Archive for Michael Vitale

Beware of the surprise stakeholder

Posted by Michael Vitale on June 13th, 2013 at 12:00 am

They're out there - and they want to derail your next project. I hear the Jaws theme music when I think about them. Who is this project management scourge? Read on.
While working on a recent project for a very large client of mine, I was reminded of a valuable, but often overlooked,  lesson in project management. The danger of the surprise stakeholder (cue dramatic theme music)!
To protect the innocent, we'll call my client Mega Corp. Earlier this year, I agreed to take on a custom software development project for Mega Corp. We agreed on the scope, statement of work to be completed and the overall timeline. The project team on our client's side was very well-organized and detail-oriented. Life was good!  As we approached the end of the project and were about to start a final round of user acceptance testing, I received an email informing me that the project was being scrapped in favor of a watered down version of our expected final product. -How could this have happened?
First, let's take a step back and talk about stakeholder analysis. This process is a crucial step in the success of any project. In plain English, it's a guide for project managers to... Read more

Why you should use Agile for project management

Posted by Michael Vitale on February 1st, 2013 at 7:00 am

Back in 2000, I was a young project manager for a webcasting company. The industry was brand new with little to no process. Project timelines and costs were extremely difficult to control and it caused lots of frustration. My management team decided the best solution was a brand new customer relationship management portal or "CRM."   This software was going to fix everything.  All the steps in our difficult to define process would be detailed from start to finish. A software company was contracted to build the CRM with a delivery date of four months. The final price tag had lots of zeroes behind it.
Several unexplained delays and nine months later, our entire department was called into a conference room where the software vendor's product manager was unveiling the new CRM. I ran down the hall, propped my feet up on the conference room table and popped open a free soda with a feeling of great anticipation.  I was handed a  nice, neat three-ring binder with dozens of detailed color print outs explaining the software. Our frustration looked to be over!  Our prayers were about to be answered!
The next 60 minutes were overwhelmingly cringe worthy.  Not only did the product manager repeatedly... Read more

WebRTC: The Web Browser gets disruptive?

Posted by Michael Vitale on July 6th, 2012 at 12:00 am

Last week's Google I/O 2012 conference provided plenty to talk about in the Web and mobile universe.  One of the conference sessions, WebRTC: Real-time Audio/Video and P2P in HTML5, really caught my attention because of its potential to disrupt communications technology.  If you're unfamiliar with WebRTC, or Web Real-Time Communications, the project's website sums it up this way:
WebRTC is a free, open project that enables web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple Javascript APIs. The WebRTC components have been optimized to best serve this purpose.
Our mission: To enable rich, high quality, RTC applications to be developed in the browser via simple Javascript APIs and HTML5.
In plain English, the completely open source technology allows programmers to build powerful, browser-based, audio and video chat applications using only Javascript - no plugins required.  If you're a user of Google+ Hangouts, then you've already seen some of the possibilities.  The W3C draft isn't complete, but the new standard is supported by (almost) every major browser maker including Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Opera.  Unsurprisingly, Apple hasn't thrown their weight behind the initiative.
The standard has been discussed for some time, but the I/O session, delivered by Google's WebRTC Tech Lead, Justin Uberti, featured several noteworthy milestones and demonstrations:

Using Javascript, the browser is able to access device webcams... Read more

MPEG's time for Apple to put up or shut up

Posted by Michael Vitale on April 27th, 2012 at 10:00 am

It's possible the following post may prompt the Apple police to break down my door in a pre-dawn raid. No, I didn't find an iPhone 6 prototype in a bar. I'm just a guy who's annoyed at the hypocrisy sometimes exhibited by our friends in Cupertino. My latest gripe involves the recently ratified streaming media protocol MPEG DASH.
Behind closed doors, online content providers waste enormous amounts of time, effort and expense repackaging audio and video content to stream over various protocols.  You may not have heard of Apple HLS, Microsoft Smooth Streaming, Adobe HDS,  RTSP and RTMP, but they are just some of the protocols that need to be considered when trying to support media on every possible device that can connect to the Internet. The explosion of tablets in the past two years has only intensified the problem.  We like to call this fragmentation.
DASH, or Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP, has the potential to unify streaming communications. The spec allows content creators and distributors to take a media file and deliver it to any device that can accept DASH, and it supports many of the best features of existing http streaming protocols. The new standard is gaining serious momentum from the likes of Adobe, Microsoft and Cisco among other heavy... Read more