Project Management

Thank you for checking out Part 1 of 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  By the end of the series, we’ll be back here in 2019 and even peeking into 2020 and beyond, talking about what it takes to survive and thrive in this era of modern work. 

But today, our journey begins pre-Digital Revolution, pre-internet, pre-“I have 37 notification icons blinking at me right now on 3 different devices”, or better known as The Good Ole Days. 

The Good Ole Days

The idea that all business processes across an enterprise share a single mission was once an obvious concept; picture the Mad Men office where everyone from the C-suite to the front line was connected through highly-structured, yet fairly primitive communication and execution mechanisms because technology had not yet enabled more complex and expeditious methods of getting things done.

With teams fairly centralized, and the typewriter and rotary phone the keystones of modern workplace technology, staying focused on the mission-critical priorities was nowhere near the quagmire it is today.

Since this scene is so far removed from what we experience in the workplace today, it may be hard to imagine how anything got done; even though everyone may have been quite literally sitting at the table, they didn’t have the tools we consider essential to doing work today.

But there was much accomplished.  Think post-World War II –men were returning home and to work, women were contributing to the workforce in unprecedented numbers – the economy was booming, consumer confidence and national morale soaring.  The Civil Rights movement began, the structure of DNA was uncovered, the polio vaccine and the first organ transplants was bringing hope to the afflicted.  And the computer, which would forever change the way we work, made the leap from exclusive science labs and war rooms to the business office.

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” Editor of Prentice Hall business books, 1957

 

Problems + Solutions = More Problems

Throughout the dawning of the Digital Revolution, as technology evolved more rapidly and adoption expanded with innovations becoming more accessible and affordable, the modern workplace, too, evolved.

Among other fundamental shifts, the very characterization of “team” changed – geographically dispersed teammates, connected by global networks (and able to visit in-person more easily thanks to parallel technology advances in the travel industry) were able to collaborate quickly and around the clock.

Similarly, the concept of “work” was entirely reimagined, where the physical became digital.  Where “work” was once a tangible object – definable, measurable, and repeatable, it became abstract – a new and strange concept where the workforce simply ushered information from one place to another.

In this new world, where the bottom line was hinged upon these dispersed teams, collaborating (faster than ever before) to shepherd information, a new problem emerged:  the old administration mechanisms couldn’t keep up with this new world of work.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Evolution of Modern Work series, where we introduce the 2 phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there. 

 

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.

 

5 questions to ask yourself if you’re debating getting a system admin for Workfront

Many of our clients ask if they should hire a Workfront system administrator. As an ex-sys admin myself, my short answer is almost always “yes”. Workfront, like any other SaaS application in your stack, needs consistent love and care to ensure you’re getting the most out it. And as such, I highly recommend adding a full-time sys admin to your team. In fact, depending on the size of your Workfront instance, you may need more than one. But before you decide to hire a Workfront administrator, ask yourself the following questions:

 

  1. Do your current resources have the time necessary to maintain and update your Workfront instance?
  2. How many users will actively use Workfront?
  3. How mature is the PMO/project management function at your organization?
  4. Does your team/department have the budget to hire a Workfront system administrator?
  5. Has your organization used a Portfolio Project Management (PPM) tool in the past?

 

Let’s take a look at each of these questions in more detail and consider how and why they impact the potential need for a system administrator.

 

1. Do your current resources have the time necessary to maintain and update your Workfront instance?

If your resources do not have the time to test, maintain, and update your Workfront instance, it is highly recommended that you invest in a Workfront administrator or hire a consulting company [insert shameless self promotion for LeapPoint] to handle admin responsibilities. One of the biggest misconceptions about SaaS applications is that you pay someone to implement them for you and then you’re done. Full stop. No more changes required. The reality though, is that environments are in an almost constant state of flux. As users gain a more complete understanding of what the system can and can’t do, their requirements often change; as teams and processes and procedures all evolve, so too must the system configuration; as new features are rolled by the software vendor you need someone there to assess what they are, if they should be leveraged, and then actually implement the necessary changes. When you start to tally up the list of things that need to be done it becomes pretty clear that it’s a difficult responsibility for someone to assume in their spare time. And that’s before routine things like fielding user questions or creating reports.

