The developers at Bluedog are hard at work continuing to solve team collaboration problems. We are beta testing a document collaboration module for Workbench that will enable invited users to co-author content, live, right in the browser. This functionality requirement sprang from the need to avoid lost effort from passing around word processing documents and trying to synchronize edits and updates. Worse, not long ago we encountered the dreaded corrupt Word document problem, losing hours of effort. Nothing is worse than staying up all night to finish an assignment only to find the file won’t open on someone else’s computer.
We are already using Workbench as an online storage locker for versions of documents in various formats. But authors using the forthcoming Workbench Collaborative Document component will never have to worry about corrupt or lost files, all the while being able to share in real time edits and new content with team members. When a document is ready for release, simply download in the format needed — .doc .docx .rtf or whatever.
Nothing worse than giving someone a file they can’t open. With the new Workbench Collaborative Document component, simply share the link to your document on the Internet. If the recipients have a web browser and permission from you, they can view (and edit, if you give them permission) the document.
By far the best feature of the new Workbench Collaborative Document component is the ability you gain to work collaboratively with others. Simply create documents to share with team members — no more worrying about the latest versions of the document or how many times it has been revised. Allowing everyone to work on the same document at the same time can increase productivity and save time. Versioning, commenting, and review/approval workflow are slated for inclusion in the upcoming release.
At Bluedog, we follow a standardized approach to the development of proposals. We start with the storyboarding of a possible response, once you have made the bid/no-bid decision. We manage the kickoff meeting with team members with respect to the baseline development. We follow a series of steps with gate reviews (color-coded to industry standards). Bluedog’s subject matter experts help with theme development and provide hands-on assistance with management reviews. Our automated tools support the process, of course.
Successful proposals show certain hallmarks, starting with the adoption of a proposal development methodology, and refining it for your needs. Success is aided by well-defined roles for the team with responsibilities laid out, guided by a compliance matrix that is regularly consulted. Communication of action plans and validation of your understanding of the government’s requirement will strengthen your value proposition. Finally, show comprehension of the agency customer environment, their “pain points,” and focus your message by avoiding boilerplate.
Check out a depiction of our process [[http://www.bluedog.net/attachments/download/126/BD%20proposal%20development%20process.png]]
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ISO 9001 identifies the minimal requirements for a quality management system (QMS), while CMMI underscores the need for continual process improvement. ISO 9001 promotes organizations to adopt a process approach, with management exercising leadership by promoting awareness of this approach as a management strategy. Plan and control the processes on which your organization relies, as a system. With CMMI, you can craft repeatable processes for software development and process improvement. Your customer relationship management (CRM) processes should also be treated as a repeatable process that you can improve.
Use Workbench to manage the capture and proposal process. Start with a more streamlined environment. Begin with a document archive that contains your best previously-written proposal content and graphics, along with other capture- and proposal-related data. Manage this as you would any other project. Assign everyone a task, or even break them up into subgroups to tackle an assignment. Assign due dates and milestones. Keep everyone updated on the status of the project. Once workflows have been established, and your organization has a baseline, follow a maintenance schedule. Track capture, proposal development, and your "win" rate.
At Bluedog, we love WebObjects, and there are a number of approaches we take to improve overall scalability -- that is, the number of concurrent users who can connect with a web browser, or via a web service API. We utilize a lot of small instances with a load balancer in front. We try to deploy as a Servlet instead of using WOtaskd (but not always). Also, a simple load balancer that respects sticky sessions works fine. Hardware load balancers tend to be more sophisticated in terms of their load balancing schemes. Generally, we don't use a content caching service like Akamai, but if you can afford it, you can use such a service to fetch once from the web app and then cache the results for a longer period of time.
Most of our web applications are "write once, read many times." Our developers try to avoid caching data that is tied to a session -- i.e. user preferences. Instead, we try to cache the data that is shared across sessions-- i.e. like a document or other shared asset. We also minimize the use of the undo stack in the Enterprise Objects Framework (EOF) configuration, and we avoid using session-based EOEditingContexts. It is a good practice to create one when needed and make sure to clean up after when done with it. Similarly, we aim to use as many stateless WOComponents as possible to minimize the app's memory footprint. If using servlets, we ask our developers to ensure sessions can be fully serialized, to take advantage of your servlet engine's clustering capabilities.
If an app must have a statefull service with fail-over capability, perhaps a database-oriented session store makes sense? It is slower than the default memory version but allows you greater flexibility in load balancing and deployment architectures. Naturally, be careful of EOF relationships. While EOF is great for transactional interactions, it can cause big performance issues if someone inadvertently fetches all records on a large table while trying to access a key path.
Finally, in keeping with our Service Oriented Architecture philosophy, we aim to divide a solution into smaller services, instead of a monolithic application. This provides better flexibility in scaling the components that are under heavy load -- and fosters re-use!
As the lead integrator and software developer, Bluedog aided the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in streamlining its IT systems -- the Do Not Call List and the Identity Theft systems -- using practical application of Service Oriented Architecture. Bluedog also utilized its Workbench "Always on the Job!" product as a portal. Read this eWeek article for details....
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Workbench — a social collaboration platform for your organization.
Simplicity is key. Knowledge is locked inside the brains of team members. Workbench enables people within and outside organizations to interact, share and manage their activities and work outputs — anywhere, anytime. Leverage your intellectual capital by capturing data in a single repository, managing document creation, and supporting teamwork. With a clean Web 2.0 interface over an open enterprise-grade architecture adapted for government agencies and contractors, non-profits, professional services, and creative types — any knowledge worker with an internet-connected pc, laptop, smartphone, or tablet can get the benefits of social collaboration with Workbench