Frequently Asked Questions About Visimation Consulting
- What is the general agenda for the first onsite consulting visit?
- Please describe the specification generated by the onsite visit.
- What other deliverables are included with the onsite visit?
- What are your expectations of us prior to and during the visit?
- Who should attend the onsite visit?
- If we engage Visimation to develop all or part of our Visio solution, what support do you provide for code written by your developers?
- What consulting arrangements might we consider?
- What are the payment terms?
- What resources do you need while onsite (i.e. books, computers, desks, offices, people, projectors, etc.)?
- Do you conduct any training/consulting at your facility?
- How many developers/consultants do you typically send out to us?
- Do you provide references?
- Is it possible to make our Visio application look more like a custom application and less like Visio?
Agenda items include:
- Review of long-term project goals
- Identify other interfacing systems (legacy or ancillary)
- Define all of the major system components for each phase
- Inputs - Discuss the system user interface
- Inputs - Discuss any electronic feeds to or from the system
- Outputs - Define which graphics or data reports the system should produce
- Determine features needed to support desired behaviors (i.e. Visio shape and automation)
- Review any electronic representations of equipment (i.e. image or drawing files)
- Review current system components to be supported
- Discuss the "modes" that the system needs to support and the mechanisms that we can employ to meet program objectives (i.e. link directly to live data feeds vs. stand-alone)
- Establish a logical phased development and implementation schedule based on your priorities
If you choose to move forward with a project, subsequent visits may include a new software progress update, an informal presentation of our status, and training (if needed). We also use that time to perform integration testing with live connections, as well as receive feedback from your users. For larger projects, we typically conduct informal preliminary and critical design reviews on the path to a final delivery. Thus, the time and expenses for review preparation and delivery must be budgeted.
The specification generated provides just enough detail for all parties to understand what the attached bid will and will not include. It is not detailed enough to show exact screen layouts but does provide a good description of the proposed application, including a high-level program flow and options. It also includes a list of all major components and how they interact - generally a high-level architecture diagram with accompanying text.
The first onsite visit is designed to gather requirements and set expectations for all participants. During this visit, we may show examples of similar work that are relevant to your problem to promote discussion.
- During each first visit, we typically educate through examples to show Visio features "in the box" and potential customizations. These are useful to stimulate discussion on what is possible.
- Depending on the complexity of the first phase, a deliverable may include a simulation or prototype to use as a discussion tool. If enough time has been budgeted and we receive enough information during our discussions to produce a prototype, we will deliver it to you whether or not you decide to proceed with the project.
For a development project, we will jointly establish a schedule for additional visits during the project and assign each visit a distinct purpose. For example, we might schedule four visits over the course of a 60-day project for design reviews. Although we have developed many projects remotely without site visits to reduce costs, there are advantages to meeting in person if the budget allows.
To deliver the most value during our initial consultation, we request that you:
- Provide information in advance regarding the nature of the problems that this system will address and their priorities so that we can prepare for the meetings
- Ensure that the key contributors are available to meet with us during our visit and that they have been briefed on the purpose
- List examples of current data from systems that the proposed application will interface with, inputs and outputs
- Supply electronic or paper drawings of current objects that you want modeled in Visio
We highly recommend that you share your project budget expectations with us so that we may accommodate your goals. We do not want to propose a grandiose system with all of the "bells and whistles" should your expectations be different.
- Users who understand and will participate in the vision of moving from your current methods to a more automated and efficient approach
- Developers for interfacing systems
- People controlling interfacing applications and data systems
- Decision maker(s)
- As our standard, we commit to fix code that does not work as specified for 60 days after delivery. We limit this period to ensure prompt testing by our clients because the process becomes more difficult and inefficient for all parties over time. We also offer maintenance contracts to extend our support beyond the included 60 day period.
- We provide programmer's notes, including a list of coding standards used, naming conventions, and a brief components description (i.e. ShapeSheet programming, Automation programming, Event programming, interface code, etc.).
- Architecture drawings are provided with explanation.
- We supply documented source code.
- After your developers have gone through the "basic" Visio Development course, we conduct code reviews and skill transfers with your developers so they can maintain the application. Again, ongoing support and maintenance can be provided through a support contract.
We suggest that the first few consulting days are for planning and carefully defining the behavior and function of the application you want us to develop. This is usually best when conducted on a customer site where we can see the actual operation that we are modeling in Visio. When we determine where you are today and where you want to be, we can advise you on how to effectively automate.
Our clients generally prefer fixed price contracts, which are often easier to budget for. After the initial consultation (as described above), we can provide a budget quote that we feel will be within +/- 10% of the final cost. The final work will be based on a detailed design specification that we will develop at the beginning of the project, usually an extension of the document we prepared during the initial consultation.
We have also worked on several major projects on a time and materials basis. Depending on the personnel required and the time commitment, our hourly rates range from $100 - $200 per hour. We focus entirely on Visio development work, thus our staff is highly skilled, efficient, and productive in that area. This includes intimate knowledge of related Microsoft technology.
Fixed price contracts - We request 25% of the total project fee at the commencement of work. This payment is used to commit and deploy the necessary resources to fulfill Visimation's obligations under our agreement. Increments of the total project fee will be due upon delivery of mutually agreed project milestones. The project is complete at the end of the acceptance testing, and final payment is due at that time. We can modify this standard payment schedule to suit specific needs.
Time and materials contracts - We suggest invoicing twice per month, based on the hours worked, plus applicable expenses.
- Access to people that we will be working with (those providing requirements and those providing access to existing data)
- Access to any networked data that we will need for testing, though certainly not for the first visit
- A projector for demo purposes that can display an 800 x 600 image. If you do not have one available, please let us know so that we can bring our own.
While Visimation often delivers training and consulting at a client's site, we understand that you may prefer to have your developer come to us. Visimation has a training room and conference room and is fully equipped to perform these services at our facility.
For the initial onsite consultation, we send one senior consultant and one intermediate consultant. The discussions at this session will determine the number of developers needed to complete the development project.
Absolutely! We are proud of our track record. Once you are further along in your decision making process, we are pleased to provide references to clients for whom we've done similar work.
There is much that we can do to tailor Visio and its user interface to meet your specifications