Archive for the ‘ Process Improvement ’ Category

The Death of the IT PMO?

Earlier this month, I attended a session hosted by our PPPM Community of Practice. During the session, I was surprised to see the old gem: “The Standish Group Report” on the state of IT Project Management. (More commonly referred to as “The Chaos Report”). This report has been published since the mid 90’s and is routinely [ab]used to support every premise from “Fire all of your PMs” to “Turn over the reigns of the company to your PMO”.

Admittedly, the Chaos report is a very interesting piece of research and the details are extremely useful for identifying areas of concern. But the summary statistics that are generally quoted have a bad habit of leading people to make some seriously flawed assumptions about IT project management
Read the rest of this entry »

The Innovative iPad?

I’m in a bit of a moral dilemma. I’m not an Apple fanboi. I’ve outgrown my habit of buying tech for the sake of tech and I’ve been studiously staying just short of the bleeding edge for the past few years. The problem is that I’m really excited about the iPad and I desperately want one.

Let me back up a little bit before getting too deeply into this.

Last year, I finally succumbed to the iPhone. When it was released, I hated it. It was typical Apple. Slick, shiny, sexy and hideously proprietary. As much as I hated the cumbersome half-assed attempt at a mobile OS from Microsoft, I had gone down that path 10 years ago and I was riding it into the abyss. I had finally arrived at a decent compromise with a wonderful HTC device. It actually made Windows Mobile usable and allowed me to write code, customize interfaces, tweak the registry, poke around in memory, etc.

Then my world changed when my wife killed her phone. Read the rest of this entry »

Sources of Innovation

Business Innovations – Where do they come from?

Do innovations come from consumers as a demand or generated from within the company?
Surely a both, but I want to hear your opinion.

How important is it to know if an innovation is push or pull?

Gianluigi Cuccureddu

Consultant ? Marketing Strategist ? Venture Advisor

Innovation can come from any source. So it’s important to be listening and positioned to act when an opportunity arises.

Most often, an innovation will come from someone not accepting the status quo and, instead, finding an alternative solution. So it also helps to encourage rather than discourage the typical “trouble makers” and try to funnel the energy and discontent into coming up with solutions or alternatives. Problem customers, employees and vendors are usually experiencing something that they perceive as an issue with you or your company. Open feedback can often lead to innovation. If anyone has ever said “that’s really dumb”, you have a performance improvement opportunity.

Mistakes and errors are another great source for innovation ideas. Even when it’s human error, there’s often an opportunity to improve a process or even find a radically new (and hopefully, better) way of doing things.

As for identifying push or pull innovations, the main benefit of identifying a pull is that you have an opportunity to capitalize on the fact that you listen and respond to your customers and/or partners. It’s a great PR opportunity and encourages additional feedback from outside. Pulls also tend to have a more direct impact on your sales, marketing and customer loyalty. Innovation from within has a greater impact on employee morale and internal efficiencies, but may never translate to any customer impact. So, I beleive that the distinction is an important one but that they’re both valuable sources to develop.

Just my opinion, of course.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

What is the true sense of quality in IT projects?

What is true sense of quality in IT projects?

Hi all

Happy New Year 2009!!!

I am seeing some project management techniques and most of them are focused on quantitative approach.

How we can measure & manage knowledge & creativity in quantitative units? How much it is effective to achieve true sense of quality?

Is any project management technique is based on qualitative approach?

Please share your experience and opinion. It will be great help for me.

Thank you very much in advance.



Ram Srivastava

Team (Innovation, Marketing & Execution) Lead @ YMSLI. Open Source, LAMP, Agile, CMMI. Success story in recession!!

