I’m sure you've heard of Fail fast systems and fail fast modules, where the system or module is designed to immediately report at its interface any failure or condition that is likely to lead to failure. Fail meaning to stop operation once there is a detected possibility of erroneous behavior and Fast means to report the failure as soon as possible.
Generally, in projects where there are delays the Project Manager steps in to identify bottlenecks and activities along the critical path, then undertakes activities that can be carried out faster either by putting in more resources or tweaking the outputs required in order to bring the project tasks back in line with the timeline. This kind of approach is in essence a variation of the fail-fast methodology.
Some of the Project management tasks that could be undertaken to build up a “fail fast” model in the context of a project environment could be to:
1.Have regular meetings on Project tasks but with an emphasis on time of completion as per the critical path, rather than simply of menial tasks.
2.Nominate, one single responsible person to keep track of tasks and deliverables that fall into the critical path, someone other than the project manager.
3.Have regular submissions from project team on plans for forthcoming deliverables, especially those within the critical path.
4.Empower project members to take on tasks relating to future deliverables which fall along the critical path.
5.Clear out "noise" resulting from previous tasks delays that are not within the critical path, doing this will allow time for resources to focus more on project deliverables tasks that are more important.
6.Clear identification of risks associated with each deliverables and appropriate assignment responsibilities to project individuals to manage these.
7.Build up a flat structure for project teams in order to encourage issues being highlighted to the top. In a tall structure, the bottom-up information flow takes longer which hampers the efficiency of an immediately reporting mechanism which is key to an effective “fail-fast” system.
8.Set up several checkpoints within tasks. Reporting could be encouraged at each checkpoint rather than tasks completion or progress.
9.Promote decision making at lower level meetings rather than escalating all decision making to higher ups. Responsibilities need to be well documented for those decisions taken on critical path tasks.
10.Create an effective culture within the project team, to encourage individuals to be able to identify those critical path tasks that precede their actual task, in order to be able plan for contingencies in their area in case of any delays.
A proper project methodology will tend to address the above, however following a structured approach in embedding these into project tasks will certainly help enhance the benefits of a ”Fail-fast” approach. This would in turn prove very useful in avoiding delays in critical paths and budget overruns.
Hope you found this post insightful. Your comments, suggestions are welcome on email@example.com.
Apr 24, 2013
This article is intended to give you an idea what predictive analysis is and how it is beginning to come to the forefront of business decision making. It also lists some of the key criterias that a good predictive analytics solution must cater.
Everyone knows capturing data is important, but very few of them know the best way of slicing and dicing the data in such a way to give them insight into making more profit-effective decisions. Predictive Analysis is all about analyzing data, predicting the future and providing information to put into motion effective tasks in the present.
Predictive analysis takes an approach of understanding business data in a context that differs from the standard set of analysis you would do on a business. Nowadays, there are many IT vendors providing various types of predictive analytics, i.e. from the specialist service on predictive analysis to the packaged predictive analysis solution that comes along with a ERP suite.
A good predictive analysis solution should tick the following at least :
• Offer predictive modeling tools that can be used "out of the box" by analysts
• Few process to follow when going from "anticipate to actioning"
• A proper warehouse appliance to cater to the demands of the "big data"
• A good offerings of analysis algorithms and modeling tools
• Simple-to-use interface for creating, exploring, and modifying outcomes from analysis.
From a business's point of view the following need to be addressed in order to make sure the predictive analysis solution would actually work in the business :
• Understand and design a strong business model for making predictions
• Collect the raw data and make it readable for Predictive analysis.
• Setup a team to understand the nature of the data gathered in order to eliminate noise.
• Implement the model
• Control and monitor the model, with the main aim of being able to relate the outcomes of the model to business goals.
For more information on prediction analytics solutions :
Mar 27, 2013
Fact : Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.
In today's information age there is data maintained in all forms, shape and size, if a close look can be taken at this data and some research carried out, the next biggest thing could be in this data. It's all about sorting the data, identifying what you require and reporting the results in a comprehensive yet concise method.
In order to do this, you need to make sure you target the 3Vs of big data management and use them in it's proper form to work for you :
Make the VELOCITY of data work towards your goal.
e.g. If you are a business introducing a new product in a 3 day tech exhibition, setup a process to capture and analyze every possible feedback, comments, news feed regarding the product during the day in order to maximize the value input in your go to market strategy.
Track large VOLUME of data for better analysis
e.g. If you are into marketing a particular product range you could be collecting terabytes of Tweets of similar ranges in other markets created each day to identify and improve product sentiment analysis for new launches.
Capture a VARIETY of data for better analysis
First collect all types of data relating to your particular industry, market, product, competitors, consumers and in all formats as well, i.e. texts, pics, audio, video, click streams, log files etc. Once you've gained all this analyse all this data together in various different dimensions.
e.g. if you are a boutique store in a large mall use video surveillance to capture number of people who cross the store, number of people who glance at the entrance, then record how many of them come into the shop and record what item they find on the inside of the shop appealing, analyse your sales to find out how many of those items were sold, if a lot was done, then you are now in position to make a connection and perhaps place more of those items next to the door in order to attract more passer by in the store !!
