Thursday, December 29, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

4 Critical Questions to Consider during Change Management Planning

change management planning

There is nothing constant in this world, except change; so the cliché goes...

Change is risky and can happen anytime throughout the operation or lifespan of a business. There are changes that are worth the risk, and changes with associated risks that are not that worth taking on at all!

When you plan to effect change in business (even in the smallest aspect of your industry) you need to thoroughly plan for it - Failing to plan ahead is an excellent way of setting yourself for future failures.

The change management planning process provides you with a “road-map” that you can follow to affect the change.

A change management plan should include:

  • The purpose and the goal of the change in your business
  • Associated costs and resources required
  • Timetable for change implementation
  • Risks associated with implementing change


Here are key points to consider during your strategic change management planning.

These factors are interdependent and all related to one another; it is debatable which really is the most important of them all and will generally depend on your business (size, industry, etc.) and the change you are implementing.

Reason for Change

Reasons vary depending on your business needs. Some companies implement change management to improve distribution and marketing, while others execute change management to improve employee performance or reduce operational cost.

At the end of the day, the overall goal of change management is to increase efficiency and profitability.

Q1: Will your planned change improve business efficiency and profitability?

Costs and Resources for Change

Some businesses underestimate the costs and the resources required for the implementation of their change management. Ideally though, these should be some of the first and foremost issues to consider.

All changes in a business, whether it be for improvement of employee performance or other changes in the business processes, have costs attached. It’s important to know the reason for change management so that you can estimate how much cost will be involved allowing you decide whether the change is warranted.

Q2. What will be the cost to implement your change and what will the return on investment (ROI) of your change be?

Timetable for Change Implementation

Some changes require a longer period of time to be implemented, while others require only months for the implementation. The timetable for change management is also one factor to consider along with its associated cost implications.

Generally, the longer the change management execution, the more costly it will likely be. But, as this is not always the case, analysing the reason for change management and its effect on your change timetable is important during planning.

Q3. How will the change timetable impact your business?

Departments & Personnel Affected by Changes to Business Processes

This is the most critical of all, but not necessarily the most important. Departments, or employees in particular, are the heart of a business. Some personnel might be receptive to change while the others are resistant to it. When changing business processes, you need to consider the positive and negative effects it may have to certain staff members and also to your business.

However, if the business processes really have to be changed for say, the viability of the company, then the positive effects from change will be your sole priority and focus.

Q4. How will staff react to change? Will they be receptive or resist, and how will you deal with this?

Change Management Planning Infographic

Why You Need a Change Management Plan

Change management planning helps to control the negative effects to your business. Answering these four key questions will provide you with some clarity on the viability of implementing change in your business.

Have a good reason:

- If you are making changes that don’t directly improve efficiency and profitability, you are wasting time and resources.

Make sure it’s worth the cost:

- If you are implementing a costly change, then make sure you are getting some return on this investment

Make sure the timetable fits your business:

- Make sure you have adequate time to implement your change and ensure it doesn't have impacts on your business if it goes overtime

Understand how the change will affect your employees:

- Will staff resist? Will you need to let go of potentially troublesome staff members? What will it cost to replace these staff members?

These are a few of the reasons why change management planning is important and required for all changes in your business.

If you believe there is a need to make changes in your business, you must have change management plan.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

Why You Need a Risk Management Plan

Why you need a risk management plan

When it comes to risk management, having a plan is the key to a safe, functional workplace. More often than not, most work-related incidents can be avoided by implementing a sound risk management plan.

With risk comes uncertainty. And with uncertainty comes the potential for errors. It’s little wonder why then that the process of identifying and managing risks is an essential part of project management.

Errors can be costly. They can not only affect the overall performance of a business’ operations, but also the health and safety of those involved.

The trick is to devise a method to reduce the number of workplace errors. A set of instructions; a plan for those involved in the project. A plan that takes out the ambiguity and complexity of a given task or problem.

If we apply this same logic to risk management, then we can ensure:
  • that risks are being properly managed throughout the life-cycle of a project,
  • that the impact of risks to the business and its individuals will be minimal,
  • and, that strategies and processes are in place in the likelihood of a risk materialising.

What is a Risk Management Plan?

Risk management plans are documents created by project managers that outline project risks, their potential impact on a project and define the responses used to control identified risks.

Often the risk management plan is included in a Project Management Plan or Business Plan, but it may be maintained as a standalone document for large, complex projects.

A risk management plan should at a minimum, cover the following points:
  • Risk management strategy
    • The method used to identifying and analysing risks
    • The frequency that the risk register will be reviewed and updated
    • The responses used to manage risk; commonly these are Avoid, Mitigate, Transfer or Accept
  • Risk Responsibilities
    • Outlines the ownership of risks and who is responsible for managing identified risks
  • Risk Register
    • A table of project risks with information on risk rating, negative or positive outcomes and controls

Why You Need a Risk Management Plan

So, why is a risk management plan so important?

Well, to answer that question, let’s have a look at the following case study:

The Deepwater Horizon disaster - which resulted in 11 fatalities and 5 million barrels of oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico - was brought on due to a series of risk management failures.

