Goodbye 2021

It was a quick year of 2021 due to COVID pandemic. There are so many strains of COVID that we are getting used to it. Notable mention are Delta and Omicron strain. As we say goodbye to 2021, I looked forward to a year of 2022 with less restrictions. It is also a year that we will expect with more “digital transformation”.

Roller Coaster 2021

2021 is a year of COVID roller coaster because of the impact of COVID variant and vaccines. It is a cat and mouse effects because vaccines are not a fail safe approach. The mindset to endemic is still far because of uncertainty. On the digital front, work from home remains default and IT is being spiked by the need of digitalisation. You can say that 2021 is a crossroads for digital transformation and transforming to Cloud. It will take a year or more for IT to fully aligned with business and be transformed.

2022 Realisation

Year 2022 will see many gaps created by digital transformation. As expected, many organisations started digital transformation without a holistic view from business. Like the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) era, digital transformation is viewed as IT implementation. It is Deja vu for many as we grapple with the disconnect of business and IT. Thus, I will expect to see increased hiring for “digital transformers” to help bridge the gaps.

As I see the last of 2021, the pace of digital transformation is liken to that of COVID. Uncertainty and risks are high because of many unknowns. However, it is a great year because this paves the way for 2022. I can see more exciting digitalisation ahead. It is up to organisations to grab the required resources with the mindset to bridge these gaps.

The Great Divide

The great divide is here again. This comes in the form of COVID-19 pandemic. We are divided between vaccinated vs unvaccinated. Traveling becomes a hassle unless you are in VTL (Vaccinated Travel Lane). We also have frontliners jobs which bear the risk from pandemic. How will this great divide impact IT?

Differentiated IT

IT model closely to the reality. This is usually translated to data model. There is already emerging data to understand and mitigate the impact of the pandemic to economic data. This comes in the form of prolonged lockdown and the need to normalise with the pandemic. Thus, our existing data model will start to include differentiating factors with regards to the pandemic variables.

Resource Retention

IT resource retention becomes challenging because work boundaries are fluid. Hybrid model will allows ease of acquiring skills across boundaries. Off site becomes easier because of the pandemic. Collaboration tools becomes sophisticated enough to manage off short resources. Subsequently, this allows IT resources to move around with ease.

The great divide from COVID-19 pandemic created opportunities and challenges for IT. There are distinct differences for industries impacted by COVID-19. Data must be readily be available to help normalise living with the pandemic. On the other hand, it is a challenge to retain IT resource due to demand and ease of hybrid working model. Regardless of the impact, the pandemic has accelerated IT opportunities beyond the physical world.

Beyond IT Implementation

I always find it interesting to read how our information system (IS) textbook describe the success of IT implementation. These books are also compressed theoretical example of how other factors will affect IT deployment like system adoption and change management. In reality, there are other components that determine the real success of system deployment.

Culture and Relationship

Many of textbooks have been entrenched from the fundamentals of academic research. This is why the studies are less focused on the Asian context. You will find that culture and relationships are playing an important role in the deployment of new system initiatives in Asia. You will be surprise to know that the usage of system can be encouraged via relationships. In other cultures, these could be determined with hierarchy influences.

Resistance is Norm

As times passed, I come to realise that resistance to new system implementation is a norm. It is common to hear good feedback of the systems with the contradictions of data. Age do play a factor because it is really hard to accept change with it. A good cultural environment which embrace change and innovation will play a crucial antidote to resistance. Just as we accept resistance as norm, shouldn’t we create an acceptance environment?

The step beyond IT implementation is often missed out in reality. Cultures and relationships do play a key role in many of IT implementation on the field. Likewise, resistance to new system is norm. It is best that we create a favorable environment to accept resistance before we go for new system implementation.

Bring Your Process

Many of software projects are technically driven in nature. That includes the users mindset where the software will solve daily issues. That is half correct because software is usually built with best practices from known industry SOP (standard operating procedures). Thus, we tend to ignore the existing process that will be impacted by the new system. Customisation and change management are common reactions when you bring your own process into the software projects.

Customising

Customisation is the most common approach taken when evaluating the current business process. Change is resistance and the demand to customise will echo in major projects. It is known that you should limit customisation to less than 20%. If you are facing more than that, it means that the software product you have is not a good fit and you are better off doing turnkey development.

Change Your Process

The fear of change is major factor towards project failures. If getting top notch software products is the key reason, it is worth considering change management for existing SOP. It also makes no economical sense to customise process by each office. The driver to change management is usually triggered by cost reduction and operational efficiency.

The strategy for new software implemented must be done with the understanding of existing processes. Often, this is neglected during the pre project phase. The approaches in your project will be either a mix of customisation and change management to leverage on the features and conforming to local business processes.

RFP 101

Request for Proposal (RFP) is a good information gathering process. It is also one of the most annoying part in acquiring a new business. For the incumbent, RFP sounds like a formality because they have home advantage. Thus, RFP plays an important role in soliciting information and understanding of the vendors.

Setting Expectations

RFP is a good way of setting expectations. Sometimes, these expectations can translate to answers that you may not have thought of it. There are also instances where RFP is seeking answers to all available aspects. This will make you ponder the scope of RFP. Thus, you must always make use of this stage to align expectations. An experienced team in RFP will know how to clarify and balance expectations leading to a higher chance of success.

Template your RFP Responses

It is surprising to see many teams scramble to answer RFP at the last minute. RFP is a pretty standard process with minor variations across the board. If your team is constantly dealing with RFP, it is worth investing to template your RFP responses. There should be a cookbook for dealing with RFP. You should not approach each RFP as though it is new. There should also be a set of common clarification to review the RFP.

