Daysha Consulting http://www.dayshaconsulting.com IT Project Services and DevOps Solutions Fri, 22 May 2015 15:37:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.5 What is DevOps? http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/what-is-devops/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/what-is-devops/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:43:50 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=20367 DevOps is not easy to define. It is not a methodology, nor is it a set of tools and technologies. It is really an umbrella term for a set of strategies and a cultural shift in how modern organizations deliver value through IT. The goal of DevOps is to ensure that all aspects of your […]

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DevOps is not easy to define. It is not a methodology, nor is it a set of tools and technologies. It is really an umbrella term for a set of strategies and a cultural shift in how modern organizations deliver value through IT. The goal of DevOps is to ensure that all aspects of your technology organization are aligned to a single objective; rapidly and reliably deliver business value through IT.

DevOps is “a framework of ideas and principles designed to foster cooperation, learning and coordination between development and operational groups

James Turnball VP of Engineering at Kickstarter

How does it work?

Implementing DevOps strategies and culture affects the people, processes and technology of your organization.

DevOps is built on 3 key tenets

  • Collaboration: Ultimately the success of all the principles, processes and practices involved in DevOps depend upon the collaboration between your development and IT operations teams to help you achieve business objectives.
  • Automation: Many development and operations processes are plagued with bottlenecks and manual processes prone to human error. Automation of processes (such as testing, infrastructure configuration, validation, and deployment) is key to delivering on the promise of DevOps.
  • Continuous Improvement: DevOps is heavily influenced by lessons learned in the world of Agile and Lean, in particular the need for a change to a continuous improvement culture. This requires good communication and built-in feedback loops, metrics, and monitoring. Also organisations must not be afraid to fail often and recover quickly, since often we can learn more from failure than success.

Is DevOps for me?

If any of the following problems resonate with you then it is worthwhile investigating DevOps

  • Time-to-market and software development cycle times are excessively long
  • Frequent delays and/or excessive project downtime
  • Frequent self-inflicted environment and service issues
  • A high proportion of your IT budget is “Keep the lights on” and not enough goes towards business growth
  • Operations is a bottleneck or overworked
  • Business opportunities are missed due to inflexibility

What are the benefits of DevOps?

Here are some of the benefits

  • Time to deliver real business value is much shorter because IT cycle time is greatly reduced
  • Software features are released more quickly and more often enabling you to stay ahead of the competition and delight your customers
  • Releases are stable and predictable, making them more cost-efficient and less stressful on your team
  • Collaboration and trust are built between your development and IT operations teams

Further Reading and Useful Resources

DevOps Solves Business Problems – the Ah-Ha moment

This story illustrates how much pain an organization or a business executive has to be in before there’s enough motivation to change.

Bridging the DevOps gap with Tools & Culture

A common misconception is that DevOps is about tooling. The culture of communication and trust is crucial to success and no tools can replace that. That said, tools can help facilitate the change in culture, if it forces or suggests actions that help establish trust, communication and best practices.

25% Tech, 75% Culture

This article explains how DevOps is about more than just development and operations. Ultimately DevOps enables the business to align IT with business needs.

DevOps: These Soft Parts

DevOps is about taking a holistic view of the solution. When we talk about DevOps and the importance of collaboration what exactly do we mean? This article explains and highlights the responsibility that management needs to take for cultivating co-operation between the two groups

Use DevOps to turn IT into a strategic weapon

If you can get to a successful result quicker and more reliably than your competitors, a competitive advantage has been achieved. This is what DevOps is about – getting results quicker than your competitors.

Top 10 practices for Effective DevOps

While DevOps might mean different things to different organizations, this article describes an emerging core of best practices that help teams to collaborate effectively to produce better software more quickly.

The Real Cost of Downtime, The Real Potential of DevOps

The Application Intelligence Platform adds an entire new dimension to DevOps. It focuses on the business transaction as the essential unit of measurement, and recognizes business stakeholders as essential members of the team.

5 Steps to DevOps Success with Application Analytics and BizDevOps

BizDevOps takes the concept of DevOps to a new level – by bringing the business context and insights to the day to day DevOps activities. BizDevOps ensures that Dev and Ops focus on what matters to the business and also introduces the Biz persona (line-of-business manager, product manager) as a key stakeholder in the process.

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Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Not Just a Fad http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/enterprise-collaboration-and-social-software-not-just-a-fad/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/enterprise-collaboration-and-social-software-not-just-a-fad/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:49:32 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19808 Current research shows that 74% of all internet users spend some of their time on social networking sites. These numbers show just how important social media has become to the general population; however, growing trends in enterprise collaboration are proving that businesses are embracing these tools as well. Recently released research from Frost and Sullivan, […]

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social networkCurrent research shows that 74% of all internet users spend some of their time on social networking sites. These numbers show just how important social media has become to the general population; however, growing trends in enterprise collaboration are proving that businesses are embracing these tools as well. Recently released research from Frost and Sullivan, a leading growth partnership company, reports that there were more than 208 million enterprise social media users at the end of 2013, and these numbers are steadily increasing.

