Do you have what it takes to be a project manager?

Do you ever wonder if project management is the right career choice for you? It is multifaceted and rewarding, but it is also a demanding job. Here are eight things to consider to help you decide if you’re cut out to be a project manager

If you are trying to decide on career options, and project manager is a position that interests you, consider these eight facets of the job to decide if it is the right career choice for you.

Project management is fast-paced
The world of project management is a fast-paced environment often filled with conflicting deadlines and priorities that do not allow for much breathing space. It is continually moving at a speed that many people may have a very hard time keeping up with.

Oftentimes just when you think one obstacle has been averted, another may quickly arise. If you are not easily flustered or thrive in this type of environment, you have passed the first gateway in your decision about this career choice.

Project management comes with an abundance of uncertainty

Regardless of all the planning that goes into the execution of a project, uncertainty is always lurking in the background waiting to jump in and foil those plans. Project managers must often think they have become circus clowns; constantly juggling resources, deadlines, deliverables, and priorities to ensure their projects align with business strategy.

Project management involves constant pressure and stress

In this field, persistent pressure and stress is one of the only constants. Due to all of the juggling previously mentioned, there are plenty of opportunities to “feel the heat.” I have yet to hear of a project manager feeling rested or relaxed at the end of a day, or getting a truly good night sleep no matter how great they are at this type of job. In fact, many really great project managers get less sleep because they are constantly thinking of all the “pieces” that are at play and the associated risks and complications.

Project management means dealing with continual change

If you adapt well to continual change and a certain level of regular chaos in your professional life, you will likely transition well into the life of a project manager. There is no room for a “comfortable place” mindset, where things are routine or mundane; it is anything but. Everything, from where you work, how you do things, whom you interact with and when things are done is in constant flux and flex. In fact, continual change is the sheer nature of what is required to keep within the scope of a project.

Project management means multiple deadlines

Prioritizing and managing multiple deadlines can be tricky and even frustrating at times, but will be a regular occurrence in this field. To meet business goals, project deadlines may need to be constantly re-evaluated and possibly altered. This can required a fair amount of balancing of human and financial resources, and can also impact the quality of the product or services being delivered. This requires a project manager who is level-headed and calm under pressure.

Project management means dealing with internal and external conflict

One of the things that can make even the best project managers crazy is dealing with difficult people, which includes internal and external conflict. Nobody really likes to deal with this at the best of times, but it is an essential skill to have in order to be a successful project manager. Without it, entire projects can be, and have been sabotaged or even sidelined completely. Having the ability to work with parties to resolve conflict for the good of the business is a true skill, and one that is highly valuable; being able to do this while putting your own biases and views aside is an art.

Project manager have demanding schedules

Project managers’ schedules often require them to regularly exceed a 9-to-5 workday. Project managers often “eat, sleep and breathe” project management from the initiation through to the close-out. Even projects that go according to plan (if there is such a thing) require project managers to practice speed sleeping, eating and breathing throughout. Burnout is a serious issue for project teams and especially project managers.

Project management requires exceptional organization skills

Exceptional organization skills are a must-have. In order to handle fast-paced environments filled with multiple deadlines, continual change, constant stress, uncertainty, conflict and demanding schedules, a project manager must be exceptional when it comes to organizational ability, just to keep everything moving ahead and on track.

Because of the high level of responsibility and risks associated with successful project planning and execution, this is a highly demanding career option that should not be taken on lightly. However, these challenges and demands can be highly rewarding growth opportunities.

If all of the things the job entails do not frighten you, then you just might be cut out to be a great project manager.

Source: CIO-Do you have what it takes to be a project manager? by Moira Alexander


Microsoft Adds MDM Capabilities to Outlook for iOS and Android

Users of the Microsoft Outlook client for Android and iOS devices now have access to new mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) features.

The Outlook improvements, which Microsoft rolled out on Thursday, are part of Microsoft’s broad mobile push. The company has been leveraging the container technologies of OS platforms, including Android, iOS and Windows, to add various management capabilities to its applications. These management capabilities come from an Intune software development kit (SDK), which gets built into the applications, according to past Microsoft descriptions. The management capabilities can vary, depending on what’s permitted by the OS platform.

Now, though, Microsoft’s Outlook clients have Android and iOS mobile management capabilities. Previously they didn’t.

“Previously, Outlook did not support the MDM capabilities in Office 365 or MAM and CA [conditional access] with Intune,” a Microsoft spokesperson clarified via e-mail. “The announcement today is that it now supports both.”

Essentially, Microsoft is giving the all-clear signal. Organizations can start using its new mobile management capabilities for Outlook clients on both Android and iOS devices. The capabilities were announced in this Office blog post, as well as this Intune blog post.

Those organizations wanting to see MDM/MAM support for Windows 10 devices on July 29, when Windows 10 launches, will have to wait. The spokesperson stated via e-mail that “we will provide more information on this at a later date.”

