Category Archives: Knowledge

The ITx Conference – Auckland – 8-10 October 2014

Itx

This conference will soon be upon us. I have been fortunate enough to have a paper selected for presentation.

The programme is here and my offering is here.

You can register here

What is ITx?

Established in 2014, ITx is three conferences in one; combining the successful IITP and CITRENZ national conferences with the re-launch of the Computer Science Association’s conference; establishing the broadest and largest non-vendor general IT conference in New Zealand.

ITx focuses on innovation, technology and education and brings IT professionals, decision-makers, leaders and academics together under one roof. This is a conference like no other: where industry, academia and government come together to network, learn and engage.

ITx will run every second year in either Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.

About IITP, CITRENZ and CSANZ

The Institute of IT Professionals NZ (IITP) is the professional body of the IT sector and is the largest IT representative body in New Zealand. IITP has run conferences for almost 50 years, although there was a large hiatus prior to the 2010 50th Anniversary Conference. IITP2013 was held in Tauranga and attracted hundreds of IT professionals and thought leaders.

Computer and Information Technology Research and Education New Zealand (CITRENZ) is the representative body for the IT departments of New Zealand’s Institute of Technology / Polytechnic sector. CITRENZ has been running successful annual conferences for 27 years.

Computer Science Association of New Zealand (CSANZ) is the forum for the University Computer Science community. CSANZ has been active for many years and 2014 will see the return of the popular CSANZ conference as part of ITx.

Input Sought

I am putting together a couple of papers for possible presentation/publication sometime in the future.

The working titles and content outlines are below.

Paper 1

We have met the enemy – it is us
Outline of proposed paper
Why do so many projects fail? Why despite the conferences, papers and books do we still see such a high proportion of failed ICT projects? Why are so many so quick to allocate blame to the project managers?
This paper looks at this issue from the perspective of a practitioner with several decades of experience in projects, project assessment and managing professional services. The core theme of the paper is that the root cause of much project failure is human nature; coupled with a signal failure even today by many who should know better to understand that technology is merely an enabler it is not a substitute for understanding and resolving the actual problem.
The paper will consider why failures continue to occur, the place of project methodologies and why we see projects subject to ‘strong’ governance still failing. The paper will draw upon the experience of the author and make reference to situations actually encountered across the author’s lengthy career. Consideration will be given to the viewpoints of executive management, operational managers, project personnel, vendors and consultants.
The author intends to take a provocative stance in his comments, especially as regards the all too common tendency to blame project managers for the problems, when in his opinion that is far too simplistic. Furthermore, he proposes to question the current fad for governance which all too often confuses protocol and process with the intent of governance which is ‘informed decision making’.
In summation the author intends to offer some suggestions as to commonsense steps which might be taken to reduce the incidence of failure.
Paper 2
Extinguishing scrub fires before they spark conflagrations
Some Thoughts on Portfolio Management
Outline of proposed paper
More and more organisations are finding themselves in the position of having portfolios of projects running. Some projects run well, others do not. Despite the money which has been spent on management systems we still find that the rate of success is poor and that in many cases executives and managers are surprised when programmes and projects ‘go off the rails’ with the velocity in many cases of a runaway locomotive.

The author intends to draw on his extensive experience with two major global organisations to highlight approaches to portfolio management which he has found successful both in identifying at an early stage the possibility of problems and where necessary mitigating the issues arising. The paper looks at these matters from a practical practitioners perspective not a theoretical one. It is hoped that the lessons learned, especially from mistakes made, will enable others to avoid some pitfalls in the future.

Areas considered include the question of risk/ benefit, cessation versus continuation and whether the perspective is different if the programme/ project is in house or external.

Regard will be had as to possible organisational approaches that may or may not offer benefits, including the role of Programme Offices.
In summation the intent is to look at Portfolio Management through the lens of a pragmatic practitioner and to offer some observations on possible approaches to obviate issues, ideally before they become problems.
The thrust of these two papers will be to take a practical experience based look at some of the issues in these two areas. It would greatly assist if anybody with views on the areas outlined would be kind enough to share their thoughts with me. I am happy to acknowledge such input in the paper. Furthermore if anybody would like to act as a reviewer please let me know, as another brain is always useful.

10 Things Great Project Managers Do

I came across this slideshow on 10 Things Great Project Managers Do today whilst browsing some online newsletters I subscribe to.

Whilst they may seem a little motherhood and apple pie to some,  it is when the basics are executed right that we get success. All too often we neglect the basics at our peril. There is a reason that the basics are called the basics.; it is that they are the building blocks for success.

One that resonated with me particularly was Number 10

GreatManagersDo_10

The reason being that all too often in the past I have had occasion to ignore this basic. When I have it has often not turned out like I would have wished. Being a hard charger as the Americans say, is all very well, but you need to pace the charging. That knowledge often comes only with experience and after learning why the basic is a basic and not a namby pamby HR idea.

Of course there are other things, but these 10 encapsulate much of what is required for success. They do not guarantee success but they will go a long way to reducing project failure due to project management. Note though that other factors are often as influential, if not more so in project failure than project management.

And in the beginning there was the bus….

Before the app, before the smartphone, before the network, there was the bus. And the bus headed south from San Francisco toward a new world.

So begins an interesting post at Nicholas Carr’s Rough Type Blog Carr looks at the difference between the bus (as a stand in for society) as exemplified in Tom Wolfe’s classic The Electric Kool- Aid Acid Test (Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters and the 1960s) and the Google Bus of today.

Read the post, it raises some interesting points.

Finally this quote from Wolfe’s classic, which Carr uses to set the scene for his discussion:-

“There are going to be times,” says Kesey, “when we can’t wait for somebody. Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place — then it won’t make a damn.” And nobody had to have it spelled out for them. Everything was becoming allegorical, understood by the group mind, and especially this: “You’re either on the bus . . . or off the bus.” –Tom Wolfe

This resonates with me today, as it did when I first read it many years ago. We can use to be on the bus, or we can let it go without us.

 

 

The role of procurement in software project failure

The Institute of Information Technology Professionals is conducting a very brief survey of IT procurement in project failure. Please, if you have relevant experience take part in the survey. Details are below:

Gmail - The role of procurement in software project failure (2)The survey can be accessed here http://www.iitp.org.nz/spsurvey

It is very concise so please assist us in this research effort.

As many of you know I have a long held interest in the causes of project failure, so I look forward to seeing the results of this survey.

Video

Telecommuting

A video piece by James Surowiecki, of The New Yorker,  looks at telecommuting. this is complemented by a column at the New Yorker.

Novopay #9 – some comments by others

In looking at this issue I came across an interesting post at Strathmore Park.

The writer puts forward the view that a return to the Datacom system, as it was, is simply not credible. I am inclined to agree, given the amount of time that has passed.

Novopay #7 – The Deloitte Review

Novopay_Technical_Review commissioned by Steven Joyce from Deloitte is attached.

At first looks it confirms some of my thoughts, does not address others, which may well reflect the terms of reference.

I will post some comments shortly.

More on paywalls

Over the last months I have written quite a lot on new media and paywalls. Given my focus elsewhere recently I cannot at this minute reference all that I would wish, but this post by Nick Carr is very pertinent.

On being silly

As a consultant I write and have written  about the need to keep my promotional outlets and social media current.

Like so many I have ignored my own advice. Over the last little while I have not kept them as current as I should have.

So, I am human and make mistakes, but this is one I must learn from.