Comments Off on Uniting Software Professionals Revolution Conference June 1st and 2nd 2017 Virginia Beach
2 56 DAYS | SPEAKERS
Uniting Software Professionals
RevolutionConf is a two-day, platform and language agnostic, software development conference being held on June 1-2, 2017. This year, we are taking over the beautiful Wyndam Virginia Beach Oceanfront. With 15,000 sq. ft of conference space, on the world famous North End of Virginia Beach, VA, we are hosting talks from regional, national, and international thought leaders.
RevolutionConf is organized and supported by the board members of RevolutionVA, a 501c3 non-profit based in Norfolk, VA. The goal of RevolutionVA is to unite software developers in the mid-Atlantic region through conferences, and career and learning opportunities.
I understand standard of living is regional and even statewide, but when one state is 2.9% to 9.9% lower than another state and you put job postings out to pay 45% less you WILL NOT attract senior level great talent to your state! If you don’t believe me here is a recent job posting I received. Believe me this is not the first time this has happened. I was shocked when I moved to Norfolk-Virginia Beach two years ago. And after two years I have not seen any improvements. This is a problem we need to solve, asap!
Take this position for instance.
Project Manager – Agile experience
12-18 month contract opportunity in Norfolk, VA. If interested, please reply with an updated resume and I will follow up to discuss.
I need an experienced IT Project Manager for our Client in the financial services and banking industry. This includes the management of IT development, technology or non-technology efforts that have limited to moderate complexity. Candidate will work within a group of related software applications that provide a defined scope of functionality used to support business activities. Many of the platforms are Agile or have incorporated some Agile best practices. The PM leads the local effort and when it is completed then moves on to another platform to work on another local delivery effort. Candidate must have proven experience leading IT development or IT technology projects, a working knowledge of the IT development life cycle, proven ability to lead a team to desired outcome and establish working relationships with fellow team members, exposure to Agile methodology, familiarity with Clarity or similar project portfolio management tool, and proven ability to lead team matrixed from different internal groups.
This is a pretty senior level job (at least in the job posting). Yet they are paying junior level contracting rates. Here is an example based on personal experience; Minneapolis-St.Paul to the Norfolk-Virginia Beach has a 2.9% to 9.9% differential in standard of living. Norfolk-Virginia Beach is 2.9% to 9.9% less to live in than Minneapolis-St.Paul.
So I would expect 2.9 t0 9.9% (depending on living and working) less in contracting rates for senior level positions, a contractor here should be getting $90.00/hour all inclusive. As you can see this position is 45% less based on the contractor getting $50.00/hour. Now we all know the contractor is getting billed out at around $100 to $125.00 (I get that contracting firms are not a non-profit). This contract gig in Minneapolis-St.Paul would be at least $125 at the low end and $135 at the top end to the contractor, which is more inline with the 2.9%-9.9% difference.
Norfolk-Virginia Beach region is NOT going to attract top talent or even move top talent around (cross-pollination of talent is good for a region too) like we want and desire to happen. As a region if we don’t start paying to get talent, we will not get them, period! Wanting Maybach type talent and paying Plymouth Sundance prices will not get the job done! Ask company management, recruiters, and or human resource professionals in this area see what they say. Bet their first statement will be “We cannot attract talent at the wages this region has set within their budgets!” This is a top down and a bottom up solution driven problem.
What do you think region needs to do to rectify this problem?
If we don’t solve how will this affect this regions growth potential?
Comments Off on Have an IT Organization, Try this Model on for Size
This post was inspired by another que from discussing a topic via twitter. So it seems that most mid-size, large, and super large companies are struggling with getting how to get IT and business resources closer to adapt to the rapid nature of the market changes that happen both in business as well as in technology. From what I have seen and what I going to explain is the financial model has to support this interaction model as well. For the most part how a company is paying for things is one component that is getting in the way! The model I am going to explain is based on working inside of the model and not creating the model itself. I am no way shape or form taking credit for the creation.
I do have experience seeing it work and work well and that is the perspective I am offering up. I have also seen many attempts to fix the financial problem at several companies since I have worked in this model and I have yet to seen anyone succeed. The major buzzwords that sometimes associate this financial model are transformation, matrixed organization, centers of excellence, and delivery centers. The model we used had one concept: Internal Consulting Firm or Development Center to our own business. The technology resources within the Development Center model were hired by the business to do a job, they do it, the business pays, and they move onto something else, period.
A key ingredient to the Development Center is that it reports directly to the CTO or CIO of the company. There are basically three layers management.
This flat organization is focused on getting work done and improving the enterprise. I do believe this was one of the key and essential ingredients to our success, but the main course of the feast was the financial model. This model actually facilitated partnering and sharing the responsibility of delivery for the enterprise (not in a buzzword in a powerpoint deck way either). Yes it sounds funny to say a financial model was a main course of delivering success, but it is true.
I am going to dig into the financial model from a very high level. Before I start let me qualify what I mean by financial. I mean financial by the concepts and not hardcore debits and credits, by no means am I a financial analyst or accounting specialist. I would recommend if you do decide on this model find the people that love talking debits, credits, forecasting, and financial modeling and buy them lunch and coffee! This relationships will pay off huge (yes pun intended). Build a Development Center
This is an organizational structure that houses all the disciplines within the development of technology. The development center will have business analysts, project/program managers, engineers, data architects, technical architects, infrastructure architects, DBA’s, server technicians, developers, and one layer of management. These development center resources are able to form a whole development team to partner with a business unit or multiple business units to build and implement technology. Once this technology is implemented the business unit takes over full support for the technology.
