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

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

Oil and Gas Cyber Security North America on May 13-14, 2015 in Houston, Texas

The Internet of Things: Understanding the Value Chain on May 14, 2015 in Chicago

Data Analytics: Business Intelligence (Analytics) and the Roles of Predictive Analytics and Real-Time Analytics on May 14, 2015 in Chicago

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

Agile Development, Better Software, & DevOps West Conferences on June 7-12, 2015 in Las Vegas

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

SPTechCon Developer Days on June 24-26, 2015 in Burlingame, California

a href="https://www.andevcon.com" target="blank"> AnDevCon on July 29-31, 2-15 in Boston

SPaMCAST 336 features an interview with Yves Hanoulle, builder of community builders. He talks about collaboration, coaching retreats and the future of Agile. He is an Agile thought leader among thought leaders and he shares his wisdom the Software Process and Measurement Cast listeners.

SPaMCAST 330 features an interview with Anthony Mersino, author of Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers and the newly published Agile Project Management. Mersino talked about agile, coaching and organizational change.

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

Responsibility for Defect Support

Gay Gordon-Byrne

Understanding which parts of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) organization are responsible for which types of defects allows end users to craft more equitable and productive service agreements. The sales force from the OEM is unlikely to be prepared to delve into this issue and may easily provide misleading or incomplete details. Nor are all OEMs straightforward with buyers as to which types of defects are covered regardless of warranty status, such as "recalls" in the auto industry, or those that are only available within the post-warranty maintenance agreement as a separate contract.

Experience tells us that the vast majority of calls for help from users to help desks are not hardware failures or software failures. Actual hardware problems are a tiny fraction, certainly less than 10%, of all calls for help. Of the remaining 90% of calls, at least 40% are for user problems such as settings or passwords. That leaves 50% for software problems that are tricky to diagnose and more difficult to fix.

Why Risk Management?

Carl L. Pritchard

When institutionalizing risk management in an organization, there is inevitably a dread of "analysis paralysis," the fear that so much time will be spent examining concerns and potential problems that none of them is ever resolved. There is also anxiety with regard to administrative overburden. Project managers are frequently among the busiest people in an organization. They are apprehensive that they will have to do even more, and risk management is just one more administrative function they don't have time for.

As a result, risk sometimes becomes a secondary issue. In organizations where success is the norm and failure is a rarity, risk management is relegated to obscurity in the hope that project managers will be able to handle project issues and problems as they occur. Nevertheless, these organizations should embrace risk management. Risk remains a secondary issue only as long as an organization's luck holds out or until a grand opportunity is missed. Sooner or later, bad things happen to good projects, and a project manager without a clear strategy will eventually pay a price. Regardless of whether calculated in terms of lost resources, a blown schedule, or a budget over run, the repercussions of such failure fall directly on the project manager.

Five Principles of Building Strong Business Relationships

Amy Baugh

There are five important principles in growing business relationships:

  • Do what you say you are going to do
  • Try to make sure there are no surprises
  • Create a mutually beneficial business relationship
  • Remember that executives and customers are people, too
  • Always show respect

This article reviews each of these principles in greater detail, emphasizing why each principle is important and providing real-life examples.

A Reality Check for Project Managers

Lynda Bourne

The approach of Phillips (2014) implies that the project manager must assume the "heroic" role of driving performance within the project through communication design and observations of behavior that can then be used to drive greater efficiency. This is not entirely in accord with the underlying principle of the perfect communication ecosystem that project success is everybody's business, but it does reflect the philosophy of modern (traditional project) management.

Bergstrand (2009) offered a different view of the effect of project and communication design on project outcomes. He stated that projects are designed to fail when traditional processes of training, selection, and assignment of project team members (and presumably project managers) are used. Much of the training and project processes that are described in the traditional project management BOKs still owe their origins to methods designed by Frederick Taylor in the early 1900s that were developed for the industrial age. These methods with their focus on development and updating project artifacts, numbers, and static plans may have been useful for building bridges or operating an assembly line but ignore the complexity of relationships with people, who have always been the major causes of uncertainty (Phillips, 2014) and the main factors of risk (Bourne, 2012) in any organization or project.

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

IT Infrastructure

Implementing a Green and Virtual Data Center

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

Project Management

Project Health Assessment Process

Establishing a Governance Model for Strategic Portfolio Management

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

The Five Leadership Principles


Electric Energy and Applicable Metrics

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

The Need for a Common Vision

Why Business Analytics?

Building Trust across Boundaries

Communicating across Cultures

Social Teams and Complexity

Understanding Leadership

Leadership, Likeability, and Life

Process and Productivity

Lean Management

What Is Six Sigma?

Software Design Challenges

Software Integration

How to Avoid Expectation Collisions

Resource Allocation and the Law of Diminishing Returns

Defining Processes

Process Engineering to Build in Quality and Drive out Waste


Improving IT Performance with
Books from Auerbach

Save 25% when you order these books at CRC Press.com. Use promo code AWP20 at checkout.

Have an idea for a book?

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


April 21, 2015. Bill Dow. Project Communications: A Project Manager's Guide to Doing it Right!

April 22, 2015. Susanne Madsen. 7 Keys to Transformation from Project Manager to Project Leader.

April 23, 2015. Traci Duez. 5 Steps to Using Your Best Thinking to Go ALL-IN.

April 28, 2015. Linda Rising. Organizational Change Myths and Patterns for Evangelists.

April 29, 2015. Christof Ebert. Product Management Essentials.

April 30, 2015. Jutta Eckstein. Increasing Productivity: Uncovering Costs of Delay.

May 5, 2015. Hasnain Rizvi. Agile for Non-Software Projects.

