Month: July 2008

Falcons Vs Stars (Round #2, Match #2, Season 2008)

It is my first second round game in 2008. I could not play last week for multiple reasons. I had to go with my son for a city (Farmington Hills) parade and one of my college mate came from Dayton. Looks like, Falcons played an emotionally exhaustive match in my absence and enough damage and control was made before game against stars.

Both team was on time on fine Michigan Sunday morning and quick in setting up the field with umpire’s concurrence. Toss won by Stars and with out any hesitation, they decided to bat. Few ramblings on how bad the field was and Sun was coming straight to the batsman.

Falcons’s bowling

Srikanth and Uppu started our bowling today. There were few wides to start with. Except the wides both bowled really good. The pitch was set such way that the wicket keeping position was half in the grass and half in the circle (we play in the base ball ground). I knew from the beginning, it was going to be tough to keep the wickets in that position. I could not cleanly stop few wide balls and fetched additional runs. Stars were very slow in scoring where as our bowlers were scoring fast for them by bowling wides and I assisted them by not collecting the wide balls cleanly.

Uppu bowled few awesome deliveries today. There was a distinct nick on his bowling and umpire for some reason was not sure and did not give him out. It was very clean caught behind and Uppu and Falcons became unlucky. After few balls, the same batsman played a lazy stroke for a very good length rising ball and this time umpire was focusing enough to give a caught behind decision with out any hesitation. There was another catching opportunity from Uppu’s bowling and I tired my best. I could not fully capture what happened and why I missed that catch. I touched the ball and did the ball had enough spin to escape my finger? Did I jump late to the raising ball? Did I jump faster? I really do not know but I missed a difficult catch (It is difficult because it was at least 3 foot above my head).

Keshav has been consistently bowling good and his swings are noteworthy. I wish to see him bowl the red ball with 3 slips. He bowled exemplary deliveries.

Hari has been doing good both in the field and with his bat. He made few great stops and made a run out. I liked what I said to him. “Some times our weakness becomes strength” He was throwing the ball so high to me when the batsman was in the middle of the pitch. Since he throws slow, it helped to jump accordingly to collect the ball and run out the batsman. New Sudhir made few excellent fielding. Few well judged catches made by Keshav, Srikanth and Matta.

Finally, Stars were all out for 68 runs and significant contributor to the tally was extras we gave him in wide,byes and no balls.

Falcon’s batting

Babu and I went to start the innings. Babu treated the bad balls and respected the good balls. I was rotating the strike by placing the ball. There was no pace in their bowling. The ball does not come to the bat and even the full toss balls you need to wait so long to connect it. I made 3 pull shorts and fetched 2 runs each and placed 4 times in the gap for an easy single. In this season, it was the first time, I got out for a good ball. In all other games, either I get run outs or chase the wide balls. It was raising delivery I tried to place it in the gully and the ball was quick and I was not quick enough. The ball was going to the first slip and fielder took a sharp catch. It was a good catch. Before I got out, Babu defended the ball and the ball was coming so slow and it hit the bat after he completed his stroke and went for an easy catch. Piyush, Keshav, Hari & Sudhir all got out cheaply. Matta and Sai took the game to the end with their patience. We won the game with bonus point. We spared almost 50% of their bowling. It was a good practice match for Falcons and it was a good umpiring from Sankar.

Key deliverables of IT Strategy – High level overview

In an executive summary, the top 5 key deliverable of IT Strategy team:

  1. Formation of IT Strategy – In collaboration with senior executive management team, create the IT organization vision, mission,strategy map (representation of strategy),alignment with corporate strategy and other functional strategy like sales & marketing, accounting and etc
  2. In collaboration with the senior executive management team, create the organization goal (or strategic theme/focus for the given year), theme owners (senior leadership), set of performance measures for each theme, targets for each measures,
  3. Balanced Scorecard – Set of initiatives, initiative managers, their plan towards the initiative. (Balanced scorecard can be managed using software as a service solution from vendors like Palladium. It is very cost effective approach instead of having few resources in the PMO team tracking the status of the initiatives for the entire organization )
  4. Strategy focused organization – Aligning the IT organization to the IT strategy. Ensure the employee goals are aligned to the IT Strategy. Ensure the structure of the organization supports the IT strategy. It is also called sourcing strategy.
  5. Strategy communication – Continuous communication of the IT strategy and progress being made by the organization towards the IT strategy to business teams & IT teams. Via bulletin boards, brown bag session, departmental town halls, organization town halls

Key deliverables of Enterprise Architecture – High level overview

In an executive summary level, the top 5 Key deliverables of Enterprise Architecture:

  1. Road maps (technology, process, people road maps. Study the maturity,adoption and business application of specific technologies , processes )
  2. Application portfolio management (includes management of “AS IS” information (application, infrastructure, information, business, finance, organization),assessment and recommendation to eliminate over laps)
  3. Scenario Planning (what if analysis for an organization)
  4. Standards & policies (Technology, processes, products,patterns)
  5. IT Risk management (aligned to the enterprise risk management plan)

Enterprise architect provides thought leadership to teams in an organization to believe and implement the above deliverables in their service and solution delivery.

