Friday, July 23, 2010

Management theory and IT management part 2 - Organising

The purpose of organising is to efficiently achieve objectives through the combined efforts of individuals. Organising can be done at several levels including organisational , departmental, team and project levels.

Organisation Structure refers to the way jobs are divided, grouped and coordinated within the organisation. Organisational design is the process which managers use to organise the jobs, structures, reporting lines and all other aspects needed to achieve organisational goals.

There are several factors that may drive change in the way an organisation is designed. These include, changes in the external environment such as new competitors, changes in the legal or political systems, reduction in market share and others.

The internal environment my also drive changes in an organisation. Factors such as changes in key staff members, strategic direction and even organisational culture may drive the need for organisational design changes.

Organisational structured may be designed in an mechanic or organic way.

An organisation with  mechanic design is more structured, with more levels and reporting lines. It is not suited to operate in a volatile environment with high level of change.

An organic organisational design is less structured with less reporting lines and more individual empowerment. An organisation with an organic design can operate well in  highly dynamic and volatile environments.

An organic organisation design is characterised by cross functional and cross hierarchical teams, with free flow of information, decentralisation and less formalisation.

The IT organization structure should serve the purpose of the IT department depending on its strategy. IT managers must select the most appropriate structure based on sound justification and based on explicit coverage of their needs. If the structure does not fit the purpose, problems will begin to arise in performance, roles, communications and many others.

As the Information Technology field is continuously changing and emerging, IT department managers should review the structure of their IT departments and adjust them according to any changes in
the strategy or any input that contributed in the current structure (internal and external environments).

The IT management conducts the IT organization design process at strategic and tactical levels. It aims to achieve the following objectives:
1. Alignment to new strategic directions of the organization
2. Solve problems resulting from structure inefficiencies
3. Eliminate job conflicts
4. Minimize errors and deficiency resulting from human behavior
5. Clarify uncertainty regarding the hierarchy and distribution of work and
6. Enable the ability of predicting results by minimizing the personal behavior options

The final design of the IT department needs to take into consideration the IT customers, services, functions and processes.

When all of those variables are considered the It manager can make an informed decision with regards to the organisational design.

The IT manager can implement a mechanic or an organic structure to achieve his objectives. It is also possible to combine a mechanic and organic structure within the same IT organisation.

A mixed design can take advantage of the best of both worlds. Projects that require a lot of control and centralised decision making can be organised in a mechanic, well structured way. On the other had, projects where the requirements are unclear and require flexibility, discussion and decentralised decision making can take advantage of a organic design.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Weekly Software Development Compilation

Welcome to the July 11, 2010 edition of computing technology.

The purpose of this compilation is to promote readership and feedback to posts on this blog and on other Reader Sponsored articles.

We hope you enjoy this week's compilation.

Software Development Management articles

Management Theory and IT Management Part 1 - Planning This is the first articl of a 5 part series with the purpose to analyse traditional management theory and its application to modern IT management.
The Benefits Realisation Register is a valuable tool to support the project manager to manage the realisation of anticipated business benefits available from the implementation of a new system

Reader sponsored articles

Thank you to all who contributed to this week's compilation

Thomas Bale presents Nettop HTPC Comparison posted at
Dave Moran presents Software Results: Good Enough Software: An Agile Definition posted at Software Results, saying, "A post about how the definition of "good enough" software should change with Agile development."
Beth Ziesenis presents Easy Online Document Collaboration posted at Cheapskate Freelancer, saying, "Thumbnail review of on of the easiest and fastest solutions to share documents. This is a free online collaboration tool."
Samantha Miller presents 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom posted at Online University Reviews, saying, "critics of Twitter believe that the 140-character microblog offered by the ubiquitous social network can do little for the education industry. The listed projects provide them with a few ways to incorporate the site’s features into important and lasting lessons."
laptopreviews presents Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 Review posted at Laptop Reviews, saying, "An original, hands on review of Lenovo's solid y460 laptop."
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
computing technology using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Management theory and IT management part 1 - Planning

In the next few weeks I will be posting a few articles regarding management theories and IT management. It is a vast topic, I will not be able to even scratch the surface, nevertheless, the objective is to start a discussion on how contemporary IT managers are operating "in the real world" when considering traditional management theories.

