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Project Management

  • Why investing in data governance makes good business sense

    Conclusion: Not knowing where an organisation’s business-critical data is located, and its quality, can lead to many frustrating efforts to respond to management queries. When the converse is true and IT management can respond quickly to queries, say, at a board meeting or in an FOI (freedom of information) request, it enhances confidence in the quality of management of IT

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  • Being a good customer of consulting Part 3: Maximising the value of stage gates through considered design and definition of unique objectives

    Conclusion: Stage gate reviews can be a highly effective governance tool that can materially enhance project outcomes; however, their value can be eroded by poor design, a lack of planning, or if they duplicate the objectives of other governance processes. To ensure stage gates are designed to deliver enhanced project outcomes, four key areas of consideration should be

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    "Being a good customer of consulting Part 1: The importance of a client-side project manager in consulting engagements" IBRS, 2019-11-02 01:24:20

    "Being a good customer of consulting Part 2: Driving value and successful outcomes by aligning RFP scope to supplier skills" IBRS, 2019-12-05 05:15:44

  • Being a good customer of consulting Part 2: Driving value and successful outcomes by aligning RFP scope to supplier skills

    Conclusion: When engaging the market for consulting services, estimating the resource mix, including experience and skills, can form an excellent basis for evaluating if what is being proposed by consultants is likely to be optimal for the scope, and effective, given the environment of the purchasing organisation.
    There are four main elements that should be

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    Related Articles:

    "Being a good customer of consulting Part 1: The importance of a client-side project manager in consulting engagements" IBRS, 2019-11-02 01:24:20

    "Being a good customer of consulting Part 3: Maximising the value of stage gates through considered design and definition of unique objectives" IBRS, 2020-01-08 03:32:07

  • Prevention better than cure – get requirements right first time

    Conclusion: Unless the attributes of user stories (agile) or high-level requirements (waterfall) are succinct and testable, business systems specifications will lack rigour and could compromise the system’s integrity. To ensure these attributes, i. e. succinct and testable, are present, the stories and high-level requirements should be peer reviewed to identify content that

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  • Being a good customer of consulting Part 1: The importance of a client-side project manager in consulting engagements

    Conclusion: Consulting engagements are often scheduled under the assumption of ideal conditions. In reality, many engagements experience a ‘slow start’ due to the consultants needing to request information and data, schedule stakeholder meetings, understand assumptions and parameters, and define and agree on the appropriate governance processes. This is often followed by a

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    Related Articles:

    "Being a good customer of consulting Part 2: Driving value and successful outcomes by aligning RFP scope to supplier skills" IBRS, 2019-12-05 05:15:44

    "Being a good customer of consulting Part 3: Maximising the value of stage gates through considered design and definition of unique objectives" IBRS, 2020-01-08 03:32:07

  • A probabilistic approach to cost estimation

    Conclusion: Deterministic1 project budgets do not convey any information about the range of possible outcomes for a project, or the associated risk factors driving the range. The ability to communicate the risk-weighted range of possible project outcomes can lead to much clearer expectations and understanding of project outcomes,

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  • Familiarity can create blind spots

    Conclusion: Agile approaches are being applied to a wide range of projects and activities within organisations including infrastructure upgrade projects of known tools and devices and across existing customer bases. Focusing on the technology elements and progressing quickly to build and test can uncover blind spots due to a high degree of familiarity and assumptions. Areas

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  • Identify and accommodate age-diverse stakeholders

    Conclusion: In an age-diverse workforce, it is important that IT managers and professionals understand the different expectations and management styles of stakeholders and accommodate them to gain their support for IT-related initiatives being proposed.

