Technology

Thank you for checking out Part 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  If you’re just tuning in, check out Parts 1, 2, and 3 where we have walked through the history of work to arrive at the conclusion that the only way to master modern work is through the intelligent integration of best of breed systems, including an Operational System of Record.   

We’re here at our last stop in this journey – why do I need to master modern work? We’ll start with why and then we’ll meet some of the organizations that are on their “A-Game” in mastering modern work. 

Enterprise Business Outcomes

Surging consumer confidence and record-breaking market milestones have been the norm for the last few years.  But leading expert predictions and economic indicators are signaling a downshift.  Pair that with an increasingly chaotic political environment and heading into a Presidential-election year: in 2019-2020, we may not see the same upward curve.

Organizations that enter this uncertainty excelling at the essentials will be able to devote scarce resources to innovation; competitors, mired in the chaos of undisciplined modern work, are already struggling and most certainly won’t be able to keep up.

With the virtuous circle created by intelligent integrations of best of breed systems, including the Operational System of Record – where strategy, operations, and tactics are all tightly aligned, an organization can drive and achieve enterprise business outcomes:

  • Increase operational efficiency, reduce operational spend
  • Infuse innovation and digital change into the business
  • Create a hard-to-replicate competitive advantage
  • Enhance customer experience and employee satisfaction
  • Maximize return on investment and shareholder value

 

Meet the A-Gamers

There are organizations already on their journey to mastering modern work through the intelligent integration of best of breed systems to drive enterprise business outcomes.  In the public and private sectors, these organizations are at the top of their game – they’re the A-Gamers, bringing the A-Game.

A-Game Enterprises  

With an executive champion and full C-suite support, the A-Game Enterprise is fully integrated and marching in unison toward enterprise business outcomes.  The CIO likely leads the charge; with enterprise reach, deep insight into the technology landscape and ecosystem, and increasing demand in an environment of shrinking budgets, the CIO is uniquely positioned to bring the A-Game to fruition. These same organizations will likely be the early-adopters of a new C-suite role we’ll see emerge: the Chief Work Officer – a role dedicated to the invaluable asset of work.

A-Game Organizational Units

With a departmental champion, the A-Game Organizational Unit is fully integrated and marching in unison toward departmental goals that support enterprise business outcomes. Any organizational unit can be A-Game and even without initial enterprise buy-in, the A-Game Organizational Unit soon stands out – with strategy, operations, and tactics aligned, and actionable insights gained through the Operational System of Record, the A-Game Organizational Unit emerges as the most prepared, the most responsive, the most productive, the most resilient – a master of modern work.

A-Game Leaders

Even if the enterprise or organizational unit hasn’t adopted the A-Game, the A-Game Leader forges ahead. He or she knows the value of the A Game and champions the cause in his or her world of work. Portfolio / Program / Project Management Office Leaders are examples of A-Game Leaders.

Check out some of the A-Gamers LeapPoint has had the privilege of partnering with throughout their A-Game journey.

 

Thank you for joining us for our Evolution of Modern Work series.  Want to know more about mastering modern work and the A-Game?  Join us on our 13-city tour – The A-Game, Powered by LeapPoint; find out more at www.leappoint.com

Thank you for checking out Part 3 of our Evolution of Modern Work series. If you’re not caught up, check out Part 1  and Part 2. In these two parts, we introduced the pre-Digital Revolution concept of work and how it fundamentally transformed with the introduction of technology. We then explored the two phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there.

Modern Work, Mastered

Today, we’ll see how the adoption of best of breed systems was a significant first step in addressing the challenges of modern work. But to bring your A-Game, your systems must be paired with Intelligent Integrations, and something called an Operational System of Record.

Intelligent Integrations

If we think back to what organizations were trying to accomplish with big-box systems and custom development – “a common frame of reference for work across the organization.” – It becomes evident that disconnected best of breeds don’t make the cut.

It is not by chance, then, that incredibly agile integration technologies are flourishing in the best of breed era. There are four best practices, depending on the integration scenario:

1. Application Program Interfaces (APIs): An API is a connection between two systems for very specific purposes (e.g., pulling a Customer ID from System A for use in System B). Out-of-the-box APIs are incredibly common in nearly all SaaS. Particularly in best of breed systems so that they can “talk” to other systems to create a more seamless user experience across platforms.

2. Integration Platform As A Service (iPaaS): iPaaS is identical to APIs in purpose and outcome, but they offer extreme, codeless agility in connecting any Cloud-based systems – whether they have existing APIs or not.

3. Custom Integrations: Custom integrations remain an option, particularly in complex integrations or when integration involves any system that is not Cloud-based – some on-premise and legacy systems.

4. Robotics Process Automation (RPA): RPA is an appropriate option when the integration involves automating a highly repeatable process that occurs frequently and requires human interaction.

