Troux Worldwide Conference 2013: Day 1

Unfortunately due to some travel issues I missed some of the morning sessions at the Troux Worldwide Conference and apparently I missed some absolutely spectacular presentations. They  included: “The New Normal” by Peter Hinssen and “The Journey to Business Value” by Bill Cason, but I did get there in time to catch some really good presentations. So I wanted to run you through some of the highlights of what I did get to see.  I got into the conference about noon, just in time to grab lunch.  It’s being held at the Four Seasons in downtown Austin which is just a spectacular venue and I can’t say enough about how nicely put together the event is. Added to that, the quality of the presentations alone really makes it well worth coming.

So the first presentation I was able to attend was “Enterprise Delivery of EA Services-Cargill’s Revised Approach” put forward by Michael Dockham, an enterprise architect at Cargill. On a side note, what’s amazing about some of these speakers is not just the success that they’re having leveraging Troux to achieve business goals and to help do enterprise portfolio management, but it’s in the scale of the organizations that they’re able to achieve this with such speed. Take Cargill for instance. If Cargill were a publicly traded company, it would be the 12TH largest company in the world. If you want to talk about complexity, they have 75 business units, they are in 65 countries, they’ll have been in business for 150 years in 2015, and they’ve got more than a 1000 locations.  As Dockham was running through some of these statistics and I was thinking about what it takes to get an organization that large to adopt and get value from something, it’s a truly daunting and difficult task.

It was interesting to hear him talk about their history with enterprise architecture which really got rolling in 1994. It gives you a sense of the degree of complexity and the level of effort required to be successful in a large organization, but it’s also mind blowing when he talks about their pace of progress. He talks about the last few years and the speed at which they were able to get to value and especially in the last year, as they went through the Troux implementation and what it meant for their organization. He went on about just how transformational this technology could be within their organization, how this massive increase in capability happened in just one year in an organization that’s been working at this EA since 1994.

I thought some of the really important insights that he had were around business value. They have a CIO that comes from the business side, who has been in charge of food services and just recently, one of the largest SAP implementations in the world. He talks about his keys to winning, being driven by business value, being trusted by the business, and being an organization of choice. This organization of choice idea was, to me, a really nice way to talk about providing enough value to your business side customers so that they want to come to you. That was one of the things that he kept coming back to in talking about the various portfolios.  They’ve got technology portfolios, application portfolios, business strategy portfolios, and their ability to link those things together and really provide the ability to make decisions faster and with a higher degree of confidence, which is clear business value.  He made it his business to have people coming to him to do that.  So with this in mind, he gave a to do list for EA leaders. One of the things it included was not discounting the effort it takes to populate the data, which I thought was a great point. It’s something that people spend so much time thinking about, their method, or their approach, and their technologies. He highlighted that a lot of the real effort is in stitching together the information you’re going to need to be able to make ongoing decisions. You need to focus on the results.

He also talked a lot about capturing data at the right level to answer stakeholder questions, which presumes you know what questions they’re going to ask. Another point he mentioned was having a communications pro to be able to communicate out the type of information that you have. There’s so much specialized language and methodology and approach in EA and they help you deal with the complexity of the business problem that you’re facing. All the value you can create for your organization is nothing if it is not understand by your business.

Another great talk I attended was given by Klaus Isenbecker who is an IT architect for Bayer, which was entitled “The Secret Ingredients of Success.” To build on what Dockham was saying about the importance of communication to the business side, he made a very similar point. He said that oftentimes EAs get very impressed with their own information and complexity of it and things then get lost in translation.  He mentions having this “Aha!” moment when he saw the light of EA and what it could do for the business. He then made the mistake classic of going and grabbing somebody on the business side, telling them his revelation, and then getting this blank look from them. He said it was a lesson learned because the person that he spoke to didn’t really care about all of that EA stuff, what he cared about was the answers that he needed to know and that was it. I thought it was a really great point. I think sometimes there’s a tendency to be overly impressed with your own cleverness, with how exciting it is to be able to connect all these dots, and I think for a great many people, especially in these great big organizations they don’t really care about all that. They care about if you can you answer their questions and that’s it.  Klaus’s talk was probably one of the least focused on Troux itself that I’ve seen at one of these conferences but it was incredibly valuable from[JC1]  the standpoint of providing insight into what are the soft side skills required to enable transformation.

