As a result of a problem with a previous desktop search, I have been testing out some desktop search applications available. My PC runs Windows XP so I didn’t include the Vista search. The three I tested were:
Of the three applications, the Windows search has the best user interface in my view. It searches file/email titles and contents, and search results are quick. My major problem with it were the search applications that run on the PC. There were several times when two programs - searchprotocol and searchfilterhost – took over the CPU and memory of my PC, rendering it inoperable for 15 minutes and longer. After a particularly bad experience when I could hardly use my PC for a day, I deleted Windows desktop search, and that’s when I started looking at other solutions.
I was made aware of Copernic via a comment on Twitter. The user interface was reasonable, but the free version I downloaded only searched file/email titles, not contents. After a short experiment, I deleted Copernic.
I turned to Google’s desktop search after another comment on Twitter. The user interface is browser oriented, which while not the best for me, it is acceptable. It searches file/email titles as well as contents. From a performance persepctive, the Google desktop search programs run surreptiously and don’t consume CPU or memory. The only problem is that Google have not made it easy to change the location of the search index. However, I found the following article on how to change the index location.
After a few weeks, I am still happy with the Google Desktop Search. I am interested in testing other applications if anyone wants to send me the information.
A couple of posts on Paul Rasmussen’s blog prompts me to make my own comments about communication between members of a project team. In The Problem of Communication in Project Management Part 2, Paul discusses the types of communication currently used, which are meetings, phone calls and emails. In Part 3 he mentions new communication technologies – smart phones, wikis and social networking.
Having just been through two projects, I have found that the old ways of communication, particularly face-to-face, are the best for project communication. As we all know, more than 50% of our communication is non-verbal (ie, body language, voice tone), and also as we know, projects success is highly dependent on communication. So as in the case of one project manager, most communication was by email, then mis-understandings can happen. Our company has now instituted a directive that email is not considered adequate communication.
We have tried collaborative tools, such as Basecamp, to help with dispersed team members, but there seems to have been some reluctance to try these new tools. I find that interesting, considering we expect our clients to adopt new tools in the form of ERP solutions. So whether we would benefit from new communication technology is up for debate.
Email can be used to confirm and document facts and issues, however in my opinion, nothing replaces personal contact when it comes to communication.
In a blog on the ITtoolbox site, Steve Phillips comments that companies are moving away from using external ERP consultants in favour of using in-house expertise – Why ERP Software Consultants Cannot Save The Day.
His view is:
The ownership philosophy is about controlling your project destiny and built on some fundamental principles. … 1) It is possible to take internal responsibility for project management. 2) It is possible to develop and/or acquire internal software expertise to the point outside application consultants are rarely needed. 3) It is possible to become much more educated and less reliant on the false sense of security an army of consultants can bring. 4) It is possible to realize ERP benefits by developing better software and business process solutions with fewer outside consultants. 5) It is possible for internal personnel to do up to 70% of what many pay consultants to do.
Except for item 4, in my experience, I haven’t found any companies that can do what he suggests. I suspect it is a function of certain factors – a primary one being the size of the organisation. But I also believe that business maturity, and the availability of knowledge and experience play a significant part.
In the South African market, most businesses fall into the small-to-medium (SMB) category. Employees in SMB companies tend to take on more than one role (debtors and creditors, pre-sales technical and sales, production planning and management) which leaves them little time to focus on issues which are not directly relevant to the job they must do. So finding time to acquire software expertise is difficult or requires after-hours learning. In time, and if a person stays in the same job, they might become “more educated and less reliant.” However, given their time constraints, it is highly unlikely that people will have the time or knowledge “to do up to 70%” of what a consultant will do.
Also skills and expertise are in short supply in this country, so someone who develop technical skills may easily find themselves moving out of their business job and into a technical or consulting role. Similarly, project management requires experience and time to spend on it, which senior staff in SMBs (e.g., finance managers and directors) rarely have. Companies will tend to have a less senior person overseeing the project, but all the details and work that goes into project management has to be done by someone with the background and time allocation to do it – in other words, a consultant.
In the South African context, therefore, most average companies (not large ones over 1000 people) do not have the people, skills or time to take on an ERP implementation themselves. The cost of bringing in consultants outweighs the risks of failure in trying to do the project in-house.
A company I know in Johannesburg recently received an email from Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles – and it was not good news.
Someone in the company had downloaded a Paramount movie from a file sharing site. The scary thing was that the time between the download and the email to the company CEO was less than 4 days.
Paramount had got the IP address, traced it to S.Africa, contacted the service provider, who had identified the company owning that address, and Paramount then got the CEO’s email address and contacted him directly.
Apparently there is no law suit pending but the CEO has to inform Paramount what follow-up actions the company will take.
So if you download copyright material (movies, music) from file sharing sites, be careful. You could be in for a nasty shock.