Shell must be proud to add one more feather in their cap when it was announced recently as the “Project Management Company of the Year” award for the year 2014 by Association for Project Management (APM). The award ceremony was held in London. The recognition goes for Shell delivering all their capital projects in a better and safer way. It also recognizes the company as committed consistently to project excellence. It also recognized Shell Project Academy for preparing world class project and project management professionals by training in the most professional way.
It was not a cakewalk by any means for Shell. The other finalists for APM Project Management Awards 2014 were Allstate Northern Ireland, Moorhouse, Magnox Ltd. The finalists were sponsored by T-Systems. This particular award was sponsored by 20|20 Business Insight.
Zoho CRM has been quite popular among SMBs and otherwise companies with a limited budget to deploy one of the best SFA product in the organization. Around 80% of Zoho’s total revenue of USD 56 million comes from Zoho CRM. Zoho CRM is a preferred choice of many organizations because of its quite customer friendly pricing model that is substantially low as compared to other CRM products. Zoho’s simplified subscription and configuration model along with its attractive pricing model has been able to grab major portion of SMBs.
Zoho has around 40,000 customers worldwide but there is a catch in such a huge count. Most of its customers have a user base of 10 or lesser number of users. A good point about Zoho is that it support over 15 languages. Zoho believes in direct selling through its portal or otherwise and that is how it has been able to keep its pricing model quite low and attractive.
Zoho’s support model for its customers is also quite lucrative. It supports at zero-cost and that includes technical support through email during warranty period. For paid support, the support model is 24 x 5 telephonic support. The product’s capabilities are good in managing opportunity and pipeline modules. Pricing and quotes management, vendor management, sales management, purchase management are some of its other strongholds in the product.
Tour de Force CRM came into existence during 2001 and it has never been so far able to touch a revenue of USD 10 million in any year. This is a specific industry focused CRM having its main target on manufacturing industries that are more into distribution network. That means the product is quite useful for the manufacturing companies distributing their products through wholesale distributorship. The app is offered in only one flavor – on-premises.
A unilateral focus on a specific industry segment has given a unique strength to this product. For SFA automation of the sales field of any manufacturing and distribution company, Tour de Force CRM would probably be the first choice as there is nothing related to this specific industry segment that this product does not cater to. The product claims to be easily integrated with ERP products which is essentially a major requirement for a manufacturing and distribution company.
Regarding support, the organizations that are using it for long (over 10 years) are the best examples of its superior level of support provided to its customers.
Saleslogix was acquired by Swiftpage around 1.5 years back and since then the focus has increased to aggressively pitch the product on development and planning front. Due to this there have been Saleslogix who have moved to competitor’s SFA product rather than continuing with it. Most of its customers are in North America and Europe (mainly in the United Kingdom in Europe). Probably it can be estimated in the ratio of 70:30.
The strength of Saleslogix is mobility. The mobile application version of this CRM is highly usability centric and hence is treated as quite useful and easy to use by the field staff. In fact there is an option to go for mobile-only product. The pricing also comes in two flavors – concurrent user base and mobile only installation. In concurrent user pricing model the actual user’s count can go higher but the customer has to pay only for the concurrent users. this is quite interesting and has been liked by many of its customers. On the other hand if the customer decided that its users will be using the app only on their mobile handsets, then the pricing is very lucrative and is almost more than 50% discounted than the earlier version.
The newer option for its existing customers to move on to cloud can straightaway avail this service by moving to Swiftpage’s Amazon Web Services. The cloud based customers count is almost around 200.
As far as support is concerned, it is easy to regulate as PHP developers are available worldwide. As far as price model is concerned, SugarCRM has an extra edge over its competitors for providing excellent pricing to its customers. It has been successfully deployed for a user base of around 500.
Regarding its global presence network for deployment and support, there is an issue with SugarCRM as it does not have any external service provider on a global front. It needs to pay attention on that front so as to win more business and customers.
Virtualization is in use for more than a decade now, in various forms. The technology advancements brought in more options to adopt. Various models of virtualization impact in different ways on hardware and software costs. It has also been a point of debate whether it is good to go for a bigger hardware box with considerably higher RAM, processor and storage than to go for individual intelligent boxes. But still virtualization brings in increased manageability and definitely some benefit in hardware costs. Software licensing impact and saving will depend on the technology you adopt.
Mobility is definitely the demand of time. Younger generation is more prone to adopt mobility and digital life. For them a problem is looked upon in an altogether different manner than an expert but of higher age not belonging to today’s life. Corporate would is moving to mobility and digital in a big way. Without mobility, there can be no improvement thought of.
Cloud has its own set of benefits. Security can be a question only for the new players or players having weaker setup. This, in any case, is not something that you can’t measure of assess before deciding to put your crucial business data on cloud of any third party vendor. Definitely when it comes on established names, providing services to the big names of the world, you will have to spend lesser amount of energies in their assessment. May be the SLA will play a crucial role.
For 2015 Mobility, Virtualization and Cloud are going to play a major role for corporate world’s IT strategies. There would be intelligent and stupid solutions – it will depend totally on you, which one to opt for. There would be good and bad decisions – and a bad decision will take a big toll.
Big Data is really big, and is definitely necessary, but not for all industries and businesses. Big Data is a huge collection of relevant data from various sources. The relevance has to be very clearly defined for whom it matters to go into Big Data. Sources could be enormous, so one must be clearly able to draw out the limits of sources. This data in any case is huge than you can imagine.
Complexity of Big Data lies in various factors – the volume of this data itself is too huge. Moreover it comes in structured, semi-structured and totally unstructured forms. It is a big task to segregate important data from the total chunk. All this can though done through various apps available. The main property of Big Data is the way data is processed through normal data processing apps. There are n number of challenges that come along with the task. First and foremost is the relevance – required for what purpose and for whom. What business benefits it is going to bring in? Analytics for Big Data is also a big task, storage is another. Security is another aspect to look into.
One thing is for sure, if you are in the segment where Big Data plays a big role in defining your business dynamics, and if you are not into it, probably your competitor will be analyzing your big data.
For any of your forthcoming projects, if you have not kept mobility in mind, the project is going to have very less liking and usability. Year 2015 onward all your projects need to focus on mobility. Be it business applications, workflow or data center setup projects, the focus has to stay on mobility.
Why Mobility: There are certain reasons on why mobility is going to be a big player in your success, as listed below:
Younger generation looks everything in a different perspective than their predecessors. Younger generation is in the habit of looking at digitized angle of any business application, workflow etc. They need apps to be available anywhere anytime. They also expect in getting more value while doing less. The complexity of apps has to go off. It has to be thought in parallel terms of facebook, twitter etc. – few clicks and the job is done.
Support and management can reach to 24×7 provided controls are available to the support and technology infra management team over mobile, tab – on the move.
Remote Management has changed the scenario totally. High tech support is now not required all the time in physical inside the campus. It is only the smart entry level engineers that are enough to manage the show.
A company engaged in DevOps based solutions data centers with latest kind of architecture and design has recently announced their 6th product launch. This company has its headquarter in San Francisco and its earlier five successful open source projects are Vargrant, Packer, Consul, Terraform and Serf. The name of this company is HashiCorp and it is supported by three big global names like GGV Capital, Mayfield, and True Ventures. To manage any application delivery process, HashiCorp software is a best bet for system administrators and developers, and the bonus feature is that it is supported on any infrastructure.
