About Barry Cousins

Barry Cousins is a Senior Consulting Analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, specializing in Project Portfolio Management, Help/Service Desk, and Telephony/Unified Communications. He brings an extensive background in technology, IT management, and business leadership.
Barry Cousins
Barry Cousins
Senior Consulting Analyst
Info-Tech Research Group

Many IT projects fail because planning fixates on technology and underestimates the importance of organizational change.Human behavior tends to be a planning blind spot, especially for IT professionals with technology backgrounds. People don’t follow rules and instructions in the same prescribed and predictable way that technology does.  To ensure project success and maximize benefits, you need to set aside time to plan and facilitate the “soft” side of organizational change.

Please join me on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm EDT  for a Webinar on, “Change Management: Do You Have a Blind Spot?”

Register Here For This Webinar

In this Webinar we will discuss the challenges you are facing and possible solutions including:

  • How can you prevent users from refusing or failing to adopt new systems and policies?
  • What can be done to counteract the costs due to post-implementation helpdesk volume, retraining, ongoing design or functionality and change requests (or worse, full roll-back)?
  • How can you ensure IT’s ability to successfully manage change and avoid the erosion of IT’s ability to work with the business

We will hear from guest panelists who have experience in this space. Attendees will weigh-in on several key polls and will be able to pose questions to the group.

Info-Tech Research Group webinars occur during the early weeks of our research projects. We want to work closely with our members and potential members as we build out our research to ensure we are thoroughly meeting your needs.

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Barry Cousins
Senior Consulting Analyst
Info-Tech Research Group

After 15 years of availability of commercial Project Portfolio Management tools the number one tool for PPM remains Excel spreadsheets. But in avoiding the high cost and low adoption of commercial PPM tools, PMO Directors and CIOs also need to deal with common pitfalls of homegrown solutions.

Addressing these challanges to  develop an affordable, adoptable, and effective PPM solution using widely available tools is the subject of an upcoming Info-Tech research project: Grow Your Own PPM Solution. As part of this project you are invited to participate in a one hour Discovery Video Conference on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 1pm EST.

Register for this Discovery Video Conference.

Please join me as we discuss:

  • Challenges maintaining the backlog of requested and/or approved projects
  • Difficulties reporting on the progress of in-flight projects
  • How to ensure projects receive management oversight and support

By participating in this event you will:

  • Hear from guest panelists who have extensive experience in this IT space,
  • Help shape the direction of our research,
  • Through polls and questions, share your insights and challenges with your peers, and
  • Connect and learn from our analysts

Info-Tech Research Group is launching a series of Discovery Video Conferences which occur during the early weeks of our research projects. We want to work closely with our members and potential members as we build out our research to ensure we are thoroughly meeting your needs.

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System Center 2012 is Microsoft’s unified systems management platform, intended for hybrid IT environments, in terms of its ability to manage private and public clouds, and physical and virtual servers, as well as in terms of its ability to manage Microsoft and third party products. Its level of success in performing the latter claim is debatable and, I would postulate, not fully realized in this release of System Center.

For large organizations with Microsoft environments, System Center 2012 can be a solid investment, in terms of its ability to provide centralized and automated management. It bundles together a number of components that were previously sold separately, which both simplifies the licensing, but also makes it more expensive.

A core component to the upgrade is System Center’s Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). This component is really the driving force of Microsoft’s strategic vision for System Center as it claims the ability to manage Virtual Machines (VMs) on VMware and Citrix hypervisors, as well as Hyper-V VMs within a single console. However, functionality for the management of these third party server virtualization solutions is basic. If the majority of your virtual infrastructure depends on VMware or Citrix, you will certainly still want to use vSphere or XenServer for managing your VMs.

VMM can now also be used to manage VMs deployed in Azure public cloud, and SP1 (expected to be released soon) includes a new Service Provider Framework API, providing the ability to manage other third party public cloud providers.

A strong benefit in VMM for business users is its Service Template Design and System Center’s App Controller component. These functionalities enable the bundling of VMs that work together to deliver a service into Service Templates that can then be deployed on demand by delegated end users. This ability for self-service of applications is an exciting new feature in its ability to minimize the loss of communication between the business and IT by enabling business users to have the ability to interact with the resources they require and have a level of self-service.

Deployment of System Center is quite complex. Before investing in System Center 2012, consider your environments needs and weight the associated costs of System Center licensing and the infrastructure that is necessary to implement it against the value you will receive out of deploying it.

For more information, see Decide if Microsoft System Center 2012 is Right for the Enterprise.

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For years, Microsoft Excel has been the center of the universe for end-user reporting and analytics. Even when the organization has a BI solution from another top-tier vendor, many users simply want to get the data into Excel so they can make sense of it.

In the face of concerns about data sprawl and analytics validity, Microsoft has been channeling their customers towards SharePoint as the core component of Business Intelligence. The data may come from SQL Server and the solution may be developed with Excel, but users should consume it through Internet Explorer and SharePoint.

This model makes a great deal of sense, with the data source abstracted via SharePoint. Adoption of this concept should reduce the amount of duplicated, corrupted, and aged data being used.

The web browser allows Excel Services to abstract the solution from Excel. As a result, we should see less corruption of formulae and more consistency in calculations.

These moves are significant wins for audit and corporate governance, who have rarely ventured into the business unit to validate the assumptions that come from Excel-based analytics. The latest Microsoft Business Intelligence offerings drive visibility. End users doing self-serve analytics can have the same accountability as the official output from IT specialists.

However, the SharePoint-centric model is not being rapidly adopted. Consider the possibility that Excel may not be the core issue. Are users clinging to Excel, or are they enjoying the lack of visibility in an Excel-centric universe?

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Selecting the right investments is important for any organization. Enterprise PPM solutions are now ramping-up their feature sets to further assist with strategic decision-making, helping enterprises select and work on the best project available or even halt work on projects that are no longer worth the time, effort, or money that is being spent on them.

GenSight, an emerging player is the Enterprise PPM Vendor Landscape, provides a solution that contains robust visualizations and automations for decision-making. It is able to visualize multivariate data, with the inclusion of seven different variables in a single, automated visualization. This enables organizations to measure and compare their potential, or on-going, investments on a number of different aspects simultaneously and from different viewpoints. It is an effective solution, if your organization has so much competition for human and financial resources that you need up to seven axes of comparison. Realistically, it is a feature best suited for very large organizations.

Planview, another Enterprise PPM solution with a strong focus on analytics, also offers tools to assist decision-making by making use of strategic techniques, including M.O.S.T., a technique that breaks down goals into missions, objectives, strategies, and tactics. Included in Planview’s solution is a Strategic Investment Priority Matrix, which allows organizations to determine which projects best support their business objectives and are high-value initiatives that should be invested in. As well, it assists in reducing extraneous spending by informing the organization of which project have low-value and can be eliminated.

The ability to make good decisions is crucial at any level in a business. When it comes to which projects to invest in, having tools that assist organizations in weighing their options and allow them to clearly see which projects are overall better and which one don’t align with the organization’s mission or have a poor return on investment can provide the organization with a significant advantage. Ultimately, the decisions that an organization makes can mean the difference between success and failure – important in a time of economic instability.

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