Archive for the ‘Placement’ category

The Power of Business Intelligence Tools

December 17th, 2018

According to estimates, 80% of global data is unstructured. This data resides in social media feeds, digital photos, emails and audio files, to name a few. Unstructured data can be hard to analyze, which means businesses can fail to utilize the treasure trove of data they have access to. That’s where modern business intelligence tools come in.

We now have access to tools that can collate data from various sources, including apps, websites and blogs, that businesses can use to create actionable reports. In fact, as technology matures to analyze videos and images, business intelligence tools are increasingly becoming more capable of prescriptive analysis.

Prescriptive analytics can not only be used to predict market trends, but it can, in fact, be used to create a simpler, more engaging user experience. Imagine being alerted to an impending arrhythmia based on your recent activity and health trends of people with similar profiles across the globe.

While prescriptive analytics might be a way off, still, there are other immediate benefits that business intelligence tools can offer.

The Power Of Business Intelligence Tools

Business intelligence tools increasingly come with mobile and cloud compatibility, which allows users to access data insights from anywhere. This on-demand access to data insights can allow businesses to have more mobile teams, which also means a wider talent pool to pick from. In addition to intelligence tools’ increasing ease of use, there are three primary reasons why businesses should leverage them.

  1. The Advantage Of The ‘Agile’ Approach

The agile model of the business depends on quick iterations to arrive at the desired outcome. Quick iterations, in turn, rely on testing and data collection, both of which are possible through business intelligence (BI) tools. Moreover, since it is possible to give the entire organization access to the same data, BI tools can facilitate more efficient teamwork. Imagine the entire marketing department having access to insights and tweaking campaigns in real time. Or the entire development team getting reports on app usage and making improvements to UX accordingly.

  1. More Convincing Power

Marketing departments often run into the problem of justifying dollar spend. Proving the ROI of digital marketing, in particular, can be very difficult, given that most organizations implement an omnichannel approach, and most user journeys are divided between various touch points, online and offline.

BI tools can help organizations make sense of all the data that’s pouring in from different sources. By analyzing reports and fetching insights, marketing departments can make better pitches for increased funding.

  1. The Power Of Personalization

BI tools can support a whole host of analytical functions, including online analytical processing, data visualization and performance scorecards. Functions can be combined together to flesh out user personas, which can then be used to improve the personalization of marketing messages. In fact, the agile approach fits perfectly with the quest to improve customer experience and ultimately conversions, with the help of personalization.

A Few Common BI Tools 

Business intelligence tools have grown rapidly in popularity and functionality in the last four years or so. In fact, it is estimated that the BI and analytics software market will be worth more than $20 billion by 2020, with a heavy emphasis on mobile BI.

Contrary to popular belief, not all BI tools are complicated or expensive. There are quite a few easy-to-use options that can provide value to small businesses. Here are some commonly used BI tools in the market today that our clients use and that we work with when analyzing data and making strategic decisions for our clients. These are just a few tools that, in my opinion, have the right mix of functionality, ease of use and affordability.

Microsoft Power BI 

First launched in 2015, Microsoft Power BI is one of the most affordable data analytics tools I’ve seen in the market. It stands out for its data visualization capabilities and real-time trends analysis. With navigation very similar to Microsoft Excel, it is easy to use for Excel power users. In fact, integration with other popular Microsoft tools, such as SQL Server, is seamless. However, if you have large data sets to analyze, Power BI might not be for you. With large data sets, there can be a severe performance lag.

Sisense 

Sisense has simpler dashboards that are still informative. It can handle large data sets with ease, thanks to its columnar approach and efficient use of CPU for speed. However, Sisense is one of the more expensive tools in the market.

IBM Cognos Analytics

This business intelligence tool includes unique products that set it apart from the competition. Analysis tools include what-if analysis, trend analysis and advanced analysis, each of which can help users make better decisions faster. With customized notifications, cross-department analysis and easy scalability, it can be a powerful tool in the right hands but does come at a cost and with a steep learning curve.

Google Data Studio

Free for Google account users, Google Data Studio is a reporting tool that just came out of beta. Since it is a Google product, it integrates seamlessly with other products from the search engine giant, including Google Analytics. Quick and seamless integration means that importing data from your search marketing and advertising efforts is super easy. In my opinion, Google Data Studio really takes the cake in the collaboration department. It offers similar functionalities to other Google products, such as assigning different permissions to team members and being able to share reports with just about anyone.

However, it is not as advanced as some of the more mature BI tools in the market. For instance, it offers pretty basic visualization options, and there is no way to customize the tool tip.

Tableau

One of the most popular BI tools in the market, Tableau stands out for its intensive data visualization capabilities. It allows you to perform some really complex data visualization tasks with ease. Tableau also has a robust mobile client, which means you can perform analysis duties on the go. However, Tableau can be more expensive, at least for larger organizations.

With the collection of available business intelligence tools, organizations shouldn’t have a problem finding the right product fit. An investment in business intelligence leads to faster and more accurate reporting, moving data to insight and action.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Steven Widen.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/12/06/the-power-of-business-intelligence-tools/#71fe7b73762e

 

 

 

 

5 Revenue Generating KPIs for Online Lead Generation

December 11th, 2018

 

In a world of constant change, data analytics remains the fuel for better customer engagement and personalized brand experiences. Now that customer data arrives from a variety of sources, companies will need to optimize every platform, channel, and touch point to gather consumer information and create a more complete view of their customers.

