Brandeis GPS Blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: Master’s Degrees (page 3 of 4)

An Educational Journey

Written by: Sivasankar Veerabhadran, May 2015 graduate from Brandeis GPS‘ M.S. in Information Security and Consultant Solutions Engineer at EMC

Twenty-five years ago, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from a university in India. Ever since graduating I wanted to pursue my Master’s degree from a highly regarded university in the United States. My dream finally came true this spring as a result of the commitment to continuing education for working professionals (like myself)from both EMC Corporation & Brandeis University.

Working in Information Technology, it is extremely important to keep up-to-date with the technology and skills needed to excel in the current global market. I strongly felt that I should not invest my time and effort on education at this stage of my life just to get another degree. Instead, my education should guide me and give me the confidence to take my career to the next level. In addition, if it is SankarBlog2in one of the relevant technical fields like Information Security from a highly regarded university like Brandeis, it is a huge plus.

Some of the following courses offered as  part of my Master’s degree program are my favorite ones. In addition to learning from the professors, text books, and related materials, I learned a lot from fellow students and their real world working experiences, who all are professionals with extensive knowledge in their respective fields.

I have to say this, while looking for the options to continue my education at various universities, the integration of Brandeis GPS courses with our internal Educational Services portal at EMC, and the related approval work flow model was one of the reasons I have decided to start and continue my professional studies with Brandeis University. The process was as easy as signing up for any internal training courses.

SankarBlog

Sankar & his student advisor, Janice

I really would like to express my thanks and appreciation to our student advisor Janice Steinberg for all the advice provided to me during the entire program. I really thought that after all these years getting the “Education Credential Evaluation” done for all my old school diplomas and college degrees completed in India must be a huge process.  Janice helped me with the whole process and made it so simple  that I could apply for the actual program after a long break with 4 courses.

Along with my wife, kids, family, and parents, my manager Charlie Dellacona also motivated me a lot to complete this degree. He always insisted on the importance of education along with experience for professionals like us to advance our career to the next level. A bit of his advice, “Sankar, education is the best investment you can make for yourself and also for your family, which is always  yours no matter where life takes you,” this was the greatest motivational factor.

As per my professor’s advice, I am currently working on  getting “Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) “ & Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications. I am looking forward to contribute a lot to Cloud security based initiatives.

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From Online to the Field: How to Transfer Your Skills

by: – Custom Content Coordinator

There’s no question graduate education is an asset in today’s competitive professional world. Once nice-to-have, a master’s degree is now a necessity for coveted industry positions in the fastest-growing fields. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects by 2020, the number of jobs requiring a master’s degree for entry is expected to grow by 22 percent.

Demand for a graduate education is growing. But is putting your career on hold to attend graduate school really the answer?

Instead of leaving the workforce, more and more are embracing online education. Technology has evolved to make online education a rich, interactive experience that holds its own against the conventional classroom model. Busy professionals can tailor courses to fit their schedule, making it possible to learn and earn at the same time. With a wealth of options like Khan AcademyedX,  and traditional institutions’ online programs, a master’s level education is now only a click away.

So where can an online education take you? While there are programs on the web for every area of study, two in particular will serve you well in today’s competitive job market: software engineering and strategic analytics. Both computer software and big data are integral to business’ operations placing those two skill sets in high demand in every field. See how online master’s degrees in software engineering or strategic analytics will help you break into Boston’s top industries.

Financial Services. Boston’s burgeoning financial community is in need of employees from all skill sets, especially in the realm of software development and data analysis. Today’s global financial institutions, many of which are headquartered right here in the Hub, rely on complex software programs to function. Software engineers who strategically develop, operate, and maintain this crucial technology are in high demand.

Also in demand are those who can collect, manage, and analyze massive amounts of data.  With the growth of e-commerce and online transactions alone, interpreting and understanding the strategic potential of big data is essential to the health of financial institutions.

