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Archive for August, 2010

by: Phil Simon
30  Aug  2010

Resource Mistakes, Part II: Brian, Stewie, and TCO

In last week’s post, I wrote about organizations that fail to secure the requisite resources while undertaking major information management (IM) initiatives. In today’s post, I’ll extend the discussion to another source of resource-based problems on these projects: money.

Penny-Wise, Pound Foolish

When it comes finding the right resource for an IM initiative, many organizations are cautious with small amounts of money but careless with larger amounts. While attempting to procure independent contractors or full-time consultants/vendors, many focus exclusively on hourly rates. (This is particularly true if third parties such as recruiters or consulting firms are involved. These companies often attempt to pressure the consultant or subcontractor into taking the lowest possible rates.)

Focusing on hourly rates alone is one of the cardinal sins made by organizations during IM and IT initiatives. Such myopia misses the big picture and ignores the very important concept of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Now, this is hardly rocket science. A consultant or subcontractor with superior skills might–and probably does–charge a premium rate. However, highly skilled individuals can often accomplish their work in far fewer hours than their lesser-skilled counterparts.

An Example

Consider the following fictitious example. Griffin, Inc. is a major manufacturer of toys. Over the years, the company’s data and systems have become increasingly segregated. Orders are often incorrect, delayed, or shipped to the wrong location due to inaccurate customer information in its cauldron of systems. Management is starting to realize that this problem isn’t going away; it’s getting worse.

Griffin has decided that enough is enough. It will begin a major IM project with the ultimate intent of consolidating and purifying its data. For this, it needs help. The hiring manager, Peter, has the resumes of two candidates:

  • Brian charges $125/hour for his services. He has extensive programming, data analysis, and general business experience. He can interpret requirements that are anything but iron-clad.
  • Stewie charges $90/hr his services. While no newbie, he just doesn’t bring the same skills to the table as Brian.

Pressed for money, Peter tries to get Brian to come down to Stewie’s rate. Brian has some flexibility but ultimately won’t come close to $90/hr. Peter goes with Stewie, thinking that he’s ultimately saving money.

But is he?

Stewie is no fool, but he’s simply not in Brian’s class. He struggles trying to make logical inferences. He doesn’t have the same tools in his bag as Brian. Stewie is unaware of existing frameworks that mitigate project risk and allow for smoother transitions, such as MIKE20.

Against this backdrop, it ultimately takes Stewie about six months to complete the project. He bills Griffin for 1,000 hours of his time. Brian could have performed the work in half that time. Consider the following TCOs of each:

  • Brian’s TCO is $62,500 (500 hours * $125/hr)
  • Stewie’s TCO is $90,000 (1,00 hours * $90/hr)

Also consider potential travel expenses and the fact that Stewie needed to engage Griffin employees for three extra months, taking them away from their day jobs. Also, what about the issues that Brian would have found?

Simon Says

Look, money matters in any economy, much less this one. There’s always a temptation for organizations to make do with “adequate” resources. Sometimes paying more on an hourly basis results in a lower TCO; highly-skilled resources often more than justify their  premiums. Don’t dismiss resources simply because they initially appear to be too expensive in the near-term. Ask yourself if actually they’re cheaper in the long-term.

Tags:
Category: Enterprise2.0, Information Management
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by: Bsomich
28  Aug  2010

Weekly IM Update.

 
 
 logo.jpg

Getting Started with MIKE2.0?

Here is an outline-based presentation via live content links to the structure of the MIKE2.0 methodology and associated content:

Introduction

  • A New Model for the Enterprise provides an intro rationale for MIKE2.0.
  • What is MIKE2.0? is a good basic intro to the methodology with some of the major diagrams and schematics.
  • Introduction to MIKE2.0 is a category of other introductory articles
  • Mike 2.0 How To – provides a listing of basic articles of how to work with and understand the MIKE2.0 system and methodology.
  • Alternative Release Methodologies describes current thinking about how the basic structure of MIKE2.0 can itself be modified and evolve. The site presently follows a hierarchical model with governance for major changes, though branching and other models could be contemplated.

Grounding Documents

Solution Offerings

Solution Offerings are the major focus of MIKE2.0 and topical organization of the available MIKE2.0 material. Core Solutions are solutions for common problems in Information Management. Composite Solutions are next-generation offerings that provide advanced information-centric capabilities across two or more core solution areas. Business Solutions are applied to common business problems for which information management practices is a key. Product Solutions describe an offering that is specific to a commercial or open source product.