Increases in Virtual Workers Demands Collaboration Solutions

Large enterprises such as Cisco, Adobe, United Health Care and many others have diversified their workforce to include virtual workers, and this trend is on the rise for businesses worldwide. As a result of this diversification, corporations need solutions that allow collaboration among all employees – no matter where they might be located. Large companies are incorporating enterprise collaboration and social software such as Jive, Yammer, Slack and HipChat into their enterprise operations in an effort to enhance communication and collaboration among all employees.

Social Software, Workflow Capabilities, and Mobility

DeathtoStock_Wired9Social software at the enterprise level provides enhanced workflow capabilities through integration of collaboration tools. These tools, such as task management, forums, and sharing tools provide dynamic connections that are relevant to the project at hand. These connections allow team members and project managers to enhance productivity, product development, and customer service through always-on platforms that provide real time communication among team members.

Another benefit of social software is the enhanced performance allowed by mobility. Diversified workforces include workers that are located all over the world, these employees require high levels of mobility to ensure open communication. Internal communication processes are vital to project management, and the availability of mobile access to enterprise collaboration solutions ensures that team members can communicate anytime and anywhere.

Future Projections

Enterprise collaboration through social software has already proven to be a valuable tool in enhancing business practices and project management. The growing number of social media applications that are designed for enterprise level use promises to continue, especially as more organizations gain a better understanding of the benefits of these tools. Additionally, the improved functionality in relation to risk management, compliance, and security continues to provide greater peace of mind and trust in the software for enterprise use – especially in the financial and healthcare industries.

As improvements and maturation continue in enterprise social media, more companies are adapting their current project management operations to include these powerful collaboration tools. The current rate of adoption is high, and research suggests that there will be more than 530 million social platform subscribers by 2018.

If you are ready to harness the power of social software for your enterprise collaboration goals, Daysha Consulting can help you determine the best solution for your business. Contact us today for more information.

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Collaborative Software for IT Teamwork? Atlassian Leads the way http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/collaborative-software-for-it-teamwork-atlassian-leads-the-way/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/collaborative-software-for-it-teamwork-atlassian-leads-the-way/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:26:15 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19763 The market tor IT project software continues to sizzle as the drive to launch more and more innovative products puts particular pressure on IT teams. Why the spike in new software? It turns out that the IT project team approach to product development has simultaneously created an environment of collaboration. This collaborative approach, combined with […]

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software developer typing

The market tor IT project software continues to sizzle as the drive to launch more and more innovative products puts particular pressure on IT teams.

Why the spike in new software? It turns out that the IT project team approach to product development has simultaneously created an environment of collaboration. This collaborative approach, combined with the complexity of many projects, is not well served by many of the traditional software tools. For example, many older legacy products talk only to their own proprietary products suites and do not integrate easily, it at all, making it difficult for teams to adapt the tools to their needs.

One thing seems certain: Atlassian—founded in Australia in 2002 as an innovative software developer for IT project teamwork—has become a leader among the relatively new enterprise software companies that emphasize collaboration. Indeed Forbes notes that “Atlassian is the house of collaboration”, with the goal of making simple collaboration software for teams.

Elsewhere, Tech Crunch observes that the “digital economy” has shown a sharp trend upward, creating a need for more and more developers—and “Atlassian has been at the heart of this shift.”

Although their products are primarily aimed at software developers, Tech Crunch notes that their products also support marketing, legal and other departments that play a role in collaboration on software development. The result? More and more companies around the globe now use Atlassian’s products.

There is a lot to the Atlassian Product suite, and we will be covering the products in other articles in the future. To get started, this article provides a summary of some of the products with links to reviews that provide more information.

JIRA to simplify and turbocharge collaboration

jiraAtlassian developed JIRA to boost the productivity of IT project teams and encouraging collaboration. In Jira every work item is called an Issue. You can have bugs, service requests, stories, requirements, test cases, or anything that requires someone to do some work. Workflows can be associated with the work items. But Jira goes one step further. To improve collaboration it has adopted some of the principles of social media by incorporating activity streams and the ability to follow items of interest.

Atlassian and third-party developers can and do offer JIRA-compatibIe products and plug-ins, both commercial and free. For example, when paired with Atlassian’s Jira for Agile plugin, JIRAs power to integrate online collaboration activity makes it the go-to choice tor Agile developers.

TechWorld reports that it’s not just used to fix bugs; two-thirds of the software’s users deploy it to manage non-software development projects.’ Its product review is a detailed, glowing apprasal. When Atlassan released Jira 6 last year, IDG’s TechWorld noted that it “comes with performance improvements and the first interface designed specifically for mobile clients.” And in another review, Tech Crunch reports that more than 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies have jumped on the JIRA Bandwagon. Atlassan has made that an easy call: “Customers with 500 or more JIRA users can now receive 24/7 phone support, end-user training, and administrator certification…”

Confluence for seamless information sharing

confluenceConfluence is Atlassian’s tool to manage information sharing in one place in real time. It provides a single place where people can find, share, and collaborate on the information they need to get their work done. It is based on the concept of a wiki, but Atlassian have taken this to another level, by introducing social collaboration features, such as @mentions, live activity streams, and the ability to follow others and like their content.

A TechRepubIic blog takes readers inside Confluence for a look at how it works, and concludes “Confluence…excels in the areas where I’ve seen wikis and other collaboration tools get wrong such as editing, document conversions and administration.”