Few large sized global companies that are already using HashiCorp’s open source projects are AOL, Twitch, Expedia, Disqus, Lithium Technologies, Mozilla, and many more. The new announced product is Atlas which is an integrated dashboard and workflow process management meant for managing development, deployment and maintenance of applications performing on any infrastructure. Atlas is compatible to work on virtual machines having their backbone in any kind of VM product like VMware, Docker, Rocket or Virtualbox; using CM tools (configuration management) like Chef and Puppet; and supports almost all the major public/ private cloud environment providers like GCE, Azure, AWS and OpenStack – to name a few.
Atlas is a powerful application that works on any homogenous or heterogeneous environment of infrastructure. It is a strong product with one stop solution for handling complete workflow related to development, deployment and maintenance of applications on any kind of infrastructure base.
A project Assurance Framework must be able to cater to a minimal requirement to qualify. The minimal requirement or characteristic to adhere to for a Project Assurance Framework is as below:
Planning: It must be able to help in guiding for a near to perfect planning. Which means that the guidelines for planning must be well-specified in the framework. And these guidelines must be based on the past experience and learning from failures so as to make it sturdy and fool-proof. A regular review is a must for these guidelines and necessary enhancements need to be done based on ongoing new experience.
Scoping: Scoping guidelines is a mandate to be a part of Project Assurance Framework. Scoping criteria cannot be on ad-hoc basis varying from project to project. It needs to be standardized and followed universally.
Resourcing: Once scoping procedures are clearly defined, it leads to clear path for resourcing. So Project Assurance Framework must have a separate chapter for resourcing and that should have a backward linkage with the scoping. Without proper scoping, resourcing will be half-cooked and could lead to any kind of disaster.
Stakeholders Expectations: Stakeholders from various corners of the project will be carrying different kind of expectations from the teams working on project. Some would be taking a note of minutest of the movement while others would be interested in broader perspective. The Framework in question must take care of all kind of stakeholders in a project.
Outcomes: The outcomes is the final verdict that defines success of failure of a project. Merely presentations or project status cannot satisfy everyone engaged in the project. At some moment or the other, they would be interested to see the chicken out of the egg.
Management Support: This is a hidden poisonous snake in the project ecosystem. At the time of criticality, crisis and need; management has to come forward to provide support – whatever kind. Therefore a regular engagement in the project is important and the Project Assurance Framework must define and document it properly.
Do you have a project assurance framework in place? Are you aware what all is it about? And what purpose does it serve?
Well! Project Assurance Framework is something to assure maximum smoothness of the road on which your project is travelling. It is a structured document that guides you to take the right path and in case of deviation from the right path – what kind of appropriate actions to be taken. Logically it is a broader concept of ensuring optimally effective progress of your project with a sub component of risk assessment and risk mitigation plan. All risks perceived do not occur in all projects, neither in one’s life, but there is no harm in being prepared to tackle any kind of risk in project, and in life.
Project Assurance Framework can basically act as a solid foundation for your projects – whatever types they are of – and whatever methodology you adopt for each of your project. It is also a tool to bring in a uniformity among the various teams working on various project within an organization. Definitely, in current scenarios, we also see, some ad-hoc inclusion of external team members to work on a project – called outsourced. That is where is aligns everyone – all stakeholders and project executioners.
Project Assurance Framework includes various assessment tools and criteria along with a well-defined project assessment procedure and the stages that are most critical to check project health, at which it becomes a necessity to conduct. So in a complete lifecycle of a project, there would be multiple stages to conduct project assessment and analysis process.
It is the same situation for SAP as is for Oracle. Oracle has two different products to cater to its SFA clients – Oracle Seibel, an on-premise product; and Oracle Sales Cloud that is purely a cloud based solution. Gradually Oracle has intentionally taken Seibel to back seat of the sales pitch and have given full attention to Sales Cloud. But that does not mean that they are compromising in providing support and service to their existing customer base who are on Oracle Seibel. In same manner SAP has two products for its SFA product range – SAP Cloud for Sales – is a cloud based lately developed and launched product, and SAP CRM an on-premise solution.
During last one year SAP Cloud for Sales has done a tremendous growth in terms of sales. So the initial approach of go-to-market has totally changed its attention to SAP Cloud for Sales and that is the reason why SAP CRM on-premise solution has been taken out of focus as far as sales initiatives are concerned by SAP. In parallel the focus has shifted more towards architecture based changes starting later half of the last year when SAP Cloud for Sales became an integral part of Hana Cloud offering it as PaaS (product as a Service, obviously leverage coming from its cloud feature). Thus the integration and mobility solutions are now more prominently visible with SAP Cloud for Sales deployment for a customer. The solution is targeted for almost all industry segments.
SAP Cloud for Sales has a bigger advantage of integrating well with other business apps from SAP deployed at customer location.
Salesforce.com is leader in CRM market in both aspects – existing customer base, and acquiring new customers. Salesfoce is quite aggressive in its selling pitch and new features building in the app. It has brought a great amount of mobility in the sales teams using Salesforce.com by introducing the mobile version of this application. There was a time (around a couple of years back) when there used to be some issues in respect to its functionality and usability. Both these shortfalls have been covered well during last two years. Probably the need of faster filling of gap arises out of higher competition that has increased recently.
Salesforce.com is a well proven product for great amount of reliability, scalability and quality tagged to it. It is into existence for over 15 years now and the average number of releases in a year is three which means that by now it has crossed over 45 releases which is remarkable achievement. As per customer experience, the product assures a free flow upgrade from one release to another. This aspect clearly denotes the strength of internal testing (usability, functionality and regression). Integration of salesforce.com with other vendor’s business applications is quite easy and trouble free.
There is a broader piece called Force.com that is used as product as a service for the purpose of deployment of sales cloud solutions for its customers. As far as pricing model is concerned, salesforce.com is probably on top of the price charts in comparison to all cloud based SFA solutions. The Performance edition of salesforce.com, which covers more than normal SFA features, has a tag price of USD 300 per month for each user. Its lower sibling termed as Enterprise edition is marked for USD 125 per user per month. This pricing is highly tweaked when you talk of volume deals or in case of highly demanding conditions.
Sage CRM, though not very popular, but still has a considerable say when it comes to a strong functionality of SFA. The UI is quite innovative as well is its pricing model. It is built using Visual Studio and C# and is easy to support as there is massive amount of Microsoft platform developers available globally. Overall it is a consistently promising CRM product.
As stated above, the customer service is excellent for Sage CRM customers with quick response time and resolution time. This is possible because the support back office is never short of technical support guys’ availability. Another benefit for Sage customers is that if they are already using Sage ERP or at a later stage decide to go for it, the integration feature between the two (ERP and CRM) is pre-built in the product. And the best bet is the affordable pricing model for SMB segment (small and medium business) as compared to high valued CRM solutions loaded with lot of features, some even never used by the customer.
Only word of caution is its market reach. The product is not that popular as its peer products from other competitors. Sage CRM’s market penetration is quite high in EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). But it does not mean that its presence is negligible in other regions.
Oracle Siebel CRM has been brought to backseat so as to promote Oracle Sales Cloud more aggressively by Oracle. Since Siebel is an on premise app whereas Sales Cloud is on cloud, obviously moving to the latter by any existing customer of Siebel CRM would be beneficial for the customer. But if there is a particular requirement for an on premise SFA product, then Siebel CRM would be an ideal choice. Oracle has though no plans to stop deployments for Siebel or stop supporting customer having earlier installations of Siebel CRM.
