanted to make an impact at an industry trade show The result? A booth packed all day with visitors itching for a chance to immerse themselves in the experience.

    Trade shows are a tough racket. So many factors can make or break your success. But for one leading animal health care company, creating a virtual reality experience was the differentiator they needed. Here’s how we did it.

    Trellist example of virtual reality as an event marketing toolThe VR “Wow” Factor That Packed the Booth

    When the client approached us with the idea of a VR experience at their upcoming trade show, the requirement seemed nearly impossible. They needed a deliverable that was high-tech and impressive, while also inexpensive to implement and reusable.

    The client manufactures and distributes products and services intended to treat pathologies common in “companion animals”—yes, that’s right, fleas. They needed to make an impression with veterinary professionals and suppliers at one of the biggest industry conferences for learning and networking. The stakes were big, and the competition was steep.

    To help them stand out, we built a VR experience that begins with the conference attendee donning a pair of Google Cardboard (googles) and headphones, which were hooked to a smartphones loaded with the VR app.  By clicking on the top of the Cardboard, the experience is underway.  The attendee finds themself standing in a virtual living room as gentle music plays.The furniture looks comfy enough to sit on and the fireplace crackles with the sounds of a roaring fire.  A barking sound behind them as causes an instinctive reaction of turning their heads to find a dog playing with a ball, trying to get their attention.  Suddenly, the music changes to sinister, as the attendee being to shrink and descend down into the carpet, à la Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

    The carpet is teeming with flea eggs and larvae from the homeowner’s favorite furry friend. It’s the gross-out factor that drives home just how damaging these pests can be, and helps the attendees understand the value of the client’s product. After all, who wants their family rolling around on at a carpet overflowing with flea larva?

    The experience ends with the viewer zooming back out of the carpet to see the client’s key branding messages.

    The tradeshow was so successful that the client took the VR experience on the road, bringing it directly to veterinary offices around the nation.   The Google Cardboard was branded with their logo, which made for a sweet swag. 

    Methodology and Process

    To create this VR experience that helped our client exceed their marketing goals at this tradeshow, our methodology included:

    • Storyboarding and Estimation: We defined the storyline of the virtual experience in order to finalize the cost estimate. This included concept development, storyboard development, requirements documentation, solution architecture, and pricing and timeline development.
    • UX and Design: We created the visual elements of the script including scenes, images, interaction, and sound in order to develop a working 360-degree virtual reality prototype. This step included direction and blocking; copy and script development; imagery, music and object selection; prototyping and shooting; and creation of a deployment plan.
    • Development and Implementation: We built the final app needed to deploy to the smartphone and to YouTube (which can play 360 and use Google Cardboard), so the user could download the VR app from the app stores or play on YouTube. This involved post-production and editing, mobile app development, quality assurance, user acceptance testing, storefront preparation, and deployment.

    VR is one way to stand out from the crowd at a trade show, but your goal should always remain at the forefront of your priorities-- not just the technology we use to help you reach it. If you’d like to explore an innovative approach to your next trade show, contact us at info@trellist.com.

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