Most recently Atlassian launched Confluence Questions, and add-on for Confluence aimed at helping enterprises share knowledge. Over at ZDNet, Confluence group product manager Bill Arconati described the platform as “Quora for your enterprise where it’s a platform that gives employees one place to ask questions and quickly get answers”.

But what really sets apart Confluence from other enterprise social collaboration tools is the degree of integration with Jira. Not software teams have a way to track their work items (Jira), collaborate on information (Confluence), and seamlessly switch from one to the other. In Confluence you can report on progress of items by building status reports and sharing them.

Stash and BitBucket for Code Collaboration

Although Jira and Confluence can be used by any project team, Atlassian also produce a range of tools aimed exclusively at software development teams. These products include FisheyeBambooBitbucketStash, and Crucible. Don’t worry we aren’t going into all of them.

With the software development community another collaboration force is at work. The adoption of Git as a source code control tool has revolutionised the way many software development teams work. Git embodies a recognition that software development is essentially a distributed activity, punctuated by collaborative work. It allows development teams to create a workflow that suits, and Atlassian have gone to great lengths to support Git within their development tools.

bitbucketBitbucket is essentially a direct competitor to GitHub enterprise and provides cloud-based source code control, whilst Stash is a similar Git-based source code control system that can be hosted on-premise.

stashMore recently, Atlassian has been upgrading Stash, its code management tool. Wired reports that “more collaboration tools, such as Twitter- and Facebook-style @ mentions’ and finer-grained permission controls” have been added. Tech Crunch reports on another upgrade: Pull Requests and in-line commenting. IT teams can now collaborate on and review code changes early in the process and comment quickly on code changes both before and after they are incorporated into the codebase. Tech Crunch recognizes that “this improves the accuracy and auditability of the codebase which has to be tracked due to the constant update that happens during development.

One of the great benefits of Stash is again the degree of integration with Jira that can save developers hours when managing code and switching between issue tracking, code repositories, and development environments. For example, with this integration developers can simply assign themselves an issue and within Jira create a feature branch from their Git repository. There is no need to go to a separate Git client, and by default the branch will be named with the issue in question. In Stash when someone browses through the code history that can see what issues a code change relates to and click a link to go directly to that issue in Jira. This provides tremendous traceability and accountability.

How can we help?

If you would like to learn more about Atlassian products or our services, please get in touch. If you are considering using one of the tools, why not try the free 30 day evaluations. If you decide to use the tools we can help your installation, configuration, and tuning.

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Daysha invests €1.5m in Project Management as a Service and creates 15 new jobs http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/daysha-invests-e1-5m-in-project-management-as-a-service-and-creates-15-new-jobs/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/daysha-invests-e1-5m-in-project-management-as-a-service-and-creates-15-new-jobs/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 11:37:09 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19704 Service disrupts traditional outsourced project manager model Investment backs company expansion and new service development Project Management as a Service offering up to 25% savings for clients New jobs will bring the total team to 40 25% growth expected in 2014 Dublin, 12 June, 2014 – Daysha Consulting, a leading Irish provider of IT project […]

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  • Service disrupts traditional outsourced project manager model
  • Investment backs company expansion and new service development
  • Project Management as a Service offering up to 25% savings for clients
  • New jobs will bring the total team to 40
  • 25% growth expected in 2014
  • Dublin, 12 June, 2014 – Daysha Consulting, a leading Irish provider of IT project management, consulting and implementation, is today announcing investment of €1.5m in the company to support expansion of the business and the development of its Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) offering. It is also creating 15 new positions in the next 12 months, bringing the total team to 40.

    The new positions are for IT project management experts, business analysts and technical architects. They will primarily be based in Dublin. The investment is being raised from retained earnings and bank finance.

    Daysha provides IT programme and project management services to clients such as IBM, Zurich Insurance, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and Enterprise Ireland. It has had continued strong growth since 2010 and it is expected to achieve 25% revenue growth in 2014.

    A lack of internal resources in the market place is driving the demand for Daysha’s services and it has packaged its new PMaaS offering to meet this demand. PMaaS removes the risks associated with reliance on a single individual for the duration of a project and ensures the right capabilities can be provided at any stage of a project lifecycle.

    Brendan O’Reilly, managing director, Daysha Consulting explained, “Typically the traditional project management model has been to hire a senior project manager for the duration of the project. We are disrupting this market with our PMaaS service, by optimising the allocation of expertise through a service-level model. Rather than buying the services of an individual, you are buying the services of a firm that has all the specialist knowledge you will require over the lifetime of your project.”

    “We know we can reduce the cost of IT project management by as much as 25%. This new model provides businesses with a great degree of flexibility in terms of resources and costs and we have been receiving a lot of interest among existing and new clients.”

    Daysha has developed PMaaS as a result of the increasing need among Irish business to have a guaranteed level of expertise at the appropriate time in a project, to support or supplement their internal teams. As different needs arise during a project, the PMaaS approach reduces the risk of project failure and the high costs associated with project management as it enables Daysha to deploy different people with different skillsets who will collaborate to ensure the successful delivery of the project.