Beauty of Siebel CRM is its open user interface that means it is independent of any particular browser technology. Or in other words, it is supported by any existing or new browsers. Drawback is the longer deployment (implementation and configuration) time. But as far as user experience is concerned, it is bound to be ultimate. Siebel CRM covers sales configuration, pricing management and order management. It is tested and proven for large sized implementations for mid to large sized organizations. Most of the Siebel customers for whom analytics and reports are critical, they go for OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition) which is easy to integrate with Siebel CRM.
Oracle Siebel CRM can not qualify for a SaaS model being an on premise product.
One of the biggest advantage SAP CRM has is its easy to do integration with other SAP products deployed in the organization. The flaw of SAP CRM is its longish implementation duration and on-premises model. People are gradually moving from on-premises model to cloud solutions. The fear of data security are vanishing out as more and more established and reliable players are jumping into providing cloud based services and solutions.
Bigger challenge will be there in terms of integration if you are using any other ERP (other than SAP), plan to implement SAP CRM and would need the two apps to talk to each other. Gradually SAP is shifting its focus towards SAP Cloud for Sales, that is a cloud based alternative to SAP CRM which is an on-premises solution. The reason of this focus shift is quite clear. Customer is preferring cloud based solution than to go for an on-premises solution for certain reasons of saving in space, cost and time.
There is a hybrid model in offering from SAP for their existing customer base of SAP CRM by providing them access to SAP Cloud for Sales by integrating the two with integration services of Hana Cloud. Final goal is to move SAP CRM customers to SAP Cloud for Sales gradually.
As far as the capabilities in terms of functionalities of SAP CRM are concerned, it almost covers all critical areas of SFA – Sales Opportunity management, order and configuration management, price and quote management, sales performance management, Reports and Analytics. SAP CRM works and integrates smoothly with other SAP products – ECC, NetWeaver BI, BusinessObjects etc.
Drawback of SAP CRM is, like other on-premises products, it takes a lot of efforts and time for implementation and configuration. Ultimately SAP Cloud for Sales is going to be the only SFA solution out of the two options from SAP currently.
Oracle Siebel and Oracle CRM on Demand have been sidelines to pay complete focus on Oracle Sales Cloud for the market of SFA (sales force automation). The product includes opportunity management, sales based incentive management, territory management and also provides sales analytics. Currently it is the eighth release of Oracle Sales Cloud that is being offered in the market. Since 2013, Oracle Sales Cloud has acquired more customers due to its enhanced features as compared to previous years and previous versions. The product has been able to gain higher ratings in the list of peer products in the similar lines from various other companies.
The product Oracle Sales Cloud integrates well with other products from the company like Oracle e-business suite and Oracle BI (business intelligence) enterprise edition which in short is popular as OBIEE. As far as availability is concerned, the product is available to its clients all the time as the company has maintained large number of data centers at multiple locations in almost all the continents viz Asia, South America and Europe where it has major data centers. So for its customers who are already using OBIEE or e-Business Suite, Sales Cloud is the best bet for optimum convenience in terms of integration.
For its Siebel customers who wish to move to Oracles Sales Cloud (which would be a win-win for both sides), the move would be taking existing customers from on premise app to cloud straightaway. The offer has been termed as Customer 2 Cloud.
Project Plans carry a large amount of textual data that becomes humongous in case of mid sized to large projects. Mostly this data gets lost due to heavy volume and if you need to reach to some particular data instantly, it becomes quite difficult to perform this task in an intelligent manner. Recently LiquidPlanner launched #Tags for project plans to help project managers and teams to use this unstructured data of their project plans in an intelligent manner, howsoever huge it be.
LiquidPlanner is an online project management solutions company that works with a sole purpose towards building solutions to pump confidence in your planning and business. It does this with an ultimate goal of bringing project complexity to a simpler shape so as to enable organizations in improving their profitability by means of making quick and accurate strategic business decisions. LiquidPlanner helps its customers to collaborate in an effective manner and provides them with strongly decisive analytics. On global front, thousands of organizations bank on LiquidPlanner to gain exhaustive scheduling capabilities for any sized projects. The collaborative project scheduling helps them in getting real time update of the project portfolio. LiquidPlanner helps its customers in taking effective project related decisions by flexible filtering, real time views and crisp effective analysis of data with its flexible project management tools.
With the introduction of tags, there is an intelligent way for adding metadata to any feature of their project. Project managers, with the help of tags, can search effectively in the huge pool of unstructured data. This capability is not provided by any other tool, so effectively and accurately. Various teams that work on their projects using LiquidPlanner are able to link the relevant content one to one or one to many sections of their projects for multi-directional data linking. If tagging is done intelligently it connects a project with relevant stakeholders and departments for projects and their association with organizational initiatives (e.g. #green, #revenue, #growth etc.). This helps them in having a crux of initiative along with the business results analytics instantly.
corporate initiatives (e.g., #sustainability, #growth) or to analyze investments related to a particular feature set or platform (e.g., #mobile, #API) to optimize business results. These can be configured as alerts too.
Along with a detailed discussion with Claudio Dell’Era at SOIL (School of Inspired Leadership) campus there were many thoughts and insights that came out. Claudio is as well known global entity in the field of Design based Thinking and Innovation. Claudio lives in Italy and is an expert in the subject mentioned above for which he is always in high demand from various industry verticals, top level institutions and other areas for Training, Consulting and Research. There are very limited experts in the field of Design based Innovation and Claudio is among the top few. Claudio carried a PhD degree in this field. He holds the positions of Co-Direction in MaDe In Lab (Management of Design and Innovation Laboratory) and an Assistant Professor at MIP Politecnico (a scientific technological university that specializes in training engineers, architets and industrial designers in specialized fields. You can listen to his views in the podcast in one of my post here.
On Innovation the key points highlighted by Claudio are as below:
It has to be something completely new from the existing case or scenario.
The big challenge of innovation is to find out the way to get the value from the market.
A clear vision is important.
The real need is to select the right idea among a lot of ideas.
The challenge is to create a new vision in place of a new idea.
Problem is not the new ideas but the creation of clear vision behind them.
You can be an innovator by chance once but never repeatedly.
Sustenance of innovation is very important for progressive growth.
There has to be a repeated success in a long term perspective.
There is no innovation if there is no value out of it.
All innovations are imbibed with a set of objectives.
A lot more on innovation is there in the podcast.
Recently had a detailed interaction with Claudio Del’Era at SOIL – School Of Inspired Leadership. Claudio is a multifaceted talent with a huge amount of energy. He is very much clear about his ideas on innovation, success and the correlation between the two.
Here is an exhaustive interview with Claudio Dell’Era on his favorite topic of Innovation. Claudio is among the very few top authorities worldwide on Design Thinking and Innovation. He is from Italy. He professionally handled three parallel verticals – Training, Consulting and Research. He has PhD degree in the subject taken by very few – being new and challenging.
Dr. Claudio is currently is Co-Director of MaDe In Lab, Management of Design and Innovation Laboratory. Dr. Claudio is also an Assistant Professor at the MIP – Politecnico. MIP is a scientific technological university specialized in imparting training to engineers, industrial designers and architects.
Here is the link to the poadcast
The Secret Red Book Of Leadership by Awdhesh Singh is a befitting read for all project managers and in the making. There is a strong stint of leadership required in a project manager that does magical effect in project drive and timely closures. There is a lot of practical understanding about leadership. It is an interesting read that has been sliced into 5 portions. Part 1 talks about the meed for leadership. Why do we require leaders? Who can be a leader? Why one must strive to become a leader? How you can transform yourself into a leader? and why a dual or two way leader follower relationship exists in reality in the life of every leader. This all is covered in the first section of this book and in a very interestingly manner.
