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Testing Showcase North on February 19, 2015 in Manchester, England

Agile Programme and Project Management Conference on February 26, 2015 in London, England

European Smart Grid Cyber Security on March 9-10, 2015 in London, UK

Wearables TechCon on March 9-11, 2014 in Santa Clara, California

Infosec World 2015 on March 23-23, 2015 at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Orlando, Florida

8th Oil & Gas Telecommunications conference on March 25-26, 2015 in London

Mobile Dev + Test Conference on April 12-17, 2015 in San Diego, California

Big Data TechCon on April 26-28, 2015 in Boston

Software Testing Conference on May 3–8, 2015 in Orlando

The Women In Technology International (WITI) Summit on May 31-June 2, 2015 in San Jose, California

Cyber Security for Financial Services Exchange on June 14-16, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina

SPaMCAST 325 features an essay on product owners. It also features a new column from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries. It concludes with Jo Ann Sweeney’s column Explaining Communication.

SPaMCAST 322 features an interview with Clareice and Clyneice Chaney. Clareice and Clyneice provide insights and practical advice into how Agile and contracting work together. The focus of the interview is on contracting and acquisition of Agile testing, however the concepts they discussed can be applied to contracting for any type of service using Agile techniques.

SPaMCAST 320 features our interview with Alfonso Bucero. We discussed his book, Today Is A Good Day. Attitude is an important tool for a project manager, team member or executive. In his book Alfonso provides a plan for honing your attitude.

SPaMCAST 315 features an essay on Scrum Masters. Scrum Masters are the voice of the process at the team level. Scrum Masters are a critical member of every Agile team. The team's need for a Scrum Master is not transitory because they evolve together as a team.

Blogs We're Reading

Jack Ferraro. My Project Advisor. Guidance for Project Leaders and Managers

Jamal Moustafaev.> Think Tank Consulting. Musings on Requirements and Scope Management

Samir Penkar. The Future of Project Management. People, Trends, and Ideas on Project Management

Anthony Rhem. The Knowledge Management Depot. Active thought leadership in knowledge management.

Jon Quigley. Value Transformations. Taming processes that have gone wild.

Greg Schulz. Greg's StorageIO Blog. Covering the latest trends the storage industry.

J. LeRoy Ward. WardWired. Project management excellence, as well as a business travelog.

Richard Maltzman and David Shirley. Earth PM. At the intersection of green and project management.

Preston de Guise. The NetWorker Blogger. Commentary by a long-term networking consultant and back-up theorist.


Interested in submitting an article? Want to comment about an article?

Contact John Wyzalek editor of IT Performance Improvement.


Featured New Articles

The Scope of Project Scope Management

Jamal Moustafaev

The field of project scope management seems to be one of the most neglected domains in project management. Until recently, most of the project management textbooks stated something to the effort of, "Once the project manager gets the product scope definition from the technical experts, she can embark on the creation of the project work breakdown structure (WBS) with the assistance of her team."

How exactly this product scope definition is arrived at and what steps should be undertaken to get from the point when the customer walks into the room and states that she needs a custom desk for her office to the point in time where both the blueprints and the bill of materials for said desk are finalized remained unclear.

Two Weeks in Fire-Fighting Mode

M. Kemal Atesman

I was the project manager of a large project to design, build, and install an automated positioning system on a new offshore oil platform. The design and construction of the system were completed in the United States. The system components were shipped to Norway for installation. I had to send an application engineer to Norway to see the installation of the positioning system on the new oil platform and train the responsible people from our customer's team for its operation and maintenance.

I had a young and very inquisitive engineer on my team who was trained for six months during the construction and testing of the system in our facilities. He knew all the intricate details of the automated system. He was also well versed in troubleshooting the system components. I decided to send him to Norway for three months to oversee the installation of the system and to train the customer's team members. I discussed his mission with him. He was very excited and elated that he was going to represent our company by himself in such a detailed project.

How to Measure and Improve the Business Value of IT Service

Phil Weinzimer

Business unit executives cringe every month when they receive their monthly statement from the information technology (IT) organization, in the form of IT bill or chargeback, which identifies the information costs associated with their business unit. The statement usually arrives via email or in hard copy and consists of many pages of data, usually represented in columns and rows, using terms such as router costs, data center costs, server costs, maintenance costs, terabytes, virtual servers, all of which business people don't understand very well. It is difficult for business executives to align these cost items to the services they receive and business processes they perform, let alone the value they generate. Most executives recognize that IT is a necessary cost of business and just accept the charges without much fanfare. As one business unit vice president said to me, during one of my book interviews, "It's just not worth the time to discuss this. I'm going to get hit with this charge anyway."