There is data everywhere and it always has been, its available in all forms, shapes and size, all we need to do is to capture it in a readable form and analyse it, that's basically what ticked off the information age and that's exactly whats going to take it to the next level as well.
Hope this was insightful. Have a nice day
Feb 17, 2013
Wikipedia: “Over engineering (or over-engineering) is design of a product to be more robust or complicated than what is necessary for its application”
The above definition in Wikipedia for over engineering is as simple as they come. As a consultant, having implemented many different ERP solutions across various project globally, I cannot say that I’ve not had firsthand experience working with an “Over-engineered system “and when I do, I think to myself who let this happen and why is it still in existence, but the reality is when a system that is more complicated than what is necessary for its application becomes a process in a chain of operations, it becomes the hardest process to replace!!
In this article, I’m going to list down the symptoms of an “Over-engineered System”, so if you see any of below symptoms in your organisation for a process...then “Voila” ...someone’s gone overboard with the design:
- Only 1 person clearly understands what the specific application area does.
- There is no one place to get all the documentations explaining this application area.
- No one wants to have anything to do with the application area.
- Other areas around the “application area” have changed overtime.
- All the other areas have been changed to suit the workings of this particular “application area”.
- Many external contractors have worked on different sections of the application area, all at various points in time.
- The senior management hardly knows about this application area, though it feeds into the information system that is used solely by the senior management.
- This application area is not associated with routine tasks on a day to day basis in the business.
- Reports relating to this specific application area are done manually in “Excel sheets” rather than an integrated system report.
These are some of the clear symptoms of an “Over Engineered system”, if any application area satisfy most of the above bullet points, highlight it and make an effort to try and re-engineer it, and this time follow the KISS Principal – “Keep it simple, stupid” – as articulated by Kelly Johnson.
Hope you found this post informative and interesting.
Enjoy, have a nice day.
Dec 30, 2012
Dec 16, 2012
As more and more vendors begin to expand their packaged solution offerings around the cloud based architecture model, there are going to be more companies looking to cash in on the early discounts available on these packaged deals. Given that there are various factors that are likely to contribute to the success of the adoption of the new model, the "transformational changes" is key and the company need to embrace this new IT infrastructure model with some careful planning.
The nature of the model is such that it is likely that this will be embraced more by the business departments of a company as more IT roles will change as end-user computing requirements in an enterprise takes the lead. This would mean successful cloud transformation requires partnership between lines of business and the IT sub unit within the organisation.
Gartner predicts that “By 2015, 35% of enterprise IT expenditures for most organizations will be managed outside IT department’s budget” this clearly highlights that the cultural shifts, combined with cloud as an enabler, have given end-users and business department more influence over IT infrastructure in the enterprise.
All this would likely mean that in the future the IT staff’s role in a business is going to change significantly from just supporting the business to developing transformation strategy by analyzing which applications can move to the cloud with least disruption and greatest benefit, for this the IT teams will have to evolve to be part of the business, leading to more cross-departmental functional IT staff, as previously mentioned in my article “IT Teams of the future”.
Therefore, when it come to your companies turn to move on to a cloud based model, make sure there is some careful planning around the transformation also keeping in mind the resulting changes in IT staff roles within the organisation. All the best.
Oct 13, 2012
In most projects, one thing that generally hits the project manager hard is to define whats in the projects Scope and what’s not. This is by far one of the most important plans since it determines the work involved, the resources required, budget required for these resources, the final project deliverables and signoffs required to close the project. Given all these you need to make sure all the elements that make up a scope baseline are addressed at the earliest and communicated to the stakeholders of the project.
Drawing up a Scope Baseline.
The 3 most important documents that should be part of a Scope baseline are:
Work Breakdown Structure - The WBS defines each deliverable and further decomposes in deliverable into smaller work packages.
WBS Dictionary - The WBS Dictionary contains the actual detailed description of the work required, and is often a very detailed and technical description of each work package.
Scope Statement -The Project Scope Statement includes the product scope description and the project deliverable, and it also defines the product user acceptance criteria.
Once the deliverable's are confirmed in the scope statement, they need to be developed into a work breakdown structure (WBS) of all the deliverable's in the project. The scope baseline includes all the deliverable's produced on the project, and therefore identifies all the work to be done. The following should form part of the scope baseline plan:
- All the activities and individual tasks that need to be done to achieve the deliverable identified.
- The resource required for each of the tasks identified. Likely resource constraints, their involvement and ability to execute each task in the available time frame.
- Part of the time management plan e.g. time required for the tasks identified.
- Estimated cost of resources for each tasks based on some notional unit of calculation.
- A complete schedule linking all tasks, resources and time estimates. With start and end dates clearly laid out.
- Identified dependent tasks and their involvement in the critical path.
- Setup a cost baseline which should include a time based budget as well, i.e. a milestone based budget gateway taking into account the cost of resources and cost of time taken to complete the tasks in the WBS dictionary.
With all the above in a scope baseline plan it’s easier to control the momentum of the projects progress. However, there is always a likelihood that Scope changes are required as the project goes forward, that’s because not everything can be determined upfront, so educate your project sponsors of the likely area a scope creep could occur and always plan to keep some project budget available for these scope additions, after all, these could end up being project deliverable's that are an absolute must to achieve the company’s objectives.
