Monday, 27 May 2013

Top of the pops......

Well the Top 5 focus activity reported in the last post seems to be working very well indeed - surprisingly given the shaky start to it all!

Focus, focus, focus in all areas is paying dividends and  we all finally know what is needed to deliver the Top 5 in all areas including;

  1. Planning arena around development of the programme plan,
  2. Data modelling, what, when type questioning,
  3. Process modelling activity, business change etc related
  4. Contract-ITT developments, what's in and what's out of the contract,
  5. Business benefits, what and when released by the Top 5 areas.

all starting to align in terms of the overall approach.

So its looking pretty good for this equifinality approach - much to think over - can we get to an end game with it though?

Only time will tell.....

Friday, 17 May 2013

Complexity is .. er.. complex!

I seem to be mired in complexity these days - very exciting though must admit - closet (or not) problem solver at heart you see.

In past posts have focussed on how on the current project we are going about defining the requirements for a very complex revamp of an asset management system. This has used the concept of 'viewpoints' to build up the requirements and ensure as comprehensive a coverage of system functionality as possible. What was than new word I learned - ah yes - equifinality!

All well and good but then the question was asked - what does all that mean - which seemed reasonable to me. What do I get and when do I get it? Which means having to think through the outline design and high level system architecture - to answers the "what I get" question- and production of an outline programme plan - when to I get it. Logical again!

But - where do you start? How do you then start to put an outline design together? The design team all have different views on timescales and exactly what can be delivered when. Data team running ahead of architecture team running ahead of process modelling - not to mention how are we going to control and manage acceptance of whatever it is is produced! Just where DO you start?

The answer again - equifinality - starting to like this word even more! This time though used in a different context. This time used as a focussing tool - a lens as one of the team explains it - to help focus in on particular aspects of the system design and build. Trying to specify the design of the whole system in one go or even think about how the whole works just blows your mind - yes, but, if this, and if that, and if the other - people disappearing up their own exhaust pipes left right and centre - others sat there fish like, mouth open, eyes agog, what does it all mean, anyway what's on the telly tonight.

So to drive the thinking a Star Trek Management decision was made - a Top 5 would be selected for the team to focus on - make it so number one. A Top 5 what though? The Top 5 'things' of course - go and find out what they are! This has cause a lot of hand wringing, what Top 5 - that's the wrong Top 5 - we don't have the right priority Top 5. However, miraculously, running numerous workshops over the past could of weeks has shown that there actually was a consensus on a Top 5! Key items and dependencies drove everyone to the same set of Top 5 'things' - you could have written them on the back of a fag packet in Top 5 minutes but the real value I have seen is in rallying the team around some common themes - driven by a final outcome - equifinality focussing in action!

So we are now up and running putting together outline timescales for delivery of our Top 5 and drawing boundaries around what can and can't be delivered in these timescales.

There could of course be another Top 5 next week ;)

Onward and upward.....

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Not quite there yet ...

This week has been a bit of a reality check on all things connectivity related - so beware you Cloud computing evangelists.

Having said that, this past week has seen me use a remote desktop service from Microsoft pretty effectively. Well in fact I wouldn't have been able to complete the job I was working on without it. Essentially I can't load anything onto my work computer - locked down tighter than a duck's ..... - anyway safe to say it makes  Apple look almost developer friendly. However, through the wonders of the internet and the RDS service all was well, Microsoft Project, Visio you name it I could use it. Impressive, bit slow where I was due to internet speed, but full functionality at the click of a button. Only problem was the client had the same problem as me, they don't have Project or Visio loaded as standard either - convert to pdf saved the day. So all that was worked swimmingly.

The problem came when I had to go into London which involved moving hotel. From my usual cheap 'Lodge' to some very expensive place. I have to say it - the room didn't have any windows either - not sure if that's even legal? Anyway, issues began to arise around wifi connectivity. I was trying to meet up with a friend, who doesn't have a mobile phone (now there is a learning point) only a laptop for communicating via gmail. So we had set a time to check email's in order to plan meeting up one evening. However, I couldn't get onto the wifi at my hotel - life is too short to find out why, one minute it was working the next poof it had gone! So what was the backup plan for communication - well we didn't have one - so I thought, Costa's or McD's and free wifi. Off I trundle with brick of laptop looking for the nearest free connection. Made it thanks to Nero's only to find no message from my friend. What I didn't realise at the time - he was staying in another hotel - and having the same connectivity problems. So he had gone to even greater extremes to connect up. Not knowing this I thought the best plan would be to just walk to his hotel and sit in the foyer and wait for him to pass by. Long story short - we passed each other in the street - he had the same plan and was heading for my hotel foyer! Now that would have been funny.

So the lesson - don't bet your business on ropey internet connections and always have a tested business continuity plan ......