FTC 2017

This was my first Future Technologies Conference so I didn’t know what to expect.

Being a smaller conference in Vancouver I expected the attendees to mostly consist of Canadians and Americans. However, that was not the case. There was a lot of representation from across the globe (over 50 countries were represented).

In terms of attendee types, there were definitely more academics than practitioners.

My presentation, “Pair Programming: Collocated vs. Distributed” lasted about 20 minutes. I was only allotted 14 minutes but there were a few no shows so I was able to go a bit longer. The presentation ended with excellent questions and insight.

I really enjoyed learning about some of the ground breaking research that is currently going on. I don’t know how they come up with this stuff.

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PMI SAC PDC 2017

Having attended previous PMI-SAC PDC conferences, I must say this one was quite different.

The Winsport venue had a much different ambience compared to the BMO Centre, and I mean that in a good way.

Also, the attendance had noticeably diminished from previous years which is expected considering the downturn in Calgary’s economy.

The keynotes that I was able to attend were fantastic, especially the one on Brain Science. The point on visualization made complete sense to me. I heard Hayley Wickenheiser’s keynote was also inspiring but unfortunately I was unable to attend.

My first presentation, “Scaling Agile @ FCC” went well. Everything worked as expected. The audience seemed to enjoy all 3 short video clips. However, the presentation almost lasted the entire hour which didn’t leave a whole lot of time for questions and I wasn’t able to stick around because I had to head off to my next presentation which was in a different room. Thankfully my co-presenter was able to entertain one-on-one questions after I departed.

The second presentation, “Agile Product Rescue” also went well. The only hiccup I had was with the audio went it came time to show my YouTube clip. The audience could hear the audio but it was very faint. I didn’t have any questions during Q&A but a few individuals approached me afterwards.

It was great to see a lot of familiar faces. Hope to be in attendance next year!

 

Workday HCM – Lessons Learned

Regardless of how many IT (or other) projects you’ve been a part of, I guarantee a Workday Implementation is very different than anything you’ve ever seen.  I’m not saying it’s bad or good, just that it’s different.

There are many things you need to be aware of before/during/after implementation.  Here’s a short (high-level) list to get you started:

Pre-Implementation

It can be tempting to get right into implementation but that doesn’t mean you’re setting yourself up for success.  Some Workday projects will have many integrations to consider.  If so, it may be wise to introduce a pre-implementation phase to consolidate/upgrade/eliminate integrations.

On-site Implementation Partner

Workday projects suggest that the implementation partner should be off-site as much as possible.  The idea behind this is that the customer is forced to figure things out for themselves which puts them in a much better place post go-live.  However, the project team can get quite frustrated when they expect to see certain things and their expectations aren’t met.  Overall, an on-site implementation partner simply saves times.  That doesn’t mean they have to be on-site for the entire project, but as much as possible is desired.

Workday Delivered Training

Most people would agree that the Workday Training is not just valuable, but necessary.  However, trying to squeeze this in during implementation can be a daunting task.  The courses are not offered ever week and the most important ones do require travel.  Completing the training before implementation ensures that it actually happens.

Custom Fields

There are situations where out-of-the-box Workday does not meet the HR needs which is the whole idea behind custom fields.  However, introducing too many custom fields can become a maintenance nightmare.  If you’re supporting multiple languages, these fields will have to be translated.  Also, if these fields are needed in reports you’ll have to create custom reports.  Furthermore, if the base report that the custom report was generated from ever changes (i.e. upgrade), you’ll have re-generate the custom report to take advantage of the new features.

Workday Rising

This is a no brainer.  Attend the annual conference to learn and network.  Ensure the right people from HR (and possible IT) are attending.

Automated Testing

It’s rare to come across automated testing with Workday.  Automated testing can provide many benefits.  It can act as regression testing when incorporating semi-annual Workday upgrades.  Also, it can speed up testing during the Prototype Reviews/End-to-End/Parallel testing.  There may be many permutations of testing that are not possible from a manual standpoint but take mere seconds when automated.  The resistance to automated testing is around the upfront cost.  It does take time to create automated tests but the payback is enormous.

Project Team

Have the best people on the project and backfill their positions for the duration of the project.  Also, if the timelines are not realistic, adjust.  A team that is stressed out will not deliver high quality.

Simplicity

Look at what Workday offers out-of-the-box and ask yourself “Do you really need to change it?”.  Even if you have to change your current business practices it really makes sense to align with Workday best practices.  In terms of integrations, don’t try to build for the future.  Just focus on what you actually need.

Reports

On most projects, reports are an afterthought.  Identify your report inventory before you start implementation.  This will give you an idea of what you’re building towards.  Also, reports can help you test the system.

Decisions

Make decisions quickly and responsibly.  Don’t let decisions linger otherwise they’ll likely hold something up.  Also, involve the right people so that the implications of the decision are discussed.

Common Misused/Misunderstood words in Organizations

Leadership

  • Many people use this word without any context.  Those that do, often associate leadership with “micro-managing”.  However, there are different forms of leadership.  Some choose to be “servant leaders” which can be just as effective or in my experience much more effective.

Accountability

  • Many people struggle to hold themselves to account.  Instead they try to hold others to account.  It’s so much easier to “pass to buck” or blame others.

Vision

  • The problem with this word is that vision rarely comes from the true leaders of the organization and that’s exactly where it needs to come from.  Only the true leaders can explain the overall big picture.  Some people feel that the vision behind an organization or a project is a nice-to-have.  I feel it’s a necessity.  Otherwise, how are people suppose to know what they’re working towards.

