Saturday, December 19, 2015

Project Management Framework

Anywhere I go, I notice that there are always options to improve the project management framework that the organisation uses. Despite the increased popularity of agile methods, classic project management remains important and relevant.

Via the attached link, you can find a document that shows a project management framework mapped to the products of the system development life cycle. Specifically because this SDLC varies per project type. In the document I have included 2 variations for this. One for infrastructure projects and one for application delivery projects.

You can adapt this model to your needs. You can add more variations. You can specify which products will be mandatory and which optional. You can also adjust what the level of planning accuracy will be required per phase. And of course you can add and remove phases, products, etc. It's just a starting point, but the structure has the advantage of giving in a single picture the whole approach and which products to deliver.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Big data? well, try to get little data right first

National Australia Bank reminds me of a football team mate of a long time ago. When he asked you if you wanted a beer and you said no, he would give you one. If you said yes, he would give you three.

NAB sends a banks statement by mail even if we said we don't need one and will get them online. If  we say we want one, we get two. They just can't get it right. Somewhere in their computer system they have missed the concept of the shared account. We have tried to rectify this a few times, but without success.

The dutch ABNAMRO bank is not much better. They have problems creating a new account for my son because his details sit somewhere deep in the system. Staff can't find him when you call their helpdesk or visit a branch. But the account can't be created. We'll give it one more try.

If companies can't get their basics right, they should be careful with trying to be smart with big data. Of course a single error does not matter too much when driving market trends or bother people with so called targeted personalised advertising.

But even the specialist organisations can get things horribly wrong. The dutch bureau of stastics (CBS) sent my son a survey relating to his driving experience one and a half year before his legal driving age. I won't repeat what I said when I saw this letter.

The problem with the bank examples are probably bad user interface design or bad information architecture. Besides this, probably a bit of uncaring employees who don't want to go all the way to provide a good service, both during building and maintaining the system as during customer service.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cultural differences, rules and frameworks in IT

Having moved back to the Netherlands from Australia, it is fun to see again that the cultural differences are also reflected in how the profession is approached. Just as businesses are different and have different corporate cultures you see this also on the national level.

One of the first things you notice when you arrive in Australia, is that first of all driving in traffic is a bit more relaxed. You don't have all the bikes and almost everyone keeps to the speed limit. In the Netherlands it is all much more aggressive on the road. The rules on the road in the Netherlands are a bit more logical to me as it is in Australia. For example, I found it rather illogical that each time the left lane (the slow lane) disappears. This makes it that people are constantly merging while this would not be necessary. I had to laugh when they finished the M2 upgrade in Sydney, at some point they first showed a sign "keep left unless overtaking" and immediately following a sign "left lane ends". Sydney roads are just a mess. Of course no-one keeps left. Everyone drives in the middle lane.

In the recent years, ITIL has become very popular around the world and has become the defacto global standard for IT Service Management. Though it is a UK developed standard, it is not a surprise that the Dutch were the early adopters. The same thing applies to Prince2. Whereas PMBOK seems to be more popular in the US and Asia including Australia, is it all Prince2 over here.

Now that I am back, I am confronted with two additional frameworks created in the same spirit as ITIL: Application Services Library (ASL) and Business information Services Library (BiSL). If you have the experience, they are pretty straightforward. The question is of course whether you need to master these frameworks in order to do a good job. Not necessary according to me, but I have seen enough situations where they would definitely add value.

And do the Dutch manage their IT better then the Aussies? From what I hear not be definition. In the end most of it is common sense and if you have quality people who understand IT (and information) and how to manage this effectively, you would do the same thing.

The risk with too much process and procedures is that you become slow and bureaucratic. Not that these frameworks intend anything of this. It is a different way of running your business or your country. Being more lean can make you more agile, supports growth better and can increase profitability. However you have a higher risk that you do things wrong and inefficient. Having more rules and more focus on doing things right, can avoid that but has a risk that you increase the bureaucracy and that you slow your business down. Ideally you have only top professionals who know exactly what to do so you can cut out all the bureaucracy and be lean and agile. But unfortunately that is not always achievable.