The Secret Red Book Of Leadership by Awdhesh Singh says that a leader is like an iceberg and he must stay like that only, never revealing himself completely. He must not carry on with a standard, predictable pattern; rather it should be changing even under similar kind of situations. Leadership is an art as per Awdhesh Singh, and not science. There is no fixed rule book, or guidelines to be a leader. A leader as per the book is not born, rather a leader can be built. A leader has to be a good actor. He must stay happy even if he is sad. He should not open up with everyone, so often.
In my opinion, overall the book The Secret Red Book Of Leadership by Awdhesh Singh is really an interesting read carrying different kind of stuff on leadership and in a continuous flow that keeps to stay tuned to what the writer wants to convey through this book. The sequence of parts (slices), titles and the chapters within a part are well thoughtfully woven. Though I don’t agree to everything what has been said in the book. But to most of it, I agree. A must read for all managers, project managers and anyone interested in knowing about leadership in real action. The book has been published by Wisdom Tree.
Changing scenario of fragmented data centers from that of monolithic data centers is demanding serious attention and a highly intelligent system to manage large amount of alerts. The two demanding sides from the data center front are:
The second important factor is the monitoring of fragmented data centers which is entirely different from the singular design of data centers. The management in former is exponentially complex as compared to latter and the solution provided by vendors to manage monolithic data centers is not at all possible to manage fragmented data centers. There is very limited expertise in the vendor segment that are capable to manage or provide solution to manage these complex data centers. What vendors so far are able to provide to handle these complex scenarios is an offer to use multiple tools to monitor different fragments which is practically becoming more problematic rather than useful. And that is where the single solution from BigPanda emerged on a winning streak.
BigPanda is evolving new ways to help IT Companies in managing and responding to IT issues that are reported to them by their clientele on regular basis. Probably a structured ticket system is there for handling recording, managing and closing of issues being reported from various end. Any system that is deployed in live environment, tend to come up with issues being faced by the end users that need resolution. This is called IT Incident Management System.
Large sized IT support companies cannot manage it in manual way. Definitely an automated system has to be in place that takes care of multiple amount of tickets being logged/ raised by different users/ customers. BigPanda has researched into various algorithms to optimize automation of cumbersome and time consuming manual processes for IT Incident Management to cope up with the scaling and fragmentation of new age data centers. With a vast amount of experience in data science and data center, BigPanda has right fitting solutions for all requirements of data center infrastructure management.
BigPanda came into existence in 2012, headquarter in Mountain View, CA and has offices in Tel Aviv. With the solution that has been launched on the new platform helps timely controlling of thousands of alerts that reach to IT support teams for quick action and resolution. This is reportedly the world’s first data science platform launch from BigPanda on 28th October, 2014 for the purpose of automated IT Incident Management. The solution intelligently detects, investigates and collaborates in an automated manner for each of the IT incident reported in the system from anywhere. The solution promises to help IT companies to optimize their IT Incident Management System in such a manner that all the IT issues reported get resolved faster thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and revenue conversions.
Etienne works at the intersection of Technology, Product Design and Marketing. He’s a two-time Startup Founder (Flagback and HireVoice), a four-time entrepreneur and a recognized Usability and UX research expert.
Etienne is currently a Product Design & Marketing consultant, helping big brands and startups understand their customers to create innovative products. He also teaches user research and usability, travels the world and is slowly working on a new business.
In 2014, he publish the book Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want, to help entrepreneurs find traction in the enterprise.
Your real name and pen name? Étienne Garbugli (real name and pen name)
About your education I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Concordia University and a post-graduate certificate in Ebusiness from HEC Montreal. I consider myself a self-learner.
What career did you plan during your education days? My studies were pretty broad. For the first two years of my Bachelor’s degree, I studied sound design to write movie soundtracks for a living. I was pretty good at it.
What languages you can speak and write? My mother tongue is French. For the bulk of my career, I have worked in English. During my studies, I learned a bit of German and, for the last 3 years, I have been learning Mandarin Chinese.
What is your biggest source of inspiration in life Everything. Nothing in particular.
When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing? I write to understand. Lean B2B came of failure. The reason why I decided to write a book in the first place is that I needed to understand what had gone wrong with my previous technology company (failure); I needed to understand how to avoid the mistakes I had made.
Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work? So far, I have only published one book – Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want. Here is the synopsis of the book:
Finding and validating business opportunities in mid- to large-sized organizations can overwhelm even the most experienced entrepreneurs. Challenges include acquiring domain expertise, building a connected network of influencers, finding the decision makers, understanding the needs of the “whole product,” estimating a return on investment and reducing the perception of risk. Where should you start and how should you proceed?
Lean B2B helps technology entrepreneurs answer these questions while keeping them focused on the right things each step of the way. Packed with more than 20 case studies and insights from over a hundred entrepreneurs, Lean B2B consolidates the best thinking around Business- to-Business (B2B) customer development to help you quickly find traction in the enterprise, leaving as little as possible to luck.”
What genres you write in and why? Lean B2B is a business book (non fiction). I write fiction on my own time.
What keeps you motivating towards writing? Putting myself in the shoes of the readers. Remembering what ‘problem’ my book is trying to solve.
How do you plan, schedule and monitor your writing commitments? My writing schedule has always been very chaotic, but hard deadlines and commitments helped make the book a reality. The challenge was really to know when the book is ‘done’.
What are your future plans? After publication of the book, I was offered partnership in a company discussed in the book (Psykler). I am currently focusing on helping the company get to the next level and helping get the book in the hands of as many technology entrepreneurs and students as possible.
Your dream destination on Earth? My next ‘big’ trip will probably be Tanzania next year. My dream destination is Antarctica. I like the cold.
Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe? I’m French Canadian / Italian from my father’s side. Outside of a year spent living and working in China (Hong Kong and Beijing), I have lived most of my life in Canada.
Your favorite time of the day? The evening. My most creative time is in the evening.
Your zodiac/ sunsign? Leo
Your favorite color and why? Green. I like nature.
What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading? I just finished reading
‘Papillon’ by Henri Charriere. I’m currently reading ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz. I try to alternate between fiction and business books to keep things interesting.
What is the force that drives you? I’m driven by challenges. I like proving to myself that I can do big things (eg. Write a book).
What comes to your mind when you think of India? Mystery. Complexity. Chaos. I would love to come visit India to discover the different landscapes and cultures it contains.
First thing you do in the morning after waking up? Sadly, check my emails.
Links & other relevant details:
Twitter handle: egarbugli
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/egarbugli
Amazon link: http://amazon.com/Lean-B2B-Build-Products-Businesses/dp/1495296601/
Any other links:
If you are engaged in any kind of activities related to mobile wallet, mobile based financial transactions, mobile banking et al, from a point of view of a consumer/ customer, service provider, financial institution or an online merchant, you can’t afford to ignore a globally used and well acclaimed bouquet of solutions from Mahindra Comviva. The product is known as mobiquity® and its consistent upsurge in terms of usage, customers and countries goes to its award winning functionalities imbibed into the product, its enriching usability and features, its seamless scalability and the provision of its effortless integration with other business apps. Mobiquity® is an innovative and secured platform that has been well accepted globally by most of the mobile service providers, financial institutions and other organizations.
Over 120 installations of Mobiquity® speaks aloud about the stability and popularity of the solution. The solution has been deployed in large amount of banking arena with multiple forward and backward integrations successfully for gaining momentum in mobile payment related projects. Mahindra Comviva has been able to acquire its position among top 3 solutions engaged in providing mobile apps for financial transactions catering to its customers and managing transactions around 20 billion USD. Over a million of transactions are taken care of on everyday basis engaging more than 700 million of consumer base using multiple mobile platforms.