Risk Management Disaster
Photo: Telegraph UK

According to a federal report,
“The blowout at the Macondo well on April 20, 2010, was the result of a series of decisions that increased risk and a number of actions that failed to fully consider or mitigate those risks.”

It found,
“...no evidence that BP performed a formal risk assessment of critical operational decisions made in the days leading up to the blowout. BP's failure to fully assess the risks associated with a number of operational decisions leading up to the blowout was a contributing cause of the Macondo blowout.”

Perhaps the biggest thing come from the fallout of such an event was the failure to notice and react to the “warning signs”. The simple things that could have been done to prevent this disaster show just how important implementing and following risk management protocol is.

No matter how carefully you plan your project, you will likely run into unexpected issues at some point. The purpose of the risk management plan is to identify these potential issues when they are still risks, and develop strategies to deal with them.

The purpose of a risk management plan is to provide the following benefits to a project:
  • Reduce scope creep
  • Reduce project delays
  • Reduce costs & variations
  • Take advantage of opportunities (aka. positive risks)

When do you need to develop a Risk Management Plan?

Short Answer: Straight away! Start your risk management planning process as soon as a project is initiated.

Longer Answer: Your approach to managing risk will change depending on the phase of the project.

Risk Management Planning

01 Initiation Phase

Project initiation represents the project stage with the most risks; the majority being unknown risks. The primary purpose for analysing risks in the initiation stage is to weigh the benefits of project success and ROI against risks, to help decide whether a project should continue into the planning stage.

02 Planning Phase

In this phase, you should begin to identify risks based on planned project activities - You can use the project's Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) as a guide.

Your Risk Management Plan should have all key information and an initial risk register completed by the end of this phase.

03 Implementation Phase

As a project progresses and tasks are completed successfully with no loss, the number of project risks will reduce.

The Risk Management Plan should be reviewed on regular intervals during this phase (as documented during the planning phase) to assess risks that are no longer relevant and to identify new risks which may have arisen.

Make sure you utilise a suitable method of document control to manage your risk management plan documentation!

04 Project Close Phase

At the project close, risk transfer/sharing agreements should be concluded to avoid disputes between external parties and all existing risks should have been mitigated or avoided. A final estimate of the cost of issues due to risks occurring can be made and added to your project documentation.

What you should include in your Risk Management Plan

What you need before your start:

  • The project proposal or initial plan
  • Knowledge of the project, or access to experts to help identify risks
  • Knowledge of stakeholders
  • Related Standards and Government Regulations
  • (Optional) - Business unit or Department project management procedures & guidelines
  • (Optional) - Corporate Business Plan with relevant governing information about the Business Unit/Department

Sections to Include

  • Document Control
  • Executive Summary
    • A summary of how risks are identified, analysed, frequency of review and reporting
  • Introduction
    • Discuss the purpose of the document
  • Risk Identification & Analysis
    • Refer to the risk register
  • Risk Response
    • Outline how you will respond to risks.
    • Comment on how key risks will be dealt with, who is responsible and associated costs
  • Risk Monitoring
    • Outline how often the risk register will be reviewed and who is involved
    • You can also make mention of how often the status of risks will be reported to stakeholders
  • Roles and Responsibilities
    • Outline the roles that key stakeholders have in the risk management process: Steering Committee, Project Manager, Project Team
  • Appendix - Risk Register
    • If you are managing your risk register using a spreadsheet or risk management software, provide a snapshot in each revision of the risk management plan as an appendix

Conclusions?

Quote plan to fail and fail to plan

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.

The main thing to take away from events like the Deepwater Horizon disaster is that planning is the key to mitigation. And a failure to plan can be catastrophic!

What we have found is that during the life-cycle of a project, you can practically implement risk plans at any stage. The risks during each stage may change and require different approaches.

Outlined above is a rough template as to how you should structure your plan. However, as to how go about implementing these steps is completely up to you.

By breaking down risk management into smaller, manageable steps, you can decrease the likelihood of a risk materialising, and effectively eliminate (as best you can) the likelihood of catastrophic events.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

5 Essential Steps for Effective Project Risk Management


Within every industry, every project, every task, every decision - there is always risk. Inevitably, some risks you can avoid, and some you simply just can’t.

Let’s face it - risk management is highly contextual. Depending on your age, your industry, your role or position etc. risks don’t always manifest themselves in the same way.

The reality is, risks evolve and change over time and there’s never going to be a foolproof method to avoiding all risk. There are, however, ways to minimise it and this is where Risk Management come into play.

To get an idea of how it functions, let’s look at the following example…


After working for 25 years as a process manager, Matt is increasingly faced with the challenge of constantly delivering at a high service level or quality in an ever-changing environment.

He is faced with having to avoid potential pitfalls in his daily business operations, whilst also having to upskill and train others that are working beneath him. With this comes the risk of not only unexpected events disrupting normal daily operations, but also the potential for mistakes to occur (whether intentional or not).

This in turn affects his output, as more time is spent needlessly worrying about things that aren’t adding value to the business.

If it were somehow easier to identify, measure and mitigate the types of workplace risks he encounters, he’d be able to:
  • define the problem more quickly, 
  • perhaps find an easier or predefined solution to the problem, 
  • and provide faster information to his colleagues.
Fortunately, best practices are available to him, and he need not look far for effective risk management strategies.

