2 min read

Praecipio Consulting Webinars

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 20, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Our monthly webinars are designed to help you become proficient with the entire Atlassian product suite. Wether you want to convince your team to adopt Jira or are in search of some handy tips and tricks for End Users and Administrators, our webinars are designed for any skill level.

 

Praecipio Webinars

Topics: jira atlassian efficiency management practices process tips tricks lifecycle
3 min read

Jira Tip of the Month: Dot and Comma Dialogue Shortcuts

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 3, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Dot ‘.’ and Comma ‘,’ shortcuts

Take your fingers off that mouse! These keyboard shortcuts will help you become a Jira speedster, and get your co-workers to ask “Whoa, how’d you do that?”

Dot Dialog

When your on the Issue Navigation screen or viewing an issue, pressing ‘.’Will bring up an operations dialog menu.

From here, start typing the first few characters of the operation you wish to use.  For example, if you are viewing an issue and want to close it, simply type ‘.’ then ‘close’.

Here is a list of operations you can access using the dot dialog:

  • Start Progress — Set the issue’s Status to In Progress.
  • Resolve issue — Set the issue’s Status to Resolved and select the appropriate Resolution.
  • Close issue — Set the issue’s Status to Closed and if the issue has not already been Resolved, select the appropriate Resolution.
  • Reopen issue — Set a Resolved or Closed issue’s Status to Reopened.
  • Edit — Edit the issue’s details (Summary, Description, etc).
  • Assign — Select an asignee for the issue.
  • Assign To Me — Assign the issue to yourself.
  • Comment — Add a comment to the issue.
  • Log Work — Record the work done and time spent on the issue. This option is only available if Time Tracking has been activated on your Jira site.
  • Attach Files — Select a file, upload it and attach it to the issue.
  • Attach Screenshot — Select a file, upload it and attach it to the issue.
  • Voters — Opens the Voters list of the issue, where you can manage your vote and see others who have voted on the issue too.
  • Add Vote — Adds your vote to the issue. (This option is only available if you did not create the issue.)
  • Watch Issue — Become a watcher of the issue.
  • Stop Watching — Stop watching the issue. (This option is only available on issues you are currently watching.)
  • Watchers — Opens the Watchers List, where you can manage watchers of the issue.
  • Create Sub-Task — Create a new issue which is a sub-task of the issue.
  • Convert to Issue — If the issue is a sub-task, convert it to a standalone issue.
  • Convert to Sub-Task — If the issue is a standalone issue, convert it to a sub-task.
  • Move — Move the issue to a different project.
  • Link — Create a link between the issue and another issue. This option is only available if Issue Linking has been enabled on your Jira site.
  • Clone — Create a new issue which is an identical copy of the issue.
  • Labels — Edit the issue’s labels.
  • Delete — Permanently remove the issue.

(Note that some options in the menu will only be available if the operation is relevant to the issue, if you have the necessary permissions, and if certain features have been enabled by your Jira administrator.)

Comma Dialog

Similarly, if you are viewing an issue, pressing ‘,’ (available in Jira 5.1 or greater) will bring up the Go To Field popup.

Use the popup to edit issue fields in-line, without leaving the page. The following fields are available for editing:

  • Assignee
  • Summary
  • Issue Type
  • Priority
  • Component/s
  • Affects Version/s
  • Fix Version/s
  • Reporter
  • Description
  • Labels

Tune in next month

We’ll be delivering you tips and tricks every month, so make sure to keep you eyes peeled next month for another handy Jira tip. If you found this helpful, please visit Atlassian University - interactive tutorials and videos with tons of tips just like this one.

Topics: jira atlassian blog business efficiency management process tips tricks lifecycle
6 min read

7 Ways Social Enterprise Apps Are More Than Just Talk

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 1, 2012 11:00:00 AM

by Ashley Furness

CRM Market Analyst, Software Advice
June 27, 2012

Until recently, I might have called Microsoft crazy to drop $1.2 billion on social enterprise app vendor Yammer. The business case for replicating popular social networking functionality in a corporate environment seemed dubious at best. Would there ever be a return on investment?

“Social is more than a trend, it is a revolution that is changing the way we work and collaborate. Powerful social tools, such as Chatter, help employees work faster and more efficiently—making it a strategic piece of the workforce.” — Dave King, Chatter Product Marketing Director

But then I talked to some corporate AtlassianYammerChatter and Jive users, all of whom claimed measurable gains from these tools in a variety of areas. Here are seven ways they derive value from social enterprise applications.

1. Streamline Project Management

Software developers at PerkStreet Financial use Yammer to facilitate scrum meetings, a key component of the agile software development methodology. Rather than hold their daily morning standup meetings in person, each member of the 37-person team posts “what I did yesterday,” “what I will do today” and “barriers to moving forward” using the hashtag #scrum.

Praecipio Consulting has helped in.gredients, a package free micro-grocer, leverage many of Atlassian’s products into extremely powerful tools for project management. Jira and Confluence for example, are used in conjunction to inform teams or others externally on goals, tasks, progress, and results. Confluence makes it easy for their teams to collaborate and share knowledge of Jira roadmaps, workflow, and tasks, or to document work, allowing users to delegate tasks with the “@”symbol.

The tag in Jira and Confluence allows users to quickly see what everyone is working on and chime in when appropriate. Similarly, Yammer can also delegate tasks to others with the “@” symbol. With Jive, users can also employ shortcuts such as an “!” to pull information into the thread from CRM and other enterprise systems.