If your business peers view your IT organization as a techno-centric cost center, and not as the value based provider of services, you need to pay close attention to the rest of this article. This can really help you transform the way the business views IT. Communicating the value of IT services to business unit vice presidents is a key component for building a trust-based relationship with your business peers. Unless you can accomplish this, your IT organization will forever be viewed as the cost center where technical stuff happens versus a strategic partner where IT personnel partner in business teams to create significant and measurable business outcomes. If your IT organization enables business value and you cannot communicate in a way that business personnel understand the value, your IT organization will be misperceived as a cost center. The challenge is to communicate value in business terms. The objective of this article is to define a process you can use to communicate and improve the business value of the IT organization.

Systems Availability: The View from 30,000 Feet

Terry Critchley

Do you know. . .?

  1. The difference between resilience and reliability?
  2. How to calculate the increase in reliability by adding a parallel component?
  3. How to break up a server/network combination into physical domains for availability calculations?
  4. What percentage of (recorded) outages are due to hardware failure?
  5. What nonhardware factors cause outages? Can you name a dozen?
  6. How a system can be down when all components are working?
  7. The full breadth of what needs to be considered when designing and operating high availability services?
  8. Enough about high availability to mentor someone in it? To tutor your boss?
  9. What Lusser says about series components and reliability?
  10. What Amdahl's/Gunther's/Gustafson's Laws all about?

If your answer to all the questions is yes, read no further and go out and play golf, go fishing, or drink beer (or all three). If any answers are no, please read on (see Figure 1). This is our starting point in the discussion of availability, its theory, design, practice, and management, and I hope you and your organization will benefit from it. The management disciplines are the ones I found missing from most literature on high availability (HA) I've seen. Unmanaged technology can be like a loose cannon on a rolling ship—dangerous.

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

IT Infrastructure


Evaluating Cloud Servers and Solutions

Enabling Efficient, Effective, and Productive Information Services Delivery

Preventing Cloud Vendor Lock-in


Green Technology Can Improve Data Center Performance

Using Backup and Recovery to Track and Forecast Data Growth

Business Continuity Management in the Cloud

Project Management

Project Health Assessment Process

Establishing a Governance Model for Strategic Portfolio Management

Complex Program Management with Scrum

Balanced Scorecard: Establishing Project Performance Measures

Delivering Strategic Benefits with Program Management

Three Perspectives on Project Management Business Value

Green: Positively Affecting Project Success

Better Requirements for Better Managing Outsourced Projects


A Guide to Sizing and Estimating Projects

Understanding Your Organization's Best Software Development Practices

Achieving Business Objectives: Building a Software Metrics Support Structure

Connecting Improvement with Business Objectives: Objective-Driven Process Improvement

Process Improvement

Too Many Metrics and Not Enough Data

A Framework for Measuring the Value of Software Development

Using Measurement to Identify Improved IT Performance

IT Management

Ready Technology Trends

Overview of Information Security and Compliance: Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Putting Knowledge Retention into Practice

The New Intelligence: The Birth of the Knowledge Management Industry

What's Your Core IT Competency? Really?

Stretching the IT Budget: Look Beyond the Obvious

Creating IT Road Maps to Manage Complex IT Scenarios

The Top Trends Shaping Analytics

Process and Productivity

Getting Performance From Process Improvement: Part 1— In Search of the Missing Link Between Process and Performance

Getting Performance From Process Improvement: Part 2— What is Process Improvement?

Getting Performance From Process Improvement: Part 3—Improving Performance Through Process Improvement

Why Scrum?

Policy: A Key Element in the Software Engineering Process

Lean in IT: Process versus Practice

Achieving the Right Balance between Process Maturity and Performance

Understanding Lean Concepts


Improving IT Performance with
Books from Auerbach

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Have an idea for a book?

Contact ITPI editor John Wyzalek to discuss topics and book publishing.


February 18, 2015. Bill Bentley. Alliance Networking - Increase Your Odds of Landing an Interview.

February 19, 2015. Andre Lavigne. Selling Yourself, from Project Design to Project Success.

February 24, 2015. Mark Bojeun. Program Management Leadership—A Leader's Approach to Managing Successful Leaders.

February 25, 2015. Dennis Bolles. PMO Frameworks and PMO Models for Project Business Management.

February 26, 2015. Jorge Boria. The Superfluidity of Agile Methods.

March 3, 2015. Lynda Bourne. 10 Steps to Effective Stakeholder Engagement.

March 4, 2015. Peter Hill. Implementing ERP Software Packages: Risks, Time, Costs.

March 5, 2015. Bert Brijs. Business Analysis for Big Data.

March 10, 2015. Megan Holstein. Breaking into Mobile: Getting Your First Mobile App Made.

March 11, 2015. Ian Brown. 5 Key Software Maintenance Questions (or 5 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Software Maintenance Measurement but Were Afraid to Ask).

March 12, 2015. Alfonso Bucero. Sell your Horse: Developing your Influence Skills for Project Success.

March 17, 2015. Laura Burford. Making a Halt, Cancel, or Go Decision .