Technology. From budding startups to established corporations, Boston’s tech world is a diverse, eclectic, and exciting field to work. Best of all, it’s growing. Fast. It goes without saying that a master’s in software engineering would be an asset for anyone seeking to break into the tech industry, but it’s not strictly computer nerds who need apply. Analytical minds are needed to process big data and apply insights to an organization’s bottom line.

Higher Education. With more than fifty college and universities in Boston, there are plenty of opportunities in the field of higher education, especially for those with a master’s degree in software or strategic analytics. Software programs are vital for a university to function, from student networks to administrative tasks to alumni communications.

Also, for universities, data is at the center of their operations. Statistical insights are key to understanding the application process, students’ academic performance, the movement of funds, and more.

Government Services. The State House and City Hall need more than politicians to keep Massachusetts and Boston running smoothly. As expected, sophisticated software powers all government operations, but strategic analytics skills are just as, if not more, valued at a government institutions. Our governing bodies are incessantly collecting and analyzing data on constituents. With a master’s in strategic analytics, you’re able to apply your skills analyzing and leveraging data to guide government projects.

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10 Companies Changing Health Care in the Hub

– BostInno, Custom Content Coordinator

Health care is a hot topic across the nation. Evolving policy and advancing technology have entirely transformed how we seek, receive, and pay for medical care. While people in every corner of the country are coping with these changes, Boston is firmly at the forefront of the next frontier in health care. Boasting world-class hospitals and a booming tech scene, Boston has become a crucible for health care innovation. Companies here in the Hub are conducting pioneering research, developing advanced technologies, and discovering solutions to the world’s most urgent health care challenges.

From detecting diseases to improving patient-physician communications, these companies specialize in a diverse range of medical services, but they all ultimately strive to improve health care for all.

Check out ten of the top companies changing health care here in the Hub. While these all might be notable, award-winning organizations, they still only scratch the surface of Boston’s booming health care scene. Feel free to share impressive health care innovators we missed in the comments below.

1. Partners HealthCare

Partners HealthCare

Founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, Partners HealthCare is a not-for-profit healthcare system and the state’s largest healthcare provider. Partners is deeply committed to innovation and leadership. The integrated healthcare system is constantly devising new ways to advance the industry, especially when it comes to applying technology to patient care. Partners was one of the earliest adopters of health information technology including electronic medical records. This year, they are rolling out their Partners eCare initiative which will implement an integrated, electronic health information system at all institutions across the Partners network by 2017. A division of Partners, Boston’s Center for Connected Health was also the first to launch “connected health” programs where patients monitor blood pressure, heart rate, and other biometrics using a smartphone device that automatically transmits data to an electronic medical record in the Partners’ database.

2. Nanobiosym

Nanobiosym

Cambridge-based Nanobiosym creates highly scalable, portable, disruptive technology aiming to solve our current healthcare crisis. The innovation center recently rocked the industry with their product GeneRADAR. The iPad-sized mobile device can test for AIDS and HIV, E.Coli, tuberculosis, diabetes and even some types of cancer in mere minutes, with only a drop of blood or saliva. The device delivers results faster and cheaper than current systems. Nanobiosym is currently working with Partners in Health to roll out GeneRADAR in the organization’s clinics around the nation.

3. Iora Health

Iora Health

Iora Health is on a mission to reform the existing healthcare model. Frustrated by the current system’s flaws and the growing gap between costs and quality, Iora has been building better models producing improved clinical outcomes at a lower cost. Founded in Cambridge by two physicians, Iora offers employers healthcare for employees on a per-person basis rather than through insurance. After raising $12 million last year, Iora continues to open practices and reinvent primary care.

4. PatientPing

PatientPing

Emergency room visits are rarely smooth sailing for the patient or the physicians. Patients must seek treatment from unfamiliar hospital staff who must scramble to piece together patients’ medical history. One of Boston’s newest health tech startups, PatientPing aims to solve this problem by sending real-time notifications to healthcare providers when their patients receive ER, hospital and post-acute care. The company plans to eventually scale out to nursing homes to create a comprehensive communication network of healthcare facilities.

