6 min read

From SVN to Git: How Atlassian Made the Switch Without Sacrificing Active Development

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 15, 2013 11:00:00 AM

The following content was taken from Atlassian.com  

In this the first of a three part blog series which focuses on migrating the Jira code base from Subversion to Git. We wanted to share Atlassian’s migrating experience to those of you who are contemplating moving a large project to Git – without sacrificing active development. In our first post we discuss why we decided to make the switch to Git. In our second post we dive in the technical details of switching from Subversion to Git. In our third, and final post we will discuss how we managed the “human” angle to migrating.

Atlassian has been extremely excited about DVCS for a number of years and has invested heavily in DVCS. Atlassian has acquired Bitbucket – a cloud DVCS repository host, developed Stash – a behind the firewall Git repository manager and added DVCS support to FishEye, Atlassian’s code browsing and search tool. They have also added a myriad of DVCS connectors to Jira.

Along with Atlassian we believe DVCS is a great leap forward in software development. As part of this, Atlassian migrated the codebases for their own products and libraries from centralized version control systems (generally SVN) to DVCS. Some of these have been big migrations!

In this three part blog series we will  focus on the biggest migration Atlassian has done – migrating the 11-year-old Jira codebase from SVN to Git. What obstacles did they encounter? What lessons did they learn? And most importantly, how did they do it without sacrificing active development on Jira? We hope that sharing this experience helps anyone approaching a similar migration.

We’ll focus on Git, because Jira moved to Git, but everything in this series applies equally to Mercurial. At Atlassian, they use both.

Why DVCS?

Migrating a big code base is not without cost. The first thing you will need to answer – both for yourself, your bosses, and the people who work for you – is what will DVCS bring us, and why is it worth the cost of migrating?

We have used SVN successfully on many projects.  So has Atlassian.  And I am sure many people reading this article have also used SVN successfully. Since there is always a cost to migration, you may be inclined to ask, “If Subversion has met my version control needs for many years, why should I change?” To me, that is the wrong question. The real question is, “How can DVCS make what we do today even better?”

Git is known for several things.  For a developer working with code, it’s faster.   It allows for advanced workflows like feature branching, forks and pull requests – in theory, these workflows are all possible with SVN, however the difficulty of merging in SVN compared to Git makes them untenable.  But for anyone moving from SVN, the main benefit of Git is that because of its lightweight branching and easy merging, Git allows you to do your default SVN workflow better than SVN.

What do we mean by this? Let’s talk about how we actually develop and release software. Most of us work in a world where we have at least one released version of our software in the wild, which we call a “stable” branch. We maintain and contribute bug fixes to a stable branch while developing new features on a “development” branch (which is called trunk/master/default depending on which VCS you use).

When we commit bug fixes to stable, we need to get them into master too. SVN merge is known to be a pain and works solely on revision history – not actual content.  As a result, a lot of people avoid it, or they do it infrequently and not as part of their day-to-day workflow. How many projects have you worked on where stable and development branches have started to diverge, or diverged so significantly that the effort to bring them back together is a real project cost? Many have certainly been in projects where this has happened, and when we speak to other developers it’s a frequent occurrence with SVN. There are some strategies to deal with it.  For example, with Atlassian’s issues and tracking software, Jira, they ignored merging and required developers to make each commit individually to each stable and development branch, relying on QA to make sure that it happened correctly.

Git allows you to remove this pain. Git makes merging so easy that merging the entire stable branch into the development branch on each commit is a reality; it’s now Atlassian’s default workflow. So even if you don’t want to use feature branches or forks or pull requests immediately, Git provides advantages from day one.

And when Atlassian was ready, they were in a position to take advantage of the advanced workflows that Git allows. Before the switch to DVCS, Atlassian’s major products targeted 90-day release cycles. These 90-day releases went to two platforms: downloadable products for clients to install on their own servers; and a release to Atlassian’s  hosted cloud platform (Atlassian OnDemand) for which clients pay a monthly fee. Using branches as a core part of development workflow has allowed Atlassian to shorten this to the point where they now release major products to the cloud every 2 weeks.

The Switch

Jira is a decent size code base to move – 11 year’s worth of history, 47,228 commits across approximately 21,000 files. Atlassian averages about 30 different committers over a two-week period. More than that, the VCS is a real work-horse for a project like Jira. Builds, code reviews, scripts for releasing both product distributions and source… all these things have a rich tapestry of dependencies on the source code management system.

Their main goal in the migration was to minimize interruption to developers. This is about more than just the ability to commit code; it is about the infrastructure surrounding software development.

Atlassian has 3.5 years of history in Jira’s code review system.

Jira has a lot of CI. Atlassian runs approximately 60 build plans over different configurations and branches.

They have some other dependencies too – Jira has a somewhat complex release process that involves pulling together code from multiple sources. Atlassian also releases their source code to customers, which involves a different set of build scripts.

There is a tradeoff here between how fast you can migrate and how stably you can do it – Atlassian’s guiding principle was to optimize for stability over speed. If you set a deadline for your migration and it slips, what’s the worst that happens? Developers have to commit code to SVN for another week or so. Not the end of the world. It’s far worse if the migration interrupts developers’ ability to work and meet their own deadlines.

In the end, the migration took 14 days in total, with only a total of two hours where developers were unable to commit code. Atlassian were nearing the end of the development cycle for their latest release, Jira 5, and at no point were they unable to cut a release candidate.

Preparation

When preparing the migration, there are a couple of things to be aware of.

First, it will take time. The actual git-svn clone, which takes all of the commits in the SVN repository and replicates them in Git, took three days for Atlassian.

Second, you should prepare and think of all the dependencies your infrastructure has on your VCS. And know that if your infrastructure is sufficiently complex (like Atlassian’s), there will be things you never dreamed of and only discover when they break. So don’t beat yourself up when you encounter a dragon. Just slay it, and continue on your quest.

A migration like this is not something you can do overnight, or even over a weekend. It needs to be managed for a sustained period of time.

Migration – The Technical Side

Stably migrating is daunting but it is not brain surgery; there is a process Atlassian has employed to make it manageable. In part 2 of Atlassian’s Switch to Git series we walk through, step-by-step, the technical details on migrating from Subversion to Git.

Topics: atlassian blog management migrations svn technology git incident-management information
5 min read

Collaboration Best Practices - 3 Reasons Why Email Hurts Your Productivity

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 12, 2012 11:00:00 AM

The following content was taken from Atlassian.com:

One of the turning points for communication in the workplace was the invention of email. Historically it’s been the easiest way to make contact in any business relationship – short, pointed conversations with the teammates you work closest with, or quick messages to people you’re communicating with for the very first time. You could say it changed the way we all work. Since its inception, however, the notion that email is also a good channel for team collaboration is what’s holding us all back.

Email is great for communication, but not collaboration…

 

Email is an effective means for communication, but when it comes to collaborating with your team on projects and getting work done, it’s a major hindrance to your team’s productivity.

  • Group conversations grow unwieldy too quickly
  • Keeping track of the most current version of an attached document is the modern-era’s needle in a haystack
  • It’s nearly impossible to maintain clarity about what needs to get done, and by whom

At the end of the day, when it comes to collaborating with your team, email wastes A LOT of your time.

Don’t get us wrong, email is not all bad. It’s really effective at quickly and effortlessly communicating with others, but it just doesn’t scale. When it comes to productively working together with your team, it fails to help you get the job done. Here are three reasons why we feel email is killing your productivity.

1. Your email inbox is a lot like quicksand

You receive a ton of email each day (yeah, like you didn’t already know that!) – some of it’s important, some actionable, some is SPAM, and some is unavoidably pointless. As a result your mornings go wasted in your attempt to reach inbox-zero. It’s a losing battle. Each time you take a step forward, you take two back. You’ve likely tried all the organizational features your email client has to offer to control your inbox – labels, filters, multiple inboxes, smart inboxes – but at the end of the day, your morning consists of at least an hour of unavoidable email ground-and-pound. You also probably manage emails when you get home at night and even first thing in the morning when you wake up just to keep your head above water. I’m preaching to the choir here, right? The fact is that this is the norm these days and hardly leaves you anytime to get real work done.

Pro-Tip: Use the ‘Four D’s of Decision-Making’ model

According to a article published by Microsoft, of the email you receive:

  • 50% can be deleted or filed
  • 30% can be delegated of completed in less than two minutes
  • 20% can be deferred to your Task List or Calendar to complete later

With this in mind it’s good practice to decide what to do with each and every email you receive – you have 4 choices:

  • Delete it
  • Do it
  • Delegate it
  • Defer it

2. Your email inbox silos your team’s tacit knowledge

Email is regularly used to share and discuss work, but that doesn’t mean its supposed to. Attaching files and documents or linking to them via shared network drives makes for a complete mess. Countless versions of shared files and relevant follow-up conversations are trapped in email inboxes everywhere. Your inbox is a graveyard for valuable tacit knowledge, knowledge that gets buried deeper and deeper every minute of every day. It’s truly criminal.

So, what’s the real problem? Email is a tool that best serves simple communication, not discussion, and certainly not collaboration either. When you send an email asking someone to review your work, the most valuable piece of information being transferred is not the file itself, but the ensuing conversation. Regardless of the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to find this email in your own inbox later, no one else outside of the email thread has the opportunity to benefit from this transfer of knowledge, keeping stakeholders in the dark.

3. Switching context between work and email wastes a lot of time

The rate at which most people check their email is astonishing – it’s practically become a nervous twitch. Just like Pavlov’s dog, your email has you trained incredibly well.

The problem with checking your email so much is that you rarely have a solid block of time to get any real work done. Take into consideration that if you’re actually checking your email 36 times an hour, and it takes 16 minutes to refocus after handling an incoming email, your workday is basically non-existent.

Switching contexts is distracting, if not annoying, and your email is the number one culprit – destroying the focus you need to get your job done well.

Pro-Tip: Practice Timeboxing to increase personal productivity

Thanks to email, staying on track at work is nearly impossible. Timeboxing is a time management technique that limits the time during which a task is accomplished. Start with 25 minute intervals. Work on a task for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, then commit to email for 25 minutes, and finally take another 5 minute break. Repeat. Focus. Flourish.

If 25 minutes sounds like a lot of email time, it sure beats checking your email 36 times in a single hour. At least with Timeboxing you can put all of your energy both into your work and email respectively.

Is there a solution?

We’ve outlined the major problems with using email to collaborate with your team, and even provided a few tips to help avoid the daily snags of collaborative emailing, but these are just simple workarounds. They don’t necessarily get at the core of your problems, which is that email is not the best solution for team collaboration.

OK, we are Atlassian Experts so we’re obviously biased, but we encourage ut clients to use Confluence and HipChat, Atlassian’s team collaboration and group chat tools, as means to reach decisions faster with less email and fewer meetings.

Topics: atlassian blog business confluence efficiency enterprise management optimization process project technology value collaboration information
1 min read

Praecipio Consulting - Atlassian Enterprise Expert

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 15, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Along with Atlassian’s new offering of Enterprise level Jira and Confluence comes the Atlassian Enterprise Expert Certification. It’s designed to help Enterprise level clients find Atlassian Experts best suited to provide solutions to enterprise level problems. It’s hard to believe that it has been 6 years since our first enterprise deployment, and we are honored to announce that we are officially, Atlassian Enterprise Expert Certified!  

