IT

Marketing has dramatically evolved in the last 20 years. The rise of digital marketing and the exponential growth in marketing technology solutions are just a couple of things that have brought a new level of complexity—and power—into the hands of marketers. But, as the saying goes, “With more power comes more responsibility.”

Chief marketing officers and their teams are facing greater expectations to demonstrate results across their organization. Marketing investments are under continued scrutiny and organizations are being tasked to perform at higher levels with the same or fewer resources. The bottom line:  today, marketing organizations must demonstrate steadily increasing ROI while achieving higher levels of innovation, and team and client engagement.

So what?

 

Marketing organizations need to bring their A-Game. They must take steps to evolve their stack, processes, and strategy to keep ahead of the curve – and the competition. Wherever you are in your digital transformation, you should ask yourself:

  • Can you demonstrate how your marketing organization is aligned to the company’s strategy and driving real, measurable value for the enterprise?
  • Do you have the means to communicate full cost and ROI transparency to the CMO and business lines, and drive informed marketing decisions?

 

If you’re not confidently answering “yes” to these questions, here are the six steps you can take to build and bring your marketing A-Game:

 

1. Thoughtfully create your marketing stack

The number of marketing platforms has grown at an exponential rate, and it can be hard to know what the right strategy and tools are for your organization. Assess your current stack with these questions:

  • Can you qualify the value you get from each of your platforms and tools?
  • Are there gaps you can identify within your existing stack?
  • Could you possibly consolidate the number of tools you are using?

 

2. Build integrations

Like most companies, you likely have multiple systems of record. But it’s not effective to plan in one system, execute work in another, and host assets and deploy in others. Your holistic marketing story and accurate ROI reporting are critically important. Power your organization’s collaboration with integrations that seamlessly connect your stack to unlock and unify the data that enables these stories.

 

3. Organize your data & insights

Your stack is creating ever more data to manage. But the problem isn’t the data itself; it’s how to organize it in a way that leads to actionable insights. Define a best-fit data strategy for your stack. And with the right visualizations, your organization will be empowered with the ideas to make smarter marketing, business, and operational decisions.

 

4. Examine your existing processes – and do it often

Organizations and your marketing needs will continually evolve. Being comfortable may lead to a miss on an important technological advance that your competitors are employing.

  • Review your processes regularly to re-engineer and optimize them and to ensure they’re as efficient as possible.
  • Refine your organizational roles to maximize new capabilities.
  • Look into custom development options to create new automation opportunities within your organization.

 

5. Make change personal

Tools are only effective if you know how to use them and know why you’re using them. Equip your team with proven approaches and tools that affect lasting change. Discover methods that will influence behavior and allow your staff to understand the value of new capabilities. By encouraging your team to embrace change, you’ll drive operational excellence and create a model for the rest of the enterprise to follow.

 

6. Recruit an expert or find a reputable partner

Ultimately, bringing your marketing A-Game is complicated. It takes time, strategy, investment, and the right guidance to ensure you will have an ecosystem that positions your organization to win. In this process, don’t be afraid to recruit an expert for that industry or employ a technology partner to make strategic recommendations. Create a roadmap that aligns with your objectives, prioritize your specific initiatives and create the ideal marketing ecosystem for your organization. Your team will be able to focus on creativity and innovation, and you’ll watch your ROI (and credibility as a leader) soar.

 

Are you ready to bring your A-Game?

Through multi-city workshops, LeapPoint will provide senior marketing professionals a solution set that enables their organizations to align with corporate strategy and effectively and efficiently deliver value to the enterprise. We’ll showcase how to achieve these outcomes via a robust, intelligently integrated, set of best-of-breed cloud applications that holistically provide for this capability with effective governance.  All with the added benefit of actually making the end-user experience more efficient and effective.

Learn more about the marketing A-Game and register for an A-Game Workshop in a city near you at leappoint.com.

 

 

In the past, government operations relied solely on manpower. Everything was done manually, with no technology to build on or to store documents and more. Today, digital transformation has touched virtually every industry; however, the government is still a step behind.

To alleviate this lag, many agencies are starting to partner with SaaS (software as a service) companies. This is giving governments the unique opportunity to reduce their administrative costs while providing more services to their constituents.

What is SaaS?

SaaS is a method of software delivery allowing users to access data from any device that has a web browser and an internet connection. With this method in place, software vendors host and maintain the code, databases, and servers that make up an application.