Despite the plethora of data you collect, without the right data sets and KPIs, it’s almost impossible to know if you’re capturing leads that will generate revenue for your company.

Show me the money: 5 revenue generating KPIs

When thinking about online lead generation, there are 5 revenue generating KPIs that companies should keep in mind when creating their websites: Unique users, conversion rate, close rate, deal value, and revenue per session.

Unique users: When it comes to lead generation, repeat sessions from the same user are typically not beneficial, because additional visits from one person usually don’t generate additional revenue. A majority of companies make the mistake of focusing solely on the number of sessions on the site to determine whether their website is successfully designed.

When creating a lead generation site, companies should be increasing the number of unique users that visit their site, enticing them to perform the desired action.

Conversion rate: Tracking visitors to your site cannot be the end goal. Companies must be able to measure the percentage of sessions that result in the intended action, or visitors that are converting. For a lead generation site, companies should track the percentage of sessions that result in a lead capture fill.

Close rate and closed deal value: Close rate is the percentage of leads that are converted into revenue for your company. A lead that does not become a customer is of little value. The ability to close is usually entirely external to the website, but is still an important metric that affects the websites decisions.

Closed deal value helps companies determine how much a closed deal is worth to the company. Like close rate, this value is measured outside the website, but still affects websites decisions and helps evaluate if the website design is effective.

Revenue per session: Though this metric can be more difficult to track for a site focused on lead generation compared to a retail site, it is valuable for companies to have an estimate of this number. If a lead generation site has a conversion rate of 10%, a close rate of 20%, and a closed deal value of $500, the equation to calculate revenue per session is .10*.20*500= 10. With this in mind, a company should not spend more than $10 for each website visitor it acquires through advertising or other channels.

If your site isn’t generating leads at the level you desire, evaluate the KPIs you’re tracking to ensure you have the right measures in place for success.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Lisa James.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2018/12/10/5-revenue-generating-kpis-for-online-lead-generation/#11669f19d856

Changing Your Project Management Methodology? How To Get Your Team On The Same Page

November 26th, 2018

 

Many companies use various project management systems across different departments. As your business grows, you may need to adjust your methodology and unify the systems your team members are using.

But getting everyone on the same page about your new protocols can be a big challenge, especially if they have to adapt to new tech tools. We asked the experts at Young Entrepreneur Council how they’ve improved company communication in the face of process changes. Follow their advice to create a seamless transition across your teams.

  1. Ask each department what has worked best for them thus far.

This is something we’ve recently dealt with as our team grew to 50+ people while being 100% remote. The best advice is to look at what your different departments are using. Which department is having the most success with their project management tool? Our departments were mainly using Google Docs and Sheets to track various work. Recently, our marketing department started using software that has vastly increased their outputs to the point where our director has promoted it internally to the rest of the company. Now, we’re starting to see our sales department using the same software for their goals. If you have a department that is heavily project-based like our marketing department is, then this is probably where the best company-wide solution will come from. – Justin Cooke, Empire Flippers

  1. Determine what each team needs.

Ideally, you would build a single project management system. We have the unique position of being a web-development team, so we can actually write our own code and create dashboards. We can merge in data from a variety of sources. If you don’t have an internal dev team, you can always outsource this to a company that can help build dashboards and project systems and integrate a variety of existing data points. The key is discussing with each team what they need at a core level. If their team is working well, don’t change their process! Rather, just include their data in the overall system. Create different views for each team based on their unique needs. The data can then be shared how each team uses it best. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

  1. Get buy-in from your management team.

Make sure that middle management feels heard. If you have a competent team, there’s a reason that your systems have developed as they have. Building new workflow systems from the ground up can destroy your efficiency through redundancy, power struggles and endless meetings with limited productivity if you’re not listening to the input of the teams responsible for doing their own work. What’s always worked is assuring leadership that they’d retain a certain amount of autonomy as long as we all stayed on the same page and met somewhere in the middle when it came to restructuring and implementing new project management systems as we continued to expand. If your people know what they’re doing, don’t get in the way of that. – Raad Ahmed, LawTrades

  1. Hold collaboration sessions.

Using multiple tools is always challenging within a team, let alone an entire company, but sometimes it’s inevitable. The best advice  is to create a working collaboration session, where one person from each department joins a “collaboration” team and they work together on projects they all touch. Most of the time you could all be working in silence and not talking but by working as a team and having a set time to come together and collaborate on projects, the less challenges and issues arise. We’ve started to implement this policy as a team after seeing how well it worked during our annual company retreat and our team provided a lot of positive feedback. – Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

  1. Integrate each system into a larger one.

It’s easy for each department to branch off and create their own processes and systems. However, when integrating departments into a larger and more streamlined process, especially when changing methodology, it’s important to get everyone on the same page. Always indicating how each process connects to the whole is important, and when something becomes too difficult for the rest of the company to actively understand or participate in, it needs to go. We’ve cycled through several different processes to manage content writing, for example. Originally we used a sales funnel in HubSpot, but found that the people who needed access to the information weren’t getting enough. The system that then evolved was a Google Doc where everyone had access and could see what was being worked on. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

