Coffee Shop IT

A practical analogy for operating your IT function "like a business", with emphasis on design, usability, sustainability, and rigor. Think of your team as the boutique consulting firm that it really can be. The real payoff comes when you focusing on the built-in advantages of the internal team ...
Read More ...

Help for the Newly Minted Project Manager

Congratulations! Due to the recent [acquisition / divestiture, market expansion / contraction, organizational realignments, other] you have been identified as a Critical Resource for this particular bit of business process change. And, to help us implement these changes, you have been named the Project Manager for this effort. So now you are a Project Manager (PM, for short); what does that mean? You may be vaguely aware that people get certifications for this sort of thing, or that Microsoft sells…

Read More ...

Defining Business Benefits: Hard and Soft

All projects should have a clear objective, a practical plan, and an understanding of the costs and benefits to get the thing done. Easy to say, but a lot of project teams struggle to crisply and clearly define specific business benefits. One way to move the process forward would be to have a clear understanding of the types of business benefits you might claim. Hard benefits come from firm commitments to make measurable differences in the amount of revenue generated…

Read More ...

IT Budget Hacking (w$$t)

Some block-and-tackle IT management stuff for today - taking a long, hard look at the IT budget, a task that is less-than-pleasant for many. Most of my peers have already cut any and all low hanging fruit - it's time to start thinking aggressively. Software Maintenance for the Small Stuff Most have concentrated on their ERP and other large, strategic vendors - but what about all of those little invoices that come every year? I'm talking about development tools, management…

Read More ...

Technical Debt and the Cost/Benefit of Knowledge Retention

A rather rigorous, Financial-sounding title for a high-concept line of thought ... Thanks to Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror, for calling my attention to this article by Martin Fowler on Technical Debt: Technical Debt is a wonderful metaphor developed by Ward Cunningham to help us think about this problem. In this metaphor, doing things the quick and dirty way sets us up with a technical debt, which is similar to a financial debt. Like a financial debt, the technical debt incurs…

Read More ...

Do you want it good or fast? Prioritizing Time-to-Value over Requirements

I have a background in software product development, iterative "methodologies", and the sort of fast-twitch life cycle that characterizes entrepreneurial startups, high-growing businesses, and "lean" process improvement projects. Unfortunately, this style is also favored by departmental developer wannabes, sloppy coders, and impatient Gen-Y newbies that want to apply a consumer products mentality to corporate IT. <aside>Yes, I'm throwing a bit of a challenge out with that last statement. I understand that as the demographics of my IT team changes, management…

Read More ...

Measuring and Reporting IT Value (2 of 2)

My last post generated some interest, so here's the rest of the examples. Last time, I wrote about the simplistic approach to measure and report on IT value: Is your IT group working on the right things? Are they working on the right things well? Is your IT spend comparable to industry norms? Is your IT spend comparable to other measures of company performance? A bit more detail ... balancing quantitative and qualitative ... (Quantitative) To make sure you have…

Read More ...