Generally, each Offering is organized according to the presentation under Solution Capabilities below.

Feel free to check them out when you have a moment.

Sincerely,

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This Week’s Food for Thought:

Resource Mistakes, Part One   

As I continue to familiarize myself with the The MIKE2.0 Framework, one thing has become entirely apparent to me: it’s based in large part on having the right resources at the right time. In this very important sense, the MIKE2.0 Framework is the same as any other methodology for implementing new systems. In a new series of post, I’ll discuss some of the biggest mistakes that organizations make during information management projects (IM). In this post, I’ll cover timing as it relates to allocating resources..

Read the complete post.

A Comprehensive Approach is Required for Data Quality Improvement   Despite–or perhaps because of–the tremendous cost of data quality issues, most organizations are struggling to address them. We believe there are five primary reasons that they are failing:

  • Our systems are more complex than ever before. Many companies now have more information than ever before. This requires greater integration. New regulations, M&A activity, globalization, and increasing customer demands collectively mean that IM challenges are increasingly–both in numbers and in terms of complexity.

Read complete post.

Data Quality Doesn’t Matter (Much!)

While touring in New Zealand to talk about my new book, I had the opportunity to do an interview on TV to explain why Information Management matters.  The segment is available online.  The question that I enjoyed answering the most, simply because I was able to say something unexpected, was “how important is it to have the most up-to-date data”.

My answer was, that it doesn’t matter so much whether it is accurate data or whether it is old.  

Read complete post.

 
 

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Category: Information Development
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by: Bsomich
27  Aug  2010

A Comprehensive Approach is Required for Data Quality Improvement

Despite–or perhaps because of–the tremendous cost of data quality issues, most organizations are struggling to address them. We believe there are five primary reasons that they are failing:

  • Our systems are more complex than ever before. Many companies now have more information than ever before. This requires greater integration. New regulations, M&A activity, globalization, and increasing customer demands collectively mean that IM challenges are increasingly–both in numbers and in terms of complexity.
  • Silo-ed, short-term project delivery focus. Many projects are often funded at a departmental level. As such, they typically don’t account for the unexpected effects of how data will be used by others. Data flows among disparate systems–and the design of these connection points–must transcend strict project boundaries.
  • Traditional development methods do not place appropraite focus on data management. Many projects are focused more on functionality and features than on information. The desire to build new functionality–for the sake of new functionality–often results in information being left by the wayside.
  • DQ issues are often hidden and persistent. Lamentably, DQ issues can remian unnoticed for some time. Ironically, some end-users may suspect that the data in the systems on which they rely to make decisions are often inaccurate, incomplete, out-of-date, invalid, and/or inconsistent. This is often propagated to other systems as organizations increase connectivity. In the end, many organizations tend to underestimate the DQ issues in their systems.
  • DQ is fit for purpose. Many DQ and IM professionals know all too well that it is difficult for end-users of downstream systems to improve the DQ of their systems. While the reasons vary, perhaps the biggest culprit is that the data is entered via customer-facing operational systems. Often these clerks do not have the same incentive to maintain high DQ; they are often focused on entering  data quickly and without rejection by the system at the point of entry. Eventually, however, errors become apparent, as data is integrated, summarized, standardized, and used in another context. At this point, DQ issues begin to surface.

A comprehensive data quality program must be defined to meet these challenges.

Why is a New Competency Model Required?

Many organizations have struggled to meet these challenges for one fundamental reason: they fail to focus enterprise-wide nature of data management problems. They incorrectly see information as a technology or IT issue, rather than as a fundamental and core business activity. In many ways Information is the new accounting. Solutions required to address complex infrastructure and information issues can’t be tackled on a department-by-department basis. 

While necessary, defining an enterprise-wide programme, on the other hand, is also very difficult. Building momentum for these initiatives takes a long period of time. Further, it can easily lead to approaches out-of-sync with business needs. Attempts to enforce architectural governance, for example, can quite easily become ineffectual or a “toothless watchdog” providing little value.

Organizations require an approach that can address all of the inherent challenges of

  • a federated business model
  • an often complex technology architecture

Fundamentally, this approach should be both manageable, effective, and conducive to innovation. Admittedly, this is not an easy task. This is the rationale for MIKE2.0 and the need for a new competency of Information Development.