Whilst many industries have their own procedures for identifying, measuring and mitigating risks, they all encompass some common characteristics.


Here are the top 5 essential steps to effective risk management.


5 Steps for Project Risk Management

1. Plan

Start your risk management straight away. That’s right... as soon as the project begins, so should project risk management.

The number of risks impacting a project declines throughout the project's life as the project progresses and milestones are reached.

This means there are far more potential risks which could impact your project! To avoid early issues arising and potential financial implications or delays, start identifying risks immediately.

Some key points to take into consideration during planning are:

  • Utilise risk management standards for more information like ISO 31000 and the Project Manager Institute’s PMBOK Handbook
  • Identify key stakeholders and nominate who the risk owners will be
  • Compile a document or database to track and record risks which will outline risks and responses and control strategies. This is crucial and will become your core project risk management strategy
  • While a qualitative analysis is a key step in the process, you may wish to skip the quantitative analysis. This will depend on the size of your project and financial implications due to risks occurring
  • Certain project risks at project completion will become operational risks. These should be identified along with new risks and acknowledged at project handover
  • Continually review the risks throughout the project. Close risks if they have zero probability and list newly identified risks
  • Ensure everyone has visibility over the risks and risk register, encourage all project members to contribute
  • Determine how “Unknown”, unidentified risks will be handled if they occur

2. Identify Risks & Create a Risk Register

Developing an adequate risk register is an important step in the risk management methodology.

The PMI details that a risk is “an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives such as scope, schedule, cost, or quality.”

There are three takeaways from this statement:
  1. A risk is an uncertain event - Risks that occur are no longer uncertain and become Issues
  2. Risks either have Positive or Negative implications on a project
  3. Risks may impact any stage of a project
Identifying project risks can be a challenging task as there are so many factors that impact the outcome of a project; social, financial, timing, etc.

The suggested approach for identifying risks is:
  • Utilise existing knowledge and previous experience. One of the best ways of creating a risk register is to base it off prior documentation from similar projects such as charter, budgets, schedules, plans, etc.
  • Enlist the assistance of experts who will have greater experience and breadth of knowledge
  • Brainstorm within a team, or if your project is quite large and consists of various teams, have each team perform brainstorming and compile risks that they have identified
  • Utilise theoretical techniques like root cause analysis or the Delphi technique
  • Research case studies from other projects; these are often available in educational text books and other sources.

Risk Management - Probability Chart


Once you have compiled your list of risks, transfer them into your risk register management software or risk register spreadsheet template and get ready to analyse.

At the end of the identification step, you should be aware that there will be unknown risks that have not yet been identified. The challenge in this step is to maximise identification of the known risks and minimise potential unknown risks.

3. Risk Analysis

Qualitative Analysis

You’ve probably seen the green, yellow and red risk matrix? These matrices are a way to view the qualitative risk management step in a graphical form. This is a form of Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) which is the common approach for project risk management.

This step allows you to assess the likelihood of a risk impacting your project, in a positive or negative way and provide you with a clear idea of how to go about responding to the risks.

Managing Project Risks


The two factors used for ranking a risk are:

Probability

This is the likelihood of the risk occurring, usually scored between 0 - 1. Any risk that has a probability score over 0.9 is very likely to occur and should be treated as a certainty!

You can determine the probability using:
  • Event Tree Analysis or Fault Tree Analysis
  • Similar techniques to risk identification, past experience, experts, etc.
  • Utilise a rating chart for a more simpler, standardised approach
The image below shows an example of a rating chart, a very common method used by many companies. The chart is a simple way of estimating probability and reduces the need for higher level technical and mathematical skill.

Impact

Impact represents the severity of positive and negative effects on the project if a risk eventuated. Impact can be scored from 0 to 1 or estimated on using a scale of low, medium, high, extreme; which can be later plotted on a risk matrix.

What constitutes as a severe impact (and its associated score) should be determined by the type of project, financial ramifications, safety and other factors important to your business.

Risk Impact Chart


To calculate the risk rating, simply multiply the probability and impact. The results will provide you with a clear range of risk ratings which can be responded to appropriately in step 5.

Alternatively, if you choose to utilise a probability rating chart and impact chart to simplify your process, put your results into the risk matrix to identify the risk ratings.

Project Risk Management Matrix

Advanced Predictive Probability

The qualitative analysis can be further expanded to take into consideration, the future impact date and critical dates. The date should be expressed as a probability multiplier applied to the probability x impact calculation.

The resulting figure will provide a predictive approach to risk management which will constantly change, and increase as the project approaches critical risk dates.

Quantitative Analysis

If your project is highly dependant on financial impacts and particular assets, then you may benefit from applying quantitative analysis. One method for the quantitative analysis consists of identifying the ‘Annualised Loss Expectancy’ (ALE) which is derived from the ‘Single Loss Expectancy’ (SLE) to an asset if a risk occurs, multiplied by the estimated annual rate of occurrence.

The ALE figures provides financial decision makers a justification to plan an appropriate response to certain risks.

