Articles tagged with: tips

Negative Conversations in the Workplace: 3 Tips for Staying Positive

on Tuesday, 09 August 2016. Posted in General - Misc. Tips, Blog

Negative Conversations in the Workplace:  3 Tips for Staying Positive

In previous post, we discussed the benefits of choosing positivity in the workplace and how it can make a big difference not just in your work life, but in your personal life as well. While it’s one thing to choose a positive outlook for yourself at work, unfortunately, not everyone in your work environment will make the same choice.  In fact, you might find that you’re in the minority of colleagues who choose positivity, which means you may be spending a good portion of your interactions dealing with negativity of other co-workers, especially in conversation.

Whether it’s official business matters around the conference table or casual conversation in the break room, you’re bound to encounter negative conversations at some point during your day. These could be directed at you personally or could be just about office frustration, gossip, or other situations. Whatever the subject matter is, however, it can be difficult to not let this negativity turn your day (or week) upside down. Here are some important points to keep in mind the next time you encounter a negative conversation at work that seems tricky to navigate:

Remember You’re In Control

The biggest mistake you can make when encountering a negative conversation is forgetting that you still have control. You have control over how you react, how you choose to steer the conversation once you’re involved, and most of all, how you choose to let the conversation affect you once it has ended. You don’t have to let other people’s actions or words sideline your efforts of focusing on positivity.

Refrain

Sometimes your first reaction to a comment, question, or conversation won’t always be the best response—especially when this negativity is directed to you personally.  Your first instinct for a response to a critical comment made towards you might be to act defensive or to send another negative comment back their way, but this is far from the most productive choice. In other instances, you may find yourself in the midst of a conversation that involves office gossip or backbiting. In either case, remember to refrain. Refrain from saying what may immediately come to mind as a response, or in other instances, refrain from getting involved in the conversation at all if you can tell that it’s not headed in a positive direction.

Redirect

Refraining from responding with your first reaction to a negative comment doesn’t always mean that you just have to not respond at all. With a bit of emotional intelligence, you can effectively redirect a negative comment directed towards you or even an entire conversation centered around negativity.

If someone in the workplace makes a condescending, attacking, or negative comment towards you personally, you can still stand up for yourself while redirecting their negativity. For example, if someone makes a comment toward you about what they view as a negative trait (i.e. being stubborn, incompetent, looking for a argument, etc), redirect that comment by clarifying or restating their negative wording, such as saying, “It’s unfortunate that you feel that way, since that is not my intention,” or “I’m a very determined person, but I don’t consider myself stubborn.”

If the negative conversation isn’t directed towards you specifically, you still have the opportunity to redirect it toward a more positive place depending on how you choose to get involved. If you find yourself involved in an office conversation that is centered on complaining, gossiping, or backbiting, try to offer a different perspective that may help change the outlook of those involved. It’s possible to offer verbal validation for their feelings while still helping them see a different, more positive picture of the situation they may be frustrated with.

When it comes down to it, the key to navigating any negative conversation is to simply think before you speak or act. Don’t go with your first-impulse reaction, and think about how what you say or how you get involved will affect the conversation. With the right foresight, you can be a big influencer of positivity for other colleagues in your workplace, and in the meantime, you’ll be happier, too. 

The Next Level of Cloud Transformation

on Wednesday, 30 March 2016. Posted in Enterprise Software

The Next Level of Cloud Transformation

Ten years ago if someone would have mentioned “the cloud” in a business setting, people probably would have immediately thought about the weather. Flash forward to today and it’s likely that we talk more about the digital cloud in business than we do about the weather. The point is that cloud computing has dramatically transformed the business world as well as our personal lives over the past three years.  The reality is that cloud computing continues to transform how we do business, and to keep up in the industry businesses need to keep up with these changes or get left behind in the marketplace.

As this transformation continues over the next three years, here is what businesses will need to be aware of:

  1. Every Company will need to become an IT Company

As the cloud transforms business, it becomes more and more apparent ...

to read the entire article click on the link below

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/next-level-cloud-transformation-alex-antonatos?

7 tips to maximize your Oracle OpenWorld 2015 Conference Experience

on Monday, 28 September 2015. Posted in Blog, Oracle OpenWorld

7 tips to maximize your Oracle OpenWorld 2015 Conference Experience

Less than a month to Oracle OpenWorld, the conference will officially kick off on Sunday, October 25th. The location alone should be enough to get most of you excited. San Francisco is an amazing city to visit. The business and technical content, networking, and after hours social events are just bonuses.

Below are some tips after a decade of regular attendance as a speaker and attendee of Oracle OpenWorld.

