If your organization has ever embarked on an IT project, you may have heard a lot of buzzwords when it came down to the documentation needed. System Requirements (one of my favorite), Communication Plan, Work Breakdown Structure, Test Plan, are just a few of the types of documents that may have been thrown around as potential documentation needed for the project in order to help secure its success. But what are the documents and do you need all of them for every project?

The table below provides a very high level explanation on some common IT project documents. It is ultimately up to the project manager and stakeholders as to which documents are truly necessary. Having all the documents does not guarantee a successful project; however, having the truly important and useful documents can specific to the project help with its success, no matter if it is large or small.

Document Name What is it? When do you need it?
Concept Proposal Explains the “need” for the project and to gain a project sponsor. This document is used when it is necessary to explain “Why” strategic goals are not being met or where mission performance needs to be improved.
Project Charter Explains the scope, objectives and roles and authority with regard to the project. This is created by a project sponsor. This document is usually needed if a project has an in depth approval process.
Project Scope Statement Explains the intended results of the project and outlines the specific team being pulled together for the project. This document is always needed because it lays out the foundation of the project.
Project Management Plan Documents the planning assumptions and decisions, facilitate communication among stakeholders, document approved scope, cost, and schedule baselines. Most projects should have a project plan; however, depending on the project it can be very detailed or it can be very simple or any degree between. Project Managers want to create this document as there “blueprint” for the project.
Work Breakdown Structure Decomposes a project into individual activities. All projects should have a WBS that outlines each activity, resource assigned and time frame to complete.
Risk Management Plan Foresees risks, estimate impacts and define responses to issues. This document is recommended for most high dollar, detailed projects in order to help mitigate issues before they arise. This document can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Change Management Plan Documents the formal process for any changes to a project’s scope that may or may not impact the schedule. This is recommended for all projects to ensure that all stakeholders understand the process if a change is necessary in order for the project to be successful. This also helps to alleviate scope creep. This document can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Communications Management Plan Outlines types of communication (email, cell phone etc.) and who needs to be contacted and when he/she should be contacted. Most projects should include this information; however, this does not need to be very complex and can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Human Resources (Staffing) Management Plan Outlines the roles and can include specific personnel needed to successfully complete the project. Most projects should include this information; however, this does not need to be very complex and can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Quality Assurance (QA) Plan Outlines how the final product has been vetted and tested before delivery to ensure it meets the project requirements and/or customer’s expectation. Recommended for most projects; however the detail can be adjusted to match the project. This can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Cost Management Plan Provides detailed cost information in managing the budget and costs of a project. Most projects should include this information; however, this does not need to be very complex and can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Procurement Management Plan Shows how items necessary for the project (hardware/software etc.) will be purchased, by whom and when. This plan can also outline the procurement process. This document is only needed for more complex projects where multiple items are purchased and there is a need to track those purchase. This does not need to be very complex and can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Business Process Document Details the business process flow associated with the project. This document can be the basis for a scope of work, included as requirements, and can even be the basis for training materials. It is up to the Project Manager and stakeholders to determine if it is needed.
System Requirements Document (SRD) Lists in detail all the requirements needed for the developers to deliver a system that meets the customer’s needs. This document is always needed for IT projects. (See: Are Requirements Necessary When Purchasing IT Products?, What Does Your System Require? and Knowledge Center
Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) Conveys how a requirement is being tested. This ensures that all requirements have properly been tested. This document is needed whenever a System Requirements Document and a Test Plan are developed.
Test Master Plan (TMP) Details how procedure used to test the final product and record results. (See Going from Requirements to Test Plan) This is always needed in order to test the final product.



It’s a huge undertaking to develop a website. And, it’s not something you should venture into lightly. Before you get started and throughout the development stages, it’s important to consider these things…

Set Goals

Do you want to gain more visitors, create more interaction with your visitors, have higher search engine ranking, utilize a blog, integrate more videos and images? Whatever your goals may be, document them in writing before you get started and reflect back to them throughout the development.

Prioritize Usability

No one will visit or stay on your website if it does not work. It’s important to think through your website’s navigation in advance. You can come up with a solid plan around your navigation by considering your audience, developing personas, performing a card sort, and defining the information architecture. Also, consider the integration of a search tool to benefit your users. Have you ever considered how visually impaired website users will encounter your website? This is a good time to reflect on ways you can provide a positive experience with your website. Lastly, be sure that all images and links are working and that page load time is quick.