As an Atlassian Enterprise Expert, we have expert-level knowledge and success in the following:

  • Configuration,  analysis, development, and integration of large scale Atlassian installations
  • Diverse product experience with the entire Atlassian product suite
  • Hybrid tool chain experience with both Atlassian and non-Atlassian tools and their integration
  • Git, Mercurial and Subversion

Over the last 6 years, Praecipio Consulting has provided Expert Services to small, 5 person companies to large fortune 100 and 500 companies across several industries including the automotive, pharmaceutical, aerospace engineering, retail, gaming, and financial sectors. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog austin central business confluence efficiency management process technology texas value continuous-improvement information operations

Jira 5.2 Sneak Peek

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 26, 2012 11:00:00 AM

The Atlassian team has been working hard, and to prove it here is a sneak peek of Jira 5.2, soon to debut. With Jira 5.2, it’s easy to add, remove and swap workflows to find the perfect set for your project. Check it out:

 

 

Learn more and let Atlassian know what you think at here.

Topics: jira atlassian blog business process product-services technology information it
2 min read

Jira: Not Just for Software Development

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 17, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Jira’s an issue tracking application, but its core flexibility and strengths mean it can become much more than a tool limited to a development group. Jira’s incredibly adept at helping teams track and accomplish tasks. Jira also has a masterful ability to manage life cycles - and it’s found great success in numerous use cases.

Use Cases

The following use case guides are meant to explain a bit of the details related to using Jira for a specific use case. The info you’ll find in here highlights much of what we’ve learned from working with clients in a variety of different industries, as well as our internal expertise and use of Jira.

For each of these use cases, we’ll attempt to highlight:

  • Particular Jira functionality specific to the use
  • Related plugins we’re aware of
  • Customization and tweaks
  • …and sometimes a sample file to help get you started

General and Non-Software Uses

Agile Software Development

Project Management

HelpDesk / Support / Trouble Ticketing

Test Case Management

This can be done by using either of the following approaches:

Requirements Management

Change Management

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile austin automation business efficiency enterprise issues management process services technology value tracking change cloud collaboration computing continuous-improvement incident-management information integration it itil itsm operations
5 min read

Meet the New & Improved Bamboo OnDemand!

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 17, 2012 11:00:00 AM

If you’re a Bamboo OnDemand subscriber, you could be forgiven for feeling a stab of jealousy every time a new batch of awesome features comes out for the on-premises Bamboo offering.  ”When, oh when, will it be my turn?”, you pined.  Well, if you logged into your Bamboo OnDemand instance this morning, you already know that the wait is over.   Bamboo OnDemand is now roughly on par with Bamboo 4.1.  ”Roughly”, because there are still a few differences such as not being able to install plugins or use commercial version control systems.

The collection of features now available in Bamboo OnDemand is large enough to fill a book (regular readers know I’m not one for brevity!).  My strategy here today is to call out the biggest n’ bestest of ‘em, and point you to resources that’ll take you deeper in. So bookmark this page.  Reference it.  Love it. Repeat.

Better AMI Support

You’ll need to update custom any custom AMIs used by your build agents to make them compatible with today’s upgrade, but going forward this won’t be necessary.  In addition, BoD now offers a stock image for building on Windows as well as support for EC2 spot instances.

Read more about AMI & Agent Support here: Atlassian OnDemand Release Notes – July 2012

DVCS & External Repo Support

 

The people have clamoured for it, and so the people shall have it!  BoD can pull code from external Git and Mercurial repos hosted on Bitbucket, GitHub or on your own network.  That goes for SVN repos on your own network, too.  Using Git submodules?  No problem. Want to pull code from a hosted SVN repo and a Bitbucket Mercurial repo into the same build? Done.

Read more about DVCS & multiple repo support here: What’s New in Bamboo 3.3

Tasks

All your builders and post actions are belong to us Tasks.  Tasks are the granular steps that make up your Plan: checkout source code, call MSBuild, execute a script… etc.  Your existing builders were converted to Tasks as part of the BoD upgrade, and we think you’ll find it to be a great usability improvement.

Read more about Tasks here: Configuring Tasks

Manual Stages

Many users’ workflows require a set of requests and approvals for deploying code to an environment.  And many many users would like to compile, test and deploy to a QA env with each commit –but deploy to production much less frequently.  Manual stages let you construct a single pipeline, and add “gates” or “valves” to satisfy those use cases.  You’re welcome. 

Read more about Manual Stages (and other cool features) here: Bamboo 3.2 Release Notes

Plan Branches

For a couple of years, the developer community has been complaining that using short-lived branches to build new features simply doesn’t play nicely with continuous integration.  We’ve taken a big step toward proving them wrong.  As soon as Bamboo knows there’s a new branch in your repo, it will clone any associated Plans and point them at the new branch.  Branches are automatically discovered in Git & Mercurial repos, with auto-discovery for SVN coming soon. Très facile!

 

Automatic Merging

Because automatic branch discovery wasn’t enough.  We wanted more!  With each commit to a branch, BoD can now grab code from a second branch, merge the two, run your Plan against the merged code, and if successful, push the merged code to either branch.  Great for ensuring longer-lived branches don’t drift to far from the main line, or for two developers collaborating on a feature using their own feature branches.

Read more about Automatic Merging here: Using Automatic Merges

Test Quarantine

When I was a test engineer, I would’ve killed for this.  But you don’t have to!  No more commenting out tests or dorking around with your suite.xml file.  Just click a button to neutralize a busted test.  It’ll still get run so you can see when it’s fixed, and you’ll see your count of quarantined tests on each build result summary so you don’t loose track of them.

Read more about test quarantine here: Putting Tests in Quarantine with Bamboo 4 (Yes, the zombie apocalypse has indeed arrived.)

Jira Issues

BoD has issues.  And how!  Forget all that inefficient context switching, and create Jira issues from any build results page in Bamboo.

Read more about Jira Issues here: Top 5 Reasons Creating Jira Issues from Bamboo Makes Your Team Awesome-r

Broken Build Tracking

Team leads and scrum masters have better things to do than hound people to fix the build.  With broken build tracking you can assign one person to be the default owner of broken builds for each Plan, or have responsibility assigned to users who made changes since the last passing build.  Bamboo will nag them on your behalf until the build is green again.

Read more about Broken Build Tracking here: Bamboo 4.1 Announcement Blog

Failed Stage Do-Overs

Everyone needs a do-over sometimes.  Maybe a build config needed tweaking.  Maybe your QA environment down just as you were deploying to it.  Re-running only the Stage that failed can save you a whole lot of time.  And time is money, so… yeah.

Read more about Failed Stage Do-Overs here: Bamboo 3.2 Release Notes

Onward!

Bamboo OnDemand is now resting on a more stable platform than before, so expect fewer stability hiccups going forward.  We’ve also made custom AMIs for your build agents easier (even updated the templates, so you might not need to customize at all!), and made Windows images available by default.  Très facile (redux).

But it’s also the end of an era.  This is the last announcement I intend to write about BoD upgrades.  Why?  Because they simply won’t be a big deal anymore.  We’ve retro-fitted our upgrade process such that BoD will be upgraded with new versions of Bamboo at the same time, possibly even before, those versions are available for installation behind your firewall.  This is one “good bye” I think we’re all happy about!

Topics: atlassian blog bamboo business enterprise management practices process technology collaboration information it lifecycle
1 min read

Information Economics and Confluence: Putting the I Back into IT.

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 27, 2012 11:00:00 AM

When it comes to IT, why do most organizations focus more on the T in technology than the I in information? The purpose of a good IT infrastructure’s to prevent information asymmetry and the implications that come with it. By properly managing your company’s information network you can create value through better decision-making.

Information asymmetry occurs when one party has more or less information than another. This can result in bad decision-making, and at times, unethical decisions. Regardless of the industry you operate in, treating information as an economic resource allows your business to yield higher than expected payoffs, resulting in a competitive edge.

The need for better collaboration both within and across business processes is a problem our clients come across often. Luckily the solution’s one we pride ourselves on offering.

Atlassian’s Confluence serves as an organizational wiki, connecting employees to information and each other. Confluence allows users to create, share, discuss, and discover documents, ideas, Jira issues, specs, mockups, projects – anything. By connecting your entire business in one place, Confluence allows for better integration. We love it and so do our clients!

Topics: atlassian blog bpm business confluence enterprise management practices process technology value collaboration information it
5 min read

Stash 1.1 Released: Simple, Secure Git Repository Management for the Enterprise

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 19, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Seven weeks ago the world met Stash – a centralized solution to manage Git repositories behind the firewall. Stash 1.0 was a huge launch! Atlassian’s been deluged with great feedback and already have small agile teams and large enterprises adopting Stash for their Git development.

Atlassian’s just getting started, and today Stash’s future begins! Stash 1.1 is here with more features focused on making your behind the firewall Git development simple, secure and fast.

SSH Support

Developed from the ground up with enterprise level security as a #1 priority, Stash now supports SSH in addition to HTTPS. Use standard HTTPS authentication or set up your public keys and connect to Stash via SSH, it’s your choice. This resolves Stash’s #1 feature request focused on adding security options to support SSH.

 

For those of you who chose to go the SSH route there can be some benefits for your team (depending on your setup):

  • Increased security
  • Ease of configuring automated systems, such as build and deployment servers (e.g. Bamboo)
  • Restricted access to pushing and pulling from Stash without compromising passwords

Developers are able to manage their own SSH keys. For those using multiple machines to work with their Git repositories or several automated systems pushing and pulling from Stash they can add as many keys as they see fit. And, have no fear Stash admins, you still have full control over SSH keys with the ability to grant or revoke the SSH keys of any user.


Do you understand your Git error messages? No matter what flavor of authentication you choose, Stash makes sure you know what’s going on when things go wrong. Unlike standard Git error messages, which can be confusing and contribute to the steep learning curve, Stash will provide you with user-friendly messages.

Standard Git error message when a repository does not exist

fatal: https://stash.atlassian.com/scm/STASH/nosuchrepo/info/refs not found: did you run git update-server-info on the server?

Stash Git error message when a repository does not exist

fatal: https://stash.atlassian.com/scm/STASH/nosuchrepo.git: Repository does not exist
The requested repository does not exist, or you do not have permission to access it.

Fast-er Browsing

Time = money, and who doesn’t like to save a few bucks? Stash 1.1 vastly improves productivity by providing a faster experience for you and your team to work with Git repositories. Development delivered fast and efficient!

Diff Power

Atlassian’s development teams consist of back-end coders, front-end coders, QA, performance testing, product management and even designers. They’re all part of the development process.

The designers on Atlassian’s team were looking for a way to utilize Stash to compare images. They posed questions like “Have you ever tried to find the subtle difference between two images? That difference may be small like a text change or as large as a page redesign. In many cases it is not obvious.” So, from Atlassian’s designers to yours, we introduce the interactive image diff viewer (careful, it’s hypnotic!).

Maybe not as exciting, but definitely useful is ediffs. When viewing a diff it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish textual changes. Stash solves this with the addition of ediffs to clearly see what textual changes were added or removed when comparing two revisions.

