What I did this week

This week we have been completing work on our group report, in between the final work on another 20 credits we’ve been working on. Therefore early in this work week we didn’t actually manage to meet up, however we did meet up during the end of this working week.

We have completed a lot of the business plan, this week we have been going through tidying the earlier sections of it up to “hand in standard”. Then we’ve been moving on to write bullet points incomplete sections or turning some points into text.

The Technology plan’s components are all completed apart from the Data Flow Diagrams, which I am going to which I have began producing and will complete in this following week. We had already done one, however after the lecture this week, I have realized that this existing one has elements of a flow diagram and that it’s better to just do it again. I will make a number of them to model different processes. The technology plan items need to be formatted into a formal document with descriptions (where applicable), at the moment they are only together and unstructured.

The marketing plan has a template which Seb has created. Ian has had some more feedback from the questionnaire, we however have not added many items to the formal Marketing Plan document – we only have relevant content saved, not in any order. This is the most incomplete part of the group report right now.

Sam and Tom discussed what they had done with the Technology plan and how they had brought them all together. Seb and I showed the group the progress in the business plan, Ian helped Seb make some changes before our meeting today, before the rest of us got to the meeting room. Ian told us what he’d done with the Marketing plan and what was missing from other plans, such as risks – so we will work on that first in this coming working week. During the meeting we set plan for this week and we have a meeting room booked for a period on all days.

I am confident that the work will be completed to a high standard by Friday, where one of us will be delivering it to Chris. The aim is to push forward ensuring we make all of the relevant points and workings for a 1st! We will see how it goes.

Time spent: 7 hours

EDIT: Just searched for a DFD diagram program to use that is easier to use than Word 2010, or one that has some more powerful features. I decided to go with Gliffy as it’s free, it’s web based and there are lot’s of tools available, such as easy linking of processes with arrows. I tested it out and made a DFD for two processes (3 diagrams in total, as I need to show my group multiple versions for feedback). More to come in the following week but will tag this work onto tonight.

Time added: 2 hours. Total time 9 hours

Advertisements

What I learnt this week

This week I learnt some more about data flow diagrams (DFDs). I had done them before, perhaps during A-Level, but certainly during a 1st or 2nd year module of some sort. However that’s a long time ago, so was a little rusty!

I learnt that DFDs are supposed to be easy to read, to show the sequence of processes happening and the data that is moving between them. The most important part that I took away from the lecture was that they aren’t highly detailed diagrams containing decisions and every single process that is going on. There are other diagrams more suited to this, such as flow diagram. What I previously made for my group project was probably just a flow diagram, so I can go back and fix that.

A data flow diagram has data stores, functions (processes) and arrows to show the relationship and movement.

Although the diagrams themselves don’t describe the detailed workings within a system or data flow, the diagrams themselves can still be large and complex, depending on the scale of the processes involved. For example the data flow diagram for voting in a poll online will be different to describing an inter library loan book request.

Other than this, Chris reminded us of the hand in date for the Group Report. We’ll decide on one person to hand it in, the method will probably be by email as this is easiest… and least chilly.

Question: I do have a question about our hand in. Do you want the format to be 3 files only (e.g. in a zip if by email), these being PDFs / word processor files – as if it’s a paper document hand in. Or can there be additional files too? I was just thinking let’s say there was a large image that we wanted to include, this would be fairly small on an A4 page but easier to see full screen (done via link to online resource in-document, or folder of content in the zip)

What I did this week

This week our group met up on Friday for just under 2 hours – we discussed how were going to split up the work and who was going to meet up to meet up for regular progress report or group work.

Seb and I have done previous work that relates to or is in the business plan, plus I quite like crunching numbers and things, so it was decided that we would take on the responsibility of finishing the Business plan. This can be reviewed later on by other team members. I spoke with Seb so that we could meet up on the weekend or next week.

Also during the meeting we realized that the Marketing plan needs to have a document template created, with headings and current content, so that we don’t always think from a blank sheet. This way we can complete it more quickly. We also need to gain more responses from our survey, as Ian showed us that although we had a lot of responses, over 75% were Students if I remember rightly. Ian is going to work on the Marketing plan and I am going to assist him with it.

Tom and Sam are going to meet up to complete the technology plan, they have done some of the original technology related pieces, so this makes sense.

Over the weekend I spent time looking through the results of the survey, writing down the main points about what things meant. For example stats show that the majority of people thought our pricing for annual student rental was reasonable, as our annual charge for students fall within the most popular range. However, if we get more respondents that are not Students, they may say the same thing, but their annual charge is currently set higher, in a different price band that isn’t quite as popular in the survey results. We may need to use this survey data to make some changes.