This is a massive departure from the prior on-premise software delivery model that most government agencies used in the past (and that many still use today). With SaaS, companies don’t have to invest in hardware for hosting their software, which allows buyers to outsource IT responsibilities for maintenance purposes.

3 Ways SaaS is the Future of Government Technology

The federal government is not immune to the growth and evolution of technology. Three ways that show how and why SaaS is the future of government technology can be found here.

1. SaaS is Easy to Customize

There are many government websites and systems that suffer from inflexible designs. With modern SaaS applications, it’s possible to support simple application configuration. This means that end users can adjust the parameters that will impact the functionality of the system.

2. SaaS Products are Continually Optimized

A huge benefit of adopting SaaS in the government is the fact that these applications are updated more frequently than traditional software that is still used by most agencies and organizations. This ensures that new features and significant upgrades are available as quickly as possible.

Because the software is housed on a server, which is controlled by the vendor, it can be upgraded centrally. This is opposed to the traditional model, where the software being used would have to be upgraded on every single machine that uses it. What this means is that SaaS is easily maintained and all upgrades can be made instantaneously with the latest version at the source. This helps save those using this model both time and money.

3. SaaS Products Can be Easily Integrated with Existing Systems

While there are more than a few reasons that companies and organizations are transferring to web-based applications, the fact is that this transition is one that has been complicated for governments. This is mainly due to the use of legacy systems. These outdated systems hold quite a bit of data and information.

Integrating a new system means that all the information has to be migrated over from the former system, which can be a huge challenge.

When it comes to the migration process, there are two basic options that government agencies can opt for:

  • Using a cloud server built from scratch
  • Existing application migration “as is” to the cloud

With SaaS, the components are adaptable and flexible, which makes this migration fast and easy, minimizing the stress and hassle it may otherwise present.

While the federal government has been slow to adopt SaaS technology due to perceived challenges, the fact is that this process is not only worthwhile, it can also lead to huge cost and time savings benefits in the long run. It is something that government agencies should begin doing today to see all the benefits SaaS has to offer.

One of the most valuable assets of today’s companies have is information. As the digital era’s oil, data has become the world’s most valuable resource. However, without governing information appropriately, it can increase risk. It’s the reason why U.S. businesses spent an average of $8 million per data breach in 2018. Aligning your IT with your business strategy is essential for reaching your company’s business and financial goals and protecting its IT investments. That’s where IT governance comes in handy. IT governance is the formal foundation or core process to ensure your IT aligns with your business goals and strategy and a crucial component of corporate governance.

IT governance matters because it ensures your company is using its IT resources and assets effectively and efficiently to achieve the desired outcomes of your enterprise’s goals. It’s also crucial to implement IT governance to comply with laws and industry regulations, including privacy and data protection laws. But when you don’t update your IT governance in this age of digital transformation, you risk the protection of your enterprise’s and consumers’ data and privacy, facing lawsuits, and, ultimately, hurting your bottom line. That’s because sound IT governance prevents adverse situations, such as data breaches. Thus, it’s important to understand the principles for creating a successful foundation for IT governance.

Here are six key ways to achieve IT governance success:

1. Establish an IT Governance Mindset for the Entire Organization (Not Just CIOs)

Traditionally, IT governance has been seen as the responsibility of the CIO and executive leadership. However, IT governance success calls for a shift from CIO-dedicated ownership to ownership of a wider audience of organizational leadership. The board must determine the objectives that everyone in the organization needs to achieve. It allows for radical decision-making and is necessary for keeping pace with digital transformation.

2. Update Governance Views

A large part of modernizing IT governance requires a mind shift from enterprise leaders. That’s why it’s important that enterprise leaders update their views on IT governance. Traditionally, enterprise leaders view IT governance as a set of restrictions. But if you want to modernize your IT governance, your enterprise leaders need to think beyond restrictions. Instead, leaders need to understand that good IT governance is a digital enabler.

3. Focus on Outcomes (Not Fixed Processes)

A modern IT governance foundation considers more than fixed processes. Instead, good IT governance focuses on outcomes. That’s because outcomes provide proof. Leading digital enterprises exhibit an IT governance capability that focuses on outcomes. These outcomes require flexibility to change as often as necessary when specific situations arise. With a 47 percent hike in data breaches in the second half of 2018, ensuring the outcomes of the processes you implement is essential to protecting the business objective of securing user data and privacy. Thus, it’s critical to not only limit the focus to processes but to consider if these processes achieve the desired outcome.

