Archive for July, 2007

The Keys to Success in Implementing Project Workforce Management

On the blog HiringExchange, there is an excellent article about how to achieve success when implementing a new Contingent Workforce Management program. The same principles apply to Project Workforce Management as well. And, by applying these principles to both, we can elevate our thinking to a Workforce 2.0 level.

The post, authored by CWM consultant Elaine Taylor, is here:
http://hotgigs.typepad.com/hiringexchange/2007/06/achieving_100_u.html

Taylor states: "Achieving 100% adoption of your program by the managers who engage contingent workers" is the critical success factor. I would add that the same is true of any type of workforce management system. Just as I discussed in this post about using and re-using "Your Go-To People," you aren’t really managing any type of workforce effectively unless you use the tools to leverage the whole workforce–not just your own "usual suspects."

Taylor recommends four strategies for implementing contingent workforce management, which I believe apply equally well to Project Workforce Management or any other system that helps the enterprise make the best use of its internal and external talent pool. Taylor’s strategies are quoted below, and my additional comments are in brackets.

a) Simplify the user’s life. Reengineer and streamline business processes with the goal of reducing the manager’s administrative burden rather than complicating it with low-reward, convoluted processes.

b) First and foremost, consider the users’ needs. Choose a supplier model that ensures client satisfaction. [The "user" is the workforce manager who uses the system. The idea of a "supplier model" applies, whether the "supply" of workers is an internal talent pool or a contingent workforce.]

c) Use a "carrot and a stick" approach. Market the benefits of using corporate contracted suppliers; but put “teeth” in your program for those who will “resist out of principle." (Once they understand the risks and costs they personally assume by working outside the official guidelines, managers are likely to become enthusiastic supporters of a well-designed CWM program.) [Again, the risks of working outside the system also apply to an internal workforce. Managers must feel the pain of managing less-than-optimal teams because they don't leverage the entire talent pool.]

d) Listen to what the users say. Incorporate a formal feedback loop that ensures the continual process improvements inherent in any successful program.

The real Workforce 2.0 model is to create a uniform system for managing both contingent and internal workers on projects. Companies tend to place more value on contingent workers–and manage them with more care–because they are perceived to be more expensive. But why not give the same attention to internal workers as well?

When we start to "think globally," a worker is a worker, no matter whose bank his or her paycheck comes from. The processes for finding, engaging, managing work, and tracking costs all deserve the same care and attention. Project Workforce Management can be implemented to help workforce managers assimilate these processes for all workers, and compete effectively in a flat world.

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The New New HR? The Changing Role of Human Resource Management: Part 2

In a previous post on this topic, I explained how HR’s role has changed from enterprise talent management to global workforce planning and talent sourcing. With HR’s new role, it is only natural to conclude that the traditional methods of human capital management have to change.

The HR of old manages its function as any tribe chief would. In fact, traditional company structures are highly tribe-oriented. Every company has its finance tribe, its service delivery tribe, its sales tribe, its IT tribe, and so forth. Department managers run their tribes like chiefs–turf wars are much more common than any true sustained collaboration.

The new new HR has a very different mandate; it is viewed as a peer and collaborator with the other departments in the company–regardless of their tribal nature. This new HR is plays a key role in project management, process improvement and compliance initiatives. In effect, the new HR is an active member of the “virtual buying committee” for such initiatives and is a user of these now cross-departmental tools.

With HR as the peers and collaborators around the table, they can gain influence on how departments collaborate, and the tools they use to do so. One of their strategies: to get the company to stop purchasing and rolling out departmental tools, such as:

  • A project management application just for IT
  • A CRM application just for Sales
  • A time and billing application just for Services
  • An accounting application just for Finance

By enabling, even mandating, that department heads (ex-tribe chiefs) to work as peers and collaborators, the company selects and implements tools that serve the enterprise as whole. In turn, tools that cross the tribal boundaries encourage collaboration.

In the next post, I will describe a common enterprise software investment scenario and how the need for inter-departmental collaboration is fundamentally changing the decision-making process.

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Enterprise 2.0: Part 3, The Rebirth of Software

By M.R. Rangaswami, Sand Hill Group

Enterprise 2.0 is a new phase for the software industry. The advantages and benefits for software vendors are tremendous. Innovation has driven the industry since its beginning, but now, rather than developing software internally and delivering it to customers, end users, business managers, CIOs, partners and other members of the ecosystem will be included in the innovation process.

An important part of the Enterprise 2.0 promise is the self-service application realm. The user-driven nature of these applications will revolutionize the workforce and the nature of collaboration.

Workforce management applications will emerge as a critical component of Enterprise 2.0 success. Companies that deploy these applications will witness increased visibility, better decision making and improved productivity—all core to the promise of Enterprise 2.0. And as Enterprise 2.0 influences workforce management, “Workforce 2.0” will emerge as companies leverage unprecedented ways to bring together teams, collaborate, share and develop talent, and build knowledge.

The results will be products that are more effective than ever before, customers that are more demanding than ever before and a software vendor ecosystem that will rise to the occasion—or be passed by.