I also spent some time at the weekend looking for some example marketing plans, to get an idea of the layout. I did this while looking at the marketing related lectures we’ve had in previous weeks.

We met again on Monday and planned ahead of how we would allocate time in the week before hand in. We have made sure that we have at least 12 hours within the final 5 days, where we are all free to meet together. We have booked a meeting room for a few hours each day, so that anyone can meet, with a computer available to do or go through any work.

I spoke with Seb during Monday’s meeting to meet up on Tuesday to do some Business plan work.

On Tuesday I met up with Seb to work on the Business plan, that we have centrally saved in a group on Facebook. One of the things we did was we wrote down our ideas into section 14 about how we would promoted and advertise our rental service. There needs to be a campaign in the local area, particularly on campus during that start of terms and particularly around town and the local area (e.g. caravan parks) during tourist season. Nationally, we can only really advertise our business on the internet due to budget, this would make it easier to spend our money wisely, by targeting an audience using Google Adwords (geographical and keyword relevance). There may be some useful data from our marketing plan, to help with this.

The people in our group have a deadline for a 100% assignment and one 40% assignment, before the hand in for this group report. We have to balance our time between these things up until they are completed, by the 10th of December the group report will be our only responsibility left, so we can put more focus into it.

I believe this week we have pulled together to bring the standard up level to previous weeks again, but we need to work as hard as this up until the 10th, then twice as hard up until the deadline if we are going to complete this to a 1st standard – which we aim to achieve!

Work responsibility split:

Marketing: Ian/Jack === Business: Jack/Seb === Technology: Sam/Tom

Hours spent: approx 8 hours

What I did this week

Our group hasn’t had the chance to spend much time together will week. It has been busy due to assignment hand in’s and some personal unavoidable issues by myself and others.

This week I looked at the business plan and tried to fill in some of section 12 about managing market risks and 13. about pricing.

I tried writing down some bullet points about market risks and how we can help combat them. For example one risk could be that competitor enters the area in the future, this means we need to quickly develop brand loyalty – based on marketing and user experience. We would also need to ensure that our prices are lower or service is better than the competitor, if they entered the market.

Another market risk could be the cost of materials rising (e.g. steel, aluminium), raising the cost of our bikes. We would need to ensure that we have regular reviews of costs, to make sure that this is reflected in our rental pricing. We will need to regular review alternative suppliers to leverage the best deal, or make an agreement with an existing supplier that prices will be fixed for a period of time.

Regarding the pricing – we have informally already compared with competitors to construct a price table, so this time I compared our price table with national competitors, as we haven’t located local competitors renting standard bikes. Using the information now gathered we can fill in section 13., giving the price range of a competitors against ours, for equal or equivalent service. We will however have to identify a genuine reason for these lower costs, this could be due to lower costs outside of a city, or through the use of additional revenue schemes.

Over the weekend I reviewed our presentation just to remind myself where were are currently at with the project. I also looked at the technology plan, to watch out for any mistakes as some ideas have developed since original drawings.

As you can see, there has not been a high work rate this week. I believe that we are at the level of other groups, however we need to put in a lot of hours over the next week, otherwise we are bound to fall behind and lose marks.

Time:

Own: 4 hours. Group: 2 hours

What I learnt this week

Chris gave us a recap on what we’d learnt regarding marketing, some of which started many weeks ago – so this weeks lecture was useful.

The recap including the basic principles of marketing, you have to bare in mind the – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Using the 7 O’s can help understand how to market the product with the information that you have, or what you need to find out to market the product by using market research.

Market research begins by identifying the problem and creating research objectives. You can then find out where you are going to find the answers (your data), for example you could perform test marketing by building a sample of a product, before releasing it to a group of people so that you can judge approval of the product, this will help come up with how likely others will also be happy with the product (depending on test market and target market). The results can be analysed after this has taken place, these should contain answers to the problem defined at the beginning.

Chris then gave the details of a number of cast studies, so that we can understand what it means to define the Product, Price, Place and Promotion in varying situations.

For people who were stuck with the marketing plan, an example structure was also given in a slide. We already had most of these down to go in the marketing plan, but the example structure does help us decide where things should be going.

What I did this week

This was work week, where we had some time to prepare for the presentation to give to Chris. The aim was to make a presentation to explain what the business was, how it worked, the progress and the future aims.