4. Embrace Automation to Promote Adherence

Adhering to IT governance is a challenge for traditional IT governance compliance. It’s hindered innovation due to inefficient allocation of capital and puts enterprises at risk for falling out of compliance. However, modern IT governance leverages automation to promote governance adherence. Thus, it’s critical that your IT leadership and team takes advantage of the same technologies that are automating the workflows of businesses and apply them to IT processes. By embracing automation, you can encourage adherence to governance.

5. Customize IT Governance

Each company’s goals and needs differ. Moreover, time, industry trends and economic factors can change the business’ goals at any time. When this occurs, an outdated IT governance framework may not achieve your current, specific goals. That’s why it’s vital to customize your IT governance to your company’s current and unique needs.
There are several governance frameworks that leaders update to address the needs of the enterprise. Some of the common frameworks for IT governance include Factor Analysis Information Risk (FAIR), COBIT, COSO, Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) and ITIL. While these frameworks provide a foundation for establishing objective measurements and outlining important factors that take into account stakeholders interest, it’s important to choose a framework that works for your business’ needs and adjust the framework as the need arises.

6. Adjust Governance More Often

Modernizing IT governance requires adjusting the framework more frequently than in the past. While experts note that no formula exists that dictates the best times to refresh your governance program, they do advise adjusting your program whenever your organization evolves or its principles change. Facebook had to adjust its IT governance structure after the Cambridge Analytica data leak. From promising to cut off dormant apps from accessing user data to disclosing information about advertisers, the social media tech company has moved to adjust how it handles data governance to provide transparency for its users and protect user data.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that IT governance is a crucial part of any modern company in today’s digital era. But if you want to modernize IT governance, you have to put a few effective strategies in place. From extending the responsibilities of IT governance from CIOs to IT leaders to adjusting IT governance frequently, there are several key strategies you can implement to update your IT governance program. By using these key principles, you can set up your IT governance framework for success.

 

In my last post I talked about the benefits of having a dedicated Workfront system administrator. But from my experience with clients I’ve learned that not everyone anticipates needing full time resources to support a SaaS application. More often than not this stems from a lack of context—being unsure of what duties a sys admin could or should take on and not knowing just how much time those activities can consume. If your organization decides that it needs a Workfront administrator but doesn’t know what to expect, I have created a “starter” list of roles and responsibilities I have performed while working as a Workfront administrator:

 

1. User profile management (1-2 hours per month)

While your account rep will almost certainly ensure you don’t go over your license count for any extended period of time, it can be incredibly helpful to keep track of how close you are to the threshold, whether licenses are appropriately allocated across groups, and whether accounts need to be deactivated. Additionally, it’s a good practice to regularly validate that users have all the appropriate settings—layout template, job role, team assignments, etc.—even more so if you’re leveraging group administrators. Most of this can be easily done by setting up a few key reports. But they still require someone to manually check the information. Below are three simple reports I’ve used in the past:

  • Quarterly license audits
  • Bi-weekly Human Resources termination audits
  • Monthly groups and teams audits

 

2. Report and dashboard management (4-8 hours per month)

This one is no small feat. Depending on where you are in your Workfront journey, creating and managing reports could actually account for the vast majority of your time. The trick, of course, is to create a suite of reports that can be flexibly applied across users through a combination of wildcard filters. But the path to get there is not always so easy…or quick. In my experience, work in this area typically falls into one of three categories:

  • Create reports and dashboards to support project managers, project teams, and executive leadership
  • Customize layout templates for different user personas by applying dashboards to enhance the user experience
  • Quarterly report and dashboard audits

 

3. Custom fields and forms management (1-2 hours per month)

Custom fields can get tricky. Staying on top of field consistency and eliminating redundancy can be the difference between sys admin sanity and overload. But your users don’t really tend to care about all that so long as the fields and forms they need are to their liking. So it’s a “shadow” responsibility for any prudent admin to consistently review custom fields, make sure they have the right data type (string, date, currency, etc.), and that there’s as little redundancy as possible. Doing so will ultimately help keep the Workfront instance leaner and reduce the overhead associated with changes.