  1. Migrate in stages.

As a company grows, you may need to merge two systems together. What once worked well may not be the case now. For example, after a merger it’s very common to find that the companies are using completely different tools. You’ll need to start consolidating tools to get everyone on the same page and improve communication. It’s important to do this in stages. The first week you can migrate 10% over to the new system, then 25%, and so on. Take your time to get the team on the new system and have backups to prevent data loss. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

  1. Make the process adaptable across your software stack.

Evolving methodologies come with a new set of workflows, new roles coordinating processes and unique KPIs across every team. While some tools and project management systems are better than others, achieving the same results is usually possible. Project management systems tend to cover a limited set of mandatory features, such as tracking time, assigning tasks across different team members, and supporting lists, grids and boards. When applying a new methodology across the whole company, make sure that your process is adaptable from every system in your software stack. If needed, search for premium extensions or add-ons that get the job done. Speak with the leading project managers and discuss the workflow separately, making sure that goals are met. – Mario Peshev, DevriX

  1. Set clear expectations for how each tool should be used.

The biggest challenge in any growing company is fostering positive channels of communication. There are many great tools available to aid in communication, four of which we currently use in our office: Slack, Asana, Trello and Zoom. The best advice would be to set up clear expectations for how each channel should be used. For us, Slack is a great way to communicate internal ideas quickly, and Asana and Trello are fantastic tools for team collaboration or task management. Zoom is a wonderful tool to connect different remote teams to do function sync ups. We have improved company communication by involving all teams in discussions about their progress and expectations during meetings and by encouraging team members to share regular updates when working on a project cross-functionally. – Angela Pan, Ashley Chloe Inc.

  1. Stay flexible.

Staying flexible as a company is growing is essential. We have recently outgrown our previous methods of communication and progress tracking. However, as we move forward, we are sure to take the time to research project management systems and get feedback from the team as we change our methodology. Each branch of our company works in unique ways that we want to work synergistically, so receiving feedback from different areas has been very helpful. Outlining a workflow has been helpful in choosing the new system. Knowing how we need a program to work instead of changing how we work around what a program offers is very valuable. – Mark Krassner, Expectful

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Expert Panel, Young Entrepreneur Council.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/11/19/changing-your-project-management-methodology-how-to-get-your-team-on-the-same-page/#32c0ca025521

3 Trends Fuelling the Unstoppable Growth of Partner Managed Cloud

November 13th, 2018

The rise of cloud technology has created massive opportunity for solution providers, and with it, tremendous competition. In an effort to get a leg up, it is all too easy to get stuck competing on price.

But how else can you gain an edge? What does it take to stand out in today’s crowded environment?

Many solution providers are looking to specialization, focusing their efforts on industry verticals or micro-verticals. By dedicating resources to a target market, it is easier to become an industry leader that best serves the needs of end customers in a specific field.

Partner managed cloud is a great model for pursuing these target markets, and partners and their customers around the world are beginning to realize this. The IDC says spending on managed cloud services will grow to $74.9 billion by 2022. According to the IDC, worldwide spending on private cloud services alone will reach $40.5 billion by next year and is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.5 percent.

This presents a big opening for partners (and their customers) with the flexibility to package, price, and set terms and conditions for managed cloud solutions. This leads to shorter implementation cycles, streamlines sales and marketing, and opens potential for higher profits.

To break down these gains, let’s look at the ongoing trends in one rapidly growing market — human resources.

1) Unstoppable HCM Market Growth

HR is the largest business process outsourcing segment worldwide at $12.4 billion, making up more than a third of the global market. This growth, according to The Insight Partners, is expected to continue in coming years to the tune of a 22.5 percent CAGR.

With cloud services and HR outsourcing growing in unison, it has become clear that the focus of companies is shifting, with many frequently outsourcing talent management, payroll, recruitment processes and employee benefits processing. Rising privacy concerns and regulations have aided the rise of HR and HCM services in particular, as solution providers work on whatever it is that makes them unique.

2) An Emphasis on Gaining and Growing Top Talent

A managed or BPO solution carries the benefit of delivering efficiencies and higher quality of services for customers compared to them trying to take it on themselves. By allowing a partner who specializes in HR to manage an HCM solution such as SAP SuccessFactors, companies can exert their energy on strategic, value-add activities rather than basic tactical or administrative processes.

Naturally, this plays as a great advantage in attracting, developing and retaining top talent and serves the mission of standing out through industry specialization. Partner managed HCM solutions can also give customers more consistent ongoing cost structures, improved interoperability with existing infrastructures and scalable solutions.

A company-wide dedication to mission-critical activities can also lead to many transformational improvements.

3) A Push for Organizational Transformation

Businesses that leverage managed cloud solutions are twice as likely to see reductions in capital expenditure spending, according to Aberdeen. They are 60 percent more likely to have faster access to data. Forty-six percent of companies have seen reduced complexity in their IT infrastructure through managed cloud solutions, and 54 percent have gained a more agile infrastructure.