Consistent Design

It can’t be stressed enough… use a consistent design throughout your website. Visitors should feel like they are having the same experience from page to page. To aid in this, re-use elements from page to page. Also, consider using colors that associate with your brand, but also create strong contrast to help with readability. Use legible fonts, but try to stick to a limited number of fonts to help with the consistency theme you are trying to achieve. You can use varying sizes and weights of fonts to assist with creating visual hierarchy. Finally, in your design, try to use beautiful imagery that does not look too much like stock photography.

Craft Content

Like they say…content is king. Develop clear messaging on each page that is developed for your audience. Select strong keywords throughout your site and always use page titles and headings. Thoughtful effort at this stage will help engage your audience as well as help with your search engine optimization. Make contact information readily available in locations like the footer or a contact page and try to integrate call to action elements on each page. Lastly, establish a plan for maintaining content. You may want to consider a implementing a blog to assist with this, but whatever you decide, a plan will assist in meeting goals related to your content development plan.



Dedication: Akin to my own journey, the following 9 stalwart founding education entrepreneurs evinced a self-disruption by leaving the formal education platform to tackle education’s toughest problems with scalable solutions. Effuse thanks — and keep doin’ it.


Henry Blue of Alchemy Learning, Jess Gartner of Allovue, Alex Grodd of BetterLesson, Jen Medbery of Kickboard, Scott Messinger of Common Curriculum, Tom Murdock of Moodlerooms, Katie Palenscar of Unbound Concepts, Steve Silvius of Three Ring and Nicole Tucker-Smithof LessonCast Learning.

While all great entrepreneurs share similar traits, the education entrepreneur is a special breed. This post imparts an overview of what it takes to be a successful, backable education entrepreneur.


Fire-in-the-Belly with a Social Bent
There is nothing more inspiring, more genuine than an entrepreneur who exudes and incites passion. Founders or early CEOs who have deeply seated passion for the problem(s) they are solving have the desire to change the world – and can bootstrap and find a way to hit milestones. They are positively infectious. They attract talent. They never give in. The are also great listeners — to the market, to their peers and advisers, as this metacognitive state must be combined with a monomaniacal pursuit of the next milestone. The most authentic education entrepreneurs have walked in the shoes of their end users. The have felt the problem and are intent on solving it.


Image Credit: Personal blog of Shamash

Image Credit: Personal blog of Shamash


Marketing & Distribution Experience
The education industry is vast, hyper-fragmented, and has taken many prisoners. The early leader or an all-in co-founder of an education company must know the customers, the channels, the players, the policy trends that are in existence and developing around them. Knowing whether a K-12 practitioner will use a novel web service for math instruction, or whether the college professor will adopt a new digital textbook is best left to the experienced entrepreneur – or, if outside capital is required, with a syndicate that has deep, deep coffers and very patient ‘limited partners’.


Image Credit: The Washington Post

Image Credit: The Washington Post

An Emphasis on Unit Economics
Inspired by the late Professor Drucker on this front, an entrepreneur would ideally have experienced secondary if not primary P&L experience. He or she should have the ability to test unit or small scale economics before attempting a large scale ramp up. Having a firm understanding of what it takes to get to positive cash flow by product line, by customer, by temporal milestone is critical to discerning capital needs for scale. The build it with ‘active user’ eyeballs strategy need not apply.

1 en-XLeh8apPfx-7BIddePQ

Knowing & Sharing the Right Stuff
No entrepreneur is great in all facets of company building. The metacognitive, genuine souls who do their homework, freely admit their weaknesses and highlight their strengths are the best leaders, the best team builders. While start up cowboys and rock star CEOs are fun, it is the managers who can decentralize decision-making, who can humbly admit and quickly move on from failure that will consistently, indelibly win.

1 IFJsPcDZ7Xutn5clYw-YEA

The education entrepreneur is a key element in the fiber of the world’s regenerative economy. As Carl Schramm, economist, entrepreneur, and former President and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation stated, “every entrepreneur is a social entrepreneur.” The great education entrepreneur, whether in a for-profit or nonprofit context, is acutely focused on execution, on serving the end user, on iteratively moving the needle in the various sectors of a global multi-trillion dollar industry.