Mobiquity® Wallet supports all kind of contactless technologies available in the market viz NFC (near field communication working on RFID technology), QR Code or Bar Code, and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technologies thereby providing a tremendous versatility and scalability in providing solutions on multiple scenario based mobile technologies for making mobile payments. This solution has a capability to integrate seamlessly with any kind of mobile and desktop/server/cloud based business related third party applications. The solution takes care of localized promotional schemes that can be offered to consumers on this platform based on their geographic locations distinctly identifying nearest retail stores/ schemes and offering relevant discount coupons. The discount coupons are taken care of while making payments through mobile devices on the Mobiquity® platform.
Mahindra Comviva: Mobility Solutions Catering To Over 130 Mobile Service Providers In 100 Countries and A Billion UsersB2B, Enterprise mobility, financial applications, Mobile, Mobile applications, Mobility
Mahindra Comviva, a part of Mahindra Group and a subsidiary of Tech Mahindra, is among the top global placeholders for solutions in mobility. Mobility solutions like content management, finance management, information based entertainment, messaging solutions and mobile data management are its strongholds and are part of its mobile apps portfolio. In B2B section it has been maintain its top slot worldwide for last many years. It has helped a large number of global and local mobile service providers to gain better customer experience, enhance revenue and highly responsive solutions to huge customer base at very minimal costs. More than 130 mobile service providers and financial institutions in almost 100 countries across the globe are using Mahindra Comviva mobile based solutions to cater to more than a billion of their customers base.
Out of many globally acclaimed mobile based financial solutions being provided by Mahindra Comviva, award winning mobiquity® is worth to ponder upon. With the upscaling of technology in last decade and increased usage of smartphones, phablets etc. users and organizations have been able to break the geographic constraints, time bound transactions and limited connectivity. Now the users can transact from anywhere to anywhere, during travel or at any overseas location. The time of transactions can be any, that is 24 x 7. But all this has increased availability and reliability of internet tremendously.
Mobile phones usage has exceedingly gone beyond just talking and texting. We would be talking more about Mahindra Comviva solutions in next few posts in continuation.
Recently I read and reviewed God Is A Gamer by Ravi Subramanian. Some striking and excellent learning points that I found while reading book, would like to share. These points can be grabbed by Project Managers to give a boost to their career and throughput.
The five learning are as below:
A leader who puts down her own people in front of her superiors can never be an inspiring leader.
As a project manager your role is to safeguard your team members from management’s questions arising out of failures or delays in the project. In fact it is a good sign to defend your teams in front of top management so as to win their hearts. Both sides will admire you. Your management will admire you as a great leaders and your team will in return deliver you their best under all prepositions.
Career longevity is more important than career enhancement
Very well said. Quick hoppers get blacklisted in longer run. People spending longer period in an organization get paid out for their loyalty sooner or later.
When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance.
Only when you stop going in wrong direction, you increase your probability in going in right direction.
Reputation has no insurance.
Good deeds done, cannot be kept as laurels in lieu of doing further good deeds. This has to be a continuous process.
Success is not always measured in terms of dollars earned or turnover. It is measured in terms of the difference you have made to the people around you.
The amount of energy and motivation your team members get from you will go till long in their mind and heart than the increment they get as part of their professional journey.
NetSuite had a substantial growth during 2013 with an overall increase in company revenue to the extent of 35%, i.e. USD 418 million. The main focus of NetSuite stays on financial accounting and ERP functionalities. NetSuite takes care of sales force automation to its core level comprising of opportunity management, lead management, billing management, order management and sales based incentive management. Netsuite is yet to show its strength in total solution for large sized organizations and as per Gartner, NetSuite has a stronghold but only for the segment where only sales force automation solutions are required.
The simple and foolproof manner in which NetSuite app takes care of ‘lead to order’ functionality, is well appreciated by the organizations using it. The way NetSuite is growing in a consistent manner shows less vulnerability and highly possible commitment for long term sustenance and presence. Another strong point is its accounting functionality embedded in the solution. On the other hand, being not totally focused on sales based solutions, it lacks in various important analytics to measure sales performance in the sales team. A clear cut vision is important to come out with the proper focused solution to increase its customer base.
Microsoft has moved its full concentration on cloud based solutions and hence any enhancements, or new features being built (or recently built) are taken care of first in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online solution so as to promote its current existing user base of the earlier on-premise solution to move on to cloud solution. The cloud based CRM is integrated well with Microsoft Office 365 Live and Microsoft Sharepoint apps. Microsoft Dynamics CRM online is also integrated with Microsoft Azure apps.
In 2013 Microsoft Dynamics CRM had a clear vision of improved usability bundled with some amount of mobility solution in it. Microsoft aims to target now the larger industry segments with higher user base rather than just focusing on small or medium business segment (SMBs). Reportedly as per Gartner, Microsoft in larger industry segment has been able to grab a business with a user base around 700 for their CRM online solution. Approximately USD 65 per user per month is what Microsoft charges for its CRM solution the the price tag is supposed to be quite lucrative looking at the competition.
Another good point for buyers opting for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online solution is its easy integration off the shelf available with other Microsoft products viz Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Lync, Skype, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Yammer thereby providing a complete integrated solution in terms of collaboration, content management, communication, Instant messaging, real time file sharing, enhanced productivity, scheduling etc. On mobility front, Microsoft is yet to establish confidence building among its CRM and collaboration customers but overall looking at the vertical and horizontal reach of Microsoft on global front, the product has to have its say in the market and a substantial growth is there on the cards over a couple of years.
CRMnext has its main focus on sales functionality, taking care of opportunity management, accounts management, pipeline management, forecasting and analytics. CRMnext has a good amount of presence in APac region (Asian Pacific Region) and the Middle East region (ME region). Evidently Gartner has estimated that the overall revenue of the vendor selling CRMnext is almost USD 40 million. The scalability of this app is well proven for a single organization having over 1,500 users getting fruitful desired results. Overall it is catering to more than 35,000 users.
Majority of CRMnext user base lies in India itself. The two variants that are widely opted for are SaaS based model and on-premise model. Both models cater to mid segment of the industry without pinching their pocket to get a suitable SFA (sales force automation) solution. Direct channels of CRMnext are there in Southeast Asia, Middle East and India. Outside these regions, customers are catered to from these locations with the help of tie ups with local implementation and support partners. That signals towards a word of caution towards the geographic coverage like in North America or in Western Europe, it is difficult to find sales or support.
Pivotal CRM is a Microsoft Certified Customer Relationship Management application sold under the banner of Aptean. Aptean has its headquarters in Atlanta. The product is bundled with sales force automation (SFA) software tools. The app has features of sales for automation, lead management, marketing automation, sales management, customer service automation, partner management. Pivotal CRM has been taken to its next level to run it on mobile platforms, drawing out useful analytics and call scripting.
Pivotal CRM is being provided in a customized manner for various industry segments based on their specific needs. The CRM suite in offer manages to take care of institutional asset management, capital markets, private and commercial banking, real estate and home building, legal services, healthcare, mutual fund management and so on. Since it is built on .NET framework from Microsoft, the solutions are universally accepted globally. Your license of Pivotal CRM saves licensing cost on various fronts like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Sharepoint and Microsoft Visual Studio as these are bundled along with the Pivotal CRM solution.