Recent Repositories

There’s a new item in the Stash header, Repositories, that shows you the few repositories you usually work with, even though there may be hundreds set up across your company. For those developers who work with several repositories and want to avoid several clicks to get back to those repositories meet Recent Repositories. Quickly navigate to the repositories you recently visited and save a few seconds in your day.

 

Mouse-less Productivity

Atlassian wanted to make it faster for their development team, and yours, to navigate Stash (Stash was developed with Stash ). When viewing changesets, browsing directories or jumping through your commit list simply press ‘J’ or ‘K’ to move from next to previous. Less mouse, more keyboard!

Check out the other time-saving keyboard shortcuts by clicking the image.

 

Simple-r Permissions

Git’s great, but administering access control to your repositories isn’t! For those organizations with complicated user management (especially in a corporate LDAP), Stash simplifies Git administration. Stash keeps you and your developers productive by providing a way to structure your repositories and manage permissions all in a matter of seconds.

  • Global permissions – delegate administration of projects to developers and provide them the freedom to create and manage repositories; no more requests to IT to create Git repositories.
  • Projects permissions – use the project structure to grant a simple set of project permissions to users and groups to control access to repositories; you can have confidence that the right developers have access permissions to a project.

The new permission screens provide an at-a-glance overview of who has access to your projects and makes managing permissions even faster. Without further ado – the new permissions screen…

Meet Stash 1.1 – 25% off for 12 more days

If you haven’t met Stash yet, now is the time. Be one of the early adopters of Stash and take advantage of the introduction offer of 25% off for new Stash licenses. This long-standing offer will expire in just 12 days (June 30, 2012).

Stash – Git Repository Management for Enterprise Team. Git going!

 
                

Questions & Feedback

Have questions or feedback about Stash? Drop us a line or log feedback on Atlassian’s public Jira issue tracker.

Topics: atlassian blog bitbucket bpm business efficiency enterprise groups management process technology user value collaboration continuous-improvement information operations
3 min read

The ABC's of Agile

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 7, 2012 11:00:00 AM

The Agile school of software development’s currently one of the most accepted methodologies for improving productivity. Targeted mainly towards IT managers and CIOs, Agile methods promote an interactive approach which have the ability to help flatten your organization’s cost of change curve.

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development was first introduced in 2001, and outlines the foundation of Agile in twelve principles:

  1. Customer satisfaction by rapid delivery of useful software
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
  3. Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
  4. Working software is the principal measure of progress
  5. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
  6. Close, daily co-operation between business people and developers
  7. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  8. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  10. Simplicity- the art of maximizing the amount of work not done- is essential
  11. Self-organizing teams
  12. Regular adaptation to changing circumstances

Cost of Change Curve

First introduced by Barry Bohem in 1981, the cost of change curve represents the exponential increase in cost as it relates to making a change during the normal development phase of a product. This means that as your product moves farther down the developmental pipeline it becomes more costly to make changes and remedy errors.

That’s a good argument for Agile since it ensures you leave the current production phase with a product that’s as close to perfect as you can make it – particularly because Agile methodology calls for testing and up-front integration which translates to rapid production and minimal initial design. Since the test code’s written before functional code and automated test suites are built around the evolving code, developers are allowed to make rapid and aggressive changes.

The ability to make these changes is one of Agile’s key features and the result is a reduction in the amount of product errors late in the development phase, reducing the cost of change. Even if your organization enjoys a rather flat cost of change curve, Agile ideals can be applied to reduce the cost of change throughout the software life cycle.

Scrum

Scrum’s another widely accepted approach to implementing the Agile philosophy, which includes both managerial and development processes. This approach relies on a self-organizing, cross-functional team supported by a scrummaster and a product owner. Scrum makes your organization Agile by ensuring quick progress, continuously creating value, and by keeping projects on track. The most important concepts of Scrum are:

  • Product backlog - A complete list of requirements that are not currently in the product release. Typical backlog items include bugs and usability/performance improvements.
  • CI - Also known as continuous integration; allows for scrum teams to continuously integrate their work. This will often happen on a daily basis.
  • User story – Describes problems that should be solved by the system being built.
  • Scrummaster - The manager of the Scrum project.
  • Burndown chart - The amount of work remaining within a sprint, i’s updated daily, and also tracks progress.
  • Sprint backlog - A list of backlog items assigned to a sprint, but not yet completed

Kanban

Kanban means visual board – and that’s just what it is, a development process that revolves around a board to manage works in progress (WIP). A Kanban board includes “lanes,” each denoting different phases a project might take. It moves WIPs across the board and deploys them into production when they reach the done column. Since Kanban development practice revolves around WIP management each state of progress is limited to a set number of projects. Organizations able to leverage this high frequency of delivery typically enjoy a large financial benefit.  The most important concepts of Kanban are:

  • Swim lanes - The horizontal lanes of a Kanban board represent the different states in which a WIP or task can exist.
  • Backlog - A list of backlog items awaiting deployment, but not yet completed.
  • Stories – A particular user need assigned to a development team.

Atlassian and You 
Atlassian specializes in robust, easy-to-use, affordable internet applications that seamlessly integrate Agile and Lean methodology  with your business processes to support your organizational goals.  Simply put, success breeds extraordinary performance – and  extraordinary performance breeds success. Atlassian’s suite of products are designed to boost your organization’s performance by providing tools that are easy to use, allowing your business to build its own solutions.
Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile central business confluence efficiency issues management process process-consulting scrum technology texas value tracking change continuous-improvement greenhopper incident-management information it lifecycle operations
1 min read

SmartGrid: The Future of Electric Power

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 14, 2011 11:00:00 AM

SmartGrid technology is the effective future of the electric power industry. Just consider the numbers: the US SmartGrid market is expected to double in size between 2009 and 2014, from $21.4 billion to $42.8 billion, with global SmartGrid spending exceeding $200 billion in 2015. With significant aid from federal stimulus funding, SmartGrid development and implementation has already begun across the US. Experts expect SmartGrid technology to become the electric industry standard within 20 years.

You’re probably familiar with what SmartGrids can do. If you’re not, think improved energy consumption information + customer empowerment. SmartGrids leverage automated power systems that monitor and control grid activities, ensuring a constant two-way flow of electricity and information between plants, consumers, and points in between. That information will originate from millions of data points scattered among system devices, enabling utilities to adapt electricity delivery to usage patterns. Demand-response software will enable utilities and consumers to turn high-demand appliances on and off during peak demand periods, improving efficiency. Technology can allow consumers to monitor their home’s energy consumption at the appliance-level (dishwasher, refrigerator, etc), and adjust their thermostats and other power-consuming devices via computers and mobile phones. Basically, SmartGrids will allow consumers and grid operators to understand what’s going on demand-side and make grid management more intelligent.

Information technology (IT) is the driver of SmartGrid technology. Custom software, data management, systems integration, and data security are critical to SmartGrid operations. We bring these solutions to utilities en route to SmartGrid deployment. If you’re making the move, talk to us. We prepare companies for the switch.

Topics: blog management software technology security smartgrid utilities data deployment information integration it operations bespoke
3 min read

Organize SharePoint: Transitioning from Folders

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 5, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

 

Humans have been coming up with new ways to organize their information for years. The need to find the information you need quickly has perpetuated for centuries. When information began to be digitized, that need transitioned into the digital world – and soon we found ourselves with a pile of virtual files wondering how to manage them responsibly.

Since the 1990s, the most common way to sort through this file pile – or at least the best way to arrange them coherently – was to put the files into a “folder tree.” Folder trees are complex hierarchies of file folders that, if you mapped them out on a whiteboard, would look like your typical Christmas tree – with the high-level folders at the top, slowing segmenting downward to reveal subfolders, and the subfolders of those subfolders, and the subfolder’s subfolder’s subfolder. Say that three times fast.

The problem with folder trees is that as a company grows, their folder tree can easily turn into folder sprawl. As the tree grows, files can be buried deeper and deeper – meaning the search for a particular file takes longer in most cases – not to mention the time it takes to save a new file in the right location. And the more time it takes to find something, the more company time is wasted. That’s inefficient.

“But what about the Search function?” you say. “Can’t you just search for the file?” Youcan, actually. But in order to find the correct file, you need to know all or part of the file name – which you can’t guarantee. In order for Search to be affective, you’d need to be able to search for the things about the file you DO know – like, for instance, when it was written, who wrote it, what it was for, etc.

That being said, a better way to organize information is to forget the folder tree altogether – or at least in theory. It sounds crazy, but if done right, it can make your information architecture far more efficient than you think.

The better way involves assigning relevant attributes to every file in your system – where each file has a set of attributes that describe it, telling us what it is, what type of file it is, when it was last modified, and who modified it. Consider a hypothetical worker’s compensation form, for example, stored in a content management system. If I didn’t know what the worker’s comp form was called, but knew it had to do with insurance, I could type “insurance” as a search query – and if “insurance” was a keyword or attribute of the form, presto. I’ve got it.

                                    Document Library in SharePoint

                                      HR Request List in SharePoint

Attributes should be unique to every folder, library, or department, users associate with documents differently depending on what they are. For example, this HR request list in Microsoft SharePoint looks a lot different from the Employee Agreements document library. For one, it stores requests – not actual documents. It’s meant to track requests made to Human Resources, so each request’s attributes tell who requested it, what type of thing was requested, some details, and its approval status.

By assigning attributes to every file in your system, you’re guaranteeing faster search times and implementing a more intelligent information architecture for your organization – avoiding the messy, high-maintenance folder sprawl we mentioned earlier. By making the search process more efficient and repeatable, you’re making your company more profitable long-term.

Good technology, good process, good profit. To more learn about that or tell us how YOU organize your stuff, visit our blog.

Topics: business library management sharepoint company documentation information intelligence microsoft organization
4 min read

Cloud Computing Risks and Rewards

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 29, 2010 11:00:00 AM

The relationship between ITSM and cloud computing is still a hot topic. Companies are still asking questions regarding what the cloud is, IT versus business roles in adopting cloud infrastructure, and whether the shift toward cloud computing is optional or inevitable. Ambiguity abounds.

We all know the business wants results, and requires IT to offer swift responses to business demands. The business ultimately wants to remain agile and flexible – able to adjust quickly to changing needs. IT can’t always deliver solutions as quickly as the business wants. The cloud can.

It’s easy and logical, then, for the business to leap toward cloud providers to meet their needs. In the cloud, the business can be in control of their relationship with providers – though if one doesn’t suit their fancy, switching isn’t always easy or possible.

