Author Archive: Steve Cox

When Money is Not an Option

Money has always been seen as the best reward a firm would give to their employees for a job well done. Nowadays, this kind of method is not frequently practiced because of the lack of funds as well as for the money-saving efforts of firms.

What’s a manager to do? Relax, Take it easy. Money is not the only thing that could be used as a source of motivation by managers. In the article entitledManagement Style: Three ways to say thanks when raises aren’t an option, it showcased three methods which could help managers when money is not an option as a type of reward for the workers.

I decided to come up with my own guidelines which could somehow give managers an idea on how to manage their team if there is limited resources. Here are some of the things included in my guidelines:Сharity

    The Limited Managing Guide

  • Be resourceful – this is the time wherein a manager needs to maximize their resources and at the same time use anything that would yield favorable results to the team.
  • Do your research – research would be able to save you and the team lots of time in terms of finding out relevant information. It means that a little research and background check of the team members would be able to help the manager find out a common activity that would further develop the working relationship of the team.
  • Use your imagination – the key to reaching out to your team members might not need to be expensive. Use you imagination and let your creative side take-over. The more imaginative and unique, the more chances of making it memorable.
  • Integrate new and old ideas – this kind of approach would certainly make team members at their edge because a combination of these ideas would only mean one thing: effectivity.

These are just some of the guidelines that could help project managers in thinking of ways to motivate their team when the simple solution of financial rewards is not available. These methods would more or less guide PM in their difficult path of cost-saving.

The Measure of Success

SuccessWhat is success in Project Management?

For most people, they view success in PM through the output that the project caused. On the other hand, some people view success in PM in the process-making of the said project. IThe article entitled Evaluating Project Success, Failure — and Everything in Between shows that “failed” projects could be caused by the standard of success that managers implement in every project. According to Chaos Chronicles, 66% of IT projects are unsuccessful in some measures. Measures that were mentioned are the following:

  • project fails completely
  • exceeds allotted budget
  • does not finish according to schedule
  • launched with fewer features and functions

In order to view the project as succesful or not, project managers must consider the process criteria as well as the outcome criteria.

Process-Related Criteria

  • Time/Schedule: Did the project finished on time?
  • Cost/Price: Did the project come in the set budget?
  • Product/Outcome: Did the project result in a product of acceptable quality and meet other product-related specifications?

Outcome-Related Criteria

  • Use/Purpose: Were the project’s resultant products/services used by its intended constituents?
  • Learning/Evaluation: Did the project increase stakeholder knowledge and better prepare the organization for future challenges?
  • Value: Did the project lead directly to the organization’s improved efficiency or effectiveness?

Thoughts and Insights

Success for me is a subjective term. Though financial gain and other material things could be considered as standards for success, one thing that is more important than financial gain is the knowledge and lessons that one have learned through that experience. Though in project management, the effectiveness could be measured by the outcome of the project, the real success lies on how the team overcame the challenges that they met along the way. As a project manager, one needs to know the criteria suited for the people inside a team as it would be the basis on whether or not the team had achieved its goals.

CEOs: Pay Attention!

CEO Pay AttentionI recently posted an article entitled CEOs: Looking Forward to a Positive Future which shows that most CEOs are putting on a positive note as they face the year 2006.

In relation to that, a recent research done by Forrester shows the six economic trends that CEOs/CIOs should give attention to. These economic trends would help these leaders to plan their future actions as well as in implementing different business strategies. The research also indicated the reason why these powerful leaders should be abreast with the current trend stating that: CIOs and prudent IT groups should keep track of developments in the wider economy in order to anticipate and prepare for the challenges and opportunities their business partners will face.

      Six Economic Trends:

    1. higher energy prices and an increased focus on energy conservation

This trend means that firm leaders should shift their plans towards “conserving” rather than having an increase in IT budget on oil-based industries.

    1. greater risks of disruption from natural disasters and terrorist attacks

Leaders should anticipate the unexpected dangers brought about by natural calamities.

    1. aging populations and retirement benefit crunches

Due to these trend in employment, leaders should find a way to have quality workers in their firms.

    1. the cessation of housing as an economic growth engine

This means that CEOs should implement a lower IT expenditures on housing-related industries.

    1. moderately higher inflation and interest rates

Due to this prediction, leaders should find a way to make the impact of this trend be felt less.

    1. accelerating technology globalization and slowing trade globalization

This means that a shift towards cost-saving business strategies like offshoring and low-cost operation should be considered.

Thoughts and Insights

There is nothing wrong in being updated regarding the latest trend and development in the world of business. As they said, information is power and nothing is more formidable than a CEO or CIO that is well-informed regarding important matters in a business. These economic trends predicted by Forrester should be given importance by these powerful leaders so that they know what to expect in the near future. Aside from that, they could also implement different business strategy in order to fight the inevitable problems that the firm could face in the years to come. Though these trends are more ofwhat is likely to happen and not the exact thing, it could be a relevant prelude of the kind of things to come. Whatever the case may be, being prepared is definitely a good practice to implement regardless if you are a CEO or just a regular employee in the firm.