    Without understanding the management styles and expectations of age-diverse stakeholders, a level of disconnect may

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  • Rethinking the request for proposal process by replacing written responses with a competitive discovery phase

    Conclusion: When engaging the market for suppliers, the objective of the procurement process is to select the supplier with the most suitable approach, who is able to accurately define the scope, and deliver in an effective and risk-mitigated way. In the context of a full project, for a proportionally minor investment, and a comparable amount of time and effort from key

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  • Agile culture: Working with MVP

    Conclusion: Organisations everywhere have been embracing agile as a project delivery approach, agile for creativity and product development and even agile and lean for new business models. Seeking to fast-track their way to value often means embracing the minimum viable product (MVP) method. MVP is often bandied about but rarely is this method being utilised as intended. The

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  • PMO: 3 key organisation challenges to support

    Conclusion: Organisations understand that implementing projects is part of the natural workflow. Delivering projects that meet organisational expectations is expected and demanded. Project management offices (PMOs) have been established to support project management activities and provide some key elements such as project management methodologies, documentation, project

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  • SNAPSHOT: The Chatbot Mantra: Experimental, experiential and iterative

    Demand for chatbots – automated conversational agents that may be deployed across multiple digital channels, including websites, social media feeds, instant messaging, voice assistants etc. – is growing. As outlined in Chatbots Part 1, organisations should take an

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  • Chatbots Part 1: Start creating capabilities with a super-low-cost experiment

    Conclusion: Chatbots have become a hot topic among senior executives, especially in HR, customer services, citizen service, marketing and sales groups. Chatbots, powered by the increasingly accurate natural language processing capabilities, hold the potential to radically change the way people interact with an organisation without human intervention.

    Separating

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  • Projects: The importance of lessons learnt

    Conclusion: Effective project managers prize the importance of capturing lessons learnt during the life of a project, but too often, it is just a necessary task to complete at project closure. By following simple tips and adhering to some techniques, project managers can get increased benefits for themselves and the organisations they work with.

  • IT Agile teams and why the product owner’s role is pivotal

    Conclusion: Agile teams will struggle to deliver a viable solution (or product) unless they can tap into the business knowledge of an astute product owner who can communicate the objectives of the product and work with the scrum to ensure it meets the stakeholder’s requirements. Without a proficient product owner, the Agile team may lack direction which would put

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  • Vendor’s case studies: Not to be relied upon

    Conclusion: When scanning the market to find new solutions or vendors, it is usual to consider who else uses the solutions, the size of the organisation and their customer base. Vendors often publish examples of clients that use their solutions, and particularly like highlighting those clients that represent well-known global or local brands.

    Whilst being nice to

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    Related Articles:

    "Don’t let poor research cloud your thinking" IBRS, 2015-12-02 19:54:39

    "Embedding research and advisory into an organisation" IBRS, 2016-07-02 04:20:00

  • Mind mapping at work Part 2: Business thinking and outcomes

    Conclusion: Strategic thinking, planning and problem solving often involve bringing together a team of knowledgeable contributors who need to analyse, debate, discuss and decide on key issues around the topic they are trying to address. Mind mapping can be a powerful technique for helping to stimulate the ideas, plan actions, and even communicate the output of the

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    "Digital transformation: More than a technology project" IBRS, 2018-06-01 04:04:24

    "Mind Mapping Practitioners Course" IBRS, 2018-03-04 05:45:02

    "Mind mapping at work Part 1: Core business skills" IBRS, 2018-07-05 03:15:19

    "Mind mapping software: Going beyond pen and paper" IBRS, 2017-11-02 04:20:45

  • When to use Agile project management

    Conclusion: With business demands driving CIOs to be more innovative and apply digital innovation, Agile project management methodology is being adopted to manage customer-centric projects to create minimal viable products quickly. Agile methodology is used across technology teams in government, healthcare, education and the private sector. The benefits of Agile versus

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    "Agile: The other considerations" IBRS, 2018-03-31 06:46:04

    "SNAPSHOT: Agile services spectrum" IBRS, 2018-05-04 19:10:01

    "When the Stars are Aligned use Agile" IBRS, 2016-04-22 23:15:40

  • Mind mapping at work Part 1: Core business skills

    Conclusion: Mind mapping is a tool that facilitates “whole-brain” thinking. It is a technique that can be applied to all forms of the thought process, particularly to memory, creativity and learning. Within an organisation, the use of mind mapping as a visual and graphic thinking tool can help improve business processes and practices, solve problems, improve decision making,

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    "Mind Mapping Practitioners Course" IBRS, 2018-03-04 05:45:02

    "Mind mapping as a tool for collaboration" IBRS, 2017-10-02 22:48:29

    "Mind mapping software: Going beyond pen and paper" IBRS, 2017-11-02 04:20:45

  • Tips for improving and monitoring ICT project governance

    Conclusion: Managers need to pay attention to ensure effective project governance, or risk joining the already long list of ICT project failures in Australia, aided by weak or ineffective project governance.