2. Augment Transparency and Accountability

Since PerkStreet hosts all conversations on Yammer rather than trapped in someone’s inbox, management has continuous insight into the team’s progress.This also prevents work duplication and redundancies because everyone is literally on the same page.

“If you look at someone’s scrum over time, you can see whether they actually accomplished what they said they were going to,” PerkStreet COO Jason Henrichs notes.

Similarly, Jira and Confluence have allowed for Praecipio Consulting to increase its clients’ transparency and accountability even in the case of telecommuting among employees, who at times live in different states. Christian Lane, Managing Partner of Praecipio Consulting said, “the ability of the Atlassian product suite to increase transparency and establish accountability has allowed our business to grow and operate seamlessly across borders.”

3. Increase Communications Efficiency

HipChat, the newest member of the Atlassian family, is similar to Yammer and Jive. It’s a hosted group chat service that helps teams, or entire companies, collaborate in real-time. HipChat has a powerful API and comes loaded with integrations to Atlassian’s most popular products - JiraConfluenceFishEye and Crucible. These integrations allow you to get targeted notifications from products into the relevant chatrooms for your teams.

Salesforce surveys show enterprise wikis can reduce email by 30 percent and meeting by 27 percent.

FlexJobs founder and CEO Sara Sutton Fell said Yammer drastically cut down on her need to email, call or schedule a meeting to check in.

4. Find Experts Faster

Centerstance Inc. Managing Partner Greg Lueck says Chatter helps sales staff answer deal-specific questions expeditiously. He recalled one situation where a partner needed someone certified in Cast Iron software integration who spoke Mandarin. The resource manager working with the partner posted the query in Centerstance’s news feed.

“They had an answer within 30 seconds… in Mandarin,” Lueck remembers. In this and similar scenarios, the employee would have otherwise “relied on a central repository of all company’s experience that is located in one person’s head, or nowhere at all.”

Jive surveys show sales win rates increase an average of 23 percent, and time to find experts falls 34 percent.

5. Better Leverage Information and Insights

Social enterprise vendors have invested heavily in social and adaptive intelligence. These sophisticated algorithms suggest articles, files and experts based on the user’s position, connections, group memberships and resources they’ve previously accessed.

“Chatter knows what you care about based on your activities, making it’s value immeasurable,” King says of Chatter, the salesforce.com social layer. As a result, employees are better informed and can answer questions before they even know they have them.

“Imagine you have 10,000 people in an enterprise. Sales materials, RFPs are constantly flowing through system… Jive makes the most of this information by channeling it to the right people,” according to Jive Product Marketing Director Tim Zonca.

Additionally, HipChat stores full conversation history, so anyone new that joins a room can catch up and participate in the discussion.

“HipChat is incredible – perfect for product teams but fantastic for any team. Its use absolutely exploded at Atlassian, demonstrating the viral adoption potential of a modern communication system for teams,” says Mike Cannon-Brookes, CEO and co-founder of Atlassian. “Connecting and sharing ideas in real-time helps teams move faster, and HipChat does this better than any other product I’ve used.”

6. Generate More, Better Ideas

Yammer provides several means for employees to contribute ideas–from responding to queries and surveys, to posting ideas in a group discussion threads. Users receive gratification when co-workers and leadership “like” their contribution. Then, they are continually rewarded as they watch project teams bring the idea to fruition.

With one advertising campaign, for example, Deloitte CEO Peter Williams asked employees for their ideas for a tagline. More than 38 groups formed that submitted 1,184 original concepts.

7. Boost Employee Recognition and Engagement

In the four years since Deloitte AU implemented Yammer, the turnover rate for active users has fallen to two percent annually–about 10 times less than for employees who don’t use it. Leadership attribute change to employees feeling more engaged and recognized for their work.

“In a company with 180,000 people, most employees rarely interact with leadership,” says Frank Farrall, national leader for Deloitte Australia’s Online Consulting Practice. “Yammer breaks down those barriers.”

Deloitte leadership uses Yammer to pull reports that identify employees with high engagement and positive feedback. The more a user interacts with groups, downloads articles and responds to queries with the same keywords, the more they are distinguished as thought leaders on a subject.

“This is one key way to rise up in the firm–get recognized as someone who drives connectivity,” Farrall added.

Deloitte layered gamification elements into Yammer to further drive engagement and recognition. Using the behavior platform Badgeville, Deloitte awards “badges” when employees report milestones in Yammer, such as completing segments in Deloitte’s Leadership Academy. Users can monitor their rank on a leaderboard that shows what they need to do to surpass the person immediately ahead, encouraging them to do more.

 

Topics: jira atlassian blog business confluence efficiency enterprise management practices process tips tricks value collaboration continuous-improvement operations
2 min read

The Powers of Persuasion - Atlassian and Business Process Management

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

During our last Atlassian User Group meeting a few attendees asked us for pointers on how to convince their managers to implement or expand upon the Atlassian product suite as a Business Process Management Tool. To us the task seemed easy, especially since Process Optimization and Management are some of our founding principles.

After doing a bit of research we were a bit surprised by what we found. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Information & Management71% of executives had negative feelings concerning IT as a source of competitive advantage.