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    Resourcing, Outsourcing and ROI: A CIO’s Best Practices for IT Project Services http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/resourcing-outsourcing-and-roi-a-cios-best-practices-for-it-project-services/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/resourcing-outsourcing-and-roi-a-cios-best-practices-for-it-project-services/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 09:33:56 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19660 We know that cloud technologies are here to stay. CIOs need to embrace cloud as part of their long term strategy. Organizations are outsourcing more and more of the management of their IT infrastructure. I came across this quote the other day: “Scalable solutions have reduced IT costs and channelled investment in innovation and digital […]

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    CIO Outsourcing Project ServicesWe know that cloud technologies are here to stay. CIOs need to embrace cloud as part of their long term strategy. Organizations are outsourcing more and more of the management of their IT infrastructure. I came across this quote the other day:

    “Scalable solutions have reduced IT costs and channelled investment in innovation and digital change.” –in CIO Leadership, Digital Change and IT Supplier Management.

    As the C-suite team zooms in on strategies designed to boost innovation in order to please stakeholders and stay competitive, CIOs charged with managing the company’s IT seesaw between in-house and outsourcing for IT projects. With all the possibilities now out there, CIOs may even seesaw about HOW to outsource, if a decision to do so is made.

    It used to be the case that the ROI favored keeping all the IT work in house. No more. The cloud—along with the many IT start-ups that use cloud technology—have radically reduced IT-related costs.

    Between large, established IT companies and small, newer, entrepreneurial IT start-ups, CIOs may find it hard to determine which way to turn. The following pointers on outsourcing their IT project services, therefore, may be helpful.

    Review current resourcing of IT projects

    Every company department relies on IT to maintain its services, and every innovation will require IT input and development. It is therefore essential that there are sufficient resources and timeframes for IT projects to succeed—for both departmental maintenance and corporate innovation.

    The first step is for the CIO, then, is a quick review of how well IT projects typically are resourced in the company. Our blog on identifying signs of IT department overload is a good starting point.

    Adequate human resources counts as well. So the next step is looking at whether the talent is already on board—at both the Project Management and team member levels—with all of the skills, creativity, and flexibility needed to address the innovation and maintenance equation. That being unlikely, especially over the long run, then you need to decide what to outsource, and to whom.

    Outsourcing decisions

    This blog, 5 Tips for Effective Outsourcing, includes pointers on deciding what to outsource. Essentially, if your company’s mission does not include producing IT products, why service them in house? Not a high tech company? Turn to an outside source for any product or service not integral to your mission.

    The whitepaper mentioned above outlines specific reasons to turn to outsourcing as a means to boost your company’s ability to innovate. So-called “niche suppliers” are now out there with the both the talent pool and the all-important agility to not only handle the IT aspect of your innovation ideas—they can even contribute in a way that enhances your innovation.

    Red Hat, the enterprise OS software company, recently underwent a successful outsourcing process and ended up hiring Catalyst IT Services to enhance its customer service. You can read about this outsourcing process here.

    The new outsourcing management

    Managing an outsourced supplier is not easy, and may require that you disrupt your current view of supply side management.

    Getting the most out of your new IT supplier often means looking at that niche supplier as a genuine partner—because they are. Maintaining an open communication about ideas—yours and theirs—is likely to lead to a better outcome for your innovations.

    Having cultivated a relationship with a niche supplier in the long run can translate into a true partnership with win-win ROIs for both companies.

    The CIO’s role, never an easy one, is now more challenging than ever. One clear path to enhancing ROI, however, lies in the CIO’s ability to analyze the daily vs. strategic long-term IT needs of the company and act accordingly.

    The lower cost of outsourcing these days provides CIOs with the flexibility needed to manage IT projects successfully—if they know how to take advantage of the new market of niche suppliers.

    At Daysha, we’re here to help. Please contact us with all your IT Project Management needs.

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    How do you…Manage IT Department Overload? http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/how-do-you-manage-it-department-overload/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/how-do-you-manage-it-department-overload/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 12:17:04 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19464 Business executives these days are in an innovation pressure cooker. Everywhere they turn, innovation is the buzz. Innovation makes headlines. Innovation captures investors’ imaginations. Innovation may bring in new types of customers. Stakeholders aren’t immune to “innovation fever.” In addition to demand for steady, if not increased, profits, stakeholders may be adding to the executives’ […]

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    Solve IT Depoartment Overload with IT Project Management OutsourcingBusiness executives these days are in an innovation pressure cooker. Everywhere they turn, innovation is the buzz. Innovation makes headlines. Innovation captures investors’ imaginations. Innovation may bring in new types of customers.

    Stakeholders aren’t immune to “innovation fever.” In addition to demand for steady, if not increased, profits, stakeholders may be adding to the executives’ pressure with a mantra of innovation, too.

    If the C-suite responds by demanding of its teams short-term sprints to innovate, and pushing for the next new thing—especially in a sluggish economy—your company may be experiencing serious IT department overload.

    In this article we explore some of the issues we see and you will learn

    • How to recognise the symptoms of IT Department Overload
    • What you can do to manage demand on your resources

     

    Signs of IT department overload

    Since every project, innovative or not, is likely to have an IT component, overlooking these signs that your IT department is overloaded may lead to failures such as drops in market share, lower earnings and profits, and unhappy customers, executives, and stakeholders.

