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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Embracing Digital Transformation: Advice from the Big Guns

I’ve come across a few good resources that will be helpful as you navigate your own Digital Transformation journey. More on this in the coming months, but in the meantime:

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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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IT Professionals Should Watch Their Language

When someone’s job description is “firefighter,” you know exactly how they can help you. If your house is on fire, they will put it out. We don’t call a firefighter a “long hose operator.” That may be technically accurate, but incomplete and unclear to those of us outside the fire station.

Naming conventions based on consumption make so much more sense than those based on operational or technical specs.

IT professionals want to be recognized for creating business value. Yet too often they are referred to as people who merely provide technology. It’s frustrating. To understand the disconnect, consider how IT professionals talk about themselves and their projects. Common IT titles include software development lead, SAP project manager, or something else referencing their specialty. A lot of project names I see include “cloud migration,” “system integration,” or “upgrade.” If you verbalize what you do through technology, you will be perceived as a technology-centered person.

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PM Pointers: Managing Superstars

Part 5 in our 5-part Managing Needy Team Members series.

As project managers, we often run into team members that require a great deal of attention. In an opening post for this series, we discussed a general approach to dealing with resources that need TLC. This post offers techniques for managing superstars, who are often in need of TLC but it is not as apparent.

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PM Pointers: Managing a Team Member with a Personal Agenda

Part 4 in our 5-part Managing Needy Team Members series.

As project managers, we often run into team members that require a great deal of attention. In an opening post for this series, we discussed a general approach to dealing with resources that need TLC. This post offers techniques for getting the most output out of folks who see the project as a way to achieve a personal agenda. In one way or another, these team members have no interest in doing what is best for the team, but rather what is best for themselves.

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PM Pointers: Managing a Team Member with Personal Issues

Part 3 in our 5-part Managing Needy Team Members series.

As project managers, we often run into team members that require a great deal of attention. In an opening post for this series, we discussed a general approach to dealing with resources that need TLC. This post offers techniques for getting the most output out of folks who have personal circumstances that are objectively more critical to them than work.

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PM Pointers: Managing a Team Member Who is Coasting

Part 2 in our 5-part Managing Needy Team Members series.

As project managers, we often run into team members who require a great deal of attention. In an opening post for this series, we discussed a general approach to dealing with resources that need TLC. This post offers techniques for getting the most output from folks who lost interest in work because they expect to exit soon.

Coasters Need TLC, Too

Some project team members know their days of working for the company are counted. Some are coasting towards retirement. Some know their jobs will likely go away when the project is complete. Typically, they just stop trying. Without emotional buy-in, these team members are often more harmful than they are helpful.

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IT Must Sacrifice Pride of Ownership for Innovation’s Sake

IT often has a complex from being considered a non-strategic business unit, or a necessary evil. In response, many IT professionals try to prove the cynics wrong. They think, “We’ll show them….”, and put a lot of pressure on themselves to come up with game-changing ideas. This overcompensating mindset within IT is counterproductive.

Every time I attend an IT conference I visit technology vendors’ booths. Vendors have gotten really elaborate with their sales techniques. Many offer ROI templates or business case building tools to help IT professionals demonstrate the value of purchasing one product or another. These vendors are enabling the exact behavior that is so self-detrimental.

Let’s admit it: ideas born in IT have little chance of securing participation from the business, let alone budget for developing a prototype. IT-generated innovations don’t get much support because they tend to be technology-based.

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