College students can no longer sit idly by and expect a cushy job waiting at the end of their bachelor’s degree rainbow—everyday they must take their destiny into their own hands. In an effort to expand post-graduation opportunities and assist in this proactive mentality, college campuses across the nation are becoming a frontier for entrepreneurship and innovation—Towson University is among those institutions.


As students return to campus, the staff at The Student Launch Pad are preparing for takeoff. Starting this fall, we will be launching exciting new workshops and programs designed to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship from Stephen’s Hall to West Village (by way of the new Osler Bridge, of course). A variety of opportunities will bring engaging and interactive entrepreneurial learning to campus. Through student-centered and inclusive programs, we hope to encourage and empower students to connect their knowledge, skills, and passions to meet the needs of our university, community, and world.


icon2Entrepreneur U
We want students to critically evaluate every single avenue and option that could possibly lead them to success in their future—for some that success could come from pursuing a career in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur U is our ‘101’ course focused on skimming the surface of the entrepreneur process. Curriculum for this workshop is based on The Lean Start Up Model and will walk students through the process of creating a business model canvas for a company they are interested in starting or something that is currently in existence. The goal being that after two, two hour sessions, students will have a firm grasp on mapping their idea in and pursuing further ideation.


icon1_orangeSkill Builders
Our next series program, Skill Builders, is meant for the student entrepreneur with a basic understanding of entrepreneurship. These sessions are focused on specific topics—for the fall, we will be offering 3 sessions: Find your customer, Develop your product, and Pitch It! Sessions are just an hour long and are scheduled to fit in like a class period. To facilitate these sessions, we’ve enlisted the expert assistance of field tested entrepreneurs who are connected to the well-established TU Incubator.


Business Counseling & Mentoring
Lastly, for those students that are past the scope of our current programs, we will be attempting to connect with them through business counseling and mentoring, administered initially by Launch Pad staff and Frank Bonsal, Towson’s first Director of Entrepreneurship! These meetings will be held in our brand new office space, located on the 4th floor of Cook Library.


Come visit us in Cook Library on the 4th floor!

Come visit us in Cook Library on the 4th floor!


With the addition of Student Launch Pad, the entrepreneur experience at Towson is growing and thriving. Want to learn more about the Launch Pad? Find us online at TULaunchPad.com and on twitter @TU_Launch_Pad!



Later this month, a fifth casino will open its doors in Maryland, and in about two years, a sixth casino will open its doors. My question is this: Is there a sufficient consumer base to support this growth, or are the new casinos cannibalizing revenues in Maryland and the surrounding states in the region (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, and Virginia)?


About thirty years ago, two states—New Jersey and Nevada—had casinos. For New Jersey, Atlantic City was the gambling destination for the East Coast; Las Vegas was the gambling destination for everywhere else. Additionally, Indian casinos came into prominence in the 1980s due to a Supreme Court ruling. However, in the last decade, the nation and the Maryland region have experienced an explosion of casinos and other gambling venues. The adult population or, more specifically, those who identify as wanting to gamble is not keeping up with the growth in the number of casinos opening in the region. Between 2000 and 2012, the adult population in the region (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland) grew by 9 percent. However, the number of casinos grew by 183 percent during that same period.


Declining Gambling Revenues
As a result of this explosive growth, the media are full of reports on the share of gambling revenues declining across the region. This decline has resulted in several casino closures in Atlantic City. The gambling revenue is down in Delaware as well. In fact, there is a proposal to provide a subsidy to the casinos there. Gambling revenue is also down in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Hollywood Casino Perryville saw a drop in its revenues once Maryland Live! Casino opened in Arundel Mills. I suspect that, when the Horseshoe Baltimore casino opens at the end of this month, Maryland Live! Casino will see a similar drop in revenue. Furthermore, when the MGM National Harbor casino opens in two years, another drop in Maryland Live! Casino’s revenue is likely to occur.


Image credit: South Bmore

Image credit: South Bmore

What is the underlying trend fueling this growth in casinos?
First, many states introduced lotteries as a means to raise additional revenues earmarked for specific programs such as education. Many states saw the success of other state’s gambling ventures and began to introduce gambling in their own jurisdictions, partly to keep their residents’ gambling spending in the state and partly to attract out-of-state gambling expenditures. The tax rate on gambling revenues is usually very high, but casinos are willing to pay due to the profitability of gambling ventures. For Maryland, it is a means for generating additional revenue as well as an economic development opportunity.