There are criticisms of the quantitative analysis, and it is worth exploring this topic in further detail to learn if it is required for your risk management.

4. Plan Responses to Risks

There are generally four response strategies that may be applied to reduce negative risks and enhance opportunities or positive risks:

Avoidance: Eliminate the risk
Mitigation: Reduce severity or probability
Transfer: Transfer ownership to another party
Acceptance: Do nothing

The type of response applied to a risk is dependant on the risk rating determined during the risk analysis. You should decide during the planning stage, the risk rating level that each of the response strategies will be applied to, e.g. for an extreme risk rating (highly likely with severe impact), avoidance would likely be the most suitable strategy.

A risk matrix provides a simple, graphical way of identifying which action or response to take.
project risk management strategies

Avoidance Strategies - High Level Risk
  • Cancel activities which may cause the risk
  • Engage in alternative activities
  • Remove root causes
Mitigation Strategies - Medium Level Risk
  • Reduce scope
  • Increase staff
Accept Strategies - Low Level Risk
  • Make no attempt to minimise the severity or probability
  • Understand the risk may happen and accept to deal with issues as they occur

5. Monitor & Control

Lastly, you need to consistently monitor, identify and review risks on an regular, ongoing basis throughout the entire life of your project. During planning, decide on a reasonable frequency to perform risk reviews - this will depend on project complexity, the length of the project and past experience with similar projects.

  • Review existing risks; remove any risks that no longer pose a threat
  • Are there any new risks? Analyse, respond and add them to the risk register?
  • Is the probability of existing risks changing as the project progresses?
  • Are any risks likely to occur in the near future?

You can monitor the effectiveness of your risk management using audits, reserve analysis, variance and trend analysis. Use the results from these analysis techniques to compliment decision making and assist with implementing improvements to your overall risk management process.

project risk management cycle

Conclusions


So there you have it!

By incorporating these 5 key steps into your project risk strategy, you can effectively reduce likelihood and impact of risk.

What do these essentially provide?

If we look at Matt’s story again, we can see how he’s now more capable to manage risk.

By implementing this strategy, he’ll be able to start immediately identifying and compiling risks with minimal disruption to his daily operations, meaning less likelihood of the risks materialising. He’ll also have a fairly good idea of the types of risks he’ll encounter, which means his risk register shouldn’t take long to fill up.

Once he’s created his risk register, he’ll then be able to effectively analyse the probability and impact of each risk; he’ll have a sound metric to evaluating risk levels. In turn, by having relevant information about the risks and their severity, he’ll then be able to more effectively devise appropriate mitigation strategies through prioritisation and teamwork.

This process is also ongoing, meaning he’ll be able to measure how effective these strategies are over a period of time.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

Developing Strategies for Operational Risk Management

developing an operational risk management framework

Risks that can potentially affect the overall performance of an organisation are a major concern for business leaders. So, when you take into account that there is an element of risk in practically every single work environment, you can appreciate how vital it is to have adequate an operational risk management framework.

Operational risk management (ORM) provides a blueprint to minimising the impact of certain workplace practices. This is highly advantageous for most industries due to high costs of failure or where “getting it right” is imperative.

In an operational risk management context, “human error” or oversight can be catastrophic; affecting not only business output, but also the health & wellbeing of staff and the wider public.

What is Operational Risk Management?

Operational Risk management is a continuous process of assessing risks, decision making and implementation of responses (i.e. risk controls; avoid, mitigate, accept).

ORM analyses the risk due to ‘human error’, that a company may be exposed to when operating in their chosen industry and excludes financial or market-wide risks.

Operational Risk Examples Include:

Human risks - employee errors, fraud or other criminal activity
Business risks - failed business processes
Systems risks - technology failures, server and database failures
External event risks - any event that disrupts business processes, e.g. weather
There will generally be lower operational risk in a highly automated industry where minimal human interaction required.

Operational Risk Types

Benefits of Operational Risk Management are:

  • Lower operating loss
  • Reduced compliance & auditing costs
  • Early detection of issues
  • Reduced exposure to risks

Developing a Risk Management Framework

Operational Risk Management like other forms of risk management firstly involves planning, followed by risk identification and analyses. After risk controls have been formulated and applied, you will have developed a framework for your ‘risk management strategy’, for the relevant business environment.

Operational Risk Management Strategy

Identifying Operational Risks

Business process mapping is a common approach for identifying operational risks, involving the investigation of business processes and listing any potential risk sources.

Experienced staff members in the relevant department should be utilised in the identification process as they will have a deeper understanding of the business processes that they implement.

Analysis

Both qualitative (using likelihood and impact) and quantitative approaches to analysing risks are suitable, although quantitative is only useful if there will be a direct financial loss due to the risk occurring.

For a qualitative analysis, you need to estimate the likelihood that the risk will occur and decide on the level of impact this will have on the business.