I have this discussion pretty regularly. Typically, PMs and PMOs become focused on budget and schedule to the exclusion of any other metrics or considerations. As indicators of general project health, they’re not bad. But when organizations start equating them with “project success”, We end up with projects that are deemed “successful” but often fail to deliver any business value. It also leads to a number of bad behaviors such as throwing warm bodies at late projects, skimping on QA, poor risk management, code-like-hell programming, requirements disconnects, poor documentation and traceability, etc. Personally, I believe that there is no greater threat to project success than focusing on the wrong metrics. The approach that I’ve generally tried to promote is a process-centric one. Establish the right processes and behaviors to capture and manage requirements, maintain stakeholder involvement, control changes and scope creep and to ensure proper QA throughout. Then measure process compliance and customer acceptance at each stage (quantitative) with customer satisfaction (qualitative) shortly after major milestones. In addition, when scoping the project, determine what the customer’s real KPIs (key Performance Indicators) and KGI/CSFs (Key Goal Indicators/Critical Success Factors) are and include them in the tracking processes. Having that discussion can be surprising. Unfortunately, you need to have somewhat mature processes to be able to implement something like this and you also need some sort of neutral oversight to review process exceptions to determine if the exception was appropriate or just laziness. A project shouldn’t be penalized for bypassing process steps that aren’t providing business value. However, those decisions need to be made consciously and with some form of review/audit to keep people honest.

The value of Enterprise Performance Management

Is EPM just one more TLA or can it truely transform corporate performance?

Now that everyone has resource, customer, and supply chain management – all that is left is performance. Do you think sophisticated analytic and reporting tools that integrate nicely across the enterprise and not just vertically within an organization can be a key differentiator against competitors or do you think it provides nice charts but corporations still lack the internal governance to turn this into timely, actionable data?

Kyle Smith

Director of HR at MomentumSI

Enterprise Performance Management, IMHO is hollow without the underlying discipline, process and culture. A lot of companies drop in the tools and expect the discipline and data to magically follow. Instead, people waste inordinate amounts of time and effort learning how to “game the system” to get the results that management expects. A lot of organizations “think” that they have the maturity to get value out of these tools, but very few of them actually do.

The majority of “C” level executives make decisions based on gut feel and trust in subordinates. I don’t know of any of them that pore over the output of an EPM system to guide the business. I find it totally mind-boggling that billions are spent on these systems to collect, analyze and report on data that is rarely used by the supposed target audience and often has no direct correlation to the business goals or KPIs. (did we forget about balanced scorecards at some point?).

EPM in a mature organization is unlikely to be transformative since the underlying trees of metrics, disciplines and systems would already be in place. It could certainly allow for a lot of fine tuning. But it would be an evolutionary tool at best.

However, I think that attempts to implement EPM in a less mature organization can uncover the lack of discipline and the gaps in the other supporting systems. EPM as a catalyst can be revolutionary. Senior management would have to be open to supporting the underlying governance and process work required and the implementers would need to be honest about what gaps were uncovered during the design and implementation. Translating corporate strategy down into the various KGIs and KPIs, rebuilding broken and inefficient processes, blowing out the chaff and aligning around what’s important to the business is where the value would come from.

That’s just my opinion, of course.

Documentary Obfuscation for Titillation and Pecuniary Augmentation

Why do we write policies like this?

Dear friends,

Maybe you understand this – I don’t. Here is the opening paragraph to a prototype Employee Handbook, provided to free for all on the SHRM website. It reminds me of something from the Broadway spoof of corporate America, “How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying).” It was provided to SHRM by a law firm. Here goes:

Whether you have just joined our staff or have been at XYZ for a while, we are confident that you will find our company a dynamic and rewarding place in which to work and we look forward to a productive and successful association. We consider the employees of XYZ to be one of its most valuable resources. This manual has been written to serve as the guide for the employer/employee relationship.

WHY do we write employee communications in such a stilted, demeaning way? Does anyone talk like this? For one thing, “the employees of XYZ” cannot be “one of its most valuable resources.” “A dynamic and rewarding place in which to work” is one of those say-nothing, just-had-to-fill-the-space phrases that knock you over the head with their emptiness. You should see the rest of the manual! Do you know why otherwise smart people who can write killer marketing materials and compelling copy for the media and other audiences, almost always write this vapid crizzap when writing for employees?