The final presentation from day 1 that I want to highlight is, “See the forest from the trees!….Shifting IT’s focus toward Investment Planning,” by Julie Standley, who is the Director of IT Demand Management from American Electric Power. This was yet another absolutely insightful talk.  American Electric Power is an older company, 106 years old, 15 billion dollars in revenue, and 57 billion dollars in assets. There’s a lot of complexity brought on by the fact that it’s both in the regulated space and a competitive space. She talked about having to maintain two very separate sets of plans for people, processes, and technology within the organization to help manage the differences in those business models and what it means for managing those types of large IT portfolios that are required to run a very large power business in the US. She also discussed being a CIO in that organization in a circumstance where there’s one large pot of money and there’s a lot of masters out there that need to be served. So how do you manage all that priority and how do you do investment planning in that environment? You have to be able to work down the chain from strategy to the technologies enabling that strategy, and really using Troux, and management, and architecture, and investment portfolio planning as a way to bring the company silos of operations together. It’s really a unique vantage point for through which to view the organization because for most of the rest of the company, the view is very dependent on the particular silo in which they reside. So it was really very exciting to listen to her talk about how the organization was able to use Troux to bridge the gaps between those silos and facilitate information flow to help the entire organization perform better, but also to manage the type of compartmentalize complexity that is required by the regulatory environment that they exist in.

So all in all it was just an absolutely great day. I can’t say enough about how much you can learn in something like this because they’re all talking about, at least in cases of most of these presentations, trying to solve the same problems that other large organizations are solving. You can learn a lot because there’s no marketing to speak to these issues. These are your own peers, in their own words, describing how they’re solving their problems. I think it’s just if you happen to be in this business, that it’s something that’s worth coming to see. I’m not saying that you can’t learn a lot by talking to the people that sit within any sales organization or engineering organization that you might be dealing with, but Troux is a great example of having a lot of great practitioners who also happen to be great sales folks, great engineers, and all that sort of stuff and it’s always nice to hear it from customers mouths. That’s the big focus of this event, bringing together those people or at least that’s my take away from it, so hope you enjoyed and I’m off to enjoy another great day today. Hope to see some of you here in the future.


 

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

MB&A: Changing the world

I’ve had a few different people ask me about the types of work we do at MB&A so I thought I would put together a few posts that highlight what we are working on as a company. Of course we do many of the things that I consider to be the bread and butter such as management consulting activities like providing advisory services, enterprise architecture, business process reengineering, and business intelligence & analysis. What I think people may find more interesting, and one of the reasons I’m excited to get to the office most days is the innovative projects we have been able to take on where we are deeply involved in creating something new for the customer. Whether it is something that is completely custom or a unique implementation or integration that meets specific client requirements, we have been able to solve some pretty complex problems for clients based on our ability to bring together the best parts of the engineering, software development and management consulting disciplines. In this post I’ll be focused on a few of our most recent projects and also provide some insight into how we leverage our strategic partners to bring unique benefit to the end customer. For today’s post I’ll focus on solutions we have developed in coordination with Troux, Salesforce.com, and the SAAB Group.

SAAB Group – Mobile Situation Awareness for Enhanced Security (MSAFE)

MB&A has developed a mobile situational awareness capability that enables organizations to bring advanced command, control, and security capabilities with them into the field to events, as well as to buildings where advanced security capabilities are needed on short notice. At the core of this system is the open architecture SAFE (Situation Awareness for Enhanced Security) software. SAAB is a leader in the Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) space and its SAFE software is a flexible, scalable and robust Security Management system designed to provide enhanced situation awareness capabilities for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Response. Based on a Command & Control system and a highly advanced Integration Platform, SAFE provides advanced capabilities managing security and efficiency needs in daily operations.

MB&A has used this software as the brain behind its mobile units and combined it other hardware and software to develop a platform from which sensors, alarms, devices, access control, radar, CCTV, network devices, etc can be controlled from a single or multiple operator stations.

