Industry Insights from Our Experts

Category Archives: Uncategorized

50% Development = 100% Project Success?

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Unlike the construction industry (which hails from engineering lineage), software development is a craft that hails from mathematics. Profession hard-industry benchmarks like estimating tables, universal best practices, common lexicons of customer and vendor language are only now becoming standards in software development.

Take the phased estimating of a software project, for example. While a civil engineer might use industry standards like “20% cost for feasibility and design, 60% cost for procurement and construction”, the software world has no heuristics like this.

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The Ultimate Project- My Wedding

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Filed under Growth & Development, Popular, Productivity, Uncategorized

A couple weeks ago, I took the big plunge and married my partner of 4.5 years. When we got engaged last year, as excited as I was, the business analyst within knew the amount of work that was now ahead of us- but mainly, ahead of me (let’s be real, most grooms just show up to the party). Shortly after our engagement, being the diligent business analyst that I am, and to my then-fiancé’s utter dismay, I shifted to project mode. Planning a wedding is no different than planning an intranet redesign or building a new timesheet application system. The same fundamentals apply:

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You Have a Plan, Right?

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How essential is planning in the whole scheme of things? Ask a jet fighter pilot. Last Friday, Brittney from Capital Ideas, along with Andrew and I got to board a plane to Cold Lake where we spent the day taking in Exercise Maple Flag.

What’s that? Exercise Maple Flag is “one of the largest and most advanced air combat exercises in the world” inviting and bringing in advanced military air personnel from all over to fly their aircrafts in simulated war situations. My bucket list got a little bit shorter that day.

It was a full day event packed with lots of tours of the military base, demos, take offs and presentations. Watching fighter jets take off from 200 feet definitely beat my typical day in the office. (The best?) Part of the experience was getting to talk to future, current, and retired fighter jet pilots. They were not only instrumental in helping us understand what life as a pilot was like, but also had the most intriguing stories and random facts. Did you know fighter pilots can be in the air for up to 14 hours straight (without bathroom breaks), or that that they always fly in groups of 2 or more (too risky to fly solo). Both completely random and useless facts that I will probably never use, and now never forget. You probably won’t either. You’re welcome.

One concept that was revisited throughout the day was the importance of getting things right on the first try – rarely is there a second chance when in flight. Being in control of a powerful machine at such a high altitude, meant making split second decisions that could equate to life or death. Think about that next time you are stressing out at work about what font or colours to use in your next PowerPoint presentation. These guys not only had to be smart, but they had to be prepared for anything that could hit them.

So what was the secret to staying alive? How does one confidently go into battle? They planned – and they planned A LOT. Throughout the day we saw countless examples of how every possible situation was accounted for in training. Thunderstorm suddenly pop out of nowhere? Covered. Engine failure? They’re laughing. They had to be able to deal with every situation in the worst case scenario – that could mean upside down, in the dark, with little to no sleep because there is no real way for to predict what could hit them. Planning was also a big part of their military strategy. Before any planes took flight, ‘teams’ were briefed on who would sent in as ‘bait’ to find enemy jets, who would be on the offense and who would be on the defence. Nothing was ever left to chance, and all instructions were followed without exception. Any deviation from the plan could mean risk, and risk could mean failure. No thank you.

The importance of planning in the military is a concept that has been around for a while. Don’t believe me? Open “The Art of War”, by Sun Tzu and take a look at its first chapter – “Detail Assessment and Planning”. I think he was on to something. So where else is planning essential to success?

We at Quercus aren’t shy when we talk about planning. We believe that it’s essential to ensuring any IT engagement is successful.  You could call it ‘The Art of Planning’, but we decided to call it PreQuel. We developed PreQuel because we believe our customers have the right to strategize and create a plan before making a major commitment. No one wants to be midflight before they find out their target is flying in the opposite direction. Likewise, you probably don’t want to be half way through your IT project before you find out your solution didn’t quite get to the core of your business problem.  With PreQuel, we’ll meet with your key stakeholders, get to the root of the problem and provide you an analysis with our recommended approach.  We’ll leave you with a strategic road map and the peace of mind knowing that we have looked at your problem from every possible angle and provided the most effective and efficient solution. We’ll start you on your path to success.

Don’t let improper project planning be the reason your project fails. For more information on how PreQuel can help jump start your next IT project, click here.

To learn more about Exercise Maple Flag, click here.

Are you getting what I’m putting down??

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It has been several years since my University days, but I think back to my intro Organizational Management course and vividly remember a topic we covered on effectively communicating in the workplace. I remember scoffing at the idea of talking about such a common sense topic. People should just know how to communicate effectively with others. Communication is so basic and such a huge part of our lives as human beings. We spend so much time communicating with one another through various mediums yet there are people out there that aren’t great at communicating effectively. And when I say effectively, I mean getting your intended meaning across to another human being. Should be super easy, right?? WRONG.

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What are Business Analysts? Superheroes, I say!

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I wish I had a nickel for every time someone asked me “what exactly does a business analyst do?” because then I would be filthy rich and I could spend my days devoting my life’s work to spreading the word about what we actually do. I would be a faithful missionary traveling the lands and spreading the good word, converting the misinformed, teaching my disciples, and saving IT projects one step at a time!

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What the Zombie Apocalypse Really Looks Like

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Filed under Corporate Culture, Popular, Uncategorized

‘Seinfeld’ Is the Most Popular English Password?

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This is fascinating. The most common passwords in North America are:

  • seinfeld
  • password
  • 123456
  • princess
  • peanut
  • shadow
  • ginger
  • michael
  • sunshine
  • tigger
  • bailey

This is according to I.T. expert, Troy Hunt, who analyzed the hacker results of the recent Sony Pictures and Sony Playstation network attacks. Troy’s results are very interesting as he lifts the hood on what people use for passwords. Read more about Troy’s analysis here…

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Canada lost a great leader this week.

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Going beyond our information technology world for a few minutes: our country lost a great Canadian this week. As a patriot with no taste for politics, I am compelled to repost this letter by Jack Layton. This missive was penned in his final days of his fight against cancer, and I challenge you to read this with dry eyes. Mr. Layton’s goodbye message transcends politics, and is a powerful reminder of our identity as Canadians.

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