Steps to take before your next technology investment that is meant to streamline process and improve productivity

Before making a technology investment meant to improve productivity, it’s important to take a moment to think through and fully plan for a few things.

  • The people benefiting from the solution should be involved in the evaluation.
  • Focus on the specific needs of your group, and don’t be guided by the needs that the solution states it solves. This helps you make long-term investments and not keep hoping for a solution that is going to cure all that supposedly ails your organization.
  • Understand your work-flow to determine how the solution fits.
  • Study why the current solution is not working, and ask why it doesn’t meet your group’s needs. Core needs generally don’t change.
  • Ask why the decision was made to purchase the current solution and what changes have occurred in the organization that prevents it from meeting expectations. This helps ensure you are not in the market again in a couple of years deploying another solution. It also brings to light whether it was just an improper use and the inability to get people to adopt or maximize the solution. In which case, buying another solution might not solve the root issue.
  • Have realistic measures of what the new solution is meant to improve. Go beyond your current situation in order to avoid making decisions based on market fads.
  • Track and analyze how personnel are using the solution, as some investments require a change in approach and mindset by the IT personnel to maximize the benefit.

Training personnel

When it comes to training, it’s important to go beyond the vendor, who will come and train with preset training material. The perspective the vendor provides is that of the product and generalized assumptions of how it improves the organization. Include someone who is inquisitive and/or works in the area the investment is being made to work in collaboration with the vendor to create the training material. Together, you can accomplish the following:

  • Engage people to think about the solution in the context of their own unique situation.
  • Make it easier to transition the solution into the organization’s existing work-flow.
  • Consider how to optimally work with the technology and do it in a way that improves the way business is done.
  • Help people make the connection between the technology and their unique IT organization with its products, systems and process.

What missteps have you seen in your organization when it relates to productivity improvement investments?

Getting To Know Past Support Cases

Negative feelings associated with customer support cases often cause us to have an attitude of close and forget. However one of the best ways to understand an application is to go through past trouble tickets. This is not about generating a report of the number of tickets your group has received; all that conveys is that there were issues. It is easy to lose track of past issues and the changes we had been meaning to implement when we’re mired down in day-to-day responsibilities. So, going through past support cases is about creating a narrative about your application as a reminder of what’s going on.

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Third-party library and software update tracking – Java Stack

Bimontly posts to keep you on top of release updates from third party libraries and software used in products built on the java technology stack. Some of the posts will take a library or software with a major release and delve into the interesting and major changes.

Please post your interest in the discussion thread for third party software missing from the list or a release you want us to investigate.

 

Name Version Release Date Release note
WebSphere Application Server 8.5.5 14 June 2013 http://ibm.co/YFK0Wo
Jenkins 1.518 11 June 2013 http://bit.ly/f2SdKE
Spring Integration 2.2.4 11 June 2013 http://bit.ly/13TRNhd
Ehcache 2.7.1 7 June 2013 http://bit.ly/1bPpvau
BigMemory 4.0.1 7 June 2013 http://bit.ly/13P3RBI
Tomcat 7.0.41 6 June 2013 http://bit.ly/bD4sVX
Drools 6.0.0 Beta 4 June 2013 http://bit.ly/1aoi4ZT
Apache Struts 2.3.14.3 3 June 2013 http://bit.ly/14fhjOa
MySql Community Server 5.7 3 June 2013 http://bit.ly/11usLU0
Log4J 2.0 Beta7 1 June 2013 http://bit.ly/19fiD6M
Jersey(JAX-RS) 2.0 http://bit.ly/11vbOsv
C3P0 0.9.2.1 29 May 2013 http://bit.ly/11IrKGM
Hibernate 4.3.0 Beta 29 May 2013 http://bit.ly/19LcrpY
Selenium server 2.33.0 22 May 2013 http://bit.ly/Y1aGdh
Selenium client -java 2.33.0 22 May 2013 http://bit.ly/12SnJa9
RabbitMQ 3.1.1 21 May 2013 http://bit.ly/1a0KFBm
SonarQube Runner 2.2.1 21 May 2013 http://bit.ly/19fgAQ5
Apace CXF 2.7.5 15 May 2013 http://bit.ly/19MsBiS
Gson 2.2.4 13 May 2013 http://bit.ly/17V4y0h
Grails 2.3 9 May 2013 http://bit.ly/198RekT
Apache Solr 4.3.0 6 May 2013 http://bit.ly/16MXYbj
Apache Lucene 4.3.0 6 May 2013 http://bit.ly/13YyqUt
Spring Batch 2.2.0 6 May 2013 http://bit.ly/13oYZD3
Jackson 2.2.0 22 April 2013 http://bit.ly/14fYSJd
Camel 2.11.0 22 April 2013 http://bit.ly/15E7ehn
Icefaces 3.3.0 16 April 2013 http://bit.ly/11dVQVE
Junit 4 4.11 http://bit.ly/10j4LDL
Play Framework 2.1.1 3 April 2013 http://bit.ly/14Hx4zr
SonarQube 3.5.1 3 April 2013 http://bit.ly/19Mnj70
Apache ServiceMix 4.5.1 25 March 2013 http://bit.ly/13P5IGs
Hudson 3.0.1 22 March 2013 http://bit.ly/AnP1ML
MongoDB 2.4.4 19 March 2013 http://bit.ly/WeZfQ5
JodaTime 2.2 8 March 2013 http://bit.ly/14K8fzJ
Quartz Scheduler 2.1.7 8 March 2013 http://bit.ly/12GqutO
Restlet 2.1.2 28 February 2013 http://bit.ly/11HEkGm
Maven 3.0.5 23 February 2013 http://bit.ly/VDvHOf
Google Web Toolkit 2.5.0 14 February 2013 http://bit.ly/13PPzAy
Oracle Coherence 3.7.1 21 January 2013 http://bit.ly/13P5G1n

 

Preparing customer care to support a product on day one

One way to prepare customer-care advocates on a new product or new functionality to an existing product is to provide training that actually simulates as many expected conditions as possible, and have the customer-care team support it. Those static visio support model diagrams have always scared me, and limiting the preparation to simply reading through the flow or getting an overview of the product is generally not sufficient.

Most organizations already perform the steps of mapping out the support paths; we just need to move past documenting these cases to actually exercising them. The last person we should want to practice on is our first customer who experiences a particular issue.

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