Technical Writing – How to Write Project Justification Documents

As part of building the overall project scope a technical author will first need to lay out the justification documentation. This document which can also be considered a “business case” lays out the fundamental reasons for implementing the project. Here’s a simple guide on creating a project justification.

State the Problem

Businesses don’t carry out projects for fun; they perform them in order to solve a specific issue or issues. You need to describe the problem clearly and accurately at the start of your document so that you can then present the solution to that problem.

For example if you intend to implement a new HRMS (Human Resource Management System) your problem may be; “The HR team currently spends nearly 80% of its time on non-productive administrative tasks, reducing the effectiveness of the function dramatically.”

State the Solution

This should be a simple statement to define your project. This enables your reader to understand what it is you’re proposing.

“We intend to implement an automated HRMS system to reduce manual administration by half.”

Supply Supporting Information

The problem and solution aren’t going to justify your project to the stakeholders and decision makers, so you need to provide the right level of information to enable them to support your recommendation.

Examples of the kind of information you should use:

  • Market Demand – Not always the strongest argument, but if you can show that all your competitors are implementing similar systems, it certainly suggests that it may be worth considering in your organisation.
  • Business Need – In this example the business need is clear, the HR team are spending the majority of their work time on non-specialist tasks and that costs money.
  • Customer Demands - what is it that your customers are screaming out for? Don’t forget to include internal customers as well as external ones.
  • Technological Progression – what’s going on in the world around you, is there are compelling case to be told in terms of the way IT and systems are developing?
  • Legal – Don’t forget the all important obligation to the law, if you can show that your project brings compliance or makes it easier to comply with those requirements you have a stronger case.

Writing a business case or project justification is an essential part of the larger project scoping process. Ideally you should write this early in the lifecycle of your project to help you obtain funding and support. You will also then be able to clearly identify the objectives of your task so that team members have a clear message to take away.

Life Insurance 101, An Explanation of Various Types of Life Insurance

TERM LIFE INSURANCE – Life insurance for a set number or years. You can choose from 5 to 30 year terms. No cash value, if you die during the term you collect the death benefit. The policy dies after the selected term has ended and you receive nothing unless you have a, return of premium rider or you convert the policy to some form of permanent insurance.

RETURN OF PREMIUM TERM INSURANCE (ROP) – A term insurance policy that returns all or a portion of premiums paid at the end of the term if the death benefit has not been paid.

SIMPLIFIED TERM INSURANCE – Term insurance which uses a simple application. Underwriting is done electronically. No underwriting requirements by the applicant unless red flags arise out of the electronic underwriting process. Policy is usually issued much quicker than regular term. There is a limit of death benefit for this type of policy ($350,000 or less) depending on the insurance carrier. This type of policy is generally more expensive because of additional risk by the insurance carrier. Less underwriting =more risk.

CRITICAL ILLNESS INSURANCE – Applied for as a stand-alone policy or as a rider to another life insurance policy. Pay immediate benefit for a covered illness even if death does not occur.

ACCIDENTAL DEATH INSURANCE – Pays benefit in event of a covered sudden accidental death. Applied for as a stand-alone policy or as a rider to another form of life insurance.

MORTGAGE PROTECTION INSURANCE OR DECREASING TERM INSURANCE – Term insurance that pays the balance of your mortgage should death occur. The amount of death benefit decreases to match the amount owed on mortgage. The insurance is set up to end at the same time your mortgage is set to end.

UNIVERSAL LIFE INSURANCE (non variable) – Flexible premiums. Can be a permanent insurance as long as premiums are paid and policy is funded properly. Investment policy in which risk lies with insurance company.

Has a minimum guaranteed interest rate which differs by company. This policy has the ability to gain contract value. The death benefit can be set to level (death benefit stays the same throughout) or increasing (death benefit increases as contract value rises). You may obtain loans or make withdraws but you must be careful, if the policy is not funded, it will collapse.

VARIABLE UNIVERSAL LIFE INSURANCE – Agent must have securities license to sell. Very similar to non-variable universal life. The difference is that the policy owner assumes investment risk. There is no guaranteed interest rate. Policy can collapse if investment does not do well and policy is not funded properly.

WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE – Simply put, you pay the premium and the policy will last your whole life. You usually have an option to borrow against the policy, amount depends on the value of the policy. This type of policy is usually much more expensive than the universal life policy.

GRADED BENEFITS WHOLE LIFE – Partial or no benefits paid until a named or tiered waiting period has passed. If you die before the waiting period has passed, you usually will receive the return of your premium payments with some sort of interest.

FINAL EXPENSE WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE – This type of whole life insurance is aimed at burial and funeral expenses and other final expenses. Usually, no medical exam required and death benefit is limited to $50,000 or less.

SINGLE PREMIUM WHOLE LIFE – This whole life policy is paid for by a single lump sum payment. In return the beneficiary receives a larger death benefit than the payment.

THINGS TO CONSIDER: You may be interested in mixing and matching different types of policies. For example; There is a need for 500k immediately. As time goes on, the kids have graduated college and are out of the house, the house is almost or totally paid off. Now the need is less. In this example you may want to purchase a 330k universal life and a 20 year 200k term. This plan will save you money and still protect your family for life.

Or, you may want to mix term, critical illness, accident, universal life, or whole life in various ways depending on your needs.

RIDERS:

Waiver of Premium Rider – pays life insurance premium if you become disabled and can’t work. There is usually a waiting period and rider usually expires at age 60 or 65.

Critical Illness Rider – Rider is explained above.

Return of Premium Rider – Rider is explained above.

Guaranteed Insurability Rider – this rider allows you to purchase an additional amount of life insurance at a later date without having to prove insurability again or take another medical exam.

Term Conversion Rider – allows you to convert a term insurance policy into a permanent policy without proving insurability again.

Accelerated Benefit Rider – this rider is only for permanent life insurance policies. This rider is usually included automatically for free. It allows you to collect a portion of your policy’s death benefit if you become terminally ill with a short life expectancy, usually one year. The portion paid out is subtracted from you policy’s death benefit.

Accidental Death Benefit Rider – This rider pays in addition to the death benefit if you die from an accident.

Child protection Rider – Usually used to pay final expenses if the unthinkable happens. Often, at a nominal cost and purchased in units of $1,000.

UNDERWRITING: requirements depend on insurance carrier, type of policy, amount of death benefit, age, build chart, gender, medical history, medications, family history, motor vehicle report, and other factors.

An application is always required, although, non-medical policies usually have a simple application.

Requirements could be: Paramed (certified medical processor or nurse comes to your place of choosing, takes you through a medical questionnaire, measures your height and weight, takes blood and urine sample, possibly EKG either resting or non-resting), Medical information from your physician or hospital, Medical exam, etc.

HEALTH CLASSES – Typical health classes would be, Preferred Best, Preferred, Select Standard, Standard, and then different nicotine classes such as, preferred nicotine, select nicotine, and standard nicotine.

It is possible to be rated less than standard depending on health and underwriting factors.

You must qualify for a health class. This is chosen by the underwriter after the underwriting process is complete. The agent can only quote you the different health classes but this can change with the underwriting process.

Can You Really Lose As Much Weight As a ‘Big Loser’ Each Week – And Would You Want To?

With shows like the Biggest Loser getting massive reviews and viewer numbers, clearly its hitting a chord with the general public. The show encourages massive weight loss on a weekly basis. How do we know how much is a reasonable amount of weight to lose? Is it true that you can only lose half a kilo per week. Let's take a look at what is realistic – and achievable – for you …

First off, is it really possible to drop fat as quickly as the contestants on The Biggest Loser? Can the man on the street (or you :) take these kind of losses without a team of trainers, nutritionists and camera men following their every move? Or are the massive and speedy losses on the show nothing more than clever marketing and a not-so-subtublic manipulation of the viewer?

I did a little research to find out just how much weight some of our contestants have stacked up. At the time of my research the show was airing Week 11. Here's a summary of total weight loss for the final four contestants at that time:

Sam: just over 40kg (88 pounds)
Cosi: close to 48kg (105.6 pounds)
Alison: around 36kg (79.2 pounds)
Gary: close to 59kg (129.8 pounds)

The weekly weight loss (divided by 11 just to keep it simple, although obviously they would have lost different amounts each week) is shown here:

Sam: 3.63 kg p / week (7.9 pounds)
Cosi: 4.36 kg p / week (9.6 pounds)
Alison: 3.27 kg p / week (7.2 pounds)
Gary: 5.36 kg p / week (11.8 pounds)

Just in case you're interested, this averages out at a body weight percentage loss of around 2.8 weekly. If you matched this to the 'average' 70kg woman, that would equate to 1.96kg per week, and for a 90kg man it would be around 2.66kg per week.