During the planning phase, developing likelihood and impact rating charts along with a risk matrix can assist decision making in this step. The alternative approach is to use theoretical calculation to determine a likelihood probability and impact rating which can be multiplied to determine a risk rating. Likelihood(%) x Impact = Risk Rating


Risk Response

Operational risk management controls fall under the categories of avoid, mitigate and accept. There are many methods available for reducing unavoidable risks

Risk Reduction Strategies:

  • Procedures & policies
  • Quality assurance
  • Training
  • Safety checks
  • Security measures
  • Reviewing performance
  • Engaging staff and stakeholders

Monitoring & Improvement

Each stage of the risk management strategy should be periodically reviewed and includes reviewing the risk management plan as well.

During the risk response step, it is common to nominate how often, and when, individual risks should be reviewed. Mitigation responses should always be adjusted and improved to cater for changes in the business and industry environments.

Crisis Management

A related topic to operational risk management is crisis management. Even after a careful and thoughtful risk management strategy has been developed, there will still remain unknown risks.

Unknown risks that eventuate can lead to a crisis event which can cause serious disruption to business operations, leading to potential business closures if they are not handled quickly and effectively (i.e. think about the banking sector during the GFC).

To handle the scenario’s it is essential that business implement a crisis response plan and train their staff adequately so everyone in the company understands their role in the event of a crisis.

crisis risk management
Image: social.ogilvy.com

Minimise Your Operational Risk!

An operational risk management strategy is a necessary ingredient to minimising the impact of human error and system failures.

By implementing appropriate risk response initiatives, businesses will ensure they can properly identify and address the impact of risky practices, and in turn devise policies to mitigate them.

Businesses that develop a sound risk management strategy - like the one mentioned above - as part of a business solution will also rest assured that their business interests and their assets are well protected from harm and/or exposure.

Put simply, there’s an immense amount of business value that can be obtained from a risk-free workplace, and it starts from making smart risk management decisions!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

Serverless Computing – the Next Big Thing!

What is it?

Severless computing is an abstract, cloud-based framework that allows developers to build and run applications without having to worry about server-side mechanisms. Put simply, developers now only have to concern themselves with writing and executing code. All things server-related are taken care of by external entities.

The term “serverless” can be misleading. It doesn’t mean that servers are completely excluded as a computing resource – they still run in the background. It does mean, however, that throughout the software development process, they are no longer relevant from a design perspective. It means that developers and/or engineers can spend more time focusing on writing code and organising functionality for a given software component.

What are the advantages/disadvantages?

Depending on one’s personal preferences, serverless products can have numerous advantages. 
For one, it doesn’t require a vast amount of knowledge about servers or how they work. Basically, it allows developers to offload that responsibility to other service providers who have the resources and the expertise. All decisions and events relating to server-side functionality are handled programmatically.

Another benefit of going serverless is scalability. Not only is infrastructure and the provisioning of resources less of a concern for the developer, but also increasing the size and scale of operations no longer requires any extra provisioning. Scaling can be handled mostly at “host” level, which is provided as a service rather than as a task.

Additionally, there is an opportunity to save costs. Data usage is measured down to the millisecond, which ends up being quite a lot cheaper compared to having servers up and running constantly – even when they aren’t being fully utilised.

The downsides to having no active control over server-side functionality are two-fold:
  1. The “loose” orchestration between the front and back-end can lead to nasty surprises and unexpected downturns in productivity, especially when changes to a system’s size and/or scope happen.
  2. Forecasting costs can be a nightmare, as most of the procurement and change management is being taken care of by service providers.

What products are currently on the market?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda, IBM OpenWhisk, Microsoft Azure Functions, Google Cloud, JustServerless,  Functions to name a few.

Let’s focus on one in particular – AWS Lambda.
Lambda provides back-end server functions to manage the size, scaling, provisioning, security, and the administrative requirements to get your application up and running. The support offered in the background – everything from the infrastructure to general maintenance – is event-driven. The way it works is:
  • A user’s code is executed (front-end)
  • It triggers an event (back-end)
  • That event prompts a function (back-end)
  • That function generates an action (back-end)
  • The action completes a certain task (front -end)
  • The user is then charged based on the action’s run-time (in increments of 100 milliseconds)
In a normal 3-tiered system, this exercise would require skills that go beyond that of just writing and executing code – one would have to know about the type of infrastructure they’re using and how to install & run it.

What AWS provides here is a massive reduction in server-side resource provisioning and application code. Quite simply, it allows you to build applications without the technical know-how.

Multi-tiered architecture made simple!

There are different “layers” in an application, which go together to form a basic architectural model. An example of this might include an API layer, which provides the level of understanding between the service architecture and the data model. Within this structure you’ll find application code that integrates each layer, which is normally run over a network and provides a level of communication between multiple subsections of system infrastructure.

For a developer, it’s very time-consuming and tedious to keep up to speed with multiple service layers. Not only must one ensure that the application is responding properly and operating harmoniously within the multi-tiered framework, but they must also be concerned about the level of security.

What serverless architecture provides is the ability to offset this complexity to other providers (like AWS) who provide robust solutions to simplify the creation of these multi-tiered frameworks. 

Conclusion

The process of running web applications has changed dramatically since the advent of serverless computing. No longer do you have the stress of managing back-end, server-related capabilities whilst worrying about UI components and functionality. Instead, what you’re left with are a series of functions (which handle events and/or requests) that run when prompted – much faster and more efficient than long-running API processes.