The ripple effect of implementing managed cloud is far and wide. It won’t just give companies greater focus on what they do best — it will help them do what they do best even better!

As solution providers continue to increase the emphasis on their core business and look to accelerate time to value, more and more are turning to partner managed cloud.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Lori McNally.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2018/11/09/3-trends-fueling-the-unstoppable-growth-of-partner-managed-cloud/#7b6aa2763599

How Healthcare, Education and Marketing Organizations Are Using Scrum to Thrive

November 5th, 2018

Digital transformation is reshaping the world of work. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to data analytics, to the cloud, mobility and artificial intelligence (AI), disruptive technologies are enabling organizations to fundamentally change how they operate and deliver value to customers.

But as global competition increases, so do demands for faster turnarounds, user-friendly platforms and flexible goals. Enter Scrum. Once the domain of software developers, today Scrum has evolved beyond the IT department. Now organizations across healthcare, education, manufacturing and many other industries are embracing Agile—with impressive results to match.

According to a Forbes Insights survey, organizations that succeed at achieving greater agility reap plentiful rewards. Among these are faster time to market (reported by 60% of respondents), quicker innovation (59%), improved non-financial results such as customer experience and product quality (58%), and heightened employee morale (57%).

To discover how Scrum can support digital transformation across verticals, we spoke with John Miller, Agile For All, Certified Enterprise Coach, and Agile coach to Scrum Alliance. Miller illustrates how three key verticals are using Scrum to adapt in today’s challenging digital landscape.

Healthcare: Keeping Agile Alive And Well

According to Miller, healthcare organizations are increasingly adopting new and innovative technologies like web-based applications. From clinical communication platforms to health monitoring tools, web applications can help improve patient care and drive greater business efficiencies.

But developing applications for the healthcare sector can be challenging, if not impossible, when using waterfall methodologies, Miller says. Projects assigned to only one person can take months to complete. Moreover, siloed operations can prevent experts in data privacy and security from sharing specialized knowledge. The results are poor skills coverage, multiple points of failure and low employee morale.

Fortunately, Scrum can empower teams to divide the work as they see fit, while encouraging greater collaboration and providing increased visibility into a project’s progress. The benefits are far-reaching, including reduced time to deliver new features, improved skills coverage across the Scrum Team, and higher-quality products, since post-sprint reviews allow any defects to be identified earlier on in the process.

Education: Getting The Attention Of Scrum Principles

Even traditional educational institutions now face mounting competition. Charter schools have multiplied, and distance learning has increased dramatically in popularity. That’s one of the reasons that Miller is pioneering Agile in schools to help teachers and students thrive.

So how can Scrum be applied to the classroom? Grandview Preparatory School, a private K-12 school in Florida, enlisted Miller’s expertise to discover new ways of supporting student-centred learning and deeper engagement.

To implement Agile principles and practices in the classroom, Grandview began using whiteboards or large sheets of paper to break down weekly tasks into columns labelled Doing or LearningBlocked and Done. Next, teachers provided learning goals and had students visualize how they would achieve them, using the board and tracking their progress with sticky notes.

To keep students accountable, Learning Canvases, also known as Scrum boards, were displayed on the wall for students to view, interact with and comment on. The teachers immediately saw greater collaboration, communication and transparency among students and staff. In fact, a 2017 Grandview survey of 16 teachers revealed that all but one had started using Learning Canvases in the classroom.

“[Through Agile], students are learning to direct their own learning in a collaborative way,” says Miller. “Students are not only learning content, but they’re actually learning how to adapt and how to truly work together, which is going to make them future-ready.”

Marketing: Campaigning For Better Results

With its treasure troves of consumer data, Miller says, the marketing industry is the perfect match for Scrum principles. “If you think about marketing, it’s a data-rich focus, which means it’s all about learning,” he says. “And Scrum, at its heart, is a learning framework. It’s not just about getting work done faster. It’s really about, ‘How do we learn as fast as possible, whether we’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing? And then how do we adapt based on that?’”

For example, by relying on Scrum’s iterative processes, a marketing department can validate and test hypotheses to determine why customers really want a particular product, and how a series of more targeted messages might increase revenue.

A Solution for Disruption—Across Verticals

Thanks to disruptive technologies such as cloud and mobile apps, the barriers to entry to almost any sector are quickly vanishing. But while it’s easier for organizations to get up and running in the digital age, getting the right products and services out the door is harder than ever. Scrum can increase the likelihood of success by enabling all industries to encourage collaboration, address complex situations quickly and adapt to changing market trends.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Insights Team.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/insights-scrumalliance/2018/10/25/how-healthcare-education-and-marketing-organizations-are-using-scrum-to-thrive/#3cbffa0a1519

