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Waltham’s OpenPages, a developer of risk management systems, is acquired by IBM October 3, 2010

Posted by HubTechInsider in Acquisitions, Startups.
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Waltham’s OpenPages, a developer of risk and compliance management systems, is acquired by Armonk, New York -based IBM for undisclosed terms.

In a statement, Rob Ashe, IBM’s general manager of business analytics, said: “Integrating risk management systems across once-divided units and functions is essential to seeing the bigger picture. The combination of IBM and OpenPages will provide a holistic and consistent approach to risk management helping companies combine that insight with performance management to drive better decision making.”

OpenPages is the latest IBM acquisition in Massachusetts. Last month, IBM said it was purchasing Unica Corp. of Waltham for $480 million. Over the years, IBM has scooped up more than a dozen Massachusetts businesses in such fields as data storage and security.

What is Theory Y? How is it used as a management style? November 29, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Project Management.
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What is Theory Y? How is it used as a management style?

As I have said on these pages before, I needed to write a few short pieces on some of the different management styles I have encountered in my corporate and professional travels. I want to define each of these management styles so that I can compare and contrast them, as well as serving as reference points for the longer articles on this topic which I am in the process of drafting.

As I have previously stated, the purpose of this litany of alphabetic management styles is not to promote one over another; in fact, I don’t recommend adopting any of these naively. But nevertheless, many individual team members and managers will exhibit some behaviors from one of the above styles, and it is helpful to know what makes them tick. Finally, certain individuals may prefer to be managed as a Theory X or Theory Y type (Theory Z, which I will write about at a future date, is less likely in this case), and it is good to be able to recognize the signs. Moreover, some companies might be implicitly based on one style or another.

The second management style about which I will write is one which will be perhaps less recognizable to many people than the aforementioned “Theory X“: “Theory Y”.

As opposed to Theory X, Theory Y holds that work is a natural and desirable activity. Hence, external control abd threats are not needed to guide the organization. In fact, the level of commitment is based on the clarity and desirability of the goals set for the group. Theory Y posits that most individuals actually seek responsibility and do not shirk it, as proposed by Theory X.

A Theory Y manager simply needs to provide the resources, articulate the goals, and leave the team alone. This approach doesn’t always work, of course, because some individuals do need more supervision than others.

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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

What is Theory X? How is it used as a management style? November 27, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Project Management, Staffing & Recruiting.
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I needed to write a few short pieces on some of the different management styles I have encountered in my corporate and professional travels. I want to define each of these management styles so that I can compare and contrast them, as well as serving as reference points for the longer articles on this topic which I am in the process of drafting.

I will begin with some of the “Letter Management Styles”, of which there are several. The purpose of this litany of alphabetic management styles is not to promote one over another; in fact, I don’t recommend adopting any of these naively. But nevertheless, many individual team members and managers will exhibit some behaviors from one of the above styles, and it is helpful to know what makes them tick. Finally, certain individuals may prefer to be managed as a Theory X or Theory Y type (Theory Z, which I will write about at a future date, is less likely in this case), and it is good to be able to recognize the signs. Moreover, some companies might be implicitly based on one style or another.

The first management style about which I will write is one which will be recognizable to every person, regardless of professional or personal background: “Theory X”.

Theory X is perhaps the oldest management style and is very closely related to the hierarchical, command-and-control model used by military organizations (of which I am intimately familiar).

One thing I can personnally attest to in regards to the Theory X management style is that it maintains the military organizations’ faith in the fact of the necessity of this approach, as (in the view of Theory X proponents) most people inherently dislike work and will avoid it if they can. Hence, in the Theory X management style, managers should coerce, control, direct, and threaten their workers in order to get the most out of them.

A statement that I recall from a conversation with a prototypical Theory X manager with whom I worked (in a prototypical Theory X organization) with was “people only do what you audit”.

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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

What is Six Sigma? How is it used, and what does it have to do with the CMM? November 27, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Manufacturing, Products, Project Management, Technology.
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What is Six Sigma? How is it used, and what does it have to do with the CMM?

Developed by Bill Smith at Motorola in 1986, Six Sigma is a management philosophy based on removing process variation. It was heavily influenced by preceding quality improvement methodologies such as Quality Control, TQM, and Zero Defects. Six Sigma is a registered service mark and trademark of Motorola Inc. As of 2006, Motorola had reported over $17 Billion in savings from their own employment of Six Sigma practices throughout their global enterprise. Early corporate adopters of Six Sigma who achieved well-publicized success through the application of six sigma best practices to their enterprises included Honeywell (previously known as AlliedSignal) and General Electric, where Jack Welch famously introduced and advocated the method. By the late 1990s, about two-thirds of the Fortune 500 organizations had begun Six Sigma initiatives with the aim of reducing costs and improving quality.