5. Foundation Medicine

Foundation Medicine

Foundation Medicine is a molecular information company leading a transformation in cancer care. Their leading edge clinical products, including genomic test Foundation One® and FoundationOne® Heme, have been proven to be among the most accurate, sensitive, and comprehensive tests available. This fully informative genomic profile combined with a “patients first” approach empowers them to match patients with targeted therapies and meaningfully advance the field of routine cancer care. Most recently, the Cambridge company launched FoundationOne® CareLine, offering personalized case management services to patients who are uninsured, underinsured or face other challenges.

6. CareCloud

CareCloud

The future of the health care is in the cloud and CareCloud is the company to prove it. CareCloud is a leading national provider of cloud-based electronic medical record and billing services, supporting 3,700 providers in 45 states. The user-friendly, streamlined system enables physicians to deliver efficient, high-quality care, plus plug into a fully integrated digital healthcare ecosystem from any device. CareCloud has been expanding rapidly since its inception and raised $25.5 million last year.

7. athenahealth

athenahealth

Watertown-based healthcare software firm athenahealth is a pioneer of the electronic medical record and on a mission to modernize the industry. Since its founding, athenahealth has expanded and diversified its cloud-based services to include medical billing and practice management, patient communication, and order transmission services. The company also strives to spur healthcare innovation through their the program “More Disruption Please,” supporting entrepreneurs, health care IT companies, and thought leaders who want to change the status quo in health care.

8. MC10

MC10

MC10 creates the high-performance medical electronics that are virtually invisible, conformable, and wearable. These cutting-edge devices can serve to protect our troops, treat heart arrhythmias, and monitor sleeping babies. Among their award-winning innovations is the Reebok CHECKLIGHT, a sports impact indicator that measures the severity of blows to the head.

9.Wellframe

Wellframe

Wellframe builds intelligent systems to re-engineer care delivery, essentially equipping patients with a “care GPS” to help them navigate their health challenges. The mobile app gives patients personalized wellness to-do lists to help them stay on top of managing their disease. It also integrates a cloud-hosted electronic medical record. Patients can now leave the hospital with a care plan in their pocket, monitoring their progress and instructing them how to deal with their condition day-by-day. By empowering patients to take control of their own care, Wellframe helps minimize costs. The company recently raised $1.5 million and is continuing to transform the prevailing care model.

10. ZappRx

ZappRx

ZappRx is another mobile innovator transforming the health care status quo. The “Uber for medicine” company strives to simplify the management of prescription payments by connecting the three stakeholders – patients, pharmacists, and medical providers – on a single e-platform. The mobile app cuts out the paperwork and the delays that often accompany the prescription process. The Cambridge-based company has secured a total of $2 million in funding to further develop the platform to fit the speciality pharmacy market.

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My Student Experience

Danita Sutton is a recent graduate of Brandeis GPS’ Master of Science in Information Technology Management  Program. She is also a Senior Business Operations Analyst at EMC. Below is her account of her educational journey at Brandeis GPS.

IMG_1293“I was very nervous taking an online course let alone pursuing my Master degree in a 100% virtual environment. The first day I opened Latte I was full of anxiety and overwhelmed because this was so new to me.  This feeling of anxiety was quickly removed as I read through the professors instructions and read the responses from my fellow classmates, I was not in this alone and I had a community of people who were willing to help me out.  This community of fellow classmates set the tone for the amazing experience I would have as I moved through the GPS program.

The strength in this program is the experience of the Professors, I was impressed with their knowledge in the course they were teaching and they were willing to share that knowledge with us to help us improve and build on the course material and apply it to our personal and professional life experiences.

