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.

Fast Food, Slow Death?

The all too familiar story: no time to cook, kids are late for soccer practice and McDonald's is on the way. Since it will not take more than a few minutes to shoot through the drive through we'll do the fast food stop. Or all too familiar story number 2: lunch hour at work and I need to pick up my dry cleaning, fill a prescription, and take the car to get gas and find time to eat. Sure enough Taco Bell is on the way and they have a drive through as well. These real life situations play out for all of us, millions of us, everyday. Since time has become one of our most precious commodities the sacrifice we make is often in our diet.

And yet it does not need to be this way. By following a few healthy practices you can still go to your favorite fast food chain and, 30 years from now, live to tell about it. The key is knowing what to select from the menu and balancing that meal with the rest of the day's food intake.

Choose Your Menu Items With Care

Choose a main dish item that is low in fat. As an example, when faced with the choice of a bacon cheeseburger or a regular hamburger, the regular hamburger wins every time. In the battle of the regular hamburger or the grilled chicken breast sandwich the chicken wins hands down. Why? Here's an example:

Wendy's Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich has 360 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 0 trans fat. Compare that to the Wendy's Big Bacon Classic which has 580 calories, 29 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of trans fat. Put either choice with a medium fry and you have added another 440 calories and another 21 grams of fat. Choose, instead, the Baked Potato with Sour Cream and Chive and you add 320 calories and 4 grams of fat – a better choice indeed.

Choose side salads and salad bar vegetables as these provide extra vitamins and add dietary fiber. In addition they fill you up without adding lots of extra calories. Be sure to use low fat or non-fat dressing or better yet, a simple vinaigrette dressing. More dietary fiber can be found in the choice of whole wheat or whole grain buns and rolls.

If your sweet tooth kicks in have fresh fruit or frozen yogurt. Or go for the reduced fat ice cream versus the shake. Again an example, this time from McDonald's: 16 oz. Triple Thick Vanilla Shake has 550 calories and 13 grams of fat. The Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream Cone has 150 calories and only 3.5 grams of fat. Granted the lower calories alternative is not as decadent but it also will not clog your arteries by increasing your cholesterol intake and it will satisfy the sugar craving.

Watch Your Portion Size

Portion control is also a key element to successful fast food dining. Although many restaurants have discontinued the super size trend, most portions are simply more than we need to consume. These large portions look like real value when viewed in the monetary sense but when measured by way of their contribution to weight gain and its complications they are simply not worth it.

Choose the smallest size possible especially if you are having hamburgers or fried foods.

Share large or high items with someone else.

Eat half your order and take the rest home. Yes, I know we are provided to clean our plates because there are children starving in China. At least that's what many mothers over the years have been heard to say. The fact is being a member of the Clean Plate Club will also get you entry into the Fat Club, the High Cholesterol Club, and if your really fortify the Heart Disease Club.

Remember These 3 Key Points

1. Reduce total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
2. Increase intake of whole grains
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables

Fast food is one of the great innovations of the 20th century. Here in the 21st century we need to manage how we take advantage of its limitless access. To do so will maintain a balance between food as satisfying fuel that keeps our human engine running and toxic waste that will eventually lead to shorten life spans.

Professors – Ways to Be Wise When Traveling (Before and During)

Since I am writing this article about how to be wise when you travel (and I am on the road at a professional conference) the ideas are quite fresh in my mind. If you travel as part of your academic responsibility, then you will find these ideas helpful.

Let people know you are on the road so they will not expect you to get back to them as quickly. You can leave this information in a message on your outgoing voice mail and, if you are going to be out for an extended period of time, set up an email responder, as well. (Note: If you are going to be out for one or two days, then my suggestion is NOT to annoy people who email you with a return email that says that you will be out "until tomorrow afternoon" or the like.)

Answer voice mail as you travel so it's not all there when you get back in town. This means you must have a voice mail system that is easily retrievable. Make it a point to return voice mail within 24 hours of when you get the message, if at all possible.

Keep up with your email as you travel. Not doing so is even more onerous than taking the extra steps to be able to access it while you're on the road. There are several possibilities:

  • you can have all your email forwarded to a web-based email system;
  • you can set up your laptop to access all your email (and either leave the original message on the server or not);
  • or you may use what I use, GoToMyPC, which lets me access my home office computer from any other computer. That way, I'm answering my emails just as if I am in front of my main computer. It's convenient because all my deleted, saved, and sent messages are right there where they belong and all attachments I might need to send to someone are easily accessible.

Create a productive environment for yourself when you are traveling. Some ways to do so include:

  • If you are traveling by car, make sure you have all the items that will let you be comfortable and productive while on the road.
  • If you are traveling by plane, then make sure you have noise-cancelling headphones and the kind of work that can easily be retrieved while sitting in an airplane seat.
  • Once you arrive at your hotel, take a few minutes and get it set up. I will often move tables around to create a L-shaped workspace. I have also been known to take 100 watt light bulbs with me when I go to Las Vegas (or stay at a W Hotel) because the lamps are so dim that it's very difficult to see and get reading and work done. Learn what works best for you-and then create that environment as much as you can.

Join loyalty programs whenever possible and then maximize your use of those particular airlines and hotels. There are small (and sometimes large) amenities that go along with being a member of a program. If at all possible, aim for the elite status which really gives you worth perquisites (including leverage) when traveling.

You're a professor. You're smart. You need to travel to conferences, to conduct your research, to learn, to share your knowledge, and to expand your horizons. So now, be wise about traveling by putting one or more of the ideas in this article into practice and move closer to peaceful productivity as a way of life.