SAAB

Salesforce.com – Security Assessment and Management

Our Saleforce.com app, Fedblueprint: Security Assessment and Management (SAM), was created specifically to meet the unique security needs facing our school systems today. Our app was developed for school physical security inspectors so they can conduct physical security assessments on measures such as effective use of architecture, landscaping, perimeter, parking, facility access control/interior, physical barriers, access control, and lighting to achieve improved security by deterring, disrupting, or mitigating potential threats. This assessment is built to meet federal requirements for facilities safety and the first version of Fedblueprint: SAM was used to assess 189 schools and reduced the total cost to perform security assessments by more than $25,000 on a per facility basis. This cost savings was possible because the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management did not require an investment into hardware, software and complex systems. They simply bought the assessment service the same way people use gmail, itunes, social media or iphone apps. This complex requirement can be met by SAM because Salesforce.com, one of the world’s fastest growing fortune 500 companies, is also one of the most secure, built to handle federal security requirements.

The app facilitates the assessment of security requirements. The following briefly highlights SAM’s major capabilities:

  • Includes relevant data regarding physical security standards and governance.
  • Tailored to provide an easy to use interface that is comfortable to the user community.
  • Mobile ready
  • Includes an extensible library enabling the development of comprehensive information relevant to the security.
  • Fully developed manual which can be accessed via print or online and includes coverage of every question asked on the survey as well as all of the tool’s survey related features.
  • Standard set of dashboards and analysis that enables management to understand survey progress and to ensure compliance with requirements.
  • Core set of dashboards to facilitate understanding and analysis of the data that is being gathered.
  • Core set of reports to facilitate understanding and analysis of the data that is being gathered.

The cost is incredibly low for an application that can be accessed by you and your personnel securely on a mobile device or via a web browser. With more than 100 out of the box security questions covering everything from key personnel contacts to CCTV, SAM is able to help you immediately begin to better understand the physical security posture of your organization. Since it sits on top of the Salesforce platform you also get access to the power of Salesforce.com’s inherent capabilities around document management, messaging, task management, and other capabilities that have made Salesforce.com a staple of Fortune 500 companies like Dell, Wells Fargo, and Comcast as well as the number one CRM tool in the world.

Salesforce

FedBlueprint: Investment Portfolio Manager (IPM)

Our team developed a custom report and data collector on top of the Troux transformation platform to help federal customers ingest IT investment data and understand their portfolio in the context of risk, cost, and capability. One of the hardest things to do when thinking about developing analytic components is to develop the statement encapsulating the purpose of the analytic component. Our first analytic component for Federal investment portfolio managers (IPMs) is focused on helping guide the IPM’s eye to the investments that most require attention. One of the hardest things I find in developing high-level dashboards is to resist the temptation to overcomplicate or try to service a broader audience than is really intended. Our dashboard is intended for the person in charge of managing the entire IT investment portfolio.

As such, some detail that is available from more analyst-oriented dashboards is abstracted or otherwise wrapped into the presentation layer. The design tension here – between giving enough detail to support decision making and presenting a very complex information set in a manner that is accessible – was difficult. Throughout the development we focused on identifying measures and views that were very relevant to other stakeholders. In the case of this example, we are going to find a great deal of information and views that will resonate with individual investment managers, project portfolio managers, project managers, and analysts. Keeping laser-focused on the objective of our high-level stakeholder was critical to ensuring the eventual success of the dashboard. In fact, we ended up building many of the lower level analytics required by other stakeholders in order to understand the various components of the high level analytic well enough to understand the interplay and relationships of the various components.

FedBlueprint

This work was an outgrowth of the work we did to develop our whitepaper “From Compliance to Transformation,” where we looked at specific federal requirements including Shared First, Cloud First, PortfolioStat among others and attempted to pull together a comprehensive approach to managing these various mandates in a manner that fosters transformation and organizational improvement.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Tomorrow’s Webinar: Think big, start small, scale fast

Back in December, I interviewed General Dale Meyerrose about organizational transformation and leadership. I posted the three-part interview here, here, and here. When asked about his approach for managing change, General Meyerrose answered with “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast.”

Tomorrow, Dale is going to be giving a free webinar on the subject of Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast in conjunction with MB&A Academy, the eduction arm of my company, Millsapps, Ballinger & Associates.