This puts the technology and business unit resources really close together to maximize total cost of ownership, time to market, and technology making business more efficient. The development center resources can perform staff augmentation to business units that don’t need a whole development team, as well. They just need a couple resources to enhance a current technology. The development team is there to partner with the business unit technology staff. The us and them is not tolerated in this model. This clearly divides support and maintenance from new development. Ask any IT professional when you have resources trying to do both it never works. This model works because the Development team needs the business unit IT’s expertise, experiences and partnership to deliver on the mark products to that business unit! Revenue and Expense
The Development Center financial operational model is revenue expense. What this means is this unit must operate at zero. The Development Center resources are charged to a project just like hiring an external contractor or consultant. So if the Development Center resource works 40 hours per week at $100 per hour, the business unit pays the Development Center $4,000 to their revenue. On the expense side the Development Center must pay out their own expenses training, salary, bonus, computer, etc. If the expenses total $1,000.00 the Development Center is now sitting on $3,000 in revenue…..got to get back to $0.00!
Being that they are revenue expense they have to get back to money if they run a profit based on the resources billable hours. How do they do this, you may be asking? Here is what we did. We called up the business that we technically over charged (I will get into why this is not a bad thing) and said “Hey we have $3,000 here we need to give back to you.” Business Unit: “Uh really, you want to give me money back?” DC: “Yes we do, it’s your money….we don’t sell anything so yeah we want to give it back.” Business Unit: “Oh wow this is awesome!” DC: “Should we set up some time to see what your next set of needs and problems there are to help with?” Business Unit: “Yes let’s do that I have a couple of ideas” This sounds too good be true doesn’t it! I was part of many of these conversations. So how much the conversation changes if you are delivering expected results for your business!
The Art of the Financial Model:
The art of the financial model will start creating collaboration, sharing, and communities of practice! The Business Unit and Development Center technology people proactively and reactively immerse themselves into communities to make each other better (this is not easy and you need some resources dedicated to making this happen). There is no “us and them” there is just “we” deliver technology solutions for making the enterprise work well and in some cases gain competitive advantage in different markets whether that be talent acquisition or not bleeding talent, drive customers to purchase based on allowing the technology the get the consumer closer to the enterprise. In most cases you can not train this, you hire for it if you do not have it. This could mean a complete overhaul of resources. I know that sounds painful, but how less painful and costly is your current model?
Yes the Development resources have bill rates just like the consultants and contractors outside the organization. At the beginning of the year the Development Center is given a budget to cover the resources expenses; including assets, training, and overhead of management (they are not billable). Each discipline was assigned a bill rate that was reflective of their role, skill set and experience. The manager of that discipline was responsible for finding work for their resources and bill them out to cover the expense budget allotted to them at the beginning of the year.
This part of the model was always the relationship building part with our business units. At the beginning of the year we would have Service Fair. All the business units would come in and meet all the resources from the Development Center. The Business Units would explain the types of problems and initiatives they have needs for within that year and how much of each service they would like to buy to get these problems or initiatives implemented.
At the end of the fair we would all get together and figure out how we get back to $0.00 with all the services we sold and just like clockwork, every year the answer was “Uh Oh we do not have enough services to cover our expenses!” It became quite comical because we would all freak out and think wow we run RED for 6 mos they are going to shut us down! This is not a bad way of thinking, it keeps the fire burning trust me, a little pressure to perform is not a bad thing! Low and behold by June we are typically $10 to $15 million in the BLACK. This was not because of poor planning or estimating, it is just software development life-cycles realities. Sometimes your on and sometimes your off, but with good partnerships and real collaborative financial efforts what is produced everyone wins.
This model is a framework and not an end all be all to the solution. This framework can be dropped into just about any company and any industry, but the art of the financial model comes from the people delivering and executing technology to make the business more efficient and some cases gain competitive advantage.
Being that more and more companies are realizing Software as a Service and Platform as a Service is a more cost effective, secure and gets them back to running their business and not upgrades or a software factories (you should not be a software factory unless you are selling software). The Development Center financial model helps facilitate the implementation and management of these new ways businesses should be running their technology landscape.
I think without this organizational and financial structure implementing the above mentioned technologies can and will run into many road blocks and cost overruns (I have seen it!). Because of the flexibility the Development Center offers of tying project teams to solving a problem or innovating and not to an organizational structure, they can solve or innovate and move on. A business unit does not have to pay for 50 people to build, implement, and support because they do not have to with this model.
So next time you are wondering how can I solve my total cost of ownership of technology for my business, implement the Development Center financial and resource model, your wallet, business, and investors will love you for it!
This will be somewhat of a shorter post for me. I know the novels are getting to be a bit much! So I was chatting away on twitter the other day and Bruce Kneuer and I bumped into each other and we started talking about the Social Business. Now we only have a 140 characters so this is how the conversation went:
So after thinking about the context that was swirling around in my head I responded with this 140 characters:
@keithprivette response to @BKneuer
So then Bruce kindly puts this request into me:
The 140 That Sparked a Diagram
So I decided to visualize Bruce’s question into a model so I can understand what is swirling around in my head. This is a visualization to represent how much over lap we have with people, technology, and processes to interact internally and externally at the same time. Our customers have a much much much better idea of what our companies are, how they are ran, and who is running them.
Here is the model that represents the ideas and what action could be taken based on interconnecting within the Social Business constructs.
Social Business Ideas Swirling in My Head
So Bruce thank you for prompting with your very though provoking question. This is what I have so far. It is basically a model to get the people, technology, and processes working together to solve and innovate. There is a ton of details that need to be filled in and I know that. Just thought it would be fun and educating to share and fulfill a request for information at the same time. Open to any and all comments.
Please leave a comment below about what is missing, what you like, what you don’t like, where there is flaws, why is technology as big as the business, your cracked and stop doing this, anything!
So the previous post talks about WHY in the title and after reviewing the post I did not even scratch the surface or even answer the question of Why. So this post is the follow up to Why you need a Social Business Analyst. The Business Analyst has evolved to be a very intragel part of the software development lifecycle and plays a major role (yes this is a biased opinion) in keeping the worlds of business and technology synthesized. The role has evolved to be a skilled and well positioned professional for a company, thinking about how to integrate the business’ strategy, process, technology, and implementation of a its Social Business architecture and operations.
