Speaking, Training or Presenting? Don’t forget the most important thing…

EXAM logo

I love getting out and working with clients, giving workshops and otherwise directly interacting with our customers and our product. Today was one of those great days where there are no monotonous meetings. Just an all day series of training sessions and workshops with various groups using ExAM to support inspections, operations and services for DC General Services. The Department of General Services (DGS) has a mission to elevate the quality of life for the District with superior construction, first-rate maintenance and expert real estate management, our job with ExAM is working to help them achieve this mission.

I spent the early part of this week working with our team to get in all of the last bits of configuration in order to support our pilot effort. We tweaked profiles, finished documentation and made last minute changes to meet user requirements. This included making a last round of cosmetic changes. I decided to personally make some changes to simplify the user interface after I had already finished my dry run. After completing everything I polished my slides and went to bed early.

The training and workshop went great, however I did have one small glitch. In my efforts to simplify the user interface I found I had removed the tab that provides inspectors and field services staff with access to their list of assignments. After sending everyone a log-on and issuing a training assignment. I had watched as everyone received the e-mail and went through performing their task. One after another hands went up and chatter broke out. Nobody could find their assignments.

As I walked around the room I realized – I’d slimmed one of the most important parts of our application right off the interface. Fortunately, I was saved by the power of the Salesforce platform and I assigned people the correct tab and we were able to go forth without much impact but despite all my preparations I’d broken one of my cardinal rules. Don’t make changes after you have done your dry run.

The net result was a live opportunity to demonstrate how easy it is to make changes in Salesforce, but it could have been bad. By making changes after the dry run I opened myself up to simple, dumb user error. I try to always start over – no matter how boring it is, or how trivial the change. If I make any change. I restart. Dry runs help you catch errors both big and small. Always do a dry run and always do it after you’ve made the very last change. To do otherwise invites problems or as I like to think of them: Opportunities to show your ability to think on your feet.

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.

What’s on your organization’s Christmas list?

Hopefully your organization isn't on the naughty list...

Hopefully your organization isn’t on the naughty list…

I have a daughter who is missing all of her front teeth; however she has opted against asking for front teeth for Christmas and is pushing Santa Clause for a Princess Diary with Lock and Keys. I think many organizations are hoping Santa brings them more stable economic times, bigger budgets and some relief from the austerity of the last few years. I hate to be the Grinch but unfortunately, I just don’t see it ending up under the tree. The climate in both public and private sector is that IT has to do more with less. I don’t want to leave you feeling like Charlie Brown, I think there are three things every technology IT executive should put on their list in order to make 2014 a better year than 2013.

Troux-as-a-Service: Get a better understanding of your application portfolio and make better decisions in 2014: Getting results from Enterprise Architecture has been on many technology executives Christmas list for years.  Enterprise Portfolio Management and associated disciplines are becoming more mature. So is the software that supports them. Traditionally, software packages in this space that came with strong records of implementations ending in ROI also came with big price tags. Now many of these vendors have software as a service models available. I talk about Troux-as-a-Service in this video.

Salesforce: Despite the hype, most executives and organizations are not getting to the cloud or getting to the benefits of the cloud yet. 2014 may be the year as many factors including increased maturity from service providers, better understanding by internal IT folks and the business case come together to make cloud an inevitable part of the story for most organizations in 2014. I believe this charge will be led by vendors like Salesforce that have developed platforms that enable third parties to securely deliver specific capability to organizations “just like yours.” The appexchange model which iTunes and the AppStore have made so prevalent in the consumer market is fast taking hold in the public sector with 2,126,132 enterprise class installs to date (today).

Millsapps, Ballinger & Associates: Ok so getting some exciting new clients under the tree that are focused on making 2014 a year of change is actually on my list. I think we should be on yours because we are experts in the first two things on this list and more importantly because we really are “focused on outcomes.” One of the things I believe separates us from the pack is that we measure ourselves by our clients success. With both our Troux 90 day portfolio offer and our ExAM4Enterprise.com offerings our focus is always on getting you to value fast.

So that’s what I think should be on your Christmas list this year. What actually is on the list?

 

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.

Salesforce and Security: Trust them, it’s in their best interest to care

 

Salesforce and Security

Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service are being embraced broadly in both the public and private sector. In this video I focus primarily on Software as a Service but I’ll cover each a bit here.

Infrastructure as a Service leads to some efficiencies from a cost standpoint, but that it could also perpetuate and even accelerate some organizational problems by making it easier/cheaper to rapidly stand up new server instances, etc. This in turn simply adds to the complexity of what must be managed by the business, security staff, etc. On the other hand it also preserves the organizations ability to maintain much of the precise application profile it currently leverages. This can be a great comfort for organizations that have successful applications supporting capabilities but that are interested in the economics of the cloud.