There are hundreds of questions that pop up here – most about the risks and rewards of leveraging cloud platforming. Before we delve any further, consider this list:

Risks

  1. Security. Where’s your data – with your provider, or with a third, fourth, or fifth party? Is it safe? Does your cloud provider explicitly state rights to outsource your data? You should clearly understand your provider’s security-related responsibilities and guarantees described in its service level agreement.
  2. Re: Security – SAS70 and PCI compliance. SAS70 (a set of auditing standards designed to measure handling of sensitive data) and PCI (a worldwide information security standard) assure companies that their storage vendors are handling their data properly – so they don’t have to audit vendors themselves. SAS70 and PCI compliance policies may uncover details that aren’t specified in service agreements. Since server outsourcing can put your data anywhere in the world without the end user noticing a change, SAS70 and PCI are standards for cloud peace of mind. Google realized this early when they announced their SAS70 Type II certification in 2008.
  3. Re: Security Data Protection. If your data isn’t stored within your in-house network, it’s stored in someone else’s. It’s therefore subject to someone else’s protection framework. Be sure to ask for specifics from your cloud provider regarding the intrusion detection system (IDS), intrusion prevention system (IPS), firewall, and other security technologies they’ve deployed to clarify their integrity. These security appliances are required by PCI.
  4. Integration with existing systems. Will cloud-based applications integrate well with your internal network configuration, security infrastructure, and software?
  5. Governance. Who’s in charge of your data – you or your provider? Who’s in charge of application adoption and making decisions based on performance – the business or IT?
  6. Internet connectivity. Since the cloud operates through the internet, it’s completely bound to connectivity. No internet, no work.

Rewards

  1. Lower IT infrastructure costs. IT can supplement or replace internal computing resources; no need to purchase equipment to handle peak needs.
  2. Lower software costs. IT won’t be burdened with the costs of installing and maintaining programs on every desktop in the business.
  3. Unlimited, pay-as-you-need-to storage capacity. As much as you need, whenever you need it. Most providers allow you to pay for more space as you need it so you don’t have to commit to a large sum of space.
  4. Operating system compatibility. The cloud is built on browser-based applications, meaning OS’s just don’t matter.
  5. Easy group collaboration. Sharing documents? Anyone anywhere can collaborate in real-time.
  6. You’re no longer bound to specific devices. Change computers and your applications and documents follow you wherever you go.
  7. Low systems cost. You don’t need a high-powered system to run cloud applications, so the computer doesn’t need the processing power or hard disk space demanded by traditional software.

It’s clear why the momentum toward the cloud is so strong – the rewards appear to outweigh the risks. Notice, though, that the risks are coming from IT while the rewards make up most of what the business side is drooling over. It’s no wonder we’re concerned with IT and business alignment in this context. That alignment may determine the success or nightmare of cloud migration.

recent CIO survey reported that among companies not leveraging the cloud, many aren’t confident the cloud will reduce their IT costs. Half of IT decision makers, the report said, expect little reduction in IT spending after cloud adoption. Another 42 percent weren’t sure they’d save any money.

Among companies who had adopted cloud applications, however, cost savings topped scalability and flexibility as the top reason for adopting cloud computing. 83 percent of those respondents were using SaaS models.

CIO’s results indicate a lingering apprehension about cloud services, but also a prevailing wind toward the cost savings the cloud offers. Pew Research’s study on the future of cloud computing blew in the same direction: 71 percent of respondents said most people won’t be working with conventional PC software by 2020, leveraging internet-based applications instead; 27 percent said most people would still use superior PC-based applications.

We’re going to see more companies begin implementing cloud services in the next few years. This is clear. The IT-business strategy alliance is critical to the success of cloud implementations. Since more pressure lies on IT to adjust their infrastructure and methodology to accommodate cloud services, IT faces a greater challenge: grow toward an intimate partnership with the business, or grow in irrelevance to the business.

The question has one right answer – and with that answer come a host of more questions for another post.

For a more thorough look at cloud security, check out our upcoming security post.

Want to get in touch? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog business enterprise library management process-consulting services technology tips tricks value cloud collaboration computing information infrastructure it itil itsm
2 min read

Four Ways YOU Can Ensure Cloud Security

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 16, 2010 11:00:00 AM

In our last Cloud post (Cloud Computing Risks and Rewards) we discussed a number of Cloud risks related to security:

These risks don’t “demonize” the cloud – but rather raise some critical questions regarding the protection of company data that’s migrated to cloud servers. The security of the cloud is still a bit (forgive the pun) cloudy to most – and may integrate well with existing security policies, protocols, and infrastructure.

Christofer Hoff – who offers excellent cloud perspective in his blog Rational Survivability-
claims it’s not the nature of cloud computing businesses should be worried about, but rather how companies implement and manage cloud computing.

“We’re struggling less with security technology solutions (as there really are few) but rather with the operational, organizational, and compliance issues that come with this new unchartered (or pooly chartered) territory,” Hoff wrote in his post Security and the Cloud – What Does That Even Mean?

Hoff’s quote pinpoints the simple source of our worries: we’ve developed a standard for IT security and compliance that’s being disrupted by something new. The question now is not whether companies should migrate to the cloud. The question is how our existing security methodologies will translate and apply to cloud computing. Since no industry standard for cloud security compliance has been adopted, organizations must steer their own ships as they sail toward cloud solutions.

Four ways organizations can retain appropriate data security as they implement elements of the cloud:

  1. Policy reviewing. A few thorough reads of your cloud provider’s policy will likely explain the rights they reserve to store and protect your data.
  2. SAS70 and PCI Compliance. As we said in our last post, SAS70 and PCI compliance policies may uncover details that aren’t specified in service agreements. They’re standards for cloud peace of mind.
  3. Choosing a public, private, or virtual private cloud. Public clouds allow secure employee access to company data from any system anywhere. Private clouds are more costly, granting access from company systems or systems within the company’s LAN network, providing greater control over data resources and security. Virtual private clouds use a public cloud infrastructure in a private /semi-private manner, providing more balance between cost efficiency and security.
  4. Leveraging ITIL methodology. ITIL offers a one-size-fits-all starting point for IT methodology. As more business adopt cloud applications, businesses will have opportunities to apply ITIL methodology to a new generation of computing.
Topics: atlassian blog implementation library management services technology tips tricks security cloud compliance computing information infrastructure it itil
4 min read

Cloud Computing Risks and Rewards

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 29, 2010 11:00:00 AM

The relationship between ITSM and cloud computing is still a hot topic. Companies are still asking questions regarding what the cloud is, IT versus business roles in adopting cloud infrastructure, and whether the shift toward cloud computing is optional or inevitable. Ambiguity abounds.

We all know the business wants results, and requires IT to offer swift responses to business demands. The business ultimately wants to remain agile and flexible – able to adjust quickly to changing needs. IT can’t always deliver solutions as quickly as the business wants. The cloud can.

It’s easy and logical, then, for the business to leap toward cloud providers to meet their needs. In the cloud, the business can be in control of their relationship with providers – though if one doesn’t suit their fancy, switching isn’t always easy or possible.

There are hundreds of questions that pop up here – most about the risks and rewards of leveraging cloud platforming. Before we delve any further, consider this list:

Risks

  1. Security. Where’s your data – with your provider, or with a third, fourth, or fifth party? Is it safe? Does your cloud provider explicitly state rights to outsource your data? You should clearly understand your provider’s security-related responsibilities and guarantees described in its service level agreement.
  2. Re: Security – SAS70 and PCI compliance. SAS70 (a set of auditing standards designed to measure handling of sensitive data) and PCI (a worldwide information security standard) assure companies that their storage vendors are handling their data properly – so they don’t have to audit vendors themselves. SAS70 and PCI compliance policies may uncover details that aren’t specified in service agreements. Since server outsourcing can put your data anywhere in the world without the end user noticing a change, SAS70 and PCI are standards for cloud peace of mind. Google realized this early when they announced their SAS70 Type II certification in 2008.
  3. Re: Security Data Protection. If your data isn’t stored within your in-house network, it’s stored in someone else’s. It’s therefore subject to someone else’s protection framework. Be sure to ask for specifics from your cloud provider regarding the intrusion detection system (IDS), intrusion prevention system (IPS), firewall, and other security technologies they’ve deployed to clarify their integrity. These security appliances are required by PCI.
  4. Integration with existing systems. Will cloud-based applications integrate well with your internal network configuration, security infrastructure, and software?
  5. Governance. Who’s in charge of your data – you or your provider? Who’s in charge of application adoption and making decisions based on performance – the business or IT?
  6. Internet connectivity. Since the cloud operates through the internet, it’s completely bound to connectivity. No internet, no work.

Rewards

  1. Lower IT infrastructure costs. IT can supplement or replace internal computing resources; no need to purchase equipment to handle peak needs.
  2. Lower software costs. IT won’t be burdened with the costs of installing and maintaining programs on every desktop in the business.
  3. Unlimited, pay-as-you-need-to storage capacity. As much as you need, whenever you need it. Most providers allow you to pay for more space as you need it so you don’t have to commit to a large sum of space.
  4. Operating system compatibility. The cloud is built on browser-based applications, meaning OS’s just don’t matter.
  5. Easy group collaboration. Sharing documents? Anyone anywhere can collaborate in real-time.
  6. You’re no longer bound to specific devices. Change computers and your applications and documents follow you wherever you go.
  7. Low systems cost. You don’t need a high-powered system to run cloud applications, so the computer doesn’t need the processing power or hard disk space demanded by traditional software.

It’s clear why the momentum toward the cloud is so strong – the rewards appear to outweigh the risks. Notice, though, that the risks are coming from IT while the rewards make up most of what the business side is drooling over. It’s no wonder we’re concerned with IT and business alignment in this context. That alignment may determine the success or nightmare of cloud migration.

recent CIO survey reported that among companies not leveraging the cloud, many aren’t confident the cloud will reduce their IT costs. Half of IT decision makers, the report said, expect little reduction in IT spending after cloud adoption. Another 42 percent weren’t sure they’d save any money.

Among companies who had adopted cloud applications, however, cost savings topped scalability and flexibility as the top reason for adopting cloud computing. 83 percent of those respondents were using SaaS models.

CIO’s results indicate a lingering apprehension about cloud services, but also a prevailing wind toward the cost savings the cloud offers. Pew Research’s study on the future of cloud computing blew in the same direction: 71 percent of respondents said most people won’t be working with conventional PC software by 2020, leveraging internet-based applications instead; 27 percent said most people would still use superior PC-based applications.

We’re going to see more companies begin implementing cloud services in the next few years. This is clear. The IT-business strategy alliance is critical to the success of cloud implementations. Since more pressure lies on IT to adjust their infrastructure and methodology to accommodate cloud services, IT faces a greater challenge: grow toward an intimate partnership with the business, or grow in irrelevance to the business.

The question has one right answer – and with that answer come a host of more questions for another post.

For a more thorough look at cloud security, check out our upcoming security post.

Want to get in touch? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: atlassian blog technology cloud computing information it
2 min read

ITSM: The Backbone of Cloud Computing

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 15, 2010 11:00:00 AM

IT Service Management (ITSM) and cloud computing don’t always appear in the same discussion – even though one can’t be done well without the other. Integrating the two is especially important as we move further into (what could be) the fundamental shift toward cloud computing.

First – since the phrase “cloud computing” has taken on ambiguity as a buzzword – a quick clarification is necessary. Cloud computing doesn’t change what’s being delivered to end users. It changes how services are delivered. End users should receive the same services from you whether your data’s stored on a server you manage yourself in-house or on a server that’s managed by a provider in Timbuktu.

That being said, IT needs to understand the services they deliver to end users – whether the end user is the employee or the customer. This is the core of ITSM.