12 Project Management Tips for Busy Tech Leaders

October 29th, 2018

Project management is a crucial skill to master. Tech leaders in particular often juggle multiple tasks at once, and they must understand how to prioritize their responsibilities.
It’s not always easy to find a balance, though. To keep things moving successfully, you need to understand your team’s strengths and be able to clearly communicate priorities and expectations.
Forbes Technology Council members offered advice for leaders in the tech space who want to improve their project management skills.
1. Create A Process And Stick To It
Sit with your team and figure out a process. Your process might be to get the wireframe done first, then assign who will work on each module, work on modules simultaneously when possible and test it once everything is complete. Throughout the process, communication is the key. Keep a culture of open communication even if it is for bad news. Make a culture of sticking to these processes. – Vikram Joshi, pulsd
2. Let Your Team Work In The Ways They Prefer
Co-design the process with your team and re-evaluate its effectiveness regularly. We’ve used Slack, Trello, Pivotal Tracker, Jira, Asana, and more and found the tool is less important than buy-in from the team. If they prefer sticky notes on a wall, let them work through the process design any way that makes sense. When they have it nailed, let them choose the tool to digitize the experience. – Michael Lee Simpson, PAIRIN
3. Align Your Projects with Customer Needs
One of the key components of technology project management is the alignment of the project with the customer blueprint. Each time a project is proposed, it should be lined up with a customer roadmap to ensure the outcomes are supportive of customers or stakeholders. The projects that align with customer and stakeholder output should take priority. – Maria Clemens, Management and Network Services
4. Delegate, Then Provide Support
To manage all the projects effectively, the tech leader needs to delegate authority. The leader needs to have a broader vision and goals in mind and effectively convey them to the team. When the team is marching forward to execute the plan that’s been laid out, the leader needs to act as second in command by constantly aligning the teams and create a support system to remove roadblocks. – Raghu Konka, iPass
5. Don’t Get Distracted By The Little Things
In John Doerr’s recent book, “Measure What Matters,” he focuses on OKRs. I believe these are an effective way of management, but the big takeaway is to understand what your key objectives are as a leader and focus on what is going to create results for them. Too many leaders get distracted by things like feature requests that often lead to delays instead of focusing on goals and the big picture. – Zach Bruhnke, Halleman Bradley
6. Be Clear About When And Why You’re Switching Projects
As tech leaders, we understand the why of switching between multiple tasks and projects, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of being “too busy” to communicate that to the team. The team members then feel whipsawed, and it can appear that management is just flailing around without rhyme or reason. The people who comprise tech teams are smart people — take time and explain things to them. – Scot Wingo, Get Spiffy
7. Practice Frequent, Transparent Communication About Goals And Priorities
Top-down and bottom-up, tech teams work best when the priorities are well-understood and shared. This means frequent and open discussion about priorities and roadblocks, ranking the tasks and goals, and sharing the results of this ranking process. This also means accepting feedback from the tech teams and at times pushing back on the requestors with honesty and options. – Timothy McGuire, J.S. Held
8. Regularly Evaluate Priorities
Differentiating between the critical and the important is the difference between success and failure. We are always battling against the law of resource constraints, which is essentially managing between the timing it takes to fund, acquire and deploy resources. We have a weekly prioritization meeting attended by group heads in which we decide where we should and should not continue to invest. – Craig Bandes, Pixelligent
9. Track Your Team’s Time
Time-tracking tools are vital to the project management process. It’s important to know how much time is being spent on each component of a tech project to find ways to become more efficient and determine who is being productive and who may need some attention. – Chalmers Brown, Due
10. Know And Use Your Team’s Strengths
One piece of advice when juggling multiple projects is to have clear priorities and an understanding of the capabilities of your teams. Assign the best people available on the most important project at that moment. Things can change quickly. Priorities shift and problems appear, and that can require reassigning resources. Knowing which resources to move is critical to achieving project goals. – Chris Kirby, Retired
11. Take It One Project At A Time
Although you can manage multiple projects at a time, you can only work on one project at a time. Even though tech leaders will manage multiple projects, the staff that does the actual work on the projects should only work on one project in order to ensure the fastest track to success. – Carlos Melendez, Wovenware
12. Maintain A Positive Attitude
Venting to co-workers about how much you have to do can put your team in a negative space. Juggling multiple projects is a good thing — it shows your organization is busy and you’re needed. Avoid promoting that you’re overworking and hit the ground running to guarantee you’re making a positive contribution in every project. – Abdullah Snobar, DMZ at Ryerson University

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Technology Council

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/10/22/12-project-management-tips-for-busy-tech-leaders/#30a3d71a60cb

The Anatomy of an Excellent Scrum Team

October 23rd, 2018

Scrum is a proven framework for product success in organizations, but becoming a truly agile organization requires much more than just rote implementation of methods and processes. People play a critical role in ensuring the success of projects by meeting aggressive deadlines and stepping up to complex demands. Each individual spearheading a Scrum Team holds one of three main roles:

  • Product Owner—holds the vision for the product and determines what value to deliver
  • Scrum Master—helps the team best use Scrum to build the product and helps to grow a great team
  • Development Team—builds the product and determines how to deliver value

Here’s how each of these roles contributes to a product’s success, the challenges encountered along the way, and the personality traits that drive effective solutions.

Product Owner: The Product Value Evangelist

On a practical level, a Product Owner is responsible for defining the product vision, setting priorities to deliver the highest value and determining what project deliverables are important to a wide variety of stakeholders.

But in today’s fast-paced, highly competitive world, a Product Owner must also be a visionary—someone who sits at the wheel of the car and determines which way to go.

