Subject Matter Experts (SME)

One colleague commented me that he felt as an IT expertise that only can provide service for one specific niche in the world of the technology.

My answer was not so much positive: aren’t almost everybody in the same situation?

Once we laughed about it I asked:

  1. Are you increasing your knowledge apart of your daily work?
  2. Are you working on a technology with projection?
  3. Do you like it?
  4. Is the company where you are working providing the right evolution to the area you are working?
  5. Was so much difficult for you the last upgrade in your platform?
  6. Do you deliver in a high quality way?

What’s the problem then?

It’s good we think in future, but we cannot fall in stress.

(stay only 2 seconds in a stable position, then start to run again)

The Back of the Napkin

I have read this book interested in the idea of improving my knowledge in communication skills. I spend so much time building slides and adding some new perspective/style to the slides was other reason to read it.

The idea around the book is oldest than the wheel, but the way each detail add a meaning for the whole concept is great. It shows for different cases how to build a simple or complex draws from different perspectives.

The most important thing again is: you need to have clear the idea you want to show. The practices helps on adapting a common language and in the creation of the desired representations.

I miss some other use cases and more draws. The existing are very good, no complaint about them, but I miss a little bit more.

How I trace the Strategic Approach

It’s time to be accountable regarding the work done during the year. In addition we need to prepare the objectives for next year.

With it, I spend a lot of time preparing presentations: reviewing objectives, comparing results with baselines, clarifying added value…

As always I have to communicate the same message to different audiences, being each audience interested in specific things.

So what I do is to get a paper, draw a common scheme about I want to show. I don’t draw the slides; I draw boxes with each account, adding features, objectives, problems…

Aren’t you doing a presentation?

Yes, I’m doing it, but really what takes more time is to decide the strategy with respect the next year, the business is changing and always is desirable to show the results thinking in next year.
Doing these slides really I’m deciding the strategic approach to be implemented during next year, so really behind the slides I have created other documents with plans, actions, concerns…

After this strategy is clear in my mind it’s time to present it, get the approval and then communicate to different people.

I show results but I talk about the strategic plan for coming year.

Building Staff Management

Why Staff Management so difficult?

I work in a company where we change of team almost in each project, so develop a relationship based on trust is a continuous challenge for us.

Try to get a check list about the issues to take into account about this stuff is difficult, but I have been doing with a paper on my desktop, and the result is a partial list of things to take into account,

PMs and Resource Management.
  • Have you defined the roles properly?
  • Have you had the opportunity to interview them?
  • Have you obtained employees with the right skills at the right time?
  • How often do you have trouble with the matrix management?
  • Do you send reports to the Team Leader about performance?

How do you build a team?

  • Do you have a virtual team?
  • Is there people offshore?
  • Do you support when it’s needed?
  • Have you provided the required infrastructure?

How do we adapt our management style ?

  • Different countries,
  • Different cultures,
  • Different time zones.

How do we foster self-leadership?

  • When do we allow employees to manage themselves?
  • With some people you can do it,
  • With others, you cannot; what do you do then?
  • Most want empowerment and responsibility.

Where do we focus first?

  • Do you show the direction clearly?
  • Team,
  • each team member.

What works and what doesn’t?

  • Are you in a hurry to change a resource when its performance is not right?

How many time do you invest?

  • Do you foster the relationship periodically?
  • Do you work it only on crisis periods?
  • In your meetings, is there a point to review the resources’ performance?

Gartner Exp Premier, Making the Difference: The 2008 CIO Agenda

The read of this Gartner’s Resource was on my desktop from some months ago. Finally I read it.

Doing it, I have felt happy because I already apply some of the recommendations mentioned here in the little circle where I work; Unfortunately, others are so far from me.

Some few feelings:

  • Word is each time more and more complex. And this article gives you an idea about how prepared you need to be for being competitive.
  • Failing to Plan is planning to fail. Business strategies not only need to be defined, planned, executed… they also has to provide differentiation with respect your competitors.
  • If you are 100% IT, read it! You will understand the reason because some decisions were taken in your company or by your customer.

The Top Ten Misconceptions for Performance and Availability Monitoring

Great Article to review concepts -> Link

  1. You only need real or syntethic user monitoring
  2. You can model your environment manually.
  3. Monitoring software needs to reside in house.
  4. The Configuration Management database (CMDB) is a single physical repository of all knowledge.
  5. A Company’s infrastructure monitoring strategy can operate in its own detached silo. You need to be integrated to the business needs.
  6. Second or sub-second sampling rates are always necessary.
  7. Monitoring all the available metrics for a system or application is the best approach. Performance problems follow the Pareto’s rule: 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of the components of a system/application.
  8. All Systems in the IT enterprise will be monitored.
  9. Monitoring processes or services for an application suffices. It’s necessary to focus also on services interaction.
  10. Monitoring basic Infrastructure is enough. Architecture & Application are the main causes of performance problems.

Ok, this kind of reminds are very useful but I always have problems when I have to convince a customer spending some time reviewing performance problems that are not clear or they are in the background. What this kind of things happens I always try to:

  • Clarify what is happening in an easy way (no technical words),
  • List the benefits,
  • List the technical actions that will be performed (a check list).

To finish, something that is very annoying is when different business use a shared service and anyone of these businesses want to get the responsibility of a shared performance problem. Where are the corporate responsibilities? Where is the organization?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Seeing the news of AIG and the spending of $440.000 in a resort and the words provided as justification: “It’s a standard practice in our Industry”, I would like to review the effect of this fact in terms of corporate social responsibility.

I can understand that this is a standard practice, but the lack of financial resources AIG is living is not a standard problem that happens every 6 months.

  • How the American contributor does feels about how their money is being invested?
  • How the people who are working in AIG and that they probably loose their work feel about the company they work? …

All the actions performed in a Company have relevance in society. In this case the American Contributor is sponsoring the financial problems.

I know $440.000 is really not a relevant amount in terms of solving the problem, but this expense borders the frontier of the ethic.

I know that some of my words sound bad and that real life is not a Project and cannot be handled as a project, but social responsibility that is mentioned in business and projects is so closed to something very important in life: ethic.

SOX 2.0

Seeing the scenario opened in the financial world with the crisis created by some financial entities, I feel a little bit frustated. I will explain why.

Three years ago the company I was working announced they were going to be in Nasdaq. With it, our boss came to a colleague and me and told us: “All our management applications need to be SOX compliance”.

Ok, it sound great, but what do we have to do??

Almost all the work was done reading documentation, recomendations…. asking other people…

Really we felt so alone in this work. Once we started to understand what we have to do really we saw the light and we started to feel we were in the right path.

I remember these days with so much stress and after the work was done we could see how the business continued working only changing some procedures and, in our case, some features of the management applications.

I though, guau the Sarbanes – Oxley Act is a regulation plan that have a lot of benefits for the company, investors, society….

And now, I see how the lack of financial regulation, in the country that forced “me” to be SOX compliance, is part of the crisis we are living.

I know, I’m complaining so much, but it’s a little frustating for me. At least it’s paradoxical, isn’t it?

SOX was created basically in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals. My question is, do we have SOX v2.0 ???