May 6, 2015. Arlene Minkiewicz. BYOD and the Implications for IT.

May 7, 2015. Don Estes. Solving the Requirements Problem in Legacy Modernization.

May 12, 2015. Ian Sharpe. Billion Dollar Win: Managing Challenging Stakeholders by Shifting the Context.

May 13, 2015. Scott Fabel. The ITIL Value Proposition.

May 14, 2015. Mike Overly. Avoiding Pitfalls in Mobile App Development.

May 19, 2015. Mike Felluca. IT Performance Improvement: Successfully Managing the Big Three!



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Improving Your Own IT Performance
Articles by Nancy Settle-Murphy

Using Technology to Transcend Cultural Barriers

“I followed every best practice about running great virtual meetings, and bam! The whole thing still blew up in my face, and I have no idea why!”

My client Jim, a senior leader for a F500 oil company, left this panic-stricken voicemail right after his kick-off meeting to launch a major new global project. I was taken aback, since Jim had proven himself to be a reasonably competent meeting leader. Once we spoke, however, it didn’t take long to figure out what had gone wrong. Coming up with a sustainable remedy, however, took quite a bit more time. More...

How to Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours

Getting your group together and laying down plans for the next 12 months sounds like a good idea in theory, but it can be near impossible to persuade people to hunker down in a meeting room for a couple of days when their “day jobs” are so demanding. With the “The Magic Wall,” a group process, you just need to gather people in one room for about two hours to get the equivalent of a couple of days’ worth of planning work done. The Magic Wall process can be used in a variety of situations where people need to come together to brainstorm ideas, map out activities, or agree on priorities, all in a compressed period of time. More...

Untangle Your Virtual Team with the 10 Most-Needed Norms
Precious few virtual teams have explicit team norms, even for aspects of teamwork where the absence of shared norms can really trip a team up. Excuses include: "When would we have time to talk this through?" "Everyone pretty much knows how we need to work." "We're too busy." And my favorite: "It's too late to go backwards." In this article, I provide 10 "best practices" norms that can do the most to save time, reduce frustration and boost productivity of virtual teams. These examples include specific actions that can support each one. For this piece, I touch on virtual meetings, decision-making, the use of email, shared documents and scheduling, areas for which a lack of explicit norms can cause especially thorny problems for virtual teams. More...

How Virtual Leaders Can Help Others Thrive in a World of Complexity
According to Yves Morieux of the Boston Consulting Group, author of a recent Harvard Business Review article, "Smart Rules: Six Ways to Get People to Solve Problems Without You," the number of procedures, layers, interface structures, and coordination bodies have ballooned to 50-350% over the past 15 years, in a recent study of 100 U.S. and European companies. So with all of this analysis, tracking, reporting and coordinating, how do leaders ever focus on the "real work" that needs to get done. More...

Balance Innovation and Expediency for a Supercharged Team
What's getting lost in our single-minded quest for uber-efficiency is the relative luxury of idle thought, where we take the time to line our gray matter with the seeds of half-formed ideas which, with a little bit of nurturing, can spawn big innovations. To sustain competitive advantage, organizations have to innovate constantly. Easier said than done. That's because thinking creatively takes time and focus, two commodities that are in short supply. More...

When Your Team Is About To Implode, Watch for Signs and Act Fast!
This wasn't just any collapse. This was a whirling vortex, downward spiral, free-fall-at-a-thousand-miles-an-hour. The kind that you never want to open if you're a Boston Red Sox fan. Yes, baseball is only a game and the Red Sox are just an overpaid, underperforming group of players who ceaselessly inflict pain on their sports fans, 2004 and 2007 notwithstanding. Notice, that I did not refer to the 2011 Red Sox as a team. They were a collection of individuals who each seemed to play by his own set of rules and work toward his own goals. In trying to salvage something positive about my home team's shocking demise, I wanted to get a better grip on how and why talented, skilled players can suddenly stumble into oblivion. Here's a checklist of contributing factors, drawn from my client experiences, as well a little web searching. More...

How to Disengage Your Virtual Team in 10 Easy Steps
I'm in the midst of rolling out a new virtual leadership series for a client. We start every series by exploring the three building blocks of successful virtual team leadership (literally, the ABC's): Accelerating Trust, Building Social Capital and Creating a Level Playing Field. One major challenge comes up in every conversation: How to keep virtual team members engaged, enthusiastic, motivated and energized? Rather than writing a bunch of tips to help you engage virtual team members, I thought I'd flip it around and give you tips for disengaging your virtual team members. After all, we can all do with a little fun now and then! More...

Talk Trumps Text for Harnessing Hidden Know-How
Let's say your team, which is scattered across several locations, has to produce a complex, time-consuming proposal, with little time to spare. The team scours the web for relevant content, and they discover that others in your organization have tackled similar proposals. How can they mine this hidden know-how, when they are running out of time, and don't know exactly what to ask, of whom, or how? More...

Overcoming Time and Distance to Stay Connected, Engaged, and Energized
In a world where what was blindly fast is now excruciatingly slow, what was private is now all-too-public, and where meaningful discussions have given way to a stream of 140-character exchanges, a feeling of disconnection has become rampant across the workplace. More...

Essentials for Great Collaboration
As a successful leader of virtual teams, you know you have what it takes to keep the team motivated and focused. Choosing the best combination of tools to enable this team to collaborate and communicate in lockstep—that's your greatest challenge. Fortunately, your company has invested heavily in collaboration tools over the last few years. If anything, your options feel overwhelming. Your team needs to determine which tools will work best, under what conditions, to achieve these ambitious goals, from afar. 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.