1- Book and plan sessions as soon as possible, here is the link to the current Content Catalog list the best ones are "sold out" swiftly. Currently 1600+ sessions are available, plan what you want to learn this year and keep that in mind when registering for the session. Use the target audience information on the left of the catalog.

 list

2- This year’s OpenWorld major themes I will focus

  •       On enterprise cloud solutions and deployment strategies to move your on-premise Oracle applications like Siebel, EBS, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Primavera into the Cloud with a strong option of co-existence. Over 800 sessions on cloud computing!
  •        On a comprehensive enterprise big data solution with, Big Data Appliances, 12c database, NoSQL Database and Big Data SQLData is the lifeblood of most organizations.
  •         IoT – Internet of things this year has lots of new sessions in this area.

         3- Lots of sessions on customer experience: A must see is the state of the art Customer experience lab, here is a sneak peek:

  • lab

4- This years business and technology conference will have a focus on the intersection of cloud, social, and mobile business opportunities.

5- Planning and preparing will be key. Make sure you can write & measure your conference objectives. 

Here are mine:

30% learning (sessions & Oracle headquarters) to help me advise better solutions for my clients

50 % sharing good practices, knowledge sharing with different Oracle clients – these sessions have already been planned and scheduled with the clients in advance date&time confirmed.

10% attending networking events, I plan to grab a coffee in the morning and a well-deserved beer one of the day’s in the afternoon at the Tap and Brew, 

10% Unwind by riding a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting Alcatraz.

On my side I am also looking forward to the following Oracle ACE activities during OpenWorld 2015:

  •           Sunday, October 25: Annual Oracle ACE Dinner 7pm-10pm
  •           Monday, October 26: OTN /Partners Meetup, 7-9pm
  •            Wednesday, Oct 28: Bloggers meetup

             6- This year's conference is a month later than usual, bring a great pair of comfortable shoes and dress for colder temperature than usual. 

                 7- Don’t miss Larry’s keynote, usually he provides the big announcements and summarizes well the strategy and themes of this year’s OpenWorld and the ongoing strategy.

             I’ll be there, and you can follow me at @AlexAntonatos. Also you can click on Contact (on the bottom right of the webpage and select schedule a meeting request a 1-1 with me or other Oracle experts in San Francisco.

Feel free to share your Openworld checklist and thoughts on the topic!

 

Have I missed any helpful tips? Leave a comment!

See you in San Francisco,

 

 

 

 

Work and Vacations: Integration is the New Separation

on Thursday, 21 May 2015. Posted in General - Misc. Tips

Work and Vacations: Integration is the New Separation

                                                                         Chances are you or someone you know in the workplace often talks about “needing a vacation” but never take one because you just “can’t break away.” In fact, studies show that millions of Americans intentionally take less vacation days now than they did 40 years ago because they believe that no one else can do what they do at the office. Ironically though, studies also show that those who take vacations make better employees. They lead to better physical health, more productivity, increased mental power, newer perspectives, and a lower chance of burn out.

In today’s corporate culture, it’s becoming much more common to find employees who are blurring the lines between their work and personal lives. With emails, text messages, phone calls, and social media being accessible all in one place at the literal touch of a button, it’s easy to let work creep in to personal time even while employees are away from the office—especially on vacation. Interestingly enough, however, today’s workers are beginning to show a preference for less separation between work and personal life in favor for more integration. Mainly because it allows for one overarching quality: flexibility. When flexibility is part of the equation, workers don’t hesitate to mix work with personal life because it means they can do what they want, when they want. Even on vacation.

While many people see technology as a hindrance on work-life balance, it can also be one of the best tools to allow employees to actually live their lives a little more fully—to break away from the traditional 8-5 model during the day-to-day, but actually feel like they can take a vacation without it sacrificing the success of their careers, too.

Granted, a vacation isn’t really a vacation if it just turns into an extension of the office – it’s essential to be able to disconnect from work while on vacation. But that same technology that keeps employees tied to their smartphones is also what can allow them to join in on a conference call when they are at a beach resort 4 time zones away from the office. Or even respond to important client emails when they are 30,000 feet in the air while traveling to or from their vacation destination. It allows employees who typically forego vacations because of the stress of leaving work to actually enjoy the best of both worlds from time to time.

So instead of letting technology tie you down to your job, look at it as your golden ticket to being able to integrate work into your personal life so that work doesn’t have to completely control it. This year, do yourself a favor and put your vacation days to use. You’ll be a better employee because of it.  

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If you would like to read my regular posts on Linkedin send me a LinkedIn invite. And, of course, feel free to also connect viaTwitter.