Liz Ryan

Workplace Expert: Career Advisor, Speaker, Author, HR pundit; Yahoo! Hotjobs Networking Expert; BusinessWeek Columnist

Somewhere along the line, the general public has bought into the idea that verbal obfuscation is somehow synonymous with eminent prerogative and meritorious intelligence. (trans: If it’s hard to understand, it must be official or written by someone very smart 🙂 Along the same lines, a 500 page manual is somehow more valuable that a 10 page flyer (even if they contain essentially the same information)

As part of a process re-engineering initiative that I led, we went after documentation that had a low “signal to noise ratio” and had people rewrite them using the simplest wording possible (while maintaining the meaning, of course). In one case, we had a 50+ page manual reduced to a 3/4 page checklist. Even our legal department bought into the idea and reduced a huge software support agreement to a single page written in plain english instead of “legalese”.

I’m sure that if someone took a critical look at most of these “on boarding” manuals, most of them would reduce to a single page welcome letter with a bullet list of expected conduct.

Imagine the energy, fuels, time and resources that could be saved by removing all of the communication of “non-information”.

While I have a great respect for wordsmiths and authors, Corporate communications generally aren’t the place to flex your literary muscles. This is especially true in the age of globalization. Many people reading your memos and manuals may not be fluent in the language. Using flowery language and less common words will certainly lead to misinterpretation.

Check out the Campaign for Plain English:

The Value of Instant Messaging

What is the most compelling reason to use “Instant Messaging” or “Texting” technologies in your professional or personal life?

Why do you use IM or text? Do you see these technologies spreading in the coming years?

Bill McDade

President at Arcella Global Corp.

I use IM for a number of purposes:

1) Quick information gathering in real-time. I can pull together a group of people in an IM conference for a 2-minute discussion in a matter of seconds. Usually without interrupting what they’re doing (much). The same goes for 1:1 exchanges.

2) Multitasking. When on a conference call or working in a room with another group, I can receive or pop-off a quick IM to keep on top of issues without leaving the room or breaking the flow of a conversation.

3) Supporting remote work. I work with a lot of geographically diverse teams. IM is the online equivalent of calling over the cubicle or leaning over to the person next to you in a conference room for a side comment/discussion.

All of these things require a particular mindset and discipline to stop them from becoming disruptive. But once the culture is well established, it’s difficult to understand how you ever survived without it.

One thing that I find particularly valuable is that IM forces people to think about the question that they want to ask or the response that they want to provide. Instead of listening to someone blather for 5 minutes with irrelevant “filler” information, you get nice concise questions and answers. You can also forgo a lot of the social pleasantries of a phone or face-to-face conversation. (not sure if that’s a good thing, but it’s certainly a time saver)

The Most Valuable Corporate Training….

What is the most valuable professional course that you’ve taken and why?

Please share your experience with training in the professional environment. What is the most valuable class or course that you’ve taken? Why was this experience so impactful?

Bill McDade

President at Arcella Global Corp.

I’ve taken a lot of professional courses and I have a spew of alphabet soup after my name with the various certifications that I’ve received. However, the most valuable training that I ever received was when i worked for a company called CableData.

As part of the “on-boarding” process, they ran a multi-month program called CDIT (CableData Intensive Training). It included the standard “this is our product and how to use it”, but it also included working in every department throughout the company to understand how everyone fit together in the overall process. You didn’t spend a lot of time in each role, but it gave you perspective that’s impossible to get any other way. In a given day you might find yourself working with the people on the loading dock, running the collators that stuffed the bills and flyers into envelopes or taking customer calls on the help desk. At the end of the process, they actually arranged for you to work on a customer site and cycle through the jobs that their tools impacted. (that included riding with cable installers and seeing what kind of customers *they* encounter in a day. It was an enlightening and somewhat humbling experience.)

