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Coaching

We’ve just posted an update on training and have an example of how we use some software to make easy to follow video user guides. You can find the new page here – or watch the sample system[read more]

For the last few months, I’ve been working with a brilliant coffee vending business near Gatwick. In terms of culture and atmosphere, it’s quite a contrast to BOTH other venture capital[read more]

The results of Google’s “Project Oxygen” have been reported all over the place in the last week. The London Evening Standard and the New York Times both carried this, follow the[read more]

Teams are more important than technology

What is Peopleware?

by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, the authors describe their experience of software development projects. They highlight just how key people are to the whole IT equation. Through well presented ideas and tales of their experience they demonstrate the nassive cost of NOT investing in the management of IT teams and on the positive side, the effect of doing so. Just look at all those stories of failed big projects.

Nowadays, if you search the web for the term “Peopleware“, you’ll find various views such as this one at techterms.com. In this definition there is a fairly vague proposal that Peopleware refers to the people aspects of IT. Complementing Hardware and Software. And in one sense, they’re right. When we develop systems using hardware and software, we need to invest a great deal of time thinking about the people who use them.

  • Do these people (users) want a system like this?
  • How will it work?
  • What should the User Interface (UI) be like.

Since Lister and DeMarco, the whole setting has changed. The significance of what they proposed is MUCH greater.

In 2008 it was estimated that 5% of the UK workforce held jobs in IT (http://www.prospects.ac.uk/industries_it_overview.htm) some 900,000 people whose jobs may be more or less effective depending on how they work and what they deliver.

The problem is that leveraging this vast cost (probably some £40 billion annully) is rarely effective. Investment goes on technology and tools and rarely on managing them well.

At Peopleware our proposition is that we ALL need to find a much more complete set of tolls and techniques to manage our share of that £40,000,000,000 well.

What we aim to do is to help organisations to recognise that: The Team matters more than the Technology. We offer a track record of sorting out IT performance problems in Development, Infrastructure and Support teams – the ability to bring the skills and people to bear that can fix the problem.

Specifically, when senior management wants more from IT: i.e they want IT to be more effective, more efficient, more productive and more in-tune – then its much more effective to work on softer skills: Coaching, mentoring, communication, people modelling etc. The key capability for performance improvement comes by growing IT Management that knows how to consistently get the best out of their teams. The result should be:
1. Better recognition of what works well and untapped potential
2. Better understanding of the bits that really don’t work well
3. A more realistic set of solutions – e.g. appropriate right-sourcing with a good partner rather wholesale outsourcing that attempts to transfer the problem elsewhere.