But let’s return to the example from APIs. Let’s say that the Customer ID pulled from System A for use in System B is then used by an Analyst to do a lookup on a public website. If she is performing 500 Customer ID searches a day, this is an excellent use case for RPA – automating the process and opening up the Analyst’s time for higher-value work.

But merely connecting the best of breed systems is not enough. In the same way that the human body operates through a complex neural network and all governed from a central command – our integrated best of breed network must also be connected and governed from a central command.

Operational System of Record

Every major asset of an organization has a dedicated system of record to administer, track, and manage the asset: human resource management systems for employees, customer relationship management systems for prospects and customers, financial management systems for money and transactions, contracts management systems for contracts, and so on. But what about work?

Work as an Asset

If we recall the characterization of work in the modern workplace, it’s the shepherding of information from one place to another. Information as an asset is not a new concept. The likes of Gartner and even the current US Federal Government Administration have laid out strategies for leveraging data as a strategic asset and championed the resurrection of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) role.

Another compelling case for work as an asset come from Harvard Business Review. They note that small ideas, borne at the proverbial water cooler, often make their way into business processes. And over time, more and more of these small ideas create a sort of intangible intellectual property – one that wouldn’t be showcased in a product or service or documented in a patent. These ideas become powerful differentiators that are extremely difficult for competitors to replicate.

Work is an invaluable asset on-par in value with, if not greater than, all other corporate assets. Institutional investors, who make investments based on hard, tangible, qualitative measures are looking at softer, more intangible measures because of a rather shocking discovery: “The most valuable aspects of jobs are now, ‘the most essentially human tasks: Sensing, judging, creating, and building relationships.’ A great deal of a company’s value now lies ‘between the ears of its employees.’ And this means that when someone leaves a company, he takes his value with him – more often than not, straight to the competition.”

Work Management “Systems”

Whether we acknowledge work as an asset or not, we are tracking it. Both structured work (e.g., planned project tasks) and unstructured work (e.g., an instant message conversation) are both tracked in systems, in documents, and our heads. We’ve even connected many of these tracking mechanisms through the integration methods described above. But connecting the dots still hasn’t revealed the big picture: Are the right people enabled by the right tools? And are they working on the right things, at the right time in the right way to achieve the right business outcomes?

Operational System of Record

The Operational System of Record (OSR) is the central command of our work neural network, the dedicated system of record for work. Work itself may be carried out in the connected best of breed systems. The OSR’s role is to create a virtuous circle, where tightly aligned strategy, operations, and tactics are planned, executed, measured, and adjusted in the context of enterprise business outcomes. The OSR achieves the organizational alignment of the Good Ole Days while capitalizing on the very best technology has to offer.

 

Stay tuned for Part 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series. In Part 4, we’ll delve into why mastering modern work is incredibly important. Additionally, I’ll introduce you to some of the organizations that are at the top of their game – the A-Game – in mastering modern work.

 

Thank you for checking out Part 2 of 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  If you’re just tuning in, check out Part 1 – The Good Ole Days, where we introduced the pre-Digital Revolution concept of work and how it fundamentally transformed with the introduction of digital technology. Today, we explore 2 phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there. 

Enterprise Work Management 1.0

Organizations adopted one of two approaches in hopes of harnessing the power of IT to adapt to the new world of work:  behemoth proprietary solutions or rigid and complex custom development.

The behemoth solutions offered a wholesale approach – covering commonplace business functions like Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, and more – and customization through configuration.  The singular platform was beneficial in that it anchored the organization – in the same way, the conference room did in The Good Ole Days – with a common frame of reference for strategy, priorities, and changing conditions.

But the solutions were “an inch deep and a mile wide,” offering “good enough” business process automation.  And because these big-box solutions were once seen as the linchpin to the modern work conundrum, vendors were able to – and even to this day in many organizations – lock buyers into expensive, complex licensing agreements.

The custom development option offered more customization but at the expense of “recreating the wheel” for very common, fundamental features and functions.  Custom development was also time/resource intensive; and in particular, during the Waterfall days, development could take months if not longer – and then, often failed to meet the intent of business requirements defined much earlier in the software development life cycle.

Both options offered pros and cons, but neither achieved what organizations were truly after:  a common frame of reference for work across the organization, configured with the fundamental business processes and configurable for the unique nuances of the organization.

 

Enterprise Work Management 2.0: Best of breed Systems

Enter the era of best of breeds:  in the “there’s an app for that” age, we’ve seen SaaS companies with deep understanding of a specific business function (e.g. Human Resources, Finance, etc.) developing highly customizable solutions built on a solid foundation of out-of-the-box functionality for optimizing the automation of common business processes.