Here are some other recent posts on Linkedin:

The Secret to Enterprise Projects: Don’t Care Who Gets the Credit

on Wednesday, 25 February 2015. Posted in General - Misc. Tips, Blog

The Secret to Enterprise Projects: Don’t Care Who Gets the Credit

For a lot of people, having to work alongside others to complete any given project is their least favorite part of the job. Teamwork can be difficult, especially if all members involved have very different personalities that sometimes clash. In fact, 97% of employees and executive surveyed believe that lack of alignment within a team directly impacts the outcome of a project (source).

But usually one of the biggest sources of content when working on a project comes from members becoming more interested in proving their worth by getting credit for their own work, rather than wanting credit for team completion of a project. And really, the truth is that when you stop caring and who gets the credit, you’ll find that working on a project gets much less stressful. Though it might seem counterintuitive, forgetting about who gets the credit for a project will only benefit you as a leader in the long run. Here are 5 reasons why:

Your teammates will enjoy working with you

No one enjoys working with someone who is power hungry or someone who micromanages. Unfortunately for many, teamwork is a necessary evil that dominates the white-collar professional world. According to a recent survey by BusinessWeek, 82% of those surveyed said they depended on partnering with others throughout the day to get their work done. By being the type of team member who is more concerned about the group as a whole, they’ll know that you give them enough room to breathe and develop. Since they don’t feel smothered, it will be much easier for them to follow your advice and requests during the course of a project.

Team efficiency will be boosted

When it comes to team projects, time management is key. And the stress of deadlines is amplified even more when team members don’t agree, can’t get along, or just simply don’t work well together. By focusing on the greater good and helping the cohesion of your group, you’ll find that time coordination will be amplified and your team will finish more work in a given time frame.

Team moral will soar

When people like who they’re working with, team projects can really be an enjoyable experience. On the other hand, team projects can be extremely disappointing if there isn’t cohesion within a group. When surveyed, 86% of employees and executives sited lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures (source). Making an effort to be more of a team player and less concerned about individual will help you boost team moral. All members involved will be energized and ready to face any obstacles, ultimately resulting in a positive experience and a successful project outcome.

Their skills will develop more

Because your team members know that they can shine with their individual skills, they’ll do their best in developing them. They won’t stifle their creativity or productivity due to reservations they have about potential reactions from their team.

They’ll stick more to your team

In the business world, a team that works well together on project is as good as gold. Being the type of team member people like to work with means that you’ll have team members who last longer and actually want to stick around to work with you. In the end, you’ll have even more success as a group as you continue to develop the synergy you helped start in the first place.

As Henry Ford stated, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” And this entire process is dependent on that team sharing a common goal, using their individual talents to work toward that goal, and using those talents and skills in unison. Worrying less about who is getting the credit and more about the success of the entire group is the first step to achieving that.

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Here are some other recent posts, I've wriiten on Linkedin:

How Today's Workforce has Changed the Rules and Lens of Engagement

Optimism Why It’s Important

3 Lessons We Can Learn From the Homeless This Holiday Season

Corporations are Transforming into Professional Sports Teams-Data is the Game Changer

Let's Fix It: Deliver Your Business Project, or You're Just Another Person With an Opinion

Avoid a Public Speaking Meltdown with These 10 Tips

Minimize your TV watching, watch TED instead

on Tuesday, 27 January 2015. Posted in Blog

Minimize your TV watching, watch TED instead

 

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. A great global success.

 

The below hyperlink wll bring you to the top 20 most popular (all great inspiring videos! I strongly recommend, watch all of them)

http://www.ted.com/playlists/171/the_most_popular_talks_of_all

The official website is http://www.ted.com

Miinimize your TV watching, watch TED instead.

 

 

 

 

 

Why implement a centralized CRM package - Main Pitfall & 5 tips

on Tuesday, 18 November 2014. Posted in Enterprise Software , Blog

Why implement a centralized CRM package - Main Pitfall & 5 tips

In my view, the top 10 reasons most companies move towards a centralized CRM (customer relationship management) system

  1. Move to get a more complete view of customers
  2. Automate previously manual and repetitive processes
  3. Make business processes consistent across the company
  4. Improve the quality and velocity of data.  Enter once.  Use many times.
  5. Replace of various systems/databases by one system
  6. Improve sales force efficiency, forecasting
  7. Deploying CRM enables corporations to become more customer-centric with their business processes
  8. Better user access to data and instant mobile analytical tools
  9. Improve communication among groups within sales and marketing organizations
  10. Leverages best practices throughout the organization 

A CRM system provides a one face to the customer and a 360 degree view of sales and opportunities, by establishing the reflex of having a common customer ID across data dimensions, you can provide visibility to all of the customer-related activity across the enterprise.