This is especially shocking since exploiting current capabilities while simultaneously developing new ones is a common theme among organizations. This idea serves as a baseline for strategic management and is crucial for adapting to changing environments. It’s through this delicate balance of business activities that the notion of Business Process Management (BPM) was born.

As BPM continues to be considered an important way for organizations to achieve a competitive advantage, senior management should be aware of IT’s ability to facilitate these processes. However, as the study pointed out, this isn’t always the case. In many organizations senior management’s reluctant to promote the strategic role of IT and instead, consider it just an automating tool.

This notion’s not only outdated but it also negates the entire philosophy of BPM, and the idea of developing new organizational capabilities.

So how can you overcome these seemingly insurmountable sentiments, standing in the way of cost-cutting, Business Process Optimization? According to the study, executives were most likely to be convinced of the almighty powers of IT when provided with substantial evidence of the following outcomes:

  • Assurance in the success of process re-engineering
  • Greater simplification in business process
  • Increased efficiency by at least 50%

So whether you are attempting to convince a coworker, boss, or yourself, being well armed with relevant examples of the above will come in handy.

Looking for relevant examples? Try the following case studies:

Topics: atlassian blog automation bpm business management practices process tips tricks continuous-improvement lifecycle operations
4 min read

How to Customize your Jira Dashboards

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

About Dashboards and Gadgets

The Jira Dashboards is the first screen you see when you log in to Jira. It can be configured to display many different types of information, depending on your areas of interest.

If you are anywhere else in Jira, you can access your Jira Dashboards view by clicking the ‘Dashboards‘ link in the top left corner of the Jira interface.

The information boxes on the dashboard are called Gadgetsjira-4_1-jira-dashboard-example

If your user account has only one dashboard, the tabs on the left of the browser window will not be available and the dashboard will occupy the full window width.

 

You can easily customise your dashboard by choosing a different layout, adding more gadgets, dragging the gadgets into different positions, and changing the look of individual gadgets.

You can also create more pages for your dashboard, share your pages with other people and choose your favorites pages, as described in Managing Multiple Dashboard Pages. Each page can be configured independently, as per the instructions below.

 See the big list of all Atlassian gadgets for more ideas.

This gadget will only be available if it has been installed by your Jira administrator.

 

  The Firebug add-on for Firefox can significantly degrade the performance of web pages. If Jira is running too slowly (the Jira dashboard, in particular) then we recommend that you disable Firebug. Read this FAQ for instructions.

 

Creating a Dashboard

The dashboard that you see when you first start using Jira is a “default” dashboard that has been configured by your Jira administrator. You cannot edit the default dashboard; but you can easily create your own dashboard, which you can then customize as you wish.

To create your own dashboard:

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Tools‘ menu.
  2. Select either ‘Create Dashboard‘ to create a blank dashboard, or ‘Copy Dashboard‘ to create a copy of the dashboard you are currently viewing.

You can now customize your dashboard as follows:

 

If you are using multiple dashboard pages, you can only configure dashboard pages that you own.

 

Choosing a Dashboard Layout

To choose a different layout for your dashboard page (e.g. three columns instead of two):

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Edit Layout‘ link. A selection of layouts will be displayed:
  2. Click your preferred layout.

Adding a Gadget

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Add Gadget‘ link.
  2. A selection of gadgets will be displayed:

     Select a category on the left to restrict the list of gadgets on the right to that category.
  3. Click the ‘Add it now‘ button beneath your chosen gadget.
  4. Click the ‘Finished‘ button to return to your Dashboard.
  5. If the gadget you have selected requires configuration, you will be presented with the gadget’s configuration page. Configure appropriately and click ‘Save‘.

Moving a Gadget

To move a gadget to a different position on your dashboard:

  • Click the gadget and drag it into its new position.

Removing a Gadget

To remove a gadget from your dashboard:

  1. Hold your mouse over the top right corner of the gadget, until a down-arrow appears.
  2. Click the down-arrow to display the following menu:       
  3. Click ‘Delete‘.
Topics: jira atlassian blog implementation issues management optimization process-consulting project tips tricks tracking consulting-services
1 min read

10 Hotspots for Process-Generated Waste: (02) Over/Under-Communicating

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 24, 2011 11:00:00 AM

This is the second installment of a 10-week series. Each Thursday we (a) pinpoint a hotspot, (b) offer context and possible solutions, and (c) ask for answers from the crowd. So, enjoy – and contribute!

There are indeed many ways to miscommunicate. Today’s hotspot is centered around over and under-communication within organizations, located in the business’ main information artery: email.

Over-communication. You all know that person: the one who compulsively “replies all” for the sake of nerve-twitching clarity. Or the companies who send five or 10 or 20 mass emails per day to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Truth is, over-communication puts everyone on too many pages, and can generate a remarkable amount of waste.

It takes time to look at an email. It takes a little more time to measure its relevance to you and determine a course of action in response (reply, archive, delete, etc). A flooded inbox bogs down productivity by generating time waste – so if a message is even marginally irrelevant to someone, it’s probably worth considering whether they should receive it.

Perhaps the biggest problem with over-communication, though, is that it can involve more people in an issue than necessary. Problems are solved most easily when only a few people are working together to fix them – so if a bunch of folks are roped in, the solving process can become complicated. Only pull necessary people into a conversation. A key part of this is having clearly-defined roles within your organization, as well as exact pathsproblems should take as they escalate – or a well-designed, automated issue tracking system.

