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Minimal IT newsletters 2007

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Influence gives the IT organisation the freedom to act and to deliver value. To win real influence, the IT organisation must go beyond excellent service and project delivery.
We can not make the IT investments that we need to make because we can not calculate the return on investment (ROI). Using a basket of management objectives lets us estimate ROI, and can justify the investment we need.
We can model the financial benefit of any IT investment by using a handful of simple calculations.
To calculate a financial benefit for any IT investment, we have to put a value on meeting our own objectives.
You can justify any IT investment by measuring where you are now, modelling the benefits of making improvements, and putting an overall value on running your IT well. This seemingly simplistic approach is an effective IT management tool.
The top five hot topics in IT are: systems integration, databases, IT governance, cost reduction, and delegating work to IT. At least that's what my readers think.
Vista is a great improvement on earlier Windows versions, but it does little to protect your investment in learning, in software, and in data.
Defined, repeatable processes are a major focus of the IT industry. But there are limits to what can be achieved by process management alone.
IT process management initiatives like CMMI and ITIL can be made easier and more effective by including formal reviews of system quality.
Sometimes we need to ignore the sophisticated and specialist skills that we pride ourselves on having, and use simple techniques instead.
How long should IT systems last? There is no wrong answer. Whatever answer you give is self-fulfilling.
If you want to increase the life span of your systems, you have to clearly define your systems so that you can manage them effectively.
Effective owners are vital for long-lived systems. Without effective owners, systems fall off the management agenda and quickly decline into unsupportable legacy.
Systems that are clearly separated from each other live longer than systems that are coupled.
Long-lived systems need to be based on long-lived technology. This often means picking less fashionable options.
Long-lived systems do not just happen, they are designed that way. Long-lived design involves keeping things simple, and being risk-averse to the point of paranoia.
Change is inevitable. Long-lived systems must be insulated from change, but must embrace change when the time is right.
If you do not monitor your systems, they will die.
You can extend the life of your IT systems indefinitely, but you do have to DO SOMETHING about it.
Portable applications free us from many of the restrictions of the personal computer. But are they practical?
What do Ozzy Osbourne and Tim Berners-Lee have in common? Whatever it is, it could be disrupting your IT department very soon.
Big documents like user manuals are really hard to write using Microsoft Word. DocBook is a well-established standard that makes writing big documents much easier.
Inkscape and The Gimp are full-featured open source graphics programs. Even if you are not a professional artist or designer, they have plenty of features that you will find useful.
I use free and open source software all the time, but I have not open sourced my own products. Am I an open source hypocrite?
We can reduce risks by shifting our management of risk to earlier in the system life cycle
IT is getting smaller, faster and cheaper all the time. The effects on enterprise IT will be profound.
Application Portfolio Management (APM) is set to become the next big thing in IT. But different vendors have a very different view of what it is.
We make IT hard because we get into too much detail too soon. We need a broad but shallow approach to IT management.
Defining processes makes new ideas, techniques and products much more credible, and forces you to think through practicalities.
System governance can be summarised in just three pictures.
Is the Windows registry a bad design? Judge for yourself.
IT has a rich ecosystem of service providers. They are critical to bringing new products to market.
It is practical to run a PC environment from a flash drive. Additional work is required to make the environment really flexible and easy to use.
There is an alternative view of IT that challenges nearly everything that we believe. Although we may not like its conclusions, it is difficult to see where this alternative view is wrong.
IT architecture, organisation and decision making are a by-product of engineering necessity, not a conscious design to best serve the needs of business.
The structures of IT - architecture, organisation, decision making - form an alternative reality which has no meaning across the broader business.
One of the main roles of IT management is to help business navigate the alternative realities of IT. But the way we do this makes IT more complicated and more misaligned.
The major problems in IT all have roots in the technical structures upon which we base IT solutions.
We can break free from the major management problems of IT by designing systems differently.
A simplification of IT architecture would have far-reaching impacts across the whole of IT.
eBusiness is not about selling products on the Internet or automating supplier links. True eBusiness goes much deeper and can only occur when the paraphernalia of IT is swept away.
Although we aspire to build simple IT solutions, many arguments suggest that this may not be possible.
The strongest arguments against simplifying IT architecture involve the role of IT in the organisation. We have to decide whether the arguments for simplification or the arguments for complexity will win.
In IT we need to achieve three things: delivery of service today; change for tomorrow; and fitness for the future. Each requires a different management approach.
Management control should focus on listening to and acting on the recommendations of staff, not checking that they are doing their job properly.
You need a simple, shared view of your IT to create joined-up solutions to IT problems.
Testing is an increasingly important part of IT. We face serious problems with the long-term management and support of systems because testing tools are not based on standards.
Management controls in IT overlook many important aspects. To be more effective, we need to do more than just borrow control methods from other areas.
Reading the websites of similar businesses can be a great way of recognising the weaknesses in your own.
Offline electronic forms are a useful part of many IT solutions. The XForms standard meets requirements that many commercial products do not meet.
If you develop or manage web sites or IT systems, you need to know about XForms.

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