Some primary benefits of the cloud include:

  • Pay-as-you-go server costs; planned capacity
  • Annual savings in hardware and man power
  • Instant “green” IT options without long-term transformation costs
  • Higher rate of connectivity that extends anywhere

Those perks are the driving forces behind the cloud’s popularity – and have already borne fruit in organizations who’ve incorporated the cloud as a platform for daily operations. Some, however, raise concern over the difficulty to align the cloud with ITSM, which regularly involves:

  • A slow rate of delivery of tangible business benefits
  • An inability to relate the consumption of IT resources to customer activities
  • A lack of stakeholder support
  • Trouble integrating facilities management, security, and business continuity
  • Scarce resources

These difficulties won’t surprise anyone in ITSM. They’re simply the nature of the beast. Every ITSM team has to deal with a lack of stakeholder support, pressure to produce tangible benefits in short amounts of time, etc. When news of a new business decision reaches IT’s desk after it’s already been decided on, however, these difficulties become even more difficult – and the alignment of IT investments and business continuity is disrupted. The business has moved along without IT, and IT is left to run after it.

The same is true for the alignment between ITSM and cloud computing. Companies may rightfully lust after cloud services and decide to begin moving toward a cloud platform. While the results for end users (employees and in turn customers) may be clear, how to deliver them may not be. If the ITSM team isn’t intimately involved, the business risks ambiguity on both sides.

Ideally, the business should work to ensure inter-operability between IT assets and cloud applications. That (like everything else) requires the business to understand IT’s responsibilities, and IT to understand cloud concepts. The software market’s shifting toward ease-of-access software/SaaS; ITSM software vendors are having to market their simplicity and cloud-usability to stay competitive. Because of this, inter-operability is becoming more of an issue since businesses may be tempted to consider ease of use and cloud integration more important than ITSM.

The alignment is essential. With business strategy and IT well-aligned, leveraging the cloud can expand your ability to be flexible in doing business and save you overhead costs while preserving what’s delivered to end users.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Topics: blog business library management services technology value saas cloud computing information infrastructure it itil itsm
2 min read

Leveraging Technology to Drive Intelligence

By Praecipio Consulting on May 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Richard Veryard’s thought-provoking powerpoint “Technologies for Organizational Intelligence” claims that intelligent organizations:

  • recognize that business opportunities are complex
  • respond to them coherently
  • pay attention to weak and strong signs of inefficiencies for the purpose of collective learning and innovation

Veryard stresses later that intelligence is vital to a business’ survival. That idea should not sound revolutionary, but provokes one to question if businesses frequently consider how well they’re working to understand themselves and improve their knowledge and efficiency in order to grow.

This is highly relevant in the context of IT Service Management (ITSM) – an introspective, process-focused approach to managing IT systems. IT professionals who care about ITSM try to stay informed about technology advances, ways to improve customer experience, and align IT with business needs. It’s the duty of those in ITSM to maintain and promote a healthy, innovative IT environment that fuels the innovative capabilities of the business as a whole.

Those ambitions correlate closely with the actions Veryard attributes to intelligent organizations. He exalts a sort of “collective learning and innovation,” in which those in the business continually collaborate in order to learn more about how they do things. Fixing problems and developing innovative ideas are both natural products of this introspection. Each, in turn, impact the end product offered to customers.

While it may be difficult at times to devote attention to efficiency, it’s vital to the continued growth of a business. After all, those who fail to fix their problems and innovate aren’t the ones we talk about ten years down the road.

So, how does a business make sure they’re “intelligent”? Veryard lists quite a few ways, including:

  • Understanding that business environments are complex
  • Approaching problems with rational, collective solutions
  • Employing people and technology that works well together

The third remedy is the primary concern of ITSM. IT can build a foundation for organizational intelligence by implementing an enterprise-level platforming technology that can facilitate collaboration within the organization – especially if the platform is adopted across the entire enterprise.

Without an effective, efficient technology that integrates well with a business’ existing software, the collective effort toward ITSM growth is kept on the ground. Frequently gathering information that paints an accurate picture of performance requires predictable, repeatable processes that can be technologically executed. Such a technology drives consistent progress toward efficiency and innovation – and serves as part of the backbone of an intelligent organization.

As Veryard said in his presentation, intelligence is vital to survival. As introspective folks with technological literacy, those in ITSM can have a profound impact on the progress of their organization by leveraging technology to build an intelligent business.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Topics: blog bpm business enterprise library management process technology value collaboration continuous-improvement information infrastructure intelligence itil itsm operations
2 min read

The Difference Between Cloud Computing and SaaS

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 21, 2010 11:00:00 AM

In a business world clouded with buzzwords, it’s easy to lose track of the actual meanings of terms relevant to the IT industry.

Take cloud computing, for example – one of the tech industry’s biggest buzzwords at present. A number of software vendors have been using the phrase “cloud computing” to market their Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products. Are the two terms different from one another, or the same? Or is cloud computing truly a meaningless buzzword?

In truth, the two terms are different. SaaS refers to software that’s owned, delivered, and managed remotely by a one or more providers. The provider handles all the “heavy-lifting” associated with the service: server maintenance, support, etc. SaaS products are usually out-of-the-box tools that don’t require extensive setup. They’re accessible by web, and usually paid for on a subscription or pay-per-use basis.

Cloud computing refers to the broader concept of allowing people to access scalable, technology-enabled services via the internet. The term has become virally fashionable in the tech industry – much like the word “organic” in the food industry. Cloud computing – more commonly referred to as “the cloud” – is an on-demand way of providing services. It’s usually touted as an intelligent approach to computing in today’s fragile economy.

SaaS is essentially a subservice of cloud computing. Not all cloud applications are SaaS applications, but nearly all SaaS applications are in the cloud, which provides the computing power to run those applications. SaaS applications, therefore, are offered on the cloud platform. The folks at Common Craft do a good job explaining these differences in their video “Cloud Computing Plain and Simple.”

Cloud computing and SaaS refer to different things. While SaaS refers to out-of-the-box applications offered on the cloud platform, cloud computing refers to the bigger picture of how software can be provided more efficiently through the internet.

That bigger picture includes the transition of the software industry toward a Software-as-a-Service model, where customers make decisions based on the value of the service. Daryl Plummer – Chief Fellow at Gartner, a US-based IT research and advisory firm – said in a 2008 podcast that this economical change in the software market is the power of cloud computing: “The way we actually charge for cloud-based SaaS services won’t be based on how many servers we’re running, how much maintenance costs we’re taking on, or which software products we bought,” Plummer said. “It’s going to be based on the value of the service to the customer, and when you start getting into that consumer-provider relationship, the customer ends up setting the value.”

Two years later, Plummer was right.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: atlassian blog enterprise library management services technology tips tricks saas cloud collaboration computing information infrastructure it itil
2 min read

5 ITIL Change Management Tips

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 19, 2010 11:00:00 AM

In order to remain competitive, a firm’s IT environment must be aligned with the firm’s business strategy – meaning IT should share responsibility in delivering value to the customer.

This is why Change Management is so important: changes to the IT environment must not disrupt the value delivered to the customer. IT must maintain stability even during change. ITIL’s Change Management methodology provides a clear framework (with defined roles, responsibilities, and processes) that can facilitate success.

Change Management should be considered a major undertaking. Determining where your firm stands in terms of ITIL maturity and developing a realistic project plan will improve your ITIL effectiveness.

Here are 5 Change Management tips to consider:

1. What’s a change, exactly?
Reality check: changes happen all the time. Nearly everything in IT involves some sort of frequent change. That being said, it’s important to figure out just what you consider to be a change. You can then determine when to apply ITIL Change Management principles.

Every change (even small installations and deletions) should be handled in terms of Change Management. The smallest of changes could cause major disruptions if no one knows about them.

2. What, specifically, will Change Management accomplish for my organization?
It’s no surprise that some firms have trouble defining ITIL in general. Since ITIL methodology isn’t something you can learn on a coffee break, most IT and non-IT folks alike don’t have the time to study ITIL for days.

Even if someone understands ITIL, they may not understand how it applies to efficiency. Someone might think implementing Change Management will fix issues related to Release or Incident Management. Pinpointing what Change Management will accomplish for your organization is therefore vital to understanding what it’s actually doing – managing the oversight and approval aspects of the change process in a unique organization-specific environment.

3. Articulate the benefits of Change Management to each level of the organization.
This goes right along with our last tip. Once you pinpoint the applicative benefits Change Management will have for your organization, advertise them. Getting buy-in at every level of the organization is critical to the success of your ITIL implementation.

There are multiple stakeholder groups within every organization – that is, folks personally and organizationally affected by the change. They’ll want to know “what’s in it for me?” in order to judge whether they’re on board with the change. Presenting accurate change information tailored for each stakeholder fosters better accountability from stakeholder groups – and improves buy-in.

4. Don’t Buy a Tool Until You’ve Determined What You Need.
While it may make sense to buy software to guide your Change Management implementation, doing so before laying out your process framework is counter-productive.

A more productive approach includes determining your needs before adopting a tool, so you can better evaluate which tools fit your needs instead of adjusting your needs to your tool.

5. Use Change Management Success to Promote Other ITIL Initiatives.
Folks are usually familiar with the Change Management component of ITIL – and oblivious of its other processes. If you track your Change Management successes and gather supportive data from Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), you can use success stories to promote the benefits of other ITIL processes like Release Management, Incident Management, etc.

One final tip: It’s worth noting the incredible value and need for leadership/executive support in the Change Management process. It’s important for company leadership to sell and support the change despite resistance in the company to organizational and cultural change. Often times, Change Management implementations are resisted since they uncover underlying issues that some within the company don’t want to uncover. Ultimately, though, Change Management helps make everyone proactive and out of the reactive, fire-fighting mode.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog implementation library management process release technology tips tricks change continuous-improvement incident-management information infrastructure it itil operations
2 min read

5 Quick ITIL Implementation Tips

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 17, 2010 11:00:00 AM

According to Forrester’s latest research, IT spending is expected to grow 6.6 percent in 2010 to $568 billion. In order to realize the value of these investments, organizations may adopt industry-consistent frameworks like ITIL to improve IT process and establish reliable data points to measure success.

Here are 5 useful ITIL implementation tips:

1. ITIL is an IT-Wide Strategy
Any ITIL process implementation has IT-wide impacts. Because of this, the implementation must be aligned with other IT initiatives within the organization, focusing on accomplishing ITIL success while preserving the overall benefit to the organization. ITIL should guide all strategic initiatives.

2. Consider Post-ITIL Organization Before Jumping Into Implementation
Introducing ITIL processes creates new tasks and roles that could impact an organization’s current IT service management structure. Foreseeing this possibility helps guide management toward supporting a new IT organization.

3. Prioritize Process Selection
Implementing every ITIL process at the same time isn’t necessary. ITIL processes should be selected based on areas where the organization needs improvement, and areas that will drive the most business value/greatest ROI.

4. Set Your Baseline Early; Have Realistic Expectations
The acceptance of change, of course, takes time. ITIL’s implementation is a significant change to an organization’s IT environment, and its processes will have to mature before subsequent ROIs are recognized. The delay of ROI-producing data points will delay the qualified legitimacy of the ITIL venture—making the change harder for employees to swallow.