 

2. How many users will actively use Workfront?

This question really builds upon the previous.  Just because you have X-number of users does not necessarily mean you need Y-number of system admins. However, when you think about maintaining and updating Workfront for the various user bases, there’s obviously a correlation between the number of users and the number of teams, groups, and processes and, in turn, the general complexity of the configuration. Many large enterprises have hundreds if not thousands of active users. And so managing licenses, teams, groups, and companies within Workfront takes significant time and the larger your active user base, the more likely you’ll need a Workfront administrator. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule, my experience has been that organizations typically benefit from a dedicated system admin at around 100 paid licenses (Work or Plan) and an additional 1/2 – 1 FTE for every 150-200 users past that. While it may sound like overkill to some, remember that the system admins are really the ones who ensure things run like a well-oiled machine. They’re the ones who are going to make sure you’re able to use the system to drive measurable business value.

 

3. How mature is the PMO/project management function at your organization?

Successful change management takes time, energy, and money. The more significant the change, the more of each of those things it usually takes. So when we think about the project management maturity of an organization, there’s going to be a very strong correlation between how nascent or unstructured their approach to project management is and the degree of change inherent in bringing in a very structured, very robust PPM tool like Workfront (see “Has your organization used a Portfolio Project Management (PPM) tool in the past?” for more on PPM). Having a dedicated Workfront system administrator can help promote and implement PMO initiatives or related PM processes if you don’t have a formal PMO. Even if you don’t have clear workflows and processes (or perhaps especially if you don’t), a dedicated Workfront administrator can help reduce the time it takes to implement changes at your organization, especially if change happens frequently.

 

4. Does your team/department have the budget to hire a Workfront system administrator?

The one’s pretty self explanatory. You can’t buy what you can’t afford. A couple of thoughts on the topic though. When making the case for sys admin support think about the previous questions and the fact that the effort related to them isn’t really optional. If you want Workfront—or any SaaS application—to be successful and deliver valuable impact to the business, these activities all need to be given dedicated attention, even if the attention isn’t coming from a dedicated resource. So if you don’t hire a sys admin, those responsibilities still have to go somewhere. And that usually means tradeoffs in terms of productivity or quality or potentially both. The other consideration I’ll throw out is that, in a lot of organizations, it can be easier to get budget for contractor support than headcount. It’s also easier to contract out part-time system admin work than to find a direct part-time hire. Together these facts help bolster the business case for this type of support, especially when you can demonstrate the value a sys admin will bring (or the risk inherent in not having one).

 

5. Has your organization used a Portfolio Project Management (PPM) tool in the past?

Workfront is a complex and powerful PPM tool. With that being said, a Workfront administrator has the knowledge and capabilities to configure your Workfront instance as efficiently as possible. When thinking about the cost-benefit of sourcing a sys admin versus using someone from your existing team, don’t discount the learning curve required to truly become an expert. And not just an expert in Workfront. But an expert in PPM methodology as well—object hierarchy, object relationship, etc. And then think of all of that in the context of having to manage and administer Workfront as part of a secondary responsibility. It’s sort of like trying to fly the plane while building it……while trying to learn to fly…..while trying to learn to build an airplane. A Workfront system admin is someone who will come equipped with all of this knowledge, helping you drastically reduce the time to value on your Workfront investment.

 

Ok, so DO I need a Workfront system administrator?