Fluctuating needs and ongoing feedback can change the direction of a project. For this reason, a Product Owner must also be a good communicator. Not only does this involve the Product Owner explaining changing priorities and their varying impacts on different product teams, it also means listening to stakeholders and carefully managing their expectations.

Unfortunately, many organizations continue to treat Product Owners as glorified go-betweens—people who simply facilitate conversations between the team and management. But it’s a mistake to treat a Product Owner as a proxy. Rather, a Product Owner must be allowed to make critical decisions, no matter how unpopular.

Not everyone is built for the role of Product Owner. Courage is essential. After all, creating a vision for a product and determining a direction forward requires making choices that may encounter dissent, and persevering in the overall interest of maximizing value—both of the product, and for the customer.

Product Owners must also be highly self-disciplined. It can be tempting to try to control the work of others. Experienced Product Owners know not to try to manage the Scrum Team’s activities.

Scrum Master: The Protector Extraordinaire

The Scrum Master helps the Scrum Team perform at its highest level. This can be accomplished several ways. First, he or she acts as the protector of the team, making sure that everyone on the project, especially the development Scrum Team members, can focus on their work without any distractions, such as stakeholder requests that divide employees’ focus.

The second way a Scrum Master helps is by teaching or guiding the team on how to use Scrum to deliver a valuable product. An expert on how Scrum works, he or she must help everyone stay within the Scrum framework and facilitate proper application of Scrum. The Scrum Master should support all team members in using Scrum effectively.

Despite these contributions, some people devalue the role of a Scrum Master, since Scrum Masters are not involved in making the actual product. Yet the Scrum Master does have a product: his or her team. The role of the Scrum Master is to help that team perform at its best. This doesn’t, however, involve the Scrum Master telling team members what they have to do, dictating how they must stay on schedule and serving as a rote taskmaster. Instead, the Scrum Master’s role involves meeting team members where they are, with their individual strengths, and helping them deploy those strengths in achieving a shared objective. Therefore, this role requires someone who is willing to have tough conversations and to abandon his or her own agenda for the sake of project success.

Development Team: The Collaboration-Friendly Collective

The Development Team is an autonomous collective—a cross-functional team that includes all the roles required to complete a project. From architects and testers to developers and designers, these self-organizing groups are accountable for delivering chunks of working product or software in frequent, iterative increments.

The Product Owner and the priorities he or she sets are what determine the specific features that team members work on at any given time. And while the agile mindset guides the product’s execution, the Scrum process structures the way teams work. Everything else, however, is up to the team to manage, with the Scrum Master providing as much—or as little—guidance as necessary.

For example, Development Team members can take a feature from a prioritized product backlog and collaboratively decide how to develop the solution. This level of autonomy encourages strong bonds among team members and helps to create a positive working environment and creative solutions.

But that’s not all. By placing team members with the most expertise closest to a complex project and customers, organizations can react quickly to changing circumstances. In fact, Development Teams can deliver enormous value in a month or less by learning quickly without feeling overworked for a rapid return on investment.

However, because of the self-organizing nature of a Scrum Team, members must be willing to share ownership of the work. Desirable traits include an eagerness to collaborate, technical excellence, attention to detail and adaptability.

Together, these parts of a Scrum Team complement one another and work synergistically, enabling organizations to move beyond rigid, top-down (traditional “Waterfall”-style) management, and toward more iterative Scrum.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Insights Team.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/insights-scrumalliance/2018/10/18/the-anatomy-of-an-excellent-scrum-team/#618df0ab5579

Four Key Priorities for Digital Business Planning

October 15th, 2018

In today’s digital economy, the threat of disruption is ever-present. By now, the stories of new and agile market players breaking through traditional industry boundaries to capture market share is well-known. Airbnb has disrupted the hotel industry, Uber the taxi industry, and Amazon retail.

What all these companies have in common is the effective use of data, which they use to orchestrate experiences that deliver the cost, convenience, and choice customers crave. Importantly, though, this data isn’t used by business units on an ad hoc basis. Quite the opposite. To be successful in the digital economy, companies need to run on data from the ground up, with all lines of business (finance, sales, marketing, operations, supply chain, logistics, and more) sharing data in a comprehensive manner for a common purpose: to deliver better experiences and improved outcomes for customers.

Rethinking Business Planning – A new paradigm

Companies that want to stave off disruption need to think creatively and holistically along the lines of a new paradigm that at SAP we call digital business planning.

Digital business planning seeks to reintegrate supply chain planning and management into the enterprise as a whole so that it is no longer a sub-specialty off to one side of the business. Companies pursuing digital business planning need to think in terms of four key business priorities.

  1. Develop a demand-driven business plan

To survive and thrive in the digital economy, companies should operate according to a demand-driven business plan that shifts the focus from the supply chain to the value chain. The idea is to broaden the planner’s perspective to include all players involved in delivering the final product or service to the customer. Leading companies are moving from manual and sequential planning to automate and synchronized planning where the system uses analytics to resolve problems on its own and machine learning to continuously improve. According to this model, planners are called in to solve problems only in exceptional cases, otherwise, they’re focused on creating value and generating revenue.