Under-communication. Here’s the flip-side: an organization that lacks communication paths and therefore communication in general. If employees don’t have clearly-defined roles, methodical issue escalation, or a general perspective of how communication should occur within their organization, problems pop up.

These problems stem from missed details and a lack of clarity, and often generate problems in work production that have to be fixed later (waste). While it’s important not to over-communicate, under-communicating can provoke just as many problems.

YOUR STORIES: When have you seen over- or under-communication in your organization? What problems did it cause, and how were they fixed? Comment below or tweet @praecipio.

Topics: blog bpm business management problem process tips tricks
1 min read

10 Hotspots for Process-Generated Waste: (01) Not Confronting Problems

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 17, 2011 11:00:00 AM

This is the first installment of a 10-week series. Each Thursday we’ll (a) pinpoint a hotspot, (b) offer context and possible solutions, and (c) ask for answers from the crowd. So, enjoy – and contribute!

This one’s easy. Problems that aren’t confronted aren’t fixed. But you’d be surprised how often problems actually go unfixed.

Why? In general, it takes time to fix things. In many instances where this is the case, people recognize there’s a problem but are too busy to devote time to fixing it and prioritize other tasks.

The problem festers. Problems that are noticed have impacted productivity and well-being negatively to some extent, or else they wouldn’t be problems – i.e. employee time (and therefore money) is being wasted. On a small scale – say, in a group of five people – this could cost the company a hundred bucks a month. On a large scale, the loss could fly off the chart. In the larger scenario, we’re talking about a problem that could just be a minor inconvenience for a handful of folks becoming a budget boon for Finance, which will presumably have no knowledge of a problem.

It’s cheaper to fix problems when they come up – even if they take hours to get right.

YOUR STORIES: When have you seen this in your organization? How (and when) did you end up fixing it? Comment below or tweet @praecipio.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog bpm business finance management problem process tips tricks waste
3 min read

Don't Let Your Software Dictate Its Own Life

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 11, 2011 11:00:00 AM

It’s natural for us to neglect maintenance. It works like this:

  • You have a problem that needs to be fixed.
  • You neglect the need for awhile because it’s not “bad enough” for you to spend money on it.
  • The problem worsens; the need intensifies. Extra work is done to keep things running.
  • The need is prioritized. But the solution is too expensive.
  • The problem worsens even more. Tons of extra work is done to keep things running.
  • The money spent on temporary solutions nears the total cost of a solution.
  • You purchase a solution to the problem.

Now, after all that trouble, money, and wasted time, the last thing we want to do when we procure a solution is devote work to maintaining it. It’s true with any solution. When you buy a new car, you don’t want to deal with changing brake pads during your first month of ownership. When you fix a problem, you are physically and emotionally pre-disposed to exalt the solution as ultimate redemption and not think about the problem. The problem is fixed. There are no more problems.

But you can’t do this with software, even though every ounce of yourself inclines you to. Even if your business spends $1 million implementing a new do-it-all software solution. No matter how much you paid, the cost doesn’t mean your maintenance / future planning responsibilities don’t have to exist. If you don’t actively ensure your software is:

  • integrating effectively with your business processes,
  • integrating effectively with other software / systems,
  • adapting to future needs,
  • responsibly maintained,
  • used properly by employees,
  • compliant with industry trends and best practices,
  • and kept cost-effective,

…you effectively (and unintentionally) make your software fail. Indeed, in most cases, new software that becomes obsolete to the business within a year of its implementation is often the result of:

  • Misuse / lack of proper training. Employees who lack a knowledge of what the software can do, how it works, and how it improves their work, they won’t be able to see the advantage of using it – and more importantly, they won’t be able to use it right. Document management software, for example, can quickly become messy and disorganized if employees don’t understand how it’s supposed to be used. That’s a major setback to progress – and could create a problem worse than the original one.
  • Poor adoption rates / internal advocacy. Closely relating to misuse, if the solution isn’t “marketed” internally, employee buy-in could flounder. Preparing employees for a solution is a key part of the implementation process. Few people love change, and businesses can’t expect employees to react well if change is spontaneously legislated from their point of view.
  • Lack of integration with business processes. If a software solution doesn’t integrate with business processes, it doesn’t improve an organization. Period. And the more business processes it integrates with, the more valuable it becomes. Great software improves process, and improved process makes the business more profitable by trimming costs.
  • Lack of integration with other software / systems. A single software rarely solves every business problem. Multiple softwares are usually leveraged for different purposes. Since business processes throughout an organization impact one another much like those of a living organism, processes are interdependent. They interact with one another across departmental lines. Process management software will therefore interact with other systems – making integration a must for success.
  • Lack of compliance with industry trends and best practices. Keeping up with software trends is crucial in this day and age. While it’s costly, it keeps your company marketable and ensures access to support services. Adopting a software that was last updated in 2002, for example, will render you irrelevant to the times, which speaks about your organization. Best practices such as ITIL are derived from industry-leading successes. They pave paths of success for others to follow. Staying on the cutting edge and doing it right are required to remain healthy and progressive. Not doing so can leave you in the dust.

Don’t let your software dictate its own life. Planning is as important the day after “go live” as it is the day before. A software that’s prepared for, well-maintained, well-integrated, and supported with forward-thinking will yield the highest long-term ROI to the business.