    1. The most obvious sign: critical IT-related turnover.

    • IT is fundamental to the success of every project in nearly every business.
    • There is a shortage of IT project managers competent in the range of skills required to manage complex and fast-paced projects.
    • There also is a finite number of the best of the best IT developers—so much so that IT Project Managers are sometimes pressed into filling this function as well.
    • If your IT department is losing great staff, it may be time to step back and ask why. Maybe IT project members are working 80-hour weeks to meet deadlines. Maybe key deadlines still cannot be met. Which brings us to…

    2. The next obvious sign: slipped deadlines.

    • Is one project’s startup crashing headlong into another project that is still in the works, like a train wreck?
    • If that is occurring on a number of occasions, then planning or IT resources—or both—were inadequate.

    3. A less obvious yet key sign: people pressed into performing tasks for which they lack skills.

    • Computerworld’s report on How to Prevent IT Department Overload notes that in a pinch, a company may resort to saying, “‘Let’s get Bob to do it. He’s in IT finance–that’s like a business analyst.’ And then Bob makes a big mess.”
    • Look at the frequency with which this type of stop-gap move occurs in your IT department and analyze the cost of doing business this way.

    4. The ever-present sign: the size of your IT project backlog.

    • Computerworld states what should be obvious: if containing costs is a business priority while more projects are piled onto the IT department’s cart, the lack of resources will create a backlog in work or, worse, a backlog leading to high turnover, people pressed into tasks for which they lack skills, and slipped deadlines. Sound familiar?

    5. A subtler but sure sign: reactivity, and a lack of demand management, demand planning, or any planning.

    • An unmanaged expectation that your IT department can and will handle whatever is tossed its way leads to working in a reactive mode in which the “squeaky wheels” get attended to and the rest get pushed aside for the moment—or chaos, IT-style.
    • If there is no IT map of the projects now in place and those in the pipeline, along with the timeline for each, and the IT resources—project management, realistic workhours per person, and equipment—that will be allocated to each project, then see points one through four, above.

    Just say no?

    Recognizing that your IT department is in serious overload, what’s next? Just saying no to new projects is unlikely to bring about solutions.

    Rather, it will take aligning C-suite and IT department objectives, starting with including IT as a partner in strategic planning at the highest levels of the business, for the best long-range solutions to emerge.

    Often turning to a demand management approach will provide executives with the information they need to prioritize their IT requests with a yield that will please stakeholders. As Zetlin states, “Managing the flow of an infinite supply of worthwhile projects through a finite IT operation takes finesse.”

    What are strategies to manage the flow of IT projects?

    1. Have a plan and protocol. There should be a written plan and protocol for how projects are submitted to the IT department. Everyone should not have equal access to them. The best strategy is to have all projects presented to one committee or person. That committee or person ranks the projects and one person decides who in the IT department works on each project. That way there is only one person assigning projects instead of lots of people.

    2. While scheduling the IT projects, time should be allocated in sections. The majority of the time should be spent on scheduled projects in the priority the committee or person decided. But, at least 20% of each IT member’s time should be allocated to emergency projects. Every business has projects that need to be completed last minute. If that time is allocated, then it won’t feel like a crisis. If there are no emergency projects, then the IT member can work on the current project.

    But, there is a caution to allocating time for emergency projects. The committee or person scheduling projects must be able to tell individuals which projects are or are not emergencies. Otherwise, some people will always classify a project as an emergency.

    3. Consider Outsourcing. Sometimes the pressures are such that it is impossible for the business leadership to drop some projects in favour of others. Sometimes everything has to be done to effect a change in company direction or some other strategic transformation. In these cases consider calling on outside help. Augmenting your IT team with outside resources (e.g. IT Project Management experts) is a reliable and proven solution. You might also consider restructuring your team, outsourcing the non-essential workload, and focusing the team on the core strategic initiatives. However be careful choosing your IT outsourcing partner.

    Learning People gives us additional strategies to avoid IT department overload:

    • Have a team decide on the timeline of projects. Individuals who are not in the IT department will not have an accurate idea of the time involved. The time decision needs to be a team decision.
    • Outsource some of the work. Have a few contractors who can do the work that takes the most time, yet affects the project the least.

    IT department overload is a problem all businesses face. The IT department is usually in high demand, and many times, the demand is “urgent” instead of managed well. Using the strategies discussed above will help your business avoid the issues associated with IT department overload, which will result in more productivity and success.

    Today’s businesses need high quality, high-functioning IT departments as partners for sustainable success. For more information about the tools to manage your IT department’s load in order to meet the IT challenges of today, please contact us.

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    5 Tips for Effective IT Outsourcing http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/5-tips-for-effective-it-outsourcing/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/5-tips-for-effective-it-outsourcing/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 14:14:15 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19533 Outsourcing isn’t exactly a new trend. One could even say that it is more or less mainstream and culturally accepted within IT organizations. Outsourcing has always been a popular way of decreasing costs while accessing world class talent. But that truth rings even louder in an era of constant technological change. Staying in front of […]

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    Outsourcing isn’t exactly a new trend. One could even say that it is more or less mainstream and culturally accepted within IT organizations. Outsourcing has always been a popular way of decreasing costs while accessing world class talent. But that truth rings even louder in an era of constant technological change. Staying in front of technology means staying ahead of the competition and focusing on your core strengths.

