Monday, August 17, 2009

Resources

Often I find myself struggling with "where to start" issues. The simple answer is:

1- my own experiences
2- JFGI
3- groups and forums

The problem is that my experiences are extreemly difficult to sort out as I am becoming older and am collecting more experiences. JFGI will only take me so far, eventually I need to apply a real answer and there is rarely a "perfect fit". and finally by the time I am looking through forums, I am just about at the end of my rope.

So, where can I go from here? I find that networking with "real-people" is probably my best next place to build on. The problem is that this industry seems to be non-people related, in other words people who tend to go into IT are not very people-oriented. With the industry becoming seasoned and older, and the down-turn in overall markets one would think this will be something soon to be overcome.

Lets see...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Automating; the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

So, when it comes to building a reporting solution why is it that users just want to "Automate" their already overly complex and convoluted Excel or Power Points? Almost every engagement requiring a "Report" seems to start out the same way. There are two primary trains of thought, the first is to "Get Everything" and the second is to "Automate Everything".

Business Analyst say they want "everything" when they don't know exactly what a "Reporting Application" is or they don't know exactly what they want in a Report or Report Application. It's kind of like the General Contractor, who'll tell you he does "anything" when you contact him/her to build you a Deck or replace your Roof. Anytime I see ambiguity at this level, I question the understanding level of the individual making the claim or request.

There are two tactics I find very helpful when faced with a request that seems to be less than well thought out. First I really listen, what i mean is that with active listening I can get down to the core of the request. The Business Analysts / Requester will sometimes begin to realize the request is not so well thought out and revise it in their own minds. Secondly I break the request into smaller parts. By doing this I can sometimes build a flexible modular solution the client can re-use in other projects or independently.

The phrase "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" is worth stating at least once or twice in the course of fulfilling many requests.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Down time?

So, it's Saturday... Why am I still thinking about work?

Disconnecting is probably the second biggest challenge behind Keeping Up. If I'm working on one, I am not working on the other. In effect, disconnecting is one of the attributes of "Keeping Up". Just like sleep rejuvinates the mind from a day of stimulation, disconnecting gives you time to rejuvinate your professional mind. Remember the addage "... All work and no play..."

So disconnect today, it'll help you keep up in the long run.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Keeping Up!

So, one of the many challenges in this thing called consulting is "Keeping Up". Or at least this is the case from my point of view.

"Keeping Up" encompasses so many different aspects; Keeping up with new trends, Keeping up with best practices, Keeping up with schedules, Keeping up with clients, generally keeping UP when everything is working to keep you down.

It has been my experience that it is best in all of these cases to keep up by slowing down. This might seem a bit counter intuitive, but it can work. By slowing down I don't mean to become complacent and lazy, I mean to achieve heightened awareness through clearing and centralizing.

Clear the clutter, and you'll be able to find things with greater efficiency. Having a clear spot or two on your calendar will open the door to introspection and recovery. Clear your mind of the excessive "noise" so the important things can be heard and seen. ...You get the idea, in other words Relax and Receive.

When clear, and maybe in the process of clearing you will have the chance to find center again. The center of what? The center of it all? Well, not really. The way I see "Centering" is finding the balance, or core, or a combination of both. On a personal level the centering might be precipitated by meditation. On a work or problem solving mission, it might mean to walk away or around the subject. Looking at things from many angles helps you find the center.

In either case, personal or business, take the time... being Clear, Centered, and Confident are a way to Keep Up. A Class or two wouldn't hurt either... Just do the other three C's first.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A new day

I've arrived at the end of a new day, and yet again there was just not enough time to do it all. As usual, more demands, less time. Clients pushing dates back as a result of not knowing what a "Report" is not to mention a "Report Requirement". Other clients, coming to the conclusion that they actually do need some guidance. Pushed and Pulled in multiple directions seems to be the way... Feast and Famine, when it rains it pours, etc... you name it.

But, I don't think I could have it any other way. Where else can you work on some custom servelets one day, ORACLE the next, MS SQL Server Stored Procedures after that, then an IBM WebSphere installation for some custom web apps and SSO? I think I'd be bored anywhere else.

So, with all of my extra time, here to the new blog