MDM Capabilities
Microsoft has previous provided examples of its new MDM capabilities. They include things like “conditional access,” device-level policy enforcements and a “selective wipe” capability.

With conditional access turned on, an Outlook client can only access company-managed e-mail if the device is managed by IT and in a healthy state. IT can also set device-level policies, such as restricting Outlook access to cases where the end user has a personal identification number (PIN) or the device hasn’t been “jail-broken.” Lastly, the selective wipe capability is Microsoft’s term for the ability of IT departments to remotely delete the applications and data that are under management by an organization, while not touching personal apps and data.

In March, Microsoft announced that conditional access, device-level security and selective wipe MDM capabilities would all be available for no extra cost for certain Office 365 business, government and education subscribers. These MDM capabilities are available for both “native” Office apps as well as the Office Web apps that come with those Office 365 subscriptions.

MAM Capabilities
MAM capabilities are a different story, though. Getting those capabilities won’t be free and will require a subscription to the Microsoft Intune device management service. Alternatively, Microsoft sells its Enterprise Mobility Suite bundle, which includes an Intune subscription along with licensing rights for Azure Active Directory Premium and the Azure Rights Management Service.

Here’s how the spokesperson described the distinction:

Built-in MDM for Office 365 are a core set of Intune features for customers that need the basics, available for any Office 365 customer as part of their subscription. If you are an Office 365 customer, you can do CA (conditional access), device management and selective wipe without an Intune subscription for supported devices. If you want deeper controls (advanced device management, MAM, PC management), customers can subscribe to Intune. This is true regardless of the platform (Windows, iOS, etc.).

Intune is a requirement for tapping the MAM capabilities that are built into Office 365 apps.

“The Intune MAM capabilities available to Office apps can only be managed by Intune,” the spokesperson explained. “And while third-party vendors do not have the ability to directly manage the Office apps, they do have the ability to manage certain features in Office 365, such as Exchange ActiveSync.”

One new MAM capability added to the Android and iOS Outlook apps today is a “multi-identity management” feature. It allows end users to use a single Outlook app on a device for both work and personal correspondence purposes. Microsoft is planning to build this multi-identity management capability into “additional Office mobile apps over the coming months,” according to the Intune blog.

Organizations looking to use some of the application-level restrictions that were shown off at the recent Microsoft Build and Ignite conferences — such as the ability to restrict copy-and-paste actions by end users from corporate-managed apps to personal apps on a single device — will need to leverage Microsoft’s MAM capabilities through Intune licensing. The new Outlook apps for Android and iOS now have those MAM copy-and-paste restriction capabilities, according to the Office blog.

Microsoft described four Outlook MAM capabilities for Android and iOS devices that are now available. First, organization can set “data relocation” restrictions, which prevents the transfer and copying of corporate data into personal storage. Second, there’s an ability to prevent users from taking screenshots of application content. A third capability is the ability to set application-access restrictions. Lastly, Outlook for Android and iOS devices can be set to encrypt corporate data.

Microsoft’s MAM vs. MDM distinctions can be confusing to follow. For instance, the selective wipe feature is described as a free MDM feature, but it’s also described by Microsoft as an Intune MAM feature that’s now supported in the Outlook for Android and iOS apps.

Managed Apps
Microsoft often talks about “managed apps” when describing its mobile management scenarios. It’s a key phrase, and it means that the apps that have Intune MAM capabilities built into them. Specifically, these apps include the Intune SDK code. For instance, organizations wanting a browser with MAM capabilities would use Microsoft’s “Intune Managed Browser” app. So, in order to have MAM capabilities, organizations need to push out these managed apps to their end users.

Here’s how the spokesperson described how to identify managed apps from regular apps: “[Managed] apps will appear on the listhere, and also when the app is added to Intune, it will have the property, ‘Supports App Policy,’ as detected by Intune.”

The current list of managed apps varies slightly per Android and iOS platform. However, both platforms support an Intune Managed Browser, along with Excel, OneDrive, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word managed apps.

If an organization wants to distribute these managed apps to end users, then they are going to need an Intune subscription. The spokesperson explained that “Intune is required for the MAM capabilities.”

Source: rcpmag-Microsoft Adds MDM Capabilities to Outlook for iOS and Android by  Kurt Mackie

12 Common Project Management Mistakes–and How to Avoid Them

IT executives and project management experts share their tips for avoiding some of the most common–and costly–project management mistakes.

So many projects, so much mismanagement. That’s the refrain of many IT executives. Indeed, even with project management software, IT projects often wind up taking longer (much longer) than planned and costing more than budgeted.

Why do good projects go bad? surveyed dozens of IT executives and project managers and came up with a list of 12 Common Project Management Mistakes — along with ways to avoid these often time-consuming and potentially costly problems.