It’ll be interesting to see just how far the proliferation of this new technology will go in the coming years.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

Cloud Computing: What Is It & Why Should I Care? [Infographic]

Cloud Computing Infographics

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

Why You Need Excellent Data Management Tools

With a Modern Storage Infrastructure, Companies Must Find an Excellent Data Management Tool


One of the more “weighty” questions within the IT world is in reference to the value of each company’s particular data. Many people that wonder what the true value of protected data is in the long-run and eventually view it as a cost centre where money continuously gets used up.

In order to make data work in the favour of a business and to help generate some income, companies must get smarter with their approaches to business and stop looking at their data this way!

The majority of companies out there admit to wanting a Big Data system as a part of their layout, but ultimately have nothing to show for these desires. There have been many failed implementations despite lots of money spent on resources to help. You might say that many businesses have the best intentions when it comes to incorporating a data management plan, yet intention without action is arguably useless at the end of the day.  You might wonder why companies fail to follow through on their desires for a Big Data system.  Well, the answer is really quite simple.

The amount of data out there is staggering, and trying to manage it all would be like trying to boil the vast ocean. You can imagine how difficult-if not impossible-that would be!  
Big Data - What Next?


What is the best solution?


Many people question if the cloud would be a good solution, and if everyone should just get started on moving their data up there.  Or perhaps virtualisation?  Would that be the answer?  These two tools are valuable, but the question stands on whether or not they are the best way to utilise company resources.  What companies really need is a tool that will aid in organising data into appropriate categories.  In other words, this tool would be able to filter out what data should be implemented in order to create the most value for the company. 

As stated above, the majority of corporations view their data as simply a cost centre, aiding in the draining of company resources.  As human nature would have it, a lot of times the attitudes in reference to existing data reflects the heart of "out with the old, in with the new," and new projects that allow for more capacity or faster processing take precedence in time and funding.  It is as if the old data is a bothersome reality, always needing a little extra attention and focus, demanding greater capacity, and continuously needing backups and protection.

What companies forget to keep at the forefront of their minds however, is the fact that taking care of this old and “bothersome” data is a great way to clear up space on the primary storage, and who doesn’t appreciate that?  It also aids in generating a faster backup process (with a reduced backup size), which is again, a bonus for any company!  It should not be so quickly forgotten that this nagging and consistently needy data is essentially the ESSENCE of the company.  Would you believe that this “cost centre” is also where it gains some of its income?  If companies kept these points in their minds, we would not be seeing such poor practices when it comes to data management.  One thing is clear however, and that is the point that initiative with managing data can be difficult, and many view the overwhelming ocean of growing data and the daunting task of trying to manage it as too great a calling to handle.

However, IT departments and administrators must bear in mind that there are tools out there to help them classify and organise data, which ultimately will be their proverbial life-boat when it comes time to accepting the challenge of managing data.

Look at it this way.  Let's say you are trying to find every single chemical engineer on earth.  Does that sound a bit overwhelming?  The question is, how would you go about doing this?  After all, there are over 7 billion people on this planet!  Where do you begin?  Do you profile EVERY person?  Of course not.  What you would likely do, in order to simplify this complex process, is organising people into broad groups, maybe by profession.  After that, you would probably do something like research what particular people in that profession graduated with a degree in engineering.  Though basic, you can use these same principles when narrowing down data and trying to sort through the piles of information in a company.  One must use their intelligence and business knowledge to better grasp corporate data, and in return, this will help companies benefit from their data assets.  In order to do this, there are tools available to help administrators better comprehend and manage their data.

Data Management Tools - Remain Empowered and Compliant


These tools exist to give IT departments the upper hand in managing their spheres.  Can you imagine trying to manage large amounts of company data on your own?  Luckily, we don’t have to do such things, and we live in an age in which a variety of solutions are available to help companies not only survive, but thrive.  These tools are out there to empower IT teams to successfully weather the storms and changing tides of data types and volumes.  After using such tools, companies often experience improved storage capacity, less costs associated with backup and data protection -- and let’s not forget compliance!  Compliance is a hot topic, and with the help of appropriate data management solutions, companies will be guaranteed to meet the various regulatory compliance rules in today’s business world. 

In closing, it is important to note that more networking tools will not do anything close to what the appropriate data management solutions can do.  Companies should be looking for solutions that can help them as well with tracking, classifying, and organizing file systems over their whole lifespan. 

When the right tools get into the right hands, IT managers are better able to do their jobs!


Jason Zhang is the product marketing person for Rocket Software's Backup, Storage, and Cloud solutions.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

The Cost of Doing Nothing - Application Life Management ALM

A high quality Application Life Management (ALM) system is extremely important to the long term success of a business. So why do we see more and more vendors coming up short when it comes to updates and regular improvements? An ALM system is an asset for developers and software companies alike. High performance IT organisations become successful by staying ahead of the curve. By using strategic technology and best practices they are able to ensure high quality products on time and on budget while remaining compliant. Without these traits, quality companies would become casualties of war to their competitors.

