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Return to PRINCE2 – better than I remembered too

About 4 years ago I qualified as a PRINCE2 Practitioner. Returning to work the following week I was fired up and ready to get everything running in this way. And yet, some how, it never quite works like that. The projects we worked on were too small in terms of several work packages across numerous customers in a semi-agile environment. Yes PRINCE2 can be used with Agile, and in theory no project is too small, but realistically there’s too much supporting documentation and processes to keep on top of it all, especially is being a PM isn’t everything you have to doing during the day.

Nonetheless, I still cherry picked items like incident logging, daily logs etc… The key however is the Business Case, but again, when commissioned to do a piece of work for a customer the business case is their document – us accepting to do the work is more to do with service management than project management.

What interested my most was the alignment and crossover of business analysis and PRINCE2, or rather, the activities of the BA and the PM – seemingly often the same person in smaller organisations or projects. The Business Case again featuring highly for both roles. For interest I looked around for articles/papers that discuss PRINCE2 and the BA:

http://www.somos.com/resources/know/articles/11112101 (BA and PRINCE2)

And for completeness
http://eprince2.com/articles/prince2-is-agile/2011/03/17/ (PRINCE2 and Agile)

http://businessanalystlearnings.com/blog/2013/4/21/traditional-to-agile-the-role-of-bas-in-agile-projects (BA and Agile)

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It’s all about the numbers.

Last week I was asked to gather some metrics about the development process – some numbers around timings, effort assessments, time to deploy, how many code review failures, how many test failures  and so on. Ok says I and start extracting data from Team Foundation Server. The problem is, well, which numbers? So this is the challenge is determining (a) what are the numbers that tell us the about the development process and (b) are we able to extract this data from what we have?

The key point is being sure to generate metrics and KPIs on what is relevant to the critical success factors (CSFs) and not just pull out numbers based on what you can see on the spreadsheet of extracted data.

Data -> Information -> knowledge -> wisdom

So now I’m going through the books to get some guidance (Metrics for Service Management published by Van Haren is very good for this) and will make the questions first and then look for the answers.

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Old tricks for a new dog. Sort of.

I think this is something that happens to a number of people who do a similar job to me – i.e. you send your working years developing specifications, talking to customers, looking at internal processes for support, change requests, reporting, little bit of this, little bit of that. And whenever a new person starts in the team they go around the introductions: “I’m Dave, developer”, “I’m Jane, developer”, “I’m Gary, trainer”, then the inevitable “I’m Tim, er…[mumble][cough]..er…stuff…well I’m doing something all day, you know…”

So it came as a great relief when it turns out that what I do is IT Business Analysis. Seems this is something that happens to many BAs who find they’ve effectively been one for a long time but didn’t have a title for it. What’s interesting is that when you have a label for it it becomes easier to understand what you do, what it links into the other things you do; it tidies things up and gives you access to other people who have been aware of BA for a long time (LinkedIn groups is great for this). I got the book (Business Analysis, 2nd Ed, BCS) and sure enough, these indeed covered a much of my job description (though the book nicely formalises it and has much more that I have to learn from – and I should do the exam too).

Of course there’s a heck of a lot more to being a BA, and the thing you really need to grips with (and that’s next on the reading list, or at least get familiar with list) is BABOK 2 (Business Analysis Body Of Knowledge version 2).

Anyway, so finally I have crystallised my job title to “Business Analyst / Communication Consultant” – I dropped “IT” at the beginning for brevity, but added Communications Consultant at the end for levity [are you sure that’s the right word? Ed] to cover all the comms work I’m doing, particularly with social media development (Twitter chats, Google+, YouTube channel, help desk self service). It’s quite refreshing when you can find you can tell people what you do with surety and conviction.

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Twitter API stumbling blocks

Xeream is done, mostly. And live at http://xeream.404i.com and works fine but for the Twitter OAuth sign in has suddently started to fail (and causing the log in page to bomb). I also seem to be unable to get the Twitter API to work for posting tweets (to signed in user’s feed). Once these are done then that’s virtually it.

Then we can move onto persuading people to use it. I have at least 2 specific tweet chats I would like to run so I need to get this rolling. Getting some help with this is my next step: I’ve stared at stackoverflow pages long enough and want to get things moving.

Nearly there.

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Getting tricky now, but if it works….!

I’ve been tweaking and fiddling with Xeream (still on my local environment) and thought I should at least have a go at plugging in the Twitter API to allow users to post tweets from the, and to list a search of the appropriate hash tag. So I installed TweetSharp into the project (which appears to be updated for Twitter’s 1.1 API). So it sort of works, but doesn’t (gave a stack overflow error). I’m thinking this may be an authentication issue as the API call is coming from a http://localhost/ address but the application is set up to call from 404i.com (which it will do eventually).

With that in mind then I thinking, time to move to host that has 4.5 framework – and I think I’ll do it in the next few days (get Xmas out of the way first). Most likely going to go with HostForLIFE.eu – the reviews look good and is at the right budget.

Meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Xeream done: all wrapped up and no place to go

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks and on my laptop I’ve developed the tweet chat/discussion web site Xeream. Lots of Bootstrap and jQuery and a little code in the background and it’s all ready. I was all set to get it live  on 404i.com when I stumbled into a small problem – my hosting account is .Net 4.0 framework but Xeream requires 4.5. Oh dear. I may have to wait until January to get a new host, or alternatively I can persuade my work to put this onto one of our cloud servers.

In the meantime, here’s a Prezi thrown together as a “How to guide” as a preview.

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