    Related Articles:

    "Bite the bullet – stop failing projects sooner not later" IBRS, 2016-09-02 05:06:18

    "Make the process for allocating IT resources transparent" IBRS, 2018-06-01 04:17:01

    "PMO – Models and structures" IBRS, 2018-05-04 18:33:08

    "Project review: Active assurance" IBRS, 2018-03-06 07:02:37

  • Make the process for allocating IT resources transparent

    Conclusion: Unless the process of allocating IT and business resources to competing projects is transparent, and follows agreed procedures, disaffected management could develop shadow IT solutions and create additional technical debt. To ensure the allocation process is equitable, develop pragmatic guidelines so sponsors need only provide information needed for an informed

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  • PMO – Models and structures

    Conclusion: Project management in organisations is commonplace. Organisations then seek to establish a Project Management Office (PMO) as a more permanent centre for project coordination. PMOs may start in the technology division and expand or may be established outside the ICT area. Knowing what the various models and structures are is important. Knowing how to assess the

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  • Project review: Active assurance

    Conclusion: Project management in organisations is commonplace. Reviews are often undertaken at the end of the project to gain learnings for future projects. Project reviews completed during the life of a project need to ensure that they are inclusive of appropriate stakeholder groups and assessment is targeted at the appropriate focus areas. Active and inclusive review and

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  • Adopting the appreciative inquiry approach to fully engage staff during change

    Conclusion:Most change management processes focus on the traditional approach of identifying problems then analysing the causes of the problems, followed by the identification of possible solutions then arriving at the solution and implementing the same. APIQ focuses on what the organisation does well, then explores and identifies how those strengths and values can be

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  • Maintaining momentum during change initiatives

    Conclusion:The initial gathering of momentum for change is difficult enough to generate, but letting that momentum lapse will make it even more challenging next time to generate the passion and endeavour to improve the modus operandi for the long haul.

  • Mind mapping software: Going beyond pen and paper

    Conclusion:Mind mapping is a popular technique to assist with the thinking ability of an individual or team, and to help generate ideas and thoughts. Mind maps literally involve “mapping” out thoughts, using associations, connections and triggers to stimulate further ideas.

    Whilst traditional mind maps have been drawn on paper, the availability of mind mapping

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  • Demystifying IT workforce planning

    Conclusion:One of the objectives of an IT workforce plan is to maximise the use of the skilled IT professionals and project managers and minimise their idle time. Managing the IT workforce plan is a complex task in most organisations as skill levels required may vary by project and by operational support roles.

    To be successful, the manager of the plan must maintain

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  • Mind mapping as a tool for collaboration

    Conclusion:Mind mapping is used broadly throughout the world as a technique for improving creativity, problem solving, organising, planning, learning and collaborating. It can be used effectively to help an individual with their personal productivity, and importantly it can help teams and whole organisations.

    If organisations are going to embrace mind mapping and

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  • Risk management – Tips and techniques

    Conclusion:Effective risk management, whether it is for a change initiative or for ongoing business operations, will ameliorate harm or at the very least reduce the impact of harm. Leaders must understand risk management, and plan and engage with risks and mitigate the risks as appropriate on an ongoing basis.

  • Traits of a successful project manager in ICT

    Conclusion:Effective ICT project managers are essential to the successful running of any ICT-led change initiative. They provide a necessary level of trust and confidence to the CIO and are a key resource for any effective CIO running a large mix of ongoing and change initiatives.