Establishing an early baseline of key performance indicators (KPIs) from which to monitor ITIL success helps employees be more open to and engaged with the change. Chosen KPIs should be business-focused and clearly understood, so employees don’t waste time measuring unnecessary data points.

5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate Success
Let’s face it: implementing ITIL isn’t a quick job. The longer a project takes, the harder it is for employees to see its worth.

This is why communicating success to everyone involved in the implementation is essential—so employees are reminded they’re working toward something that will make them more efficient and profitable, and prepared for change. Success not only boosts morale. It qualifies and legitimizes the project. Failure to communicate success may double employee resistance to change over time.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog implementation library management process-consulting services technology tips tricks change information infrastructure it itil itsm
1 min read

Implementing ITIL: Pinpoint Your Focus!

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 11, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Ever heard of an ITIL implementation that was anything less than huge and complex? Well, we haven’t either. That’s why implementations require outstanding project management. This blog will share some of our perspective.

Implementing ITIL for starters: believe it or not, the technology is NOT the solution. The processes and people who carry them out are. A huge part of implementation is making sure you’re accurately communicating the purpose of ITIL to your employees, empowering them to understand exactly how to implement the framework comfortably, fitting your business model.

Also, never begin the implementation with unrealistic, lofty expectations. Such a strong desire for quick value may overwhelm the implementation process, which is certainly more of a journey than a sprint.

Bringing ITIL into a business first requires a foundation. The foundation is built on an initial assessment of needs. This typically involves a thorough gap analysis, which determines how much change will need to happen by the business to meet new ITIL standards. By establishing this early on, you’ll know exactly where to start building— and exactly what progress to expect. This, in turn, will narrow your scope to align with your intended business value from ITIL.

We have a passion to implement ITIL for businesses effectively and accurately. We believe we can help you through the process and build a solid foundation for your new ITIL framework—business value guaranteed.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog analysis implementation library management project technology information infrastructure itil
1 min read

Jira and Confluence: Hand-in-Hand Collaboration

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 3, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Atlassian claims Jira and Confluence were “designed to complement each other.” What some don’t realize, however, is how easy and convenient this integration really is.

Confluence has proven itself as an effective project management tool, flexing its muscles as an innovative wiki allowing users to create and share rich content. Jira manages workflows and tracks issues in a well-designed, coherent user interface (UI).

For IT professionals using Jira to track issues, Confluence provides a fertile ground to collect a team’s knowledge. In Confluence, the team may collaborate by embedding Jira content (including graphics) into a collaboration space—and easily link Confluence and Jira pages. They may also embed Confluence pages into Jira. The 3-minute explanation shows you everything you need to know.

The embedding process is remarkably easy. We believe teams using Jira and Confluence can bank on this integration, from a project management perspective.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: jira blog bpm business confluence efficiency enterprise issues library management process services technology tracking collaboration incident-management information infrastructure itil
2 min read

Wave's Consolidation of Shared Information is a Major Time-Saver

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 29, 2009 11:00:00 AM

The conceptually adventurous software Google Wave has been a hot topic lately. Talk of its arrival is almost as popular as talk of health care reform. Seems that Google Wave– which has only granted 100,000 invitations to its beta version– is being touted as a solution not only for enterprise collaboration, but also for project management. Unofficial Wave rumors also claim the software could cure the common cold.

There are still many folks asking “what is Wave?”

Google claims to have “re-thought” the concept of email when creating Wave. This is significant to our understanding of what Wave actually is. To unpack that a bit, imagine you send an email to your boss about a new project you’re working on—say, a marketing campaign for the new vehicle you’re manufacturing. You propose ideas for the campaign, and your boss replies with his ideas. You then reply with an attached PDF, but later realize a co-worker should be in on the conversation too. You forward her the thread and CC your boss, but your boss replies to your original reply, and you have to forward this message to your co-worker and CC your video-maker too.

This is exactly why Google wanted to re-think the concept of email—this hypothetical email conversation mutated into an unorganized, haphazard muck of messages. Wave centralizes each conversation into one “wave,” allowing you to rope in whoever needs to be involved in the wave by a drag-and-drop of the mouse. If a new person is invited to the wave later on, they can use Google’s “playback” tool to walk them through the conversation that’s already taken place and get up to speed. Documents may also be attached at any time by dragging and dropping.

Clearly, Google Wave is an evolution of standard email. It’s a more advanced model for collaboration.
Wave is also open-sourced. Google was pleased to announce this at their Wave demo a few months back. A number of Wave widgets are already in the works, including a widget allowing you to click on a Wave and immediately initiate a conference call with everyone in the Wave.

Now, all of this leads us to ask: “what can Wave do for my business?”

First, we don’t know yet. Nobody does. Like many other innovations (Twitter, for example), we won’t truly know how Wave may best be used until we actually try using it. With this said, we do have some great applications in mind to extend the functionality of the products and processes we work with.

Second, we’ve preliminarily concluded that Wave could have a profound impact on time efficiency within an organization—specifically in regard to internal collaboration and project management. Wave is presenting a solution to the seconds we waste getting lost in email messes like the one we mentioned earlier. You can probably think of a few similar examples yourself. Wave’s consolidation of shared information is worthy of praise, but is Wave’s solution advantageous enough for a company to implement it? That’s debatable.

Thankfully, Wave offers additional time-saving solutions, and has potential to change the face of business process management (BPM). Most current BPM tools have been known to lack easy-to-use features, centralized collaboration (intimately rooted in email clients), and real-time collaboration. Wave will make internal (employee to employee) and external (business to customer/client) collaboration a breeze, consolidating shared information inside an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand UI.

Will Wave benefit your business? Praecipio Consulting’s stance: we’re going to invest in Google Wave. We think it will revolutionize collaboration and communications. With Google’s embracing of federation and open source we can use it to extend the capabilities of current BPM and collaborative systems/software like SharePoint, JIRA, etc.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog bpm business efficiency enterprise management process technology wave collaboration information lifecycle
1 min read

Jira 4's 2.0 UI Makes Issue Tracking Simpler, More Nimble

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 26, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Australian-based Atlassian debuts Jira 4 today, October 6.

Atlassian first debuted Jira in 2003 as an innovative issue tracking and project management software. As we mentioned in our previous blog Jira - Complexity Made Simple, Jira is a huge asset in enterprise collaboration. It’s completely permission/Java/web-based, highly customizable, and amazingly simple to use.

The key news about Jira 4? Atlassian has worked hard on integrating Web 2.0 capabilities into its latest version– and appears to be most proud of its new, “dynamic” user interface (UI).

  • Jira 4′s home page will feature “click-and-drag” windows showing content the user chooses. It also includes widgets from other websites like Google. For example, a Jira home page may feature five boxes in three adjustable columns: current issues, priority issues, resolved issues, project folders, and local weather (via Google). These five boxes may now be dragged around to any location on the home screen, and color-coded for organization.
  • Jira 4′s search function has been  ”2.0-ified,” so to speak. Now search results pop up below the search bar after each character you type, much like in the “to” box in most email interfaces. This will likely make the search for a particular issue simpler and more efficient.
  • Jira 4′s Greenhopper plugin adds a broad collection of project management capabilities to Jira– great for development teams. GreenHopper represents issues as color-coded “cards,” sorted with what Atlassian calls “drag-and-drop simplicity”– which we consider a powerful organizational capability.

    We highly recommend Jira for your business’ issue tracking and project management processes. Our team is experienced in implementing and using Jira to its maximum potential. Jira 4′s 2.0 capabilities should make using the software more simpler and efficient than it’s ever been before.

    Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: jira blog bugs enterprise issues library management services technology tracking collaboration help-desk incident-management information infrastructure it itil
2 min read

All About Release Management...Version 1.0

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 7, 2009 11:00:00 AM

ITIL’s Release Management process bears a striking resemblance to ITIL Change Management—in fact, one could fairly consider Release Management to be a directly supportive process to Change Management. Release Management focuses on the practical need for organized coordination in the change process. It’s meant to ensure that changes are implemented in accordance to business needs and concurrent IT Service Management processes.

Release Management more specifically applies to changes to a “live” environment—that is, a working software or hardware environment (a word processor, email interface, software application, etc) that’s active, being used internally or externally. Release management protects these live environments by regulating the release of new configuration items; it uses the ITIL framework to control and monitor the flow of upgrades into live environments, where each upgrade is considered a “release.”

To more clearly illustrate this concept, consider these three levels of releases to a live environment—using the fictional email service “Mockingbird Version 1.0″ as an example:

  • Major Releases introduce completely new functions to a service, drastically improving the service’s capabilities. Major Releases advance the version number by a full numerical increment—for example, Mockingbird Version 1.0 advances to Mockingbird Version 2.0.
  • Minor Releases introduce fixes for known problems into the baseline technology of a service. Such changes would reflect themselves numerically by advancing the version number of a service by the first decimal place—for example, Mockingbird Version 2.0 advances to Mockingbird Version 2.1.
  • Emergency Releases introduce quick (and at least temporary) fixes to repair unexpected problems that interrupt critical services. These changes advance a version number by the second decimal place—for example, Mockingbird Version 2.1 advances to Mockingbird Version 2.1.1.

It’s best to consider each release as a separately-deployed part of the service, the progression of which should look like this:

  • Planning
  • Building
  • Testing
  • Deploying

ITIL clearly describes two “levels” of Release Management in its book:

  • Service Design (higher level)
  • Release and Deployment Management (lower level)

The Service Design level should handle the framing and building of the release solution, while ITIL suggests the release project stages listed above should be handled by the lower level and should involve a project team, scope, design, and plan of its own. The Release and Deployment Management level literally drives the solution’s release, but only because of the sound development and planning by the higher level—meaning it is almost impossible to achieve lower level success without a solid understanding of the higher level.

We hope this blog provides you with a basic overview of Release Management. It’s sometimes difficult to explain ITIL concepts without using laymen’s terms– from our experience consulting companies on their use of ITIL, a basic overview is an essential foundation for understanding the application of ITIL principles into your business.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog bpm library management process release services technology change information infrastructure it itil
3 min read

The Cost of Quality

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 24, 2009 11:00:00 AM

The Cost of Quality (COQ) business model describes a method of increasing profits without increasing revenues.

Here’s how it works: COQ increases profit by shrinking business costs. If your business has a 5% profit margin, for example – and you decrease costs by 5% – you’ve doubled your profits. That’s simple enough, but how do you decrease costs?

COQ identifies the importance of shrinking costs without taking the usual cost-cutting measures like not buying everyone’s favorite pens or not stocking refreshments in the break room — the “let’s avoid morale buzz-kills to save a few bucks” approach to increasing profit. Instead, COQ promotes lessening mistakes and increasing business process efficiency.

Companies adopt and tweak COQ to reflect their business goals and in turn their profitability. The model applies to not-for-profit businesses too: budgets are tight; grants, revenues, or contributions may not increase, but the same valuable services need to be delivered with less and less money, right?