March 18, 2015. Tom Cagley. Risk and Agile: Managing Risk In Agile Isn't Magic.


Improving Your Own IT Performance
Articles by Nancy Settle-Murphy

Making Virtual Meetings Come Alive: It’s Everyone’s Job!

Why do so many people see virtual meetings as a time they can catch up on email? Why are participants often so ill-prepared to jump into a productive conversation? We suspect that many people simply don’t see virtual meetings as real meetings. To them, the phrase “virtual meetings” means not only that people are conversing from a distance. It also means that the meeting is just not real. More...

Seven Ways to Keep Stakeholders Close in a Virtual World

Most stakeholders often work in other locations and oftentimes, in other time zones. So, what’s so different about engaging stakeholders from engaging other virtual team members? Our conclusion: Even though our intentions may be similar when working face-to-face and virtually, how we go about initiating and cultivating stakeholder relationships can be very different. Here are a few tips we came up with for engaging stakeholders virtually, for projects that really matter. More...

How to Tilt the Work-Life Balance in Your Favor in a 24x7 World
Is achieving "work-life balance" really possible in an always-on, constantly connected world? When telecommuting and flextime were introduced, the thinking was that busy professionals could adjust their working hours to accommodate other important aspects of their lives. ("It's great—I can coach my kids' soccer games and then hop onto my late-night con calls.") More...

Successful Virtual Collaboration Takes a Lot More Than Just the Right Tools

This article explores what it takes for people to use virtual collaboration tools to their fullest advantage, and conditions need to be in place to foster smarter adoption. Spoiler alert: the technology is the least relevant aspect in the mix. More...

Making Complex Decisions Virtually Without (Much) Pain
Let's face it. We've all made some pretty poor decisions. Sometimes it's because we feel we have to keep moving, in any direction. Other times we just don't want to have to think too hard, so we make the choice that requires the least scrutiny. More...

Virtual Meetings: Design for Worst-Case Scenarios for Best Outcomes
Normally, I ascribe to the 80/20 rule when it comes to planning meetings or designing training. That is, I know I can't possibly predict every single situation that might arise, so I do my best to anticipate what I think will happen 80% of the time for 80% of the participants. More...

For High Impact Global Communications, One Size Never Fits All
This article examines steps that any change leader needs to take in creating and implementing a global communications plan designed to resonate with those most affected by the change. More...

Building Trust Within Virtual Teams: Small Steps Add Up

When we ask clients to name the toughest challenge associated with leading virtual teams, there is one answer that always pops to the top of the list: Building trust. Or in some cases, it's re-building trust. More...

How To Design a Distraction-Proof Meeting
We try to pay more attention during virtual meetings. We really do! But then something diverts our attention (it doesn't take much!) and we find ourselves tuning out, despite our best intentions. More...

Speed Up Time to Successful Transitions by Engaging Your Real Influencers
Let's face it. If you want people to adopt something new, an email from a C-level executive won't do the trick. Neither will a snazzy project web site or a company-wide meeting. More...

Navigating Through the Invisible Tripwires that Cross Up Global Virtual Teams
Some aspects of teamwork tend to suffer more due to cultural differences that are ignored or dismissed. In this article, I highlight some of those aspects which, if successfully addressed, can catapult a global virtual team forward surprisingly fast, once they get through the tough but necessary conversations. More...

Holding Back: A Counter-Intuitive Approach for Virtual Leaders
When they first join a new team, members tend to be energized, motivated, and eager to learn the ropes. Many take pride in finding the information and resources they need to tackle their new assignments and may need just a bit of guidance to keep moving in the right direction. More...

Building Virtual Relationships, One Conversation at a Time
Can you build a trusting relationship when you've never had an actual conversation? (And no, IM, email, text, Twitter and blog "conversations" don't count!) While it may be possible, it's pretty unlikely. More...

Leading vs. Managing Remote Teams
As more organizations work virtually, managers of traditional work teams are tapped to lead geographically dispersed teams. When thrust into this unfamiliar territory, many managers flounder, especially those who rely on command-and-control tactics to get work done across locations, functions, cultures and time zones.

Cultivating Trust from Afar
Today's astonishing economic situation affects virtually every working individual around the globe. As organizations are forced to make drastic cuts and other difficult changes to remain viable, the need for competent, credible, trustworthy leaders has never been greater. More...

How “24x7 Connectivity” Prevents Real Connections
I see more people—colleagues, family and friend—abandon in-person interaction in favor of electronic communications. While it might be more efficient, expedient and less “messy” at times, I am concerned about what this trend will mean to our inclination and ability to have the kind of conversations that foster deep connections. More...

The Keys to Intergenerational Harmony
With multiple generations working side by side for several years now, much has been written about the key differences that affect the ability of multigenerational teams to collaborate successfully. Some organizations have taken this advice to heart and work to consciously reflect these differences when it comes to selecting and cultivating teams. 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.