  • Agile is becoming the new norm

    Conclusion:The traditional Waterfall method of development delivery is now being increasingly challenged by Agile. The original decision to use Agile primarily based on speed of delivery of the coding and design functions was and still is just one factor. Other factors and characteristics still mean an informed decision must be made to maximise the chances of the project

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  • Gateway Reviews

    Conclusion: Organisations in both the public and private sectors have been actively improving capability and implementing processes and frameworks to improve project delivery effectiveness over the past decade. Project management approaches such as Prince2 and PMBOK have been adopted to improve project management practitioner capability and equip project boards and project

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  • Creating successful teams – the leader’s role

    Conclusion: Too often in organisations, executives focus on the more mechanical elements of Project and Business Management but ignore the need to develop the skills of their staff and encourage them to succeed.

    Team members’ salary is rarely in itself a motivator to get things done.1 Many motivational positive factors, when

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  • Bite the bullet – stop failing projects sooner not later

    Conclusion: Deciding to stop investing in a business system is a decision no manager likes to make as it could have an adverse impact on staff, suppliers, clients, stakeholders and the Board. Before making the decision, management must assess all options and conclude they have no alternative but to act now and stop wasting scarce resources.

  • Delaying a Project’s post-implementation review is folly

    Conclusion: Astute managers know that once a project is completed, skilled staff will be reassigned and their recall of the lessons learned and what worked and what did not is quickly lost. This is because corporate memory dissipates the longer the recall is delayed.

    Apart from determining whether the objectives of the project were or were not

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  • Use the PMO to facilitate business and IT transformation

    Conclusion: To facilitate business and IT transformation PMOs must be given a role that puts them at the forefront of advising management where best to invest scarce resources in business and IT-related projects whilst ensuring business systems are successfully implemented.

    To be successful PMO staff need:

    • People management skills to
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  • Capitalise on the skills of business analysts or lose them

    Conclusion: Organisations that fail to develop the skills of their BAs, or give them intellectually challenging roles, are in danger of losing them and their corporate memory. BAs used wisely are often the glue holding complex projects together.

    Use them to elicit and simplify business

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  • Do Not Ignore Failing Core Business Systems, Fix Them

    Conclusion: CIOs continually wrestle with how to replace or modify failing core systems and having to convince management to invest in modernising them. They also know that ignoring a bad situation will probably cost the organisation more to fix the longer they postpone the replacement decision.

  • Agile Infrastructure

    Conclusion: Traditional on-premises approaches to infrastructure can create unnecessary costs, risks and bottlenecks. This is particularly a problem for projects delivering new systems that have a high-risk (i. e., uncertain benefits, functionality, capacity) which are often associated with innovation and digital strategies.

    IT organisations should look

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  • Running IT-as-a-Service Part 11: DevOps is not different from mature ITIL Release Management

    Conclusion: There is debate within the IT industry whether or not DevOps can replace ITIL1. From ITIL perspective, many IT organisations, especially in Australia, have been implementing ITIL processes since 1994 with significant investment in technology and professional services. Hence, it is impractical to just drop ITIL and

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  • The Value of an independent external committee member

    Conclusion: Governance committees face a number of challenges that can undermine their effectiveness. These challenges include groupthink, a focus on individual responsibilities rather than organisation-wide benefits and trust issues. Experienced independent external advisors can play an important role in overcoming these challenges.

  • Successful ICT projects start with a thorough Business Case

    Conclusion: Poor planning is frequently cited in surveys as a major reason an ICT project has failed. A major element in the planning process is the preparation of the business case setting out why the project is needed and must be approved.

    Management is remiss when it approves a poorly developed business case as it sends the wrong message to developers

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  • From IT Operational Chaos to Stability – Lessons learned

    Conclusion: CIOs and the IT management team continually wrestle with prioritising and coordinating planned and unplanned IT operational changes for both new and existing systems. The problem is compounded when senior managers use informal influence with IT staff to change the priorities, thereby jumping the queue and bypassing formal processes. Not only does this

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  • AWS Backup and Recovery

    Conclusion: organisations moving traditional enterprise applications into production on AWS will find backup and recovery functional but immature compared to their existing on-premises Enterprise Backup and Recovery (EBR) tools.

