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Bridging the Gap Between Functional and Technical Perspectives to Enhance Systems Success Thursday, November 6 11:45 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. EDUCAUSE 2003 –

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Presentation on theme: "Bridging the Gap Between Functional and Technical Perspectives to Enhance Systems Success Thursday, November 6 11:45 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. EDUCAUSE 2003 –"— Presentation transcript:

1 Bridging the Gap Between Functional and Technical Perspectives to Enhance Systems Success Thursday, November 6 11:45 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. EDUCAUSE 2003 – Anaheim, CA

2 2 Judy House Manager, Student Systems Group Georgetown University Marilyn Kraus President Software Armada, Inc.

3 3  Georgetown University and Software Armada, Inc., 2003 This work is the intellectual property of the authors. Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the authors. To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the authors.

4 4 Synopsis of Presentation Every project requires both technical and functional resources. Because the perspectives of these two groups are so diverse, there is a critical need for a person who can move easily between these two worlds and keep them moving in unison – a “bridge”. We will address what makes a good bridge person, and how to find one, empowering a bridge person, and maximizing their effectiveness to promote systems project success.

5 5 Georgetown University  Nation’s Oldest Jesuit and Catholic University  Founded in 1789 by John Carroll Uniquely pluralistic since our foundation  National and International University Students attending from all fifty states and over 110 countries throughout the world

6 6 Georgetown University  Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional Education  Enrollment: Undergraduate: 6,442 Graduate: 3,487 Professional: 2,779 Total: 12,688  Faculty: 1,412

7 7  Founded in 1998 in Fairfax, Virginia  Committed to Providing Premium PeopleSoft Student Administration Services  Comprehensive Understanding of Higher Education Industry  Senior Managerial, Functional, and Technical Expertise  Women-Owned and Operated Software Armada

8 8 What’s the Problem?  Of 8,000+ IT Projects: 1 Mann, p % Successful 53% Challenged 31% Impaired

9 9  3 out 0f 10 IT projects fail  Less than 40% of IT managers say their staffs can react rapidly

10 10 Implementation Obstacles  In a Recent ECAR Study, Higher Education Institutions Identified the Following Obstacles to Successful Implementations: Resistance to change Data issues Customization Lack of internal expertise Lack of understanding of software capabilities Alignment between software and business practices Conflicts with other priorities Quality of software 1 King, p. 5

11 11 Implementation Obstacles  Most Obstacles are Internal Many of the internal issues relate to lack of communication or insufficient understanding on the part of one or more key constituencies 44% of CFO’s cite weak alignment between IT and business strategies 4% say there’s no alignment between these groups at all 1 Hoffman, p. 1

12 12 The Issue Traditional Project Team Structures and Approaches do Not Close these Gaps Any Solution Must Have Buy- in from all Stakeholders How to resolve these different perspectives into a common approach shared by all stakeholders?  Failure to Understand and Address Internal Obstacles Jeopardizes Your Project

13 13 The Stakeholders  Executives  Management  Functional  End-Users  Technical  Security

14 14 Executive Strengths  Managing the Broader Concerns of Whole Institution External constituents Internal constituents Organizational priorities

15 15 Management Strengths  Managing the Internal Community Providing resources Providing support Providing funding Minimizing obstacles Establishing realistic timeframe Managing conflicting organization priorities

16 16 Functional Strengths  Understanding How the Institution Operates Understanding what all the players want and what they need (clarification) Understanding the job that must be done Understanding the internal and external constraints on people doing the job

17 17 User Strengths  Getting the Job Done to Serve the Needs of the Institution: Assessing applicants to the university Helping students with Financial Aid processes Advising students Issuing checks

18 18 Technical Strengths  Building and Maintaining Effective Applications Writing robust and elegant code Effective and flexible customization design Maintaining system stability Keeping current with hardware and software updates

19 19 Security Strengths  Ensuring that the System and its Information is Continually: Available Recoverable Protected

20 20 Stakeholders May not All Agree…  Perspective  Ownership  Culture  Foresight  Communication  Expectation  Credibility  Appreciation  Relationship  Priorities 2 Mann, pp

21 21 How to Manage All This?

22 22 What is a Bridge Person?  Someone Who… Understands and values the capabilities and perspectives of all stakeholders Works comfortably with functional, technical, management and executive constituencies Reconciles multiple perspectives to keep the project moving toward the shared goal May or may not be the project manager

23 23 Characteristics of Bridge Person …  Understands the Project or System Goals  Understands Requirements and Concerns of all Constituencies  Comfortable in Functional and Technical Worlds  Strong Interpersonal and Communication Skills

24 24 … Characteristics of Bridge Person  Strong Management and Problem-Solving Skills  Intuitive and Flexible  Decisive  “Meeting Endurance”  Relational Practice Skills

25 25 Relational Practice Skills  Share Information Across Organizational Boundaries  Foster Teamwork and Collaboration  Think Systemically “Doing whatever it takes to get the job done” 1 Fletcher, p. 1

26 26 Bridge Roles  Understand and Communicate Functional Considerations of Application  Understand and Communicate Technical Considerations of Project  Anticipate and Resolve Potential System and Process Obstacles

27 27 Functional Considerations  Build Relationships with Functional Players  Educate and Consult with Users on IT Management and Strategic Use  Explain Value of Technology to Functional Managers  Create Reusable Solutions and Disseminate Best Practices to Other Units  Set Stage for Appropriate Expansion of System Functionality after Implementation 3 Mann, p. 257