In order for ALM vendors to properly support their clients with regular updates and reliable customer service, they need to stay on top of platform enhancements. This is achieved by staying up to date with constantly changing and improving languages, devices, mobile requirements, compliance rules and real-time everything. Staying up to date with new technologies is essential for vendors who wish to remain at the forefront of the market.

Making the switch to a modern ALM solution is a must for long term survival, so what’s the hang up for most development leaders? Surprisingly, there are a few specific reasons that many development leaders shy away from modern ALM, but the cost of doing nothing is much higher than they think.

A new ALM solution would be too expensive

Many would say that switching to a quality vendor or modern solution would be too expensive. But if your vendor isn't giving you product enhancements, platform updates etc., you could be paying the price of being left behind which eventually translates to being obsolete.

According to research, "84% of IT projects are late or over budget or both, 31% are cancelled before completion, and completed projects on average only deliver 42% of the anticipated benefits".
A modern application lifecycle management system is a must-have for developers. Without up to date functionality and access to current tools your company could see profit margins that suffer, and that just isn't acceptable.  And when it comes to compliance, without an automated management system, the IT team will have to spend valuable time on compliance-related activities which in turn slows down workflow and productivity.

The R&D department at your vendor should be motivated about addressing new industry trends as well as listening to and implementing the customer requests and concerns. Giving the end user the upper hand is easy with integrated tools and features like built-in compliance reporting templates and compatibility and remote access with mobile devices. The right ALM solution will also provide tools to keep the user and management up-to-date like dashboards, real-time reports and analytics, and automated workflows.

While the cost of a new ALM solution isn't cheap, the cost of doing nothing is enormous- especially in the long run. Whether it's not meeting app release dates, lost opportunities, painful audit processes or lost hours spent on compliance issues, it’s clear that it quickly takes a heavy toll on the business.

Why fix a solution that’s not broken?

In today’s ever-changing business environment, good enough just doesn't cut it. Business users want the best and they want it now.

In a modern and sophisticated IT environment, development teams are expected to deploy functionality and fixes quickly. At the same time, database servers, web servers, varied clients and mobile devices contribute to the development difficulty as they create complex release processes.

This is why a modern ALM is a must-have solution in order to monitor all the processes and people that have a hand in the application lifecycle. The ability to bring together systems and workflows, reduce production errors and maximised collaboration gives the user a serious advantage. Combined with mobile access, point and click compliance reports and A to Z process automation, it is a wise decision to upgrade.

In the end, the cost of staying with an older ALM system is the inability to take advantage of new technology and grow with the environment. You'll lose staff hours wasted on manual processes, fixing corrupt code and dealing with the aftermath of coding errors. All of these dilemmas keep your team away from growth-based activities and keeps their hands tied with clean up.

The change will take too much time?

The time it takes to get up and running is short if you know how to choose a quality vendor. The right vendor will provide immediate visibility, coordination and control across distributed systems, teams and tools. It will save resources to bring teams together to share, communicate, update, warn etc. about any application projects. Now, change can be scary and one of the main concerns that companies have is the time it takes for staff to become accustomed to the new system.

A quality vendor will provide the proper support to get you and your team up to speed and the time invested will pay for itself in the usability and increased productivity.  Yes, the initial transformation will take some work, but probably less than you think. And the benefits are immeasurable when you take into account what you’re gaining in terms of real-time visibility, flexibility, accuracy and automation.

My ALM system only serves development

Technology is changing all the time and in order to remain a high speed operation, you need to be progressive. If your ALM system is isolated from operation, IT and management, you’re missing out on a time and money-saving tool. With an integrated ALM system, the user can enjoy real-time control for the development and delivery organisation. Whether it’s code, projects, deployment status, workflow, testing, release progress, operations, processes, reports, dashboards or hardware status, choosing the right application life-cycle management solution will provide regular updates on all of the above. As DevOps departments evolve in the enterprise, your ALM system needs to serve as the central hub. Giving development teams, operations people, team members, auditors and programmers a real-time solution to interdepartmental communications resulting in more informed decisions. Again, the losses taken in productivity from less automation, the lack of visibility across the entire development organisation, the inability to support new technology and the problems that arise from not sharing information outweigh the cost of changing systems.

In the end, making the change will actually save you money in the long run because you'll save time, and as the old saying goes "time is money". A modern ALM system will allow departments to communicate changes at every level. The improved visibility increases workflow and gives users advanced capabilities in terms of fast and accurate decision-making.  And the support the users get from a quality vendor is unmatched, as they are given access to the latest interfaces and devices, support for any current OS, support for all platforms on which you are developing code, support for both mobile and web development, and out of the box plug-ins to integrate with other tools. They should offer compliance report templates and should deliver single screen visibility on everything IT. And finally, an adjustable point and click distribution and deployment and mobile functionality for everything.

You must stay current and flexible to be able to adapt to the ever-changing market. Without these capabilities, it’s only a matter of time before your competitors get the leverage they need to make your brand obsolete. Better your chances to stay afloat by investing in a modern ALM system. Like they say "buy once, cry once".