A good administrator will know how to configure your Workfront system to maximize user engagement, increase overall tool efficiency, and improve the effectiveness of the system and the way it’s used. They will know the limitations of the tool and when to “customize” objects (i.e., develop new features that are not out of the box features) in order to meet your organization’s demands. And they’ll know how to strategically “evolve” the configuration to provide continued improvements at a digestible pace. In a nutshell, they’ll enable your organization to leverage Workfront to drive tangible business value. So do you need one? Almost certainly.

 

But not every organization can justify hiring a full-time Workfront administrator. Some organizations repurpose an existing role so that part of the resource’s time will be devoted to Workfront administrative duties. Other organizations contract consulting firms like LeapPoint to perform Workfront administrator roles on their behalf. Either way, hiring or contracting a Workfront administrator will help your organization maximize user engagement, mitigate technical bugs and issues, and reduce the time and cost of fixing, maintaining, and updating your Workfront instance.

 

Still not sure? In the next post I’ll delve into more details about what the day-to-day looks like for many admins, providing a discrete list of responsibilities to help the Workfront community get a better sense of the full scope of the role, and discussing how Workfront administrators can help drive continuous improvement for the organization.

 

Want to learn more about system admin support? 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.

Digital asset management (DAM) software gives businesses a platform for storing, retrieving, and sharing digital content such as videos, photos, audio files, presentations, and images. Instead of keeping files on different computers, businesses can use DAM software to create a centralized library that gives everyone access to the content they may need.

 

How DAM Software Can Benefit Your Business

Before you purchase DAM software, you should learn about some of the ways it can help your business. You should also learn about some of the most popular software options and the features they offer.

 

Organize Your Digital Media

Without DAM, your business doesn’t have an easy way to organize digital media. At best, you can try to keep certain files in one folder. Given enough time, though, people will forget where they saved files. When they need to retrieve them, they end up wasting a lot of time searching for the files they want.

DAM organizes your files in a central location, so you can quickly find the items you need. You can even add metadata to help you find content. Instead of losing your assets, you organize them in a convenient place that the whole team can access.

Improve Workflow

Since everyone involved in a project has access to the files stored in your DAM software, you can reduce redundancies that slow your workflow. The best DAM software has built-in workflow management features that let you track a project from beginning to end. The smoother your workflow gets, the faster you can bring your projects to market.

Manage Rights and License Agreements

You may not own all of the digital media that your company uses, so you need to keep track of each asset’s rights or license agreements. It’s very difficult to manage rights and license agreements when you store media in folders.

When you use DAM, though, the software remembers all of the rights and license agreements for you. That way, you never mistakenly use content that could get you sued for copyright infringement.

DAM Software Scales to Your Needs

Digital media files can take up a lot of space on your computer, especially when you work with audio and video. Cloud-based DAM software can scale to meet your current needs. If you need more memory today because you’re working on three videos, then the software can accommodate that. Tomorrow, when you work on one video, the software automatically scales down.

Once you find the right DAM, you have all of the memory and processing power that you need to finish your projects.

 

The Top 3 Digital Asset Management Platforms

Make sure you review some of the most popular DAM software options so you can choose one with the features that matter most to you.

Bynder

Bynder excels at giving users access to templates that make it easier for designers to complete projects. Since Bynder uses the AWS cloud, the software can scale to your immediate needs. As your business grows, the software will grow with you. Finally, Bynder has a built-in, customizable workflow feature that lets you improve efficiency and track each step in a project’s progress.

Aprimo

In addition to storing digital media, Aprimo can automatically approve each step of a project. Assuming that the software approves terrific content, you should see your efficiency improve significantly. Aprimo also benefits from its ability to connect to other systems, including Adobe Creative Cloud, eCommerce, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Adobe Experience Manager Assets

Adobe Experience Manager Assets makes it easier for colleagues to collaborate. The collaboration feature should help improve your office’s efficiency. Adobe Experience Manager Assets also stands out for its AI insights. The software will review your content and tell you where you get the best ROI.

Many DAMs will let you try a demo before you purchase. Explore your options, find one that works well for you, and get your DAM life in order.