Tool Talk (Part 1 of 5)

As I have said before, tools are important part of project management because it helps project managers in their tasks and generally makes the job easier. If you need further convincing regarding the benefits of these tools, you could click here.

My blog post for today and my next four blog posts would feature the different project management software that five IT executives have found to be helpful in their jobs as expressed in their own words. This is part of the special report found in NetworkWorld.com.

The first project mangement software that I would share with you is Primavera Systems’ Primavera which was chosen by Ron Rose.

Ron Rose, the CIO of Norwalk-based Priceline has been in the networking industry for the past 30 years. According to the CIO, one of the biggest problem that he have encountered in project management is the problem of estimating which could result to the target date tardiness, insufficient resources, and other similar problems. To prevent these problems from materializing, he utilizes Primavera Systems’ [Primavera] project-management tool in order to record and forecast the necessary manpower and resources needed for each project. Through using Primavera, they are able to deliver more than 95% of the tasks assigned on time.Aside from that, the CIO also mentioned other things which they could do with the help of Primara.

    Other Tasks done with Primavera:

  • Archive details regarding technology projects (both past and present)
  • Precision planing and keeping their resources adequate with their business needs
  • Logging of hours spent working in the project and the skills required during that period
  • Look at history of past projects

The CIO also mentioned that with the help of this project management software, they would be able to monitor the individual contribution of each project member as well as to look at the history of past projects that would help them in determining if the upcoming project would also yield similar result.

Thoughts and Insights

This is part of my five-part report regarding the different project management software that IT ecxecutives consider as effective tools in proper project management. The review and opinions expressed to each project management software are based on their personal experience as someone who could be considered as experts in their fields. In this case, their views and opinions are really important because they are always exposed to this kind of work which means that they have first-hand knowledge of the different things that they need in a project management software. The articles that I would post in the following days could be considered as a guide in choosing a project management software that project managers and firms could use in their own business operations.

Tool Talk (Part 2 of 5)

This is the second part of my special blog post in regards to the favored Project management software which was selected by people who are considered “experts” in their own industries. In the first part of my blog post, I presented the Primavera Systems’ Primavera which was Ron Rose’s choice. (click here for more)

In the second part of Tool Talk, Michael Vertefeuille, IT director for the University of Connecticut School of Business would share his experience with Nortel’s Enterprise Policy Manager. The IT director has been in the industry for 15 years and remarked that this software really helped him in his work as an IT director.

One of the advantages mentioned by the IT director in using Nortel’s Enterprise Policy Manager (EPM) is that it could manage the networks in the classrooms from the instructor station. He also gave a situation wherein the software tool was considered effective:

If I’m teaching a class, for instance, I can use the instructor’s workstation in the room to choose what traffic I want to block and those packets are filtered from the edge switches within 5 seconds.

Aside from that, the software allows each instructor to use workstations according to their preference. For example, instructors who are giving exams online over the student laptops during class could ensure that they won’t be able to surf other sites aside from test that they are anwering. Through the use of EPM, one could prevent viruses and hacking out on the edge. If ever there is an outbreak, one could stop the spreading of the virus using the user port instead of bringing down the core of the network. EPM also saves time because everything is managed from a single server and it contains a great number of switches which gives a person an option to handle it remotely.

Thoughts and Insights

One of the benefits of this kind of software is that it enables a person to customize their software but still have one controlling network. I think that in this case, customization is one of the advandatage of EPM over other software. Not everyone wants to have a personalized way of handling a project but if you are one of the persons who wants to do, this is the software for you. Aside from its ability to customize, the software also allows a project manager the chance to work in an area that is far from the location but at the same time still maintain some kind of surveillance over the process. This is extremely useful if your job requires you to go from one place to another.

Tool Talk (Part 3 of 5)

This is the third part of my 5-part report regarding the project management softwares used by selected people in the IT industry from different settings.

For the first part, I wrote about Ron Rose’s choice which is the Primavera Systems’ Primavera

For the second part, I tackled Nortel’s Enterprise Policy Manager which wasMichael Vertefeuille’s best bet.

For the third part, I would talk about the features of BMC Software’s Remedy Help Desk.

Kevin Clark, IT Director of Lucasfilm Entertainment has been in the industry for the past 15 years. He explains that in a Linux work environment, there are limited choices but with the emergence of Remedy Help Desk application, this problem is instantly solved.The original purpose of the said tool before was to properly monitor and manage issues in IT from end users up to internal ones. Nowadays, the tool is much more than that because it helped the firm in adopting a stronger change-management philosophy

One of the features of this tool is that it could grant customers access to this tool. This means that a customer could open a trouble ticket on their own enabling them to track it down. If there is a critical issue present which has not been addressed for the past 15 months, the team responsible for it would be automotically notified. The tool also helps people in tracking relevant information more effectively like the tasks done by people and other things that needs more attention.

Aside from that, the tool also has a feature of recognizing if someone is already working on a similar project. This helps people from avoiding accusations of stealing other projects. If the tool cannot solve the problem by itself, it immediately notifies the manager to do something about it.

