No More BIG BANGS

May 8th, 2007

No matter what type of change you are responsible for in your organisation, business processes, training, IT, M & A, R & D, HR, you will have seen a big bang project go wrong.  The most spectacular ones are always IT of course and, as an ex-IT Project Manager, I have to own up to a couple of dropped ones…

I have long thought that big bang projects are inappropriate for the enterprise.  They always end up costing more than planned, delivering less than planned, and causing more disruption than planned.  They also take so long to deliver that there is a very serious risk that by the time they are implemented, the results are no longer relevant or useful.

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SOA – A Good Idea Badly Implemented?

May 7th, 2007

The second on my short series of posts reflecting on a recent discussion with Clive Longbottom of Quocirca.

We discussed the success (or otherwise) of SOA implementations.  Now, I must be honest, I am not aware of a single shining example of SOA excellence in the enterprise, but I had presumed the reason was the limited range of industries I come across.  For example, most banks, telecoms, utilities, retailers and the like are so monolithic, the cost of embarking on an enterprise wide SOA initiative wouldn’t get past even the most naiive of capital expenditure committees.  So I have read vendors’ press releases about successful SOA implementations and taken them at face value.

Clive’s view, however, stopped me in my tracks.  He reckoned most SOA “experiments” were nothing more than web services connected together in a point to point architecture!  Picture my face with a look of incredulity on it – no I am more incredulous than that!  I may be dumb but isn’t loose coupling the whole point of SOA?

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The Wallet of the Future

May 4th, 2007

I was reading this finextra.com article about Barclaycard and Oyster preparing for the launch of the small payments card in the UK (in fact only in London).

Although, as a Barclays customer, and Oyster Card holder, this will mean one less card for my wallet, its only a tiny, rather limp step in the direction of the contactless payments of the future.

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IT vs The Business – the Final Countdown?

May 3rd, 2007

Part of my day job involves briefing industry analysts.  They don’t generally get much good press in the blogosphere.  Vendors pay them to write “independent” reports and buyers think that their reports are 100% biased even though they pay for the privilege of reading them.  Many have told of a theory that the various industry analysis charts (e.g. Magic Quadrants) being scored on the level of vendor contribution.

I can’t afford to take sides in this debate.  More precisely, Blue Prism can’t afford to pay any analysts so I don’t actually know the truth.  So our briefings tend to be a bit one way and the analysts rarely reveal any “trade secrets” to me, and we only get coverage if we happen to hit them exactly when they are particularly interested in our area (in fairness that does happen).

Anyway, whatever your views of the analyst community and there are some grey ones, this week I was very pleased to meet one guy who was very open, very helpful and offered some free insights into industry trends.

This is the first of a small number of small posts inspired by my meeting with Clive Longbottom of Quo Circa who was even kind enough to permit me to post his thoughts (so no doubt he will comment if I misrepresent him!).

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Are Offshoring and Outsourcing Different?

April 30th, 2007

An exchange of blog comments has found me and Bill in agreement yet again.  Management’s sole reason for outsourcing is to save cost.  Period.  (Or may I say “full stop” depending on which side of the Atlantic you are?).

However, outsourcing does not necessarily prevent co-location (outsourced staff can remain on your site), so in theory at least, using agile software development is possible.

But what about corporate allegiances?  Once they were part of your organisation.  Now outsourced staff, at some point post-contract (and it can take a while) have to go native and support the outsourcers corporate objectives – which include making money out of the client.  This doesn’t sound very compatible with creating mutual respect between business and IT and it especially doesn’t sound like an environment conducive to delivering a high quality solution that meets business needs.

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It’s The Enterprise, Stupid!

April 24th, 2007

Once again I find myself in total agreement with Bill Barr in that businesses want Agile Enterprise Architecture, not Agile Enterprise Architecture.  In other words, what the business cares about is having an agile enterprise, not whether you used an agile process to deliver.

That is not to say that agile processes have no merit.  It’s a bit like using PRINCE2*, for example as a project methodology.  It may help the project team, but looking back, no business cares about the how.  They are only interested in what you deliver.

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Tesco IT Maturity

April 20th, 2007

I like reading CIO interviews and this one with Colin Cobain was particularly interesting.

Tesco has its knockers, for example see www.tescopoly.org, but you have to admire its business model and its success.

It looks like IT has played a central role in this.

Two themes from the interview leapt out and punched me in the face.  Read the rest of this entry »

British Gas Migration Nightmare

April 20th, 2007

Lest anyone had forgotten how centrally important IT systems are to an enterprise then this story from the BBC website should serve as a good reminder.

Implementing a new mission critical system is never easy, especially if it involves a significant data migration.

I just hope that British Gas went for a Big Bang changeover.  If they did, then probably the mess will get mopped up quite quickly.  In fact the level of damage could have been worse for such a major exercise.

However, if this is the start of phased migration then there are many months of misery to come for the call centre people.

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Offshoring Business Processes

April 20th, 2007

Last year Blue Prism sponsored some research into off-shoring business processes, front office processes – contact centres.

The shocking (not) conclusion was that Young People Don’t Trust Offshoring.

Blue Prism cartoon

It’s very clear that customers do not like off-shored services so why do it?

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Offshoring Software Development

April 19th, 2007

I read a lot of IT blogs and many of them bemoan the off-shoring of software development to India and other “low cost” locations.

I’ve seen very few successful off-shoring experiments.  At Blue Prism we do not off-shore any software development.  We have a very small team who produce 5 times the quantity of code that a much larger team could produce and it’s top quality too.

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