Daniel Magid is Rocket’s IBM i solution leader and Director of the Rocket Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and DevOps lab. Having started his career at IBM in 1981 in the midrange computer division, Daniel brings to Rocket Software more than 30 years of experience in the IBM midrange marketplace. Prior to coming to Rocket as part of the acquisition of Aldon in 2011, Daniel was Aldon's CEO and Chief Product Strategist. Daniel led the growth of Aldon from a small 4 person consulting company to the largest provider of ALM and DevOps solutions in the IBM i market. Daniel is a recognised expert in application development and DevOps in the IBM i market and a well-known presence at IBM i conferences.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

Cloud Computing: Current and Future Trends for 2016


There has been interesting activity in the cloud computing sector over the past year, with alternative IT strategies viewed as increasingly invaluable for business. 
The RightScale 2015 State of the Cloud Survey revealed that 93% of respondents are adopting a cloud strategy:
  • 5% public cloud
  • 30% private cloud and 
  • 58% mixed.

Additionally, 88% of enterprises are using a hybrid cloud strategy, up by 14% from the previous year.

With the need for cheap, fast and agile solutions on-demand, it comes as no surprise that new cloud computing business trends and technologies are causing a migration to a cloud ecosystems. And, as we've seen from the outset, it’s a path more and more businesses are willing to take.


What impact can this type of approach have on your business?


Implementing cloud-based enterprise solutions can dramatically reshape your business strategies and outlook!

Some of the noticeable benefits brought about through cloud adoption include:
  • A considerable decrease in system downtime,
  • Less reliance on costly in-house services,
  • Cheaper and more readily available business solutions,
  • An increase in Business Intelligence (BI),
  • Less hardware- meaning less impact on the environment,
  • And, an increase in flexibility and scalability.

The need to consolidate some (if not all) of your operations into the cloud has never been greater! Not only is it a potentially cost-saving exercise, it can seriously improve overall business performance.

Want further insight?
Here are 3 of the latest trends in cloud development:

1. Hybrid Cloud Solutions are on “the up and up”


Ever thought of integrating your on-premises systems with third-party services?
Many organisations are now looking for cheap and scalable alternatives to in-house software. In doing this, some or all of the existing infrastructure will need to be replaced and/or removed. This may not always be possible because of existing issues like:
  • Legacy systems,
  • Compliance issues,
  • And/or software restrictions.

So, how do you merge the two platforms?

This is where Hybrid Cloud strategies come into play…
Hybrid clouds blend the current state of an organisation’s private IT infrastructure with services provided by third-party distributors. As of 2015, hybrid was still the preferred cloud strategy, with 88% of enterprises opting for it.

These strategies offer greater flexibility and compliance, whilst providing security assurances where necessary. Their continual popularity also means that there’s less pressure on businesses to move everything into the public cloud.

2. Cloud-Compliant “Hardware Giants”


Organisations that focus heavily on hardware are now dipping their toes into the cloud market. HP, Dell and Cisco, have merged with cloud providers to offer services that were previously unavailable.
In a world that is vastly becoming more cloud-reliant, IT companies are placing a strong emphasis on third-party software. The major players - Google, Amazon and Microsoft - have all made strong affiliations with IT hardware suppliers.

What this means for customers...
This recent amalgamation of hardware and software can only mean greater possibilities for those thinking about adopting third-party software.

Innovative ideas and outside-the-box thinking (with the added bonus of having access to fully-staffed design laboratories and facilities) will continue to stimulate further growth in cloud technology.

What this means for vendors...
Supply chains will be given a drastic shake up with traditional vendors and suppliers being consolidated and/or replaced. If you’re thinking about moving part or all of your resources into the cloud, this will be something you’ll need to address.

3. Improved Data Analytics Capabilities


Need fast, reliable and easily transferable data?
The prospect of optimal data analytics, coming off the back of the recent growth in cloud-based systems and “Big Data”, has industry professionals excited. Experts predict that this emerging trend will continue to grow, with an expected market worth of $16.52 Billion by 2018.


How can data analytics improve business performance?
Cost-reduction, business process improvement and efficient resource allocation are just some of the things that are aided by fast, reliable data analytics.

An improved analytical framework can add value to your business through:
  • More in-depth risk analysis,
  • Greater business insight,
  • Increased performance and expenditure tracking capabilities,
  • And, better decision-making.

Cloud computing and data analytics have progressed quite rapidly over the past year. For businesses looking to improve their overall data management, the message is quite clear: “migrate now, or else risk being behind the curve!”

Summary


So, what were the key developments in 2015?
Well, what we've witnessed is:
  • A steady climb in Internet-based enterprise solutions and services,
  • Businesses dramatically re-shaping their IT infrastructure in order to remain competitive,
  • An ever-growing reliance on wireless data management and Internet services, which will trigger a vast improvement in data analytics,
  • And, key tech players strengthening existing ties with their cloud service counterparts in order to dampen competition concerns and open up new channels of business.
What can we expect in Cloud Computing Trends for 2016?
What we expect to see is a greater trend towards strengthening data management practices and creating heavily cloud-compliant business spaces.

As the upwards trend continues and cloud technology becomes ever more popular; we believe business consumers will induce a stronger, price-driven cloud market, which will make for a competitive and interesting 2016.

Sources: http://www.rightscale.com/lp/2015-state-of-the-cloud-report.

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