The economic development aspect of introducing casinos is somewhat tricky, and timing is everything. Being the first state outside New Jersey to allow gambling allows that state to generate enormous tax revenues and economic opportunity, as many out-of-state visitors are attracted to the new casinos. However, being the last state to allow gambling means that the number of new gamblers visiting from out of state is very limited.


Furthermore, the shifting in-state spending from local restaurants to local casinos does little in the way of increasing local economic activity. However, if local casinos can capture out-of state spending, then there will be an increase in local economic activity. In the Mid-Atlantic region—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland—all but two, Virginia and District of Columbia, have legalized gambling. For Maryland and West Virginia, this disparity has proven to be a great geographic advantage, as Virginians and Washingtonians who wish to gamble can go to either West Virginia or Maryland to spend their money. However, within Maryland, the share of clients to each casino will likely drop as the number of casinos increases.



The usually quiet Monday after the long Fourth of July weekend—a day for downtown Baltimore to recuperate from the crowds, festivities, and celebratory revelry of democracy. Unless, of course, Queen Bey is taking over M&T Bank Stadium.


As part of the combined “On the Run” tour featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the power couple performed at the M&T Bank Stadium to a sold-out crowd of excited fans. The downtown venue was just one of sixteen stops for this summer’s tour, which attracted concert-goers from near and far.


Image credit: CBS Baltimore


Here at RESI, we analyze the economic impacts of various programs and events, and last month’s Beyoncé/Jay-Z concert had a definite impact on Baltimore’s economy. With ticket prices ranging from $40.50 to $251 for general admission seats and premium seats going for roughly $500 per ticket, ticket sales alone for the sold-out stadium of 70,000 represented a huge economic impact. Combine these data with concert-goers grabbing dinner downtown before the concert, paying for parking, and buying souvenirs—that’s a lot of money changing hands in just one evening. And keep thinking about it—someone had to sell those Beyoncé t-shirts and oversized programs. The electricity bill for the stadium included the power needed to show the Beyoncé/Jay-Z video interludes, and this required electricians and tech people at the stadium to ensure that everything transitioned smoothly. Outside the concert, servers who received extra tips from the increased crowds have extra cash to spend. If anyone drove on a toll road to get to the concert or travelled from far away and spent the night at a local hotel, there’s more money circulating in the local economy.


In fact, the economic impact of large headline concerts such as “On the Run” has been the topic of numerous academic studies. In their 1997 paper, Gazel and Schwer estimate the economic impact of a 1995 Grateful Dead concert on Las Vegas. While not a perfect point of comparison to Baltimore’s Beyoncé/Jay Z concert, the framework outlined in this paper as applied to the July show suggests that, at a conservative estimate, the estimated economic impact was over $11 million, with more generous estimates of the economic impact from the single concert being closer to $18 million.


Image credit: Baltimore Sun


Another way to analyze the concert’s impact is to bring the analysis closer to home. Let’s consider the M&T Bank Stadium’s main occupant, the Baltimore Ravens. Ticket prices are comparable, and much like the Beyoncé/Jay Z concert, Ravens games draw huge crowds of dedicated fans to the stadium, attract visitors to Baltimore’s downtown area, and are featured in both local and wider media. I would argue that the concert, a one-night engagement, as opposed to the Ravens’ full-length season of home games, is more comparable to a playoff game held at the stadium. Luckily, for our purposes, estimates of the economic impact of Ravens playoff games already exist. Estimates from 2013 indicate that a single Ravens playoff game would have a total estimated impact of $20 million. That’s quite a lot of money, especially for a two-hour football game or show.


Clearly, the Beyoncé/Jay Z show had more of an impact than entertaining its 70,000 attendants. Given the far-reaching economic effects for Baltimore, it is safe to say that, in the words of the Queen herself, “Who runs the world [or at least local economies during her tours]?” Beyoncé.



Esri holds many national and local user conferences throughout the year. Their leading conference happens right about this time each year in San Diego California, with this year’s 34th User Conference landing on July 14-18. Formally known as the International User’s Conference (now just User Conference or UC), it is the premier world GIS event, with participants from 130 countries among the 16 thousand people in attendance. To put that in perspective, by most accounts there are 196 countries in the world. This year the Esri UC drew participants from about two thirds of countries in the world. With the first day dedicated to the plenary session and keynote address, the next four days are packed with 1,397 moderated paper sessions, industry focused sessions and technical workshops organized into 71 different topic areas. All in all it is a bit overwhelming with so much relevant information to choose from and try to adsorb in such a short period of time.