Project Management Mistake No. 1: Not Assigning the Right Person to Manage the Project. “Typically during resource allocation, most of the effort is focused on finding the right resources other than finding the right project manager,” explains Sudhir Verma, vice president of the Consulting Services & Project Management Office at Force 3, a technology solutions provider. Indeed, too often “project managers get picked based on availability, not necessarily on skill set.” However, an inadequately trained and/or inexperienced project manager can doom a project.

Solution: Choose a project manager whose skill set(s) match the project requirements.

Project Management Mistake No. 2: Failing to Get Everyone on the Team Behind the Project. Too often, projects are doomed to fail because they didn’t get enough support from the departments and people affected by and involved in the project. Either managers: “1) Didn’t make clear what everyone’s role was. 2) Didn’t describe the personal payoff everyone would get when the project was completed successfully. 3) Didn’t tell how each person’s contributions to the project would be evaluated. And/or 4) Failed to generate a sense of urgency about the project, leading the team to think business as usual will be fine,” argues Bill Rosenthal, CEO of Communispond, which provides employee training on how to communicate effectively.

Solution: “The project manager should start by calling the team together (being certain to include off-site staff via the best technology available) and delivering a presentation about the project and its significance in a way that gets everybody fired up.”

Project Management Mistake No. 3: Not Getting Executive Buy-in.

Solution: “Somebody at the higher levels of the organization needs to own the project from start to finish and be personally vested in its success,” says Casey Halloran, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Costa Rican Vacations & Panama Luxury Vacations. “When [a project] has no clear head, things tend to fall apart.”
Project Management Mistake No. 4: Putting Too Many Projects Into Production at Once. “Most managers think that they can get more done by starting all projects at once, but in reality, it’s counterproductive,” says Sanjeev Gupta, CEO of Realization, a Silicon Valley firm that helps organizations complete projects faster. “Multitasking slows people down, hurts quality and, worst of all, the delays caused by multitasking cascade and multiply through the organization as people further down the line wait for others to finish prerequisite tasks.”

Solution: “To stop these productivity losses, a good first step is to reduce work in progress (WIP) by 25-50 percent,” he says. “This reduces the back and forth and makes managers and experts more responsive in dealing with issues and questions. Though counter-intuitive, reducing the number of open projects by 25-50 percent can double task completion rates.”

Project Management Mistake No. 5: Lack of (Regular) Communication/Meetings. “Communication is the most important factor of successful project management,” says Tim Parkin, president, Parkin Web Development, which provides online strategy consulting for companies to align their business with technology to achieve high growth and profitability. “Without regularly and clearly communicating, the project will fall apart.”

Solution: Pick a day and time to meet each week (either virtually or in person) that works for the team (not just the project manager) — and stick with it. “Having specific days and times scheduled, in advance, helps to keep everyone on the same page and keeps the project flowing.

Project Management Mistake No. 6: Not Being Specific Enough with the Scope/Allowing the Scope to Frequently Change. “Any project that doesn’t have an ultra-clear goal is doomed,” says Halloran. Adds Oz Nazilli, marketing manager, Easy Projects, a Web-based project management tool, “scope change is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to your project. If not handled properly it can lead to cost and time overrun.” Even something small, like changing the color of a logo or adding a page to a website might cause unexpected delays, he says.

Solution: Define the scope of your project from the outset and monitor the project regularly to make sure you and your team are keeping within the scope. And to avoid delays and deviation from the original scope, “track change requests separately from the original project scope, and provide estimates on how it will affect the schedule — and get explicit customer/stakeholder approval for [each change],” suggests Nazilli.

Project Management Mistake No. 7: Providing Aggressive/Overly Optimistic Timelines. “The intentions are noble, as [project managers are] often trying to keep their clients happy,” explains Jay Melone, a former software developer and project manager who is currently the CEO of digital agency DigitalXBridge. “But missing deadline after deadline will only lead to distrust and aggravation on the part of your client.”

Solution: “Good project management software will allow you to manage many work items and the bandwidth of available resources,” he says. However, it’s still important to add a buffer — some extra time and money to your project, “especially in the world of technology.”

Project Management Mistake No. 8: Not Being Flexible. While you may think of your project plan as your bible, “telling you what needs to be done, by whom, and when to do it to get to your goal…don’t hesitate to listen to new information and suggestions that come up along the way,” says Carol Woolfe, project manager, Blackbaud, a leading provider of software and services for nonprofits.

Solution: “It’s good at various intervals to step back and take a fresh look at the overall project, review how things have gone so far, and how you can improve your future work based on what’s already changed along the way,” she explains. That doesn’t mean you should or need to constantly make changes — just be open to suggestions if they help the project.

Project Management Mistake No. 9: Not Having a System in Place for Approving and Tracking Changes. “Often, success or failure of a project hinges on the changes that occur after it begins,” notes Christen Bergerud, Executive Vice President of EcoSys, a provider of planning and cost controls software. However, all too often, there is no system in place for approving and tracking changes.