Platform as a service is sort of the next logical step up from IaaS and helps address some of the complexity issues I mentioned earlier. Finally Software as a service is where I believe organizations have the most potential. There is a much more of a focused value proposition for the business and hopefully a better technology to business mapping. The downside of course is that it involves change and that of course change comes with its own issues. In this video I talk about the above factors and specifically about Software as a Service as embodied by Salesforce.com.

Our experience in getting into the AppEchange and talking to customers has included a lot of learning about how customers think about the cloud and I share some of that as well as our experience in dealing with security questions. One of the big things customers get concerned about with the cloud is the multi-tenancy aspect of it. Essentially your stuff is right next to someone else’s stuff, so how secure can it be? I think one of the keys is that essentially Saleforce.com manages a fairly homogenous technical environment. Saleforce.com benefits financially by developing economies of scale around hardware, software and even things like skills/HR, but that all of this lends itself to enhanced security because it reduces complexity and streamlines things like patching, etc. My first thought when he mentioned this was the 500+ systems that many cabinet level agencies in the federal government of the thousands of applications many Fortune 500 companies have within their organization. Most of these are built to purpose with limited standardization of hardware and software and diverse skill requirements. The level of complexity inherent in securing this is obvious when you look at it from this standpoint even before you think about the additional cost and inefficiency driven by this sort of environment. There is also a heavy incentive to align their security interests and that of their partners with their customers. The dangers of the fall out from a serious breach ensure that they are more likely to err on the side of secure.

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.

Don’t just have great ideas: Sell them

16_365~1

I think one of the things that I’ve really noticed over the years is that no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, communication is key. I think a lot of times when you get into a large public sector project or an internally facing private sector project, people forget that you still have to sell your ideas to make them successful. Even if it’s just an internal project that’s supposed to make things run more efficiently, more effectively, or if it’s a public sector project that has been mandated that you have to do, sometimes people take that as they don’t have to sell this idea it just needs to get done. It would be nice if that was the case but it’s just not.  So I want to talk today a little bit about one of the mechanisms that I’ve found is really good at helping get buy-in and more importantly, it’s interesting enough that people will actually look at it and start to understand your project or your objectives a little bit better.

We’ve been using info graphics quite a bit as a way to tell a story about a project or whatever it is that we’re trying to accomplish. People find them interesting because it’s a combination of artistry and numerical backing that gets people wanting to take a look at it and understand things in a way that is different than just a written piece or something like that. I want to talk about kind of the three basic parts that we use most often to build an info graphic. We decide these things before we start putting ideas on paper and I’ll talk a little bit about the tools we use as well.

  1. The first thing we do is try to put the whole thing in context. If it’s a private sector project we may look at the market and gather market statistics. If it’s a public sector project and we’re looking at technology portfolios we may look at size and complexity, anything that sort of gives you the big pictures view of what you’re looking for or what you’re trying to accomplish.
  2. The second thing that we’ll do is highlight some of the details that are driving the action that we’re taking. The why of what we are trying to accomplish in this project. If you can sum that up statistically or with numbers, it becomes a lot easier for people to understand at a glance.
  3. Then finally in our third section is most of the time focused on three broad groupings. We’ll have our call to action, what are we trying to get you to do, and we try to give a taste of what the world might be like if we accomplished whatever that project is that we’re trying to do. We try to put some statistics or numeric value behind what that is.

Pretty simple formula and it creates things that are very powerful and very compelling. The problem that most of us, myself included, is that we are not very artistically inclined. So the question is how do you get that really rich compelling feel that you want to have? Well we’ve used Piktochart which is a very reasonable priced, available online on the web, tool for building these. They’ve got a bunch of themes that you can choose from and make it really easy for you. A lot of times we’ll go in, use their base theme, and we’ll drop our information in. If we need to we’ll build components in illustrator or other tools to upload into the info graphic to make it ours so to speak. From there it is simple to download it and push it out to the client. (Here is an example of an info graphic created using these tools.)  That’s really all there is to it. So please take a look at Piktochart. It’s a cool spot to look at things and also take a look at Visual.ly, which is another great resource for info graphics.

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.

What’s important to you?

Whats important to you

I started this blog without any great concept for where things would go down the road.  I just wanted to have a place where I could put down the little thoughts I had here and there without losing them. If in the process I was able to get feedback and a little bit of a better understanding of how other people were thinking about the same things, so much the better.  I think as far as being something that works from an outreach standpoint it’s been good. I’ve met and gotten to learn from a lot of great people along the way. It’s also been great as an outlet in terms of allowing me to have a place to park things that I’ve been thinking about that maybe aren’t something I have the time or energy to put into a full blown article or paper.  I’ve actually really enjoyed going back through and getting an opportunity to comb through those ideas a second time and see where I might be able to expand on them, see where my thinking has changed, or learn from somebody who’s posted a comment that made me think about things in a little bit different way.  It’s really been exceptional.