Topics: blog bpm business management practices process software tips tricks company compliance cost-effective itil organization
2 min read

SharePoint for iPhone: SharePlus

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

As we mentioned in SharePoint in Safari Mobile, we neglected to review SharePlus – another popular SharePoint for iPhone (and in this case, iPad) app. SharePlus takes the cake from the four apps we reviewed in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps.

 SharePlus, by SouthLabs, $14.99
SharePlus offers a more extensive user capabilities, as you see below.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: YES (via Documents To Go)
  • Upload documents: YES
  • Email documents: YES

A key advantage SharePlus has over other apps is its ability to add pages as “Favorites.” All of the apps we’ve reviewed, including SharePlus, organize a SharePoint site’s lists, libraries, etc into one alphabetical list – very counter-intuitive in comparison to how you’re used to navigating SharePoint from a browser. With Favorites, however, you can at least choose which lists and libraries you access most frequently to prevent having to scroll through a huge list. Then, when you open the app, simply click on the Favorites page to have your frequented pages ready to go.

Other perks include an email and refresh button on every page, so you don’t have to restart the app to speed things up. Page load times are decent in areas with good cell or wireless coverage, depending on the size of your site. Be aware ahead of time that the initial loading of your site to the app will take a few minutes.

The $14.99 price is by far more than any of the apps we’ve reviewed. We see both sides of the coin here. The ability to edit documents, email documents, cut down on search time with Favorites, and operate via iPad are legitimate advantages. But you’ll have to weigh the cost of those extra capabilities against the basic functionality of other apps.

Our take: if you need to edit and send documents frequently from your mobile phone, SharePlus is worth your investment. If you hardly use that functionality and just need to view documents on-the-go, you may need to consider your decision more thoroughly.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
1 min read

SharePoint in Safari Mobile

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 9, 2010 11:00:00 AM

As we said in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps, iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor.

After testing popular SharePoint apps for iPhone (with the exception of SharePlus, a late-comer we plan to review soon), we found that accessing SharePoint from Safari mobile was either just as good or better than using an app – especially because of its capability set:

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

There were some trade-offs, of course. Using an app allowed us to find information a little more quickly, for example, since page reloads weren’t a part of the search process. On the flip side, exploring sites and folders on the app was a bit counter-intuitive since we’re so used to browser-based navigation.

Also, SharePoint pages configured for mobile access loaded quickly in Safari; pages that weren’t loaded more slowly and showed up very small, requiring us to use our fingers to zoom in to make page text readable. Configuring a SharePoint page for mobile access isn’t rocket science, but does take a little effort and forethought.

Overall, however, mobile access via Safari was good enough to lead us to this conclusion: there’s just not a huge advantage either way. While apps offer easier access to information on sites with good information architecture, browser-based access offers similar performance – and a look/architecture you’re used to.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
3 min read

Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 2, 2010 11:00:00 AM

A few years ago, the idea of accessing a powerful application like SharePoint on a mobile device was jaw-dropping. Today, the experience itself is dropping jaws.

iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor – and offers slick browsing performance on SharePoint’s mobile pages, which we’ll talk about in more detail on 9 November.

If browser navigation isn’t for you, a handful of iPhone apps have made it easy for users to perform most basic SharePoint tasks from their phones. We’ve taken the time to compare four of the best SharePoint apps on the market, contrasting their capabilities. Here’s what we found:

 

Attaché by Lûcrum, $0.99
Attaché has a decent-looking user interface (UI), but there are some key things missing – including a refresh button, document properties, and SSL connections. In addition, some lists and libraries are incompatible with Attaché, and simply aren’t shown.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: NO
  • Search capability: NO
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

 

Moshare by Moprise, $1.99
Moshare’s key advantage: it allows you to email documents. It also imports your SharePoint contacts into your iPhone address book, making it easy to email documents on the fly. In addition, you can change the way list items and documents are sorted by tapping sort buttons at the bottom of the screen (which match the list or library’s attributes field).

On the down side, however: like Attaché, there’s no refresh button, and some lists and libraries are incompatible and not shown.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: YES

 

iShare by Spyk Software, FREE
iShare, unlike each of the other apps we reviewed, allows users to add and edit list items – perhaps the most practically valuable capability on our list. This enables users to update project status on the go.

In addition, iShare offers search, refresh, and secure access to each of your site’s subsites. To choose between sites, simply tap the site’s name in the list of sites. None of the titles or properties are truncated, allowing for a less annoying viewing experience.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

 

Sharetica by Jacek Rutkowski, $0.99
Sharetica’s a fairly good app to navigate and view SharePoint in. You can’t add or edit list items or upload/email documents, but if you just need to view a document on-the-go, Sharetica’s got you covered.

One kink we noticed: document properties are truncated if they don’t fit the iPhone’s vertical screen, and there’s no way to toggle over to view the whole thing. Flipping the screen to landscape mode helps, but doesn’t always catch the full property. All of our documents have important properties, so this was pretty annoying.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: NO
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

Of these four apps, iShare impressed us most. The ability to edit and add list items is a key “on-the-go” capability, and the easy navigation between subsites made jumping around SharePoint quick and easy. Moreover, iShare’s free as opposed to the others.

As for user interface, all of the apps looked similar aesthetically – as most iPhone apps do. We were slightly opposed to Moshare’s slimy green theme, and a little annoyed by iShare’s abundance of pumpkin orange. But hey, we’re talking about accessing SharePoint from a mobile device, not which shades of colors we’re subjectively inclined to enjoy.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
3 min read

FAQ's

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 31, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Since we’re a consulting firm with a funky (we prefer “unique!”) name, we’re always armed with answers to the questions that follow “we’re Praecipio Consulting.” It would be a little silly to have an FAQ page on our website for such questions – so we’ve set out to answer the popular ones here. Ahem.