Solution: “Having a clear process that must be followed is the best way to ensure the pertinent details — how much it will cost, why it is necessary, the impact on the overall project — are known before the change is approved. It’s also extremely effective for auditing performance during and after project completion.”

Project Management Mistake No. 10: Micromanaging Projects. “Don’t babysit,” admonishes Michael Beck, senior marketing specialist, OpticsPlanet, an online retailer selling a variety of optics-related products. “It’s very common for budding project managers to treat their job like an enforcer, policing the project team for progress and updates.”

Solution: “Instead of babysitting the project team, let it be known from the start [i.e., the kick-off meeting] that there will be regularly scheduled updates for the duration of the project. This lets your team know that status updates and progress are expected from them weekly and will encourage them to vocalize any issues or delays in advance.”

Project Management Mistake No. 11: Expecting Software to Solve All Your Project Management Issues. “I’ve seen people throw software at problems all too often, and though projects become enumerated and more visible, the underlying process is still broken,” explains Tim Yocum, director of technology operations, ServerCentral. “What you end up with in that case is a potentially costly piece of software only serving as a checklist of projects in motion without any thought given to advancing each project/milestone effectively.”

Solution: Choose project management software wisely — something all members of the team will be comfortable using. Then make sure to train users properly and set up a system for tracking projects. Above all, don’t let human capital be “overshadowed by the allure of software solutions’!” he warns.

Project Management Mistake No. 12: Not Having a Metric for Defining Success.

Solution: “The very first thing a project manager should do is ensure [he] understands what the end users will consider a [successful completion to the] project,” says Kevin White, director of client relations at Netage Solutions. “Understanding what will make a project successful…ensures that when the project is completed [all] parties walk away satisfied.”

Source: Common Project Management Mistakes–and How to Avoid Them by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff

5 reasons why file servers are a relic of the past.

If you are running a file server, you’re at risk.That’s because, as collaboration and mobility needs evolve, a file server just can’t keep up. Here are five reasons why file servers slow down customers.

File servers became popular in the business world because they solved two problems at once: they centralised data, and they made back-up easy. But file servers have their problems. Cost of ownership is the obvious one: not only do file servers require constant maintenance and upgrades, but—as ZDNet reports, each file server drains up to $700 a year in electricity alone. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you compare file servers to modern file sync and share tools, you realise that many essential features are missing.

  1. File servers are high-cost and low-agility.
    File servers are machines, and machines need maintenance and upgrades.
    Plus they need an IT staff to administer them and even space in the office
    to house them. All this adds up to significant expense. What happens
    when your customer expands? That’s more money and more resources
    lost in building out more server space. Simply put, file servers can suck up
    precious capital that you need for other things.
  2. You get no uptime guarantees.
    How much would it cost a business to be down for a day? How about for even 1
    hour? According to VentureBeat, about 73% of businesses have had some type
    of interruption in the past 5 years. While cloud-based services offer uptime
    guarantees of up to 99.999%, file servers can’t come close. And any downtime
    means lost data and missed opportunities.
  3. File servers aren’t made for a mobile workforce.
    Today’s mobile workforce needs immediate access to their data from
    anywhere, on any device. With a file server, “mobile” means logging in to a
    VPN on a laptop or dealing with the hassle of configuring a mobile device
    connection. And even then, it might not work with all devices.
  4. Sharing files externally is complicated—if it’s possible at all.
    In today’s business world, your customers often need to view or collaborate
    on files. But their file server may not provide this capability. Even if it does,
    it’s hard to set up on the server side, to say nothing of the requirements on
    your customer’s computer. Once again, there’s additional investment in time,
    money and energy.
  5. Collaborating on files gets messy. Fast. What happens when two people both need to work on a file? How do you prevent one person from overwriting the work of the other? With file servers, you don’t have control over versioning and overwriting. It’s a chaotic mess and a drain on productivity. Multiple copies of the same data take up precious storage space, users upload and download with abandon, data gets moved or lost. It all eats up revenue and frustrates staff.

Source: Intermedia-5 reasons why file servers are a relic of the past.

10 Simple Questions That Not Every Email Provider Can Answer

Moving customers to the cloud is a great choice. But how do you identify the right provider? Here are 10 questions to ask potential email providers to help you make your decision.