How to hire the best enterprise architect & IT strategiest?

The best managers always take their time to hire the best candidate for a job. There are opinions about the traits of good hiring manager. Finding a best fit allows to have a win-win scenario for both employees and employers. It is relatively straight forward to find a best fit for a technology role or in general, when the roles and responsibilities are clear and globally understood in the organization.

The role of an enterprise architect should be crystal clear to the enterprise architecture teams (if not, it is bigger problem and hiring the best enterprise architect is not relevant). In larger organizations, the over all understanding of an enterprise architect role is not clear. When I asked few managers, senior managers, directors, vice presidents in different areas(IT application, Business infrastructure, shared service area) about their understanding of enterprise architect role, most of them had different understanding and way off from the reality. That is one of the challenge for an enterprise architect to navigate the organization to ensure their value proposition and demonstrate it to the key stakeholders.

I look for these top 10 skills from an enterprise architect:

  1. Abstract thinking
  2. Leadership skills
  3. Executive level communication (ability to communicate to the senior executives effectively)
  4. Analytical (structure a given problem, garner factual data, perform quantitative analysis and present a solution for a given problem)
  5. Vertical thinking
  6. Diplomatic (humbly assertive)
  7. EA & Strategy concepts
  8. Turning vision/strategic objectives into working plans
  9. Attitude (team player, more I’s used the less qualified EA)
  10. Correlation skills (connecting the dots of multiple disjoint events)

To me, mastered EA frameworks, using the right buzz words (like SOA, BPM, web 2.0 etc), worked in big 4 in the enterprise architecture area does not necessarily qualify to become a successful EA in a team which believes EA has a ROI. I believe my vision of EA team will work on requests like provide various scenarios to reduce the over all IT G&A budget by 10% without affecting the quality, quantity of services and head count. EA will present the various existing scenarios (scenario planning) in the organization to achieve this goal withing the given parameters and over coming the constrains. Knowledge can be always be learned and acquired.

For the above EA/IT Strategist role and to generate this level of value to an organization, how to hire the best candidate?

Hiring process consists of structure, clarity on the requirement, assessment of candidate skills and intuition. I had great success, ok success with fine tuning after the hire and utterly wrong in the judgment.

How to hire the best EA/IT Strategist?

  1. Filter the resumes
  2. Screen the filtered resumes over phone (look for communication, passion, knowledge, thrive, drive, openness, listening)
  3. Bring the screened candidate for a group interview
  4. Start with personal stuff like hobbies, drive time, why they want to join, their current understanding of the requirement, articulation of the employers requirements etc
  5. During the interview, look for the following
  • Smarter than me (EA Manager). Drive the right conclusion faster.
  • Ask them to analyze an incremental problem and focus on the approach and not on the solution. Incremental problem: provide a simple problem and keep increasing the constraints
  • Seek for the correlation skills (how they are connecting the dots)
  • How much patience they show in understanding the grass root of the problem

The above procedure helped to get great EA/IT Strategiest candidates and worked 83.33% of time.

Enterprise Collaborative Quotient

Better collaboration within IT will

  • fetch more innovation
  • improve team building
  • improve effectiveness & efficiency
  • reduce the over all IT residual risk
  • improve organization attitude

The above are top 5 value added imperatives a better collaboration will bring to an IT organization. Each one of the above adds value to the core business, saves IT G&A and minimizes the IT risk exposure.

How the CIOs and other senior executives will manage and measure the collaboration within their organization. We all familiar with Intelligent Quotient (IQ) and it is a measure how smart a person is? Likewise, an organization must have a metric to measure the collaboration  within their organization.

I was searching to find out what kind of metric is available to measure it in the industry. Based on my research, I could not find any metric to measure it. So I innovated a metric called enterprise collaborative quotient (ECQ)

What is collaboration?

Group of people working towards the same goal.

Why collaboration is needed?

IT has an organization goal every year (which is aligned to the IT strategy which supports the business strategy which supports the competitive strategy) and every member of the organization works towards the goal (Strategy focused organization). When a group of people working towards the same goal, to avoid duplication and ensure full coverage, collaboration is required within the organization.

What is the Enterprise Collaborative quotient?

Even though I prefer to have more mathematical way to calculate it, in reality, the formula approach will not work in management science. My famous saying is, it is not \pi r^2

However, a methodical approach is proposed to calculate the enterprise collaborative quotient. Let me make sure we understand why are we measuring this? To measure how the organization is working together towards the organization goal.

