Category: Foci Business

Business updates from the Foci Solutions team.

IT Organizations Need to Practice More, Dunk Less

Whenever I walk into a new client, the first things I hear from the Technology Executives are typically: “We need to modernize”, “We need to transform”, “We need to adopt <insert trendy tech buzzword>”. What I never hear is: “We need to bring our development and testing methodologies up to date”, “We need more collaboration across our teams”, “We need to inventory our skills and see what’s missing”.

If we think of the IT organization as a basketball team, that would be the equivalent of the coach saying: “We need more 3-pointers”, and “We need those fancy new shoes to be able to dunk”.  Whereas even the most inexperienced youth coach knows that the key to winning includes: “We need to practice dribbling and footwork”, “We need to communicate better on the court”, and “We need to improve our free throws/jump shots/rebounds”.

While it is both valid and necessary for IT organizations to push towards the big picture objectives highlighted by glossy Gartner and Forrester whitepapers, these have to be supported by continuous and deliberate investment in foundational concepts.

Let me step in as coach for a moment and propose a strategy for focusing on the foundation…

1)    Invest in the basics: Invest in good basic IT delivery concepts, kind of like dribbling, footwork, and basic fitness in basketball:

  • Make Business Analysis about teasing out the requirements from the Business’ objectives, rather than simply asking the Business to write down their requirements
  • Encourage good testing rigor and embed it throughout the entire solution delivery lifecycle, and not just at the end just before go-live
  • Promote good documentation habits and create templates for common documents (e.g., logical solution architecture, functional designs, interface specifications, data models)
  • Spend adequate time and budget to implement solutions which improve developer productivity (e.g., continuous integration, 3rd party frameworks)
  • Allocate budget for developers to learn different languages so they can be exposed to different software concepts and improve their coding skills
  • Spend generously on training for system analysis, modeling, design methodologies (e.g., domain driven design, SOA, microservices architecture, semantic modeling, BPMN), and not only on those being standardized by the organization, but to improve people’s ability to make smart decisions

2)    Communication is key: Create an environment that promotes collaboration and teamwork:

  • Create communities of practice across your organization (or connect to external groups) to build on collective knowledge and experience
  • Implement real-time collaboration tools (no, Sharepoint and instant messenger don’t count)
  • Make governance less about formal approvals and more about ensuring the right expertise is pulled in at the right stage of a given project
  • Adopt iterative delivery methods to promote frequent touch points between IT and Business obtaining feedback and ensuring alignment

3)    Focus on the right skills: Build the skills that support your strategic objectives. After all, dunking is only made possible by training to jump higher:

  • Strengthen Information and Data Management capabilities as a foundation for Big Data Analytics
  • Educate the team on hashing algorithms, binary trees, digital contracts, and distributed storage to bring Blockchain to the table naturally
  • Leveraging Cloud means good distributed system design, loosely coupled interfaces, container-ready applications, and security frameworks that can deal with 3rd party infrastructure
  • Adopting COTS requires strong technical Business Analysis, ability to negotiate requirements with the Business, and strong platform administration skills

We all want to work with the cool new tech and follow the latest trends. Working with the latest and greatest is what draws people to technology work. But the team will be stronger if the foundation is strong and the team is well connected so take time to build our own skills and our teams’ foundations so we can all up our game.

  • Shan
  • Gu

Announcing Foci Solutions

A little over three years ago, I had the great fortune to reconnect with an old friend from my university days. I lured him away from his well-paying and stable position at one of the Big 5 consulting firms to help me incubate an Integration practice focused on helping large enterprise clients connect their various COTS investments.

Since convincing him to recklessly quit his job and join BoldRadius, Shan and I have been through a lot of ups and downs. His relentless focus on operational and delivery excellence and sharp strategic mind is a strong complement to my ability to create strong culture and set up structures for success. Throughout the time we’ve worked together, I’ve learned to be objective, fair and direct. And my entrepreneurial approach to getting initiatives off the ground has rubbed off on him. Lean, Agile, and Kanban replaced the large and heavy institutions of Waterfall and PMI.

We looked at the market around us and saw that we were building something special, something that landed neatly between the armies of independent consultants and the giant multi-billion dollar consultancies. We have been able to fully leverage our entrepreneurial approach in combination with our experience in large-scale IT implementation to cut through the noise on enterprise IT transformation programs and to focus on the core actions needed to drive it forward. We have become that small tactical team that could help our clients get out of the infinite spin of analysis and to just do something. To move boldly forward instead of being paralyzed with fear when staring down a massively complex problem.

The Integration practice we built within BoldRadius has attracted some amazing talent and has established a strong reputation. Through trial and many errors, we’ve learned what we need to do to secure and maintain enduring relationships built on results for our clients. Finally, we’ve established solid financial footing and the ability to invest in furthering our success.

The Integration business has matured – it needs focus, direction, independence and talent. It’s time for it to spread its wings and take its own path under a new structure, new brand and a new name – Foci Solutions.

Speaking for Shan, myself and the team, we’re excited about what the next chapter holds for Foci. We’re looking forward to solidifying our success and expanding into new areas. We’re relishing the possibilities of new client interactions around better, more mature ways to manage IT and we’ve got big plans to build capabilities that don’t currently exist for IT teams.

Keep an eye on this company – it’s going places.

  • Mike
  • Kelland