When evaluating a hosted email provider, make sure you ask the right questions. And more importantly, make sure you like the answers that you get. Here are ten questions to help you effectively assess potential hosted exchange providers:

  1. How many users do you support today? In today’s market, there’s constant churn. Service providers with less than 500,000 users face an uncertain future.
  2. What kind of uptime service level agreement do you offer? No one can guarantee 100% uptime. Beware over-inflated promises or providers who don’t put uptime guarantees in writing. At the same time, if they offer less than 99.99% uptime, you should raise your eyebrows.
  3. What do current customers say? Nobody knows a service better than existing clients. Ask for references or case studies. Make sure you get concrete answers to hard questions about reliability, access, customer service and any problems they’ve experienced.
  4. Do you have Microsoft-certified technicians on your staff? Your Exchange provider should employ Microsoft-certified staff, because that’s the only way to be sure of their technological prowess. One reason you’re partnering with a service provider is to leverage their investment in highly qualified personnel.
  5. Which in-house technologies do you use to support your hosted clients? If a service provider doesn’t invest in its infrastructure, this does not bode well for the services it provides. Make sure providers use top-tier vendors and the latest technologies.
  6. What other services do you provide? Finding a partner with multiple areas of expertise allows you to easily expand your IT footprint. Look for easy integrations with communications, collaboration and email archiving services.
  7. How will you support users? 24×7 phone support is vital. Long hold times are inexcusable.
  8. Are you compliant? If you operate in a regulated environment, it’s important that your provider be compliant and/or certified in the required standards. Otherwise YOU could be vulnerable during an audit
  9. How do I control my data if I use your service? Your data should belong to you, and this fact must be stated clearly in your agreement. Watch out for companies that may hold data hostage if their contract is not renewed.
  10. How do you help me migrate end-users? Some hosted Exchange businesses only offer a technical support manual. Look for a partner whose experts manage this incredibly complex process from start to finish.

Source: Intermedia-10 Simple Questions That Not Every Email Provider Can Answer

Ensure a successful IT infrastructure monitoring tools integration

Data center tool integration projects don’t end when you finish linking up systems. Without testing and regular maintenance, integrations quickly fall apart.

The hardest part of some projects — especially those involving multiple data sources, formats and interdependencies — is the finish.

Data-center-wide integrations require keen knowledge of all the IT infrastructure monitoring tools involved, including data formats, API use and so on. The setup must be carefully tested even if the IT team and/or consulting company followed best practices. And the integration project is never completely done, as interconnections are easily broken when patches, updates and new systems are introduced.

Test behaviors between tools

Regardless of the integration mechanism — API, plug-in, agent, email, simple network management protocol or even out-of-the-box compatibility — test each element thoroughly to ensure that a tool accesses data as expected. This is crucial when the connection method depends on specific configuration details like a server email address, IP address or protocol.

Integrating two or more IT infrastructure monitoring tools can be tricky, and tests show that you got it right. Test behaviors between the tools to verify they behave as expected. If you integrate Nagios monitoring and management alerts into the Spiceworks help desk tool, for example, Spiceworks remains the principal ticketing system in the enterprise. Configuring the email and parser code in Spiceworks is difficult depending on common message elements from the sending system. Once the setup is finished, trigger an email from Nagios to test if Spiceworks acknowledges and acts on the alert. If not, re-examine your integration work.

Don’t just check that it reads data successfully; make sure the tool correctly processes and reports on data. If not, a normal log data entry could trigger false positive alerts, or performance data could skew graphical reports.

There is such a thing as too much communication. Agents, coding with software development kits and other integration mechanisms don’t always guarantee good performance. Busy networks and high volumes of data or message transfers cause problems. Measure the volume of data or messages and the various sources to check if a single tool can handle everything properly. This takes a bit of testing and refinement in complex environments.

Even the most flexible and highly extensible tools do not guarantee interoperability with other tools or systems. There are so many potential combinations of hardware and software that you’re bound to encounter a tool that won’t work properly with another. Try working with the tool vendor to create a viable plug-in, script or other integration element. If you can’t, redefine or shelve that component of the integration project.

Don’t let change be disruptive

Each connection and integration method creates interdependencies that are easily disrupted by patches and upgrades.

Consider the Nagios-to-Spiceworks integration where Spiceworks parses common text in the subject line of Nagios email messages. If an update or setup change alters how Nagios generates subject lines, then Spiceworks might fail to parse the Nagios messages. While Nagios changed, Spiceworks is the tool that requires a fix for the integration to work.

Upgrading to new versions can also cause problems when tools receive and parse data from each other. If one tool’s latest version moves its log file to a different directory or formats logs differently, another tool that reads the file will need an update to accommodate it.

Server-side changes also strike up problems in a tied-together data center monitoring scheme. For example, Nagios has a plug-in for integrated lights-out (iLO) agentless management on HP ProLiant servers. If HP changes the firmware or system hardware design, the iLO plug-in might need to be updated. Newer servers might not work with older plug-ins, creating issues during a hardware refresh.

Lab testing will ensure compatibility, reveal problems and help with fixes or workarounds. Documentation, change management and testing must accompany any change in the production data center. If changes will break the existing IT monitoring tool integration, reach out to the tool vendor with details and ask if they can assist with troubleshooting and a resolution.

Source: techtarget-Seven ways to reduce waste and accelerate software delivery by Stephen J. Bigelow

9 Secrets to Project Management Success

Project management experts share their tips on how to ensure your IT projects are completed on time and on budget.

Project management seems so straightforward. You set a deadline. You set a budget. You select the right people. The project gets done.