Tip #1 Dont focus on functional requirements

When focusing on functional requirements take into account all Tier 1 CRM, share the same functionalities, provide a better scoring to the vendor that is already deployed internally, for example if your company is more Oracle centric select Oracle if its SAP centric select SAP, this will help reduce the risks related to integration. 

Tip #2 Biggest risk will always be the data migration

crmdatamigration

          In a CRM project, put a focus on the data migration, bad data is the number 1 reason for project failures and overruns: 

     Main Pitfalls of Converting Bad Data

       Inaccurate report metrics

       Bad information wastes users time and effort

       Marketing wastes money and effort pursuing bad prospects

       Understanding your “customer” is impossible

       IT wastes time sifting through information and trying to make sense of it

       Operations has difficulty reconciling data against financial and other backend information

       User get frustrated, you lose valuable buy-in and adoption

Follow a structured approach and limit your initial scope of your data migration to converting:

 Accounts, Contacts, Addresses, Opportunity, Products, Notes, Attachments and Territories.

   Tip # 4 Data Cleansed then Loaded into CRM

   Define key systems where data will be cleansed and then convert to CRM

   Do the same with the transactional data, that will be loaded into CRM and which loaded into the BI for analytics

Tip#5 Setup CRM Center of Excellence 

      Provide one level 3 support group for all user queries, incidents, and changes requested.   Across all business unit lines.
     With established partnership for software break & fix, establish business-oriented service level agreements for availability, time to respond, and bandwidth/capacity for changes.

      I would say that the Achilles heel to all IT systems especially in CRM systems is user-friendliness. If in doubt, use the KISS method'Keep It Simple Stupid'. Do you have 2 ways you could do something? Always work with the simpler of the two. It's much easier to add a bit of detail rather than trying to take away from an overly complicated process.

 

 

This year’s OpenWorld expect 70000 attendees, 10 tips to maximize your conference experience

on Sunday, 07 September 2014. Posted in Oracle OpenWorld

This year’s OpenWorld expect 70000 attendees, 10 tips to maximize your conference experience

21 days to Oracle OpenWorld, the conference will officially kick off on Sunday, September 28th. This year, it is expected 70000 attendees will be in San Francisco.

Below are some tips after a decade of regular attendance as a speaker and attendee of Oracle OpenWorld.

1)  Book and plan sessions as soon as possible, here is the link to the current Content Catalog list the best ones are "sold out" swiftly. Currently 2500+ sessions are available, plan what you want to learn this year and keep that in mind when registering for the session. Use the target audience information.

oowlogin

This year’s OpenWorld major themes will focus

  •       On enterprise public cloud solutions and deployment strategies.
  •        On the fusion applications strategy, we should expect the re-enforcement message of the co-existence model with Siebel, EBS, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Primavera.
  •        On a comprehensive enterprise big data solution with, Big Data Appliances, 12c database, NoSQL Database and Big Data SQL. Data as we all know is the lifeblood of most organizations.
  •         IoT – Internet of things this year , lots of new sessions in this area, here are a few:

2)      2) Don’t miss Larry’s keynote, this year he may shock us, usually he provides the big announcements and summarizes well the strategy and themes of this year’s OpenWorld.

3        3) Bring comfortable shoes. You can expect lots of walking and uncomfortable shoes can put a damper on energy very quickly.

4)       4) Visit application demo's ground a great venue because its sole focus is to demo and test new applications. Despite the fact that you will be one of many participants, from my experiences you are given great attention.

6)       5) Bring business cards for the many drawings that are often offered in the exhibit areas.

7)       6) Use Twitter at OpenWorld, tweets specific to thewill be using the following hashtag #OOW14, instant updates, specials, giveaways and comments/feedback from others at the conference.

8)        7) Take advantages of networking opportunities when you can. There is much to be learned from others from other programs and places. Join in panel discussions, ride the shuttle buses.

9)        8) Always carry your pass even at night time, many specials (discounts at restaurants and stores ~expect around 15%)

10)     9) Download the Apple or Samsung Openworld mobile application to remove the need of printing your schedule. Below link to the apple store for Iphone or Ipad:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oracle-openworld-san-francisco/id703787222?mt=8

oow schedule

Oracle OpenWorld is a must-attend business andTechnology conference event each year, this year with record 70000 attendees – planning and preparing will be key.

I’ll be there, and you can follow me at @AlexAntonatos. Also you can click on Contact (on the bottom right of the webpage and select schedule a meeting request a 1-1 with me or other Oracle experts in San Francisco.

