What's New?
Metrics and Measurement

David Garmus provides "A Guide to Sizing and Estimating Projects." Michael West discusses how to measure the effects of process improvement. Carl Lehmann provides an overview of Kaplan and Norton's Balanced Scorecard.

Also in this Issue: Marco Sampietro and Tiziano Villa on “Reducing Change on Projects.” Nancy Settle-Murphy and Beatrice Briggs on building consensus.

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IT Performance Improvement (ITPI) is where IT professionals share their expertise in making IT organizations and people perform better. ITPI covers such topics as:

Editorial Calendar 2014

May: Big Data
June: BYOD
July: Agile
August: Storage
September: Project Management
October: Program Management
November: Securing the Cloud

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Big Data TechCon on March 31-April 2, 2014 in Boston

STARCANADA in Toronto on April 5-9, 2014 Toronto

InfoSec World Conference & Expo 2014 at Disney's Contemporary Resort, April 7-9, 2014

The 4th Cloud and Big Data Summit 2014 on April 10-11, 2014 in London, England

SPTechCon on April 22-25 in San Francisco

AnDevCon in Boston on May 27-30, 2014

Cloud DevCon on June 23-25, 2014 in San Francisco

MobileCON2014 in Las Vegas on September 9-11, 2014

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCAST) # 280 features our interview with Mark C. Bojeun, author of Program Management Leadership: Creating Successful Team Dynamics. Mark makes a very strong case that project and program managers can impact team culture and dynamics. The team's culture is directly linked to productivity, quality and morale.

The Software Process and Measurement (SPaM) Cast 281 features features an essay on value chain mapping. It also features Kim Pries's "Software Sensie" column.


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Metrics and Measurement

A Guide to Sizing and Estimating Projects

David Garmus

Stakeholders involved with the development of software are frequently challenged to provide early and accurate software project estimates. It speaks poorly of the software community that accurate estimation practices, early in the lifecycle, have not been adequately resolved and standardized.

Three significant issues play a role in the estimating challenge:

  • The need to identify and express, as early as possible in the project, the application software functional requirements requested by the user.
  • The need to identify and express the application software non-functional requirements taking into account all of the technical and quality issues for the project.
  • The need to understand the software development team's capability to deliver the required software solution within a specified environment taking into account all of the risk factors relating to the environment and people's skills and motivation. Once these issues are resolved, the effort required to deliver the product can be more accurately predicted.


Measuring the Effects of Process Improvement on Performance

Michael West

If you don't ask for the return on process improvement in your organization, you will never know what it is. Perhaps a year or two ago, either with some coaching or because you're a born leader, you did all the right things as a sponsor of the process improvement initiative. You fought for the investment budget, you helped set the process improvement goals, and you established the incentive structure. But then you quickly became busy with other, more urgent matters—the annual budget cycle, perhaps a business development project, or you had to help save a big customer—the daily "emergencies" and operational problems.

How to Manage Performance: Kaplan and Norton's Balanced Scorecard

Carl Lehmann

After working with several pioneering technology and manufacturing companies, Robert Kaplan, a Harvard Business School professor, and David Norton, president of a management consulting firm, found that performance management was defined very narrowly, focusing almost exclusively on financial measures. They concluded that financial performance alone was insufficient to accurately measure an organization's achievement and total value and that a broader approach was needed.

In their book, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, published in 1996, Kaplan and Norton defined a scorecard model, whereby in addition to financial measures, organizational performance should include measures from a customer perspective, an internal business process perspective, and a perspective measuring employee innovation and learning. Sometimes referred to as the four perspectives model, the name "Balanced Scorecard" was chosen to reflect the need for organizations to manage using a balanced assessment of performance measures. A good scorecard, therefore, includes a mix of core outcome measures common to most strategies, and performance drivers that reflect the uniqueness of a particular strategy. The measures and drivers selected should distinguish between long- and short-term objectives, between financial and non-financial measures, between lagging and leading indicators and between internal and external performance perspectives. Ultimately, all measures need to be tied back to financial performance. Originally conceived as a performance measurement system, executives using it encouraged the authors to further its potential as a strategic management system.