The transition to digital technology has disrupted nearly every industry. In today’s marketplace, change is no longer optional. Organizations that fail to embrace the digital transformation of business simply can’t compete. Some companies have attempted to move towards digital technologies, only to see their projects fail. Unfortunately, they took a technology-centric approach to convert their business practices. But successful digital transformation isn’t determined by your technology or your strategy – it is determined by the people who make up your business.

The power of human capital

The secret to successfully shifting organizational culture is the same whether you want to improve engagement levels or enhance digital prowess: strong, inspirational leadership at every level of the organization. From the top down, your management team must be capable of making a business case, influencing culture, and connecting with employees on a personal level. With the right leadership, transparent communication, and a strong focus on business solutions, your company’s transition to the digital world is sure to be a win.

Including the right internal resources

One of the biggest mistakes that transformation teams make is not having enough of the right internal people in the mix. The digital transformation of business appears, at first glance, to fall squarely in the IT department’s span of control. Though technology professionals play a critical role, there are a variety of additional internal resources that must be included in your project team. For example, you must enlist assistance from leaders with decision-making authority on operations, quality, and budgeting. Nothing slows a team down more than spending weeks developing a solution that doesn’t meet the needs of the business.

The most effective transformation teams understand that a collaborative approach is the best way to ensure all staff members are on-board. Enlist help from highly-engaged staff members at every level of the organization to take ownership of the digital transition. These early adopters are the first to test new technology, and they can be relied upon to train and encourage their colleagues. By including these individuals on the project team, the transition moves quickly and efficiently through the organization with minimal resistance.

Creating the most effective partnerships

Partners from outside the organization are critical to your success. Of course, this depends on the experience and expertise they bring to the table. Yours is not the first company to move towards digital transformation, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Connect with subject matter experts that have developed solutions for a variety of businesses similar to yours. These specialists make it easy to bridge the gap between technology and its deployment.

When engaging partners from outside the organization, thoroughly vet prospects as you would any other business relationship. You are making a significant investment in digital technology, and these individuals can dramatically influence your eventual ROI. Examine previous projects and gain a deep understanding of their successes and failures with other companies. Determine whether potential partners have appropriate capabilities for organizations that are similar in size and volume.

Depending on the product or service you offer and the clientele you serve, your needs will be markedly different. Make sure prospective partners have the experience and expertise required to create solutions that are right for your business.

Learn more about moving your business to the digital world – explore our services and products at www.leappoint.com.

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.

1. Add a billing record to safeguard project

Although Workfront has recently added a recycling bin feature, deleting a project can cause panic, confusion, and loss of productivity, especially if the project you just deleted was a request queue. Prevent any worry around losing key projects by adding a zero dollar billing record to them.

Even if your company or group isn’t using the billing record feature for its native purpose, it can be used here as an extra layer of protection against project deletion. Simply go to the project, create a new billing record, and set the status to Billed”. Then, if someone attempts to delete the project this error message will display and the project will stay out of the recycling bin:

 

2. Make a placeholder job role to prevent assigning users to parent tasks

By default parent tasks can’t be updated or completed independently from their child tasks. The one task detail that can be independently edited on a parent task is the assignment; however, when users are assigned to parent tasks we find that it often leads to frustration when they receive the inevitable error message for trying update the status or completion percentage. To help prevent project managers and other users from accidentally assigning workers to parent tasks, create a job role titled “Do not assign – Parent Task”. Assign this to all of the parent tasks on your project templates and it will serve as a reminder/safeguard that these tasks are a summary of their child tasks and shouldn’t have a user assigned to them.

 

3. As a plan license user, view the resource planner by user

(Note: this assumes your Workfront instance has completed the prerequisites needed for Resource Planning) The Resource Planner is a helpful widget in Workfront to manage the allocation of resources to projects and forecast their availability for future work. Formerly, this was limited to only users who were listed as Resource Managers on projects. With recent updates, however, any user with a plan license can get valuable information from the Resource Planner by setting the view to “View by User”. If the view is set to View by Project or View by Role, results will only be returned for projects where the user is listed as a Resource Manager, putting you right back at square one. View by User doesn’t have that prerequisite and allows other plan license users to see the allocation of all users, regardless if they’re listed as a resource manager.