Just check out a google search on Social Business Jobs, you will notice many of the skill sets this implementation needs, now look at what a good Business Analyst comes with, now integrate their personal and professional social profile and BOOM the Social Business Analyst.
Here is a diagram of the dynamic skill set of the Business Analyst:
The Social Business Analyst
Here are some criteria to answer the question Why:
1. We know how businesses work better with technology
The Social Business Analyst is well versed at understanding what the business processes are and how they are made more efficient within technology. This understanding is critical to implementing the Social Business, because about 70% of your business is run with technology. The other 30% is run by people making decisions about the information coming from those technologies. Scary, hey….not really technology has freed us up to actually have more conversations and better data for making decisions.
If you look at the Enterprise2.o & “Social Media” landscape, technology plays a huge part in your ability to execute your strategy and operations. People will say “It’s not about the technology, blah, blah, blah!” I disagree! It is about technology and technology from the perspective it helps make your Social Business run efficiently, effectively and in the most cost effective way. A Social Business analyst must know how this ever changing world of social technologies (Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Jive, SocialText, Crimson Hexagon, Radian6, and operational technologies (SAP, PeopleSoft, Concur, Salesforce.com, SAS, POS, Sterling Commerce) must integrate to make the Social Business work.
2. Organic nature of requirements gathering
Yes, you heard me right requirements come to a project or initiative in very organic and dynamic nature. There may be methodologies methodologies step by step processes, structured traceability, but how to get and gather requirements can be rather organic. This typically is the best way to design solutions that people will actually use. When you become to robotic or “order takerish” with going to meeting, gather, document, ask questions, going to another meeting, gather, document, send email, meeting…..can you see how fast collaboration, organics, and innovation gets stifled in this process. A good Social Business Analysts does not have to think “Oh what is my next step in this methodology”, we just think this way, to easily get, analyze, model, document, use, and communicate information for the betterment of the business.
3. Document and model everything
Yes almost to a fault….but isn’t this what is going on all over consumer technologies these days. The Social Business Analyst document requirements in an organized fashion so people can actually use the information to make decisions. You will never see me produce a laundry list of requirements! We make pictures for all of our words in the form of process models, state change digrams, user interface process models, conceptual data models, and wireframes (yeah we like to mock up screens to get people talking). This helps the widest audience use information to make decisions. Managing this information in well architected, maintained, and open tools makes a project or initiative run soooooo much smoother. If you run projects devoid of these tools or run your organization like the “cobbler that never provides his\her children with no shoes” it will be a painful thorn in your side. I have seen both and thorns hurt!
4. We are precocious 5 year olds when it comes to asking questions
Why do you do that? Why is that free form text? Why is there so many hand offs? Why don’t you make that required? Why not a drop down there? Why did you change for two days ago? Why would a customer do that? What questions do you want to ask of your information? What market-share would you like to capture? What do you want to capture from the customer engagement? How many users will you have? How will you service these requests? Who will use this? What do you think?
See this is what we continually do when we receive information or produce it for people to talk about. Typically the highlighted question is the one we use when we bring information to the table to discuss. The questions we use come from a place of curiosity, fill in the blanks, connect the dots, validate the dots we have connected, and always wanting to make the business more efficient for their customers, employees, investors, and communities.
5. We love figuring out how the ecosystem works together
There are no silver bullets! We understand that to solve most business problems an ecosystem must be developed and implemented to help support the ecosystem that is the business. Being that social, enterprise2.0, and cloud technologies are maturing everyday, businesses need people that have been maturing along with them, hence the need for the Social Business Analyst. With the world of clouds, API’s, sharable on just about everything, consumer technology outpacing corp technology and most businesses needing to work internally and externally, a Social Business Analyst help gather, present, and make recommendations on a platform basis, not a silver bullet.
6. We like data and finding new conversations for improving
Yes based on using the information above you achieve good data in and good data out. We continually think about the questions a business is going to have along the way once the information is being populated. We understand the value of good data architecture, good information management, what a required field does to the process, what free form text fields vs structured data in drop downs gets you down the road.
I personally love “geeking out” with data architectes to understand how we structure the data to get it back out to make good business decisions. Once did a project in Mexico City where every data field was in english and in spanish behind the scenes so you could run reports in spanish and english. This skill set comes in very handy with working with monitoring tools of the social landscape. Having a solid understanding and the ability to speak with data and information geeks will make a Social Business Analyst vital to your team.
7. Connecting the dots quickly is our DNA
The dot connecting is really evident when you go back up and look at the Social Business Analyst cube. See the solid and dotted lines intersecting all over the place. Those are just the dots to connect the resources together. Now image all the dots that need to be connected across your organization…..now think about the dots connecting the internal to the external…..now lets go really big the dots that are connecting all your costumers. Got it mapped out? Well if not a Social Business Analyst kinda sees the language of the matrix when it comes to this. The good part, with the skills above we model, decompose the information, organize it, and “bucketize” it for easier consumption and decision making.
There is the WHY of putting this job description on the docket for 2011. The WHY on hiring a Social Business Analyst in 2011, if you are heading down the “social” path (eventually it is the path, but that is another discussion). I do believe a the Social Business Analyst plays well in the Marketing, Advertising, Communication, Digital, Customer Service Call Center, Sales, and HR sandboxes.
What are your thoughts? What is missing? What were your perceptions going into this information and now what are they? Look forward to hearing from you in the comments! I want to thank Jessi Howard for emailing some feedback on the Social Business Analyst Job Description post (see email is not dead!) and encouraging me to explain the WHY in a little more detail. Thank you Jessi!
