Peugeot, Sorry Too Late

A week later than the other three car manufacturers this time Peugeot tries to get my attention. Sorry Peugeot, you can't participate any more. Your efforts on expensive marketing material are impressive, the three dimensional picture viewable with the special glasses are a nice gimmick.

However like all the other car manufactures you make a mess of your web site. The first thing that hits me is that it doesn't work on a mobile device and when I open the site in a normal I can't find any relevant information. From the first image I can see that the RCZ looks cool and I want to know more. We all know that a 'from ...' price tag is nothing more than a teaser. I would like to know how fast it goes and how much it's gonna cost. I've not been able to find this on the action site. The site isn't much better and the only price list for the RCZ I've been able to find doesn't provide information for all the engine variations.

You have at this point absolutely lost me as a potential customer. You don't offer me the opportunity to research and force me to go and talk to one of your sales people. I'm not interested, but good luck with getting other potential customers at your dealers.

Simplicity Rocks!

For many years the software industry continuously added features to increase the competitiveness of the products and increase efficiency and productivity of the users. I've always opposed against this, because it might be good for the power user, but ignores the casual user.

For me the best example has always been Microsoft Outlook that over the years added so many features that I completely stopped using it. These feature are for sure great for a power user, but they just didn't add any value to me. I moved to Outlook Web Access and I price myself lucky that my employer still uses Exchange 2003 that has an extremely simple version of Web Access when using a different browser than Internet Explorer. I love this, because just simply a list as your inbox and a simple click to see the email and for your calendar exactly the same.

When Office 2010 was released I was very hesitant to upgrade, especially all I ever use is PowerPoint and I would rather prefer a proper cloud based presentation tool than get another heavy client application. However I'm always curious and as a valued Microsoft partner I did the upgrade. It went less smooth than expected, but after the upgrade hassles I curiously looked into Outlook. At first I was scared off by the bloat on my screen, I counted to three and started to turn of features. It took some time, but the result is great, an extremely simple email application that does exactly what I needs and almost nothing too much.

Below I'll show you some of the screenshot and instructions on how to clean up your Outlook.

In the quick access menu you can now simply create a new message and/or appointment

A new message is again very simple

.. and the same for an appointment

I've used this for a while and I really appreciated the simplicity so I can really focus on what is important.  It however doesn't mean I will abandon Web Access, because the browser is for me still the desktop.

Have you modified the way Outlook behaves for you?

Mini, Audi and Alfa all want my attention in the same week

Three premium car brands are fighting for my attention. I'm not a marketing expert but I really don't understand. It's good however that they found me, not very difficult because my girlfriend drives a Mini that is on my name, I drive a company Audi and I've a history and weakness for Italian cars and owned Alfas before.

Lets review a possible outcome of this campaign. The Mini is a beloved vehicle and yes a new one would be nice and is even under consideration. The Audi, well Audi I've multiple times asked you to stop sending me marketing material, because I've lost all faith in Audi as a brand. Unfortunately my employer thinks differently and doesn't offer me choice. The Alfa it looks hot and yes I already checked the details and I'm definitely going to have a look next week when it gets launched. The score Mini 1, Audi 0, Alfa 1.

Now back to reality. I can't replace the company Audi with the Alfa, unless I buy the Alfa privately, an interesting proposition, but a bit expensive. Due to the tunnel construction in Delft and the parking inconvenience an alternative might be to just start driving only one car and support the environment by using a bicycle for commuting. The Mini is a bit small to be the only car of the house hold, but the Alfa would be large enough, it even has 4 doors. The new score becomes Mini 1, Audi 0, Alfa 2.

What the heck, not so practical just get the emotion of the moment. The Alfa by far out the most emotional.

Whatever the outcome is going to be, there is one clear winner and that is the Alfa, because it's on my radar and I already feel passionate about it. So passionate that I already write about it.

Scrum for big infrastructure projects

Yesterday I visited the book launch of 'De Kracht van Scrum' (Dutch). It was a nice event with Jeff Sutherland speaking about scrum and he re-convinced me that scrum is the best method available today for software development projects. I'm happy that at Exact more and more teams are adopting scrum and start to deliver even better products with happier teams. I'm even more proud that some of the Exact teams participated in the movie about the book (Dutch only).

Later in the evening I arrived home where I found a letter from the city of Delft. It was about the train tunnel the city of Delft is building and announced that unfortunately the building project is behind schedule and the delay is at least a year. By the end of this year (6 months from now) a better planning, including budget issues can be given. For the rest it was all about how sorry they are for the people living in the mess etc.

When I thought about this and looked at some previous information from the city it became even stranger. The whole project started about 2 years ago with preparing the building site. Just 2 weeks ago the actual digging had started and the tunnel would be delivered in 2 phases, the first tracks in 2013, the next set in 2016 and the whole project including many new houses, parks, etc. would be complete in 2020.

All communications so far gives the impression that a very extensive waterfall planning has been prepared and with my simple thinking I started to consider why wouldn't they use scrum for implementing this kind of large infrastructure project. From a customer value perspective the first 2013 set of tracks create maximum value and thus should get top priority. Everything I've seen at the information and construction site shows clearly that the team is working on everything at the same time and is not giving focus to maximum customer value.

Does anyone know how to get contact information of the main project lead of the whole project so I can send this person 'De kracht van Scrum'

Global Distributed Software Development

Earlier today I did my first ever guest lecture at the Technical University of Delft. It was fun, especially when your realize that the students had no idea that remote collaboration before the internet was a lot harder than it's today.

I also used the opportunity to create and use a real prezi presentation. With some more practice, I start to enjoy and appreciate the concept more and more. Have a look for yourself, and don't forget the embedded videos.

Wanna Job? Where is your online CV?

Image credit: Technosailor
In recent years I've done quite a bit of hiring and I've always been surprised how few people have an online CV and/or complete portfolio. In most cases I get emails with attached dead Microsoft Word or PDF documents as CV's. I don't read those! I will Google you!

Positions I've been hiring are all around the development of web products, from designers, engineers to product managers. I do expect the candidates to have  a personal web presence, because you can only experience the user if you are a user. In all cases when deciding to invite a candidate I will Google the person and investigate how the candidate actively maintains his or her web presence. This doesn't mean I don't respect privacy or get shocked by drunken party pictures, but just shows how you present yourself in public.

Research has show that now more than half of the adults Google themselves to monitor their online identity. You should do the same and even start to actively manage your online identity. The simplest is to maintain an online CV. Some good starting points are:

  • LinkedIn, an absolute minimum when applying for professional jobs. 
  • DoYouBuzz, like LinkedIn with added functionality to link your personal blog and maintain a simple portfolio. It even can download to a PDF if the viewing party still prefers this.
  • Visual CV, following a similar pattern.

The online CV's rank quite well in most search engines. Especially if you regularly maintain the content and keep you portfolio fresh and up to date.

Note: I do not appreciate any job offers based on this information. The CV's are only created for illustration