  • Create and update custom fields and custom forms to support the various teams using Workfront
  • Review fields across user groups and identify opportunities to consolidate

 

4. Create and maintain standard PMO processes and training documents (8-32 hours per month)

While Workfront is certainly a powerful tool it can’t technically dictate or enforce what your processes and procedures look like. It can help provide some structure; but it still requires users to take an appropriate set of actions in any given situation. That said, your processes certainly need to be simpatico with Workfront. And your procedures need to tie the two together. The Workfront administrator is a powerful resource for helping to do just that: defining procedures, mapping processes, and creating or maintaining training materials that educate staff on how to apply a process in a Workfront-driven world.

 

5. Troubleshoot technical Workfront issues and bugs and coordinate with Workfront technical support when necessary (40-48 hours per month)

I mean, come on, can you imagine a world without a support desk?

 

6. Test Workfront beta preview releases and inform executive leadership and the PMO of Workfront Release changes (4-5 hours per month)

Release management is a big one. There are really two scenarios: 1) completely new functionality or features are being released and you need to assess whether it makes sense to leverage them; or 2) features are being deprecated and you need to game plan how to roll out and train staff on alternatives. The latter doesn’t happen very frequently but when it does it poses a huge risk. Which is why someone needs to stay on top of the releases.

  • Workfront conducts three releases a year that have minor and significant changes to the software. It is recommended that a Workfront administrator or a dedicated resource review and test all new features in the Preview Sandbox region prior to launch
  • Testing is conducted to confirm that current workflows and processes will not be negatively impacted

 

7. Project development and management (1-2 hours per month)

These activities ring particularly true for organizations that don’t yet have fully matured project management methodologies—organizations where project plans may be subject to frequent change or the portfolio/project hierarchy is still fluid. But even teams that have been “PMO-ing” for ages will still find that they need to make the occasional change as they better learn how to take advantage of things like workflow automation and some of the other collaborative features of Workfront.

  • Create project templates in coordination with the PMO
  • Quarterly portfolio, program, and project audits
  • Quarterly queue audits

 

8. Perform general maintenance and updates of the Workfront system (4-8 hours per month)

Invariably things need to get tidied up. Even with the most careful user base there are errors and incorrect settings. And while it’s easy enough to ignore these things, they can go a long way to ensuring data integrity. And if you don’t care about data integrity right now, you will when it comes time to perform operational analysis. Want to know how long projects for a specific line of business take? Then you need to make sure the necessary custom fields are filled out. Need to re-baseline your project benchmarks? Then you need to have confidence in your duration actuals. At the end of the day, the data is all incredibly important, and while users do their best, you need a system of checks and balances to help ensure integrity and accuracy.

 

9. Create configuration documentation for all internal changes and updates to the Workfront system (1-2 hours per month)

A lot of organizations don’t take this one seriously. They see it as needless overhead. But from experience I can tell you it’s anything but. Configuration documentation is basically a requirements and design artifact that gets created when you implement the system and gets updated with each major change you make. It serves, in this sense, as a change log so that if ever you make a serious design/architecture faux pas you have a historical record of what things got changed from so that you can more easily change them back. Trust me when I say nothing is worse than implementing a major change only for there to be user mutiny and no quick means to change things back.

 

10. Traffic intake management (8-12 per month)

Depending on your processes or how many licenses you have, the number of users that can create projects might be incredibly limited. In these instances, traffic and project set up are handled, primarily, by system administrators. They act as traffic managers and make sure all the requisite details on custom forms are filled out and that all approvals are completed in accordance to PMO processes (as applicable). While this area of responsibility is more closely aligned with business users, it can often fall within the purview of sys admins and, when it does, it can take up a significant amount of time.

 

By now, hopefully you’ve realized not just how important dedicated sys admin support is, but how much of it there is to do. It takes a lot of time from a very skilled resource and can be incredibly difficult for someone to do “in the margins”. If you’ve been doing the math you know my “starter list” can easily eat up over 70% of an FTE. And that’s before we even delve into more advanced functions like operational analysis and continual process improvement. The moral of the story is that, if you’re wondering if a dedicate Workfront administrator will have enough to do, you’re asking the question the wrong way. The real question is “who will support these responsibilities if you don’t have a dedicated administrator?”

 

If you’re interested in learning more about what to look for in a Workfront system administrator or if you’d like information on our managed services, contact us at info@leappoint.com.

Robotic process automation (RPA) involves configuring computer software or robots to automate and standardize business processes and communicate with other digital systems. Such bots work across application user interfaces, imitating the actions of humans, such as signing in and out of applications, checking emails, copying and pasting content, and filling forms.