Also new this issue:

Reducing Change on Projects

Marco Sampietro and Tiziano Villa

Changes to projects may come from various sources: they may be encouraged by clients, they may imposed by regulatory changes, they may result from unexpected moves by the competition, and they may come from within.

Changes belonging to the last group include those supported by project team members. Project team members, in performing the activities they are responsible for, may in fact request different types of changes: the renegotiation of schedules or the budget for the activity, a change to the activity's expected output, a change to the input necessary to carry it out, a change of processes or the instrumental means supporting it, and a change in the other collaborators involved in the activity.

Articles from Past Issues
Click here for the complete archive of articles.

IT Infrastructure

Reducing Resource Use

Equipment Energy Consumption: Commonsense Items to Consider

Implementing a Green and Virtual Data Center

Electric Energy and Applicable Metrics

The Importance of Software Security

Why Green Works for Device Purchases

Mobile Security Issues

Effective Physical Security of a Mobile Device

Security for the Enterprise Mobile Device Life Cycle

Evolution of Mobile Threats

Licensing Cloud Resources and Services

Securing Storage

Data Protection: Setting the Right Objectives

Virtualization, Storage Tiers and Manual Data Movement

Spending Wisely on Performance

IT Data Center "Green" Myths and Realties

Common IT Resource Management Activities

Data Storage and Network Security

Metrics for Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Devices

Healthy and Beneficial Backup Paranoia

Ten Things Still Wrong with Data Protection Attitudes

IT Service Management, Business Service Management and Business-IT Integration

Service Management Implementation Overview

IT Release Management

Backup and Recovery Best Practices

Service Level Agreements and IT Bill-Back

Preventing Cloud Vendor Lock-in


Evaluating Cloud Servers and Solutions

Enabling Efficient, Effective, and Productive Information Services Delivery

Preventing Cloud Vendor Lock-in

Project Management

Creativity and Project Management

Project Management Methodology in the Smaller PMO

The Power of Project Team Members

Cultural Communication Issues and Project E-Leadership

Program Management Processes and the PMO

An Effective Process-Based Management Approach: A Case Study

Case Study: Transparency during New Product Development Program

Interview with a Program Manager: Krissy Wolle

The Service-Based Project Leader

Leadership, Communication, Technology, and Complexity

Establishing Business Needs and Initial Project Scope


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March 27, 2014. Mark Bojeun. Leadership: The 11th Knowledge Area

April 3, 2014. Carl Pritchard. Risk and Risk Ethics

April 9, 2014. Michael Overly. The Legal Ins and Outs of Mobile App Development

April 10, 2014. Raj Kapur. Intelligent Disobedience

April 15, 2014. Louis Poulin. Translating Time Cards into Something that Can Be Used for Software Estimation and Comparison Purposes

April 23, 2014. Barbara von Halle. The Decision Model Driving Business and Technology Advances in 2014

April 29, 2014. Randall Englund. Sales Skills for the Complete Project Manager


Improving Your Own IT Performance
Articles by Nancy Settle-Murphy

Consensus-Building in Virtual Meetings

Helping teams reach real consensus can be tough enough when we're all in the same room, conversing eye-to-eye. But when people can't see each other's expressions and feel awkward about having tough discussions and candid debates with people they can't see, reaching consensus is infinitely more difficult. Add cultural differences into the mix, and discerning what meeting participants really think about an idea becomes even more difficult. More...

Eight Steps for Facilitating Constructive Conflict, Virtually
Your team is under pressure to make a decision that will make or break your big project. You are shocked when all of your colleagues agree to what you believe will be a disastrous decision. When you regain your powers of speech, everyone is waiting for you to weigh in. (Thankfully, no one can read your body language, since everyone has dialed in for this meeting.) Do you dare voice an opposing opinion at this point, or do you just sigh and let it go, hoping that people will eventually see the light before too much damage can be done? More...

Galvanize Global Virtual Teams with Clear Operating Principles

The best way to get a new team out of starting gate is to pull everyone into one room for a few days to carve out goals, hammer out differences, develop team norms, and agree on deliverables, schedules and roles. Investing in this process allows a team to get through the “storming” phase quickly. More...