The software industry is being reborn—yet again. Enterprise 2.0 will bring massive innovation to business computing. I stand by the assertion I wrote last year: in five years, we will look back and not recognize the software company of today.

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder of Sand Hill Group and founder of SandHill.com, a strategic online resource for software business executives. This piece first appeared as part of an op-ed on SandHill.com.

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Seven Survival Skills for the Flat World

In a Q&A column on the New York Times web site, columnist and "Flat World" author Thomas Friedman answers questions from readers. In one answer addressing the impact that outsourcing has on American jobs, Friedman states:

"…the ability to learn how to learn is the single most important survival skill anyone can have."

(The Q&A is here; a login for the NYTimes.com site is required:
http://select.nytimes.com/2006/11/05/timesselect/06friedman-qa.html?pagewanted=3)

What are some other essential survival skills for the flat world? I believe they are as follows, starting with Friedman’s statement in the top slot:

  1. Learn as much as you can in your field. If you are doing only what has always worked in the past, and you are not learning new skills constantly, you are an easy target for outsourcing. Job security goes to people who adapt continually to change and innovation.
  2. Commit to projects, not to companies. Work on projects that you are excited about. In so doing, you will naturally improve your skills and marketability. Do not stay with a company if you are working on uninspiring projects, almost irrespective of how much they pay you.
  3. Develop highly specialized skills. For example, don’t be just a general project manager, but learn how to run projects for a telecommunications company. By gaining skills and insights that are in demand for a paticular industry, your marketability becomes less generic, harder to find, and more of an obvious fit for employers and project leaders.
  4. Keep on top of the latest innovations in your specialized area. If you are comfortable with what you do and use familiar tools and techniques, then your job is more likely to be outsourced. Instead, stay relevant. Earn certifications and designations in your field, keep pushing yourself to innovate, and demonstrate an ability to manage outsourceable work, so that you yourself are not outsourceable.
  5. Learn to leverage other highly specialized individuals. Do so in new ways that "flatten" the organization. The story of my pool is a good example.
  6. Use 21st-century tools to do your job and to collaborate. If you are still using Meetings, Emails & Spreadsheets (what I call MES) to manage projects and teams, then you are not taking advantage of the latest collaborative and Web-based project management tools and disciplines. If you do not adapt and improve your productivity, your competition will.
  7. Last but not least: You can start a new business! Information, and a global talent pool, is now easily and quickly accessible over the Internet. The virtualization of the enterprise has made it much easier to start and grow a small business. For example, you can bring a service to your region, city, or neighborhood that isn’t otherwise available. In a flat world, you actually have more opportunities to succeed and create than ever before in human history!

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Enterprise 2.0: Part 2, Reaping The Benefits

By M.R. Rangaswami, Sand Hill Group

The Enterprise 2.0 opportunity for software vendors is to seed the ground for the next era of software applications. Over the next 5 to 10 years, software that leverages the tenets of Enterprise 2.0 will let “a thousand flowers bloom.”

There are a variety of possible scenarios. What if a consumer packaged goods company could introduce products via podcasts? What if a retailer could corresponds with its customers via a RSS? What if Fortune 500 companies could tag all internal documents and create proprietary indexes for future document searches? What if vendors’ software upgrades could be incremental instead of a big bang, all-or-nothing scenario? What if a customer could integrate a legacy application with a new one using only a few keystrokes?

For enterprises, the advantages of Enterprise 2.0 software are numerous.

  • Lightweight—Requiring minimal system and maintenance resources
  • Easy to use—Simple interfaces will mean no user training is required
  • Quick adoption—Company-wide rollouts can be provided via services or downloads
  • Easy to integrate—Web services and open source code will ease integration
  • Vendor accountability—On-demand and service-based apps keep vendors responsive

As leading-edge CIOs embrace the philosophies and potential of Enterprise 2.0, some software vendors struggle with how they will fit into this new world. The reality is that the benefits for software vendors are also compelling.

  • Fast development—New development models such as co-creation and global development will improve go-to-market speed.
  • Reduced capital investment—Open source, components and shorter development time translate to lower production costs.
  • Shorter sales cycle—Self-service and try-and-buy models mean products prove themselves.
  • Committed, satisfied customers—Better products and service-based pricing means customers remain loyal.

In Part 3 of this series, I will describe the implications of Enterprise 2.0 on the users of software, and on Workforce 2.0.

(Jump to the next post in this series.)

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder of Sand Hill Group and founder of SandHill.com, a strategic online resource for software business executives. This piece first appeared as part of an op-ed on SandHill.com.

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Leveraging Skilled People: An Essential Tool for Project Workforce Management

Recently, I was looking for a contractor to build a pool. I received three bids, each with very similar numbers and details. The only factor left in my decision was, whom do I trust?

I decided that none of them were the right choice. Instead I went with the company that was in business to connect me with highly skilled individuals–not to be the middleman. This company is not a contractor. Instead, they provided me with a list of the local subcontractors and sample contracts, and they helped me negotiate the subcontracts every step of the way. They received a fixed fee for this service. Overall, I saved 20% of the overall cost.