  1. Sense, Predict and Respond to change

As companies feel the pressure to move toward faster planning-to-fulfilment cycles, the once separate functions of planning and execution are beginning to blur. To increase agility and responsiveness, companies need a single source of data truth so that all roles can accurately evaluate conditions, simulate the impact of potential actions, and execute decisions in real time. Advanced analytics—with data often fed from embedded sensor data (Internet of Things)—can help not only avoid disruptions in the supply chain but also predict customer behaviour. Many companies are using predictive capabilities to deliver outstanding customer experiences and better outcomes.

  1. Plan holistically across the network

Planning in the digital economy requires an end-to-end approach that widens the lens on the entire value chain. Many companies start internally, integrating planning activities across lines of business. Moving outward, companies then incorporate suppliers (and supplier’s suppliers) in order to collaborate, plan, and deliver more effectively. A flexible supply network platform is also critical, making it easier to discover, onboard, and work with new suppliers to meet constantly evolving and fluctuating demand. Technology leader Microsoft, for example, followed such an approach to dramatically reduce its inventory with a new multi-tiered inventory strategy. Most importantly, leading companies see customers more as integral parts of the value chain, rather than as end points. These companies seek customer input and use advanced analytics to continuously feed it back into the planning process to unlock added value on an ongoing basis.

  1. Increase strategic agility 

Companies across sectors seek the ability to adjust supply chain strategy and portfolio dynamically in response to market opportunities and needs. Leaders on this front have moved to self-regulating, adaptive planning models that help buffer against variability. With live data, real-time analytics, and machine learning tools, for example, companies can optimize planning decisions for higher profitability. Examples include evaluating alternative sourcing and transport strategies to minimize cost and adjusting segmentation profiles to fine-tune inventory levels according to actual demand. With greater visibility into and control over real-time data, companies can now evaluate decisions quickly and drive strategic planning processes that adapt flexibly to shifting demand signals and supply conditions.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Richard Howells.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2018/10/11/four-key-priorities-for-digital-business-planning/#1dda7db621a2

15 Predictions for the Next Big Thing in Software Development

October 8th, 2018

Technology is evolving faster than ever before. Business owners must be willing to adapt to changes in tech if they want to stay competitive. To do that, though, you must first keep yourself abreast of the latest trends.

We asked the experts of Forbes Technology Council to share what they think will be the next big thing in software development. Now is the time to start looking into these trends so your business can become an early adopter.

  1. Containerization

In many ways,  it is thought that this may already be true for a lot of organizations, but this is just the beginning of a widening trend. The Docker and Kubernetes ecosystem definitely help with moving forward as well, but we expect that within the next few years it will be more uncommon to see teams not using containers. – Zach Bruhnke, Halleman Bradley

  1. Functional Programming

Functional programming is not new, but it has not gained widespread adoption. However, with SPAs becoming more complex, JavaScript is seeing its limitations by making it hard to maintain and debug code. With Elm, Facebook’s ReasonML, more developers are adopting the functional mindset on the client side, and it could possibly be the start of more functional adoption in different parts of the stack. – Salim Madjd, AsthmaMD

  1. Multiplatform UI Development

Many companies end up needing frontends for web, iOS and Android. Doing these three different ways is ineffectual. Several solutions exist to address the last two (e.g., Flutter, React Native, Xamarin), but few handle all three in a reasonably successful fashion. On the back end, server less solutions will be popular for certain use cases. Containers and micro services will proliferate. – Manuel Vellon, Level 11

  1. Native Analytics Modules

More and more products will include business intelligence and analytics modules natively in their solutions, reflecting the need to drive more value from the data these systems generate. Involving development to include natural language generation (NLG) in these BI and analytics modules will become a fundamental requirement as well. – Marc Zionts, Automated Insights

  1. SoftwareTo Build Software

Programming languages have become more and more developer-friendly. There have been initiatives to develop a website or even a mobile app without having any coding knowledge. This would be an important step since it would narrow the gap between imagining a product and creating it in real life. This will make at least showing proof of concept less resource intensive and hence more affordable. – Vikram Joshi, pulsd

  1. Serverless Microservices

The migration from monolithic software stacks to serverless microservices is the path many software companies are taking to better isolate and compartmentalize software development. Breaking apart code in this manner allows small dedicated teams to focus exclusively on specific areas with minimal impact on the whole. Many large companies have already achieved this. The rest of us should follow. – Chris Kirby Retired

  1. Data-Driven Rating Systems

We are seeing a collapse in the credibility of online reviews and ratings that are generated by humans. Software platforms that generate objective ratings for products and services, based on an analysis of actual prior usage data, are going to be critical in enabling better decision-making. – Daniel Levitt, Bioz

  1. AI-First SoftwareDevelopment

AI and machine learning-driven product features are already an integrated part of software development for e-commerce, movie watching and social media. Now AI-first software, from conversational virtual assistants to self-driving technologies, are becoming mainstream in software development. – Mitul Tiwari, Passage AI

  1. Earlier And More Frequent Security Testing

The inevitable evolution of DevOps will be to include security testing earlier and at more points in the development pipeline. Security testing is currently a bottleneck for delivery, and the cost is highest to remediate code when done late in the cycle. Providing developers with real-time feedback on the security of the code they are writing is the ultimate goal to avoid delays and expenses. – Travis Greene, Micro Focus