Read more on MIKE2.0′s Information Governance Solution Offering

Category: Information Development
2 Comments »

by: Bsomich
25  Aug  2010

Profile Spotlight: Erwin Meerman

 

Erwin Meerman

Erwin Meerman has 20 years of experience in various IT roles in smaller and bigger companies. He started as a dBase programmer and Novell Network engineer, evolving into Object Oriented programming and SAP implementations.

For the last 10 years, Erwin has been working mainly in SAP projects, as implementation consultant, test coordinator and as project manager. Besides these more general roles, in SAP he is specialized in Master Data and in Planning and Production.

While being part of a global MDM project with an international tobacco company, his interest in MDM related topics grew. As a next step in his career, he has setup and currently leads the MDM department for SVZ Industrial Products in the Netherlands; A worldwide supplier of fruit and vegetable ingredients to the food industry.

His specialties in the world of master data are data governance, data architecture, organizational change management related to MDM and master data maintenance in SAP.

Connect with Erwin.

Category: Information Development, Member Profiles
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by: Phil Simon
23  Aug  2010

Resource Mistakes, Part I

As I continue to familiarize myself with the The MIKE2.0 Framework, one thing has become entirely apparent to me: it’s based in large part on having the right resources at the right time. In this very important sense, the MIKE2.0 Framework is the same as any other methodology for implementing new systems. In a new series of post, I’ll discuss some of the biggest mistakes that organizations make during information management projects (IM). In this post, I’ll cover timing as it relates to allocating resources.

Hurry Up and Wait

When I’m not writing, speaking, or chasing down tennis or golf balls, I’m typically on a consulting project. Like many people, I’m a hired gun available on a first-come, first-served basis. While there are certainly exceptions, most large organizations tend to struggle locking people like me down.

Consider the following example. Back in early June of this year, a firm for which I regularly subcontract (call it BU2B here) recently submitted me for a one year project for a large new system implementation. I didn’t hear anything for two months and assumed that either the project never started or that I wasn’t chosen. C’est la vie, right?

Wrong.

Fast forward to August 17th. I get a call from a recruiter at BU2B that its client needs to talk to me–today. Forget the fact that I am on site, billing my current client. BU2B tells me that this call has to happen today. I explain that that’s just not possible but that I’ll be free on the 18th for pretty much the entire day. Long story short: it has to be the 17th, even at night. Unable to make a firm commitment with a “burning plank” deadline, I have to pass.

Of course, this begs the questions:

  • Why wait two months to find key resources for such an important project?
  • What was going to be decided at 8:30 pm on Tuesday that couldn’t be decided at 8:30 am on Wednesday?
  • Why would an organization wait two months and then give a candidate two hours? Does this seem reasonable?
  • Does an organization really think that it’s getting the right or best resource with such a tight time line?
  • If this is the way that this company operates, would I really want to get on a plane every week and go there?

Trust me. This isn’t sour grapes talking. I’m very comfortable with rejection, especially since I went to a 70 percent male college. But does this story sound familiar?

Simon Says

Don’t wait until the last minute to find consultants and contractors, particularly as your project approaches key dates. Follow these guidelines and you can maximize the chance of a smooth transition and minimize the chance of scurrying at the last moment:

  • Let everyone know well ahead of time when projects are supposed to begin
  • Lock down resources well before those key dates
  • Identify backups just in case stuff happens
  • If an extension is necessary for an existing resource, attempt to arrange this as early as possible. Don’t wait until Friday morning to see if a key person is available on Monday.
  • By all means, don’t complain when that resource has found another gig

Tags:
Category: Information Development, Information Strategy, Information Value
2 Comments »

by: Robert.hillard
21  Aug  2010

Data Quality doesn’t matter (much)!

While touring in New Zealand to talk about my new book, I had the opportunity to do an interview on TV to explain why Information Management matters.  The segment is available online.  The question that I enjoyed answering the most, simply because I was able to say something unexpected, was “how important is it to have the most up-to-date data”.

My answer was, that it doesn’t matter so much whether it is accurate data or whether it is old.  Implied in the interviewer’s question was the assumption that everything about the data we use needs to be current and perfect.  My view is that while you would choose current over old much of the time, our pursuit of quality and the most up-to-date information leads us to ignore some very rich sources of data which can support new and innovative products.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that having high quality and current data isn’t important.  I am, however, saying it is less important than having a resource that is well understood (i.e., how old it is and how confident you can be in the results).  Most importantly, I am saying you shouldn’t ignore that old data that resulted from market research or other interactions in years gone by.