Comments Off on 4 Tactics to evaluating, buying, and implementing Vendor technology packages
Being a Business Analyst nothing drives me more up a wall when I hear “Oh it is a vendor package, we don’t have any requirements.” My first response to that is Really? Or depending on the political and relationship of the environment a little attitude will be thrown in with the response of Really? In this post I will lay out 4 tactics as to why this thought process dooms your project before you even start. Yes it dooms it, sorry no nice way to put this. In my career I have seen many many many vendor technology packages suck companies dry because of not following these 4 tactics. If I added it all up in the last 10 years, I have seen at least $500 million dollars wasted because the company did not know the technology they already have, what they really wanted or what they really needed.
This goes back to very simple premise; know thy business! Sorry to break the news, but your business is run by good technology and good technology selections. Using these 4 tactics when evaluating, selecting and implementing a Vendors software package you will save time, money and whole lot of headaches. The tactics focus more on using a more iterative, collaborative, and co-creation methodological process (Please insert your methodology definition of what that is, most software development lifecycles SDLC’s are basically all the same with different terms, thought leaders, and definitions. These tactics still do not change).
1. Understand your requirements from a business scenarios context:
Organize all your business scenarios and collaborative processes and technology that will be touching the Vendor package. Yes in todays world there is no longer the black and white of process vs technology. They are and always will be interwoven. No more of this separation of process from technology! Sorry “I only worry about the business process without technology” people! The business scenarios will allow for the project team to put information into containers for easier decomposition, decision making, gap identifiers, and nice to haves highlighting. Without organizing into containers the project team ends up trying to make decisions on a laundry list of requirements and never can answer the question “Do we have everything we need and want?” Having this layer of information will help people find vendor software packages that support their business scenarios. Below is an example of how to model those business scenario containers.
The Business with Circles and Stick Figures
You also will avoid buying software built for the aviation industry and retrofitting to use in financial services (this never works, I have seen this once). This model will help you organize around decisions based on core vs nice to haves. It will also show you how many different users there are for a particular implementation. It is simple circles, arrows, and stick figures to depict how big is this “bread box”(this is the term thrown around when trying to figure out scope). Gather as much information from as many different users, process documents, technical specifications, and industry users as possible. At all costs do try and avoid requirements gathering overload (this is the art that a good Business Analyst brings to the team)! Estimated time for producing a model like this 2-3 weeks.
Now that you have you have identified your business scenario containers you can beginning filling those containers with requirements based on the process diagrams each business scenario has in regards to business rules, functional or user interface requirements, data requirements, non-functional requirements, and security and information requirements. Within the world of software development a project team could provide details of your business scenarios with 57 different types of requirements, that all come with their own set of attributes. All these requirement types make up the ecosystem of requirements management including traceability, impact analysis and conceptual design of the technology. Here is how the information is linked together to understand your whole picture of requirements:
How Requirements Trace
This is typically how requirements trace to each other. The names may slightly differ depending on the methodology you are using, but the model will be somewhat the same across a multitude of methodologies. These are the details that will fit inside each one of the circles above according to your business scenarios. Keep in mind, some of the business scenarios above kick off other business scenarios within the model, that is ok! This will help establish input and outputs of successful completion of that business scenario. This is why having a team that understands the complexity in very usable containers is key to evaluating, buying and implementing vendor software. Without this, good luck and may the force be with you……
The Requirements Management Hard Work Model
This model depicts the process a project team goes through to manage all the information within the business scenario containers. Without this for guidance, project teams often find themselves in chaos, analysis paralysis, or worse stuck on what comes next. All three paths lead to wasting time, money, and resources, not only the Clients, but the Vendor also.
2. Download a free copy make screen shots
This step will be critical in your evalaution process. Start taking screen shots of evalaution copies of software and bounce your business scenario processes and requirements up against the technology you are researching. Yes I know, this causes rework. You have this either way. I would rather do a whole lot of rework on information, than in production when your audience can now see the garbage on the lawn. It is not pretty, trust me! I also said this was not going to be easy and take a couple of hours to do either. Taking the information from tactic 1 will help you bounce your business scenarios up against the vendor’s interpretation of your industry. Start running through your business scenarios in these evaluation copies.
At this point start refining your requirements. They are not set in stone and never will be. If you have a multiple disciplines (SME’s, PM, BA, Tech Lead, Architect, Infrastructure Architect, Support personnel) co-creating you ensure continual buy-in and a successful implementation. You may even discover some requirements for your business using two different vendor packages. Document this information and use them in tactic 4. This information can sometimes lead to changes on the vendor side, which will lead to a better partnership of trustworthy sharing and collaboration (This is a behavior that is missing in most vendor client relationships to begin with)
Sometimes you may find a software package has found a better way to do your business scenario. That is ok! Your business does not always have to have all the answers to weaving business scenarios and technology solutions together. Do not get caught up in thinking this is where your competitive advantage lays for your business. It is your people and empowering decision making with the use of the information in and out of the vendor packages is where your competitive advantage lays. I have seen where companies have gained huge competitive advantage by allowing the vendor package to dictate the process and technology of particular business scenario. The reason is the company gets back to focusing on delivering top notch business services and products to their audiences, this is where you earn your keep with your audience. Additionally, it makes getting to market a lot shorter.
The Vendors you buy packages from focus on one set of processes and technology for a particular industry. These companies live and breathe making the industry specific business scenarios the most efficient, intuitive, and easy to manage within their software package (for the most part….). Take salesforce.com for instance. They focus on making the sales process the most efficient it can possibly be with sound business scenarios and technology to support those business scenarios. Your business scenario is selling a certain product or service to your audience. Let the experts in the sales process and technology worry about that while you sell the product, that is how your business makes money. Your business does not make money by re-engineering your sales process, so partner with the process and technology experts that live and breath certain business scenarios, trust me finding these partnerships will lower costs and increase revenues! I hope this analogy make sense? If not drop me a comment and we can discuss further
3. Get your Business Analysts, Testers, Developers, Subject Matter Experts, Infrastructure, and Project Management disciplines collaborating on the information:
This tactic is probably the most difficult to manage or implement depending on the whole culture of your organization, the behaviors of your people towards collaborating and sharing, and do your disciplines have the street and book smarts in regards to discipline collaboration. A company can state that they are agile or iterative until the cows come home, but if the people don’t process the information in a culture of collaboration and co-creation it just isn’t true. Disciplines must have the comfort and trust built up in their relationships to encroach respectfully into each others disciplines. I show these overlaps in the Business Analyst 3.o post.