MB1In order to energize you for the week of information overload, the first day is all about the big picture, success stories and what coming in future releases of ArcGIS software. This is all done wrapped in a wall of screens with beautifully orchestrated music and graphics to produce a completely immersive experience.


Esri Founder and President Jack Dangermond opened the conference with the theme “GIS – Creating the Future”. He shared his perspective that the practice of GIS is at an evolutionary threshold. He sees GIS maturing beyond spatial analysis and moving into full-fledged geo-design, encouraging us to see ourselves as geo-designers to provide the world with fully rounded solutions and alternatives to the many problems we face. He also indicted that he feels that something is a-foot and left us to see if we agree with the rest of the day’s program.


As is Jack’s UC tradition, he shared the best of our work, with submissions from around the world organized by category and displayed, with trends discussed. MD iMap was recognized for the new GIS Data Portal in this part of the plenary and later in the day more fully in a dedicated section on Open Data and the World Bank. CGIS worked as part of the GIS Data Portal implementation team and among other items created the data graphics making the site more attractive and easy to navigate.


First Day Highlights

There was too much on this first day to provide any level of detail on all the incredible presentations in this blog post, instead here are the highlights and links back to the video taken of the presentations in case any of them catch your imagination.

  • The City of Minneapolis and their use of GIS to recover from the devastating blow of the economic down turn of the past few years.  Their team dropped from 8 to 3 GIS professionals. Their success came from completely reinventing their workflow, empowering their cliental to be self-sufficient in working with GIS data and embracing cloud based GIS solutions.
  • The port of Rotterdam’s use of GIS to transform from being the world’s largest port to being the best port in the world. With a ship coming or going every 6 minutes and a 4 hour sail time from the entrance point of the port to the farthest berth, optimizing and managing real time data in their GIS was key to their success in reengineering  port operations.
  • Starbucks IT’s use of GIS to support operations and new store location analysis. Looking to expand in areas with emerging smartphone use (demographics highly correlated to visits to Starbucks) and looking for optimal locations for their Starbucks Evening store rollout (wine, beer, desserts, a spread of cocktail party finger-foods, and more).
  • Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority demonstrated its use of 3D GIS as a crucial planning tool for one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Impact analysis, alternative plans and meeting design metrics in an expedited manner were all successful outcomes of applying geo-design concepts and practices.
  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Spritzer shared her views on the value of open data in a keynote speech titled America’s Data Agency – Expanding Economic Opportunity with Open Data.
  • Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, NOAA Administrator, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, US Department of Commerce (and former shuttle astronaut) shared how she is striving to bring earth science to life for global and national environmental challenges and decisions we all face.
  • Will.i.am (via Skype from Australia) talking to Jack Dangermond after an Esri staffer showed off a prototype of the smart watch he is developing, which includes an a really innovative voice activated Esri mapping application that is a peek into the future (or the past, as I think Dick Tracy had this watch)! Will.i.am explained that this project is part of his efforts in a larger program to empower youth in disadvantaged areas similar to where he grew up.
  • Jane Goodall (video message) provided a follow up to her 2005 Esri UC Keynote address on the threats that chimpanzees face. She talked about how GIS-supported land use management plans for villages around critical habitat areas are making a real difference in conservation efforts to save space for chimpanzees.
  • Sonora Elementary students from Springdale, Arkansas will surely impress you with the way that GIS can be connected with education. Their teacher Charlie Fitzpatrick introduces two of his students and they steal the show talking about their projects.
  • World Health Organization and the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation representatives (Dr. Bruce Aylward and Dr. Vincent Seaman) delivered a joint keynote presentation on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This in-depth presentation stepped though the intensive efforts to reach the last pockets of polio in the most difficult locations to reach on earth, and how GIS is vital tool to for fill this mission.