Thoughts and Insights

In solving problems, it is better to get all the help that you can get in order to solve it. In this case, the Remedy Help Desk seems like a perfect solution to such dilemma. If the tool/computer software would help the manager or even guide them towards solving the proble, I would personally recommend such tool as an effective one because software tools like this are rare. Most of the time, these tools are even considered as the problem itself and to aid in solving such is a big accomplishment in itself. For Kevin Clark, this seems to be the reason why he is satisfied with the Remedy Help Desk.

Tool Talk (Part 4 of 5)

This is the fourth part in my 5-part special regarding project management software which IT executives have found useful in their work and daily tasks. To give you a brief review, here are the choices made by the following people:

Ron Rose = Primavera Systems’ Primavera

Michael Vertefeuille = Nortel’s Enterprise Policy Manager (EPM)

Kevin Clark = BMC Software’s Remedy Help Desk

Today’s article would tackle about Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint Server and how it had helped IT director Steve Perry.

Steve Perry, the IT director of Costello & Sons Insurance and has been in the networking industry for 22 years. The IT director explained that he works in a paper-less environment meaning that they rely mostly on e-mail messages being sent and received through their three California branch locations: San Rafael, Irvine and Santa Barbara. Transactions are ususally conducted through e-mail and with a digital back-up. Due to this, the company needs a software that would ensure protection in their e-mail process.This is where Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint Server takes over. According to the IT director, there are three primary tasks done by the said software. These primary tasks are considered critical in their business operations and helps the firm in having smooth business transactions.

    Three Primary Tasks:

  • backs up Exchange in real time
  • provides continuous data protection for the e-mail system
  • provides failover for the exchange server

Aside from that, the software easily fixes crashes. If ever a person experiences exchange server crashes, all they have to do is to go to the NearPoint Server and click the restore button and after 30 minutes, the system is up and running. E-mail attachments are also taken care of the software through configuration of the NearPoint Server to extract attachments from Exchange thus deliver it from the NearPoint Server.

Thoughts and Insights

E-mail is extremely important for an organization because most of the transactions conucted by firms are through e-mails. It is also the most convenient way to communcate with other people in the organization eliminating the need to take the elevator and climb up to the whatever floor you need to go. The IT director who mentioned the importance of e-mail is wise in choosing the NearPoint server because based on his description, it really protects their e-mail system effectively. One of the good points mentioned by the IT director is the restore option whenever the exchange server crashes. Crashes are considered as normal part of today’s modern world because of the heavy bulk it handles everyday therefore softwares should find a a way to restore the operations once this incident happens and fortunately, IT director Steve Perry found this in Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint Server.

Tool Talk (Part 5 of 5)

Finally! We have reached the last part of my special 5-part posting regarding the different software tools which are hand-picked by selected experts in the IT industry. The tools mentioned and the reviews about it are based from the personal experiences by the people featured in this special.

    So far, we have covered the following software tools:

  • Primavera Systems’ Primavera recommended by Ron Rose
  • Enterprise Policy Manager (EPM) by Michael Vertefeuille
  • BMC Software’s Remedy Help Desk recommended by Kevin Clark
  • Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint Server recommended by Steve Perry

For the last part of this special, I would talk about SPI Dynamics’ WebInspect.

Paul Samadani, the Director of corporate technology services Pentair has been in the networking industry for 23 years. In his line of work, they are tasked to monitor the development in-house and externally on their intranet and extranet sites. The director also mentioned that they have a global network of sites which covers all countries and he wants to make sure that the said portals are secure. This is where SPI Dynamics’ WebInspect comes in handy.The difference of WebInspect with other vulnerability tools is its capability to provide answers alongside the problem that it had discovered upon operation. As compared with other vulenrability tools, the only thing that they do is to point out the problem and does not provide any kind of alternative to solve the said problem. In the case of WebInspect, it points out the code and gives references on how to fix that code. This makes a job easier because any developer would be able to read the report and find a way to solve the problem with the given codes as guide.

WebInspect also has the ability to determine how an application service provider (ASP) would be able to handle data. The director mentioned that they run the the WebInspect tool against the ASP thus performing periodic checks with the use of the software tool. In this way, the vulnerabilities in a system would be thoroughly checked thus allowing the firm to save themself from possible failure partnership deals. Through the use of WebInspect, vulnerabilities would never go undiscovered and unsolved.

Thoughts and Insights

WebInspect is the choice of Director Paul Samadani because of its ability to discover the vulnerabilities in the system and it also gives direction on how to solve these vulnerabilities. With this kind of tool in handy, the firm would be able to save lots of money first, from the repair and damage cost as well as consultation fee because there is no need to see. The firm would also be able to save money from the possibility of having failed transactions because the vulnerability was discovered earlier. The ability of WebInspect is a very special one because a usual tool only checks if something is wrong and does not provide any kind of solution to the said problem. Through the use of this tool, the chance of not discovering a vulnerability would be somehow minimized.