    But how you decide what part of your IT to outsource and what to keep in house is a key decision for most organizations. Every organization answers this question based on the needs and uniqueness of the organization. What a company in the healthcare industry would outsource is different than what an IT company would outsource, and even different IT organizations will outsource different things.

    Although outsourcing is not the only answer, it is definitely something most organizations will want to consider. Read on if you would like to learn

    1. The factors you should consider when deciding what to outsource
    2. Tips for choosing an IT outsourcing supplier
    3. How to outsource your IT Project Management

    How do I know what to outsource?

    MindTools gives us key questions to ask when making this decision:

    1. How strategically important is each task to your business? For example: Having an IT help desk is strategically important to an IT company, but probably not for a company that produces hinges. If your organization relies on technology, instead of outsourcing, you might consider using Cloud services. The Cloud can keep the work in-house because it is strategically important, yet there is an outsourcing aspect since you can have a company host your Cloud services and provide IT services.
    2. What is the task’s impact on your organization’s operational performance? If you outsource the cleaning crew, does that affect your operational performance? Probably not if you are a university, but yes if you are a hospital since the hospital can face major repercussions if the cleaning rules are not strictly followed. If you are an accounting business, outsourcing the technology could greatly impact your business if it is compromised or you cannot access the information.
    3. What will give you the competitive advantage? What should you keep in-house to make you more competitive, and what should you outsource to make you more competitive? Look at your competition and what they keep in-house and outsource. How does that affect their competitiveness?

    These are the first questions to ask when deciding what to outsource. The answers will be unique to your organization; however, observing other organizations will help you answer these questions. Once these questions are answered, you are ready to start analyzing and making some decisions.

    How do I choose and manage my outsourcing supplier?

    If you decide that outsourcing is a suitable solution then the next step is finding suppliers. Locating the right outsourcing partner and mastering effective management of external resources can seem daunting and time consuming; but it doesn’t have to be. After all you want to prevent headaches, not create new ones, right?

    The following are 5 tips that can turn your outsourcing initiative into a successful and smart business practice.
    (click + to expand)

  • Don’t focus on cost
    Finding the right candidate or vendor below your budget when you are considering outsourcing is tempting, but don’t make this mistake. You can still stay within budget if you focus on the quality of results expected and a reasonable price you can afford. Forbes states that with rising costs overseas, outsourcing overseas is no longer a sustainable cost-savings over in-house IT support. They state that outsourcing IT services overseas will drop at least 15% through 2016.
  • Incorporate outsourcing interview techniques
    There is no need to perform a full-fledged interview when considering a qualified outsourced candidate.  You can, however, line up a set of questions that you feel are important to the scope of the project. Contact prior clients and obtain valuable feedback that can affect your decision. When you are checking references, it is fairly easy to get an honest opinion of the value of work the candidate supplier provided before.
  • Find ideal candidates for specific project categories
    Don’t focus on the project as a whole; instead break it up into categories and group tasks together that require the same skillset. Choose team members that have experience in the specific category areas the project needs.
  • Make sure your project scheduling and scope is clear and easily understood
    It’s hard to obtain the results you need if your project details are confusing. It’s not uncommon for project managers who are considering outsourcing to find themselves in a project nightmare because they didn’t state the needs and goals properly.  Evaluate assignments and make sure that they are set up to give you the results you need.
  • Have and maintain realistic expectations
    It’s easy to get caught up in project pressure, especially with IT outsourcing. Maintain focus and be as clear as possible about the project requirements. Always provide all the information needed to complete tasks successfully. Don’t force unrealistic schedules because it will inevitably impact the overall project cost when things go wrong.
  • Consider outsourcing your IT Project Management

    Within the IT function there are various roles and activities that can be outsourced e.g. IT support desk, network management, maintenance and repair etc. IT Project Management is another area that organizations should consider.

    The amount of expertise required to manage modern projects can be staggering. In addition to being experienced and informed on the most applicable project management methodologies, an IT project manager must know all the fundamentals of managing time, budget, and schedule. This is all in addition to having the solid technical foundation or subject matter expertise to understand the true trajectory of the project. It can be difficult to find one person who has all the necessary skills.

    In fact sometimes it might be better to treat project management as a service provided by a team rather than one individual. The service can take a holistic view of the project and provide the right leadership resources at the right time during the course of the project, rather than rely on one person.

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    2014: Will we see the death of the RFP? http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/2014-will-we-see-the-death-of-the-rfp/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/2014-will-we-see-the-death-of-the-rfp/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 16:26:44 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19270 Let’s say you are a global IT firm in need of a partner to help develop a competitor to Apple’s iPhone. How will your requests to prospective outsourcing partners read? Will you ask for a smart phone designed to do exactly what the iPhone does (choice number one)? Or will you ask for a more […]

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    overwhelmed by proposalsLet’s say you are a global IT firm in need of a partner to help develop a competitor to Apple’s iPhone. How will your requests to prospective outsourcing partners read? Will you ask for a smart phone designed to do exactly what the iPhone does (choice number one)? Or will you ask for a more open-ended proposal for a smart phone and simply require that it has to include specified capabilities (choice number two)?

