Tips & Tricks

What is Old is New Again in Consumer Industries

The trend for companies in the Consumer Industries is to get more personalized using modern technology—to get a holistic view of the customer and offer unique recommendations that fit their needs. This is actually getting back to an older way of serving the customer face-to-face, says Steve Okun, Director at /N SPRO, who spoke on a Consumer Industries panel for SAP Game Changers radio recently.  

By | 2019-01-11T14:00:27-04:00 January 11th, 2019|Categories: Blog, Consumer Industries, Market Trends, Retail, Tips & Tricks|0 Comments

What Teams Struggle With Most When Doing Agile/Scrum for the First Time

There are numerous approaches to software development that have been used over the years. Traditionally, there has been a division into two competing methodologies, Waterfall vs. Agile.

The Waterfall methodology is largely a sequential method to developing software, where requirements are documented first, followed by the development, testing, and go-live phases of the project. Typically, end-users are the last ones to try out the software, and oftentimes there is a gap between what was delivered and what the user expected to receive. Discovering these gaps late in the process is a risk to project timelines.

The Agile methodology utilizes an iterative approach to software development, delivering smaller features and functions to the end-users on a more frequent basis. This allows for more frequent trials of the software and feedback to the development team, allowing the developers to more quickly address any issues or gaps in functionality.

Scrum is one of several variants of Agile, and is a lightweight process framework used to manage complex product development. The Scrum framework consists of Scrum teams and their associated roles, events, artifacts, and rules. Scrum is simple to understand, but difficult to master.

It can be challenging for teams to start working in an Agile/Scrum approach if they are used to doing their software development projects in a Waterfall manner. Scrum teams are self-organizing and are largely self-managing, which can be a quantum leap for organizations that are used to more tightly managed projects and development teams. There is new terminology used to describe Scrum activities, and it takes time to get used to the language of Scrum and understand the overall process. During Sprint Planning, project work is organized into time-boxed Sprints, which are typically 2-4 weeks in duration. Development teams meet in a 15-minute Daily Scrum to update each other on what they accomplished yesterday, […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:30:36-04:00 September 13th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Retail, Tips & Tricks|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Rethinking Traditional Roles Can Boost Your Company’s Productivity

The Workplace Isn’t a Place Anymore

Where work is done is often irrelevant.  In our increasingly connected society, work can be performed almost anywhere.  While working closely with customers is always important and necessary, there are almost certainly activities in your organization that can be performed outside of an office setting.  The key is to outline your company’s overall operational structure and strategic objectives, and then get creative about how you define and fill the supporting roles.  If juggling multiple RFPs, perhaps you can utilize remote talent to assist with proposal development.  And some of your business’s internal processes, such as financial planning, resource forecasting, talent management, or operational support, may be done in large part using collaboration tools with only occasional (if ever!) face-to-face meetings.  Though some activities, such as client/prospect meetings, nearly always require a physical meeting place, similarly a software design and development team may work best when co-located.

Harness Talent Seeking an Alternative Arrangement

Many people choose to leave the workforce due to shifting priorities, particularly after major life events.  Some of these individuals still yearn for an opportunity to contribute and grow professionally.  You hire smart, ambitious people, right?  ​Don’t let traditional assumptions and expectations be the reason you lose or miss out on great talent.  Scaling back in some areas (days/hours per week, travel, etc.) does not mean someone is looking to sit back and coast.  Be flexible and continue to give your employees meaningful and challenging work assignments.  You’ll be happy to see that contributions will remain strong, which benefits your whole organization, and hopefully takes some things off your plate as well.

Working Remotely – Tips for Success

When working remotely, discipline is key.  And paramount.  And without it, failure is ensured.

Yet we’ve all fallen down the rabbit hole of distractions.  […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:32:26-04:00 September 6th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Retail, Tips & Tricks|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Getting the Client to Like (and Value) You

No one likes to be thought of in a negative fashion.  This is especially true in the world of IT consulting.  I like to think that most consultants care what others think of them and how they bring value to the work environment.  From a client’s point of view, perception of the consultant is essential in successful relationships – yes, perception is reality.  Having the skills that meet the demand of clients does not necessarily mean that the client values your relationship, nor does it mean that the client enjoys doing business with you.  The bottom line is if the client does not like you it will overshadow everything else and there is a good chance you will be replaced by someone more likeable who can get the job done.  Consultants must collaboratively engage with others to get things done.  Most often, this will require engaging with client’s staff to understand business requirements, developing new solutions, or even understanding desired outcomes of your consulting engagement.  No matter what the consultant’s task, it is very important to find avenues that help position themselves in good standing with the client.  Getting the client to like you should be thought of as a small goal that brings huge benefits for you and your client.  By implementing a few behaviors consultants can find ways to engage their client and begin the process of getting the client to like you.

Know the Client’s Culture

One of the main keys in getting the client to like you is knowing their culture.  Culture is a fundamental element that will set the tone for the entire engagement.  Understanding what makes the client “tick” will go a long way to a successful relationship.  Nothing will anger or cause resentment from the client quicker than if the consultant fails to […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:32:27-04:00 August 31st, 2017|Categories: Blog, Retail, Tips & Tricks|Tags: , , |0 Comments

What Does Accountability Mean?

Many times, projects fail due to passing blame.  “She owns that, not me.”  “I can’t do my job because he isn’t doing his.”  What does this really solve?  You guessed it – NOTHING.  In this blog, the traditional definition of accountability will be challenged and I will outline a few tips on how to drive accountability within your team and organization.

The Gap Between Words and Action

Think about what accountability means to you.  Some common definitions include words such as “obligation”, “responsibility”, and “ownership”.  Too often, many align accountability with darker connotations such as “blame”, “liability”, and “punishment”.  It is time to think about accountability differently.  Consider this definition: “A mentality to demonstrate the ownership necessary to achieve defined result criteria.”

Now, let’s push it a little further.  To achieve success, your ownership will require expansion outside of your designated role.  For leaders, portions are easier to understand:  you are responsible for the actions of your team.  However, this idea should expand to our peer relationships.  If you recognize that a peer is failing and it is going to impact results negatively then you are accountable to do something.  That specific “something” depends on the situation and your skillset.

How does this apply to a project setting?  In my past, I was on a project in which the stream (let’s call it Stream A) I was leading had adjacencies to another stream (Stream B) that was being led by a peer.  The leader of Stream B was competent at his business role but had never led an implementation before.  Additionally, he lost a key resource from his team that was supporting the project work.  I had two choices:  sit back and watch OR act.  I am very aware that it would have been easier for me (and my team) to sit […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:32:27-04:00 July 26th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Retail Technology, Tips & Tricks|Tags: , , |0 Comments