What was evident from the prominence and diversity of these presentations was there is indeed something “a-foot”. From my perspective it was that Esri did not so much promote what their products could do, instead they let the stories of their products speak for themselves. These were indeed very powerful stories that spoke to the transformative power of GIS in action. There was another thread woven throughout the week’s paper and industry focused sessions that reinforced this notion of real change in the air both with the science and practice of GIS.  It was apparent that the transformative steps Esri has taken with its platform over the past several years and its efforts to make GIS more accessible are all coming together in a unified fashion across all fronts within the organization. Esri seems to be laser focused on its client’s success in a way that I have not seen before, providing complete solution sets for complex problems and implementations.


Special Achievements in GIS

In the middle of the conference each year Esri recognizes exceptional work in GIS by presenting “Special Achievements in GIS” or SAG Awards. This year the State of Maryland was recognized for OSPREY–Innovative use of GIS for Emergency Management that makes a difference. Barney Krucoff accepted the award on behalf of the Maryland Department of Information Technology (DoIT) and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). CGIS is a proud partner in developing the OSPREY suite of tools in support of emergency management and the citizens of Maryland.

Michael Bentivegna (CGIS), Barney Krucoff (DoIT), Mickey Brierley (FEMA – formerly MEMA)

Michael Bentivegna (CGIS), Barney Krucoff (DoIT), Mickey Brierley (FEMA – formerly MEMA)



For those of you who follow federal policy – no doubt you are a regular consumer of 2 AM CSPAN and throw a watch party for the Vice Presidential Debates – the passage of new federal policy objectives is like our Olympics. They happen every couple of years, someone wins and someone loses, and as soon as it is done, we typically forget the names of the players. Sounds familiar right? Well, unlike other policies coming out of Washington creating strong partisan wrestling, such as the Affordable Care Act, the recently passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) presented a rare opportunity for our legislators to meet in the middle and shake hands to create policy about a decade overdue.


President Barack Obama signs H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act  (Image credit: whitehouse.gov)

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Image credit: whitehouse.gov)

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
In 1998, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) – the mother of WIAO (please keep up with the acronyms) passed Congress – a measure to promote workforce training and adult education throughout the county. The Act authorized funds from federal coffers to support localized education and training initiatives to support local workforce. Most notably, it called for the creation of state and local Workforce Investment Boards to create and maintain One Stop Career Centers to support individuals seeking employment or access to training and education services. WIA has been a stable and arguably successful model for 16 years, though a lot happens in 16 years (three presidents, nine Olympic Games, and still no Super Bowl for my Philadelphia Eagles).


Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
So, what’s important about this new policy, other than evolving policy to modern needs and creating a rare opportunity for bi-partisanship in our capitol? A couple of major elements of WIOA are of note. WIOA

  1. Aligns federal investments to support job seekers and employers – core programs at the local level are better aligned to support job seekers
  2. Strengthens state, regional, and local workforce investment priorities – prioritizes employers on local boards to drive and develop workforce strategies
  3. Emphasizes employer engagement – gives more flexibility at the local level to make investments and support on-the-job training initiatives
  4. Increases accountability – we have the technology to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of programs
  5. Fosters regional collaboration – encourages greater regional accountability to target industry needs
  6. Increased emphasis on career pathways and sector partnerships – better opportunity to serve job seekers in establishing a career, rather than filling an open job
  7. Improves services to people with disabilities

The nuances of the seven references above are more pertinent to individuals mired in workforce service and policy, but if you want to learn more about it check in at this website – http://www.doleta.gov/WIOA/


For those who only have a passing interest, it means that American Job Centers (AJC), formerly known as One Stop Career Centers or Unemployment Offices, have better tools and greater flexibility to serve our workforce and meet the needs of employers. The emphasis on accountability and employer needs will create a stronger symbiosis within the system. There will be new competitive opportunities for funding necessitating broader partnerships between workforce, economic development, employers, and higher education. I have been in workforce for a number of years and have heard arguments about these types of collaborative relationships. It usually results in employers complaining that educators fail to meet their needs and educators complaining that employers fail to articulate their needs – the Kobayashi Maru scenario. From there we all settle on the fact that the only viable option is to address “soft skill training,” which is the Stanley Cup of workforce priorities.


Well, the hope is, with new energy behind WIOA, and greater calls for collaboration and systems of accountability to provide greater feedback, perhaps these arguments will be contained and we can focus on the needs of our system. All in all, we should be happy that our elected officials came together to support and pass critical legislation that has the potential to succeed.



