New Post at AITS: Make or Buy

My latest article for AITS was published yesterday, Make or Buy: The Blacksmith and the Toothpick.

The BlacksmithThis little parable illustrates the internal conflict that can arise when considering alternatives to internally developed solutions. Over the last few years, the decision alternatives have only gotten more complex—Software as a Service (SaaS) has added a third option for many business needs. But in the end, the choice should be driven by life-cycle cost and time to value rather than internal politics.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff.

Survey: State of Software Development

Survey TakerI don’t normally promote surveys, even those pushed by PMI. But Tamas Torok and the folks at Coding Sans are collecting data for the 2018 update to their State of Software Development report. Last year’s report was probably the most interesting of the 40 or so I read in 2017, in that it included both utilization and aspirational data on technologies and methods and practices for recruiting and retention. However, it was hampered by the fact that their responses were heavily weighted toward Europe. I suspect that if they can get more responses from the Americas, India, and Oz / NZ, the results will be even more accurate and actionable.

So even if you don’t manage software development projects, please pass this link along to one of your colleagues who manages development teams. The list of questions is comprehensive but it shouldn’t take more than 7 minutes to complete, assuming you don’t ruminate over “What have you done about it?” I believe they will close the survey around March 9. When they publish the report, I’ll include it in the weekly round-up.

New PM Articles for the Week of June 5 – 11

New project management articles published on the web during the week of June 5 – 11. And this week’s video: Doug H. shows how to create a RACI chart in Excel, add validation and an error message, make each value display in a selected color, and improve the presentation with simple formatting. If you’ve struggled with Excel in these areas, this is an excellent demo. Just 11 minutes, safe for work.

Must read (or Hear)!

  • Lynda Bourne explains how to differentiate between normal, complex, and megaprojects and how to apply Traditional, Agile, Complex, and megaproject management methods.
  • James Clear explains why entropy drives complexity (as well as Murphy’s Law).
  • Matt Spence interviews Senator Kamala Harris, former Attorney General of the world’s sixth largest economy (California), on absorbing new technology into public policy. Just 27 minutes, safe for work.

Established Methods

  • Richard Bayney tutors us on creating a prioritized project portfolio, optimized using Efficient Frontier analysis.
  • Harry Hall analyzes the risk management processes for what they contribute to the bottom line: getting results.
  • Ryan Ogilvie recommends that you have a dialog with your customer about service to discover what they really want.
  • Alex Puscasu details best some best practices for outsourcing project work.
  • Elise Stevens interviews John Wyzalek on the fine points of engaging external stakeholders. Just over 20 minutes, safe for work.

Agile Methods

  • Stefan Wolpers curates his weekly list of all things Agile, from Ron Jeffries on Dark Scrum and Corporate Agile, to an Agile historical timeline, to 12 principles for better experiments.
  • Johanna Rothman continues her series on “Scaling” Agile with part 4 and part 4a.
  • Dave Prior and Derek Huether discuss design on the Scrum team and Scrum Masters filling multiple roles. Just over 20 minutes, safe for work.
  • The Clever PM defends “ScrumBut” as a reasonable model if it works better for the organization than rigorously following the Scrum Guide.
  • Leigh Espy notes three easy Agile practices that you can adopt today (after due diligence, of course).
  • Garren Heye notes that resisting chaos is not about being inflexible or resisting change. Agility is not formlessness.
  • Mike Griffiths insists that retrospectives produce “lessons to be learned.”
  • Claire Karjalainen recaps a panel discussion on scaling design in the enterprise, including design leaders from SAP, GE Digital, Walmart, IBM, and HP Enterprise.

Applied Leadership

  • Art Petty tells us to beware of the leader who demands loyalty.
  • Suzanne Lucas tells of a junior analyst who followed the instructions for setting up her development workstation and deleted the production database. And got fired?
  • Seth Godin: “We always have a choice, but often, it’s a good idea to act as if we don’t.”

Technology, Techniques, and Human Behavior

  • Paramita Ghosh explains the best practices for extracting business value from machine learning.
  • Adam Shostack applies threat modeling techniques to a dockless bike sharing system available in China which is suffering from cheating customers.
  • Rob England advocates killing the Change Advisory Board. Or at least removing permission for every strap-hanger to object without taking responsibility for improvement.

Working and the Workplace

  • Conner Forrest highlights findings from a new report that indicates “fear of losing my job to artificial intelligence” is the number 1 cause of stress at work for Gen X and Millennials.
  • Daniel Lobo rails against the social pressure to be “Available” on instant messaging, which he refers to as “green dot syndrome.”
  • Richard Moy shows us how to kick-start a productive day without doing real any work—just clean your desk. It positively influences your mental energy level.

Enjoy!