giu 09

Priorities in Infrastructure management

I recently took over on the Infrastructure team, I had to admit, the complexity was much higher than expected. In any case I worked out some priorities, which I think may apply in any situation Here’s the list:

  • Asset management: You need to know where you sit. Assets are the basic blocks of anti IT infrastructure. A correct asset management is needed in order monitor, track and plan for the infrastructure. Once the list is clear and it is clear what software runs on a platform, and how various groups use it, then it will easy a service monitoring and a proactive approach towards the business. Needless to say asset management is vital for your finance department, as usually the highest part of the budget comes out from this voice.
  • Service monitoring: Once you know your asset, you need to monitor what’s happening at each client, as well as working on the tasks required to maintain the right level of service. A service manager is usually needed to perform this task, as it requires a full dedicated manager with both technical and soft skills, in order to handle critical situation with the costumers.
  • Change management: Activities in this process area involve managing and implementing all changes in applications and hardware. This area is the core of the daily work. A strong process need to be in place in order to handle every aspect linked to a change in production (documentation, service management, asset management…)
  • Security and compliance: In this area there are two families of activities the first is securing the whole IT asset against external threats (which means setting up a serious patch management and configuration management, as well working in strict contact with the Information Security dept) and the second setting up a strong authentication process in order to manage how users access to IT facilities.
  • Governance: Governance is the glue that puts all the pieces explained up together. Governance is related mainly to budget management as well as to following a correct strategy. Compliance to industry and government regulations (like Sarbanes-Oxley, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and Payment Card Industry Security Standards) is also a relevant process within the governance.
apr 25

IT Pillars for next years banking strategy

In IT, it is always difficult to develop a long lasting perspective. Cloud computing and the sudden explosion of mobile technologies are an example. Only 5 years ago they both were even not on the agenda of the big players, while SOA seemed to be the solution to any problem.

Given this, in order to develop a good strategy, there are, in my opinion, a few pillars, independent of any direction IT could take, that need to be considered:

  • It will be vital to increase the costumer centricity by leveraging on higher involvement and closer relationship. I don’t think every bank should behave like a social network, but now the relationship company-costumer in many cases looks still the old fashioned one, while clients are much more mature than the actual offer. Within this framework the usage of social network techniques could only bring more added value.
  • There is the need of consolidation, of setting up of realistic strategies, of following step by step approaches and to reach cost effectiveness. IT went trough continuous changes in the past decade: the offer and the list of bank assets grew without a real return on all the investments. In the actual crisis period, it is time to look at what banks have inside, understanding how to make the best out of it and to match it with the setting-up of a clear vision.
  • Banks have to find the right balance between innovation and risk. Needless to say sudden and fast changes don’t go with risk reduction. Nowadays this aspect is still handled without a right balance, so we can find all the spectrum: from low risk approaches (which reduces at the same time the business and increase the costs) to aggressive approaches that generates too many risks even on the short term.
  • Internal employees are an assets and moreover a plus. They must be enabled to work smarter and IT must provide for it.

These pillars are unrelated to any specific IT implementation or technology (and possibly can apply to any type of company): they are the background of any trend or direction. Without these starting any new implementation would mean only following the fashion of the moment.

apr 22

Common mistakes of new Project Managers

Managers are always repeating the same mistakes, especially when a project run into problems.

The belief in “the” methodology (whatever it may be) and the poor people management are certainly the biggest faults. No matter what, but in my opinion these mistakes are still the ones that can seriously damage every project and I’m sorry they can only be avoided with experience and modesty.

Furthermore, there is another mistake even more dangerous: this is the inability to reach a correct level of focus/control into the project. In other words, on one side we may find the PM that micromanages everything without any delegation, one the other side we get the PM that totally ignores some relevant aspects of the project/business (like cost, technology, resources…) as there are others people that “know how to deal with this”.

Both the extremes can kill a project as both lead in any case to neglect relevant aspects of the project.
Even worse, the damage of this attitude usually comes out by the end of the project and till that point nobody will even guess there may be a problem. Practically, I think the only way to overcome this mistake is finding the correct level of delegation and carrying on periodic reviews involving all the stakeholders of the project so that all the aspects are correctly monitored.

set 19

Working in the right place

Recently I had to work in a small coffee shop waiting for my wife doing some shopping.
I’ve been working in many places but truly this time it was one of the most productive … more than working at home and much more than working in an office.
Once again I had a proof about the importance of the working place.
It’s really a pity that organizations still do not understand this.

mag 14

ubuntu 11.04

I installed it a few weeks ago.

Apart from the usual problems when changing release (property drivers, old packages to update), I found the new interface nice but for sure not easy to use and adopt.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’m losing a lot of time simply in switching applications, windows, workspaces ….. basically I didn’t find it so user friendly as it is…

let’s see in some weeks if I will get used to it

gen 07

Critical Chain new article

I finally published the english version of the article on critical chain method, you can find it in the following link.

I invite you to take a look at the article and to let me know your feedback.

Just to recap what i previously written in the blog, what it interests me more are the possibilities to use and to extend this planning method. If you want to go to this point just skip the first part and go to the conclusions where I basically list the areas that we should better investigate to make this planning method worth of being used:

  • project control (both time and costs)
  • connection to risk analysis
  • theoretical methods to cut the estimation and deal with buffers
  • Critical Chain and Critical Path, when to use one, the other or both
  • Would it be possible to apply some CC ideas to CP?

waiting for feedback

lug 05

Using Ubuntu

Since last year, after the bad experiences I had, I started using linux (Ubuntu).
Initially it was something like a game, then slowly I started to use it more and more.
Of course windows and its software are not replaceable (Ms Office suite is in my opinion still the best one), but I easily solved the problem by adopting virtualbox and using a virtual window.

The system is quite stable and I’m able to do almost everything (and more).

Needless to say, I strongly suggest to give it a try. For sure you will not regret it.

giu 28

The most difficult things when you manage a global project in a different country

The biggest problem I found in international projects are communication and culture ones.
Usually people involved in such projects are quite skilled and what I call “technical and knowledge problem” don’t arise so often.

On the other side communication problems (due to language, different time zone, different approach to problem solving) and related culture problems, are the ones most difficult to overcome.

In my last projects, most of my work was devoted to communication and to understand how to deal with people, more than working on true deliverables.
Additionally, the project that suffered the biggest problems were the ones were culture and communication were not correctly handled. In this kind of projects managers should understand that their involvment will be usually higher than in normal ones both in term of tasks and control.

giu 28

challenges in running and attending meetings

I come from a culture where discussion is more important than anything else and I worked in countries where people like to dig without stop into the problems.

After saying this, the biggest challenges I usually find during meetings are:

  • keeping them short;
  • focused on the problem;
  • effective, which means that at the end there is a concrete deliverable (maybe a decision, a date or anything else);

everytime i’m able to reach these three points, to me meeting can be considered successfull