What does “Praecipio” mean?

For starters, it’s not a food or spice. Praecipio is Latin for the English words anticipate, advise, and instruct. We chose the name because its meaning matches our meaning. Praecipio, by definition, is what we do. You can read the full scoop on our name in Praecipio: It's What We Do.

So you do process management and bunch of software stuff – doesn’t that mean you’re just IT consultants?

No. Our partners are experienced in consulting in numerous areas – process lifecycle management, project management, custom software development, etc…and, of course, IT. All ends of a company, though, impact one another. One department’s initiative may impact another department just like the motion of a foot can impact the balance of the body.

When we say we work in all of these different areas, we mean to stress that we have to understand how the body works if we’re going to operate on the foot, so to speak.

I heard you host Microsoft Exchange, but couldn’t find much information about that on your website. Is that rumor true?

Yes. We offer Exchange migration, hosting, and support for businesses large and small, available upon request. We don’t advertise this heavily because it’s not our primary offering; we currently host Exchange for a handful of small businesses and have the solution ready and available for our clients’ benefit. Hosting has become a truly affordable and secure way to manage corporate email and content management systems.

We also host Microsoft SharePoint, offer cloud backup solutions, and re-sell / offer migration to Google Apps. If you’re considering any of these hosting solutions, talk to us now. We’d be happy to offer you advice and perspective.

You mention Microsoft technologies extensively. I run a Google Apps-based business – are you relevant to me?

Of course. Again, we re-sell Google Apps – and offer migration and configuration guidance to businesses who choose to “go Google.” Microsoft solutions aren’t best for everyone just like Google solutions aren’t best for everyone. We suggest the solutions that are best for our clients – not those with a particular brand name.

We do, however, have extensive experience with Microsoft SharePoint in particular. We have implemented SharePoint-powered solutions that have greatly lowered our clients’ operations expenses. Due to the success, we want to market that kind of solution to people we may be able to help, offering the proven track record as assurance. It’s rewarding to see our clients reduce their costs and grow using our solutions. Our SharePoint solutions have done just that, and if you think you can reduce your costs with a similar solution, we’d love to talk to you to learn more.

I’m a small business that doesn’t have an IT department or anything like that. Can you help me? Or do you just cater to the enterprise?

Yes, we can help you too! Partnering with smaller businesses (even one-man shops) offers us the chance to help you grow over time – which is essentially what we’re after with any work we do. Small businesses can take advantage of our free two-hour consulting sessions (we offer this to any first-time customer) for guidance and perspective. They can then have us as a point of reference as they grow.

Our hosting opportunities (Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, cloud backups, Google Apps) are most appealing to small businesses, since very few small businesses (and large ones, for that matter) want to own a server of their own. We take care of hosting and support for businesses who want to take advantage of those tools without all the overhead.

You mention “process automation” on your website. Are you taking away people’s jobs?

Certainly not. We’re not deploying robots, either. Read the full scoop in 4 Misconceptions of Process Automation.

I noticed you didn’t cover [this] on your blog. Do you plan to tackle that topic in the future?

Sure. If you have a topic you’d like us to discuss on our blog, just throw us the idea – we’ll have our quills ready. Call us, email us, tweet us…or just post a comment on the blog.

We’d love to meet you. Talk to us here.

Topics: management process project sharepoint tips tricks development hosting lifecycle microsoft bespoke
2 min read

How SharePoint Quick Launch Works

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 23, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

 

 

One of the most important things to consider when designing a SharePoint site – or designing any site – is creating easy and intuitive access to data with logical organization. In SharePoint, it’s useful to store frequently-viewed pages, lists, and libraries in the Quick Launch bar on the left side of the page.

The Quick Launch bar allows you to quickly navigate to pages you commonly need. Here we have landing pages that aggregate related data and furthermore may limit data to those things that are important to the specific user logged inYour SharePoint developer determines which pages, lists, and libraries appear in the Quick Launch bar. It’s important to not consider the Quick Launch bar as a site index – remember, not all pages, lists, and libraries of your SharePoint site…unless your site is very, very small…should appear in the Quick Launch bar. Only those needed frequently should be stored there.

The Quick Launch bar can be specific for every site or sub-site in SharePoint. A quick etymology lesson: we’re working inside a sub-site right now. This Demo sub-site is a sub-site of our main SharePoint site, titled Brothers Lane Collaboration Site – as you see in the top left. Sites may divide into sub-sites, and sub-sites may divide into pages. There is only a Home page on our Demo sub-site. If there were another page, titled Sales or Legal Matters, etc, you’d see it here. So the Quick Launch menu can vary from site to site or sub-site to sub-site, but not from page to page. All pages on a site or subsite will have the same Quick Launch menu.

You can add a library or list to the Quick Launch bar by using the Settings tab, as you see here in Test Library B, and clicking on Title, Description and Navigation. Here you see the option to “display in Quick Launch.” I’ll select yes…and here you see Test Library B in the Quick Launch.

Find other SharePoint how-to’s and learn more on our blog.