Since I am writing this article about how to be wise when you travel (and I am on the road at a professional conference) the ideas are quite fresh in my mind. If you travel as part of your academic responsibility, then you will find these ideas helpful.

Let people know you are on the road so they will not expect you to get back to them as quickly. You can leave this information in a message on your outgoing voice mail and, if you are going to be out for an extended period of time, set up an email responder, as well. (Note: If you are going to be out for one or two days, then my suggestion is NOT to annoy people who email you with a return email that says that you will be out "until tomorrow afternoon" or the like.)

Answer voice mail as you travel so it's not all there when you get back in town. This means you must have a voice mail system that is easily retrievable. Make it a point to return voice mail within 24 hours of when you get the message, if at all possible.

Keep up with your email as you travel. Not doing so is even more onerous than taking the extra steps to be able to access it while you're on the road. There are several possibilities:

  • you can have all your email forwarded to a web-based email system;
  • you can set up your laptop to access all your email (and either leave the original message on the server or not);
  • or you may use what I use, GoToMyPC, which lets me access my home office computer from any other computer. That way, I'm answering my emails just as if I am in front of my main computer. It's convenient because all my deleted, saved, and sent messages are right there where they belong and all attachments I might need to send to someone are easily accessible.

Create a productive environment for yourself when you are traveling. Some ways to do so include:

  • If you are traveling by car, make sure you have all the items that will let you be comfortable and productive while on the road.
  • If you are traveling by plane, then make sure you have noise-cancelling headphones and the kind of work that can easily be retrieved while sitting in an airplane seat.
  • Once you arrive at your hotel, take a few minutes and get it set up. I will often move tables around to create a L-shaped workspace. I have also been known to take 100 watt light bulbs with me when I go to Las Vegas (or stay at a W Hotel) because the lamps are so dim that it's very difficult to see and get reading and work done. Learn what works best for you-and then create that environment as much as you can.

Join loyalty programs whenever possible and then maximize your use of those particular airlines and hotels. There are small (and sometimes large) amenities that go along with being a member of a program. If at all possible, aim for the elite status which really gives you worth perquisites (including leverage) when traveling.

You're a professor. You're smart. You need to travel to conferences, to conduct your research, to learn, to share your knowledge, and to expand your horizons. So now, be wise about traveling by putting one or more of the ideas in this article into practice and move closer to peaceful productivity as a way of life.

Furniture Store Marketing – When Everyone Is Your Customer, No One is Your Customer!

One of the biggest challenges home furnishing owners must overcome, in order to be successful in this new economy, is the dreaded I-offer-everything-for-everyone syndrome. On the surface this looks like a sure-fire way to get more customers, but it is already proven time and time again that it is not always the most successful way to prosper in your store.

If you are an independent home furnishing retailers, then chances are you have a limited budget and limited space to work with. So, if your store offers several contemporary collections, several ultra-modern collections and some eclectic pieces as well as some early American collections scattered through you store, do you really think that you have enough of any of those styles to satisfy the type of customers who are looking for a specific style? However, style is only one way to target your customer.

In fact, the most successful furniture retailers in my area focus on a couple of things to attract a specific type of customer:

  • Complete living room packages for under $ 2,000 or furnish your entitlement home for under $ 5,000.
  • Long-term low or no interest financing
  • Fast delivery within 3 days or less
  • Lower prices for packages

So, by narrowing down their advertising, they attract a customer that wants to purchase multiple pieces, which in turn, drives the average ticket sale and profits up. They then offer attractive financing terms which attracts customers with good credit and income, while enticing them to spend more money because the customer has longer to pay for it.

Most importantly, they save the customer money by buying more and can get it in their homes in a couple of days. There is also another twist to these retailers. They reward their salespeople handsomely for NOT selling the financing, but getting customers to pay off their balances in less than 90 days.

There is a common slogan in marketing statute, "There are riches in niches." Simply put, this slogan means determine who your most profitable, enjoyable and easy to attract customer is, and then specialize in getting more of those customers to come into your store and buy. You do this by creating a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that compels your most profitable customer to come back into your business again and again.

What if you reviewed your business over the last couple of years and discovered the following trends about your customers and prospects:

  • Wives initially visited the store without their husbands.
  • Recently married
  • Had three kids
  • Lived within five miles of your store
  • Spent between $ 800 – $ 1500 on sofa, loveseat and tables.
  • Paid by Visa, MasterCard or Discover

Once you have this information, you can redesign your store and business to cater to more of the same types of customers that are currently spending good money in your store.

However, you can only use this information to your advantage if you take the time to find out who your customer is, what is important to them and what they really want.

It may come as a surprise to you, but your customers want more than just a sofa. If you are just selling a sofa, you are missing out on a ton of business. Here are a few of the keys I have discovered over the years:

  • Do not sell mattresses, sell relief from back pain.
  • Do not sell home theater seats, sell the entertainment experience.
  • Do not sell sofas or loveseats, sell comfort and warmth.
  • Do not sell furniture, sell status and prestige.
  • Do not sell interior design, sell ENVY and the WOW factor!

Once you know what your customers really want then, you could use that information to create a USP that attracts more of the same type of customers. For example:

  • "Do not hire expensive interior designers, use our 23 point design checklist and give your home a million dollar look for FREE!"
  • "Discover how to give your home an extreme $ 20,000 makeover, on an $ 8,000 budget."
  • "Your family and friends will say" Oh my gosh! Your home is simply amazing! "In 27 seconds flat … we guarantee it!"