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No Time for Enterprise Architecture Planning? This Iterative Approach is for You

The fast approach to the EAP processBy Stephen McGrady
Associate

As I mentioned in a previous article, I’m a big believer in Enterprise Architecture Planning. However, I’m also a realist. I know that in today’s hyper-competitive and very fast-moving business environment, about the only enterprises that are enthusiastic about going through the full nine-month or one-year EAP process are government agencies. Everyone else needs results now.

The Benefits of Enterprise Architecture Planning

The benefits of EAPBy Stephen McGrady
Associate

I’m a big believer in Enterprise Architecture Planning, the detailed planning process that looks at how an enterprise will use information to support the business, and provides a blueprint for handling data, applications and technology.

While the process of creating an EAP can be lengthy – typically six to ninth months – the end results can make a significant difference in the IT organization’s ability to meet business needs. From my standpoint, I think the key benefits include:

Providing Value

How CIOPS provides valueBy Jeff Richards
Managing Partner

As an information technology consulting firm, CIO Professional Services specializes in information technology strategy and business/IT alignment. To better understand why organizations seek us out for assistance, we spoke with Ed Barrantes, Chief Financial Officer of the YMCA of Silicon Valley.

As described in a previous article, we’ve been working with the Y to help them overcome their very significant technology debt. They had a situation where systems had not been updated in over two decades! Here’s what Ed had to say about working with CIO Professional Services, and the 5 key values that he feels we bring to the table:

A Unique Hybrid Approach for Multi-Site Conferences

Hybrid approach for multi-site conferencesBy David Haedtler
Principal

Last year I was asked to plan and facilitate a two-day conference for over 140 engineers and researchers. Participants included representatives from universities, industry, national laboratories and federal agencies. The goal of this meeting was to brainstorm potential innovations in a particular field, explore these ideas and come to a consensus regarding which ones were worthy of further funding.

It was an important conference about important work, but there was a catch: the participants would be physically sitting at six different sites from coast to coast. My challenge was to make this multi-site conference work.

Overcoming Technology Debt at Non-Profits: A Case Study

Overcoming technology debtBy Jeff Richards
Managing Partner

Life at a Nonprofit

For the past 2-1/2 years I’ve been the interim CIO at the YMCA of Silicon Valley – my fourth non-profit client since 2009. My experience is limited but I’ve seen a trend emerge.

Senior executives at non-profits are usually wonderful people who are very passionate about what they do. They’re very good at focusing on their mission and the services they offer to meet this mission. They have a clear understanding of who their constituents are. More often than not they have spent their entire career at their current organization or one that’s similar.

The Key to Getting Started with Big Data & Analytics for SMBs

Getting started with big data and analytics for SMBsBy Rocky Vienna
Principal

Good news! Businesses have never been closer to their customers. In fact, with the popularity of mobile apps, you can literally be in their pockets. Bad news – it’s a two-way street. Customers have immediate and impactful tools like Yelp, Twitter, and Foursquare to provide feedback to others on your product and services. A bad review can cause a feeding frenzy and negatively impact your brand.

These realities help explain why large companies have heavily invested in Big Data and Analytics. These platforms allow companies to reap the rewards of improved prospect-to-customer conversion rates, increased customer loyalty and the ability to quickly respond to service issues. And all of these things, in turn, help prevent the negative online reviews that all companies dread.

3 Reasons Why Your Company Needs A Part-Time CIO

A part-time CIO for SMBs offers many advantagesBy Rocky Vienna
Principal

A witch’s brew of globalization, disruptive technology, and regulatory compliance has created a new set of challenges for business executives. Never before has Information Technology – and the knowledge and experience of a seasoned CIO – been so integral to a company’s success and outright survival.

Whether yours is an emerging company, a small company or a mid-size company, having a part-time or fractional CIO serve on your Executive Management Team is the most effective way to get the benefits of having an experienced CIO without taking on the expense of having a CIO on staff full time.

Why a part-time CIO will complete your team

It’s common for small and mid-size businesses to have an infrastructure-centric IT manager who doesn’t yet have the business acumen of a seasoned CIO. This IT manager is vital for day-to-day IT management, but just isn’t capable of guiding the executive management team through strategic IT-related issues and opportunities. In addition, this junior team member does not have the experience to ensure that you have the proper business processes and related business systems in place to support growth.

Do the Hardest Parts of Your IT Project First

An important part of the project risk management puzzleBy Ken Norland
Associate

Many project managers have a tendency to do the easy pieces first and save the hardest parts for the end. This is just basic human nature. However, project risk management for increasing the chances of IT project success means planning for the earliest possible problem detection. If your project has complexities (i.e. “hard parts”) that you can identify early, attacking them first will improve predictability and give you time to recover when the inevitable problems occur.

Turn “3 Miracle” Projects into “Doable” Projects

Years ago I worked at an organization where we would look at a project and say “it will take X number of miracles for us to pull this off in the time allotted.” Those “miracles” referred to the events where we got to a point and said “a miracle is needed here.” And I learned that tackling those gaps in understanding can eliminate most of the need for miracles. Which, of course, makes for good project management.

Include Time in Your IT Project Plan for Changes

Include time in your IT project plan for changesBy Ken Norland
Associate

If you’ve been in the IT world for any length of time, you know that large IT projects often go awry. Luckily, there are many ways to improve the chances that your IT project will succeed. In my last article I discussed the importance of getting an iteration of your project into end users’ hands as early in the process as possible. This gives you time to adjust mid-stream if necessary (and it usually is). Today I’d like to discuss a closely related topic: Allowing time in your IT project plans to actually make these adjustments.

Most Projects Need Multiple Iterations

Especially when creating IT project plans for large development projects, you need to assume that the project will require multiple iterations. Why? Because:

  • End users need to see early iterations, so they can provide much-needed feedback (as discussed in my last article)
  • Testers need to see early iterations, so they can de-bug their tests while the project is being developed
  • The project team might run into unforeseen technical difficulties, which can require additional iterations to resolve

Don’t Wait to Get Your IT Project Into End Users’ Hands

An important way to help your IT project succeedBy Ken Norland
Associate

I’ve been writing about some ways that you can help your IT project succeed. In my last two articles I discussed picking the right project manager and then helping your project manager succeed by ensuring that she is actually allowed to manage. Today I’d like to talk about why you shouldn’t wait until the project is “done” before you get it into the end users’ hands.

IT Project Success Depends upon Meeting End Users’ Needs

If your project is aimed at producing something for end users to use, then ensuring that what you produce is what these people actually need and want is vital to the project’s success. We’ve all seen situations, though, where the delivered project perfectly matches the agreed-upon specs but is not accepted by the end users. There are a few common reasons why this happens:

  • End users’ needs evolve over time – If the specs were written six months ago, they probably do not fit the end users’ current understanding of what they need the project to do.
  • End users’ understanding changes as the project materializes – There’s a big difference between reviewing static specs or screen mock-ups and interacting with something live. Even if their needs have not changed at all, it’s common for end users to see what the project team has produced and say “Gee, that’s not what I meant.”
  • End users change – Sometimes by the time a project is delivered, the people who need it have changed. The new people may want it to work a little differently than what the previous people had envisioned.
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