Category: Information Development
1 Comment »

by: Bsomich
19  Aug  2010

The Drivers and Challenges of Enterprise 2.0

In today’s global economic arena, price is no longer an area where organizations can hope to differentiate themselves. Instead, innovation is the principle means through which organizations can remain competitive. They must foster an environment that encourages innovation and produces a constant stream of innovative services and solutions. Many executives believe that they are the innovators for their companies, but in reality the capacity for 1000’s of employees to come up with innovative ideas far outweighs that of 10 or so top-level executives.  Most organizations have failed to tap into one of their richest assets – the tacit knowledge of their workforce.

There is much value to be gained from the unrecorded insight and experiences inside knowledge worker’s heads. Furthermore, organizations tend to collaborate poorly as hierarchical structures prevent cross-division content and social discovery. Division heads act as barriers to the fluid exchange of ideas.  This is where Enterprise 2.0 techniques can assist.

What is Enterprise 2.0?

Enterprise 2.0 (first coined by Professor Andrew McAfee in Spring, 2006) is the state of the art in collaborative software modeled after Web 2.0 techniques and patterns. It is an emergent set of technologies that encourages innovation, facilitates the capture of tacit data, and creates a spirit of collaboration due to its participatory and social nature.

Enterprise 2.0 flattens organizational hierarchies and lowers contribution barriers. This means that the output from the metaphorical troops in the trenches is directly visible to Generals on the hilltop. In this way, organizations become more efficient due to increased sharing and discovery of knowledge, and can maintain competitive advantage by fostering innovation from within.

Challenges

Enterprise 2.0 has organisations buzzing at these ideas, but also confused. Many are still trying to figure out what it means to them – is it turning their company into Facebook or MySpace? Yes, Wikipedia has been a great success, but imagine some of the issues if we tried to run our company like that!

What Drives Enterprise 2.0?

There are a number of factors driving the need for Enterprise 2.0 as well benefits that derive from it, creation a virtuous cycle for these capabilties and resulting business benefits.  Enterprise 2.0 is the next generation enterprise, driven from user expectations of what they can do on the web.

New business models result from this approach include The Long Tail, a reference to tapping into the “unlimited supply” of the internet (as a provider or consumer). Long Tail business models are typically a key part of the strategy of companies that take advantage of Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 techniques and technologies. Likewise, the Wisdom of Crowds provides the capability to harness a community perspective to knowledge development within your organisation. The value of Networked effect models can be applied to community development and solution delivery.

An enhanced Customer Experience, using Enterprise 2.0 techniques nad technologies as the core foundational building blocks of the online customer experience. Increasing prevalence on the internet will build customer expectations of use. 

Radical Transformation of existing IT infrastructures that enable far greater agilility in the ability to shift to a changing market.

The MIKE2.0 Approach to Enterprise 2.0

The MIKE2.0 open source Enterprise 2.0 solution offering provides an approach for implementing Enterprise 2.0 that is particularly focused around the impacts of Enterprise 2.0 and its relation to Information Development.

3 Principles drive the approach and help formulate the initial architecture and governance model:

  • Collaboration
  • Agility
  • Information-centricity

This solution shows how to apply Web 2.0 techniques within an organisation to get the benefits of collaborative content development, harness the power of informal networks and to quickly adjust to shifting strategies. The proposed approach balances some of the risks related to information security, stability and staff workload. This approach also proposes that those organisations that are truly successful in taking advantage of Enterprise 2.0 will use new techniques and technologies and prioritise on developing two areas: human capital development and Information Development. Through this approach, organisations can truly become more agile and more innovative.

Category: Information Development
3 Comments »

by: Bsomich
18  Aug  2010

Profile Spotlight: Alberto Villari

 

Alberto Villari

Alberto Villari is a Charter Member of the IAIDQ.

He began his IT career in 1993, working as a Consultant Object Oriented Developer and later as a Database Analyst.

In 1998, he joined Bvlgari, the Rome-based multi-national firm that specializes in contemporary Italian jewelry and timepieces. His I/DQ career began in 2000 with the Bulgari Data Quality project; he later became the Data Quality Manager in 2002.

His project, Data Quality @ Bvlgari, was presented at the Data Management & Information Quality Conference (October 2003, London, UK) and at the DAMA International Symposium & Wilshire Meta-Data Conference (April 2003, Orlando Florida, USA).