  1. Human Behaviour Modeling

The next trend will be programming human behaviour — creating computational models of human behaviour and developing algorithms to aid the customers/users with possibilities and choices. Finding the trends using digital behaviour can calculate the next move of the user. Programming perceptual processes will be the next big thing in software development, and it will help mediate digital identity and behaviour. – Komal Goyal, 6e Technologies

  1. Increased Third-Party API Integrations

We see a rising trend of customers choosing to use external API instead of custom development. It takes less time for development and helps save money at the beginning. In a few years, developers will be working mostly on integration between different services instead of developing a custom software solution. – Ivan Verkalets, COAX Software

  1. Edge Computing For Data Processing

Edge and fog computing will change how we process data. We’ll see a higher degree of computing happening at initial data capture to remove processing workload from the server side. This is essentially what’s already happening with IoT; however, in the future, we’ll see this in other non-IoT uses cases as well, like ensuring financial compliance locally instead of in a central data centre. – Claus Jepsen, Unit4

  1. Graphing Tools To Illustrate How Systems Work Together

As the world and our devices become further intertwined, the behaviours or rules within software systems become increasingly complex. Businesses need graphing tools where engineers illustrate how these systems are working or not working together. – Larry Lafferty, Veloxiti Inc.

  1. Blockchain

Blockchain technology holds incredible potential for many industries, especially when used in tandem with internet-of-things (IoT) data, artificial intelligence (AI) and fog computing. Software developers will be focused on building disruptive, new solutions that leverage blockchain ledgers such as solutions to enable micropayments and smart contracts or end counterfeiting in the supply chain. – Maciej Kranz, Cisco Systems

  1. Continuous Evolution

Continuous evolution involves your team’s ability to learn while they produce. You cannot expect everyone to be perfect on Day 1 or Month 1. The question is, how can you utilize the now and here with talented people? At what point are they ready to go? Enter continuous evolution. The knowledge and quality of your team will eventually converge into a stable line of progression. Now you can evolve. – Waije Coler, InfoPay

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Technology Council.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/10/05/15-predictions-for-the-next-big-thing-in-software-development/#496c8dd6522f

 

 

Corning Moves HR to the Cloud: Employees Say This Is Amazing

October 1st, 2018

Moving human resources (HR) to the cloud was the best way for Corning to give employees the same experience as its customers. This leading global manufacturer of specialty glass and ceramics has about 50,000 employees in 35 countries. Its goal was to modernize HR to attract and retain the top talent needed for continuous growth and innovation.

“We wanted to bring into the workplace the same customer experience our employees have in their personal lives,” said Christy Pambianchi, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Corning. “People evaluate companies based on the kind of tools and work environment they utilize. We also knew our ability to rapidly assemble and connect employees worldwide was going to be critical to our competitive advantage.”

We wanted to bring into the workplace the same customer experience our employees have in their personal lives @successfactors @corning

Christy Pambianchi, SVP, Human Resources, Corning

No training needed

Unlike past HR projects at Corning, the move to SAP SuccessFactors didn’t require a huge investment in training materials. While Corning shifted all HR processes ─ recruiting, payroll, performance reviews ─ to the cloud, people had no trouble learning how to use the highly intuitive software.

“We’re getting thank-you emails from employees saying this is amazing, I’m a millennial, I love this product, I feel like you brought this company into the 21st century,” she said. “Within a month we had about half a million hits on our talent acquisition website.”

Cloud builds people community

According to Pambianchi, SAP SuccessFactors makes it easy for employees to find each other and work together, as well as stay connected to the company. Workers shared some of the loudest praise for mobile access to the HR system.

“Employees love that in their pocket on their mobile phone or tablet, they can look at their employee information and change their address, look up available jobs, and find anyone in the company,” she said. “All of a sudden our company has this community in the cloud where people can find each other and work together in a way that wasn’t possible before.”

The benefits haven’t been limited to traditional, office employees. Pambianchi said that factory workers are just as excited about having access to HR information through the cloud-based system.

Co-innovation partnership

Corning, which also uses SAP Fieldglass, SAP Concur and SAP Ariba, and other SAP solutions, selected SAP SuccessFactors as part of a long-term co-innovation partnership.

“I do HR for a living. I don’t necessarily think about how to invent the next HR technology,” said Pambianchi. “Partnering with SAP makes me feel like I have an R&D department working on the best things for keeping people and HR capabilities at the forefront of what’s happening technologically. Whether full-time, part-time or temporary, we want all employees to have the same knowledge, skills, and cultural experience as every employee.”

She added that the recent release of GDPR-compliant capabilities in SAP SuccessFactors was a prime example of the benefits of being in partnership with SAP.

Next up for HR at Corning is taking advantage of AI and machine learning. Pambianchi said the team also looked forward to transforming learning delivery, getting content to people faster and driving talent as a competitive advantage.

This blog also appeared on the SAP News Center.

Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Susan Galer.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2018/09/17/corning-moves-hr-to-the-cloud-employees-say-this-is-amazing/#2618f7a82112