The team you pick for performing these tactics must be full time on this effort, any thing less you will not make it a priority and the project will fail. This tactic also brings everyone to the table for the demonstrations of the Vendor package to satisfy all parties involved and will facilitate making a good technology decision. These decisions can not be made in the vacuum by strategists or leaders that will not be using this package on a daily basis. Great, the vendor package has great executive reporting dashboard for executives, but the tactical and operational information going into the package is garbage and slows down your business scenarios. Garbage in Garbage out, this affect is more prevalent in vendor packages, if the decisions to buy and implement is done at a too high level away from executing the actual business scenario.
4. Take control of the dog and pony shows based on requirements
This is where your gathering, analyzing, and scope definition will pay huge dividends. If you allow the Vendor to run these reviews you will be sold to. This is not the fault of the Vendor! They are trained and coached to sell the cool features that cost money. The fault really falls on the Client for not preparing, understanding, and knowing thy business working within a technology platform. This step is where Clients can take back the control and get what is needed and on occasion what is wanted for their business scenarios.
This collaborative demo really makes for a good working relationship with your potential Vendor. Let me explain. The Vendor will not have to waste time helping the Client figure out what they need and can focus more on being a true partner in consulting, recommending, and creating for the Client based on a clear vision. The Client should not be paying $200.00 per hour to figure out their own business…..this to me does not make good use of the of a scarce resource called money!
An additional suggestion I would make is have two demonstrations of the vendor software package. The first one would be completely understood as a time for the Vendor to do their sales, dog and pony show, and offer up their road-map for their product(s). The second demonstration would be completely controlled by the Client with reviewing the product through the lens of their requirements, process flows, and wants and needs of the product features based on their business scenarios. The mood and behavior of the second demo should be collaborative, co-creative, and sharing of “garbage on each others lawns.” All along the way refining the requirement information. There may even be a resource on the project team completely dedicated to keeping information up to date. This is where your triple AAA BA’s learn their craft!
Implementing these 4 hard work tactics (yes sorry to tell you, you will be doing some hard work here, no silver bullet!) will pay dividends for your short term and long term success for your projects to implementing vendor technology packages. These techniques can work for Software as a Service (SaaS), Off the Shelf Install products, Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Social Technology Ecosystems (sorry no silver bullet in this area either). I have seen both sides of this equation and utilizing these techniques has led to buying and implementing the correct technology for true return on investment of time, money and resources.
If you have additional techniques that you have seen be successful on a project please leave a comment. This old dog loves learning new tricks! One added thought on these 4 tactics is swap out the word “business” for “technical” in front of scenarios and it works the same way just a slightly different type of language used in your requirement statements. So you technical infrastructure (servers, routers, modems, switches, wireless hardware, pbx’s, ivr’s, mainframes, etc.) folks we have you covered too!
So you have seen me talk a lot about how Social Media, Technology, and the Outdoors lately so I wanted to write a post about these Misfits or Fit for connecting us as people. Yes I know you probably read that first sentence and said to yourself “What? Are you kidding me I go to the outdoors to get away from all this wacky stuff!” Sorry to tell you, your data is calling your bluff. Yes I would not be totally “transparent” (for my big word users) if I did not agree with that statement a little….but I am going to start a discussion that hopefully has a long tail for outdoor retailers, outdoorsy people, technology retailers, technology innovators, government agencies, non-profits and businesses that relay on people engaging and communicating with the tools and technologies in the outdoors.
Ok here we go. I have been part of many outdoor activities since moving to Minnesota. I have duck hunted, deer hunted, fished, boated, hiked, canoed, motorcycled, rode bike, skied, ice fished, and my favorite RV camping. After reading that list were you like really? Yes the suit 5 days a week is my Clark Kent side. So living an outdoors lifestyle (and believe me there are people way more hardcore at this than I) as well as being involved in many online social communities I have been watching, listening and participating and discovering some patterns that I want to explore with people, companies, and organizations.
I have thought through some initial ideas to get this conversation and action going on how social media+technology+outdoors are truly socially connecting us on and offline for good. I want to explore the data, social objects that people are putting out there, for deeper and richer connections between the people, their technologies, the outdoors, the brands that support these activities, the brands that support them, and how to create real return on investment (have a couple of real dollars in real dollars out ideas) by companies and consumers in this space. Yes, I know the initial reactions are “Keith you are crazy people go to the outdoors to get away from technology and especially social media” Well unfortunately, your data is telling a different story…..so you may want to have a talk with it!
I have teamed up with the fine folks managing the Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis/St. Paul in particular Rick Mahn to leverage the rich social media savvy, technology curious, and experienced people in this community to bring this to light. I have also been in contact with many local providers of products and services within the outdoor space to participate in a the discussion as well to see where this conversation goes. Currently these fine folks have signed up for the first part of a two part plan to kick off the engagement, discussion, ideas, collaborations, co-creations, and real business that can be done based on this topic. The outdoor industry accounts for $5.075 billion dollars in 2009 that is just the retail side selling products and services. Then when you couple in the resorts, campgrounds, guide businesses, hotels, rental shops, RV Boat ATV Dealerships, restaurants, technology services and social media tool side of that money and there are many many many systemic value points to listen, engage, make happy, service to convert into real dollar values.