The structure to the problem is, what are the factors involved in measuring it. The factors are

1. Understanding of

  • the organization goal (theme),
  • the overall IT strategy (targets, performance measure,strategic objectives),
  • who is who (theme managers, initiative owners)
  • overall business bottom line
  • core values and company’s mission and vision

2. Frequency of

  • formal face to face meetings/discussion
  • informal face to face meetings/discussion
  • Impromptu face to face/phone/chart meetings/discussion
  • proposal of new suggestion/ideas for a target set for a different team
  • brown bag sessions
  • huddle meeting
  • skip level meetings
  • team meeting
  • town halls
  • 1:1 meeting with direct reports
  • special interest groups (boat club, motor cycle club, quantum cafe club,womens forum)
  • lunch meetings
  • dinner meetings
  • group activities (like community services)

3. Willingness to

  • Share knowledge
  • Listen
  • Challenge the obvious
  • care for others
  • be open

Based on types of the organization, the above factors can be used and information can be garnered by interview or survey. The weight factor can be applied based on the core function IT supports.

IT Risk Management – An Elevated view

Risk management is part of any management science. (period) Any good project managers do have a risk management plan of a project, team, organization and etc . Risk management plan is part of any management science (yes, I’m repeating myself to stress the point).

CIO‘s are part of the management team and any good (or even an ordinary) CIOs do have a risk management plan for the over all IT organization.

It is a basic principle of business, more risk more profit. At the same time, business is not pure gambling and some time it is calculated gambling. When it comes to gambling, it is taking the chances. When you take the chances blindly, then it is gambling and when you take chances after your due diligence then it is business. May be, I’m over simplifying it but that is the simple definition. If a bank wants to AVOID risk, the ONLY best way to avoid risk 100% is NOT to do business. That is, not performing steps towards their organization goal, mission and vision. Philosophical interpretation is, if you want no complaints then be nothing and do nothing.

Are we not take chances every day? Yes, we take chances every minute. I know some one do not agree what I’m saying. There is a risk of rejection from someone. To avoid it, the best approach is to stop expressing myself. By doing so, I can completely avoid the risk of rejection of my opinions but I can not accomplish my mission (Blog as much I can). The point I’m trying to make is, risk is part of any management science and it should be managed better.

How to manage IT risk better?

Residual risk matrix (RRM) for an IT organization risk is one of key metrics a CIO should have to have a clear picture on probability of exposure. Before I jump into the RRM, let me explain what are the key components of enterprise IT risk management?

Components of enterprise IT Risk management

  • Compliance Risk
  • Infrastructure risk (including data center and business locations)
  • Project Risk
  • Security Risk
  • Financial Risk
  • Technology Risk
  • Process Risk
  • Competency Risk
  • Vendor Risk (service providers like infra service, right sourcing, etc)
  • License Risk
  • Open source Risk
  • Business Risk

Steps to create an enterprise IT residual risk matrix (IT RRM)

  • Identify the known & known unknown risk for each components of the IT risk management
  • Device a mitigation plan for each identified risk
  • Identify the cost of the mitigation plan
  • Identify the probability of the risk occurrence
  • Calculate the risk at exposure (risk exposed to the organization after the mitigation plan)

IT Residual Risk Matrix provides an elevated view to the executive management on the exposed IT risk.

Genchi Genbutsu for Enterprise Architects & Strategists

There are at least two school of thoughts for enterprise architecture.

  • Law maker approach
  • Do what makes sense and do the right thing approach

Law maker approach

I had witnessed the first approach in the past. I was not playing an enterprise architect manager nor enterprise architect role at that time. Watched from the side line and it is better to learn the mistakes from others. The law maker approach is to come up with all the standards, road maps, patterns,etc and it is up to the civilian (rest of the organization) to abide to the law. If the civilian did not follow the law, then civilian violated the law and if civilian assess the law is inappropriate then an appeal can be made to the enterprise architects and they reevaluate the standards or patterns. I do not believe in this approach. This will create the EA as the special group or ivory tower team makes decision but never will have clear picture on implementation and lack details on the value generated to the organization.
Do what makes sense and do the right thing approach

I love this approach. Not just for IT strategy nor EA. I love this approach for any role. For the Enterprise Architects, this approach is the apt approach to fetch value to the organization.

Factual Data —> Analysis + Intuition = Solution

The above concept applies to any management consultant. Boutique management consultant firms (like Boston Consulting Group, BCG) when they get engaged with a client, they work on very interesting problems like “why WALL-E (a movie recently released by Walt Disney) did not exceed the expectations?” and for this kind of consultation, they need factual data, quantitative analysis and apply intuition to derive the solution.

Enterprise Architects are the management consultants with stronger technical knowledge. To add value to the organization EA need to get the factual data, quantitative analysis, intuition and come up with road maps, IT investment management framework, patterns, compliance, etc.

To get the factual data EA needs to understand the end to end business life cycle. For example, if an organization is financial service organization, then EAs need to personally visit contact centers, customer services centers, business centers, dealership, zone offices etc. If possible, at least for a day, they need to play the appropriate roles in each centers. (Like be a credit analyst, customer service agent, call center agent, collection agent, repossessing agent etc) Get a loan or lease product from the same financial service company and be a real customer and use the web sites as the customer. Experience gained during this visits, role plays, interviews and etc provides EA (and IT strategist) an edge to come up with realistic strategic plan for the organization which will have a direct positive impact to the bottom line of the core business.