The Biotech IT PMO 2.0

As a CIO, you have either made – or heard – recommendations to create an IT project management office. Perhaps you have implemented one, and your department is reaping the benefits of project planning, monitoring, and controlling. IT delivers its projects on time, on budget, and to spec. Congratulations! You and your IT PMO have put the foundation of consistent innovation in place.

Nevertheless, it is no more than a foundation. A PMO must…

For more, see the full article at CIO Review.

We say we want faster horses

While I’m on a Henry Ford roll, here’s one about the dangers of simply taking orders from one’s customers.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

We now mock Ford for “any color he wants, as long as it’s black“; but passively listening to the customer is no good either. Long ago Ford understood the pitfalls of just asking “what would you like?”

This quote came to mind as I reviewed the predictions in the Pew Research report on Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age. Full disclosure, I don’t buy such specific predictions. I’m with William Schrader’s take on page 2:

Gigabit bandwidth is one of the few real ‘build it and they will come’ moments for new killer apps. The fact that no one had imagined the other killer apps prior to seeing them grow rapidly implies that no one can imagine these new ones—including me.

Many of the guesses are entertaining and may well be true. In the end, what struck me was how derivative nearly every prediction was. Most involved augmentation of current functionality: a variant on the “faster horse” desire. Some, like one librarian, were hoping for features that already exist: e.g., seeing recipes in a heads-up display.

Paging KitchMe and Google Glass.

Waterfall, Agile, now “Sim”?

Dan Woods in Forbes (here) highlights one of the emerging trends in development: user-interface simulation.  This takes agile development a step further, because…

[b]y creating a simulation of the user experience, instead of a full-working version, a team can avoid a large amount of work but still get a full test that can confirm requirements. Simulation accelerates the agile cycle by lowering the cost of each iteration and improving the quality of the feedback. At the end of several simulation iterations, designers have a rock-solid sense of what is needed.

Simulation also provides a better way to test the quality of business processes because it improves on the typical flow diagrams that only sophisticated users can understand.

iRise is the vendor that Woods mentions and that I’ve heard of (here).  They have a SAP-oriented solution (here), but I can’t vouch for it yet.

Also, because this piece is in Forbes, I’ll bet that smart c-level folks will soon be asking their PMOs about whether they are incorporating this approach into their methodologies.  Time to crack the “sim” books!

PM Quote of the Day — Akio Morita

If you go through life convinced that your way is always best, all the new ideas in the world will pass you by

Manager-Leader Gap in IT Strategy

So who is the visionary in this bunch?

A leader, a manager, and a business person?

An illustration of the manager/leader gap discussed earlier (here) is drawn in this back-and-forth among Glenn Whitfield (here), Andrew Meyer (here), and others.  All good stuff, though the last two comments on Glenn’s post — from Long Huynh at CIO Assistant and Glenn himself — get closest to my perpsective.

The idea that a CIO can perform well by operating with one style is pernicious.  Unfortunately, many reinforce this idea — see this State of the CIO 2007 feature from CIO Magazine that identifies CIO archetypes (and even offers a “self-assessment” tool for self-archetyping).

I wonder…how can a single-archetype CIO be successful when his/her IT portfolio must contain very disparate types of projects and programs (e.g., “stay in the game” vs. “win the game” vs. “change the game” initiatives)?

Is this really a tech vendor secrecy problem?

I know, I know…I’ve been remiss on posting.  All I have are very lame excuses that I won’t give.

Just saw this article “Global CIO: Tech Vendors’ Secrecy Hinders Innovation” and I’m still not sure what to make of it.  Perhaps we can blame the copy editor for the headline, because the author raises some issues that I don’t think have much to do with secrecy (at least not in the case of SAP):

  1. Mobile devices:  I don’t get the secrecy angle here at all.  The author assumes that enterprise SW vendors have “somehow managed to miss out so far on a pretty big opportunity here — I mean, it’s not as if the smartphone market just sneaked up on everyone.”   But this argument begs the question of the “big opportunity”: for whom is it a big opportunity? Is there really more-than-incremental revenue for the SW vendor? How many solutions really need mobile, or at least more mobile than having e-mail/workflow alerts pushed and granting application access via mobile device’s web browsers?
  2. SAP Business ByDesign: Here “secrecy” sounds more plausible, but I believe the answer is simple.  We’ve been pretty clear that we need to get SAP Business ByDesign to a certain cost/user point before we can scale up fully.  The year-end scramble due to the financial crisis can’t have helped matters.  Perhaps that solution’s roadmap could be clearer, but my take is that our approach has less to do with secrecy and more to do with an abundance of caution about issues we’ve acknowledged. 

Does a leader change only people?

Eric Dana Hansen added a comment to my recent “Manager vs. Leader definition” post.  In it, he refers to a work of his that touches on leadership.  If I’m reading him right, his take is that

management is based upon processes, order, and controls and that leadership is more about developing the potential in others. 

In my comment, I agreed with the first part about management, especially its emphasis on order and controls. However,

I’m don’t buy into leadership being strictly about people….  The reason I like the “Stultz” definition [referenced] in the post is [that] in changing the system, leaders must acknowledge and address all segments of the “people, process, technology” triad.

Also, the blogosphere must be on a manager vs. leader kick.  I just noted a couple of posts by Glenn Whitfield (here) and Andrew Meyer (here) that touch on an interesting dimension of the topic: IT strategy and alignment.

I’ll comment more directly on those tomorrow.


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