The material was relevant and dealt with current issues we face with virtual teams, how to communicate and negotiate with them, how to manage projects and the software that we are using now, and organizational and operational strategies. program-hero-itm1

Finally, I don’t know what I would have done without my student advisor, Janice Steinberg, who kept in touch with me, answered me promptly every time I had a question (and I had a lot of questions), and was a great support system.  The Brandeis GPS program has forever changed my life and I am very grateful that I was able to be a part of such an incredible and wonderful program and community of people.”

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How Big Data Has Changed 5 Boston Industries

By: 

Emerging technologies have unlocked access to massive amounts of data, data that is mounting faster than organizations can process it. Buried under this avalanche of analytics are precious nuggets of information that organizations need to succeed. Companies can use these key insights to optimize efficiency, improve customer service, discover new revenue sources, and more. Those who can bridge the gap between data and business strategy will lead in our new economy.

Big Data’s potential impact on enterprises and industries as a whole is boundless. This potential is already being realized here in the Hub. Boston has been ahead of the curve when it comes to Big Data, thanks to our unique innovation ecosystem or our “Big Data DNA,” the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council says. As a result, Boston is home to an especially high concentration of Big Data startups, but also powerhouse industries that have strategically leveraged analytics and transformed the space.

Check out how data and analytics has changed these five Boston industries.

1. Marketing & Advertising

Marketing & Advertising

In our age of online marketing, marketers have access to mountains of data. Pageviews, clicks, conversion, social shares…the list is endless. That doesn’t even account for the demographic data marketers collect and interpret every day.

These analytics have enabled marketers to access a more comprehensive report of campaign performances and in-depth view of buyer personas. Armed with these insights, marketers are able to refine their campaigns, improve forecasts, and advance their overall strategy.

Big Data also enables targeted marketing, a crucial component of today’s online strategy. You know those eerily accurate advertisements on your Facebook page? You can thank Big Data for that.

Analytics have unlocked enormous potential for marketers to better create, execute, and forecast campaigns. As a result, Boston has boomed with organizations entirely devoted to providing data-driven marketing solutions. HubSpot and Jumptap have emerged as leaders in this space, raising about $2.5 billion combined. Attivio, Visible Measures, DataXu are also leading marketing solutions providers.

2. Healthcare

Healthcare

It shouldn’t surprise that healthcare represents a top industry in Boston’s Big Data ecosystem. The healthcare industry collects and analyzes enormous volumes of clinical data on a daily basis. Partners Healthcare alone has some two billion data elements from over six thousand patients, according to the Massachusetts 2014 Big Data Report.

Big Data’s impact can be seen first and foremost with the electronic health record. Big Data has launched the electronic health record into the twenty-first century, revolutionizing patient care, and empowering the success of companies like athenahealth based in Watertown.

“The meaningful use of electronic health records is key to ensuring that healthcare focuses on the needs of the patient, is delivered in a coordinated manner, and yields positive health outcomes at the lowest possible cost,” the report said.

The space has expanded even more since Massachusetts passed legislation requiring all providers to adopt electronic health records and connect to the health information exchange, Mass HIway in 2012.

The Shared Health Research Informatics Network (SHRINE) is another local innovation linking five hospitals (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Boston, Brigham and Women’s, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Center) in a centralized database to improve efficiency and quality of care.

After genomic data and patient data from electronic medical records, medical devices like pacemakers or a Fitbit, for example, are the fastest-growing sources of healthcare data. All of these rich sources of information can – and are – being leveraged by Boston healthcare providers to improve care and lower costs.

 

3. Government

Government

The State of Massachusetts and the City of Boston lead the nation with a sophisticated public sector approach to data and analytics. Governor Patrick made Big Data part of policy, launching Massachusetts Big Data Initiative and supporting Mass Open Cloud Initiative, a public cloud that utilizes an innovative open and customizable model.  In 2009, the Commonwealth launched the “the Open Data Initiative” inviting the public to access the government’s data library from nearly every department.