The plan is to briefly discuss each management function and conclude the series with a brief discussion on modern theories and how they compare to the traditional ones.

If you have been through a management course you would have certainly come across the 4 management functions: planning, leading, organising and controlling.

IT managers that are primarily focussing on the technical aspects of the job will fail in their primary role,  which is to manage the team. It is therefore important that IT managers know what their management functions are and how to perform them.

The first of the five parts of this series is a discussion on Planning.


A very simple definition of planning follows: planning is the process of looking forward in order to develop activities in advance. It encompasses defining goals, establishing a strategies to achieve those goals and developing a detailed plan to achieve a set of objectives. Planning is a vital part of the organisational and departmental strategic process, it establishes coordinated effort, reduces uncertainty and establishes goals and standards to use when reviewing organisational performance.

Organisations operate in two environments, internal and external.  Effective planning should include both, the internal and external, environments.

The internal environment includes the organisation itself and its culture. The IT manager needs to know how to influence organisational / team culture in order to lead individuals towards achieving common organisational goals. Another important reason for IT managers to know their role with regards to organisational culture is the fact that IT managers are sometimes hired to change the culture of an IT department in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency. 

There are many perspectives of an organisational / team culture that the effective IT manager needs to consider in order to plan and lead his team. These perspectives include:

 Attention to detail - degree to which individuals focus on precision, analysis and attention to detail.
Outcome orientation - degree to which managers focus on results or outcomes rather than the process on how these outcomes are achieved.
People orientation - Degree to which management takes into account the effects of organisational decisions on individuals in the organisation (hard or soft HRM, but this is for another post).
Team Orientation - organising work in teams rather than individuals.
Aggressiveness - cultivate a culture of aggressiveness and competitiveness in order to achieve organisational goals.
Stability - degree of which decisions and actions are focused on maintaining the status quo.
Innovation and risk taking - degree to which employees are encouraged to be innovative and to take risks.

The IT manager can work on any of these perspectives in order to manage  his team's culture. Take innovation and risk taking as an example. An IT Development Manager may take a critical look at the product developed and compare it to the market needs and other similar products. This exercise may include a Gap or a SWOT analysis. Once this is performed the manager can promote a culture of innovation to plan and position his product into the market and be the first to innovate in his niche and therefore achieve competitive advantage and potentially increase his market share.

The external environment of an organisation is divided into two environment types, the General Environment and the Specific Environment.

The Specific Environment is composed of external entities that have direct impact into the organisation. These can include customers, pressure groups such as environmental agencies, suppliers and competitors.

The IT manager needs to actively manage the external environment to achieve certain goals such as developing a better software than the competition or get the best value for money from suppliers.

The General External Environment encompasses the broad environment in which the company operates. It includes the economy, political or legal issues, demographics and others.

With regards to the actual process of planning, there are a few tools that an IT manager can utilise to support the planning process. These include Gap and SWOT analysis. For the purposes of this article I will describe how a SWOT analysis can be performed to support a IT Development Manager in his planning process.
SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable to achieve that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies.

A SWOT Analysis will include the following:

- Strengths: attributes of the person or company that are helpful to achieving the objective(s).
- Weaknesses: attributes of the person or company that are harmful to achieving the objective(s).
- Opportunities: external conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective(s).
- Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the objective(s).

The following table is an example of some topics to include in a SWOT  analysis for an IT Development Manager:

Plans can and should be periodically reviewed and adjusted should circumstances change.

In summary, planning is a vital activity performed by IT managers. It involves looking at the internal and external environments that an organisation operates in and devise goals and strategies to achieve organisational objectives.

In the next post we will discuss the organising management function.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Weekly Software Development Compilation

Welcome to the July 5, 2010 edition of Software Development Compilation.