COQ is made up of three elements: conformance costs, non-conformance costs, and opportunity costs. We’ll explain these before we explain the rest of what the graphic illustrates:

Conformance Costs

  • Communicate
  • Review
  • Report
  • Status-Check
  • Inspect
  • Train
  • Validate
  • Benchmark
  • Test
  • Prevent
  • Plan
  • Preinstall
  • Check
  • Audit
  • Appraise
  • Survey
  • Evaluate
  • Proofread

Non-Conformance Costs

  • Fix
  • Repair
  • Rework
  • Retrofit
  • Revisit
  • Overstock
  • Re-do
  • Refer
  • Reorganize
  • Scrap
  • Error
  • Constraint
  • Incorrect
  • Excessive
  • Late

Opportunity Costs

  • Under-utilize
  • Cancel
  • Downgrade

Notice these three cost categories are not associated with the cost of producing the output. Materials needed to assemble a product (labor, supplies, etc) are not included. The three elements merely reflect the costs associated with the business process. As we always say, “the profit’s in the process.” The efficiency of your business processes determines your efficiency as a business. If you’re going to maximize your efficiency and profitability, you need a sound understanding of the cost of quality.

Think about it: process is where value is added and where profit is made. Consumers don’t squeeze oranges to make juice anymore. Okay, maybe on rare occasion, but who cuts down trees and processes timber as a raw material to make paper?

The cost of quality is associated with the cost incurred to ensure process outputs (products and services) meet customer requirements. For example, let’s say Company A manufactures pens, a process that takes ten steps to complete. About half of the time, the process works effectively, and high-quality pens are made. The other half of the time, however, is plagued by faulty manufacturing— lackluster execution in the assembly process. As a result, Company A has to keep half of its pens in its shop for a bit longer for fixing/repairing, incurring non-conformance costs. This leads to a lack of consistency. Ultimately, this waste is passed onto the customer with an increased price per unit and/or inferior product— making it more and more difficult to compete.

That’s why COQ’s biggest cost adjustment occurs in reducing non-conformance costs— tightening the process and ensuring customer requirements are met. This may require spending extra money to do some work over again.

Now, to run through the graphic:

  • Conformance costs are important and help ensure a business’ success and stability. when optimizing your business, conformance costs should stay the same or in many cases increase.
  • Non-conformance costs, as we’ve mentioned, need to drop significantly— though you can never expect to be without them, strive to get rid of them.
  • Opportunity cost is the value of the next best choice. It’s the “what could have been.” If a business is suffering from non-conformance costs, the “what could have been,” is higher in the left portion of the graphic, where non-conformance costs are much higher. If a business is succeeding financially, there is little “what could have been,” therefore reducing the opportunity cost.
  • Operating costs are constant. They’re the costs of a business’ building, utilities, licenses, etc— which fluctuate, but not enough to factor into this model.
  • Profit looks like this: $$$. Reducing non-conformance generates more $$$.

So, how do you reduce non-conformance? Remember: the $$$’s are in the process.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog bpm business efficiency library management practices predicatability process services technology value continuous-improvement information infrastructure it itil itsm operations
2 min read

SharePoint is as Expensive as You Let It Be

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 19, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Critics of SharePoint often cite the collaborative software’s cost as its biggest deterrent. But is SharePoint really that expensive?

Only if you let it be. WSS SharePoint can be leveraged affordably from a variety of hosting providers. These providers acquire rights to become a SharePoint reseller and provide accessible SharePoint management at a low cost.

Typically, for example, hosted WSS SharePoint services cost $50/month for about 2GB of storage, a relatively low cost that reflects the hosting provider’s markup. Even with the markup, it’s considerably cheaper than purchasing SharePoint directly from Microsoft. Hosting providers offer various bandwidth and server options to fit their clients’ business needs.

We know this because (spoiler alert) we are a SharePoint hosting provider. From our experience implementing SharePoint, we know that how much you choose to benefit from SharePoint is entirely up to you. You control your own destiny, to put it plainly.

When you compare the cost of SharePoint to that of other collaborative software, you’ll probably find SharePoint’s most affordable options to still be expensive in relation to its competitors. Popular startup companies like Basecamp, which charges between $25 and $50/month for portions of SharePoint services, look a lot better on paper than SharePoint itself.

But it’s important to remember what SharePoint provides. It’s practically a kitchen sink for enterprise collaboration! The truth is, non-Microsoft portals can’t provide the same out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Office. The majority of established businesses run off Microsoft Office anyway, and were built upon it. You just don’t see many businesses other than start-ups using Google Docs and Open Office.

Additionally, employees and executives from these companies communicate through Windows-based software. Chances are many of their business customers/clients still do do. Most employees have spent years in a Windows mindset. Outlook, Excel, Word, Windows Messenger, and Norton Antivirus have been rooted into their thinking. Additionally, business processes have been developed around Microsoft software. Converting to new software would not only require a complete structural adaption, but a thorough adaption of the minds of employees.

SharePoint is not the perfect collaborative software for anyone. There are a number of “under-the-hood” issues to consider. For companies with a large hardware budget, a high-performance Wide Area Network (WAN), and a budget for consulting, SharePoint would be an excellent way to go. For companies with only a modest hardware budget, decent WAN, but other priorities for bandwidth and no consulting budget, other software may be better. It’s necessary to implement a software that’s most efficient for your financial and practical needs.

To conclude, SharePoint is not as expensive as most think. It’s pricey if you let it be. Typically, the companies who complain most about SharePoint’s costs have not used SharePoint to its full capacity. If you explore the idea of purchasing SharePoint from a hosting provider and have the budget to invest in a SharePoint consultant, you can develop a successful long-term foundation for enterprise collaboration.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog business efficiency enterprise sharepoint technology value collaboration information it
1 min read

Why SharePoint? - Considering Your Options

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 6, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Collaborative software has hugely expanded business’ abilities to communicate, share knowledge, and organize intellectual property. But which collaborative software is the best for your business?

It depends. Has your business been built on Microsoft Windows, and has it run on Office-based applications for years? In this case, SharePoint is likely best. Do the majority of your clients communicate with you using Basecamp? Adopting Basecamp may be best. Is your business Linux-based? MindQuarry would make the most sense here.

After you’ve studied the different kinds of software available, you can apply these questions:

  • Which software is more efficient for my business’ practical/process needs?
  • Which software is more efficient for my business’ financial needs?
  • Which software is most intuitive to the needs and understanding of my employees (or those who will be using the software)?

These questions make up the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what to consider when choosing which collaborative software to adopt. The complexity of the decision, however, illustrates a great point: you need a collaborative software that’s highly customizable to your unique business needs.

Implementing a collaborative software that requires you to adjust your business operations too much is just not a good idea. Example? Implementing software with an interface/organization that’s considerably different than your current interface will require lots of time to get used to. Employee training sessions will take away from productivity, and frustration over the software’s usability will be inevitable. The adjustment in this scenario takes a long time. It also results in a prolonged loss of productivity.

We’re confident that Microsoft SharePoint, accompanied by our expert implementation tactics, is an excellent solution for your business’ unique needs. From our collective experience interacting with clients who use SharePoint, Basecamp, and a number of other collaboration choices, we’ve discovered SharePoint’s seemingly endless ability to be customized.

Managing enterprise information and processes certainly isn’t a trivial exercise. SharePoint configuration work needs to be well-planned and intricately-designed—it certainly can’t be implemented successfully in an ad-hoc fashion. This is why SharePoint consulting, one of our key services, is such a useful tool for implementation.

At Praecipio Consulting, we recognize the magnitude of implementing collaboration software. It’s a huge decision! We want to use our expertise to help your business do it successfully.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog business efficiency enterprise sharepoint technology value collaboration information it
2 min read

Turn and Face the Change—with ITIL

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 21, 2009 11:00:00 AM

As with any aspect of business, great processes and infrastructure do not always stay great—new technologies and customer needs arise all the time, and usually require changes to business procedures. The same is true in the context of IT Service Management, as new IT needs and technologies inevitably arise as time goes by—creating the need for the ITIL discipline of “Change Management.”

ITIL defines the goal of Change Management in the context of IT Service Management as “to ensure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt handling of all changes, in order to minimize the impact of change-related incidents upon service quality, and consequently improve the day-to-day operations of the organization.” If the ITIL language sounds a bit daunting to you, the definition more basically means Change Management is meant to ensure standardized methods and processes are used to implement all changes in a timely manner, and to achieve and maintain a healthy balance between the need for change and the potential impacts changes might have on the business processes they affect—ie predictability. Every change to IT infrastructure must of course be managed and controlled systematically, minimizing the impact of IT services delivered to the customer.

The need to change IT infrastructure may result from problems observed in a business process or from external legislation—or merely from the desire to make a business process more efficient and productive. Once a need is identified and proven, a change may be developed. ITIL’s discipline becomes valuable at this point as a change becomes drafted, documented, and implemented.

ITIL V3 prescribes these seven questions to ask when proposing the implementation of a change—titled the Seven “R’s:”

  • Who raised the change?
  • What is the reason for the change?
  • What is the return required from the change?
  • What are the risks involved in the change?
  • What resources are required to deliver the change?
  • Who is responsible for the build, test and implementation of the change?
  • What is the relationship between this change and other changes?

Other relevant questions to ask when proposing a change may be:

  • What is the cost of the change?
  • What is the timeline for implementing the change?

The leadership team at Praecipio Consulting consists of experts whose job is to implement change for companies based on ITIL. We have helped our clients implement valuable changes to their IT infrastructure, and have a great deal of familiarity with defining good and bad processes by leveraging ITIL best practices. Change Management provides a way of managing and controlling the way changes are initiated, assessed, planned for, scheduled and implemented—Praecipio Consulting offers you the intelligence and support you need to not only guide you through implementing IT Service Management Changes, but also to provide you with a proven model and valuable business direction for a future of changes.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog library management predicatability services technology change information infrastructure it itil itsm
2 min read

Incident Management: The Responsible Way to Gold-Star Customer Service

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 14, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Incident Management is debatably the most important area of IT Service Management because of its direct impact to the Services customers rely on. One of the ITIL disciplines, the focus of Incident Management is to restore services following an incident as quickly as possible—be it a business operations issue or merely an internal or external lack of technical understanding. Incident Management activities, often executed by a Service Desk, include:

  • Discovering details of an incident
  • Matching incidents against known problems
  • Resolving incidents quickly
  • Prioritizing incidents according to their impact and urgency
  • Escalating incidents to other teams when needed to ensure timely resolution

Incident Management is one of the most difficult ITIL disciplines to maintain—operating a Service Desk for anyone struggling with technology can be a daunting task given the consistent learning curves existing as businesses adopt new technologies and optimize old ones. This is why Incident Management should be a big deal to businesses.

ITIL Incident Management aims to minimize disruption to the business by restoring service operation to agreed levels as quickly as possible. The total Incident Life Cycle is described as follows:

  • Occurrence
  • Detection
  • Diagnosis
  • Repair
  • Recovery / Restoration

The above steps of the Incident Life Cycle serve as key data points that, when measured, provide a great deal of value. The intelligence that is derived from these data points helps IT organizations focus and invest their time in those projects and activities that will shrink the Meantime to Recovery (aka Mean Time to Repair). In the event the time it takes to detect an outage is long (Detection Time Stamp minus Occurrence Time Stamp), an IT organization can focus on automating outage detection or increase the ease of reporting issues by clients to the Service Desk. In the event the Diagnosis time (Diagnosis Time Stamp minus Detection Time Stamp) is long, the IT Organization should focus on training, escalation path definition/automation and/or tool sets to ensure IT staff has the adequate means to make an accurate assessment. Without going into more detail, it is clear that a well-defined process like Incident Management can help streamline and shorten the Incident Life Cycle thereby minimizing the Meantime to Recovery.