The participants to kick off the discussion will be as follows:
Molly Solberg from Duluth Pack: Molly is the Director of Social Media and Business Development for Duluth Pack. She is actively managing the twitter account as well as Duluth Pack Blog. Molly has also initiated a Social Media Breakfast Duluth community also! She not only works for a 128 year outdoor company, but she lives and breathes the outdoor lifestyle in her personal life too.
Kim Opitz representing Crestliner as a vendor: Crestliner (twitter acct) celebrates 65 years as an innovator in the aluminum market; delivering a complete line of fishing, fish and ski, pontoon and jon boats to enthusiastic consumers across the United States and Canada. You can find them engaging their communities atFacebook, Flickr, Youtube, andVimeo
Adam Jochum from Crow River Coffee Company: Adam runs Crow River Coffee Company in Watertown, MN. He has graciously offered up his studio that normally broadcasts Spacevidcast.com live. His studio will allow us to have fully interactive discussion with a live feed of the social platforms as well as a livestreaming of the discussion. This is cool! Adam and Crow River totally fits social media+technology+outdoors, because who doesn’t drink coffee in the outdoors. It is a great themed back drop to the whole first part of this experience.
Rick Mahn from Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis St. Paul: Rick has an extensive IT background and understanding of infrastructure, Rick brings the knowledge and skill to help build your personal or professional network through years of exploration of social media, learning its strengths and weaknesses. His practical experience in the industry combined with his love of communication and team building have enabled him to bridge the gap between personal and professional networking with great success. Rick is also one of the founding members of the Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis St. Paul. Rick has established a community of well over 2,000+ community members here in Minneapolis St. Paul. We will have to confirm during our livestreaming discussion but I do believe he is the Social Media Title holder for most community members, longest consistently running SMB, and the SMB with the most sessions 29, to date. We will ask him!
So that is the first part of the plan. Now for the meaty, juicy, slap some pepper jack cheese and big piece of bacon on part two of this plan. Rick and I have had several discussions about how we can take this discussion into the outdoors and really see if we can fully make the equation of social media+technology+outdoors come to life. I do believe we have hit on a plan……now before I go any further you will have to wait a little for part two, but I think we will make it worth the wait, right Rick!
So here is the plan a 2 day Social Media Breakfast camping experience at a campground.
The tentative agenda would look something like this:
Day 1 Arrive at the Campground, SMB’ers with or without families set up campsites and connect throughout the day. Meet each other. Meet sponsors. Meet each others families. Maybe have some technology based contests. Hopefully we have some vendors, retailers, service provides that would like to participate in their element.
Day 2 The regularly scheduled SMB would take place from 8am to 10am. This would be at a couple of the campsites sitting around the campfire ring (with or without fire….still deciding) with hopefully the same participants (maybe even some more based on the longtail discussion) from the livecast discussing what has happened since the livecast, what is on the near horizon, and what does the future look like. This would be a fully interactive discussion, hence in the circle around the campfire ring.This camping adventure would take place sometime in May or Jun 2011.
The livecast of this discussion will take place on October 13th, 2010 starting at 7:30pm. Yes we are doing a livecast with video, chat and twitter stream! So start preparing questions or comments that are on your mind? What areas would you like us to touch on? I am really looking forward to this ongoing discussion. Any person and business is welcomed to just jump in where ever. I have even thought about starting a bi-weekly or monthly twitter chat under the #hashtag of #smtochat, but we will take 1st things first. Lets see how the livecast goes! Be on the look out for details and links to the live webcast!
Additionally, I want this to be an ongoing discussion, so if want to continue the discussion after the livecast just use the hashtag #smoutside10. At anytime we think that another livcast should take place with different participants, it is a ok too. If anyone wants to give me a 2011Keystone Springdale 303BHSSR you could do that too (I am totally kidding……our beloved @pulling was totaled out in a hailstorm this year). This is definitely going to be a community effort. Leave some comments, we would love to hear from you!
So I bet you are asking yourself “what the hell does cross pollinating verticals mean you crazy crazy person you?” I am going to explain how it came about and why it has become part of my idea to strategy to planning to action taking mantra. Ok it did start out from a little snark and sass to address some of things I was seeing at conferences (mainly live feeds across the interwebs) and one off sessions with organizations across the web also.
Because my day job is somewhat, well actually totally not related to social media, marketing, advertising, recruiting, communication or external customer service. I take advantage of being connected to so many wonderful people that tweet out conference #hashtags, send livefeed links on their twitter, facebook, eventbrite, meetup and linkedin social feeds to get to some great information.
I started to notice in presentations and presenters language many many many big words being used to explain very simple everyday actions. The word honest turned into trustworthy, be yourself turned into authenticity, people turned into human capital, and the best open turned into transparency. I do believe people sometimes think if they use big words they are more credible, believable, and intelligence. I will agree it does show intelligence, but in a book smart way and not in a real world, street smart way. So having a little moment of rebellion I figured if I want to be consider a thought leader I better start putting some big words in my arsenal.
I know I know very 5th grade, but I thought let’s go with this and see where it goes. So I was at lunch with a couple of people (probably at The Newsroom) out came “Cross Pollinating Verticals” during a conversation. Of course I got the “What the hell does that mean?”, so I began explaining my perspective of what I was observing in presentations and conversations. Cross Pollinating Verticals is really the basic action of talking, asking, or meeting with people that are not in your organizational, professional, or skill set vertical. I do believe this also clearly articulates how I view my networking and professional development. I do believe if this path was explored more and more by people, it could start creating the systemic market and people changes we need for the future (sorry no data just a gut feel).
It seems that we spend too much time in our own industries and skill set or title. This is not bad thing, because yes you need to keep up on the trends, people, topics, regulations, legislation, technologies, and processes. The only drawback, focusing on your industry, you are only talking and interacting with people that agree or often have the same point of view as you. Now with the explosion of the social platforms you have complete access to information, people, and technologies to other people’s industries! The beauty of majority of people from every industry continually sharing publicly anyone can share in the conversation. This will only lead to enrich and enhance the conversation because you are getting it from the audience of your industry.