On my side I am also looking forward to the following Oracle ACE activities during OpenWorld 2014:

  •           Sunday, Sep 28: Annual Oracle ACE Dinner 7pm-10pm
  •           Monday, Sep 29: OTN /Partners Meetup, 7-9pm
  •            Wednesday, Oct 1: Bloggers meetup

Have I missed any helpful tips? Leave a comment!

 

See you in San Francisco,

Interpersonal communication - 10 tips

on Monday, 14 April 2014. Posted in General - Misc. Tips, Blog

Interpersonal communication - 10 tips

 

 

 

                                                                       One of the hardest things to do for all of us is to explore communication with an open mind - the key to influencing is to first understand the person you are influencing. Ask lots of open, neutral questions and listen actively to the answers. Different views, well managed, increase creativity and innovation. Avoid compromise try to aim for true collaboration.

 

On a lighter note, there must be other's who are managing with us because of our different point of view. Having different point of view is not bad, it's the most natural thing. No two persons are the same so definitely there will be difference of opinion. With my experience I have observed, if one is confidant & have strong conviction about the subject, then it's not that difficult to convince other's. One has to be patient & respectful for other's opinion then only one can win other's mind and persuade also with facts and data. By the way having discussion with different perspective always brings out something new & helps most of the time.

We can always agree to disagree but in the end at least you will have a great debate and learn something new, what ever that might be.

Quick recap

1. Allow them to have it
2. Be curious about it
3. Learn something about yourself from it
4. Be open minded enough to consider changing your view
5. Think about how they could add benefit because of their view
6. Relax (Do not lose your cool...sometimes not that easy)
7. Look for shared ground
8. Find the shared ground
9. Use the shared ground to build rapport and trust
10. Consider "leading" rather than "managing

 

Like usual share your thoughts on this topic

5 Tips to engage more efficient meetings

on Wednesday, 22 January 2014. Posted in Blog

5 Tips to engage more efficient meetings

 

 

 

Most of us believe we are very efficient in our meetings, the main issue meetings are not effective we waste valuable time figuring out what we are trying to accomplish in them.

Here some data, in an informal poll conducted by Forbes several years ago, they asked 1000 professionals how they would rate their overall experiences as meeting attendees throughout their careers. Here’s how they responded:

79% rated meetings as “run terribly”

14% rated meetings as “run fairly well”

7% rated meetings as “run extremely well”

Some more statistics:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sebastianbailey/2013/08/08/just-say-no-how-your-meeting-habit-is-harming-you/

http://business.salary.com/why%2Dhow%2Dyour%2Demployees%2Dare%2Dwasting%2Dtime%2Dat%2Dwork/slide/9/

Don’t fall into the bad statistic categories! Here are some tips that I try to follow:

1) A change of scenery and a bit of fun does wonders for getting people thinking differently and loosening up! (Coffee, power walk meeting, restaurant meeting instead of a conference room meeting with PowerPoint)

2) The meeting notes need to be laser focused in answering 3 questions

What do we see as the next steps?

Who should take responsibility for them?

And what should the timeframe be?

Record the answers and send out an email so that everyone is on the same page. This helps with accountability also no one can say they're not sure what really happened.

3) Don't skip writing minutes just because everyone attended the meeting and knows what happened. Meeting notes serve as a record of the meeting long after people forget what happened.

4) Ban the words "cant" "unable" "not possible" from the room and establish a clear donation to local charity by anyone that utters those words

4) Always provide an escape valve, some meetings tend to be intense, following a meeting, it is vital that your team know that your door is always open if they are struggling with the outcome

5) Do use positive language. Rather than describing the discussion as heated or angry, use passionate, lively, or energetic--all of which are just as true as the negative words. 

Wish everyone a 2014 filled with productive meetings captured efficiently in crisp, clear meeting notes!Never forget Ideas are cheap;come with solutions in your meetings

Like usual share your thoughts and advice on the topic.

 

Best practices in solution architecture for Oracle EBS, OBI, Hyperion Planning

on Wednesday, 04 December 2013. Posted in Enterprise Software , Blog

Best practices in solution architecture for Oracle EBS, OBI, Hyperion Planning

A perfect design is an enemy of a good design. Often, we strive for a perfect design by customizing our systems, with what we currently know and forget quickly that the out of the box design may not provide the best solution to a given problem but it would probably have the best chance of meeting the schedule , regulatory compliance and cost constraints with acceptable quality.

I just completed US financial services solution architecture and noticing a trend with enterprise customers towards simplicity and making sure the business is provided tools to adapt to the new out of the box functionality reality. 2014 focus seems to be on essentials, mobile and providing a responsive design to the end user.

