Case Histories: Interactive Self-Running, Cross-Platform CD
One of the most successful IT (information technology) out-sourcing companies in America, taking on the single largest project in their history, asked us to document the entire process for review, for process improvement, and to train teams for future projects.
They assigned their people to us, and we did the same. Their experts proposed a system that would deliver most of the desired results, and would take seven months. By the end of the first month, we proposed an alternate solution that would deliver all of the desired results, and in only five months. We actually delivered in four-and-a-half months, despite changes to the requirements, and the completion of additional sub-projects within the project.
What our customer needed was to be able to distribute a complete history of the project in a format that could be viewed without additional software, by a person with limited computer skills, on either a PC, a Macintosh, or a Unix terminal.
We received 18,000 pages of:
- Microsoft Project plans
- MS Excel spreadsheets
- MS Word documents
- MS PowerPoint presentations
- copies of e-mail messages
- extracts from intranet Web pages
- Quark XPress documents
- text files.
We produced CD-ROMs that contained all the original files (which could be opened and edited if needed), plus Adobe PDF versions true to the originals. Except on a Unix system, where some navigation was required (and was explained by a clearly labelled "read me" file that appeared at the top of the Unix directory hierarchy on the disk), the CD auto-ran (on PC or Macintosh), and loaded Adobe Acrobat Reader, and then opened a Welcome page that explained how to navigate the files and extract the originals.
- The CD was programmed to load the welcome page using the version of Acrobat (or Acrobat Reader) installed on the system where it was inserted. If no version was found, it ran the most current version of Acrobat Reader from the CD itself.
- The welcome page explained clearly how to proceed, using one of several navigation methods (by topic, team, activity, etc.)
- The first page of each document was identified by a distinct icon, and linked to the document's source file.
- Although several thousands of dollars worth of software was required to produce all of the files on the CD, the entire collection could be viewed on a PC with nothing but an operating system installed!