A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Archive for November 2015

Walking the Talk: A Thanksgiving Story

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Walking the Talk

A few Thanksgiving seasons back,  I was in Singapore in a taxi, and it was
obvious that the driver was no ordinary person.  On the topic of Governance, which I am particularly fond of, the taxi driver articulated the key differences in the system Singapore uses to ensure that only qualified candidates are nominated for the top post.  This topic is neither about the political system in Singapore  nor about the pathetic state of affairs facing us next year here in the United States.  Interested readers can read this monograph: Introduction to Singapore’s Political System.  Rather the discussion is around the taxi driver who turns out to be the CEO of one of the top ten taxi companies in Singapore.  I was very curious why the CEO would also function as the taxi driver.  It turns out that the CEO started as a taxi driver and had the good fortune (as he put it) to rise to the level he did, but to keep his feet on the ground he spends a few days every month as the taxi driver.  He said that walking the talk was more valuable than management books, advisers and networking events.

I have always looked upon him as my role model.  FYI – the picture shown is not him, but a symbol of him.  Over the years we lost contact, but I have never forgotten my lesson.  To this day, I practice it.  When I announced I was the Consultant CIO at Howard Building, it is an example of walking the talk.  It is about my dual role as a CIO helping small to mid-market enterprises imbibe technology Governance using our product uGovernIT,  and my primary role as CEO of UGovernIT, Inc. which produces the product.  So many times, CEOs become successful and move away from the very thing that made them successful.  For the past decade I have served as CIO/CTO in six firms who could not afford a full-time IT leader.  My low consulting rates helped them get the expertise and the tools to govern IT, but I got the better end of the bargain. Our tool uGovernIT was the beneficiary of continuous improvement.  Over the years we have evolved to become a full ERP like solution for managing the IT function. It was designed by CIOs and IT management experts and built on a single integrated platform.  It is a complete solution and helps triage and manage user service requests, problems, change requests, workflow and collaboration driven project management, project portfolios, manage IT budget and IT spend, and manage resource demand.

Written by Subbu Murthy

November 22, 2015 at 11:53 am

A Three Stage Process for Project Management

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Business People and Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

Project Management has been and will always remain a challenge.  Tools, including the best of breed, are at best enablers.  Most firms still rely on the project manager and the project team to deliver projects.  In an earlier blog post, I had alluded to the art of simplifying things as a sound guideline in managing projects.  The evolution from control-centric (Theory X) to people-centric (Theory Y) has been in the works for decades, and most firms now have abandoned the older and more rigid models for managing projects. Today it is all about people and process simplification. Management is evolving to focus on simplicity and rapid delivery.

Just being within budget and schedule is not good enough – projects need to deliver value.  While the challenge of managing projects continues to present opportunities for making improvements in how we deliver, the focus on value raises an even more fundamental question.  Which projects do we select?, and equally important, when do we abandon what we have erroneously started?

In larger firms, the traditional focus on execution has shifted to a three stage process:

In order to realize value from projects, larger firms have started emphasizing on developing strategies to select and sequence the projects to be implemented. The focus at this stage is on value.  Once the projects are identified they are generally implemented using a customized collection of processes (both agile and waterfall) to facilitate efficient implementation.  Therefore traditional project attributes such as scope, cost, schedule, and customer satisfaction become the metrics that qualify a project.  Managing risk is critical, and independent project evaluation is essential to ensure that failing projects are either fixed or cancelled.

The discussion above shows that there are three different organizational components to manage projects.  From a tools perspective, the industry has point solutions for managing the three stages identified, but they are expensive, and need significant work to get a 360 degree view of the project.

Larger firms have the luxury of resources and tools to maintain a strategic team to decide on the project portfolio, a PMO (Project Management Office) to manage the portfolio and a Governance/Audit group to assess the project risk and make changes as needed, including the option to terminate dysfunctional projects.

Mid-Market firms do not have this luxury.  They rely on tools, the leadership team and the project manager.   About 80% of the Mid-Market firms rely on Microsoft Office (Excel, Project).  They do not have the resources to integrate progress across multiple projects.   Mid-market firms should not follow the path of their older and bigger brothers.  They should recognize that integrating them to get a holistic view has significant benefits.  Gartner and other analysts have started to endorse this view, and fortunately,  our cloud based project management tool is based on these ideas.

Written by Subbu Murthy

November 18, 2015 at 3:58 pm