Having been lucky enough to have implemented multiple times EBS R12, Hyperion Products, OBI and CRM projects, I share some best practices on what in my view should not be modified and other areas that should be slightly improved from a business architecture standpoint:

 

Architecture OBI Hyperion  EBS

 

One question that comes often what is each product main purpose: here is a quick 1 liner on the products.

Hyperion Financial management is Oracle’s consolidation tool and statutory reporting

Hyperion Planning is the Strategic Planning, Budgeting and forecasting tool

Hyperion Financial Data Management is a tool to map different chart of accounts between source systems (EBS and non EBS applications) and HFM

Oracle EBS R12 is the ERP that store the Financial, Project, Procurement, Supply chain transactions

OBI Oracle Business Intelligence is the BI platform that stores the OLAP analytics, provides enterprise reporting, mobile BI and different scorecards.

When implementing your enterprise software keep in mind the following best practices:

1)  Times are changing; your approach to BI must change, Mobile Users Deserve the Same Quality of Browsing Experience as on your computer, one financial services company in the US is making sure most ERP, CRM transactions can be performed by mobile or tablet. Put in place mobile responsive design architecture when designing your solution. Your competitors are probably doing it or thinking about it. Technology has become the differentiator, not the business process.

2)  Capture integration requirements, then challenge all requirements that don’t respect the out of the box functionality, always make use of the product API’s to customize your solution if required. Focus on essential requirements only.

3) All enterprise software now integratre with Microsoft Excel, Microsoft’s classic spreadsheet program, is a favorite of sales and finance teams everywhere, use it to minimize change management

4)  One that I see often, not matching the growth strategy for the company to the capabilities of the system being implemented. Make sure everyone understands your functionality/ project scope and ROI to avoid the smoking mirror syndrome were the expectations and money spent do not correlate to the required outcome. Communicate with facts and data only!

Like usual please provide your thoughts and comments on solution architecture best practices.

 

 

7 Tips to Improve your Project Solution Architecture Outcome

on Wednesday, 23 October 2013. Posted in Enterprise Software , Solution & Business Architecture, Blog

7 Tips to Improve your Project Solution Architecture Outcome

The goal of architecture is to identify the requirements that affect the structure of the application and design a business solution.

 A well thought-out architecture should always consider these important principles:

   Build to change instead of build to last

   Understand the end user needs and the domain before designing components

   Identify sub-systems in your product and consider layers and components to abstract them and identify the key interfaces

   Use an incremental and iterative approach to designing the architecture

   Learn from company history, document your decisions and identify and mitigate key risks

But as we all know: every organization has its share of political drama: personalities clash, diverging agendas. Having worked at many companies here are some thoughts and tips to avoid architecture delays or having your project stopped:

 *** Communicate like you are a Teacher, not a Preacher

 A general assumption, architects are supposed to share their knowledge and experience. Failing to share that information is pretty much against the job description. But how you communicate that experience is the most important part of the job.  Think of your best teachers in school—did they ever go in front of the classroom and tell you how smart they were?  I don’t think so.  They found subtle ways to express their knowledge that encouraged learning and asking questions.

 Tip #1 that I often use , I start my sentences with ‘I think’ this will open discussion items and questions and encourage a two-way discussion.

 Tip #2 Architects are usually quite smart and have a breadth of knowledge but the tone, quality and delivery of the Information is more important than the content, try to always communicate like a teacher .

 

*** Standards apply to Architects, Developers and COE (Center of Excellence)– Don’t take the easy path take the smart path

 Enterprise architects put together standards documents that lay out , architecture patterns, coding conventions, infrastructure, source code nomenclature, and build structures.  But to publish those standardsand fail to hold yourself to them is the highest form of hypocrisy.  If you can’t follow a standard, why would you expect anyoneelse to follow it too?

An example, a company wanted to perform a point (system)to point (system) development, in this case standards existed to use web services with these systems, the development team took a quick decision and coded the point to point development and satisfied the business requirement. The director of the COE (Center of Excellence) did not realize an impact existed onto a surrounding system , the issue caused a security and reconciliation issue. In this case the cost to fix the data & interface was 4 times the initial budget.

 Tip #3 : By applying the standards to your work, you’re respecting the standards of the organization; you also see what will be painful for other groups. Respect your standards and reduce the power politics within your organization.

Tip #4 : Always try to eliminate 'it’s not my job” attitudes at your workplace, especially when you have the role of the architect.