 

4. Change ID to name in text mode

(Note: this only works for details tab) When creating views and reports in Workfront, there will be instances where the information you want to display is too many levels away from the object you’re working on. This will limit the display options from the field explorer. For example, when adding a column to a task report or task view for the name of the project sponsor, you will find the only option is “SponsorID”. While this makes sense to the Workfront database, this doesn’t provide much value to users viewing the report. Luckily this can be changed with a quick text mode edit.

While in the report or view editor, click on the column for the ID field and switch to Text Mode.

  • On every line where you see “fieldnameID” change the “ID” to “:name”
  • For example change project:sponsorID to project:sponsor:name
  • Click “Save” in the text mode window, then save the view or report.
displayname=Documents
valuefield=project:sponsor:name
querysort=project:sponsor:name
valueformat=HTML
displayname=
linkedname=project
namekey=view.relatedcolumn
namekeyargkey.0=project
namekeyargkey.1=sponsor
namekeyargkey.2=name

 

5. Flag task commit dates greater than planned completion dates

Commit dates are set by task assignees and can’t be changed by the project owner. While the project manager is notified when commit dates affect the project timeline, it can be hard to quickly review a project and see which task commit dates are later than their planned completion dates. With some text mode code, the commit date field can be added to a task view with conditional formatting to display in red when later than the planned completion date.

This can be done by adding a blank column to a task view and switching to text mode, and pasting in the code below:

displayname= Commit Date
linkedname=direct
namekey=commitDate
querysort=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.icon=false
styledef.case.0.comparison.leftmethod=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.lefttext=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.operator=gt
styledef.case.0.comparison.operatortype=date
styledef.case.0.comparison.rightmethod=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.righttext=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.name=fontstyle
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.value=bold
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.name=textcolor
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.value=d30519
styledef.case.0.comparison.truetext=

Click “Save” in the text mode window then save the view you’re editing. Now when viewing a task list, any user commit dates that are later than the planned completion dates will be displayed in red.

 

6. Link directly to queue topics

Have you ever instructed someone to submit a Workfront request and found yourself listing off the steps of selecting the proper request queue, topic group, then queue topic? Theses directions can be eliminated and the end user experience enhanced by sending them a link directly to the queue topic. Instead of sending the URL “domain.workfront.com/requests” with instructions on which drop downs to select, if you select the request queue & specific queue topic, the URL in your browser grows with each selection. This enables the URL to take the user to the specific queue topic without having to manually make any selections. This is incredibly handy when posting Workfront URLs on intranet sites for users to submit work requests.

 

7. Link directly to a sub-tab on an object

In similar vein to tip #6, URLs can also be built to take users to specific tabs on a project, task, issue, etc. To land a user on a specific sub-tab of an object, Workfront allows for a parameter to be added to the URL with the structure below:

https://<domain>.my.workfront.com/project/view?ID=5b6c7eb5003d2022cea3a135cca33ac1&activeTab=tab-project-updates

Normally when viewing a project (or task, or issue), the URL stops after the object ID regardless of which tab is being viewed. By adding the parameter “&activeTab” the URLs will navigate directly to the project tab of your choosing. Some more examples:

 

URL modifier Landing tab
&activeTab=tab-project-details-forms Project Details
&activeTab=tab-project-approvals Project Approvals
&activeTab=list-project-documents Project Documents
&activeTab=tab-project-updates Project Updates
&activeTab=tab-project-optasks Project Issues

 

The same concept and URL structure works on other Workfront objects such as tasks, issues, programs, portfolios, etc. For other objects, simply change the object reference in the URL examples above from ‘project’ to the object you’re referencing.