RPA provides your business with greater efficiency, lesser costs and higher quality. It is applicable in a wide range of industries. It is not surprising that RPA is expected to be adopted worldwide in the next five years.

Technical Advantages of RPA

Ease of Implementation

RPA is easy to configure and deploy. It works well across multiple back-end systems. RPA software or bots interact with existing IT applications. They don’t need any re-architecting or system integration.

Efficiency in Business Processes

By automating IT infrastructure management, you can regularly detect and solve problems faster. RPA improves service desk operations and the monitoring of network devices, thereby increasing accuracy.

Machines can retrieve information, process language, and frame basic content much better now. This means RPA can respond to human beings in natural language rather than in software code, which helps you to conserve resources at customer support/service centers.

You can also use bots to improve personal productivity by deploying custom solutions in individual computers. Since all bots can be managed from a centralized server, your IT department would still be able to maintain control over all bots.

Proven Success

NASA launched four RPA proofs of concepts, found that all worked well, and is now opting for more RPA bots. The expectations of many organizations who implemented RPA pilots and proofs of concept have been met or exceeded.

Foundation for Other Applications

RPA is often the first step in your business’ digital transformation and in adopting artificial intelligence (AI). A recent survey on priorities in process and performance management found that 69 percent of digital strategies were achieved via RPA.

Is RPA a Threat to Human Resources?

RPA doesn’t mean that all your employees will lose their jobs. Instead, robotic systems will free them from repetitive, rules-based, non-subjective tasks, leaving them free to do jobs that need social awareness and decision-making.

Approximately 10-20 percent of employee hours are usually spent on dull, repetitive tasks. Most companies that implement RPA reallocate workers to more knowledge-based, creative and strategic processes, thereby improving productivity and innovation.

Your employees don’t need programming skills to set up RPA bots, assign them tasks, and manage them. Conversely, the bots might require direction from them to automate most processes.

RPA and Return on Investment (ROI)

A large percent of enterprises across industries are ready to make significant investments in RPA. It’s versatile and scalable enough to be used anywhere. RPA can provide a high ROI, thanks to its various benefits:

  • Improves all business processes
  • Provides uninterrupted 24/7 service
  • Reduces costs, increases throughput
  • Saves time and resources
  • Requires only minimal individual dependency and training
  • Delivers defect-free outcomes
  • Records all steps, making auditing easy
  • Maintains high security
  • Supports all compliance processes

RPA Best Practices

Before you opt for RPA, consider its impact on your business and employees. Use it not just as a way of saving expenses, but as a broader strategy.

Define desired ROI and focus on it. Find a good service provider to help implement RPA. Automate a stable, rules-based, repetitive, optimized, high-volume process first.

Build an RPA team capable of assessing feasibility of proposals and deploying RPA, managing it, and monitoring its efficiency. Gradually automate large, impactful processes. Combine non-intentional and planned RPA.

Ensure compliance with policy, corporate and legal requirements. Develop ROI metrics for RPA to help you make better decisions, learn from any problems, and optimize solutions.

RPA will deliver real value if you set well-defined parameters for it. When managed well, the relationship between technology and people can be quite fruitful.

Businesses today rely on being able to analyze large amounts of data to monitor performance and inform their decision making. An IT-governed business intelligence platform ensures that information technology is used intelligently to further the goals of the business. However, IT-governed BI platforms have both pros and cons for an organization. Let’s take a look at which solutions are the best options for IT-governed and non-IT-governed data environments.

What is an IT-Governed BI Platform?

An IT-governed BI platform allows IT to control the flow of data through an organization. This means that users see only the data that is most relevant to them. The platform allows the business to use this data to support better business decision making. Analytics software solutions allow businesses to analyze data and draw conclusions that can help to guide strategic and operational decision making. When you have a clear view of what is going on in all areas of your organization, you can make better-informed decisions that make the most of all the resources in your business.

The Advantages of Having an IT-Governed BI Platform

Using an IT-governed BI platform has many advantages for a business. The analytics and insights that IT-governed BI can provide help businesses to make data-driven decisions that are based on facts, not guesswork. An IT-governed approach changes the role of IT within an organization, redefining it as working toward the achievement of business objectives. Too often, IT ends up struggling to meet the challenges of dwindling resources and responding to a seemingly never-ending stream of problems. An IT-governed BI platform aims to fundamentally shift the approach, giving the IT department a central role in driving important decisions by empowering it to use conclusions drawn from data.

