Author Archives: savanaradley

Going global – things to think about

I finished work on another project recently that allowed me to consolidate some ideas on how to make implementing software outside your home country more successful.

Obviously planning is key, but often the plan doesn’t follow activities right through until the final outcome. I came across several instances where a planning decision had been made before people had thought through the full impact of that decision, resulting in confusion, loss of time and wasted effort. Of course you can never know *everything* about possible impact, but you can certainly get some of the bigger things right.

In my experience, these things are:

Localization – will the product be localized for each market? If so, how will training be conducted? How will support be handled on an ongoing basis? How will ongoing changes to the product be handled? If you’re not going to localize at all, think through the impact of asking everyone to use your native language.

Security and Application Management – can people access the product within their current IT structure and who will be managing access? If it’s IT, do they have the desire and resources to do so? If it’s the business side, same question. If you’ve never implemented a product of this type across different markets before, you’ll need to do a lot of testing. This means engagement with local IT teams who may not have your project even on their radar, let alone have resources assigned to support you.

Data Security and Granularity – where will data be stored (as in general, data storage in the US is not sufficiently secure for Europe)? Does the data need to be encrypted at rest?

What granularity of data will be required for reporting at the most senior level, and at what point will data differences not matter to the higher level reports?

People in constituent markets need detail, and that detail can differ from country to country. What you need is to understand how data in one country stacks up against data in another, and then tune your high-level reporting accordingly. Many companies implement a global software solution to drive standardization across process, products and pricing, but in some environments that simply isn’t possible. You have to decide where the “break-point” is for reporting and then work to that point in every market.

Communications Alignment – this is a fairy standard principle, but I’ve seen many instances where broad, high level goals had been communicated in a pretty generic way but not broken down into specific messages. It made things difficult for us, as not only did people not know what we supposed to be doing, they didn’t understand how they needed to participate or contribute.

So, not too many things to think about really, but time spent working through each of these areas will pay dividends, I promise you! I’m happy to answer questions on this topic if you have them,

Can *anyone* really have it all? And what is “all” anyway?

A friend of mine – with her own business and two children – pointed me to this article today http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/why-pepsico-ceo-indra-k-nooyi-cant-have-it-all/373750/

It’s great to see a point of view from someone who can give an informed opinion, but maybe we should quantify what “all” is. Can a person – male or female – have a career and a family? I think generally the answer is yes. Can this person give as much attention as they would like to every aspect of this “all”? Can they be the perfect parent, succeed to the highest levels of their career, look after their own parents plus ensure they too are supporting themselves with the best diet, exercise, emotional support etc.? No, I don’t think it’s possible.

You make decisions on a day-by-day basis and you do the best you can. Everyone makes sacrifices and everyone sometimes has things they feel guilty about. Maybe if you decide what your personal “all” is, that will help with both the decisions and the guilt.

Let’s think about something cool

One of the challenging things about travelling all of the time is that it can be hard to find time to learn about the cool things people are doing in your space.

Thankfully, now that I’m at home more I have time for actual thinking, so last Friday I went to a great event that was a little bit of a pulse-check on the state of big data and analytics. There were presentations from Hitachi Solutions and from MIcrosoft – who should be congratulated for finally recognizing and embracing Excel as the day-to-day BI tool for some – amongst others, and various interesting use cases to review and discuss.

Every day I see that the majority of business, especially enterprise business, is still stuck just trying to find their data and make it reliable and useful. It’s events like these keeps your imagination going, thinking about the different kinds of long-term benefits timely, reliable data can bring – very helpful while you’re slogging through the drudgery of data cleanup!

Thanks Hitachi Solutions Canada (@HitachiSoCa) for setting it up!

Try, try again

I’m in the process of leaving a project this week and my successor has been coming up with suggestions on how to improve as the team goes forwards. It’s tempting sometimes to say, “I tried that already and it didn’t work,” but I stop myself if I can.

I have to remind myself that the fact that I tried something and it wasn’t successful is not an indicator of potential failure if someone else tries something similar. The project has continued to develop, the participants have changed, maybe the approach is slightly different – who knows? Maybe this time the outcome will be better.

This is not to say we should mindlessly repeat ourselves, expecting a different result every time, but we can sometimes be tempted to squash other people’s ideas on the basis of our own experience.

Let’s not do that.

You just don’t know what the future will hold for any attempt at a leap forwards. It’s better for everyone to stay positive on possible outcomes and avoid letting our own experiences jeopardize someone else’s opportunity for success.

Great coaches

I’m always interested in working with great coaches and am lucky to have found a few along the way. How do I recognize them? How do you know if you’ve found one?

Great coaches know that most people can’t take in a long checklist of improvements. When someone gives me too much to think about, I spend all my time checking each move and I lose the flow of what I’m doing.

Great coaches focus on one area of performance at a time. They give you one or two things to think about or correct, and what they give you often has an impact far beyond the immediate.

I practiced karate for years and noticed time and again how a good instructor would get a student to make a small adjustment that made a big difference. They’d ask a student to adjust their hip position slightly and that would affect their foot position, their leg, shoulder, their arm – you’d see a person’s whole body change as a result of one small shift.

Look for people who give simple instructions that have great effect, and maybe you’ll have found a great coach. Think about the same approach for yourself – the world can always use more!