In reality, project management is rarely straightforward. The wrong people are assigned to the project. People don’t know what is expected of them or get conflicting information. The scope changes. Deadlines aren’t met. Put more succinctly: Stuff happens.

So what can businesses, and project managers, do to improve the odds of projects being completed on time and on budget? Dozens of project leaders and project management experts share nine secrets to successful project management.

1. Ensure that you have full project details before starting. “Creating a completely detailed project scope approved by all stakeholders is a necessity,” states Adam Balkwill, technical director, Garfield Group, an integrated marketing agency.

“The scope should include interim milestones, with deliverable dates and a budget worksheet that represents all time involved. If the initial project writeup has enough detail, the better you and your client will interact through its production,” Balkwill says. “Change requests will happen on every project, but this allows you to manage the client when something is out of scope.”

2. Have the right (and right-sized) project management team in place. In order for a project to be successful, you need to have the right project team in place, people whose skills and experience can benefit the project, from the project manager on down. It also helps to “limit the number of people involved,” says Josh Meah, COO,, a reputation management company.

“ uses the ‘pizza’ team methodology based on the idea that a team shouldn’t be larger than 6 to 10 people,” he explains. “A manager really can only handle so many direct reports without losing grasp on either the vision for the project, details of the work involved, and personalities and personal requirements of their organization and staff,” he says. “So, to maximize effectiveness, limit the size of your project management teams.” And involve people whose skills match the project requirements.
3. Set expectations — and milestones — up front. “Set relatively (based on risk) frequent milestones and check in often to ensure projects stay on track,” advises Pat McGuinness, chief technology risk officer, GE Capital. “If you only set longer-term or high-level milestones, you won’t realize a project is in trouble until it’s too late. My team at GE Capital schedules multiple project benchmarks and iterative reviews to make sure the money being invested in an IT project is being used efficiently and that project goals are being addressed.”

“When [everyone] on the team clearly understands the [scope] from the beginning, you eliminate the ambiguity that can derail a project,” adds Juan Velasquez, marketing specialist, Do It Wiser, a provider of toner cartridges and green office supplies. A good way to do this,” he says, is to hold a kickoff meeting, where everyone involved attends. Kickoff meetings “help to set expectations,” where you can “discuss the project in detail,” create a workable roadmap and assign people roles and responsibilities.

4. Be clear about who is responsible for what — and deadlines. “When multiple people are collaborating on the same task, assignments, deadlines and other important details often get lost in translation,” explains Fred Mouawad, founder and CEO, Taskworld, a task management platform. To avoid confusion, “determine which team members are responsible for which pieces of work [up front], and enforce accountability. An online task management program is a simple way to do this.”

“It’s important that each member of your team understands what is expected from them,” adds Brandon Seymour, owner, Beymour Consulting, an SEO and inbound marketing firm. “This includes the full scope of the project and a precise timeline of when tasks need to be completed.” Because every project is different, “it helps for all of the key players to have a solid understanding of how each of their efforts contributes to the project as a whole. Project milestones and benchmarks are great for managing these expectations and keeping teams on track with deadlines.”

5. Don’t micromanage. “Meet regularly with the team members who will be working on the project. However, allow them breathing room to work without feeling micromanaged,” says Shilonda Downing, owner, Virtual Work Team, a virtual assistant company. “Creating a balance here is key to ensuring that work is being done and that team members feel empowered to do their best work.”

6. Make sure you have a good system in place for managing the project, one that everyone can and will use. “Email seems the most obvious form of communication when managing a project, but it can hinder progress,” says Chris Griffiths, CEO, DropTask, a visual task management solution. “Trawling through email threads for previous correspondence is a huge time waster. Using software that keeps all project information and communication in one place not only saves time, [it] maintains a productive workspace.”

“Our team and clients are located across the country, which means we can’t share physical files,” explains Amy Driehorst, lead project manager, Weaving Influence, which connects authors to online audiences. So “we use a digital project management application that not only allows us to manage all aspects of the project through task lists, but also serves as an online filing cabinet housing all the documents associated with the project as well as a discussion board,” she explains. “The ability to [easily] add clients to the project allows for smooth communication and sharing of information.”

7. Keep team members motivated by rewarding them when milestones are reached. “It is useful to set milestones while planning projects,” notes Ajay Kaul, managing partner, AgreeYa Solutions, a provider of business software. To ensure projects stay on track, “recognize team members whenever a milestone is met. Celebrating milestones can be a great way to track progress while keeping team members motivated.”

8. Hold regular project status meetings or calls, but keep them short. “Frequent communication with all members of the team as well as the client is the best way to ensure a project is on track,” says Driehorst. “This is especially important in a virtual environment, where [you] don’t have the luxury of popping into a colleague’s office to check the status of a task. I find scheduling regular calls in addition to all the other forms of digital communication we use ensures open and clear communication for all concerned.”

