Lloyd Robert Borrett


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Friday, October 17, 2003

Cutting through the case study hype 

The final versions of case studies produced by most IT companies are often missing critical elements and so are regarded with scepticism by the target audience (editors, clients, prospects etc.). The following five important elements help determine if the resulting case study fulfils the readers objectives.

The Problem
This should be the part of the IT infrastructure that is a hindrance to the client organisation and why it is a hindrance. The answer to this question is valuable because it provides the reader with a reason for implementing the solution.

The Objective
Two types of objectives must be defined: internally focussed (cost reductions, business process improvement) and externally focused (competitive advantages). Items that describe an internal objective are interesting (and common); those that describe both types of objectives -- internal and external -- are more compelling (and rare).

The Approach/Technology
This element should describe the specific tools, technologies, products, partners or process changes the company used to solve the problem and more importantly the reason it chose each. These requirements differentiate one solution from another and portend the success or failure of a similar solution in a different organisation. The mistake most IT organisations make is that they focus on this element such that it is the dominant part of the case study. It shouldn't be.

This revisits the original and external objectives and quantifiably measures whether the new solution has fallen short of, met or exceeded those objectives. It is impossible to state results, especially cost of ownership, before a system is fully operational, and you will loose credibility if you try to do so prematurely.

The Critical Success Factors and Lessons Learned
It is important to evaluate key factors and essential elements for success, and more importantly what the company would do differently if they had the chance to do it all over again. Enterprises may listen to their peers' successes but they will learn from their peer's mistakes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Musings on working with logos 

Logos are tricky things to work with.

For artwork that is to be properly printed, it is best to use vector format logos in which the fonts have been converted to curves. The most common vector format used is Encapsulated PostScript (EPS). (Typically the vector format logos are created in a program like Adobe Illustrator or Corel DRAW, and saved into EPS format files.)

Then there will be colour, black and white, plus reverse versions required.

And within the colour area, often CMYK and PMS versions are required.

Typically, MS Office programs like Word, PowerPoint etc. handle bitmap format files better that vector format files. Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) files seem to work best. Since Office XP, PowerPoint has been able to handle transparent TIF files, which means logos can be placed over other things without a solid background to the logo.

Of course the problem with bitmap file formats is that they are produced with a given number of pixels at a given dots per inch (dpi) setting to be a given height and width for printing to a particular output device.

For TIF file bitmap images to be used in Word and PowerPoint and printed to a typical inkjet or laser printer, using 100 to 150 dpi produces good results.

On the other hand, for web applications most people still typically produce GIF and/or JPEG format bitmap files. Files to be used on the web are typically produced at 72 or 96 dpi. They are typically produced from programs like Adobe PhotoShop, and put through a file size optimisation program like Adobe ImageReady.

This quickly adds up to quite a few files being needed. And many people simply just do not understand why.

Tip: Getting good quality client, prospect, partner logos.
Sometimes it is just not possible to get the logo you need in a timely manner direct from an organisation. It is often possible to get a reasonable quality logo from an organisation's web site. But sometimes the quality just isn't good enough. Thankfully there is a workaround for this. Often there will be PDF file (brochure, annual report etc.) somewhere on the organisation's website which has a logo in it. If the PDF file hasn't been protected, the page can often be opened in Adobe Illustrator and the logo extracted and saved in EPS file format. Then whatever logo file you need can be produced from that starting point.

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