Daniel Ros presents Used Nintendo 64 Console posted at Hottest Video Games and Cheat Codes, saying, "Find out the latest video games reviews, information on new games, beta testing, sales on video games and more."

Biswajit Basu presents Technolocus: Ethical Hacking: Footprinting Basics posted at Technolocus.

Biswajit Basu presents Technolocus: Ethical Hacking: Why does your port scanner show slow performance posted at Technolocus.

Biswajit Basu presents Technolocus: Tools Required for Assembly Language Programming posted at Technolocus.

Biswajit Basu presents Technolocus: How to use Emu8086 for assembly language programming posted at Technolocus.

Biswajit Basu presents Technolocus: Emu8086:Checking length of two given strings posted at Technolocus.

Biswajit Basu presents Technolocus: Calculating the average of 3 given numbers posted at Technolocus.

Biswajit Basu presents Technolocus: A Program for Multiplication of 2 Numbers posted at Technolocus.

Engelbert Hudson presents Top 25 Startups Revolutionizing Computer Forensics & Security posted at Masters in Forensic Science, saying, "Online identity security is a hot commodity, and the following 25 startups offer revolutionary techniques to protect and secure both individual identities and personal or business data."

Jennifer Saksa presents The Twitter Principle for Software posted at NCH Software Blog, saying, "Small files that are fast to download, install and start using."

Adam Park presents 10 Famous Computer Science Grads posted at Computer Science Schools.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Weekly Software Development Compilation using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Benefits Realisation Register

The Benefits Realisation Register is a valuable tool to support the project manager to manage the realisation of anticipated business benefits available from the implementation of a new system

The register is not only useful to document and manage the realisation of benefits, it can also be utilised to evaluate and communicate the success of a project or of certain aspects of it.

The following list shows possible headers of the benefits realisation register:

  • Benefit
  • Current business process
  • Cost of the current business process
  • New business process
  • Cost of new business process
  • Who is responsible for realising the benefit
  • How will the process be evaluated
  • Realisation date
  • Realisation reviewed by


Explain as clearly and succinctly as possible the benefits to be realised. An example could be "Reduce the amount of paper reports printed for manual approval."

Current business process

Describe the current business process.

Cost of the current business process

Explain the cost of the current business process so it can be compared against the new benchmark set for the new business process. Cost can be in dollar terms and in time, which should be translated to efficiency gains.

New business process

Describe as briefly as possible how the new business process will be. There should be enough information to clearly articulate how the new process is changed to support the benefit anticipated.

Cost of new business process

In this section the cost of the new business process should be estimated in order to enable the project manager and stakeholders to have clear visibility of improvement, or not, when comparing the new business process against the current one.

Who is responsible for realising the benefit

It is important to clearly define the stakeholders that are responsible for the realisation of potential benefits. The project manager is responsible for managing the project and to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved. Nevertheless, business unit managers are responsible for the management and improvement of business processes associated with their units, they work together with the project manager to realise the anticipated benefits.

How will the process be evaluated

A brief description of how to evaluated the business process in question. This is often achieved by comparing both business processes, old and new, in term of effectiveness and efficiency.
Realisation date and Realisation reviewed by

The last two columns are purely for management purposes, to ensure that there is a history and log and the review of the anticipated benefits.

All things technology

Welcome to the June 23, 2010 edition of computing technology.

Jennifer Lynch presents 60 Awesome Search Engines for Serious Writers posted at

Jena Ellis presents 10 Things to Learn in a Project Management Certificate Program posted at Online Certificate Programs.

Ariana Burgess presents New ActiveAgents for Windows and Mac make Napera Insight deployment even easier posted at Napera.

Mike Fitterer presents Changing the way the World Thinks About eSignature Services: Document Markup posted at DocuSign Blog.

Ariana Burgess presents Introducing the Evri Cocoa API posted at Evri Blog.

Jennifer Saksa presents Naming New Software Programs posted at NCH Software Blog.

That concludes this edition.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of computing technology using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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