While keeping everyone up to date on the project’s status is essential, “you need a way to communicate everyone’s status to the rest of the team without getting bogged down by the details,” says Martijn van Tilburg, CEO, 10,000ft, a project and resource management solution provider. To avoid participants tuning out, “keep status meetings short and sweet [by limiting] everyone to [for example] 90 seconds of talking. This encourages team members to focus on the most relevant details about the past week.”

9. Build in time for changes. “In technology, projects don’t ever seem to follow specifications exactly,” notes Samit Shah, cofounder, EventEdge, which builds custom event apps. “To avoid pain points and save time, build in extra time for specification changes and requests. You will be thankful.”

Source: Secrets to Project Management Success by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff

Sapphire 2015: McDermott declares SAP natively digital

SAP CEO Bill McDermott declares the company “digital” at Sapphire 2015 and made “empathy” the watchword of his keynote

SAP CEO Bill McDermott declared the company to be “digital” and made “empathy” the watchword of his opening keynote at Sapphire 2015.

The company has announced what it calls “new digitally native offerings, built for immediate personal consumption via a new online purchase experience”.

“For 43 years SAP has helped organisations around the world become best-run. Our digital business will bring the power of SAP technology to individuals, using the simple approaches they’re already familiar with to their personal lives,” said McDermott (pictured).
“Every business is in a state of transformation. In 2014, we talked about Run Simple. Today we’re giving the roadmap for that.

“90% of the data in companies is dark. We have to digitise the core operations [to change that],” said McDermott.

SAP appointed its first chief digital officer, Jonathan Becher, in late 2014 to oversee its SAP Digital business.

Read more about SAP’s customer conference Sapphire

Read all the coverage on the SAP Sapphire Now 2015 conference.

SAP executives promote Hana as a platform during the 2013 Sapphire event.
McDermott stated that, to continue evolving the company, SAP Hana must take the role of “digital data platform”. The S/4 Hana iteration of its core enterprise resource planning suite puts the in-memory database platform at the heart of what most organisations understand SAP to be.

S/4 Hana has around 400 customers, with McDermott claiming “it gives you the perfect enterprise platform”.

Customers can now, with the “digitally native” services, buy from SAP on the web without the need for a purchase order or invoice.

The company also used the opening keynote to bring attention to its business intelligence and data visualisation software Lumira, which competes with Qlik and Tableau.

David McCandless, author of Knowledge is Beautiful, is due to show a visual interactive for the internet of things (IoT) at the event. A version of this visualisation will be ported into SAP Lumira to enable live interaction with the data.

The supplier said there have been more than 500,000 downloads of the free version of Lumira software.

The Lumira development team has, SAP said, improved the “governed data discovery and agile visualisation” aspects of the software. It has also added “big data discovery and data wrangling with Hadoop, helping users to access, prepare and mash with traditional data sources”, such as SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW).

Other “digitally native” products and services announced were SAP Digital for Customer Engagement, a simplified cloud customer relationship management (CRM) system for individuals and small teams.

Source: TechTarget-Sapphire 2015: McDermott declares SAP natively digital by Brian McKenna

How cloud is changing the role of IT

Picture this: Someone calls IT, and he’d patronise and insult his way through fixing minor (to him) computer problems. He’s always irritated because he is having to react to someone else’s issues.

IT was a reactive maintenance and administrative function. In a mainframe environment, those in IT were doing the development, security, monitoring, testing, issue resolution, and logging themselves – there was no time to get ahead.

Now, It’s time for CIOs to have a seat at the boardroom table and shed the “cost center” image. However, we need to remove the business of maintenance and watch-dogging. Tickets in and fixes out.

Resolving critical issues or patching code could take days, and no one knew why because the IT team lived in a back office on the basement floor.

How the Cloud Changed Everything

No one talks about the “back office” as it is expected to run. The days of IT acting as support and execution for the direction set by executive leadership are over. The systems, services, information and processes that IT maintains don’t just drive the business – they are the business!

The “cloud” has been great for IT as competition is always good. The cloud hosting and applications pulled back the curtains and exposed the condition of legacy IT equipment. Whilst the rest of the world wondered what this cloud thing was, business and line managers jumped on early cloud offerings. Finally, a way to avoid IT projects!

Savvy CIOs grasped that they could outsource non value-added activities and use these third-party systems for everything from storage and Salesforce automation to enterprise systems plus more.

As people voiced concerns about security, some CIOs started to build private clouds. Today, many cloud companies are using hybrid clouds with both private and public cloud offerings. Most providers invested in security because it is core to their business, making it better than security at commercial enterprises.

CIOs and other IT leaders realised that they needed to become service brokerages instead of break-fix shops. They could integrate private clouds with their partners’ private clouds for services. Using these services instead of doing the work in-house freed them up to do more.

The New Face of IT

Now, successful CIOs have become: thought leaders, visionaries and strategists. Success before was the lack of failure, today CIOs must move the company forward.