They did less, and made less money than a contractor–but they were able to provide a superior service at a much better price, and serve more clients–probably making more money in the long run.

This is a great example of a company with an innovative business model, who is in the business of getting more things built for more people–not just doing things "the way we’ve always done them" with unnecessary overhead.

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Enterprise 2.0: Why It Matters to Project Workforce Management

We welcome M.R. Rangaswami of Sand Hill Group as our guest on Talent on Target for a 3-part series about Enterprise 2.0, and its implications for the software industry.

On this blog, I frequently discuss “Workforce 2.0”—the trend I see, as our world becomes flatter and more global, for work to become more project-based, more service-based, less centralized, and less controlled from the top down.

Enterprise 2.0 and Workforce 2.0 go hand-in-hand. In fact, it is Enterprise 2.0 that is making Workforce 2.0 possible. The ability—both technologically and economically—for enterprises to distribute their work and collaborate globally has a profound effect upon how we manage workforces, develop talent, and even how we treat people at work.

The changes in the software industry, which M.R. sees first-hand in his consultant practice, are simply the first wave that will also overtake the rest of IT and professional services, and have at least ripple effects in every other sector. It is an exciting time to be a part of the changes in the ways we do business and work together.

(Jump to the next post in this series.)

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Enterprise 2.0: Bringing Software to Life

By M.R. Rangaswami, Sand Hill Group

One by one, technologies, models and vendors have emerged that have had a dramatic impact on the future of the software industry: open source, offshoring, services-oriented architecture (SOA) and software as a service (SaaS). Most recently, the buzz about Web 2.0 has moved to its potential in the business world.

Enterprise 2.0 is the emerging combination of all of these new technologies and models. It will re-shape the CIO’s philosophy about IT and it will transform the way vendors build and sell software.

What is " Enterprise 2.0"?

The most common definition of Enterprise 2.0 has involved the application of Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise. But the reality is something far more. Enterprise computing is far more complex than personal computing. It includes legacy environments, innumerable vendors, mismatched data sources, stringent regulations and far-flung users. While Web 2.0 can deliver genuine advantages for both business users and consumers, the real "Enterprise 2.0" will encompass a far broader and more complex vision.

Enterprise 2.0 is the synergy of a new set of technologies, development models and delivery methods that are used to develop business software and deliver it to users.

Whether created by software vendors, internal IT departments, line-of-business units or service providers, the software of Enterprise 2.0 will be flexible, simple and lightweight. It will be created using an infinite combination of the latest–and possibly, some old-fashioned–ingredients, including
the following:

  • Technologies–Open source, SOA/Web services (AJAX, RSS, blogs, wikis, tagging, social networking, and so on) Web 2.0, legacy and proprietary or some combination
  • Development Models–Relying on in-house, outsourced or offshore resources–or any combination; pursuing a global development strategy; and/or pursuing co-creation with users, partners or both
  • Delivery Methods–Downloading individually; paying for a license; and/or, using on-demand/SaaS or via a service provider

Only by taking a broad, holistic view of the business IT systems in place today and looking forward, beyond their constraints, will we be able to tap the necessary technologies and models to bring Enterprise 2.0 to life.

In Part 2 of this series, I will explain the advantages and benefits for software vendors to adopt Enterprise 2.0.

(Jump to the next post in this series.)

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder of Sand Hill Group and founder of SandHill.com, a strategic online resource for software business executives. This piece first appeared as part of an op-ed on SandHill.com.

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Outbehave Your Competition in a Flat World

Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, has penned a column in the New York Times entitled "The Whole World is Watching" (NY Times login required). In it, he describes how the Internet has potentially exposed all of its participants to public scrutiny:

When everyone has a blog, a MySpace page or Facebook entry, everyone is a publisher. When everyone has a cellphone with a camera in it, everyone is a paparazzo. When everyone can upload video on YouTube, everyone is filmmaker. When everyone is a publisher, paparazzo or filmmaker, everyone else is a public figure. We’re all public figures now. The blogosphere has made the global discussion so much richer — and each of us so much more transparent.

But this also creates opportunities. Today “what” you make is quickly copied and sold by everyone. But “how” you engage your customers, “how” you keep your promises and “how” you collaborate with partners — that’s not so easy to copy, and that is where companies can now really differentiate themselves.

Quoting a new book titled How by Dov Seidman, Friedman discusses how intelligent businesses can use the transparency to "outbehave the competition," keeping in mind that all our behavior can, potentially, become a matter of public record.

The very nature of communication and collaboration in our "flat" world is raising the standards of good behavior, and making us all accountable for how we work together. Companies are already experiencing this transparency, as evidenced in the ways they use blogs more, and press releases less, to shape public opinion.

But this phenomenon will also affect how individuals behave at work. As the world flattens, each individual’s reputation and experience will be published information, whether it is recorded in a write-up in a project workforce management database, or in a video on YouTube. Each individual will take more responsibility–and, I hope, more pride–in the value they add to their project teams and the companies they serve.

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