Date: Friday, February 1, 2013
Time: 12:00 – 1:00pm, EST

To register for the webinar, click here

 

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Webinar Recap: Here Comes the Next Big Thing: Adopting New Technologies is Inevitable, Doing So Successfully Isn’t

I’m so excited that my company’s Webinar Series is becoming more established. We received a lot of positive feedback on our last one.  Instructor Bob Daniel gave an extremely perceptive explanation of why “Adopting new technologies is inevitable. Doing so successfully isn’t”.  Every day new, “latest, greatest” technologies are announced and organizations, whether from within or without, are driven to adopt them. Unfortunately, the all-too-common experience is that the anticipated benefits never materialize. Typically, the focus is entirely on “successful” installation and vendor training. While important, these steps simply aren’t enough to assure you’ll get the return on investment you want (and need). Bob began his Webinar diving into these issues.

In this Webinar, Bob Daniel discusses the motivations driving the adoption of new technologies, the factors that disrupt adoption, and what you really need to do to be successful. Drawing from decades of experience in new technology adoption with both private and public sector clients, Bob will highlight real-world adoption pitfalls and provide practical means to avoid them, as well as to recover from them.  At the end of the hour, you’ll have a framework and set of tools you can use to build success into your technology adoption programs.  Check out the following clip to get an idea of the full range of advice covered in this Webinar.

If you missed Bob’s Webinar and would like access to the full video please e-mail me at josh.millsapps@mbaoutcome.com. Also, don’t miss out on our next Webinar where the Honorable Dale Meyerrose will give us insight into his problem solving techniques honed over years of experience in leadership, cyber security, information technology, intelligence and military matters. Click here to sign up!

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

How to sweat the small stuff without ending up stinky

how to sweat the small stuff without ending up stinky

Small steps can be just as important as the big ones

Business process re-engineering doesn’t have to be a boil the ocean approach to transforming your business. I don’t have any scientific evidence to support this but I believe that the most missed opportunities to improve are the little ones we have in front of us everyday. I’m not advocating against “Thinking Big,” I’m just saying that you shouldn’t be so focused on enterprise transformation that you miss the 1% improvements that add up over time. I believe that many managers miss out on maximizing their value proposition to the organization because they aren’t able to execute on small change initiatives in a meaningful way. These smaller 30, 60 or 90 day initiatives include re-engineering internal workflows, automating internal processes, and course corrections to major programs. The dollars are generally small and the rewards for any one won’t get you an award at the annual holiday party, but over time these are the types of improvements that move the needle for an organization as a whole. Here are 5 things to think about before you decide to move out on that small change effort you’ve been thinking about.

  1. Take the big picture or system view: I know this post is all about little improvements—just remember the big picture and try not to work against it. Thinking big picture helps you ensure you don’t miss the really important thing that happens just before the process you are focusing on.
  2. Think about the data: In most organizations, everything else changes faster than the data. People, technology, and processes—they all change fairly quickly. Understanding information requirements around a process improvement opportunity often gives you a chance to think about it without the confusion of technology and other factors. In the end, many of the improvement opportunities you will find in any organization center on more effectively moving, manipulating, or otherwise acting on information that has been used for years to support the business.
  3. Remember the human factor: Ever sat in a place and wondered how it was possible that nobody had fixed problem “x” yet? You’ve been on site for five minutes and you can tell right away what’s wrong. Most of the time there is a reason that obvious improvement opportunities go unexploited. Many times it’s a people issue. Many times an unwillingness to change comes from a fear or uncertainty about the effect of change. People are often the biggest obstacle to change and you often need to be prepared to sell people on why they should change, even when the existing process seems so obviously broken to you.
  4. Beware scope creep: Little improvements have a way of morphing into massive programs over the course of a cup of coffee. The temptation to keep pulling on the thread of an improvement opportunity until you have completely re-organized the company is hard to resist.
  5. Remember you still need to manage change: Little improvements can go a long way, but one of the downsides to smaller improvement efforts is the costs of change management isn’t anticipated and the effort falls short because there is no money to update the SOP, provide training, etc. The bells and whistles that get included with major transformation efforts often get left out. Informal or small programs still need planning to ensure that there is documentation, training, etc. Without these, the value of these small changes is severely limited.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