I’ll like to think that every Project is like a “Skier” sliding down a “base of snow“which can be thought of as the Scope, if you have a good frozen base, then you will most likely cruise through the project deliverable's and close the project successfully, but if not, then get ready for a wobbly ride ahead !!
Feel free to drop me your queries & comments on firstname.lastname@example.org
Aug 31, 2012
In this article I thought I’ll discuss about how various organizations have their own definitions for the terms “Process” and “Practice”. Given the nature of the consulting industry these words are used interchangeably. In the present world what consultant like to talk about is processes, when they enter the customer site, they want to analyze the existing processes, then the next phase is to identify the pros and cons in the process and then identify the changing business needs and change the processes accordingly.
However, one thing that is generally overlooked though this phase is whether these processes were in fact practices early on, or were they genuine business processes that were put into action after having brainstormed upon and tested for its feasibility and efficiency.
If you are consulting for a very mature company, which has been in operations for a long period of time, the chances are if you were to ask your clients about how these processes were designed and on what condition, the probable answer would go something like “Well, when I first joined, my senior taught me to do it this way…”, and this would indicate that these processes are indeed practices that have come about from adhoc operations and events that have come across during the beginning and growth stages of the company.
If this were the case, it’s likely that there are many disconnections in the process chain and perhaps some duplication of efforts too, since practices is more focused on individual’s areas and responsibilities than the overall big picture of connecting operations. In situations like this it’s going to be more important to identify a process with an overall view of the connecting points and introduce best practices (ways of doing things) within the sub-components of the process. This is what founded the ideology of “Best in class practices”.
Therefore, keep in mind that practices may lead to processes in the long run, but these could be disconnected due to its individualistic occurrences. The simple solutions is to have build best practices built into the connecting components of a process, this makes the entire process chain efficient.
As one of my client once said “This company is more than a century old, we are like deadwood, practices have been drilled deep into us, changing us now is going to take another 100 years”….but now the same company runs completely new processes and all of it through a web hosted solution, this is after implementing a a brand new vertical of a renowned ERP system.
Hope you found this post informative.
Have a nice day !!
Jul 20, 2012
With the evolution of IT going though quantum leaps in the last decade, its only common sense to assume that it going to be bigger leaps in the coming decade. Given this it is likely that IT department of various companies that embrace the new technology coming their way, will see a change in working patterns, and that’s what I’ve looked to cover in this post.
Some of which are likely to be along the lines mentioned below:
Everyone is going to be working in the cloud – physical team are likely to become a thing of the past. Collaborative and collective working is going to be done through in the clouds through cloud devices.
BYOD – Bring you own devices – In the future the way staffs are going to work is to bring their own devices into work to use in their day to day tasks. The IT departments will just have to make sure that the devices are securely updated to work within the office space and adhere to their security protocols etc.
Divide and Conquer is going to disappear – The famous methodology which is to divide tasks and operates efficiently in that space is going to disappear with tasks interconnected and the need for IT staff to know more than just one area. Though not the intrinsic details staff will have to be aware of the details on how to activate and use devices which in itself will get most of the detail level jobs done.
Higher possibility cyber attacks – There is likely to be more cyber warfare as most devices will be run remotely via cloud like infrastructure and hence this would call for IT Departments and CIOs to keep a close eye on confidential company information, regular updates means more technological enhancement done more often and related upgrades of hardware and software too.
Hyper connections would mean more networks – the ratios of an IT Staff to an end user is going to be in the 1000’s all through hyper connected platforms and devices. IT staff will link mainly with end users on a platform that extends across departments and functions, which would also see this platform being remotely accessed and in turn means more home working and “Device on you” style of working (this is where you are expected to support on issues wherever you are if you’ve got the “Device on you“to do the tasks).
These are just some o the thoughts and ideas I’ve come across when looking into how a technologically driven IT Department is going to perform their tasks in the future given the changes coming our way.
Hope you found this post informative and interesting.
May 28, 2012
Cloud computing is the talk of the town with everything from social media websites where you have you have your entire life’s details laid down, to a simple comment you leave on the some website in some corner of the world wide web.
Given the popularity that cloud computing is gaining, you could ask why haven’t those large ERP vendors yet to break into this as you would have expected them to?
Well some of the basic challenges that would crop up would be:
- Transitioning from onsite revenue streams to in-house ones. Business models need to be revamped at the source to make this transition smooth, and with more than million clients it’s not an easy task.
- Confused clients when it comes to clear vision laid out by a vendor in terms of support and maintenance on how the infrastructure would be setup.
- Difficulty for the vendors in being able to pin point which existing systems will be brought in house, due to integrational aspects and 3rd party’s existing cloudless computing solutions in the overall landscape.
- Another challenge is to be able to distinguish between cloud services for core applications and those on the peripheries. This will always be a point of discussion to consider.
- Being able to align the cloud and SaaS applications together on a common platform in a client organization is always a time consuming and painstaking task.
Just some points to ponder. Have a nice day !!