    If you opted for the second choice, go to the head of the class. Why? Prospective partners are likely to offer competitive designs for a smart phone that solve your problem and more: for example, you may see a design for features you had not yet thought of. What would the first choice likely achieve? Designs constricted by your parameters which may or may not achieve your business goal in the world of smart phone market share.

    RFS vs. RFP

    The Information Services Group (ISG) has written a whitepaper, The RFP Will Never Be the Same,  which essentially advocates for a Request for Solution—choice number two above—rather than the traditional Request for Proposal, choice number one above.

    In today’s business environment, which places the highest priority on innovation, ISG redefines the RFP this way: “…the highly prescriptive nature of the traditional Request for Proposal is by definition anathema to true innovation and ill-suited to address the complex requirements faced by many clients today.” In other words, innovation is unlikely under prescriptive directions.

    ISG suggests that the road to an innovative outsourced solution requires that businesses stop telling outsourcing partners how to do their job, and replace that with clearly describing outcomes the business requires. Only that approach will allow potential outsourcing partners “the flexibility to propose unique solutions.”

    Datamark’s own whitepaper on business process outsourcing trends in 2014 says,

    …under the RFS process, customers will describe the general characteristics of their operations, objectives, concerns and vision of the future state of the process. … ISG says the RFS model will encourage innovation and facilitate the trust necessary for long-term strategic outsourcing partnerships.

    Talk about aligning all your business processes along the lines of design thinking! This disrupted and reframed outsourcing process looks a lot like design thinking, especially if your business thinks of the outsourcing partner as a customer.

    Benefits of the RFS Approach

    ISG lists two high-impact benefits of the RFS approach.

    • First, the RFS may “reveal” a solution that had not occurred to the business issuing the RFS. ISG claims this is especially true when attempting to “transform and standardize existing IT environments.” After all, the business issuing the RFS may not have the particular expertise or experiences that the potential vendor does.
    • Second, the solution(s) revealed by the RFS approach may save money for the business issuing the RFS. How so? ISG found that “prices are at least 10 percent higher when responding to complex RFPs.” An RFS takes that complexity out the outsourcing process, which “potentially eliminates a key cost driver of the provider’s solution.”

    If your company is seeking an outsourcing solution for which there may be more than one right answer, then using an RFS may yield the best results in terms of an innovative solution and cost. ISG is careful to caution, however, that situations that are fairly straightforward may successfully stick with RFPs.

    Clearly your business needs to look at an array of other factors when considering business process outsourcing.

    • labor, infrastructure, taxes and incentives;
    • skills pool and provider landscape;
    • environment—government, business, quality of life, and accessibility;
    • infrastructure—ICT, real estate, transportation, and power;
    • risk—security, disruptive events, macroeconomics, regulations, and intellectual property;
    • human rights; and
    • market potential.

    Having these considerations in mind, take a step back and ask whether your business might benefit from employing the RFS approach to outsourcing. You may be surprised at the solutions that your RFS generates.

    Today’s businesses increasingly rely on outsourcing for accomplishing aspects of their IT operations and even their product and service innovations. For more information and tools to meet the challenges of today, please contact us.

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    How To…Hire I.T. Project Managers http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/how-to-hire-i-t-project-managers/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/how-to-hire-i-t-project-managers/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 09:55:56 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19494 The first in a series of “How To” Guides If you are responsible for hiring IT Project Managers and you don’t have relevant technical expertise-how do you recruit effectively? The good news is that you don’t have to be a tech head to manage the recruitment process successfully though input from the IT team will […]

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    The first in a series of “How To” Guides

    If you are responsible for hiring IT Project Managers and you don’t have relevant technical expertise-how do you recruit effectively?

    The good news is that you don’t have to be a tech head to manage the recruitment process successfully though input from the IT team will be essential in defining the requirements of the role and the type of candidate needed. Get this feedback at the outset and then use this Guide to walk you through the process-why not bookmark the link now so you’ll have it handy when you need it?

    The Snapshop

    • Establish the essential requirements which candidates must demonstrate
    • Create a simple rating system to rank CVs in line with priority requirements
    • Follow the recommended Step by Step Actions-see list below
    • Ask the candidates the Right Questions-see list below
    How To…Hire-I.T-Project Managers

    Via iStock

    Document your Expectations

    As soon as you sit down to define what you expect the new recruit to do and deliver, you will help clarify in your own mind the type of person you need to recruit. You’ll probably want to divide these requirements into “the essentials” and those that are “nice-to-have”. Liaise with relevant team members-both technical and operational-to develop these requirements

    Top Tip-don’t make the “essential” requirements too restrictive or you might be eliminating strong candidates from the process at the outset.

    There is an interesting article which outlines these essentials as follows;

    • Academic Qualifications – a third level I.T. qualification may be sufficient or an MBA may be required for senior roles.
    • Professional Qualifications – these can be essential in specific functions; a Project Management Certification, for example, may be relevant or you may be satisfied with on-the-job training
    • Work Experience – has the recruit worked in a similar role before and for how long?
    • Skillsets – what skills are needed for the role and has the candidate demonstrated these competencies in previous jobs?