But analytics’ impact on the public sector is only beginning. Big Data can significantly improve the quality and efficiency of city services, and do so at a lower cost. But most importantly, data will unlock the future of urban living. Imagine if we knew the location of every bus, train, car, and bike in real-time? Imagine if we knew the profiles of every city building? This is the vision of Boston’s future as a “connected city” outlined in Mass Technology Leadership Council’s 2014 report Big Data & Connected Cities.

“Boston is making great strides in using technology to improve how city services are delivered but we can and will do more,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh about MassTLC’s report.  “We are making vast amounts of the city’s big data available online to the public to not only increase transparency but to also spur innovation.”

Walsh has shown support for a data-driven, connected city and plans to hire a City of Boston Chief Digital Officer to help make this vision a reality.

4. Energy

Energy

Big Data is a big reason Boston has evolved as a leader in the energy industry. Tapping into Big Data yields much more comprehensive, accurate reports of energy usage and also illuminates how these building can operate more efficiently. As a result, the industry has boomed with companies helping buildings go green to save green, including local leaders EnerNoc, Retroficiency, and NextStepLiving. Buildings in Boston and beyond are being constructed or retrofitted with building automation systems – cloud-based, centralized control centers – which collect massive amounts of data, report on energy consumption in real-time, and can continually adjust building performance for optimum efficiency. This “smart” living is the wave of the future and entirely driven by Big Data.

5. Financial Services

Financial Services

Financial services is the fifth largest vertical for Big Data in Massachusetts. Big Data has made it possible to analyze financial data sets that previously weren’t accessible. Financial analysts now can examine and interpret unprecedented amounts of information and do so in new and innovative ways. For example, stock traders can collect and mine mass amounts of social media information to gauge public sentiment about products or companies, Information Week said.

Top companies Fidelity Investments, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Baystate Financial, LLC and others in Boston’s financial services sector heavily depend on big data to compile reports, forecast market future, and guide their decisions.

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My Journey in Online Learning

The M.S. in Project and Program Management program at Brandeis GPS through the eyes of a recent graduate, Thomas Gratiano.

ProjectManagement_03Three years ago as the manager of the Program Management Group within the Manufacturing and Global Supply Chain (MGSC) Division, my manager challenged me to build my business acumen. To meet this challenge, I started researching: certifications, certificates, and degree programs.

Eventually I came across the Brandeis program, the curriculum was exactly what I was looking for to build on my existing Program Management skills. During the pursuit of my degree at Brandeis I took four classes on campus and six online.  Although I was hesitant at first about taking online classes, the online option provided an increased level of flexibility.  This proved to be a key feature of the program as I ended up Program Managing two projects with our team in Belgium while attending classes online. I was able to travel as often as required with no impact to my ability to participate in class. e-Learning Concept. Computer Keyboard

Upon completion of my degree, I was promoted to senior manager in charge of Framingham manufacturing operations and the MGSC Program Management group. The Brandeis degree built my business acumen and provided me the opportunity to continue to grow with my company. 

Thoughts from a Recent Graduate

 A look at the Brandeis GPS student experience through the eyes of recent graduate from our Master of Software Engineering Program, Megan Tsai. 

My time with Brandeis GPS has been very helpful for my career. This is a feeling shared by all of my fellow GPS graduates. During commencement, IMG_1230the student speaker shared his experience of taking a discussion or an idea from class and applying it directly to his job. Many of the GPS graduates sitting in front of me were nodding their heads in agreement. There were several times I was able take what I had learned just the night before and take my work to the next level.

As one of the few students in an entry level position in all of my courses, my experience in the master’s degree program involved mostly sharing my perspective as an entry level worker. This allowed me to gain career advice from experienced fellow students and instructors. GPS courses are not just for established workers with years of experiences under their belt. GPS courses are for anyone who wants to advance his or her career, exchange ideas with people from different backgrounds, and catch up on the latest technologies and techniques. 