For example I follow many recruiters and human resource people on twitter. Many of the conversations are between people within the recruiter and human resource industry, which leads to many agreements and very little diversification of points of view. Well enter a non-recruiter or non-human resource industry person, me. I am their audience, I am the people they are trying to help, I am the people they are gently trying to manage, I am a person they should hear from…..right? This is unadulterated access to their constituency, right? That is what every industry that has an audience wants!
You can ask questions, have conversations, and beta new ideas, that is of course if they are interacting with their audience. I just used Recruiter and Human Resource vertical as an example, I jump into many verticals marketing, PR, communications, etc. I even have followed a twitter chat for Student Affairs for colleges and universities! So I encourage people while networking, viewing people to follow, having conversations, and posing questions look for people not within your industry, professional, or skill set vertical to really enhance your conversations, points of view, and “third box over” type thinking. Being that I love finding people not like myself, it has led to finding some real and enriching conversations about problems to be solved.
So next time when you are looking to follow a person, a conf hashtag, send request to someone on linkedin, or post a comment on a blog do it outside your designated vertical and see what happens! What would be even better if you came back and drop a note on this post to show others real world examples of this! That would mean you Cross Pollinated a Vertical!
So are you managing several places across the interwebs? Have you have ever stopped to think how and why you use each paltform? Nope me either! Well I should say I always understood my reasoning for joining, mainly curiosity. In the back of my mind I have always understood what I want to post for each platform, but never stopped to write it all down, until now. So in preparing for a presentation I have been asked to do for Minnesota American Marketing Association@mnama (thanks Aimee Cheek!) I figured get this out of my head and onto virtual paper…….
So below will explain the many social platforms I manage my strategy, content, connecting, and execution of my social strategy for professional and personal growth. Being across so many different communities and technologies it keeps fueling my curiosity, connecting, and improving passions! Below is not all the places I have a profile, but the main ones I use on a hourly, daily, weekly, monthly basis, yes each platform has it own engagement cycle.
You usually can tell which one I am using on that hourly cycle! Couple main points I suggest for managing, engaging and networking is to always remember each social platform will have it’s own ways of communicating and engaging, always pick a home-base to send all new profiles to, for me this is my blog at http://keithprivette.com, and always be yourself. Being yourself will be the most important and relevant strategy to deploy when managing your social platforms and properties.
This is my personal blog to expand ideas, “poke the tiger”, cross-pollinate verticals, make the connections between my skill set of being a senior business analyst and the social industry. I have been using social technologies since 2004 and through that journey I have discovered some gaps that the technologies, processes, and people delivering within this industry. Majority of the industry is delivered by technology companies or marketing, advertising, or digital agencies.
With these two distinct industries delivering for consumers and other businesses gaps in regards to analysis, design, and information management have occurred because I feel there are not enough true Business Analysts within these industries. My blog will continue to show where connections can be made to benefit project delivery, problem solving process & technology, and rapid technology innovation.
The pulling tin blog is a journaling strategy for our family travels with our RV. This site will have reviews of campgrounds, pictures of our trips, and general information about living the RV lifestyle. With living a RV lifestyle comes with many many opportunities to speak about all things to do with the outdoors. The Privette family loves being outdoors so many other things may show up about this.
This is a rapid one off ideas that do not fit the strategy or planning of the above two blogs. Pictures, Emails to Social, Mini-Blog posts with pictures. This is where I place all those one off ideas that pop into discussions or connections that fit the one off. This account publishes pictures to facebook, twitter, digg, picasa, flicker, delicious, tumblr.
Personal\Professional\Non-Profit: This platform is the lowest barrier social platform management. This platform allows you to follow just about anyone that has an account. This account allows me to discover people, connect people, connect businesses, connect ideas, have fun, express my personality, post pictures, post links to information, promote others blog posts, promote others charity initiatives, promote people period, communicate with brands, promote business initiatives, twitter chats (see twitter chats below), and cross post to facebook and linkedin. Only business stuff goes over to linkedin and only information that makes sense to the facebook community goes over.
Twitter Chats: Twitter chats are groups, organizations, or people that do weekly chats via a #hashtag. Normally there are a couple of moderators. Weekly topics, presenters, or questions. These are great ways to meet new people, organizations, discussions, ideas, education\learnings and perspectives. When I discover new #hashtag discussions I place a reoccurring appointment on my calendar with notification. I also set up a column in my tweetdeck to keep track of the conversations in between weeks. I also look for these conversations outside of my vertical or industry. Helps expand your networking and perspectives. Here are a list of the current twitter chats I track & get involved with: See #chats tab for more details
Personal\Professional\Non-Profit: The second lowest barrier for connecting in my social platform management. This platform has many cross over people and businesses from all my platforms. I usually try establish a connection before sending out requests to be friends. I manage the people that want to friend me also. Post pictures, join fan pages, cross post with some twitter information, hooked my foursquare, posterous, gowalla accounts to faceboook. I also help manage the strategy and execution of the Free Arts Minnesota fan page.
Professional\Non-Profit: This platform has a little more rules about who I connect with and the information I share on this platform. I connect with people based on more of a professional relationship. I started on LinkedIn 2005. In fact this was my first social platform, well I guess second I did have a geocities page, shhhh don’t tell anyone……I consider this pristine and have very deliberate about information shared and connected with. Join groups, ask questions, have discussions in groups, look for connections, look for jobs, reconnect with people when their profile updates indicate a new job, recommendations
This is a comment tracking system for curating all the comments you leave on people’s blogs. Now not all blogs have this application installed on their blog. If they do I highly encourage using this. It makes tracking your engagement on other people’s blogs trackable by you and them. This application will also post your comments to twitter and facebook. This displays your engagement publicly to strengthen your relationships with other people that blog and share their ideas. Promoting others builds your social currency and networking.
