Archives for Technology

Agile Application of User Stories

User stories are a powerful way to enable requirements that are at once understandable by both the user community and the people who will develop the IT systems. They can be a powerful tool for the analyst to build that elusive bridge between the business and IT. At once user stories have to be supported by the business user community, and directly enable IT people to develop associated code, architecture, and/or integrations.

User stories are important, and to get the most from them, it is helpful to recognize the inter-relationship of user roles to the desired capabilities to the targeted system features. It is helpful to recognize the connection and interplay between these Agile constructs.  userstoryThe more complex the business challenge, the more important and helpful it is to start the development of user stories with this agile context in mind.  There will probably not be a concise and consistent alignment across them at first, but it is suggested (for the sake of value, productivity, etc.), that it should be developed in the background by the analyst. On a practical basis, the alignment is strengthened iteratively (you will experience a productive give-and-take across them), so keep this context in mind all along the way. In the end this simple structure will have helped everybody.

Some Important IT Lessons

At the end of the year we take personal inventory; looking back and ahead, seeking to influence our destinies. Things are never perfect; there’s always room to improve. For me on a professional basis, part of that this year is refreshing my LinkedIn profile, essentially taking it a little more seriously. I looked around and saw some good articles on how to get the best out of LinkedIn, good ideas on what is working. One point that was made was that it is necessary to include, within your LinkedIn summary section, what you have learned. I gave it thought and came up with this for mine…

I learned early on that IT is vital yet rarely the first consideration. I have learned the value and importance of always seeking the truth, of respecting and building on individuals to propel the good of the whole, and of applying the right blend of human, process, and supporting technology factors. I have learned to simplify without losing the path to performance, and to take a principled, knowledge-based approach to the treatment of organizational issues. These learning experiences have enabled me to introduce and implement critical new processes, and to influence company cultures and business models – all of which assumes an understanding of both the applicable technology and the intricacies of navigating across organizational boundaries. I have learned to do this surgically, balancing systems/capabilities against opportunities, risks, and desired outcomes.

BPM is Maturing as Part of the Business Performance Environment

TAKEAWAY: BPM has demonstrated mixed success and continues to  get attention.  Many see BPM playing a central role in handling the ongoing data explosion, facilitating business transformations, and enabling performance in the context of increasing complexity.

Business process management (BPM) has been around long enough that there are lessons-learned, best practices, and improvements to the tool sets themselves. BPM tools are sometimes packaged as a suite (BPMS) and are often referenced as a providing a BPM platform. Progressive BPM casts a wide shadow. 

BPM in its current form is directly embedded with the management of the business, and the underlying processes and data.  Not everyone will be able to accept such an influential view. It’s implications are far reaching. In fact there is an emerging BPM maturity model which can, for those who respect process and are ready to improve, provide insights into each of these managed elements and the associated at-large capabilities that can be achieved. It seems that, in the end, BPM will be tightly related to the fundamental industry-shaping mega-shift away from transaction based client-server systems toward big data and the cloud. In the brave new world, it might very well be that you cannot optimize without BPM, that big data might not be actionable without it (with more likelihood that those actions will be strong analytics and event handling). BPM is here to stay; it is increasing adopted and refined by leaders.

Taking the Business Performance Bridge

TAKEAWAY: One way to facilitate business performance is to intervene right at the hand-off between strategy and execution. New energy and approaches are being applied at this point of hand-off, using it as a bridge  to promote change, simplify, and increase diligence.

In the war of business, there’s a vital bridge between strategy and execution. This is the bridge where companies move from ideas to reality, and the battle fought here often determines the outcome of the war. You need to take this bridge, maintain it and use it to your advantage. However, many companies fail to accomplish the mission. Too many don’t see the battle line, or take it for granted, or don’t take the required deliberate steps.

It’s an up hill battle if direction has been less than clear or incomplete, multiple plans are in play, and the troops are looking for clarity or even find themselves at odds with each other (friendly fire). With supportive leadership and a meaningful strategy and objectives that are expected to drive behaviors and performance, what can a company do to take the bridge, to bring the strategy to life and perform as desired?

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