The Path to Value: How to stay focused on results

the path to value

How to navigate the “Path to Value” without getting derailed by trivialities

I frequently use the phrase “Path to Value” to describe the approach organizations need to take in order to ensure they maximize the value they get from their transformational efforts. Large scale modernizations, enterprise architecture efforts, and enterprise projects all have a tendency to get derailed in the minutia and details of execution. Getting where you want to go means staying laser focused on the big picture while carefully navigating the line between responsible deviation and unreasonable scope creep. The Path to Value for me embodies an approach to project and organizational thinking that begins and ends with a focus on value. Methodologies are great, best practices are helpful, but the most important thing you can focus on is your own organizational value. One of the great things that has come from the proliferation and acceptance of best practices has been that there is a broad market of patterns and methodologies available for executing on almost any type of transformational effort. The down side is that none are tailored for your organization and while many have a host of highly competent, exceptionally intelligent, and dedicated folks maintaining them, they are often overly complete. By this I mean that most of these are developed over time to address broader and broader problem sets and subtract more and more detail away in an attempt to fit the broader pattern. I say all of this because while I believe in best practice and the judicious use of methodologies and standards, I also believe these are guides, templates, and starting points and that they should always be bound by a common sense approach that puts value first.

Following “The Path to Value” means always looking for the value of the intended activity for the organization. One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of organizations focusing on their Operating Model as a starting point for implementing a decisions support structure is that it enables organizations to significantly reduce the amount of unnecessary and duplicative governance they have in place, while enabling the same at the appropriate level for the organization. The same can be said for my belief in a “Thin Layer” of information that provides just enough to facilitate decision-making and reduces unnecessary burden and cost to maintain the information necessary to make decisions. All of these are born out of my belief that the “Path to Value” is about maintaining the simplest possible process and informational structure necessary to support your efforts. If you apply this approach to enterprise projects and transformation efforts I think that you can better stay on the Path to Value by following three simple rules:

  1. Think big, start small, and scale fast: This is General Meyerrose’s maxim for organizational value and I believe it is a core principle that will help you stay on the path to value. The idea of thinking on an enterprise scale but proving your point via proofs of concept that can then be scaled rapidly is a powerful one that draws on practical experience but also has roots in current research into organizational innovation.
  2. Move in Sprints, Measure in sprints: I am a big believer in managing performance via metrics and I think there is a place for high level performance metrics. However, transformation efforts need short-term goals and objectives to stay on course. Setting goals farther than six months out creates targets that are perhaps too far away to be meaningful and often have to be abstracted to the point where attainment can be gamed. Metrics that are inside of 90 days provide real insight and make better targets for teams. I know that for myself as a semi-reformed procrastinator, that a goal that is six months away can often be put off until tomorrow.
  3. The Path to Value needs light: The more open to the outside world a project is, the more likely it is to succeed. Producing or attempting to produce value in shorter increments and exposing them to stakeholders outside the project team leads to higher quality finished products that are better received. Getting feedback as you move through a projects’s execution ensures that stakeholders are not surprised by the final delivery and enables them to shape it as it moves through the project life cycle. Obviously, this path can lead to scope creep if not properly managed, but I think the chance to engage and get buy-in along the way coupled with the chance to make minor course corrections in flight is well worth the risk to your scope.

Those are my three keys to staying on The Path to Value. How do you keep your teams working on the things that are really important? How have you tailored a methodology to meet your requirements?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Uncharted Water: 10 Simple Steps to Change Your Organization in the New Year

deep-water

 

Don’t get scared when heading into uncharted water

One of the most difficult situations a technology executive can find himself or herself in is with a clear understanding that the current state of the organization isn’t sustainable but with no clear approach to moving forward. There may be a myriad of reasons for this unclear picture from a lack of insight into ongoing operations, to poor data, or to a lack of support for action from upper management. Any of these can create a difficult environment in which to move forward and develop an efficient and effective technology organization from.  However, too much time spent analyzing where to start simply delays improvement and rarely ends with the organization getting to value faster than if they had started by simply acting.

I don’t mean to imply that doing anything is better than nothing or that simply doing something for the sake of doing something is a good plan of attack. I am saying that in the absence of a clear path forward every organization can benefit from taking the following steps.  Particularly those that are struggling with how to move forward but aren’t sure of the right approach or simply lack the information necessary to make an informed plan forward. With everything I am going to say next, please keep one very simply concept in mind:

There is a “Thin Layer” of information that is important. Anything beyond what is necessary to support decision-making is superfluous and wasteful. Choose this information wisely. Choose only what you need to support ongoing decision-making. Anything else can be developed on an as needed basis. With that said, here is the right approach to transforming any organization and developing an information set that will provide a springboard to efficiency and effectiveness.