Does not sound like too much, really, does it? I'm sure many readers out there would be thrilled to lose this amount of weight each week, and not necessarily consider it extreme.

But let's think about that. In my experience most of you have heard over and over that healthy weight loss is around 0.5-1kg per week. In fact, every health expert, resource or study I've mentioned that a 'healthy' (as in mainly fat, and sustainable) amount of weight loss is just that – around half a kilo per week for women, and 1 kilo for men. Extremely overweight people are said to be able to lose 1.5 kg per week.

If we take this as a gospel (for now), then clearly the BL contestants are losing weight much faster than they should be in order to keep it off. According to Anne Collins, fat loss expert extraordinaire,

'When we lose weight we do not just lose fat. We lose a combination of body fat, and muscle tissue. Studies show that when we diet, the weight we lose is on average 75 percent fat and 25 percent muscle. (Also) remember water accounts for about 70 percent of the total body weight of an average person, with muscle tissue containing roughly 75 percent water (plus 20 percent protein and 5 percent minerals), and body fat containing roughly 50 percent water. '

How is this relevant?

When you lose weight quickly, your body will shed muscle and water before it lets go of fat stores. This is because your body views rapid weight loss as a threat to your survival – your physiology assumes that you must be low on resources (food), or on the run. Why else would you starve or over-exercise yourself?

In order to preserve life (yours!) Your very intelligent body gets rid of the less important stuff – like muscle. Yep, that's the metabolism boosting stuff in case you forgot. After all, fat stores will keep you alive for longer.

So the long and short of it is that losing weight too quickly will not only mean you lose muscle and water over fat, but you will also (at least semi) permanently lower your resting metabolic rate, meaning that the same amount of food you used to eat will cause you to gain more weight.

This is where the concept of the 'yo-yo effect' comes in to play – the idea (reality) that most diets result in a bounce-back effect that leaves the sorry soul in question more overweight than when they started.

NOT good.

But that's not really the full story. Here's where it gets even more confusing (or interesting, for the thinkers among you).

o If your body is under a lot of stress, you can not safely lose weight. Basically, your body will not allow you to. This is because stress is a threat to your survival – and your body can not distinguish between our modern day stress of a demanding job or unsettled relationship, and the stress of a threat on your life. Therefore, your body views all stress as a threat to your survival – and attempts to give you a fighting chance by keeping a protective layer of fat that will not go away regardless of what you eat or how you exercise.

o According to William W. Wolcott, author of The Metabolic Typing Diet, 'It is not uncommon for people to gain weight in response to stress. Weight gain literally represents a protective layer, an insulator, against the pain and suffering of the stress. In such cases, diet, nutrition, and exercise are powerless to resolve the problem '. Solution: put steps into place to detoxify stress. This includes eating correctly, but also taking time out.

o Ironically, cutting back calories to an extreme or doing high amounts of cardio exercise can also prevent you losing weight.

o Even if you are losing weight at the 'safe' rate of, you will still find your lean muscle mass decreases to some extent. In the long run this means you will lower your metabolism and possibly gain weight back. The only way to counteract this is to perform resistance exercise. I'd recommend at least 1-2 half hour sessions per week, for maintenance, or more if you're looking to gain a significant amount of muscle.

o A final spark of hope – Over the years I have known clients to 'lean up' in an incredibly fast manner. Without losing a significant amount of muscle – and I'm not just talking abut extremely overweight people. I'm going to finish this article with my hot tips for maximizing weight loss from fat.

MAXIMISE YOUR FAT LOSS

1. Eat correctly. Trust me on this – pill popping is NOT how the human body achieves true health and weight loss. Choose natural, minimally processed sources of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

2. Sleep correctly. Numerous studies have shown that building up a sleep debt will result in rampant stress hormones that cause your body to store fat. Regardless of how you eat or exercise. I've written many articles on the topic myself.

