Archive for October, 2018

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

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.

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.

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.



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.