Rather than recreate the wheel, organizations can use the SaaS foundation as a springboard for optimizing their business processes and automation, and then customize as needed through codeless or code-lite configuration. Best of breed systems also enable a modular technology ecosystem.  Modularity has two benefits:

  • Swap-In, Swap-Out Agility: Technology evolves rapidly and in the same way that an organization doesn’t want to be beholden to one of the wholesale platforms, it shouldn’t be obliged to stick with a best of breed when a better best in breed emerges.
  • Best (Fit) of Breed: The implied meaning of best of breed is something along the lines of “this is the best system for X of all the systems that do X”.  In that context, one might visit a Gartner Magic Quadrant report to find the Leaders in a particular area – these are the best of breeds.

But best of breed can also mean the best fit.  An organization may need the Leader for a customer relationship management system but may need a Niche Player product for its contract management system because of its business model.  Best of breed modularity allows organizations to pick and choose the right tools for their business needs, budget, risk-appetite, etc.

In some cases, best of breeds have received a bad rap for creating functional silos. There are two reasons for the accusation:

  • Technology Sprawl: or the uncontrolled proliferation of technology within an organization, is an environment where best of breed solutions thrive:  someone identifies a need, finds a simple app to fulfill the need, and installs the app – no questions are asked. In more recent years, the IT community at large has a collective light-bulb moment that technology sprawl was not the fault any particular technology, but of missing enterprise IT governance – where needs and proposed solutions for those needs are evaluated in a much more holistic context before decisions are made and acted upon.
  • Limited Integrations: Until more recently, the technical agility for connecting a nearly infinite number of apps and applets was nonexistent.  If organizations wanted to connect systems, custom integrations were the only option.  But that’s no longer the case…

 

 

 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Evolution of Modern Work series, where we uncover that best of Breeds systems, when paired with intelligent integrations and something called an Operational System of Record, is the answer to the challenges of modern work.  Catching up? Read part 1 – The Good Ole Days

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. 

DAM New York 2019 is now in our rear view mirror and it’s taken some time to fully process the experience. Attending as a sponsor requires a lot of preparation. It’s as if you’re throwing a party, cooking dinner, singing and greeting guests all at the same time. Still, we were excited to learn and collaborate with other DAM enthusiasts. Librarians, archivists, designers and more- we had a great time, met interesting people, learned lots and were absolutely ready to hit the ground running (after a weekend to rest). There’s a lot to unpack but here are a few observations after this event.

Useful AI in DAM is right around the corner

Artificial Intelligence is at the forefront of just about every technology gathering today. Gatherings such as the Henry Stewart DAM event are integral for the development of this cutting edge capability. We heard ups and downs of allowing AI to identify objects and tag content. In my experience, the most successful application is with a touch of machine learning (ML) and a hint of human intervention. The balance between AI/ML and human intervention is going to be a delicate one. A slight error can take the AI into a tailspin of poorly tagged content. Too much human intervention becomes counterproductive. We’re seeing machine learning take large strides to close the gap between what has to be trained and what’s ready ‘out of the box’. I’m excited to see how this technology develops. For now, I see digital workers playing a big role in augmenting the ‘human’ intervention as this application of AI is fine-tuned.

It’s not about the feature, it’s about the result

Yes, I realize my last observation was about a technology feature. At the end of the day, the technology we use is a tool to enable results. It’s a tough idea to completely embrace. Most people who attend a conference on Digital Asset Management are genuinely excited about where the industry is going. We get fixated on every new feature and all of the shiny new objects. This is the kind of passion that makes these events so much fun to attend. It can also be a barrier to adoption. Our users haven’t spent their professional lives understanding the impact of governance on scaling across the enterprise or why metadata matters in your archiving strategy and measuring campaign performance. Instead, our users have their own work to do and their own goals to accomplish. Unless we can show how it impacts the results, each feature is just a button that may end up skipped or worked around.

Governance without adoption is just a bunch of rules

During a panel session, someone asked me about how to actually get your users to buy into your governance model. In fact, this question was asked many different ways throughout the conference. The usual formula for implementing DAM is Scale = Structure + Governance. You figure out how it works on one team, document it and use those steps to bring on the next team. Rinse and repeat until you’ve taken reached every team and it’s instant scale, right? Well, that’s how governance grows. That’s how you grow the rule book. We need people to use the DAM to say we’ve really achieved scale. My response to gaining buy-in was simple: try to avoid saying “you have to”. To some extent, it’s really that simple. In practice, however, it’s much easier said than done. The reasons we face resistance vary greatly between groups and individuals. Sometimes it’s about understanding the bigger picture, other times it’s about enablement or awareness. There’s no hard and fast rule for making sure adoption happen smoothly. It’s a matter of understanding people and managing change. We’ll be exploring this topic in greater depth during a roundtable discussion at DAM Europe next month. I encourage you to stop by and listen to others’ experiences with this very topic.

 

If you won’t be in London or have comments/questions, reach out via LinkedIn or email me at nrashid@leappoint.com

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.

 

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.