We had completed the majority of the presentation last week, therefore on Wednesday we reviewed the presentation and thought about what each of us would say in the slides. This was continued on Thursday when we re-worded some parts of the presentation and re-edited some screenshots so that it would be clearer. This totaled about 4 hours work.

On Thursday evening I continued to go through my slides, writing down extra content that I would say, that was not included in the text on the slides. I didn’t bother practicing out loud at this stage, as there were only a small number of slides that we had already booked time to go through on Friday, before the presentation.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the rehearsal and the interim presentation, due to personal reasons. I contacted Chris about this as I believe that I had given a good amount of input up until this stage and had prepared all of the content that I needed to present, along with previously putting the skeleton of the presentation together.

After speaking to my colleagues, I found that the presentation wen’t really well – so  I’m glad about that. Feedback received from Chris:

  • use cases and rich picture do not need to be in the final presentation
  • where do you get discounts on the payment page
  • make affiliates clearer of how make money – do we make money or do they make money
  • in the final presentation Chris suggested that to help sell our idea that we try and set the scene e.g a new student starting university how would we sell to them
  • need to look at how else we can enhance the webiste
  • long term rentals how website might benefit from them
  • payments by parents
  • could have discounts if people renew their rentals sooner

This was very useful feedback and has left us with a couple of things to think about. The website enhancement is one of them, how can we make it attractive to customers and how can we make to accessible on many devices (responsive web design perhaps).

The idea of a discount for early renewal is a good one, I believe that instead of taking a cut on income, the bonus to the customer could be a one month extension or some other incentive that adds value to the proposition.

I was unable to do work at the weekend and our group has not met up this week, as we have been working on an assignment which is due in at the end of the week. This week I have not put in the same amount of time as in previous weeks, however I hope we have a productive week to come.

Meeting time: 4 hours.Own time: 2 hours.

Total: 6 hours

What I did this week

Our group spent most of the BIT project working time to plan and put together the presentation, which we are giving on Friday.

On Friday 16th November, we will present what progress we have made with our project to Chris, so that he knows about what our business is and how far we have got with things. This presentation isn’t the final one that we’d show to a company or investor, it should be factual and to the point.

We had a meeting on Thursday (November 8th) where we discussed how we would approach the presentation. We also looked at what we had done and what was talked about during lectures so that we knew what were the important parts to cover in the presentation (soe of us already had notes). During the Thursday meeting we decided that the following should be explained to Chris during the presentation:

  • What does our business do?
  • How will the business make money?
  • What examples of scope documents have we completed ? (such as use-cases and storyboard)
  • What market research have we done?
  • How have we progressed with the business plan?
  • Who has done what?
  • What work is left to do and who will do it?

The rest of the Thursday meeting covered the feedback received from Chris. We opened up the original document so that we could see the section along with the feedback. We have some corrections to make with the business plan, however we should be able to work on that next week. The following notes were made about who should work on different parts of the presentation content (or the quality control of that section, if completed as a team):

  • Seb – Website Draft, mention website/app, Price list. Advertising.
  • Me – How are we going to make money, Business Plan, Figures, Presentation skeleton slides
  • Tom – General Idea, Rich Pictures, Affiliates.
  • Ian – Marketing, Figures, Plan of work until Christmas.
  • Sam – Use Cases and Presentation Plan

During the weekend I reviewed what documentation we had already completed and had uploaded to Facebook, to give me an idea of what to put into the presentation. I put together a skeleton presentation with titles, in some of the sections I put a few bullet points in to speed up progress at the next meeting. I then chose a design and jigged the slides around until I thought it looked like it was in a logical order, it should go something like: What is the business? > Why is this good? > What are the technical elements? > How will it make money? > Any other supporting materials and information > What next?

The Monday (November 12th) meeting involved putting content into the presentation. We had it up on a big screen and all bashed our heads together to put content into the slides, with live critical analysis. It is now 90% done, we just need to meet before Friday to check it through again, add notes that aren’t on screen and to do a test run of it. I think it is best if 2 people (or maybe 3) present this presentation, with everyone else present for questions. We spent the rest of the meeting picking holes in the project, such as our over emphasis on the business side of things and not enough about it being a software project. We came up with some ideas on how to resolve this, such as making sure we discuss the mobile site options and describe technically how our website would work.

On Tuesday (November 13th) I reviewed the marketing lecture and wrote this blog, looking back at last week’s work.

Time spent: Thursday 2.5 hours, Weekend 3 hours, Monday 3.5 hours, Tuesday 1.5 hours.

Total: 10.5 hours