 

***Command from the dugouts, not from the Ivory Tower

Not once, in any company I’ve ever worked with or for, did this idea bear positive fruit for the development teams involved.  Instead, these segregated groups architecture and development teams have generated one or more of the following:

 *        Contempt for the architecture because the developers had no say in

the architecture

*        Rejection of the framework because it was impractical to apply to

the project at hand

*        Blatant disregard for the standards set by architects because the architects did not have to respect company deadlines as a result of the delays introduced by their work

 Tip # 5: Architects should be a member of the project team, never as a visiting diplomat to the team.  Teams respect the opinion of someone who lives their daily reality side-by-side with them, not someone who hands them the Ten Commandments.

  *** Architecture teams that believe their involvement is limited to the design phase don’t really understand what it means to be an architect

 An example, when a building is being built, the architect is on site during the majority of the project, overseeing the effort at a high level, ensuring that little changes are not impacting the big picture.  All the while, the architect assists in solving problems that arise from his or her design from a practical standpoint, same as any enterprise software deployment

 In short, the architect’s involvement is continuous, not disconnected.

 Tip #6 : Make sure the architect is involved in the design, build and deployment phase.

 

***Documentation

Tip #7 : Always begin your intervention with a contextual diagram and perform a walk through with the team, don’t write too much text it may cause confusion at the beginning. Developers and implementers interact better with diagrams.

 For architecture projects to succeed there must be a partnership of developers,implementers and architects. Successful partnerships require two way communication and trust, none of which happens when someone acts like God’s gift to mankind, insists on his way or the highway and doesn’t actively get his hands dirty.

Feel free to share your tips , comments and thoughts.

 

 

4 things you need to do in your next software selection project & 4 things you need to stop doing

on Saturday, 07 September 2013. Posted in Blog, Enterprise Architecture

4 things you need to do in your next software selection project & 4 things you need to stop doing

 

 

                                                         Software selection is a tricky and strategic process for any corporation. Here are 4 tips, on how to tackle a system selection process:  

1- The system selection process should follow a fact based approach. Gather Application or functional requirements via interviews and workshops from various groups like Operations, Finance, Marketing, and IT. These requirements should provide the basis for the selection. 

2- Employees in various functional areas, including Business Verticals, CRM, BI,ERP or any other type of system of engagement should participate to determine which value add features should be included in the selection criteria process. Through primary and secondary research (e.g. analyst reviews, vendor calls, subject matter expert reviews, independent consultants, vendor websites, etc.), select three to four vendors to issue the selection and invite them to demonstrate their offering.

3- Have a consistent approach for vendor selection analysis, a scoring schedule with weightings should be developed and validated internally. Further, scoring criteria should be established to evaluate the vendor’s software response.

4- Based on the scoring results and qualitative assessment of the vendors’ response and product demonstrations, short list two vendors and perform a total cost of ownership and a internal high level implementation plan. An important rule never select a software that has no product roadmap.

 

Below are some of the most common slipups, If you see your organization doing any of the following, take action quickly!

1- Not knowing up front the full Total Cost of Ownership . A previous client called me last week and was shocked to learn that their perfect $80K open source solution would cost $700K to make useful in their environment and another $250K annually to support. Make sure you perform a TCO.

2- Believing that newer technology will fix business problems is a trap that organizations repeatedly fall into

3- A software selection process that assumes the consent of other stakeholders without their involvement can easily get derailed. I know of several projects that experienced considerable delays after purchase or the software was put on the shelf do to internal reasons.

4- One that is often forgotten, not paying particular attention to integration points, the software selected must fit within your company’s spiderweb architecture.

Feel free to share any useful tips you've experienced.

 

Business architecture always adapt to your audience - 4 tips

on Thursday, 22 August 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Solution & Business Architecture, Blog

Business architecture always adapt to your audience - 4 tips

 

Always make a point to understand your audience, audience analysis involves identifying the audience and adapting a speech to their interests, level of understanding, attitudes, and beliefs. Taking an audience-centered approach is important because your material effectiveness will be improved if the deliverable is created and delivered in an appropriate manner.

I have seen many times technical people speaking to the business and not talking at the right level and emphasizing technical information like security, protocols and interfaces. An example application A will push the actuals to application B (good) instead of saying Application A attributes are connecting to table AR_Actuals and the trigger releases the information into Application B table GL_Open_balances. 

Depending on your audience adapt your architecture diagrams accordingly.

In my view, here is a sample architecture of a business architecture diagram that will connect with business savvy people to initiate architecture discussions. here are my tips:

  1. A Business Architecture must be process centric
  2. Be able to apply enterprise-wide architecture and process-level models and techniques that are aligned to your roadmap
  3. Develop a measurable architecture for planning, budgeting, organization design, compliance, human change management, and the introduction of breakthrough technologies
  4. Be able to use an architecture model to accelerate capability change projects and model development

 architecture

 Do you have any favorite tips or would like to share your experience on this topic?