Professional\Personal: This is my video platform. I try and do anything to do with video through my YouTube channel. I favorite videos, mobile uploads, subscriptions. I have my favorite video action connected to facebook and twitter. I have choosen not hook all the other actions you can do through your channel to these other platforms. I typically like to manually send out my personal video information with a little more control.
Personal\Non-Profit:This is a location based platform. This is to notify your connections where you are and what you have done at a certain location. I have foursquare hooked into my facebook and twitter feeds. This is the cross posting that sometimes people do not like, but it is an evolving social property producing platform and the rules are more unwritten and ever changing. You acquire badges, discounts, tips, and maps & information of locations. For local businesses, this can be very affective to engage current, new and potential customers! Have fun!
Personal\Non-Profit:This is a location based platform. This is to notify your connections where you are and what you have done at a certain location. I have gowalla hooked into my facebook and twitter feeds. This is the cross posting that sometimes people do not like, but it is an evolving social property producing platform and the rules are more unwritten and ever changing. You acquire pins, discounts, passport, and trip information. The trip information is the most interesting of them all this platform, especially for businesses! Have fun!
Professional\Personal:I use Picasa for managing all my photos via the web and desktop. It is my picture repository on and offline. I do have a flickr account for connecting with others and publish some of my photos via my Picasa account. My Picasa account houses all the pictures I send out via my Posterous (crosspollinatingverticals.com) account.
Professional\Personal: This calendar platform allows me to display availability to allow people to connect and set appointments. This also allows you to engage a group of people to find availability across several dates and times. Been using this platform a lot for scheduling Social Media+Technology+Outdoors series. This has proved to be a huge time saver and reply to all email strings in regards to availability to meet.
Professional\Personal: The calendar I use on my phone to manage all my appointments professional and personal. I manage one calendar for both. The source of my appointments is my work calendar, then outward from there. This helps me avoid the dreaded double booking!
Professional\Personal: This is a community I am highly committed to in Minneapolis. This is a monthly professional organization that brings together people within the social media communities. There are many opportunities to connect, share, learn, and find people, process and technologies. There will be a topic I have been working with this community to produce a series on how Social Media+Technology+Outdoors are really increasing the way we connect as people and communities in the outdoors.
Professional: This is my online resume. This gives me the ability to allow people or companies to discover my work experience. This platform provides companies the ability to download and view my resume on the internet. It also allows me the ability to be notified who is reviewing this information based on email notifications and analytics this platform provides.
Professional\Personal: I have this account set up for faster sign up for events. This platform I use for promoting the events I am going to locally or nationally. Having this account set up makes for signing up fast and easy. Many of the organizations you are associated with is using this ticketing platform for their events. Other similar platforms are Meetup.com and TicketLeap.com. If you need to set up events and sell tickets I would highly encourage using these platforms. You get the people involved to promote your events by signing up through the integrated social platforms to these websites.
Professional\Personal: This platform is rather new, but it easily distributes and notifies your connections of upcoming events or activities you will be doing. Once people see you are going they can count themselves in also. Helps events to get promoted even if it is not the event organizer.
My Google Reader is used for managing all my RSS feeds and Google Alerts. I use this as my repository of all the blogs I follow. I try to keep up with all the information that is put through this channel, but this one is tough! One strategy I have been implementing is monthly if I do not get through reading all the stuff I want, I mark all the blogs as read and start over. The highlighted account names helps to notify that there are new posts. Secondly, I have a one stop shop to read and scan all my Google Alerts I have set up. I have Alerts set up for my name and all it’s forms. This helps me manage my social properties. It is my manual identity checker! The only person that is going to manage your social properties are you! I highly encourage everyone jumping into social platform and property management to get these set up right away.
I have google alerts set up researching companies, people and topics. This helps me discover new people, new perspectives and discussion topics. I highly encourage people to get these setup for engaging and monitoring their social platforms and properties.
I have several emails accounts that I manage all my above accounts with. I typically set up my notifications through each of these accounts to get notified of changes, connections, newsletters, and head off potential attacks and hacking.
Klout is free or paid tool for personal or business use that you can use to evaluate your social properties you have put on twitter. Klout tracks the impact of your opinions, links and recommendations across your social graph. We collect data about the content you create, how people interact with that content and the size and composition of your network. From there, we analyze the data to find indicators of influence and then provide you with innovative tools to interact with and interpret the data. Yes this is a twitter tool only. This will help you to review how others see what type of information you are putting out into the social feed of twitter. I typically review this information once a month to see what my monthly activities say about me and my engagement.
Grader.com is a suite of tools that helps you measure and analyze your marketing efforts. This tool is owned and operated by Hubspot.com another great company and group of individuals helping to review, analyze, track, and educate businesses and people about the social landscapes. I use twittergrader to not only track my progress but progress of others across the social landscapes. You can discover local and national people using these tools as well.
[ilink url=”http://seesmic.com”]Seesmic[/ilink] :
Web based multiple account management. This technology platform provides access to all your accounts on any computer across the internet. This also allows companies or organizations have multiple people manage a single account. This platform lets users manage: accounts, pictures, url shortner, social bookmarking, and all comes with analytics. The added benefit is Hootsuite is their mobile application for smartphones. This is the application I use to maintain, engage and communicate within the twitter community. One limitation is only allowing 10 columns per account. Personally I use more columns to manage hashtag conversations.
Sprint HTC EVO:
My smartphone – LOVE IT! Having the right apps, access to accounts, and gps activated makes for on the move mobile computing and connecting it increases your chances to connecting and networking.
MacBook Pro 13.3:
My Laptop – LOVE IT! Yes I was a (Sony Vaio) PC, but I dumped a whole, yes a whole cup of coffee into my laptop. For Christmas 2010 my lovely wife went out and bought me a MacBook Pro…whoa!