Specialties:

Broad application of sound Data Quality principles, including organisational process revision, technology and software reccomendation, Data Quality accountabilities appointment, definition of Data Management Policies and Guidelines.

Connect with Alberto

Category: Member Profiles
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by: Phil Simon
16  Aug  2010

The Worlds of Information Management

These days, I’m pretty immersed in the world of small companies for one reason: I have been interviewing the owners of small businesses for my new book. Quite frankly, I have been blown away by many things, not the least is which the ability of these companies to effectively manage their data. In this post, I’ll explore the small and big worlds of information management )IM).

The World of Big

I have spent many years in this world, so I feel like an expert commenting on it. If you’re reading this post, then you’re probably familiar with it and its characteristics:

  • Big Companies
  • Oodles of employees
  • Politics galore
  • Big Tools (typically older)
  • Big Data (often inconsistent, incomplete, or at at least partially invalid)
  • Big Systems (note: always plural)
  • Big Problems

In what appears to be Bizarro World, I have spent much time lately in The World of Small. Even the project that I am finishing next week involves a company with “only” an 800 employees. At least to me, this is relatively small. This is especially true since I’ve done time in organizations with more than 60,000 employees. (Well, at least we thought that that number was right.) Our systems were more than a little messy and we could never be sure. Calm blue oceans, Phil…

The World of Small

The characteristics of this other, strange wold include:

  • Small Companies
  • Fewer employees (by an order of magnitude)
  • Smaller Tools (typically newer)
  • Smaller Data
  • Smaller Systems or, heaven forbid, system (singular)
  • Smaller Problems

Worlds Colliding

Now what happens when those people used to one world enter the other? Worlds collide. (In “The Pool Guy”, one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, we are introduced to George’s “Worlds Theory.” Long story short: friends and relationships don’t mix.)

When those used to working in small worlds enter big ones, they often become frustrated. The simple ability to query relatively accurate data sets gives way to much more nuanced (read: complicated) situations. Relatively simple questions are answered with complex or convoluted answers such as:

  • “not really”
  • “sometimes”
  • “you’d think so, but…”
  • “it depends”

I suspect that this is why many highly talented folks leave big companies for small ones, never wanting to return.

On the other hand, those that go from big worlds to small ones seem to feel a sense of immediate relief. They’re surprised with statements such as, “If it’s not in Salesforce.com, then it doesn’t exist.” How’s that for an IM philosophy? Or how about being able to write accurate reports via a web-based wizard that pull results in 30 seconds?

Yep. It’s a strange world.

Simon Says

Most companies lay somewhere in between these two poles. What’s more, to be fair, small companies have their own issues and it’s the acme of foolishness for me to claim that these environments are idyllic. To quote Stephen A. Smith, However….

On many levels, there’s something to be said for simple setups, consistent data, quick decision making, clear lines of responsibility, and generally better data. Even if The Big World can’t turn on a dime, shouldn’t its leaders try to emulate its smaller counterpart?

Feedback

What say you?

Tags:
Category: Information Management
6 Comments »

by: Bsomich
13  Aug  2010

4 Tips for Effective Change Management

Information technology implementations collectively cost organizations billions of dollars per year, yet most of these ventures fail to meet management expectations. 

Much of the project success rides on user adoption, therefore an employee change management plan is a critical (and often overlooked) step.  By not having a formal change management plan and training program, you are setting the project- as well as your employees- up for failure.  

Below are some simple and key items to factor into your change management plan:

Communication: It is important to create appropriate communications channels and clearly relay the need for and benefits of the new system or program with employees.   The more they understand why the system is needed and how it will help make their job easier, the more receptive they will be to it.

Engagement: Create an environment that invites input from employees and solicit their suggestions BEFORE and WHILE designing and implementing the new system.  This is especially important for those employees who will be using the system on a daily basis, as they will be most impacted and will have a stronger reaction to accept or reject it.  Employees need to feel like they are part of the process and have a voice, so give them one.

Training: Set aside time to train your employees how to use the new system before they actually need to use it for day-to-day operations.  If the training is rushed, employees will not be comfortable with it and are more likely to become frustrated with it. 

Feedback: Create a straightforward, no hassle process for receiving and implementing user feedback and improvement suggestions.  Chances are you will need to rework and refine the program/system many times until it begins running smoothly.

Including these items in your change management plan will help employees feel included, informed, engaged and empowered and they will be more likely to welcome the new system and use it as it was intended.

Category: Information Strategy
3 Comments »

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