This was about 20 years ago, so I doubt that they still do the same sort of training today. But it’s an experience that stuck with me. I learned that no job is inherently more valuable than anyone elses and that it takes a lot of different gears to keep the machine rolling. Knowing it intellectually and experiencing it first-hand are radically different things.

What should a Green IT Maturity Model look like?

What should a Green IT Maturity Model look like ?

Situation: Information and communications technology (ICT) accounts for approximately 2% of global CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to Aviation……Gartner

Complication: Social, political and economic forces are going to be putting increasing amounts of pressure on Information Technology organizations to play an active part in ‘Green’ initiatives and also to become more ‘Green’.

Question: What should be the key dimension and phases of a ‘Green IT Maturity Model’ that could be used by information technology organizations to understand their current and future ‘Green’ states?

Green IT Community of Practice

Farhan Malik

Enterprise Architect and Business Technology Strategist

That’s a fantastic question. I’d love to see an organized effort to actually define “green” through some sort of model like this.

It’s a massively complex issue and one that really deserves a systematic approach.

Another possible approach would be along the lines of what companies seem to evolve through today:

1) How much power is the infrastructure is using? (this is where most companies seem to be, today with Green initiatives)

2) What’s the cost and impact of decommissioning? (Recycling/disposal)

3) What’s the cost and impact of acquisition? (Manufacturing, components, transportation, etc.)

4) What’s the total lifecycle impact (Manufacturing-recycling+transport/packaging/distribution+operation+disposal)

5) What’s the total impact/cost of business and technical decisions
(If we upgrade to Vista, how many machines go to landfills, what’s the footprint of the new memory and drives, etc. – power savings. If we allow people to telecommute, what’s the total environmental impact (both to the company’s total and to each telecommuter’s home?) If we go paperless, does it offset the environmental impact of the servers, software, client PCs, etc.If we execute this marketing strategy, what’s the delta in our footprint).

I don’t think that there’s enough transparency in most vendors and products to really reach “5” at this point. But I can easily see the day coming.

The next step would be expanding beyond a simple carbon and toxic materials equation and looking at impact more holistically. If a product is manufactured in a developing nation, does that economic impact translate into an environmental impact? Do identical facilities and processes physically located in different biomes have the same net impact? If a facility pushes out farmland, should the output product be be judged differently than one that was built in a facility located on top of a landfill?

It’s a fascinating topic and I hope to see more discussion around it.

What is “Innovation” for IT?

Picture the Monday morning meeting that you have to attend after coming back from Symposium. It’s you and your CIO and SVPs. The Topic: What is one innovative/mind blowing idea should we (WE MUST!) start doing/implementing now.

For years we’ve heard about such topics as Real-Time Infrastructure, Server Virtualization, VOIP, Service-Oriented IT, ITIL and others.

I would submit that these topics are NOT innovative. To borrow a term, these topics are “birthright services” for I&O.

For some companies there are significant benefits to be gained by improving their implementation of some of these topics but you are not success in today’s game if you’re not doing this stuff! Every CIO has heard (heard the words but maybe not gotten the message) about these topics. Rehashing these same themes is not going to make an impact.

What’s innovative these days?

(Question from “capstick” on the Gartner Symposium Forums)

Honestly, I don’t believe that there’s anything really new. But there are a lot of “old” opportunities that a lot of IT groups aren’t exploiting.

The biggest one that I can think of is true collaboration with the business and a sense of partnership at all levels of the business and IT. At the top, that includes making sure that IT has a seat at the table. There needs to be a continuous dialog concerning what opportunities the business has and how IT can help to exploit them. Tools that provide the visibility (both ways) and facilitates that communication are part of that. But the behavior is the most important thing. Everything else is just an optimization exercise to squeeze out more work at less cost.

There are a few “game changing” technologies, but the real Innovation comes from process and culture changes, not from the tools themselves. IT should be a facilitator of Innovation and should be engaging the business to find the application and business value in the tools. To do that, we need to get out of the commoditization mindset and back into one of business partnership.