With the changing trends in technology, Pivotal CRM takes care of cloud based availability and mobility solutions thereby enabled to provide multiple delivery models for the overall app solution front. If an organization is using other products from Aptean like Ross ERP solution, Made2Manage ERP or Axis ERP; they get an integrated solution if they opt to use Pivoltal CRM. The best part is that customers who decided to go for Pivotal apps 14 years back, when they were launched, are still happy with the support and solution.
Since the coding is in C#, it is easy to find developers for customization. In 2014 Pivotal started providing their cloud based solutions (on Amazon Cloud services). Similarly in 2012-13 they started the availability of their apps on mobile platforms.
Pivotal CRM has an interesting history that I would like to share here. There was a new organization named as Pivotal Software that was founded in 1994 by Norm Francis. Francis had a stake in Basis Software Group (BSG). BSG is known for one of its product ACCPAC, which is an accounting application. ACCPAC was bought over by CA (Computer Associates) in 1985. Francis, after creating the company Pivotal Software, came out with an entirely new concept of 360 degrees of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The concept became so popular that it was adopted later by many other organizations and is till in use, widely across the globe. This concept basically talks about the end to end capturing of activities of all those directly involved in the process of customer relationship and sales.
Pivotal CRM’s first version came into existence before mid of 1996. And thereafter there were many evolutionary changes that took place in the product thereby releasing of its next versions. Pivotal Software gradually became Pivotal Corporation in 1999 in wake of expansion of their portfolio and services offered. Pivotal CRM was developed on Microsoft platform. Bill Gates, in the year 2000, Microsoft Chief, Bill Gates got so impressed with Pivotal CRM that he ensured it to be showcased worldwide during Microsoft Windows 2000 premiere. At that time Pivotal CRM was having its name as Pivotal eRelationship and was the first of its kind of eBRM (eBusiness Relationship Management) application that was certified for Win 2k Server environment.
In early 2004, Pivotal Corporation got acquired by a firm ChinaDotCom that was later known as CDC Software. There was a merger of CDC Software and another organization Consona Corporation in 2012 thereby emergence of an organization Aptean. Pivotal CRM, today is one of the major application in Aptean’s portfolio of their business applications to offer across the globe.
As per a technology report from Gartner in July this year, focusing on sales applications, sees salesforce.com leading the market compared to its nearest competitors SAP and Oracle. Cloud predominantly with SaaS model is taking an edge over various other variants of application delivery models. Salesforce has been consistently on top of the chart in terms of its B2B sales.
Automation of all activities related to sales, imbibing sales processes in the application, and admin controls in a smooth manner is the major strength of Sales force automation (SFA) applications. Probably it ensures the root level understanding of core B2B sales processes built in the application taking care of major functionalities like account management, contact management, opportunity management and so on. It takes care of ensuring improvement in sales effectiveness of sales teams by means of providing capability management like sales configuration, sales operations, proposal management and content management.
The sales team performance management is take care of well in the app in terms of compensations to sales team members (sales based incentives), sales quota allocation and management (monitoring & timely alerts), territory/ region management.
We all are well versed with the philosophy of any project. There are customer requirements that create a need to build up some system to cater to those requirements in a structured and foolproof manner. These requirements might arise out of internal business needs or external customer seeking a solution. Customer if approaches you for a solution by means of building a new system for their business, or the other way round, if your sales team is able to break the ice and able to get a business from a customer, indicates that there is an amount of trust both ways and it has to be honored. Honoring this trust in best possible way is to deliver desired system well in time – as per the committed timelines to the customer and ensuring financials and quality do not cross the perimeters set for both.
Once the customer requirements are documented, mutual timelines are agreed upon on a broader scale, financial terms are finalized, an agreement takes place between the two parties. One party is the buyer – who has certain needs and is paying you as per your capabilities of catering to those needs. The other party is you, who is building a system to cater to customer needs. The project charter is prepared with stipulated or projected timelines for each of the major deliverables, we name them as milestones.
Now these milestones are further broken down into work breakdown structure – or WBS – allocating each task or set of tasks defined under each of the milestone to individual teams and team members.
A complete alignment is very important between these three ticket items.
Since you are managing one or more projects, multiple teams working on multiple or a single project and multiple stakeholders, you might be feeling yourself most of the time sandwiched between various conflicts, critical situations and issues seeking quick attention and immediate resolutions. Decision making during such situations might become difficult at times and you might be feeling like the last person left on a crashing airplane with not a single parachute left on the plane. Now if that is the case just relax and try looking at following situations and see if you can avoid these situations so as to overcome any kind of serious risks.
Team Priorities vs Business Priorities: There has to be a concrete alignment between the business priorities, project priorities and individual team’s priorities. If individual teams are not aligned well with the project priorities, the whole game plan is bound to go haywire. On the top of every level priority a single goal must be to come out of project successfully. Success of a project is determined in two parameters – timelines and within budgets. Timelines adherence must ensure no compromise with tasks or requirements; and quality of the outcome.
Team Members to have clarity of broader picture: Team members working on their individual tasks allocated to them regarding the ongoing project must be very clear about the overall project and customer requirements. Merely having a clear cut understanding of the micro tasks in their kitty might help in successful completion of the micro tasks but can leave a wide gap at the time of solving the puzzle called project (the macro scenario) with the individual puzzle pieces (micro done pieces).
Each leader has its own working and management style. The two extreme kind of leaders in the world are – one, leading from front and second, forcing from back. Both are successful and both are unique. Both have their own style, success & failure rates, and winning sprees. When you are working on multiple projects, managing multiple project teams – each project and each set of multiple teams need your equal attention and engagement. For a team, its project is supreme and so is what you have to maintain – for them.
There are some key points to manage your projects and teams:
Make each team realize as a unique team with multiple strengths. It is their strength that is going to get a win for you in that project. Going to micro level, each team’s member needs to live with such a feeling that he/ she is the strong pillar of the project and is a major contributor towards its success and drive to closure. That way even the low energy level gets raised to higher level thereby resulting into higher results with much accuracy rate.
Collaborate, Collaborate and Collaborate: Make a strong chain by joining hands – both sides – such that if one is tending to fall, the whole chain is there to support.
Work and Live like a community on a project. Make it like a family affair where no one runs away from responsibility and there are no boundaries or hard coded instructions – to do and not to do – in terms of sharing and helping – provided first you have finished your task in hand as per committed timelines. That should be the culture and feeling in each member.
You as a leader has to be there, visible or invisible, but an inherent presence in the mind is must. Wherever your teams are and how so distant you are from them, for calling you, contacting you, to share a win or to discuss a concern, you must be the next door neighbor to each of the team/ member.
Agile Projects require frequent meeting with all critical key stakeholders. The rule of the game is as follows. These meetings have to be of short duration, as crisp as possible and talk only about the scope of work defined for the period after last meeting and before this meeting. There might be a need of discussion of ‘change’ in terms of plan, scope and timelines. Important is that all stakeholders must attend every meeting so as to avoid and gaps that create killing bubbles in the main streamline of flow in the pipe. Prefer to have an hour’s meeting at least every alternate day and throw away the concept of a single weekly or monthly meeting in the dustbin.
Agility needs continuity and connectivity on a regular basis. It cannot compromise with its basic fundamentals. If all above is not adhered to in an Agile Project, then it should not be called Agile at all. Empowerment is another key factor in an Agile project. The complete process of ownership and approvals has to be least bureaucratic. There has to be no queues for approvals. No waiting. And no long process. Teams are empowered to steer and drive on their own. Each team (or rather each stakeholder) is empowered to take quick calls.
