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Design Phase

The design phase is critical to any project where new software or integrations are being implemented. The goal of a typical design phase is to establish the requirements and design for project in a format that clearly communicates the goals to both SSP Innovations and the client.

Most often an SSP principal consultant will travel onsite to meet with the key stakeholders and users from the client. The design phase will start with a project kickoff meeting where the project schedule, responsibilities, and deliverables will be reviewed. It is helpful for the client to have all project team members attend the kickoff meeting as it sets the stage for the remainder of the project. Immediately following the kickoff, SSP will lead the client through a requirements workshop that is specific to the work being performed. These workshops often focus on work flow but may also cover the technical details of the project implementation. Depending on the size of the project the design workshops may range from a few days to several weeks.

At the completion of the design workshops, the SSP principal consultant will return to the SSP offices to begin working on the design documentation. The design documentation may take several different forms depending on the specific nature of the project.Visio Workflow

  • Microsoft Visio diagrams are heavily used for workflow diagrams and/or architecture diagrams. Workflow diagrams typically utilize a Unified Modeling Language (UML) approach including showing actors (users), activities, and decision points. Architecture diagrams may show servers, clients, and technical protocols.
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are used for any data conversions or other system mapping documentation. This will often include showing source systems, tables, and fields along with the destination systems, tables, and fields. The spreadsheets work well because they can be sorted and filtered to more easily focus on specific areas of the design.
  • Microsoft Word documents are used to provide the context-based design documentation that will outline the full scope of the project implementaion. This will be an organized document showing the various components of the design potentially including screenshots, interface specifications, key programmatic logic, and occasionally even psuedocode and/or test cases.

The combination of the design documents will be determined for each type of project.The documentation will be reviewed with the client via an in person or web meeting and will then be turned over to the client for internal review. This will allow the client to circulate the design documentation to any interested/affected parties within the organization. Any feedback on the design documentation should be provided to SSP in a structured format and followup meetings may be required. The SSP principal consultant will then update the design documentation with any required changes and it will be approved by the client. Depending on the scope of the project, the client may be required to explicitly approve the design in writing as this is often considered a billing milestone.

The end goal of the design phase is for the client to fully understand the scope and implementation details of the software which will set the stage for the develop and deploy phases of the project.