3. Think correctly. I do not care how 'airy fairy' this sounds – your thoughts do have power. If you believe and tell yourself that you can not lose weight, you WILL NOT lose weight. Positive thinking on its own may not cut it, but it sure is not going to hurt. Build confidence and promote positive action by telling yourself that you can and will improve your health and weight.

4. Reduce stress. We've spoken about how stress hormones cause you to store fat. If you really can not change your lifestyle, put steps into place to relax and recuperate. Using your one free hour pounding the treadmill is not always the best option. But ask yourself this. Can you REALLY not change your lifestyle? If your life depended on it I bet you would walk out of the job, relationship, situation or whatever it might be. Guess what? Your life does depend on it.

I guess when all is said and done, the rapid weight loss of Biggest Loser contestants may not be possible or ideal for most people. This next I believe the show does a brilliant job of inspiring people to reach, to fight, to do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams. I think if you asked them, the BL contestants would tell you that they had definitely been living life.

How 'bout you?

Life is Now. Press Play.

Fast Food, Slow Death?

The all too familiar story: no time to cook, kids are late for soccer practice and McDonald's is on the way. Since it will not take more than a few minutes to shoot through the drive through we'll do the fast food stop. Or all too familiar story number 2: lunch hour at work and I need to pick up my dry cleaning, fill a prescription, and take the car to get gas and find time to eat. Sure enough Taco Bell is on the way and they have a drive through as well. These real life situations play out for all of us, millions of us, everyday. Since time has become one of our most precious commodities the sacrifice we make is often in our diet.

And yet it does not need to be this way. By following a few healthy practices you can still go to your favorite fast food chain and, 30 years from now, live to tell about it. The key is knowing what to select from the menu and balancing that meal with the rest of the day's food intake.

Choose Your Menu Items With Care

Choose a main dish item that is low in fat. As an example, when faced with the choice of a bacon cheeseburger or a regular hamburger, the regular hamburger wins every time. In the battle of the regular hamburger or the grilled chicken breast sandwich the chicken wins hands down. Why? Here's an example:

Wendy's Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich has 360 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 0 trans fat. Compare that to the Wendy's Big Bacon Classic which has 580 calories, 29 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of trans fat. Put either choice with a medium fry and you have added another 440 calories and another 21 grams of fat. Choose, instead, the Baked Potato with Sour Cream and Chive and you add 320 calories and 4 grams of fat – a better choice indeed.

Choose side salads and salad bar vegetables as these provide extra vitamins and add dietary fiber. In addition they fill you up without adding lots of extra calories. Be sure to use low fat or non-fat dressing or better yet, a simple vinaigrette dressing. More dietary fiber can be found in the choice of whole wheat or whole grain buns and rolls.

If your sweet tooth kicks in have fresh fruit or frozen yogurt. Or go for the reduced fat ice cream versus the shake. Again an example, this time from McDonald's: 16 oz. Triple Thick Vanilla Shake has 550 calories and 13 grams of fat. The Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream Cone has 150 calories and only 3.5 grams of fat. Granted the lower calories alternative is not as decadent but it also will not clog your arteries by increasing your cholesterol intake and it will satisfy the sugar craving.

Watch Your Portion Size

Portion control is also a key element to successful fast food dining. Although many restaurants have discontinued the super size trend, most portions are simply more than we need to consume. These large portions look like real value when viewed in the monetary sense but when measured by way of their contribution to weight gain and its complications they are simply not worth it.

Choose the smallest size possible especially if you are having hamburgers or fried foods.

Share large or high items with someone else.

Eat half your order and take the rest home. Yes, I know we are provided to clean our plates because there are children starving in China. At least that's what many mothers over the years have been heard to say. The fact is being a member of the Clean Plate Club will also get you entry into the Fat Club, the High Cholesterol Club, and if your really fortify the Heart Disease Club.

Remember These 3 Key Points

1. Reduce total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
2. Increase intake of whole grains
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables

Fast food is one of the great innovations of the 20th century. Here in the 21st century we need to manage how we take advantage of its limitless access. To do so will maintain a balance between food as satisfying fuel that keeps our human engine running and toxic waste that will eventually lead to shorten life spans.