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Friday, March 01, 2002

 

Catching Up. I haven't posted in weeks. My vacation set me back, and my birthday made me realize that there is life outside of work, which included skydiving, reconnecting with non-technical pursuits that I love and just enjoying life. Not that work went completely by the wayside, which is why I am still so far behind.

I first want to welcome Kate Hartshorn, who plays a key behind the scenes role with our weblogs. Kate is more than a wordsmith. She is a strategist, expert in business intelligence, and a researcher who can find out anything about anything.

Strategy & Intelligence. A document that nicely augments what Mike wrote here yesterday is Strategy and Tactics Primer. This guide blends business strategy with competitive intelligence, and at 20 pages is an easy read.

One book that I think connects IT to business strategy is Competing with Information: A Manager's Guide to Creating Business Value with Information Content.

I reviewed this book on Amazon on 22 September 2001 and gave it high marks for both writing and content. The book was edited by Donald A. Marchand who coauthored another book I also reviewed on 22 September titled, Information Orientation: The Link to Business Performance. This book is a classic IT/business alignment book that focuses on information. However, you can extrapolate how to use the techniques and information for business and competitive intelligence.

Examples of extrapolation are shown two of Kate's book reviews, neither of which were about competitive intelligence. However, if you read Kate's 8 November 2001 review of Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World you see how she gleans data and raw intelligence from a book about security and turns it into findings that support competitive intelligence. She does the same thing in her 8 November 2001 review of CyberRegs: A Business Guide to Web Property, Privacy, and Patents. The point is that sources of intelligence aren't always from books on the subject. It takes a skilled researcher to find the data or raw intelligence, and to perform the sequence of steps that Mike mentioned yesterday: compare, examine consequences, find connections and engage in conversation. Kate's findings that she reported in her review of CyberRegs: A Business Guide to Web Property, Privacy, and Patents is a prime example of taking raw intelligence (data collected about intellectual property) and transforming it into processed intelligence with which you can make decisions and initiate actions.

Loose Ends. Mike only touched upon implementation and adoption issues yesterday. I want to provide a random sampling of information that either directly or indirectly support these.

In strategic planning you typically define goals or objectives, determine what are the critical success factors that support meeting those goals or objectives, and measure how well those critical success factors are met using key performance indicators. In IT, and especially in software engineering, the Goal/Question/Metric (GQM) methods is used. Actually it's the same as the Goal->critical success factor->key performance indicator approach. Technology Package for the Goal-Question-Metric Paradigm is a solid introduction to GQM, as well as a set of recommended refinements to the method. This document has value regardless of where you work in IT or your particular discipline. Think of it as a core tool.

Another technique that we're called upon to employ, regardless of our speciality, is cycle time reduction. Whether the objective is to shorten problem resolution times, streamline a development process or analyze a business requirement, cycle time reduction is a technique that should be in our bag of IT tricks. The Cycle Time Improvement Guidebook is a 134 page PDF document that covers all facets of cycle time management.

Implementation issues for any initiative, strategic or tactical, is a barrier. So is technology adoption. An insightful article that addresses the basic issues is Suzanne Garcia's Are you Prepared for CMMI?, which was published in the March 2002 issue of CrossTalk Magazine. Although the article is about determining whether you're ready for CMMI, the information in this well-written article can be adopted to any type of initiative. Two key points in the article are the discussion of adopter types, and the Patterson-Connor Change Adoption Model.

Enjoy your weekend - I have a plane to jump out of.