The types of cIMG_1262ourses offered allow software engineers of different capacities to learn something new. The fact that GPS courses are online helps professionals living around the world connect through an academic environment. The online courses also allow busy people find  time in their day to complete the course requirements. Ten courses may seem impossible for any one busy with work, life and other commitments. However, the flexible nature of GPS courses will help anyone achieve the dream of obtaining an advanced degree.

Design Your Agile Project, Part 1

by: Johanna Rothman

Find the original post here: http://www.jrothman.com/blog/mpd/2014/03/design-your-agile-project-part-1-2.html

The more I see teams transition to agile, the more I am convinced that each team is unique. Each project is unique. Each organizational context is unique. Why would you take an off-the-shelf solution that does not fit your context? (I wrote Manage It! because I believe in a context-driven approach to project management in general.)

One of the nice things about Scrum is the inspect-and-adapt approach to it. Unfortunately, most people do not marry the XP engineering practices with Scrum, which means they don’t understand why their transition to agile fails. In fact, they think that Scrum alone,without the engineering practices, is agile. How many times do you hear “Scrum/Agile”? (I hear it too many times. Way too many.)

I like kanban, because you can see where the work is. “We have a lot of features in process.” Or, “Our testers never get to done.” (I hate when I hear that. Hate it! That’s an example of people not working as a cross-functional team to get to done. Makes me nuts. But that’s a symptom, not a cause.) A kanban board often provides more data than a Scrum board does.

Can there be guidelines for people transitioning to agile? Or guidelines for projects in a program? There can be principles. Let’s explore them.

The first one is to start by knowing how your product releases, starting with the end in mind. I’m a fan of continuous delivery of code into the code base. Can you deliver your product that way? Maybe.

How Does Your Product Release?

I wish there were just two kinds of products: those that released continuously, as in Software as a Service, and those with hardware, that released infrequently. The infrequent releases release that way because of the cost to release. But, there’s a continuum of release frequency:

Potential Release Frequency

How expensive is it to release your product? The expense of release will change your business decision about when to release your product.

You want to separate the business decision of releasing your product from making your software releasable.

That is, the more to the left of the continuum you are, the more you can marry your releases to your iterations or your features, if you want. Your project portfolio decisions are easier to make, and they can occur as often as you want, as long as you get to done, every feature or iteration.

The more to the right of the continuum you are, the more you need to separate the business decision of releasing from finishing features or iterations. The more to the right of the continuum, the more important it is to be able to get to done on a regular basis, so you can make good project portfolio decisions. Why? Because you often have money tied up in long-lead item expenses. You have to make decisions early for committing to hardware or Non Recurring Engineering expenses.

How Complex is Your Product?

Let’s look at the Cynefin model to see if it has suggestions for how we should think about our projects:

CynefinI’ll talk more about you might want to use the Cynefin model to analyze your project or program in a later post. Sorry, it’s a system, and I can’t do it all justice in one post.

In the meantime, take a look at the Cynefin model, and see where you think you might fall in the model.

Do you have one collocated cross-functional team who wants to transition to agile? You are in the “known knowns” situation for agile. As for your product, you are likely in the “known unknowns” situation. Are you willing to use the engineering practices and work in one- or two-week iterations? Almost anything in the agile or lean community will work for you.

As soon as you have more than one or two teams, or you have geographically distributed teams, or you are on the right hand side of the “Potential for Release Frequency” chart above, do you see how you are no longer in the “Complicated” or “Obvious” side of the Cynefin model? You have too many unknowns.

Where Are We Now?

Here are my principles:

  1. Separate the business decision for product release from the software being releasable all the time. Whatever you have for a product, you want the software to be releasable.
  2. Understand what kind of a product you have. The closer you are to the right side of the product release frequency, the more you need a program, and the more you need a kanban to see where everything is in your organization, so you can choose to do something about them.
  3. Make sure your batch size is as small as you can make it, program or project. The smaller your features, the more you will see your throughput. The shorter your iteration, the more feedback you will obtain from your product owner and “the business.” You want the feedback so you can learn, and so your management can manage the project portfolio.
  4. Use the engineering practices. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you do not keep your stories small so that you can develop automated unit tests, automated system tests, use continuous integration, swarm around stories or pair, and use the XP practices in general, you will not have the safety net that agile provides you to practice at a sustainable pace. You will start wondering why you are always breathless, putting in overtime, never able to do what you want to do.