Topics: efficiency enterprise how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos collaboration
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
2 min read

SharePoint Orientation

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 14, 2010 11:00:00 AM

This text mirrors what you’ll hear in the video.

SharePoint provides a common framework for helping you do your work efficiently and effectively, and to improve communications between you and your colleagues. This introductory video is intended to provide you with a base understanding of Microsoft SharePoint – so we’ll cover the terminology you need to know to make your way around the software.

We’ll start with Lists. Within SharePoint, data is organized in to collections called Lists. Lists are like a table in a database or an Excel worksheet in that they contain many individual records or rows.
List attributes are shown as column headings, as you see here. They help distinguish list items from one another.

A list item is a discrete record within a list that has the same attributes as every other list item in that list. These attributes can be of many types including, but not limited to, numbers, strings, dates, files, and system users. It should be noted that file attributes are attachments to the list item.

The next important term you need to know is Document Library. Document Libraries, like Lists, are collections of data – but unlike Lists, Document Libraries are meant to be a repository for documents, including Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets, etc. As you see, this library is already populated with some documents. The attributes of those documents are shown again as column headings.

A Document Library Item is a discrete record, and more importantly, a discrete document. Each document in the document library will have the same attributes as other documents in the library – though each document may have a different template. You can create a templates for files within your document library – and select one to use for a new document in the New tab. Two important features to note are:

  • Number one, the Document Control feature, which allows a single editor to check out a document to edit it, thereby restricting access to only one user at a time. Permissions can be given to users to allow for read-only or more restricted permissions.
  • Number two is Document Versioning, which allows for changes made to the document to be tracked over time.

The next term is Workflow. A Workflow is a packaged set of instructions that can be executed in a repeatable fashion for any given List Item or Document Library Item. Workflows may be executed automatically by the system on the creation or modification of a list or library item, or manually by the user.

The button you see here shows where to access Workflows for this List Item. You can see it by using the drop down and on the display form. Note that not all lists will have workflows associated with them. Only workflows that are manually executable will be displayed here.

The next term is View. All Lists and Document Libraries present the information contained within them by using Views. Views are similar to a simple database query where you can specify what kind of records you want to see (filtering) and how they should be presented (grouping and sorting).

Here I’m showing a view of Test List A using the All Items by Status view. You can select a different view – even a custom view you create – in this box in the upper right of your screen.

The last term is Web Part. Web parts are sections of a web page meant to share related information. These web parts can have many uses throughout a web site.

Here I’m showing a Web Part within the display form for a Test List A item. This web part shows only those documents where the related Test List A Item is the same as the list item being displayed above.

Now you’re familiar with the foundational elements of SharePoint. Our how-to videos will show you how to perform basic user and developer-level operations using these elements.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Build a List in SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 8, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

1. Click SITE ACTIONS in upper right
2. Click CREATE
3. Click CUSTOM LIST in fourth column
4. Name list and assign attributes
5. Click CREATE 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos
1 min read

How to Check Documents In and Out in SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 1, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

Method One:


1. Click the drop-down arrow on the document
2. Click CHECK OUT
3. Open document for editing by clicking the drop-down menu
4. Click EDIT IN MICROSOFT WORD
5. Edit document
6. In Word, click the top left menu
7. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK IN
8. Enter latest version comments
9. Click CHECK IN or OK

Method Two:

1. Click document name in SharePoint
2. Select EDIT, click OK
3. In Word, click top left menu
4. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK OUT
5. Edit document
6. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK IN
7. Enter latest version comments
8. Click CHECK IN or OK

You can always correct any mistakes by closing your document and checking in/out from the SharePoint page. 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Customize a SharePoint Document Library

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

Add FOLDERS and/or ATTRIBUTES to make your SharePoint library easier to navigate.

To add folders, click NEW, and then NEW FOLDER.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Create a Document Library in SharePoint

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

1. Click SITE ACTIONS button in upper right
2. Click CREATE
3. Click DOCUMENT LIBRARY, top of left column
4. Name/assign settings
5. Click CREATE

 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Upload Documents to SharePoint

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

 

 

1. Click UPLOAD tab
2. Click UPLOAD DOCUMENT or UPLOAD MULTIPLE DOCUMENTS
3. Find and select desired documents from your system
4. Click UPLOAD
5. Name and assign attributes
6. Click OK

More SharePoint how-to’s on our blog or on our YouTube channel.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos
2 min read

The Centralized Process Repository: Promoting Enterprise Efficiency

By Praecipio Consulting on May 3, 2010 11:00:00 AM

If you’re a large enterprise, you may be using different applications and processes to support local, national, and global initiatives. On those different levels, separate applications may be needed to manage unique sales, marketing, or IT processes.

The difference in processes, methodologies, and application tools may lead to inefficiencies in management, such as:

  1. Higher cost of managing multiple applications
  2. Lack of consistent governing structure
  3. Inconsistent or incomplete performance measurements

A typical enterprise cannot usually leverage one application for sales, marketing, and IT purposes. Using multiple applications to manage different internal and customer-related processes is in most cases necessary to ensure efficiency and quality customer service. The problem, therefore, is not that the enterprise has too many applications to manage – but that the enterprise cannot effectively manage all of them without some sort of centralized documentation of each application’s attributes and processes.