The Disadvantages of Having an IT-Governed BI Platform

Not every business is able to make an IT-governed BI platform work. Some businesses simply do not provide their IT departments with the resources they need to take on the role demanded by this type of platform. If your company is not ready to invest in the resources necessary to make an IT-governed BI platform work for your business, you need to be aware that the benefits provided by this type of platform could be very limited.

To IT Govern or Not to IT Govern: Which is Right For Your Business?

IT governance is one option for companies that are keen to use data analytics and business intelligence to drive their decision making and strategy setting processes. However, IT governing is not always the right approach for every organization. When making the decision over whether to IT govern or not to IT govern, it is a good idea to get a consultant partner on board to guide your decision making. Contact LeapPoint today to find out how we can drive innovation in your organization and help you get the results you want.

To compete in the world of dynamic and disrupted digital markets your organization needs to develop the right technology and IT strategy for success. Here are 5 steps to building a better IT strategy for your organization:

1. Traditional or agile?

You’ve heard time and time again the difference between agile and traditional approaches, but do you know which method your organization needs?

Traditional IT Strategy

The traditional approach to developing a new technology strategy involves a structured and sequential process that produces a long-term view of the organization’s technology requirements together with a plan for meeting these needs. Technology strategies developed using the classic approach have a 3- to 5-year time horizon in line with your organization’s vision and business strategy. But focusing purely on long-term goals and plans could actually limit the organization’s ability to respond to the inevitable changes in its markets that will happen over much shorter timescales. Long-term technology plans run the risk of diverging from the actual business needs, which inevitably change and evolve over time.

It’s important to acknowledge, though, the traditional approach to technology strategy has many strengths, and it can serve your organization very well if used in the right circumstances.

Agile IT strategy

The agile approach to technology strategy is based on many of the same activities as the traditional approach but with some key differences that take into account the need for speed and flexibility. The agile technology strategy requires a collaborative and interactive approach with IT personnel working side-by-side with staff from other areas of the business during every step of the process. Additionally, architecture plays a key role in this approach – it’s assumed that the organization’s current architecture is already documented and maintained as changes are made and that architectural principles and standards are established and are used to guide decisions made about technology initiatives.

2. Create your IT mission

IT missions are a great way to highlight cultural points that are of particular importance to the IT department. When formulating an IT mission, remember:

  • It should align with your defined corporate mission.
  • Create a set of simple guiding principles that will drive daily decision making. A great IT mission ought to be used in the recruiting process to gauge cultural fit; it should be used as part of the evaluation of staff; it should even be used to gauge fit of strategic vendor partners.
  • It should be created with at least a five-year time horizon in mind.

 

3. Work with your enterprise

No industry or organization exists that isn’t impacted by technology. Moreover, there is no division of the company that doesn’t need technology to implement its strategies. So, it’s essential that IT engages the rest of the leaders of the company early enough that the plans can still be shaped.

The best way to engage leaders outside of IT is to talk to them about the future. Remember, the conversations don’t have to be explicitly about technology – technology is the “how” or the means of getting to the ends. It’s more important to address the “what” first. If possible, IT should push department leaders to leverage a common framework so that strategic plans line up at the same level of clarity and granularity. By using a common framework, each department plan can be compared, and your organization’s IT team will be able to identify where common themes exist and suggest single solutions.

4. Develop IT’s own strategy

With IT’s mission firmly in mind, and with the insights garnered from having helped shape the strategies of the other divisions of the company and at the enterprise level, IT must develop its own plan. In addition to the inputs from the rest of the company, IT should conduct research into rising general IT trends such as:

  • More sophisticated and persistent cyber threats
  • The innovation of technology at a staggering pace
  • Clients expecting even more from IT
  • The war for technical talent
  • Industry volatility

 

Once the strategy is created, it is essential that the dots be connected with the initiatives and processes that IT will develop and deploy respectively.

5. Don’t discount the power of change management

“Change is good” is a common statement, especially in the digital transformation era, but you would be surprised by the number of well-formulated IT strategies that don’t end up generating the value anticipated because the plans are not communicated well, leading to only a few people driving the strategy forward effectively.

Change management is critical to the success of business technology programs geared towards realizing the mission and vision of an organization. To encourage positive and sustainable change across your organization’s departments, learn the 6 change management strategies that’ll help you avoid burnout and improve digital transformation adoption.