What Everybody Ought to Know About Openworld 2013 – 10 Tips

on Monday, 05 August 2013. Posted in Blog, Oracle OpenWorld

What Everybody Ought to Know About Openworld 2013 – 10 Tips

 

 

Less than 6 weeks to Oracle OpenWorld, the conference will officially kick off on Sunday, September 22th.

My tips after a decade of regular attendance as a speaker and attendee of Oracle OpenWorld

1)    Book and plan sessions as soon as possible the content catalog will be live in 2 weeks, as the best ones are "sold out" swiftly. Currently 2400 sessions are available, plan what you want to learn this year and keep that in mind when registering for the session. Use the target audience filter.

This year’s OpenWorld themes expect:

·      A focus on cloud solutions.

·      An updated strategy on fusion applications (Fusion turns 2 years old since general release). The new 2.0 website is much easier to navigate here is the link.

·      Within, Oracle ‘s engineered systems expect a hardware announcement and a continuation from last year trend with an aggressive push towards workforce mobility.

·      Product announcements will occur on Oracle technologies to solve vertical business issues, as a speculation expect an announcement to a more comprehensive big data solution and new features on the newly released 12c database.

2)    Don’t miss Larry’s keynote, usually he provides the big announcements and summarizes well the strategy and themes of this year’s OpenWorld and the ongoing strategy.

3)    If you only remember one thing, bring comfortable shoes. You can expect lots of walking and uncomfortable shoes can put a damper on energy very quickly.

4)    Familiarize yourself with the Moscone floor plans

Moscone South floor plans

Moscone West floor plans

5)    Visit the application demo's ground a great venue because its sole focus is to demo and test new applications. Despite the fact that you will be one of many participants, from my experiences you are given great attention.

6)    Bring business cards for the many drawings that are often offered in the exhibit areas.

7)    Use Twitter at OpenWorld, tweets specific to the conference will be using the following hashtag #OOW13, instant updates, specials, giveaways and comments/feedback from others at the conference.

8)    Take advantages of networking opportunities when you can. There is much to be learned from others from other programs and places. Join in panel discussions, ride the shuttle buses.

9)    Always carry your pass even at night time, many specials (discounts at restaurants and stores ~around 10-15%)

10) There is a bookshop on the second floor of Moscone West, where one can get numerous books and souvenirs. If you are into books you may plan to spend sometime looking at these books and buy few for you or your team members back home.They also arrange to send it to the suggested address if you want to avoid excess baggage.

Oracle OpenWorld is a must-attend business and IT conference event each year.

I’ll be there, and I will blog with twitter you can follow me at @AlexAntonatos and my focus this year will be on cloud solutions, architecture, Hyperion and Fusion sessions.

Also looking forward to the following Oracle ACE activities during OpenWorld 2013:

  Sun, Sep 22: Annual Oracle ACE Dinner

  Wed, Sep 25: Blogger Meetup, Jillians

Have I missed any other helpful tips? Leave a comment!

 

Stay Optimistic

on Saturday, 05 January 2013. Posted in Blog

 

 

I was reading this weekend, the most watched TV programs were MSNBC and CNN Money.

 

Also looking at NY Times, Financial Post and the Economist reported 35% increase in their paper sales - All with pessimistic news as front page. Let’s take a step back this concludes that fear sells do not be a pessimist. No depression is coming unemployment is 7% and not 40 %, in those times no government programs existed and governments made crucial mistakes by staying on the side lines in the 30's.

 

 

Here are some quick tips on how to start seeing the glass half-full:

 

  • Find the good. Even in less-than-great situations, there’s a way to find something positive. It may be hard to see at first, but try looking closer!

 

  • Write it down. First thing in the morning, make a list of everything you’re grateful for and start the day with a positive attitude. Or end the day with a smile and write down a few good things that happened, like finishing a big report at work or getting an e-mail from an old friend. The habit makes it easier to appreciate the positive parts of life.
  • Stay Balanced. Life isn’t all good, all the time, so don’t worry if those positive thoughts don’t flow freely. Staying realistic is also important to help manage anxiety and boost productivity.

 

 

Our leaders have studied the depression case of the 1930's, it will not be repeated.

 

The problem is not a recession but the credit issue and lack of faith in our governments, recessions happen and they are healthy for the economy, they remove excess(if any).

 

In a study of 99 Harvard University students, those who were optimists at age 25 were significantly healthier at ages 45 and 60 than those who were pessimists. Other studies have linked a pessimistic explanatory style with higher rates of infectious disease, poor health, and earlier mortality.

 

Enjoy your first weekend of 2013!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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