One of the things that I haven’t done yet is reach out with regard to things with what to write about because so much of it has been outlet driven. It’s been things that I’m thinking about that are important to me right now that I want to get out there. I’m wondering if I’m not missing out on an opportunity to understand what other people are thinking about and develop a better sense of where things are going in terms of the big picture. So I wanted to use today’s post to ask people for those ideas.

  • What are the things that you are thinking about?
  • What are you are curious about?
  • What topic would you appreciate hearing what myself and others have to say about it?

I know for myself that I’ve stayed away from all things political like sequestration and things like that. I only avoid it because I feel that so few of us have any ability or influence that would allow us to change the path of something and we are more likely just going to have to deal with living with the result of it. So I think in the case of something like that I’d be more tempted to write towards how to survive under the given circumstances and I’ve generally stayed away from all things political for those reasons. I think that there’s less opinion shaping than to be done then there is to be talking about dealing with the results.  Outside of the political line I’m very interested in hearing more about or getting anyone’s opinion on what are things that haven’t been discussed as much as they should.  So I’m curious what’s on other people’s minds and look forward to covering some of that in the not too distant 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.

Success= Ability to Engage + Adapt

IMG_1924I was exchanging email with a friend recently and I’ve always been very impressed with his organization. They have just very consistently put out the same messaging and are really successful from the products its developing, services it provides, all the way through talking to the people that received those services.  I was asking him about what they do internally to support all that and his response kind of surprised me because of how much consistency there is. He said that one of the big things that they do is ensure that people have ownership of things. Whether it is a line of code, a territory that they manage, or some portion of the organization, they explicitly define what they are responsible for. They give you real ownership of it and responsibility for the good and the bad.

He also mentioned a phrase that I thought was really interesting and I’ve co-opted it a little bit for myself and our organization. He said that their CBO has this phrase that he uses all the time and its EA3. It stands for Engage, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt and I love that.  I think it applies to just about everything we do.  I think that one of the things that kills a lot of efforts is this huge prelude to engagement. Whether we do so much thinking and so much planning that when we get into the actual work and we have to adapt to a change, we’re not ready for it or we’ve already spent so many resources that we’re not able to support that adaptation, something like that spells the end for an effort. So this idea that you engage first and fast so you can get out there and fail quickly or fail, adapt, change, fail, adapt, change, as many times as it takes to be successful is a powerful one. It really resonates with me because I feel like so often some of the best work that we’ve done has been where we’ve jumped right in and started rowing and done course corrections along the way to ensure that we get to where we want to end up. By jumping right into the work you give yourself the time to take chances, make mistakes, and adapt until you find the right and best approach.  So I don’t want to do too deep of a dive into what is essentially a sort of high level slogan but at least for me it really resonated and really seemed like the right approach to a lot of things. So I’m curious what other people think of that idea and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

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.

3 Reasons to get excited about Salesforce

Salesforce

Today’s Salesforce event in DC got me thinking a little bit about the reasons why people should be interested in Salesforce. Whether they’re public sector or private sector there are a lot of reasons why people are moving to the cloud. I know that I am certainly not at the front of the hype cycle with regard to moving things to the cloud but I think there are 3 really basic reasons that people should be interested and excited about using Salesforce for their organizations.

  1. Save money-The scale that Salesforce purchases equipment on and everything that they’re doing enables them to have massive economies of scale and pass those savings on to customers.  There’s just no way that most organizations can achieve the kind of buying power that Salesforce has with their vendors.
  2. Time to value -One of the amazing things about Salesforce is it’s hardware infrastructure, the application infrastructure, the security model and all the things that they’ve put in place that enable you to focus on just writing the code that you need to do the piece that you need.  It’s a little different from the standard collaborations tools, document management, workflows. All these pieces that come standard in Salesforce allow you to quickly knit together capabilities that allows you to drive value for your organization really quickly.
  3.  Path to value-One of the things that’s amazing about the Salesforce community is their momentum.  When you look at platforms like Apple and you see how many apps are out there, there’s literally an app for everything.  Well Salesforce is sort of the enterprise version of that and they’re getting to a point where they have an app for everything as well with more than 100,00 apps available and they have more than 70% of the Fortune 500 engaged. There’s so much that’s being done on top of the platform that you can acquire it to meet a particular need that you have right now, but understand that that acquisition is probably going to enable you to do other things over time. So you’re able to come in, transform the organization a little bit, then you can incrementally continue to change on the basis of being able to add functionality. You can do this either by acquiring additional applications that sit on top of the Salesforce platform or customize the platform itself to meet your requirements.

So it’s a really cool way for organizations to manage transformation across a broad area of capability. Again those are just three basic reasons to be excited about Salesforce for your organization. I know I’m excited to go to the event today and I’ll probably post some type of wrap up in the next few days.  Hope to see some of you there!

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.