 

8. Make sure your browser zoom setting is at 100%

Occasionally, when selecting a request queue or an option from a drop down field in older browsers, the drop down option menu appears on a random part of the screen or, in some cases, doesn’t appear at all. Although this seems like a major issue, 99% it’s not a bug and can be fixed very quickly. Double check the zoom on your browser and make sure it is set to 100%. In certain browsers, if the zoom is set to a value other than 100%, it can cause issues with drop downs appearing.

 

9. Link to documents in a project or task view

Use this text mode trick to create hyperlinks to documents from a project view. When creating a project/task view or report, add a blank column and switch into text mode. Copy and paste in the text mode code below, and be sure to update the <domain> section of the URL with the domain of your Workfront instance.

displayname=Documents
listdelimiter=
listmethod=nested(documents).lists
textmode=true
type=iterate
valueexpression=CONCAT({name}, - "https://&lt;domain&gt;.my.workfront.com/document/view?ID=",{ID},"; ")
valueformat=HTML

Click “Save” the text mode window, then save the view or report. Now, when viewing the results, the names of any attached documents will be listed along with a URL to navigate directly to the document.

 

10. Find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents

After Workfront has been implemented, there will inevitably be projects in your system that were either created by mistake or abandoned shortly after creation. While many of these can be cleaned up by searching your instance for “Untitled Project” and deleting any results, this doesn’t work for projects that have had a name change. To assist in system maintenance, use this text mode to find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents. Creating a project report, go to the filter page, switch into text mode, and paste in the code below:

EXISTS:a:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:a:$$OBJCODE=OPTASK
EXISTS:a:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:b:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:b:$$OBJCODE=TASK
EXISTS:b:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:c:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:c:$$OBJCODE=DOCU
EXISTS:c:projectID=FIELD:ID[/CSS]

 

In our buzzword-heavy industry, it isn’t uncommon to believe that some keywords can have the same meaning – for example, data management and information management. Is there a difference between the two? After all, data is information — right? Well, yes and no.

What is Data?

Data is defined as, “Qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables.” Data is more than one such attribute value. Is data information? Yes, information is provided by data but only because data is always specified in some abstract setting. The setting includes:

  • The class to which the attribute belongs
  • The object which is a member of that class
  • Some ideas about object operations or behavior, and relationships to other objects and classes.

Data alone and in the abstract does not provide information.

What is Information?

Information is described as, “that which informs — the answer to a question of some kind. It is thus related to data and knowledge, as data represents values attributed to parameters, and knowledge signifies understanding of real things or abstract concepts.”
Data in its most basic digital format does not provide information. But when it’s combined with other data or is manipulated in some way, that’s when the organization derives value from the information — which then leads to knowledge.

Information Management vs Data Management

The process of information management involves the collecting, maintaining, and storing of information in every available format. When thinking about information management, it is the process of managing individuals whereby the technology and processes are providing control over the delivery, processing, structure, and usage of the information required for business and management purposes. No matter if the informational format is physical or electronic information, the organizational structure must have the capability of managing its information, as well as deliver to multiple channels throughout its life cycle.

Data management is a subset of information management. Data management takes the information a company has and ensures the data is accurate, available, secure, and complete. The process involves the facilitation of a variety of techniques providing that there is control over data from the time of its creation until the time of its deletion. Examples of data management include creating data governance policies, database management system integration, architecture and analysis, and data source identification and data security to name a few.

Why Both Matter to Your Business

When you utilize information and data management, you’re less likely to experience issues with loss of data, use of outdated information, security issues, breaches occurring, or mishandling of information or data. It’s critical for your company to work with contractors with a firm understanding of how to manage both – information and data- to ensure the smooth operation of your business practices with minimal risks.

By understanding the nuances of information management and data management, you can identify gaps in your approach and create a framework that drives high-quality data and, from this, more informed decision-making.