While many companies are moving toward DevOps processes and tools that fit that framework, few are actually implementing the workflow with the fidelity needed to make teams more productive, according to a Thursday report from 2nd Watch.

Implementing DevOps means fundamentally changing your software engineering process. As with any change of process, success depends on how well the people making the change embrace the principles of the new approach. If people reject, subvert, or undermine the DevOps philosophy, it will fail. Here are six of the most common reasons for DevOps failure, along with tips to increase your chance of success.

1. Creating a traditional “DevOps Department”

78% of the 1,000 IT professionals surveyed said that their organizations continue to have separate teams for managing infrastructure/operations and development—meaning that DevOps is still not fully underway. DevOps involves a collaboration between development, operations, and quality assurance teams. Creating a traditional DevOps department misses the point of making a transition to a DevOps mindset, and is likely to simply add more red tape to existing processes.

This is the opposite of what DevOps should accomplish. Yes, a DevOps implementation requires leadership, but that’s not the same thing as traditional, department-based management. Your DevOps strategy should be implemented as a framework in which your development and operations staff can begin to interoperate, not as a new department that’s tasked with overseeing these disparate groups and somehow forcing them to work together. Focus on getting teams to improve their communication with people working in other departments. In this way, it is possible to assign tasks to the right teams so that every task is completed at the correct point in the overall project workflow.

2. Failing to properly consider staff workloads and other resources

If your developers are already overworked, this might not be the best time to start a dramatic overhaul of their working processes. Before you spring a DevOps implementation on your team, take the time to quantify their workloads and measure performance metrics, so you can see whether individuals are coping with the demands your organization places on them. If you come across an unmanageable boost in workload, you can either re-prioritize the workload or hire new resources to address the staff shortage before you can start your DevOps implementation.

3. Setting unrealistic goals

Never underestimate how big a culture shock DevOps can be in an organization that currently uses a silo structure. You cannot expect everyone to immediately adapt to the change and deliver excellent performance from day one. Be realistic about how long a DevOps implementation is likely to take and set short-term and long-term goals accordingly. And remember: The larger your enterprise is, the longer this transformation is going to take.

4. Creating “hybrid” DevOps while keeping old structures

Some organizations try to reduce the culture shock of DevOps implementation by keeping the business’s old structures intact. However, giving into pushback from developers in this way can undermine the implementation. Rather than keeping the old culture intact, one solution is to build a true hybrid structure that keeps IT operations and development teams in their traditional silos but implements an agile methodology.

5. Misunderstanding the role of business owners

The role of a business owner is to make top-level strategic decisions about the way in which the business is run. It is not to micromanage everything that goes on in the company. While a business owner can decide that the company would benefit from implementing DevOps, they cannot always control how individuals and teams put the principles of DevOps into practice. Rather than trying to impose a new way of doing things, business owners should be willing to listen to the concerns of developers and IT operations employees and find solutions that help them to work more effectively within a DevOps framework.

6. Not embracing a culture where failure is tolerated

Transitioning to DevOps is, first, a cultural shift, and then a process and organizational shift. If you’re considering DevOps simply because “it’s the future”, rather than out of a desire to fundamentally rebuild and improve your business processes, success is highly unlikely.

A key part of the DevOps methodology is failure. Developers should not be afraid to admit to mistakes, particularly when talking about failures could be a vital learning experience for the whole team. When implementing DevOps, be sure to nurture a culture where failure is tolerated.

Unlike the traditional or “waterfall” method of software development, the agile approach does not treat analysis, design, coding, and testing as discrete phases in a development project. Agile has quickly become the standard methodology as businesses see the many advantages of adopting a more flexible approach to software development.

With testing integrated into the development process from day one, agile development often leads to higher quality products, as well as reducing risk. However, making the switch from waterfall to agile can be tricky. Many development teams end up awkwardly straddling the fence between the two approaches, which can make it difficult to effectively manage resources.

To root out any bad habits that carried over when your development team made the switch from waterfall to agile, look out for these warning signs that your team isn’t as agile as you think.

1. No sprint retrospectives

sprint retrospective is a meeting that occurs after a one-month development sprint. Usually held once a month, this is an opportunity for teams to discuss what worked well in the sprint, what could be improved, and what the team will commit to doing differently in the next sprint.

If your team does not hold sprint retrospectives, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to change work processes in order to improve the quality of the end product. Holding no sprint retrospectives means that problems persist throughout the development process, exposing your business to the risks of waterfall methodology.