28 28 Technical Considerations  Ensure that IT is Aligned with Business and Assists in Process Reengineering 4 Mann, p. 257 Build Credibility of IT with End-users Improve Business Orientation of IT Staff Expand IT Skill Sets

29 29 Project Considerations…  Make Technical and Functional Staff Aware of Other’s Capabilities and Responsibilities  Translate User Needs into IT Products/Services  Act as User Liaison Beyond Analysis and Design  Get User Support for IT Initiatives and Vice Versa  Identify Opportunities for Education and Training

30 30 … Project Considerations  Evaluate Completed Projects  Address Dissonance Between IT and Users  Coordinate Multiple Projects  Incorporate All Considerations into Project Plan

31 31 Obstacles to Bridge Person’s Success  Organizational Structure  Threatening to Self-Interests  Bridge Position not Valued  Lack of Access  Culture of Autonomy  Relational Skills not Valued

32 32 Overcoming Bridge Obstacles Inflexible structures may impede but do not preclude project progress  Education  Executive Sponsorship  Grass Roots Support

33 33 Buy or Build?

34 34 Bridge Person Traits Embraces Technology with a Purpose (not just for technology’ s sake) Oriented toward Service and Real Function- ality Breadth of Experience

35 35 Skills to Look For  Process Analysis  Grasp of Technical Considerations  Ability to Assess Relevance and Significance of Information  Problem Solving  Communication  Mediation and Conflict Resolution  Planning

36 36 Who to Look For?  The IT Contact Person for the User Office  The Person Who has Held a Wider than Usual Range of Jobs in the Functional Areas  The Person Who is Regularly a Member of Cross-Area Committees  The Person with the Interesting Background  The Person Who Likes a Challenge

37 37 Technical or Functional?  Bridge Person Can be Either  Usually Comes from the Functional Side

38 38 What Does Bridge Need to Know?  Technical Knowledge Technical tools Technical roles involved in the project Technical best practices Technical approach -Isolation -Pattern identification -Structural approach How to communicate with technical staff IT technical standards and procedures

39 39 What Does Bridge Need to Know?  Functional Knowledge Knowledge of the goals and processes of each functional area Process analysis techniques Constraints on user offices Internal relationships and reporting structures Communication channels within the organization Impact of competing organizational priorities

40 40  System/Project Knowledge Scope of project and of software Technical architecture – high level “How the system thinks” How to objectively and intuitively assess functional requirements against delivered software capabilities -Planning -How to keep them flexible -How to keep project on track What Does Bridge Need to Know?

41 41 Translation Skills!  Ability to understand and restate requirements and expectations so as to be comprehensible to all parties Reduce surprises Increase consistency

42 42 Buttressing the Bridge Role

43 43 The Myth of Individuality  Myth: Individual achievement, autonomy and specialization foster organizational success  Reality: Individual achievement, autonomy and specialization foster dissent, dysfunction and failure 2 Fletcher, p. 2

44 44 What Really Works?  Growth, Achievement and Effectiveness Occur Best in Network of Connection and Support  Interdependence is a goal  Not only what one achieves oneself, but what one enables others to achieve, is important 3 Fletcher, p. 2

45 45 The Bridge and the Techs  Relationship is Critical to the Success of the Project and Beyond  Often Difficult to Appreciate the Bridge Person

46 46 What do we Expect from the Project Team?  Understanding and Respect for Bridge Person’s Role  Buy-In into the Approach  Knowledge Sharing  Communication

47 47 Understand Bridge Role  Team Members May Perceive the Role as ‘Window Dressing,’ Trivial or ‘Not Real Work’  Team Members May Feel They or Their Work is Denigrated by the Existence of Such a Role  The Bridge Person and Management Must Present the Role as a Significant Support for Team Members  Team Members May See this Role as Another Bureaucratic Layer to Deal With

48 48 Buy-In  You Know You Have Buy-In When Staff starts bringing problems to the bridge person Technical staff raises issues which potentially impact functionality Functional staff raises issues of potential technical impact

49 49 Where is Bridge Person Valuable?  Everywhere! Project management & Planning Project Public Relations Conversions Testing Fit/gap Customizations Post go-live

50 50 Without a Good Bridge… IT Project Statistics 5 Mann, p % Successful 53% Challenged 31% Impaired

51 51 Bad Things Happen Without a Good Bridge Person  Processes Work as Designed but do Not Meet User Needs  Systems are Not User- Friendly  Systems are Difficult and Costly to Maintain  Degree of Customizations is High

52 52 And That’s Not All!  Institutional Community is Dissatisfied  A Good System Becomes an Inferior Application  Return on Investment is Diminished

53 53 References  Joan Mann, “IT Education’s Failure to Deliver Successful Information Systems: Now is the Time to Address the IT-User Gap,” Journal of Information Technology Education, Volume 1, No. 4, 2002, pp  Paula King, “The Promise and Performance of Enterprise Systems in Higher Education,” EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research Respondent Summary, October 2002, pp  Joyce K. Fletcher, “Invisible Work: The Disappearing of Relational Practice at Work,” Center for Gender in Organizations, SIMMONS Graduate School of Management, 2001, pp  Julia King, “Survey Shows Common IT Woes Persist,” Computerworld, June 23, 2003, pp 1-2.  Thomas Hoffman, “CFO’s Cite Poor Alignment Between IT, Business,” Computerworld, October 21, 2003, pp. 1-3.

54 54  This presentation and associated references will be available shortly at :   If you would be wiling to participate in future research on this topic, please contact either of the presenters.l

55 55 Questions?

56 56 Thank You! Judy House Marilyn Kraus


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