    Storage administrators need to understand the native backup and recovery methods in AWS and determine how these can be used to

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  • Keeping projects on track – The softer cues to watch

    Conclusion: Project Health Checks and Gateway Reviews are an excellent way of assessing the progress of a significant project, identifying issues and taking a corrective action approach that is in the best interests of the organisation. One of the obvious and highest risk periods for projects to go off the rails is the period between when a contract has been

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  • Why Health ICT is failing Patients

    Conclusion:Over the years, many ICT professionals have moved from roles in commerce to roles in Health without recognising the unique challenges presented by clinical environments. The result is an underperforming, expensive and misaligned ICT service that soaks up hundreds of millions of dollars annually for minimal patient benefit.

    Related Articles:

    "Why Health ICT is failing Patients (Part 2)" IBRS, 2014-12-03 16:44:03

  • Why it is important to fix the disconnect between IT and HR

    Conclusion: Unless the IT and HR management work together to implement information systems to enable them to hire, develop and record the skills of IT professionals, the organisation will probably not have the right people to meet the looming challenges of the digital age.

  • Balance Stakeholder Forces to drive exceptional Value

    Conclusion: When it comes to balancing the demands of stakeholders, CIOs are often left with Hobson’s choice1 – give in to demands from their enterprise customers. The alternative (saying no) risks the CIO being labelled a ‘Blocker’.

    Elite CIOs deal with individual stakeholder demands within an ecosystem of five distinct

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  • Dos and Don'ts when remediating Major Systems

    Conclusion: Remediating major systems is not a job for the faint-hearted or over-confident IT managers. Poor governance decisions and excessive optimism can easily lead to project failures (and ruin careers). Conversely smart decisions combined with sound project leadership can increase the probability of success and enhance careers.

  • User Experience Design: More than meets the eye

    Conclusion: Consumer-oriented software and online services are raising user expectations. To determine the aspects of user experience design, and the trade-offs that are appropriate in a particular business context, requires extensive collaboration across multiple disciplines. The cross-disciplinary nature of the work must

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  • Circles of Control and Influence will ensure better project reviews

    Conclusion: Project Management in organisations is commonplace. Reviews are essential, but often overlooked. Project reviews completed during the life of a project should include appropriate stakeholder groups and focus areas. Reviews that are inclusive of the groups not directly involved in the delivery of project activities and objectives can assist in identifying

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  • Best Practice; hard, or just hard work

    Conclusion: Australian organisations in both public and private sectors enthusiastically identify and implement best practices from around the world. After considerable time and effort has been allocated to implementing these processes and tools the results are all too often less than satisfactory. There are many best practices, frameworks and tools to assist in the

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  • Trend for Roles of CIO, CTO and the rise of the CDO

    Conclusion: There has been considerable research and media coverage on the role of the CIO and its relevance in the new digital era. Cloud services are making big inroads and traditional responsibilities are changing. This could signal the end of the role of CIO in organisations or, at the very least, dramatically change the scope of responsibility and divide the function.

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In the News

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IBRS analyst Dr. Joseph Sweeney provides best practice-advice on working from home in the current pandemic situation. Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses current working from home policies which are...
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Centrelink crashes under demand for crisis payments - Australian Financial Review - 23 march 2020

IBRS workforce transformation advisor Joseph Sweeney said many government departments had to navigate difficult IT environments that were only part-way through their digital transformations, with...
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Inside EY's security work at ANZ - Australian Financial Review - 3 March 2020

"There is more security work to go round than there are resources. So I don't think the market is that crowded. It's important to remember that security is not something you buy and then it's done;...
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Google cloud boss looks to AI as it fights Amazon, Microsoft duopoly - Australian Financial Review - 2 March 2020

IBRS analyst Joe Sweeney has been tracking the three major Cloud vendors capabilities in AI and said Google is right to believe it has an edge over AWS and Microsoft when it comes to corpus (the...
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What should be in Australia’s next cyber security strategy? - Computer Weekly - 10 Feb 2020

Peter Sandilands, an advisor at analyst firm IBRS, called the discussion paper “a pre-judged survey” that is mostly looking for answers. He also questioned if the resulting recommendations would be...
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