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Real-Time Analytics Conference on January 29, 2015 in London, England

E&P Information and Data Management on February 3-4, 2015 in London, UK

SPTechCon on February 8-11, 2015 in Austin, Texas

Disaster Management 2015 on February 10-11, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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

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

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.

Software Process and Measurement Cast number 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

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.

Project Health Assessment Process

Paul Royer

Most organizations and experienced, competent project managers are aware of the importance of beginning a project "correctly." But what is "correctly," and how is it determined? Certainly a predefined project management methodology with plenty of templates and a project management office to support them are needed, but are they alone sufficient? Even in high-maturity project organizations, too many projects get into difficulty and eventually fail.

A project health assessment is not a maturity assessment. Many of the critical success factor (CSF) assessment questions may be similar, but its purpose is to ensure an individual project's success, not to analyze and improve the project delivery capability of the organization. Conversely, if an organization experiences repeated project failures or situations requiring health assessments to put corrective actions in place, it would be wise to consider a project management maturity assessment. Such an assessment will establish a baseline for continuous organizational improvement in its capability to deliver successful projects.

Establishing a Governance Model for Strategic Portfolio Management

J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP, CSM, PfMP

The essence of portfolio management is decision making. The organization, through its key executives, needs to decide what projects, programs, and other initiatives to invest in, delay, defer, terminate, change, or modify to meet its strategic objectives. It needs to make these decisions in accordance with a structured and systematic set of rules and criteria so that they are made rationally and logically, based on data and not exclusively on "gut feel." Most importantly, portfolio decisions must be made with due deliberate speed to take advantage of market-moving news and events. To do so requires a streamlined, customized approach, known as Portfolio Governance Management that works with, and not fights against, the culture and best interests of the organization.

Ready Technology Trends

Stephen J. Andriole

It is hard to imagine anyone handing out heavy Wintel monsters to employees in five years. Devices will get smaller, faster, and smarter—finally killing off the "fat clients" of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Wikis, blogs, mash-ups, social networks, RSS filters, crowdsourcing, virtual worlds, automated pricing, and intelligent supply chains will define the future. Many companies, even the largest ones, will move toward open-source software solutions. Business intelligence (BI) is a strategic investment everyone will make. The era of fixed-location computing is over, and just about everyone is already renting software over the Web. Ultimately, we will all move to the cloud. How will these and related trends define our technology future?

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

IT Infrastructure

Why Should the IT Helpdesk be Responsible for Authorizations?

Application Selection Dictates Hardware Selection

Maintenance in the Digital World

The Importance of Data and Storage

The Disk Drive: The Fundamental Building Block of Enterprise Storage

Evolving Open Source License Management Processes

Reducing Resource Use

Security for the Enterprise Mobile Device Life Cycle

Evolution of Mobile Threats

Licensing Cloud Resources and Services

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


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

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

Oracle's Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

Big Data and Business Analytics

Introduction to the Big Data Era

Big Data Building Blocks to Decision Support

Mining and Analytics in E-Commerce

Healthcare BYOD: What Can Go Wrong?

The Need for a Common Vision

Why Business Analytics?

Process and Productivity

Measuring the Effects of Process Improvement on Performance

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

Lean Thinking

What Are Lean, a Lean and Agile Organization, and Lean and Agile IT?

IT Value Streams and Cultural Silos

Lean IT in a Hospital

Learn What to Improve and Why

What Does Lean Bring to the Table?

Policy: A Key Element in the Software Engineering Process


Improving IT Performance with
Books from Auerbach

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January 27, 2015. Johanna Rothman. Seven Tips for Improving Your Geographically Distributed Agile Team (At Least!).

January 28, 2015. John Sutherland. The 21st Century Disruptive Leader: Profiting in the Exponential Age.

January 29, 2015. Jana Axline. Turning the Titanic.

February 3, 2015. David Herron. Game On: How Gamers Will Impact the Future of Business.

February 4, 2015. David Barrett. Connect! And Stay Connected: Managing your Professional and Personal Relationships.

February 5, 2015. Chris Armstrong. Architecture Value Chain and Capability Model.

February 10, 2015. Deborah Hertig. The Socially Emerging Project Manager: High Impact Interpersonal Skills, Their Attributes and Using Them to Achieve Success.

February 11, 2014. Jim Stewart. Increasing Project Manager Maturity in Your Organization by Using Assessments.

February 12, 2015. Susan Parente. The Art of Agile Risk Management.


Improving Your Own IT Performance
Articles by Nancy Settle-Murphy

Seven Ways to Keep Stakeholders Close in a Virtual World

Maybe it’s a complete system replacement, a complicated reporting structure or a new business process. Whatever the change your organization is rolling out, dozens (if not thousands) of lives may be upended. You know that to make sure everything goes smoothly, you must reach out to those most affected by the change. Trouble is, most of the stakeholders who can help make this project a stunning success (or an abject failure) work far away.

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...

Breaking the Wall of Silence in a Virtual World
If you have ever led a virtual meeting, this scenario is familiar: You pose a brilliant provocative question, hoping to trigger a flurry of insightful responses. And instead, you hear….Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. (Apart from crickets, that is.) So what’s your next step? Do you ask the same question again, louder? Beg people to stop multitasking and pay attention? Give up and go onto the next question (which more than likely will generate the same lack of response)? Or perhaps you move to an early close of the meeting, due to an obvious lack of interest. More...

Seven Tips for Avoiding Another Epic Project Failure
I really hate it when one of my projects doesn't exactly go as planned. Happily, this rarely happens, so when it does, I tend to obsess over it, replaying the events ad infinitum. When a recent project seemed to fall short of expectations, I devoted countless hours (okay, maybe a few days) to understanding what went wrong so that I could avoid similar problems in the future. 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...

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.