They are responsible for generating revenue and helping set direction for their companies, but must maintain focus on traditional core responsibilities to keep systems in working order, robust and safe.

A Q4 2014 survey by Skyhigh Networks found:

  • The average employee uses 27 apps at work
  • The average company uses 897 cloud services (10 per cent more than IT expects!)
  • 92 per cent of companies have users with compromised identities

CIOs now have a variety of new roles that were not available before the cloud:

Strategist: the CIO sees what technologies will be best to use in a month, a year, in five years, and works with the CEO to set direction for the company. IT used to be support for the business, but in today’s digital world, IT is helping to set the strategy for the business.

Facilitator: the CIO understands the needs of each department. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work because business has become complex, big and fast. Marketing has different needs than engineering than finance. Setting up each department for success is becoming a benchmark for IT departments. APIs are making applications behave more like platforms, and CIOs have to be flexible in using them to their best advantage.

Politician: the CIO has to balance the advantages of BYOD, shadow IT and remote work with the potential dangers that these activities invite.

Orchestrator: the CIO chooses the cloud platform that the IT department will use. Often large enterprises use a mix of public, private and hybrid clouds, dependent on integrations and appetite for risk. Employees, partners, customers, and the public have different needs, and CIOs have meet their demands.

Service broker: the CIO manages integrations with strategic partners and in-house development. With the addition of APIs, CIOs can often choose from a menu of potential partnerships to accomplish services that used to exhaust internal resources

The modern leaders of IT departments are strategists and thought leaders. Cloud technology has given CIOs, CTOs and IT managers a tool set that once seemed unthinkable.

As someone once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As a result, technical leaders are implementing their own ideas and following their own decisions, and they are held accountable.

I encourage everyone in these leadership roles to take advantage of the tools available and lead your teams and companies because your competitors will be doing the same.

Source: itproportal-How cloud is changing the role of IT By Teon Rosandic

Cloud threatens traditional IT jobs, forces change

Cloud computing is making corporate-owned data centers less common, and companies continue to reduce IT staff.

Cloud computing will continue to change the modern data center in eight distinct ways, and has already resulted in enterprise IT job cuts.
Those changes to the data center will include connectivity, resiliency, trust, overprovisioning, speculative build out, business management, controls and automation and expansion of the data center perimeter, according to Andy Lawrence, the research vice president for data center technologies at 451 Research, who outlined the changes to traditional enterprise and colocation data centers in a session at the Uptime Institute Symposium this week.

“Cloud focuses on the business needs rather than the silo needs of the facilities people and the IT people,” he said.

A shift in data centers’ decisions from facilities and IT pros to the business side of the enterprise also fuels a move to cloud, he said.

“They will be much more driven by the business requirements than facilities or IT people,” Lawrence said.

Many IT pros are “slightly defensive” about cloud computing and, according to some CTOs, it may be a well-founded position. Lawrence said a CTO at a major financial institution told him that their business is likely to reduce its IT workforce by 95% by 2020, and other IT leaders have shared similar stories. Those leaders felt liberated and emboldened by the cloud and the bring-your-own-device phenomenon, he said.

Lawrence pointed to a T-shirt from Amazon Web Services (AWS) emblazoned with the words “Friends don’t let friends build data centers.”

AWS has added to its offerings development tools, mobile device management and email, among other services.

“That is quite an in-your-face challenge to those of you that are operating enterprise data centers,” Lawrence said. “It is a serious threat.”

While traditional corporate IT departments shrink, IT positions arise in the cloud with providers such as AWS hiring as they grow. Those cloud IT jobs require different skills.

And looking further out, emerging technologies such as Internet of Things will also impact IT.

“The Internet of Things is in the very, very early stages,” Lawrence said. The 50 billion wireless connected devices expected by 2020 “will create a tsunami of data that will have to go somewhere.” That means IT will continue to grow.

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.

Meanwhile, 451 Research estimates there are still about four million traditional server closets in the world.

“The assumption is that a lot of those four million will go to the cloud or premium data centers,” Lawrence said.

A few of those four million server closets are at the University of the Pacific, which has three campuses in Northern California. Robert Henderson, executive director of cyber infrastructure at the college, said he is seeing firsthand the changes cloud computing is bringing about, including a reduced role for the university’s three data centers in the future.

“The connection to the cloud is more important than ever,” he said. “It is more than an Internet connection.”

Even with a reduced role for the university’s data centers, Henderson said he expects the demands on IT to grow, mainly from the school’s human resources and business-side users.

“You’re still going to need the applications close to the edge, close to the users,” he said.

Another change coming to the data center will be that more of them will be constructed at the edge, and not all data centers will be so-called stick-build. Instead, a data center could be brought in on a skid, where it will be “plug and go,” Lawrence said.

“I think that is something people haven’t grasped,” he said.

Source: TechTarget-Cloud threatens traditional IT jobs, forces change by  Robert Gates