Tips for Picking the Best Tech Tools for Your Next Virtual Meeting

With so many ways to connect virtually, you'd think we'd all be experts by now. In fact, the opposite may be true: Because we have so many choices, finding the best combination of virtual collaboration tools has actually become tougher. And even when we are convinced we've chosen wisely, participants inevitably show up unprepared or unable to make the needed connections easily and quickly. More...

When It Comes to Giving, Little Things Mean a Lot
This is the time of year when we turn our thoughts to giving. But for many of us, that’s where we stop. Just because we have noble intentions, it doesn’t mean we automatically get more time in our busy days to be generous to others, when we’re barely keeping our heads above water ourselves. More...

Turning Around a Truly Terrible Team: Lessons from the 2013 Red Sox

Few teams ever make the leap from the truly awful—sloppy, apathetic, unfocused and disconnected—to the sublime, where members achieve an absolutely stunning performance that leaves everyone else to scratch their heads and ask:"How on earth?" More...

To Keep People Focused, Insist That They Multitask
Are you put off when people tune out during your virtual meetings? I know I am! After all, my clients hire me to run virtual meetings that keep people focused and on track. (And I teach this effective virtual meeting stuff, too!) So when people drift away during my meetings, I realize I need to take a good long look in the mirror to find the true source of the problem. More...

From Jaded to Jazzed: Quick Tips for Sustaining Happy, Healthy Virtual Teams
Have you ever been part of a team where you're inspired and energized by your work, really enjoy the people, feel like you're making some great contributions, and have meaningful opportunities to learn and grow? If you're lucky, maybe it's been once or twice.If you work virtually, attaining this kind of "team nirvana" is even harder. More...

How to Prevent "Unfair" Decisions from Tearing Teams Apart

In the midst of collaborating on a new workshop series to help virtual teams make better decisions, my colleague Sharon Marie May and I had a 'eureka!' moment. Regardless of how rigorous the analysis or relevant the data, if people perceive that a decision was made unfairly, they won't buy into it. This is especially true for virtual teams, who often must make decisions based on partial information and have few opportunities to gather the needed data, validate assumptions or correct misperceptions. More...

Speaking the Truth Is Not Always Easy in a Virtual World
Authentic communication, where we bravely seek and speak the truth, is hard enough when we sit across the table, looking into each other's eyes. In a world where we have no such visual cues to go by, it's far harder to decode what's really being said, what's not being said, and what's behind the words, or silence. More...

Nine Hidden Assumptions that Kill Virtual Collaboration
Why do companies like Best Buy and Yahoo invest so much in creating a flexible work environment in the first place, if they're so willing to discard it later? Bottom line: Many senior leaders just don't trust the concept enough to regard a virtual workplace as an essential component of running their business. And when the virtual workplace concept is seen as expendable, it becomes much easier to dismantle when times get tough. More...

A Line in the Sand Jumpstarts a Virtual Team
with David Kershaw
Virtual teams are hard to see. That's why the boundaries that define the scope, accountabilities, roles, reporting relationships, tasks and deliverables can be pretty tough to grasp. That is, if they exist at all. Why? Some teams simply assume that everyone has a shared understanding of the big picture. If that's true, the thinking goes, then no need to waste time discussing something that goes without saying. More...

A Simple Storyboard Commands Attention and Get Results (Virtually)
with Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts
You're in the process of designing your presentation and creating your meeting agenda. Since you will be leading the meeting from a conference room with several of the senior leaders, with others participating from various locations, you know that a critical success factor will be keeping everyone absorbed, engaged and enthusiastically participating in a productive dialogue. Following are practical approaches for presenting important recommendations that grab and keep peoples' attention, wherever they are. More...

About the Author

Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights founder and principal consultant, draws on an eclectic and varied combination of skills and expertise. She wears many hats—depending on the challenges she is helping clients to solve. She acts as meeting facilitator, virtual collaboration coach, change management leader, workshop designer, cross-cultural trainer, communications strategist and organizational development consultant.