2. Long stand-up meetings

Many people resist adopting agile methodology because they think they will spend too much time in meetings. While it’s true that agile development involves a daily stand-up meeting, these should be kept short to avoid eating into everyone’s work time. In fact, the name stand-up comes from the idea that people should literally stand during these meetings so they have an incentive not to let them drag on too long. To avoid stand-up meetings overrunning, have someone with good facilitation skills lead the meeting.

3. Improper product backlog management

product backlog is a list of all the work that needs to be done for a particular product, ordered to prioritize the most important tasks. Sometimes, backlogs can become so large they are difficult to work with. In that case, you need to break the backlog down into short-term and long-term items to make it easier to manage.

4. Failure to deliver product increments after each sprint

One of the principles of agile is that working software is the primary measure of progress. If your team does not deliver a product increment after each spring, that is a warning sign that you are slipping back into waterfall methodology.

5. Urgent tasks that interrupt workflow

When you use the agile approach, your workflows should be regularly adapted to prioritize the most important tasks. If urgent tasks frequently come up and throw your workflow into disarray, that is a sign that the team hasn’t done enough planning to anticipate the upcoming demands of the project. This might be because they are hanging onto waterfall ways of working, such as setting out a roadmap at the beginning of the project and failing to reassess it often enough during sprint retrospectives and daily stand-ups.

As the amount of data and the pace of business increases, the need to manage and analyze data in a user-friendly platform is undeniable. Business Intelligence (BI) tools are the go-to solutions for transforming data into actionable knowledge that informs your organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions. With a variety of vendors to choose from, and that all seem to offer similar features and make similar promises, selecting a BI tool can be a lengthy process. So here are five things you should consider when choosing your BI tool:

1. Integration

To narrow down your BI tool choices, you need to select a standalone solution or an integrated solution. If you’re considering a standalone solution, you will have no shortage of options. However, you may experience low adoption rates due to these solutions existing in a separate application. It all goes back to that adage: out of sight, out of mind. Whereas reports in integrated solutions can be accessed and viewed through any pre-existing applications, websites, and services within your company – locations that users are already familiar with and use regularly.

Pro tip: If you choose to move forward with an integrated solution, you should ask if it is partially or fully integrated since some companies may not specify.

2. Data Management

Data management is at the core of everything you want to accomplish with a BI tool. When you are choosing the best BI tool for your organization, you have to consider your data and the functionality you’re seeking. The solution you choose should support access to multiple data sources (i.e., data warehouses, internal databases, the cloud and data marts), and depending on the disparate sources you are using, it may also need to cleanse and transform your data for proper use within its system. You will need to determine whether the tool must import data into its store before processing it, or if it can handle data queries on the fly – the answer to this question could have a notable impact on the speed at which you can access your data. You also need to ensure that the tool enables data manipulation once imported and find out what the limitations are on data capacity.

Pro tip: Some BI tools load your existing database data into their software and generate reports from there, saving you time from setting up your own data infrastructure. This type of tool could work if your data is small and fragmented. However, as your data increases, the cost incurred will also increase, and you would be limited to the functionality provided by the BI tool since your data would be stored within it.

3. Security

Security is non-negotiable for today’s mobile workforce. For internal security concerns such as access credentials, you must ensure the BI tool you are planning to buy is well equipped with proper encryption mechanisms. The tool should also offer you options to set the necessary permissions for protecting sensitive or proprietary information. These credentialing capabilities guarantee that secure data cannot be accessed, transmitted or altered by unauthorized users.

4. Visual Functionality & Usability

Your business intelligence reporting tool is the face of the whole operation. It’s what your users will refer to when making business decisions. So while ease-of-use, visual appeal, and intuitiveness may seem like nice-to-haves vs. need-to-haves, those user experience nuances can make the difference between successful user adoption or a refusal by employees to use the new system.

Pro tip: When deciding on a tool, you need to ask yourself the following questions

  • Is the tool easy to use?
  • Does the tool support a variety of user types?
  • Does the tool’s data visualization allow for customization and flexibility to support your goals and the requirements of the many functional groups in your organization?

 

5. Customization

No organization is the same in its operations and needs. You need to select a BI vendor that can support your requirements of today and in the future. It’s important to keep in mind that some vendors only provide minimal customization abilities, and others don’t give organizations the ability to expand. While this might work for a few companies, most will need a custom set-up –one that can integrate flawlessly into their operations, and develop as they grow.