My own professional experiences with Six Sigma began in the early 1990’s (I had first read about it in a Forbes magazine article in 1988) when I worked in manufacturing environments at Mercedes-Benz USA’s plant in Tuscaloosa (Vance), Alabama as well as Phipher Optical Wire Product’s plant in Tuscaloosa, the same city where the University of Alabama is located. It was in these environments where I was tasked with learning about six sigma and spent many hours in classrooms and factory floor and management workgroups implementing and training for a six sigma blackbelt. Six Sigma Black Belts operate under Master Black Belts to apply Six Sigma methodology to specific projects. They devote 100% of their time to Six Sigma. They primarily focus on Six Sigma project execution, whereas what are known in the Six Sigma universe as Six Sigma Champions and Master Black Belts focus on identifying projects/functions for Six Sigma.

Implementing a Six Sigma program in a manufacturing environment means more than delivering defect-free product after final test or inspection. It also entails concurrently maintaining in-process yields around 99.9999998 percent, defective rates below 0.002 parts per million, and the virtual eradication of rework and scrap. Other Six Sigma characteristics include moving operating processes under statistical control, controlling input process variables as well as the more traditional output product variables, and maximizing equipment uptime and optimizing cycle time. In a six sigma organization, employees are trained and expected to assess their job functions with respect to how they improve the organization. They define their goals and quantify where they are currently, their status quo. Then they work to minimize the gap and achieve “six sigma” (in a statistical sense) by a certain date.

Six Sigma focuses on the control of a process to ensure that outputs are within six standard deviations (six sigma) from the mean of the specified goals. Six Sigma is oftentimes implemented using a system with which I have worked many times: define, measure, improve, analyze, and control (DMIAC). Sometimes this same system is referred to as define, measure, analyze and control, or DMAIC.

Define means to describe the process to be improved, usually through some sort of business process model.

Measure means to identify and capture relevant metrics for each aspect of the process model. I have been in classrooms where this is referred to as “Goal -> Question -> Metric”.

Improve obviously implies changing some aspect of the process so that beneficial changes are seen in the associated metrics, usually by attacking the aspect that will have the highest payback.

Analyze and Control means to use ongoing monitoring of the metrics to continuously revisit the model, observe the metrics, and refine the process as needed.

Although some organizations apparently strive to use Six Sigma as a part of their software quality improvement practices, the issue that often arises is finding an appropriate business process model for the software development effort that does not devolve into a highly artificial simulacrum of the waterfall SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) process.


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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

What is Scrum? How is it used to manage projects and teams? November 25, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Project Management, Software.
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As I continue to move in the Boston software development / high tech job market and talk to more and more people in the area, I not only come across the term “Scrum” in many job descriptions, but it is a word that is frequently bandied about by both recruiters and hiring managers. It is clear that there is alot of confusion in the Boston area about what “Scrum” really is, and how it relates to Agile.

There is no substitute for the experience of running Scrum daily for years, as I have done. My heartfelt advice to anyone looking to adopt Scrum in their organization is to be flexible, take it easy on the cutsey names, and keep the daily meetings very brief. If you are the “ScrumMaster”, stay organized and lead the conversation around the room, notating all limiting factors, as that becomes your to-do list. Drop me a line with your own insights or comments on Scrum!

Scrum, as some people already know, is a project managemnt methodology named after a contentious point in a rugby match. The Scrum project management method enables self-organizing teams by encouraging verbal communication across all team members and project stakeholders. At its foundation, Scrum’s primary principle is that traditional problem definition solution approaches do not always work, and that a formalized discovery process is sometimes needed.

Scrum’s major project artifact is a dynamic list of prioritized work to be done. Completion of a largely fixed set of backlogged items occurs in a series of short (many of 30 days duration) iterations, or “sprints”.

Every day a brief meeting or “Scrum” is held in which project progress is explained, upcoming work is described, and impediments are raised. A brief planning session occurs at the start of each sprint to define the backlog items to be completed. A brief postmortem or heartbeat retrospective occurs at the end of each sprint.

A “ScrumMaster” (my advice is to never call yourself this in actual human life in an office of programmers and IT personnel…but know the job well and do it well nevertheless if you are the individual who finds themselves in this role) removes obstacles or impediments to each sprint. The ScrumMaster is not the leader of the team, as they are self-organizing, but rather acts as a productivity buffer between the team and any destabilizing influences.

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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

What is “management by walking around”? June 13, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Management, Project Management, Uncategorized.
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Sometimes also called “Management by walking around” or MBWA, management by sight is a management strategy that can and should be integrated into any management style or approach. It is very people-oriented and it requires managers to be visible and interact heavily with project team members. Interactions at all levels of the project team foster the quick and efficient gathering of information about the project and the project team members.

Management by sight is very direct and the manager practicing it utilizes observation and visibility to conduct project analysis and project leadership, to monitor the situation, and to provide control when necessary.

I have had a great amount of success using this management technique and I thought I would share with you twelve guidelines for MBWA which were shared with me by @sjohnson717 on Twitter in response to this original MBWA post. These tips are great and I recommend following them when using this very simple and effective management technique.

Simple and effective management techniques are what every manager needs more of these days!

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Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

management, mbwa, management by walking around, it management, it, information technology, project management

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