If you have technical debt, start to pay it down a little at a time, as you implement features. You didn’t accumulate it all at once. Pay it off a little at a time. Or, decide that you need a project to prevent the cost of delay for release. If you are a technical team, you have a choice to be professional. No one is asking you to estimate without providing your own safety net. Do not do so.

This post is for the easier transitions, the people who want to transition, the people who are collocated, the people who have more knowns than unknowns. The next post is for the people who have fewer knowns. Stay tuned.

Johanna Rothman

Just Announced: Eric Siegel as GPS Commencement Speaker

eric_med_3Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is pleased to announce our 2014 Commencement speaker for the Rabb School of Continuing Studies Diploma Ceremony, Eric Siegel, PhD.

Eric completed his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University in 1991, and subsequently earned his PhD from Columbia University. Eric is the founder of Predictive Analytics World and Text Analytics World. He is the Executive Editor of the Predictive Analytics Times, and he makes the how and why of predictive analytics understandable and captivating. Eric is the author of Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die and a former Columbia University professor who used to sing to his students. He is a renowned speaker, educator, and leader in the field. He has appeared on Bloomberg TV and Radio, Fox News, BNN (Canada), Israel National Radio, Radio National (Australia), The Street, Newsmax TV, and NPR affiliates. Eric and his book have been featured in Businessweek, CBS MoneyWatch, The Financial Times, Forbes, Forrester, Fortune, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and WSJ MarketWatch.

 

Who Solves Which Problems?

by: Johanna Rothman

AgileMany years ago, I was part of a task force to “standardize” project management at an organization. I suggested we gather some data to see what kinds of projects the client had.

They had short projects, where it was clear what they had to do: 1-3 week projects where 2-4 people could run with the requirements and finish them. They had some of what they called “medium-risk, medium return” projects, where a team or two of people needed anywhere from 3-9 months to work on features that were pretty well defined. But they still needed product managers to keep working with the teams. And, they had the “oh-my-goodness, bet the company” projects and programs. Sometimes, they started with a small team of 2-5 people to do a proof-of-concept for these projects/programs. Then, they staffed those projects or programs with almost everyone. (BTW, this is one of the reasons I wrote Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management. Because one size approach to each project does not fit all!)

The management team wanted us, the task force, to standardize on one project management approach.

In the face of the data, they relented and agreed it didn’t make sense to standardize.

It made a little sense to have some guidelines for some project governance, although I didn’t buy that. I’ve always preferred deliverable-based milestones and iterative planning. When you do that, when you see project progress in the form of demos and deliverables, you don’t need as much governance.

There are some things that might make sense for a team to standardize on—those are often called team norms. I’m all in favor of team norms. They include what “done” means. I bet you’re in favor of them, too!

But, when someone else tells you what a standard for your work has to be? How does that feel to you?

BarGraphI don’t mind constraints. Many of us live with schedule constraints. We live with budget constraints. We live with release criteria. In regulated industries, we have a whole set of regulatory constraints. No problem. But how to do the work? I’m in favor of the teams deciding how to do their own work.

That’s the topic of this month’s management myth, Management Myth 28: I Can Standardize How Other People Work.

If you think you should tell other people how to do their work, ask yourself why. What problem are you trying to solve? Is there another way you could solve that problem? What outcome do you desire?

In general, it’s a really good idea for the people who have the problem to solve the problem. As long as they know it’s a problem.

How about you tell the team the outcome you desire, and you let them decide how to do their work?

Original Post: http://www.jrothman.com/blog/mpd/2014/04/who-solves-which-problems.html

Johanna Rothman

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