agile adoption - changing shapes

How Amica Reshaped Its IT Processes: An Agile Adoption Case Study

Rhode Island-based Amica Insurance provides auto, home and life insurance nationwide and employs more than 3,800 people in 44 offices across the U.S.

Amica was looking to upgrade its web and mobile applications. To reach its goal, the IT team established a digital program and decided to pilot an Agile SDLC framework for rapid and iterative delivery of customer value.

The Agile implementation worked for Amica because the organization from top to bottom accepted a bit of discomfort in the short-term to give the change effort a chance. Management agreed to support decisions made on the front line. Product owners, SMEs, and developers were game to try new approaches and grew professionally. In return, they achieved a level of productivity and speed they had not seen before. Here’s how we helped.

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A Software Developer Makes a Great Executive Advisor

A Software Developer Makes a Great Executive Advisor

When executives don’t see the outcomes they expect from a technology, they often bring in external help to assess the situation and propose a get-well plan. We have all been a part of those meetings where someone says: Enough is enough! We keep discussing the same issues over and over, but the answer is not in this room. Let’s ask someone outside of this room for an independent opinion.

Often, it’s a management consultant who gets the call for help. But, for most IT issues, executives also need to talk to software developers for their advice and perspective.

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Every Business Is Becoming Digital. Are You Keeping Pace?

Author and professor Venkat Venkatraman recently spoke to the SIM Boston chapter about how IT leaders within established companies can recognize and respond to digital shifts.

The observations and advice that Venkatraman offers in his book The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology are practical and prophetic at the same time. He covers many valuable concepts including the digitization of business models (products, services, and processes), the future of digital (based on the trajectory of bandwidth, connectivity, and computational power), and how to create and capture value (through scale, scope, and speed).

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Improving Delivery Through Empowerment: 4 Steps to Empower an Agile Team

Your company is moving to Agile from waterfall, and you want to ensure a smooth transformation that keeps projects healthy. As a scrum master working to transform a traditional waterfall SDLC process into an Agile one, I have learned a few pointers when navigating this transformation. An important concept to keep in mind during this transformation is empowerment.

One of Agile’s core tenets is the value of “individuals and interactions” over “processes and tools”. The idea is to foster a high-velocity decision making process, which hinges on open and honest communication in a co-located environment. However, implementing this change can be very difficult for team members who have previously worked on waterfall projects. You may find employees reluctant to volunteer for work, or hesitant to take on new challenges. Why is this so?

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downward spiral

When New Technology Causes Productivity to Plummet

Technology is expected to enhance productivity

Most business cases for technology investments include “productivity gains.” Even when no formal business case is created or communicated, users, managers, and executives implicitly expect that new technology will make their lives better.

However, many organizations spend money on technology as if it were a lottery ticket—hoping they will win. We could consider technology investments to be calculated risks, but, unfortunately, that just doesn’t seem to be the case. Most investments in tech turn into mechanical implementation projects that result in more complaints than compliments.

The most common complaint about technology from the user community is that it kills productivity, exactly the KPI it aims to improve. There are two reasons:

  1. Underutilization
  2. Poor maintenance and support

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The Cost of Quality

Every organization thinks about the quality of the goods and services they produce. After all, their name is on the line. Not all companies, however, pay attention to the money they’re spending to reach that level of quality. On average, a company’s total cost of quality is equal to about 25% of their sales. Keep in mind this is only an average—some spend as much as 40-50%. These big spenders are the ones who can benefit most from tracking their cost of quality.

IT departments are increasingly responsible for not only the quality of internal IT services and projects, but also for customer-facing deliverables. Digital transformations are sweeping across businesses in all industries, heightening the need for IT leaders to understand, analyze, and track this key metric.

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Improving Data Quality: The 3 Core Functions of a Data Cleanse

In previous posts, we established that data needs to be clean in order for organizations to make sound decisions, and we introduced a 5-part framework for sustaining data quality.

Once an organization has determined the critical pieces of data, and established a governance process around it, now it is time to improve the quality of data.

Data cleansing is an expensive and time-consuming process.

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Before attempting any clean up, analyze and quantify the quality issues that you are trying to address. For example, are there any fields that are null but should have a value? Are data types enforced (only numbers in an “integer” type field, etc.)? Are values within an expected range? Is there conflicting information?

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How to Prioritize IT Initiatives Without Losing Friends: 5 Success Factors

A Black-and-White Prioritization Process: Quick and Uncomplicated

First, a common definition of success: IT initiative prioritization is a mechanism to calendarize and budgetize investments in IT, which is agreed upon by all stakeholders. This is a stretch goal for most organizations. In fact, some may argue that achieving a consensus among all stakeholders is not possible. But the only way to increase IT’s effectiveness is to drive consensus on how to use limited resources to achieve the most critical outcomes.

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