Important factor is to keep everyone aligned for any fresh calls taken in terms of ‘new’, ‘alternate’ or ‘drop’ with a clear disclosure of purpose behind it. Every such change has to happen for a ‘good’. Still the ultimate goal reams same for all stakeholders and well aligned with the individual team and member goals. No repetitions, no follow ups and no alerts. It has to be a free flow and well streamlined.
Recently read and reviewed an excellent fable book titled The Seller of Beliefs written by Trishala D Shah. The story is a journey of one day to a training but it covers the complete life in a day. As we grow we start forgetting the important and lovely lessons of life and start living like machines, forcing ourselves to run a fixed routine and get stuck at a small variation in life.
That is where this small booklet of 112 pages comes handy where it tells about the life with the hep of small games the lead character has to play sometimes along with her trainer and sometimes alone. The learning from these games is enormous that brings you back to the mainstream of life. Here are the key learning:
Don’t do anything to impress others.
Don’t get allured by quality in others, recognize your qualities.
A sound has two options – to become noise or to become a beautiful piece of music. What is your choice?
The real power lies within. Only effort you need to put in is to recognize it.
Understand the purpose of what you do instead of blindly doing it.
Get a clear sight of your goals.
At times you have no choice for a task, it has to be done means it has to be done.
The state of a project is dynamic. Up and down are various phases that do not stay for long.
If you want to reach to a state of effortlessness, it has to be traveled through only one road called EFFORT.
IF you are able to bring play like environment in work, it will increase your teams productivity manifold.
Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) by Jurgen Appelo is talks about the relationship between an organization and management and how the success of failure depends a lot on this relationship. As we go by the chapters, we learn to know that at times it is not any external factors that becomes a failure factor for Agile development but the management of the organization. Agile management demands a good amount of trustworthy direction and supervision that is missing in most of the cases.
Agile Master Jurgen Appelo tries to fill that gap by guiding in a simple doable manner in his book Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) where a practical focus is presented to provide a direction in managing an Agile team to start with and leading to an Agile organization. Current day software development is not as simple as it used to be, it comprises of lot of complexities that need to be handled and management so as to reach out to a winning goal. The excellent book Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) by Jurgen Appelo is excellent in many terms. It understands the maturity level today’s organizations have reached to and the level of intensity it requires in its growth. The prime concern for today’s organization is its people and relationships.
Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo is a marvelously written book to hep you in carving your path to make your wins the agile way.
This project is with a mission with a noble cause. The soil in Connecticut is very fertile and that is a binding factors in farming being sustained for years. Farmers here work hard to get the best possible vegetable and fruit products so as to feed a hungry state. Jack McConnell, an award winning photographer, was so inspired by the life of a farmer here, that he visited here to capture the hardships in the life of a farmer here. He was able to capture all ages of people working on the farms here.
The CT Farm Project has a purpose of ensuring that all relevant documents and pictures get captured and stored in a safe and secured place so as to share them with others to showcase the huge amount of efforts being put by the farmers for not only farming but also in taking care of their animals, equipment, resources, fields, crops and markets. Anyone connected to nature will definitely be falling in love with the pictures of the CT Farm Project.
Huawei has been appreciated across the globe for its agile network solution which is quite innovative and highly productive in nature that consists of a network focused on catering to service demands, users etc. Recently Huawei has launched their stat of the art agile network solution in South Africa, as was announced in a conference in Johannesburg. By now the tally goes to over 200 as far as Huawei’s agile network solution successful deployment is concerned, worldwide, in a variety of industry segments covering large enterprises, and industries like finance, medical, transport, media, education and public enterprises.
Agile network solution helps an enterprise in building a highly efficient solution to minimize manual intervention to a larger extent and the enabling system in taking intelligent decisions or actions. It has been deployed in a wide variety of industries demanding differently viable solutions like catering to wireless cities’ users, building an intelligent transport system, catering to the high volume of consumers coming to shopping malls for smart shopping and the customers demanding hassle free smart travel solutions across the globe. The end users get a high level of flexibility in order to access such services from anywhere, and on any kind of device they are using, thereby adding a unique agility factor. The portable device in use could be a tablet, laptop, mobile smartphone.
The first model of agile network design was introduced by Huawei in 2013 that had an emphasis on three agile ways of enterprise solution. The three concepts were:
Agile Management – which meant enabling of IP network quality awareness.
Agile Evolution – First time ever a campus network across the globe that is software-defined.
The concept worked well wherever it was deployed thereby bringing in excellent user experience, improved efficiency in operations & management etc. that proved to enhance the service performance by 4 times.
A new concept is getting heard these days which is ‘software defined workplace’. Now what does this mean? Citrix is one of the game changer in this direction and with the change in their strategy they announced Citrix as one of the company falling under ‘software defined companies or workplaces’. A company falling under this category boasts of having the technology enabled to an extent where any of its customer can be enabled with a mobile taskforce. A mobile taskforce in that aspect is able to access whatever information is required from anywhere, anytime and on any device; and thus enhancing their productivity manifold.
Mark Templeton, CEO Citrix said that the strategy here is to be going beyond the data center and workplaces. With the increasing focus on mobile computing, flexible timings, co-located teams etc. there has been a high demand on availability of required data/ information anytime and anywhere thereby breaking the usual working hours concept of 9 to 5. Purpose is to enable the customer in drawing our high amount of productivity, efficiency and availability to its various stakeholders. Overall concept thus is of business availability for higher number of hours which means that there will be someone or the other taking a call and fulfilling the requirement of customer – being anywhere, and be it any hour of the day. It obviously breaks the physical boundaries and build a wider spectrum of virtual world.
Employees thus can work from home or from any location of their choice without having a constraint of reporting in the office every morning at a stipulated office start hour. Higher availability of taskforce definitely helps in higher amount of business continuity and lowers the business risks as the visibility of the business becomes higher and wider.
Customer and business engagement in agile project is as critical and important as the involvement of project teams. Someone from the business side has to ensure high devotion in terms of time and process knowledge so as to ensure the path adopted by development team is right and best. So the product manager and business manager go hand in hand to build the best of product in question. There are certain motivational factors that help in driving a project, so it true for an agile project:
Empowerment: Agile talks of less monitoring and high empowerment. Decisions demand quick resolution here.
Responsibility: When each team, and in fact each team members is responsible for driving the vehicle with same thrust, an authority anyways come bundled with the responsibility. And thus emerges the accountability.
Availability: Since there are small iterations with each iterations accounted for some amount of achievement, availability of each of the stakeholders is very important.
Project size varies depending on various factors. It could be financial, resources, requirements and management. There could be a project with high amount of business requirements but having financial constraints from customer side. It could also depend on the location of teams working on a project, whether the complete team is centralized sitting in one location or are co-located at various locations. And then these co-locations might be falling under different time zones. IF that is the case where teams working on a project are located in different time zones, it is always better to start agile with one of the team at one location.
Never star a pilot with a high risk project as a pilot works in two ways – learning and optimizing. In fact it is the learning that helps in optimizing. In a high risk project where failure or delay could bring in high losses, it is always better not to try something new. On the contrary, a low risk project could help in learning a lot while adopting agile for that project. This way you can build a solid base for the next chain of projects and gradually adopt if for medium risk projects. And then finally when you become masters, go for a big leap of transformation in a high risk project.
On top of your mind it should be very clear that communication and engagement play a major role in agile.