Towson University’s Center for GIS (CGIS) recently assisted the Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) in their promotional needs by developing a web mapping application that helps MHC audiences and donors quickly identify MHC events that occur near them.


Phil Reese, a GIS Programmer for CGIS, was the primary programmer that developed the MHC web mapping application.  Recently I caught up with Phil to discuss his involvement with the project along with the reasons behind utilizing Mapbox (an open source mapping platform) to complete the project.


Screenshot of the MD Humanities Council Map (Click photo to view the mapping application)

Screenshot of the MD Humanities Council Map

Q:  What options, other than Mapbox, were considered for the development of the web mapping application?

A:  We briefly discussed using the ArcGIS JavaScript API, but decided against going that route because we weren’t planning on creating or using any ArcGIS Server map services for this project.  We also discussed using Leaflet, which is a very popular light-weight JavaScript mapping library that is well documented with a very active community of developers.


Q:  Why did CGIS ultimately decide on using Mapbox for this project?

A:  Mapbox.js was ultimately chosen because of the extensive documentation and examples that exists.  We actually found several examples on the Mapbox.js developer site that almost exactly fit our needs, so we were able to closely follow these examples to jumpstart development of the application.  Another reason we chose Mapbox.js is because it is a plugin for the Leaflet JavaScript mapping library, which means that all of the advantages of Leaflet that I mentioned earlier – great documentation, lots of great plugins, flexible, and efficient – are also advantages for Mapbox.js.  Additionally, Mapbox provides us the ability to use excellent basemaps (and even the ability to customize them to fit our needs) included in a free account that accommodated our expected number of monthly views.


Q: Did you face the need to do a lot of customization, or did you work mostly with the “out of the box” tools that were available?

A:  Most of what we needed to do was “out of the box” in the sense that there were examples of specific pieces of functionality that we desired and thorough implementation descriptions.  We had to use these technologies in ways that suited our needs, so a certain level of development above and beyond what was illustrated in the examples was required, but the documentation and community resources were very valuable for inspiration and direction.


Q:  Were there other technologies you used in conjunction with Mapbox in order to complete the project?

A: We used some very popular (and free) frameworks and libraries that are commonly used across the Internet.  We used Bootstrap for the pre-style user interface components (e.g. think buttons, forms, dropdown menus, etc.) that it provides.  We also used jQuery, which is a JavaScript library that simplifies common JavaScript tasks.


Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced?

A:  Custom functionality that went above and beyond what was illustrated by the examples on the Mapbox.js developer site was sometimes challenging.  We didn’t have a lot of wiggle room to get stuck on certain parts of the application that needed a more custom solution, so it was sometimes a struggle to deliver the promised functionality on-time and under budget.


Q:  What was the biggest surprise you experienced?

A:  The wealth of developer resources available online for Mapbox.js and Leaflet developers.  While we knew this would be an advantage of using these technologies, I think it was a surprise to see how widely used the libraries are.


To view the MHC mapping application, click here.


To view a project sheet on the MHC mapping project, click here.



Why Develop Leaders?

The need to develop the next generation of leaders is critical. The JIBS model of leadership, developed by Dr. Alan Clardy, provided a unique way that really helped me to conceptualize the importance of leadership development:

The JIBS model is (c) by Dr. Alan Clardy.  Used by permission.

The JIBS model is (c) by Dr. Alan Clardy. Used by permission.

The model puts leaders into four categories: idiots, bozos, jerks, and stars. If an organization does nothing to develop their leaders, odds are, only about 25% will be stars. Whereas, an organization that invests in developing their workforce, will have a substantial increase in the number of stars. While this is a bit light hearted, it really drives home the fact that we cannot just leave our workforce to “figure it out” on their own.  We must provide them with the opportunity to become a “star.”


2014 Maryland Leadership Academy for Workforce

Here at the Center for Professional Studies, we have worked with many clients to develop leadership programs that meet the needs of their unique workforce. Recently, we have partnered with the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, to establish the 2014 Maryland Leadership Academy for Workforce.


The year-long program will focus on preparing participants to more effectively lead their teams, agencies, and Maryland’s workface industry in the future. Participants will identify their strengths and learn how to engage those strengths in critical leadership areas. Additionally, participants will be trained on Maryland specific issues, complete a capstone project, and be matched with a mentor.


For more information on the 2014 Maryland Leadership Academy for Workforce, please visit this informational page.