  1. Figure out what you do: This sounds pretty simple but seems to always get lost in the battle for detail. The first time you do this you should not be focused on developing a detailed model of everything you do so you can execute the business from it like a playbook. This is all about developing buckets to group the resources of the organization for analysis into portfolios. Consider this to be one of your first steps on the path to enterprise portfolio management. Also—remember that you can stand on the work of those that have come before you. There are many capability frameworks that have already been developed and are actively maintained.
  2. Figure our the decisions you need to make: In order to understand what information you need, you need to first figure out what decisions you are trying to support. Once you’ve decided what you do in step 1, it becomes much easier to understand the overall decisions landscape needed to support it. Create a decision register that defines the decision including RACI, informational inputs, analytic components, and the benefit of the decision. This last part is critical because it enables you to value the decision and by proxy, understand how much you should invest to gain more insight in order to improve decision-making.
  3. Figure out who your stakeholders are: I’ve separated this from the decision-making step because I believe they are distinct and that mixing the two muddies the water; but in practice there will be a lot of overlap in these two activities and developing the working products associated with each should be done hand in hand. Tying the decisions to the people who make them, as well as the people who help develop the information necessary to support decision-making is critical stuff. A great planning document can be developed by creating a decision matrix that maps to stakeholders and includes RACI information.
  4. Figure out the benefit landscape: I mentioned this in the discussion of the decision register, but I have pulled it out because I believe it is critical to being successful over time. Developing a benefits list makes you put a value to the effort of maintaining this planning information. One of the major complaints that I hear regarding planning and architecture efforts is that they either lack value or that the value is hard to understand. This is often because a great deal of information goes into maintaining information that is of low organizational value. Remember the Thin Layer and make sure that the information you manage and maintain has real benefit to the organization. Articulating this in a document, registry, or report forces you to think through the value proposition of each decision and in turn the value of the information you will being managing.
  5. Figure out the exact information you need to support these decisions: We are very specific about what we collect when we enter an organization for two reasons. The first is we like to work within a time box in order to get to value quickly. Being specific about what we ask enables us to keep our client side impact to a minimum. The second is that we know how hard it is to maintain good planning data and we know there is a cost to maintaining it. Asking for more than you need is wasteful. If you are optimizing around services or your application portfolio make sure you understand how the various information you are gathering supports the relevant decision-making.
  6. Figure out the analytic components: Once you’ve taken the trouble to figure out what decisions you need to make it is important to take the time necessary to design analytic components that specifically support those decisions. This may not be a one report to one decision type of process. Think about each decision as though it were a scenario. Often making decisions requires several analytic components in order to enable you to drive through the decisions scenario.
  7. Figure out your timelines: Time boxes work hand in hand with the Thin Layer concept to ensure that you are getting to value as rapidly as possible. I believe in 30, 60 and 90 day plans with very specific deliverables. In fact the first iteration through this list should take no more than 90 days. That isn’t to say that you will have everything perfect the first time through, but there should be some real value and insight gained in those first 90 days. After the second iteration you should be very close to having something that you can operate from. From there forward, you should be able to run through this list on an annual basis in order to ensure that organizational change is being accounted for and that you aren’t spending resources to maintain informational inputs for a decision that is no longer of high value.
  8. Figure out what success looks like: You have to go into the project with a shared vision of success that is held by both those inside and outside the project. If the goal is some form of organizational transformation, it is critical that you work to define some very specific metrics for both the short and the long-term in order to understand if you are building value for the organization.
  9. Figure out your marketing plan: I’ve been told on many occasions that marketing really isn’t something their organization does because they are an internal service organization. Do not allow yourself to fall into this trap. Success breeds success. Every project should have a marketing plan even if you feel you have to call it a communications plan. Trumpet your success and how your success enables the success of the organization—it will help you be more successful and stay successful. You should always be searching for the ROI or benefit statement that accompanies your project and set aside dollars and resource time to do so. If you don’t, you aren’t doing everything you can to succeed.
  10. Figure out your decision-making processes: Understanding the decisions that need to be made, the informational inputs, decision-making context, etc is just part of the story. To get maximum value, you have to make sure that you plan your decision-making process and plan it around your new informational environment. You are going to have a lot of new information and a lot of new insight. Don’t make the mistake of sticking to your old decision-making process or you will have missed an enormous opportunity to capture more value from your efforts.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

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