Successful Imagine Cup Teams – Part 2

Sorry that this has taken so long to post.  The fall semester is upon me now, so I have to prepare!

So, let’s get back to the subject of successful IC teams.  Last post we discussed how you had to first start with a great idea, and then you had to get a group of people with diverse talents to help you to bring the idea to life.  Once you have those two things in place, you can work on the next two steps.

3. Manage Your Project!  Great IC projects don’t just happen overnight.  They are generally the culmination of a lot of effort that has been carefully managed and spread out over a good amount of time.  It isn’t just a matter of saying "OK, you do the code, and I will write the business plan.  We’ll meet a few hours before the deadline to submit."  If you do that, you are going to wind up with a project that really isn’t indicative of what you are presenting in the plan…and that will spell disaster for your chances.  Remember, you have to start with the idea.  That idea is clearly articulated and refined in the business plan.  You need both the business savvy people as well as the technologists to participate in creating the plan so that the technologists know what they are creating and the business people know what they are (in effect) selling.

Project management helps to avoid many other pitfalls as well.  The IC isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  You can’t expect to pull an "all-nighter" and do well (no matter how much Red Bull or Mountain Dew you consume!).  You need to break your project up into deliverables and to set milestones for each of those deliverables.  Then you can manage your progress toward each milestone.  This way, you can evolve your project over time and avoid the final hour freak outs that are associated with unmanaged projects.

4. Get Others Involved!  One thing that we have found particularly beneficial to our efforts was to get experts from the community involved.  With the data sharing project for Team MedRX, we spoke with people from the NIH, the WHO, and the Gateway For Cancer Research.  These people generally share the passion that you do for solving your problem and have usually been at it a lot longer than you have.  That being the case, they will most times offer invaluable insights into your problem and some assistance in developing your solution.  They also allow you to show that you have done your due diligence when it comes to researching your problem, which strengthens your credibility. 

Area there other things that you can do to have a successful entry?  Well sure there are…but I am saving those for MY Imagine Cup teams!  🙂 

Best of luck to you all! 


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