Creating and responding to RFP will get easier as you build up your templates and knowledge base. Unfortunately, not all teams are well adept to handling RFP. It pays to seek advice if you do not handle RFP often. With practice, RFP will be a breeze to win!

I Need a Catch-up Plan

During software upgrades, it is common to encounter dependencies or showstopper that will cause havoc to your planned activities. Thus, one of the items that I always look in a plan is the catch-up plan. After all, you need to anticipate and mitigate risk like delayed dependencies. A well crafted catch-up plan can reduce the impact from delays or even meet the intended delivery date.

Ways to Catch-up

Many of standard catch-up plan requires flexibility and autonomy to your intended project plan. The first step is to obtain the authority to amend and modify the planned activities. You can also reallocate your idling resources to do tasks that have little dependencies. Another approach is to make use of the downtime to look into automating tasks. This helps to reduce and catch-up on the delivery dates. Do note that adding resources could run counterproductive due to tight timeline.

Catch-up Tips

There are no catch-up plans that will not work. These are some tips that you can consider for your catch-up plans.

  • Build a collaborative catch-up plan to meet tight delivery date.
  • Automate mundane and routine tasks.
  • Allocate your best resources for catch-up plan.
  • Do not turn your catch-up plan into the main plan.
  • Commit to the success of catch-up plan for a realistic goal!

The catch-up must be triggered if the anticipated delays are affecting your project schedule. You need to commit to the success of your catch-up plan. There is no point to initiate a catch-up plan if it is impossible to meet the timeline. Finally, a well executed catch-up plan can make or break your project.

My Software Upgrade is Stuck

Software upgrade in mobile phone is a bliss with automated updates. You can even schedule the upgrades when you are asleep. All these are so ubiquitous that we take little note of it. The agony comes when your upgrade is stuck. This is where you are required to either not upgrade or change your existing mobile phone. Sounds familiar? These are common options faced in all applications.

Do Not Upgrade

Unfortunately, the option not to upgrade have an expiry duration. The period that you are not required for upgrade is likely last two years or so. After this duration, existing applications cannot support the older version. You may also realise your application cannot work for older version. In some case, the software upgrade is not supported in your older mobile phone. An example is Internet Explorer (IE) where you need to switch. Other risks are security patches and audit concerns for applications.

Fix the Root Cause

The root cause for stuck upgrade is a tough process. Standard support requested are logs from your mobile. You may find these root cause are mostly unresolved. Thus, typical resolution is to upgrade your hardware or mobile phone. Another form of resolution is the removal of customisation. The efforts to find the root cause for stuck upgrade will be a long waiting process. This stuck will end up as critical task.

Automatic software upgrade is envisioned for the future. However, it gets sticky if your upgrades are stuck. The options taken are standard for all applications. You can either forgo upgrade or find the root cause. The root cause is a time consuming process and you need to take account the wait time.

Being Positive in Project

Project implementation have its ups and downs. For many, you will get your usual freeloaders and NATO (No Action Talk Only) members. In worst case, you may even get a self proclaimed project manager who is actually a project admin. The key is to ask yourself what you aim to achieve. This is also why you must stay positive in your project.

Why Stay Positive

If you are familiar with project implementation, you will realise that each ending provides better beginning. We tend to focus on negativity and grumble on how the project should be run. As you gained exposure, you will look back and realise staying positive is a better option. Being positive improves your oversight and gives you clear direction in the project.

Moving On

It is wise to stay positive and move on to the next project. There are some who cannot shake off negative energy from previous project. Some may even have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from project. The right approach is learning to be positive and moving on with the correct learning. Of course, you may encounter good mentor who advocate positives. Steer clear of negative people and team members as they do not help in your project learning.

Project implementation can be fun and mentally challenging. I find it enriching to be positive in every project. Of course, I have also been to the dark side. You should also start to move on with positivity and leave your baggage behind.

Upgrading Dilemma

During upgrading of system, you will be face with dilemma. This is mostly due to outdated support of system components or architectural changes. How should you handle the dilemma faced? Will this be showstopper to your upgrading project?

Preemptive Upgrades

System upgrades will create known issues and fixes. Experienced upgrading team is able to preemptively plan and check for known issues. These known issues should come with standard resolution approach and fix. This preemptive strategy is to fix as much as possible on these known issues. In the process, you will encounter dilemma on some known issues that cannot be fixed.

Waiting Dilemma

One of the worst upgrading dilemma is waiting dependency. It usually happens when multiple parties or teams are working on the upgrading project. Each team have a dependency task on another. Deadlock may even occur when teams are waiting for one another. This dilemma is detrimental and results in delays.

Key challenges for upgrading dilemma impacts scope and timeline. It is advisable to get experienced upgrading team who faces these dilemmas. Dependencies must be clear and be avoided at all cost. Expected results of dilemmas results in showstopper and delays in the projects. Do be aware and plan for upgrading dilemmas with the best approach.

Process Driven IT

There will be challenges when business is not aligned with IT. One of key reason is process driven IT. Processes forms many of the flow that business need for IT to flow with one another. If there is no processes, data will exist in silos with the rest of applications. Without processes, business can demand features without consideration to operations.

Processes as Sanity Check

One of common IT failures is the lack of processes when IT is implemented. Users may request for features that does not have existing processes. This is usually a result if references to competitor application. Thus, request for new scope must be supported by expected processes (To-Be). It serve as a sanity check for the “As-Is” processes.

Processes as Barrier

Not al IT requests should be implemented. If there is a reason to say no, you can utilise processes as barriers. It is not surprising that users have no idea how the new features can gel with the existing processes. It takes time to update existing processes and change human behaviors

I usually implement IT enhancements with a process driven mindset. It is easy to gauge the effectiveness of the enhancements when there are not existing processes. Therefore, processes can serve as barriers to stop the users requests.