A few weeks ago, I spoke with Chris Larsen, principal analyst for consultancy firm IT Evolution, about the next step after project management. Organizations of all shapes and sizes are considering not just a strong project manager to lead their efforts, but also a business analyst to guide the content of those efforts.
Larsen said that, as of late, organizations have been focusing more on project managers than on business analysts because the business analyst role is less well known and only vaguely understood. But as projects continue to fail in IT, there is a shift happening. “The CIO is looking for something to more adequately satisfy customers,” he said. “Business analyst roles are popping up.”
What does the business analyst do that the project manager can’t do? Why are even smaller IT shops considering both skill sets? Larsen said that while the end result for both is technically the same — project success — they each take a different route to get there.
Project managers focus on all of the management efforts involved in completing a project — communications management, resource management, financial management, schedule management — “all of the different aspects involved in project execution,” Larsen said. Business analysts, on the other hand, focus on the content of the project — gathering requirements, understanding the business needs and expectations and translating them into a language both IT and the business will understand.
Larsen suggests looking at why past projects failed to see if better business analysis is necessary. If the project was completed on time and on budget, but the business customers are not completely satisfied with the results, “there was too much separation between the business and IT,” Larsen said. “The business analyst is somewhat of a liaison between IT and the business. If the business requirements were not gathered and documented, the project will be a failure.”
What’s going on in your organization? Is there room in your IT department for a project manager and a business analyst?
Twitter, schwitter: We’ve all been overexposed to social networking tools and news. But good, bad or ugly, Microsoft’s inclusion of LinkedIn as an officially supported plug-in for Outlook is a turning point. Social networking is no longer limited to early adopters — far from it — and it’s not something IT departments can ignore. If conservative Microsoft is putting it into ultra-conservative Outlook, you know you should be paying attention. Continued »
Over the past week, IT change management popped up a lot in my interviews with consultants, CIOs and IT managers. No matter what the topic of the discussion was (from new software deployments to consolidated business processes), every conversation led to the importance of IT change management and the CIO’s overall role in successfully executing it. Continued »
Going forward, IT is being asked to work more closely with the business, driving value and realizing investment benefits — while also maintaining technological support for the business. In order for midmarket IT shops to meet some of these goals and deliver strategically, something’s gotta give.
And it would appear something has. Midmarket IT professionals I speak with are dabbling increasingly in cloud technologies in one way or another. Private cloud? Not so much. But Software as a Service (SaaS) applications and managed or hosted services are seeing some real pickup. Continued »
If you’ve missed the SharePoint boat, now might not be the best time to buy your ticket.
While Microsoft unveiled some new features in SharePoint 2010, new users might not find them compelling enough to jump on board now. Many of its collaboration features and Enterprise 2.0 tools have been in the market for years and, according to a recent Forrester Research report, the feature set may be overkill for midmarket IT organizations with basic needs.
2010 might be the year of the middle manager. More specifically, we’ll see the rise of the IT project manager, with organizations planning to hire more people for this position in the coming year. Changing technologies have blurred some of the lines between business and IT and carved out a larger spot for this role. The days of Dilbert-ish project management stereotypes may be numbered.
I’ve recently spoken with a lot of IT managers about Windows 7 in preparation for upcoming coverage. Overall, everyone wants to know when they should migrate from XP to Windows 7 and why they would want to. In fact, I’m quite curious, too.
For the most part, midmarket IT shops currently running XP are in no rush to upgrade to Windows 7. The clean-install process and the associated upgrade costs are among the reasons. Plus, in most IT shops, XP SP3 is a solid operating system.
I recently spoke with a number of midmarket IT managers and executives about moving on from 2009 and moving into 2010. One topic that came up quite a bit during these conversations was where IT job opportunities and careers were headed. Almost everyone agreed that broad-skilled generalists would thrive in the midmarket because they could tackle more than one job — cutting labor expenses and onboarding costs. Specialists, they said, would struggle. Continued »
IBM announced this week that it was buying Lombardi, a successful and well-known BPM technology vendor. Lombardi has a range of tools that are both innovative and affordable for midmarket organizations (a few of which I’ve spoken to this year). But with some overlap between the two BPM portfolios, I wonder what this means for Lombardi’s midmarket customers – will IBM keep the products separate, or will it try to blend and rebrand Lombardi’s offerings into a more expensive piece of technology? Continued »
What’s the price for server uptime? How much would you be willing to invest to maintain five 9s of availability on your mission-critical line of business applications? With limited budgets and resources, many midmarket companies are investing an average of $20,000 in fault-tolerant servers and high-availability clusters to maximize uptime, according to a recent survey by the Information Technology Intelligence Corp (ITIC). Continued »