Coaching

  • Many organizations are starting to adopt a coaching philosophy.  However, their understanding seems to fall short.  Coaching seems to involve “advising” and asking others “How can I help?”.  Both of those things are important but they don’t paint the entire picture.  People are the best source of solving their own problems.  A good coach can get people to do that.

Alignment

  • Getting a group of people to agree on something is not an easy task especially if it’s a large group.  To expedite the process we sometimes trick ourselves into believing that everyone is in alignment.  For instance, some people conform to groupthink to maintain group harmony.  Others converge around the viewpoint that gains the most support (i.e. Bandwagon effect).  And others gravitate to the ideas of experts of superiors (i.e. HIPPO, Highest-Paid Person’s Opinion).

Culture

  • Coming up with a list of cultural practices and listing them on the company’s Intranet site is not enough.  Cultural practices need to practiced.  That means they need to be reviewed and discussed often.  One common mistake that many organizations make is that they only share their culture with employees.  Culture needs to be shared with everyone, including contractors for example.  Otherwise those 3rd party organizations will practice their own culture which may be in conflict with yours.

Team

  • It’s easiest to place the boundary of a team around those you work closest with.  However, teams are typically larger than that.  In the context of a project with onsite and offsite resources, a team can easily exceed 50 people.  This is an important concept because when everyone works together as 1 single team (as opposed to multiple sub-teams) you’re better poised for success.

Goals

  • It’s difficult to determine what an organization’s goals are.  It requires constant reflection and the opinion/thoughts of others.  Unfortunately some organizations gravitate on a solution and work backwards without any consideration for their own goals.  The main problem with this approach is that they may end of with a solution that addresses a particular problem that they don’t even have.

Value

  • Delivering value does not have to be a grand scale.  In fact, taking that approach is highly risky.  Constantly delivering small increments is a much better way of advancing.

Performance

  • Organizations constantly seek high performance individuals and for good reason.  Unfortunately, many organizations practice the exact opposite.  When it comes to performance ratings they employ techniques like bell curves and forced rankings.  That does not incentivize people to work together.  Instead, people are looking out for themselves (and not the organization) to ensure that others don’t rise above them.

Why people resist change

At some point in our careers we’ve been faced with situations where change seems so obvious to us (and at times necessary) but others feel the exact opposite.

Frustration continues to increase the harder we try and the more resistance we face.

What is the underlying problem? Essentially, why do people resist change?

  • Some people just can see what’s in it for them or their team. Maybe the change wasn’t clearly articulated. If people can’t visualize an improvement to their well being, they likely won’t be supportive.
  • Unfortunately some people are just lazy. And maybe that wasn’t always the case. Some people may be nearing retirement and just want to “ride the wave” so to speak. A change represents a disruption to their cozy work life which represents additional work for some.
  • People in managerial or supervisory positions may feel threatened. They could feel that a drastic change could eliminate the need for their position/role. What they may not realize is that it could also open the door for other positions that may be better suited for them.
  • Others get extremely stressed out over change. Some people lose sleep, start to lose their memory, skin conditions appear, or they develop digestive problems. It is important to create an environment where it’s ok to say you’re stressed and provide assistance to those that need it.
  • It a lot of cases people want to play it safe. Even though they know the current way of doing things may be ineffective and inefficient, they would rather continue along rather than take a risk. This is where developing a growth mindset vs. fixed mindset makes a huge difference.
  • Many organizations simply don’t have a culture that supports change. The proverbial “red tape” gets in the way and those that are trying to make change give up or leave the organization altogether.  Management support is necessary for change.

Final Thoughts:

Change is not easy but each of us can make an effort and it starts in our daily lives. If we strive to live outside of our comfort zone so much so that our discomfort zone becomes our comfort zone, change will seem like an everyday part of life.

Agile2017

It’s been 4 years since my last Agile Alliance conference so while I kinda knew what to expect I was very curious as to what had changed. The format seemed fairly similar to what I recall.  There were 4 keynotes, various stalwarts sessions, lightning talks, etc. So I can’t say a whole lot has changed, and that’s not a bad thing.

This time around the experience was completely different mostly because I was a volunteer. I really enjoyed volunteering. It’s a great way to meet people and network. With that said, it can be difficult to attend the sessions you’re yearning for. While the volunteer duties can be plentiful at times, it is a lot of fun. You’re never alone and the people you’re surrounded with are awesome.

I was careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past. At the 2013 conference I tried to take in too much and was overloaded by the end of the week. This time around I made sure to take breaks and make time to socialize.

Orlando was a fantastic venue. Most people were able to take in Universal or Disney or both. With that said, the conference hotel was spectacular just in case you didn’t have time to escape the event.

Next year it’s in San Diego. I hope to be there!

Cabernet Sauvignon Reloaded

While my post from last year is still valid, there are a few new Cab Sauvs I’ve tried since then that I felt needed to be included in this updated list.

The new additions are:

  • Mount Veeder
  • Stag’s Leap Artemis
  • Knights Valley Reserve

All 3 are exceptional and they pair well with Ribeye.

I must stress that my listing is not meant to be economical by any means. With that said, there are economical ways to enjoy pricy wines. Some restaurants allow you to bring your own bottle and charge you a corkage fee. Depending on the what you paid for the wine combined with the corkage fee it may be something you may want to consider.

So here we are with the complete list (in no particular order):

  • Caymus Special Selection
  • Caymus
  • Beringer Knights Valley
  • Mount Veeder
  • J. Lohr Seven Oaks
  • Hall
  • Jim Barry The Cover Drive
  • Stag’s Leap Artemis
  • Knights Valley Reserve
  • Robert Mondavi Private Selection

If you are curious as to which of these is the best “bang for you buck”, I would recommend the J. Lohr Seven Oaks.