Incident Management is often the first process instigated when introducing the ITIL-quality framework to a Service Desk, and offers the most immediate and highly visible cost reduction and quality gains. Some brief reasons why you should consider implementing ITIL-based Incident Management:

  • Achieve and maintain impressive levels of customer service
  • Provide outstanding service availability
  • Achieve overall staff efficiency and productivity
  • Significantly improve customer satisfaction

Praecipio Consulting has a proven track record of excellent Incident Management/Service Desk support for its clients, and intentionally aims to minimize disruption to their clients’ business by restoring and applying ITIL framework to incident recording, tracking, and resolution.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog library management services technology incident-management information infrastructure it itil itsm
1 min read

CMDBs: The Secret to High IT ROI

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 9, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Just what is a Configuration Management Database (CMDB)?

For starters, it’s not a database—or, rather, not merely a database. A CMDB is a virtual warehouse holding information from every nook and cranny of an information system. CMDBs show which system components are needed to create efficient business processes. It can be seen as both an encyclopedia of IT services and a DNA map of a business’ IT environment. It’s a decision support tool.

ITIL v2 defined a CMDB as “a database that contains all relevant details of each CI (configuration item) and details of the important relationships between CIs.” ITIL v3 now defines a CMDB as “a database used to store Configuration Records throughout their lifecycle. The Configuration Management System maintains one or more CMDBs, and each CMDB stores attributes of CIs, and relationships with other CIs.”

A product of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), CMDBs are important because they align technology with business process. An example of this? It’s common sense that without timely information, bad decisions can be made by the business unintentionally. ITIL-based CMDBs control workflows, and use a workflow to manage and collect process metrics and present them logically and accurately.

While there are many variations of CMDB workflows, five common high-level steps include:

  • Identification: To put it simply, “identifying” IT components and their inclusion in the CMDB.
  • Status: Recording of the status of all CIs in the CMDB, and keeping them updated.
  • Control: The management of CIs, indicating who is authorized to ‘change’ each one.
  • Status: Recording of the status of all CIs in the CMDB, and keeping them updated.
  • Verification: Reviewing data to make sure the CMDB is accurate and timely.

A properly implemented CMDB system can save an enterprise quite a bit of cash. There are, however, some direct overhead costs associated with the data capture process itself. The CMDB’s ROI will depend on the quality and reusability of the data it monitors, company size, and business strategy.

The CMDB bottom line: the more automated and consistent asset management methodologies become, the higher the ROI will climb. CMDBs allow businesses to become more efficient internally and more effective in their market.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog automation bpm business efficiency library management practices process technology value continuous-improvement information infrastructure it itil lifecycle operations
2 min read

The ITIL-Based Service Desk

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 7, 2009 11:00:00 AM

ITIL is divided into three major areas: Service Support (ITIL disciplines that enable IT Services to be provided), Service Delivery (management of the IT services themselves ensuring delivery to customer), and Security Management (structured fitting of security in the management organization).

The ITIL Service Desk is where Service Support happens. Considered the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for customers, the Service Desk is where customer needs and problems are streamlined—and where customer feedback originates. Many organizations with a large amount of customers have a Service Desk, though some may call it a “Help Desk” or “Call Center.” The difference?

Call centers are meant to handle large amount of incoming (customers) and outgoing (telemarketing) calls, hence the name. Help Desks are meant to handle incidents and issues regarding a specific technology niche of a supported product (internet browser, software, a particular cell phone, etc). Service Desks share some features with call centers and Help Desks—to explain, here’s a list of typical, primary Service Desk functions:

  • Acting as a customer liaison (incoming/outgoing calls)
  • Issue/request tracking
  • Assessing requests and resolving them/referring them to someone who can
  • Informing customers of the status of their requests (after all, every bit of communication with the customer impacts their satisfaction level)
  • Managing the lifecycle of requests (a request should not be closed until the customer verifies it)

These functions are drastically important to any organization with a large customer base—which is logically why developing a sound Service Desk based on ITIL framework is necessary for companies seeking to develop their service desk responsibly. A sound ITIL-based Service Desk will also integrate with other ITIL functions such as Incident Management, Problem Management and so on. Praecipio Consulting’s consulting professionals have rich experience developing and implementing ITIL framework, and seek to help companies go from ITIL theory to the practice of implementing an IT Service Management Solution.

Our first recommendation for companies planning to implement an ITIL-based Service Desk: buy and read thoroughly the ITIL Service Support book, and proceed to educate employees to get key people acquainted with ITIL language to raise the collective state of mind of the organization. Since implementing a Service Desk framework can create vague, undefined issues, it will be important to stress referring to ITIL when questions like these arise; having an adequate level of ITIL literacy among employees during the implementation process is essential so no one is running around with their head cut off.

Adopting ITIL framework is so important because it promotes a standard and integrated way of doing things. ITIL provides a “common language” to facilitate better internal communication and customer relationships. It is hugely beneficial to an organization implementing ITIL to be backed with the guidance and knowledge of someone well-versed in ITIL framework and custom application. Praecipio Consulting is capable of guiding you through the implementation process with a mindful leverage of ITIL best practices and tested experience—as well as developing unique, custom ITIL solutions to best fit your specific needs.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog library services technology help-desk information infrastructure itil
1 min read

Business Software Complexity Made Simple With Jira

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 30, 2009 11:00:00 AM

It is awe-inspiring to consider the vast number of software applications that attempt to make business organization simple and efficient. In issue tracking and business process management, organizational, process-driven technology is crucial to successfully processing information and facilitating progress. Atlassian, an Australian-headquartered software company specializing in collaboration software, has produced a widely-used software that makes the issue tracking process work more simply than ever before.

The software, Jira, currently serves over 12,000 customers in over 100 countries. An issue-tracking system (ITS), Jira allows enterprises to record and monitor every issue a user identifies until the issue is resolved—issues ranging from simple customer questions to detailed technical reports of errors or bugs.

We have acquired sound and valuable knowledge of Jira’s user and process benefits from our own experience amassed through client implementations of the product—highlighted here:

  • Highly customizable to unique business processes
  • Amazingly simple to use and easy to train employees
  • Completely permission-based (people may view statuses of issues without the capability to change them)
  • Completely web-based
  • Java-based (runs in Tomcat, and is compatible with most Operating Systems)
  • Flexible database (supports Oracle, Postgres, etc)
  • Task change email notifications

These perks boil down to a centralized view of a business’ entire team. Jira makes it easy to view and track all tasks assigned to a person, group, or project with very few clicks—allowing non-technical users to benefit from it. Businesses can tailor Jira to make it useful for nearly every imaginable business process, from marketing tasks to help desk requests.

Adopting appropriate software for our clients’ business processes is what we do at Praecipio Consulting. Atlassian, our business partner, has developed and produced a magnificent product in Jira that we recommend highly for streamlining our clients’ BPM and ITIL implementations. Our implementations of Jira have a lasting, positive impact because of our focus on business processes.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: jira blog bugs enterprise issues library management services technology tracking change collaboration information infrastructure itil
1 min read

Implementing Cost-Effective IT Operations: Our Methods, Your Results

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 23, 2009 11:00:00 AM

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a comprehensive documentation of best practices in IT Service Management; the library consists of a compilation of texts providing guidance for the successful delivery of IT services. ITIL was developed due to business organization’s growing dependency on IT.

This dependency comes as organizations are implementing the use of innovative information technologies to simplify and speed-up business processes ultimately lowering costs—dramatically increasing the need for high-quality IT services. We provide a well-designed implementation framework for the delivery of operations improvements and initiatives based on ITIL best practices. We’ll help you go from ITIL theory to the practice of implementing an IT Service Management Solution.

Our steps:

  • Assessment – Define and prioritize
  • IT Management Strategy – Determine current and future needs
  • Service portfolio definition – Catalog and understand services
  • Solution design – Ensure integrated approach solves problems
  • Solution deployment – Deliver, transfer and transition

Your results:

  • IT-Business Alignment
  • Cost savings
  • Operational Excellence and Maturity
  • Maximized ROI on Business’ Investments in IT
  • Predictability

We love helping others—especially with IT.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog library management practices services technology continuous-improvement information infrastructure it itil operations
2 min read

ITIL: An Overview

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 2, 2009 11:00:00 AM

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is currently the best (and only) comprehensive documentation of IT Service Management best practices.

The library is made up of a series of books which thoroughly explain (in really, really big laymen’s terms) what quality IT services should look like. The books describe how IT services should operate—as well as what base structure and functionality an organization needs to be able to effectively support IT.

Thousands of companies around the world have adopted an ITIL philosophy from the library, which clearly defines the organizational structure and skills requirements for an IT organization. ITIL theory works. The library’s standard operational management procedures and practices allow the organization to effectively manage an IT operation. The operational procedures and practices apply to all aspects within the IT Infrastructure.

The major disciplines (main focuses applicable to IT service providers) of ITIL are as follows:

  • Service Desk (Help Desk)
  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Release Management (Software Control and Distribution)
  • Configuration Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Capacity Management
  • Continuity Management (Contingency Planning)
  • Availability Management
  • Financial Management (Cost Management for IT Services)

While these terms are probably familiar to most ITIL personnel, the formal explanation ITIL gives these disciplines is typically far beyond the level of sophistication in the majority of IT organizations. Additionally, the specificities and separation of IT tasks within each of these ITIL support disciplines are considerably more defined than those which most companies have implemented in the past. The distinction between “incidents” and “problems,” for example, is something companies still do not usually recognize—whereas ITIL clearly defines the two terms as separate disciplines with their own unique set of processes.

An incident is active only until service is restored; a problem continues to be active until appropriate outputs/remedies are created and implemented. Incidents and problems are therefore not synonymous—instead incidents, problems, and changes have thorough relations with each other.

The “library” itself continues to evolve. ITILv3, the library’s third edition, was released in May 2007 and includes five distinct volumes: ITIL Service Strategy, ITIL Service Design, ITIL Service Transition, ITIL Service Operation, and ITIL Continual Service Improvement. The volumes can be purchased from their publisher, TSO Books.

ITIL is a framework. Praecipio Consulting has qualified ITIL-certified consultants with the experience, intelligence, and innovative ability to help your company implement ITIL confidently and effectively. Understanding ITIL can be difficult; if this is the first content you’re reading about it, you’ll probably agree. We wish to implement ITIL in a manner that makes the most sense for our clients’ business models. As the de facto standard and model for IT Service Management, ITIL not only enables businesses to run more efficiently and reliably—it also helps IT managers reduce incurred costs associated with IT Service Delivery.

If you’re curious, ITIL was originally created by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) with the sponsorship of the British government, and is a registered trademark of the UK Government’s Office of Government Commerce (usually known as the OGC).

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog library management services technology change information infrastructure it itil itsm

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