Agile gives a great amount of flexibility to project management and the credit for that goes to its philosophy, process and methodology. The prime focus in Agile stays on strong communication, collaboration and higher overlapping of functional boundaries. The basic fundamental remains short iterations, assessment, prioritization and re-prioritization keeping in mind minimal reworks at later stage. This strategy ensures least overloading of budgets and timelines. This also ensure high momentum in project and team engagement.
An agile way of working is being followed by most of the organizations for their software project management but whether in what capacity, level and accuracy is still a point to ponder. It asks for a big change in mindset for the transformation from legacy project management methodologies to agile. Best bet is to start with small and then scale it out to large extent after measuring the positive results gained from the outputs. Selecting right project for the pilot is something which needs to be done in a right way.
If you are clear with project size, timelines, project teams etc., then it becomes easy to go for it. A too small project might not fetch you the leverage of getting the best out of it and so can happen with a very large project. Best option is to go for a mid sized project of 6-8 months of duration so as to reap the best benefits of agile.
Project management is not an easy task. It requires team management, risk management, planning, execution, sign offs, training, meetings and a lot more. Risks could be of any nature – some anticipated, some unperceived. Anticipated ones can be handled as some amount of thought process has already gone into it. But when some unanticipated storm comes, it calls for a quick decision, quick resolution and quick management. Project management as a whole is management of such sequences – something which has been experienced earlier and has been now an expertise to handle crisis but when the situation is new or of multiplied complexity, it creates a bigger threat and thus needs quicker resolution.
If we talk of top 5 critical steps of a project, following could be the listed ones:
1. Project Execution: Most of the regular project management organizations build a PMO (Project Management Office) to ensure successful execution of project and have a structured plan for risk management (assessment and mitigation). Where we don’t have a PMO, the responsibility lies with the Project Manager for its successful execution.
2. Scope Management: When we talk of scope management, it becomes a project in itself. Managing scope is not an easy task. A small correction in scope at a later stage could ask for a total revamp. Scope management calls for correct and complete scope capturing.
3. Development Planning and Hand Holding: Scope of business requirements gets translated into technical scoping and thus development is done by the team. Development responsibility does not end with product launch but even beyond that for the hand holding.
4. Plan Tracking: Plans prepared need to be monitored and informed to the relevant stakeholders.
5. Team building and Capacity building: Teams, if keep on performing the same tasks repeatedly become stagnant. Their capacity need to be expanded with team maturity.
Each application passes through a lifecycle of its own once it goes live. The lifecycle of an application after it goes live is somewhat similar to a newborn child. Let us see how it goes.
Child develops inside the womb, Application developed.
Mother gets inspected by doctor from time to time, app under development gets inspected by QC and Customer.
Child takes birth, App launched.
Child grows along with getting conversant with parents/ family/ surroundings, App users start getting conversant with the app.
Child cries/ Cribs attended by parents, App misbehaves/ bugs encountered attended by resolution/ support team.
Child matures, app matures
child undergoes education/ training, app undergoes additional requirements.
Man, Matured app
Marriage and children, integration with other apps
Old man, old app
Dies, becomes useless
Another child conceived somewhere in some womb, another app requirements come up.
Now this is called a perfect product launch when the full hall of audience from various streams of life fully applaud about the product and the applaud comes from the heart of each one of them. The product that was launched today by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, India is the first ever Smart Learning tool meant for the entire school going youth of the country. The Digital Education Store is a storehouse of structured form of all learning required from a bundle of text books and through various school and private learning sessions. This single Digital Smart Learning cloud based tool is meant to cover all scattered form of learning knowledge at one place in a simple but powerful manner.
This must be quite inspiring for the school going middle and senior level students to find and use this extremely helpful digital media that will run on all Samsung tablets. Definitely there has been a great effort that has gone into this project for its development, design and UI under the umbrella of Samsung’s Media Solutions Center (MSC). The newly launched tool is highly innovative, supportive, interactive and comprehensive study material for almost 75 million youth studying from standard 1st to 12th in schools and those aspiring to get through various competitive exams. Focus is purely on covering the complete course content in an interesting and interactive form where after each chapter of each subject, the student can assess the amount of knowledge acquired by means of an objective test. This is where the software application is going to hit among the huge chunk of masses.
But the story never ends with the launch of a beautiful and powerful product. In fact that is just the beginning of product in the real life of its end users where it has to win over all kind of hurdles.
This is an excellent book written by Mike Cohn who is the founder of Mountain Goat Software. The title of the book Agile Estimating And Planning says it all for estimating and planning of an Agile Project. It says if the planning and estimating is not done in an agile way, the agile project is not relevant to this estimating and planning. Without taking agile into account while planning and estimating of your projects, you cannot run your projects in Agile way.
Mountain Goat Software is a legendary, over 20 years old company engaged in consulting in process and project management. The company is a leading training organization for many global corporate. Mike Cohn has clientele ranging from small start-ups to a large number of top 40 Fortune companies. Mike is also a founding member of well known Agile Alliance besides being a regular contributor to a number of related magazines and a renowned speaker at a number of conferences. Mike has also written a good amount of books like User Stories Applied in 2004.
Agile Estimating and Planning talks of a number of important features like planning, estimating and scheduling thereby answering the questions like – What to plan to build and its timelines, sizing of estimations and when to do what with a quantitative answer to “How much?”. The book has 7 sections and 23 chapters. At the end of each chapter you will find a well organized set of key learning points from that chapter to be imbibed in real life scenarios. The book has intelligently taken care of global companies without being focused on a specific country.
Part 1 of the book focuses on importance of planning, problems arising out of wrong planning and how to set goals in an agile atmosphere. A good plan needs to be built in a crisp manner to make is agile planning. Whereas Chapter 1 explains above, chapter 2 talks about the difference between traditional, orthodox project approach where estimating and planning go usually haywire, thus resulting in project delays or failures. In chapter 3 we learn about the meaning of agility and the broad level significance of agile estimating and planning that is further explained to micro level in further chapters.
Part 2 talks in depth about project estimation, estimation sizing and estimation duration. Story building is well explained in chapter 4 & 5. Chapter 6 deals with story points with a fantastic explanation on planning poker. Chapter 7 further focuses on alignment of story points with estimations and thus reviewing at the end of each story point so as to go for re-estimating.
Overall a must read for all agile aspirants to experts so as to gain a great deal of insight on the subject.
The event ALE 2014 going to be in Kraków this year, is meant to be engrossing and engaging for all Scrum Masters and in addition for all developers who are working in Agile environment or strive to learn about the subject. The presentation that is quite important to attend is on the topic – Involving UX and Visual Design while working in an Agile Development environment. ALE stands for Agile Lean Europe. ALE is a group of professionals who are dedicated in building a unique Agile and Lean community all across Europe who learn to work in a most collaborative manner while having fun.
As we all know that product design is the soul of any web project or for that sake any project. It is very important to understand why simplification of UX is important and thereby building user friendly interfaces plays a major role in any web project. That is where the key role of visual designers and graphics in UIs becomes quite important. To achieve success in building user friendly interfaces, it is important then to learn why waterfall approach does not fit in for such kind of projects. It is not at all advisable to finish all UX related work before the beginning of visual design. In today’s world where project timelines are tight and require least rework with first time right kind of approach, lean and agile definitely play a major role to achieve this.
Whereas waterfall talks of different teams working on a project, Agile says the same in entirely different manner with a motto of one team working on a project having several roles. In ALE2014 during 20-22 August, the attendees are also going to learn about how to move from Waterfall to Agile, Building and using User Stories, Scope of user stories, using scrum effectively, learning about Kanban and how to use it in project management.
You can see a detailed program here.