Without a central location for application-based data, data gets stored at seemingly random locations throughout the enterprise’s storage and resource structure. While process and metric information about an enterprise’s European sales resides on one server, information about their European customer support system may reside somewhere else. This stratification and distance between processes can cause a number of problems in terms of efficiency:

  • Difficult to apply Change Management to all enterprise applications
  • Difficult to access application information at any given point
  • Difficult to measure the efficiency of each application to ensure quality performance
  • Difficult to identify and diagnose problems in a timely manner
  • Difficult to understand how different business processes affect one another

This explains the need for a Centralized Process Repository. As we noted in our previous post, a Centralized Process Repository (CPR) is critical to the success of the enterprise’s process strategy. It stores the following information about each of the enterprise’s applications at the process level:

  1. Resources required (software, equipment, personnel)
  2. Cost (direct and indirect)
  3. Owners and stakeholders
  4. Applications enabled by the process
  5. Separate processes effected or supported by the process
  6. Data points that measure the process’ value to the organization
  7. Frequency of execution
  8. Details regarding how the processes is carried out

The enterprise may not be able to consolidate their applications into one larger application. They may also be unable to devote time to improving each one individually. Adopting a CPR, however, establishes a consistent framework for governing each application by consolidating all process data into one accessible location – requiring any change to a process to be documented by a governing entity. This ensures the accurate measurement of process performance, since performance data points and change updates are stored in one reliable location.

The CPR improves an enterprise’s process performance by maintaining the information needed to measure, improve, and control business processes. We emphasize this to our clients to ensure their success as an efficient enterprise. In addition, the CPR promotes an understanding of the cross-functional nature of the enterprise’s processes – encouraging cross-departmental collaboration by focusing on the relationships between internal processes, end-to-end.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog bpm business efficiency management process services tips tricks value change continuous-improvement 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

4 Misconceptions of Process Automation

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 8, 2010 11:00:00 AM

By nature, process automation involves taking away human tasks and executing them with technology. Naturally, people can be sensitive to automated processes. They may become insecure about their job if they think tasks will be taken away from them.

These sensitivities and insecurities, however, aren’t always legitimate. They can be lessened if everyone involved in adopting process automation understood its purpose and benefit to the business.

Here are 4 misconceptions of process automation:

1. Process automation will replace me with a machine.
In truth, very rarely do workflows replace an entire human position within an organization. As we also say in Workflows 101, workflows execute non-value-adding steps that don’t involve highly-complex decisions, which require human effort.

Non-value-adding steps usually include tasks like organizing, filing, labeling, etc. Value-adding steps include content generation, customer interaction, and service development.

Ideally, each person within an organization will use their skills to add value to company services, or deliver value to customers. The business needs to be productive and efficient to maintain profit, and wants to ensure that employee time is being used efficiently – toward value-adding steps.

2. Process automation will increase mistakes.
Surely a computer can’t make better decisions than a human, right?

Actually, the decisions a computer makes are determined by humans. Workflow decision criteria is developed by folks who’ve studied how the organization operates in detail and determined which business processes could be automated – in part or in whole. Any mistake a workflow makes results from a flaw in decision logic – or something the logic couldn’t account for.

To make sure workflows remain useful over time, they should be observed regularly to ensure their logic and performance are effective. Workflows usually require tweaking as processes change to maintain success.

3. Process automation can’t do this as well as I can.
Again, that’s not the point. Workflows don’t perform tasks that you could do “well” as opposed to others. They weed out tasks that can be executed electronically to make employee productivity more efficient – saving the business money.

4. The implementation of a process automation system is too expensive to consider.
Yes, the implementation may be expensive – and may require you to purchase a software platform that can facilitate workflow technology.

But the worry here isn’t about the up-front cost. It’s about the ROI. The goal of process automation is to save a business time and money as months go by. A successful workflow implementation can make profit soar over time due to the time and energy saved by workflows.

We hope this gives you a clear take on what process automation means for business. Take a look at Workflows 101 more information.

Topics: blog automation bpm business management process process-consulting tips tricks value continuous-improvement operations
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
1 min read

Business Process Management Success

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 3, 2010 11:00:00 AM

At the center of every business are the employees who support a company’s success by performing necessary daily processes. In order to succeed, however, employees need to work together in an organized, effective manner, with a sophisticated understanding of how their processes operate and relate to one another. Without it, business process may be rendered inefficient.

To improve your business from a business process management (BPM) perspective, you must first document how processes are carried out within your company through process mapping. Mapping out your processes creates an organized understanding of how work is carried out in your company—the first step toward business efficiency.

The next step is implementing a software tool to capture and store these processes for you. Process management software—specifically software like Microsoft SharePoint— allows you to capture this process data from key data points and store it in a common database for employee access.

Once your processes are mapped, defined, and digitally documented with process management software, you can then build workflows into those processes that allow selected steps within them to be executed automatically. Process automation, or workflow automation, has an incredible impact on business efficiency by speeding up a process in an organized, methodical way.

For example:

  • Your business receives an order
  • Order is automatically sent to a processing clerk and stored on server
  • Order validation is handled automatically according to predetermined decision criteria (yes, no, pend)
  • Order travels down different paths according to decision criteria

Workflow-based processes also allow process management software to collect real-time information on employee performance. By embedding data collection points in workflows, employers can view dynamic data that makes it possible to gain a high-level perspective on company performance.

This describes our process management consulting capabilities in a nutshell: we help companies transition toward refined processes that can be repeated and monitored, making businesses more efficient and profitable long-term.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog automation bpm business management process tips tricks value lifecycle
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

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