Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Slick Screen Capture - SnagIt

(Disclaimer: I have no business-relation with TechSmith. Just a pleasantly surprised user)

I just purchased a really slick screen capture utility, SnagIt, from TechSmith. This utility got several Editor's Choice from PC Magazine and Best of Year 2003 award. You can read more about the indepth review from the magazine.

My first impression is that SnagIt integrates with MS Office so that w/in PowerPoint, I can quickly capture a screen with a consistent size. Of course, I can do this with Ctrl-Print Screen or Alt-Print Screen and resize when I paste into PowerPoint. It can become a very tedious work for a large document.

Furthermore, SnagIt has a very powerful touch up tool for a captured screen with drop-shadow, jagged edge, etc.  Things that I have to open a photo-editing software program to do it.

The price is right - $40 for a single user and I bought 10-user pack for $200. Try it out!!!

Btw, if you don't want to shell out 40 bucks, Gadwin has a very nice screen capture that used to be free. Not sure if they charge for it now.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Product Management Gone Wary

This is a great article to illustrate how product management has gone wary. If companies focus too much about beating competitors, they lose sight of what and how their products should serve customers. Check it out: Show Me The Money.

I got into product management awhile back because I wanted to create products that people want but I found myself getting caught up in beating competitors instead of defining customer-driven products. This article reminded all of us that companies should think more about their products and customers.

Highly recommended...

Friday, July 02, 2004

To Integrate or Not To Integrate

I had a lively discussion w/ one of my colleagues today about business system integrations. This is an age-old thorny issue that organizations of any size will have to deal with sooner or later because it could work out beatifully or it could be a disaster that send people out on the streets looking for jobs.

I believe the integration comes down to three issues:

  1. Best-of-breed approach
  2. Integration-capability among systems
  3. One integrated system

In an ideal world, I would pick number 3. Matter of fact, we are a solution provider for a hosted front- and back-office system, NetSuite. This is a very good system for majority of small- to mid-size businesses out there. We use it ourselves here for our business operation. Where else can one find an integrated full-featured CRM/ERP/E-Commerce package for under $10K a year for five users and not have to worry about upgrading hardware infrastructure? Other huge benefits: hosted applications minimze the need for IT staff and downtime for upgrades. Though there are areas that NetSuite can't or won't touch. MRP (Manufacture Resource Planning) is one example.

On the other hand, I have been in an organization where number 1 is a preferred approach. Let's get the best of breed and worry about the integration later. My last company couldn't get SAP to talk to Dominos database and try to force-feed Dominos/Notes into an SFA (Sales Force Automation) application. The integration was a nightmare and I, the product manager, sufferred since I had no visibility into my pipeline. The comapany (a public company) ended up doing a lot of forecasting in Excel using piece-meal information from various groups. I didn't think it was very efficient.

I think the best approach should involve a well-thoughout requirement stage where:

  • Use multiple systems if absolutely have to. For instance, using NetSuite for CRM/ERP and an appropriate MRP system.
  • Best-of-breed is not needed if the best software does not allow easy integration. Most companies out there rarely use all functionality of the system anyway.
  • Define modules clearly and spell out the touch points (integration) between systems. The less touch points, the better integration will be. Thankfully web services are coming. They will simplify the integration task quite a bit.

Most the points above are nothing new. It's all common sense yet most people tend to get emotionally involved and forget to look at things more subjectively. Maybe integration project should include a warning: Subjects appeared to be emotional...

Thoughts and comments?