    Once you’ve completed this list, develop a separate set of “useful” requirements-then implement and document your selection process in a professional, consistent way. Before you go forward, take a step back and ask yourself if its possible that you already have the resources you need in-house. Sometimes by reorganizing and outsourcing you can free up essential resources. But for now lets assume you need to hire someone.

    Create a Shortlist – Step by Step

    On one hand the current economy is at a low ebb and yet on the other hand it can be hard to recruit the right I.T. Project Management resources. So you may find it necessary to have a flexible set of essential requirements and a rating system which delivers enough candidates through the system to ensure a successful recruitment process.

    However what you definitely want to avoid is wading through a lot of non-relevant CV’s and then, worse still, wasting time interviewing unsuitable candidates before you wind up with a useful shortlist of qualified, appropriate candidates.

    This checklist of actions/questions will help you to quickly identify a quality talent pool of suitable candidates. Go through these questions with the relevant management team in your company. This will help identify if there are any differing expectations from people within the organisation in terms of what the recruit is expected to deliver.

    checklist

    Via iStock

    Step by Step Actions to develop a Shortlist

    1. Work out how many initial interviews you want to do

    This process will help you to identify how flexible you need to be with your essential criteria and rating system . If you want to interview 5 people, for example, then there is no point in having the essential criteria so tight, only 1 of the 30 CVs you might have would actually meet them.

    2. Delegate initial shortlisting then refine it in stages

    If you’re swamped with CV’s then get someone to run through them initially, eliminating those who don’t meet the absolute basic requirements.

    3. Use a spreadsheet and ranking system

    Review the remaining CVs and rank them according to their ability to meet both essential and desirable requirements. To help you rank the CV’s submitted, it’s useful to put together a rating system; a third level qualification may not be essential, for example, but it may rate highly in your selection criteria-if you put together a table and mark each CV in line with a simple rating system, you will have documented a transparent, systemised approach which can also be used to give candidates feedback in the future, where requested. You could also use a recruitment tracking system-this site includes a comparison of systems currently available.

    4. Eliminate inconsistent CV’s

    Are you looking for a full time permanent resource or a part-time contractor-look for CV’s where the employment history is consistent with the type of recruit you are looking for.

    5. Final Shortlisting

    At this stage you can review the “nice-to-have” attributes and skills of each candidate. Have they got relevant industry experience, an outside interest which might be useful in the role, professional contacts, a foreign language which might come in handy etc.

    6. Initial Interviews

    First impressions are vital and it’s only at interview stage when you can establish personalities and clarify whether they are a likely to fit well in your company. The questions listed below will help you through this initial interview process.

    7. Conduct Second Interviews

    A second interview can be more indepth, it gives you the chance to clarify any queries you had after the initial interview and it also gives you a chance to bring in another team member for a second opinion. The second interview also shows whether or not the candidate is consistent in the impression they give. Ultimately aim to make the final appointment based on the person that best meets the defined criteria.

    By going through these steps you will have implemented a process that should eliminate bias and this makes it a professional and transparent system-which is useful from every perspective.

    Key Questions to Ask at Interview Stage

    There are plenty of role-specific questions that you are likely to have and you will certainly want to discuss the relevant skillsets of each candidate directly, at interview stage. However you may find that you then get a set of standard responses, defined to show the candidate in the very best light. So how can you cut through these generic type interviews to really get a sense of the person and his/her approach to their work?

    Check out these 8 questions that were put together by a group of recruitment experts to help recruiters identify the type of personality they are interviewing. Here’s a sample of the type of questions you might ask based on their recommendations;

  • 1. Who do you admire the most and why have you picked that person?
    This will help you to work out if the candidates thinking aligns with the culture of your organisation. It’s a very personal question and shows the true thinking of the person and what their priorities are. It’s a great question to help you get an insight into the persons’ true character.
  • 2. In your last performance assessment, what areas for improvement were suggested?
    No-one is perfect but if they don’t realise there’s areas for improvement then they may find it hard to progress within an organisation. So its useful to know whether there is self-awareness in the candidate about his/her short-comings and whether or not they are willing to address these.
  • 3. What happened the last time a project was delayed and how was the delay dealt with?
    Many projects run over time and managing this process, identifying why it happened and how things can be improved, is a core skill for an IT Project Manager. The answer will also help you to learn more about the candidates work experience and level of responsibility.
  • 4. Why are you doing this interview?
    It’s good to ask this question at the outset-it will immediately show whether someone is just there for a job or actually interested in your organisation and the role. 
  • 4. What is your passion?
    This question immediately identifies the priorities of the person and what drives them. If the interviewee cannot easily come up with a true passion, will they be passionate about their work? If it’s golf, will they be out every Friday afternoon? Maybe in your organisation that opportunity to network would be a good thing?  
  • What has been your experience?

    Have you got any great interview questions you’d like to share? What system do you use to rate prospects? Has recruitment been a challenge? You can leave a comment below, or contact us for more information on our recruitment services.

    With over a decade of experience in providing I.T. project managers to a range of national and multi-national organisations, Daysha Consulting are in an excellent position to offer advice and consultancy on every aspect of recruitment and the I.T. project management life cycle.

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    IT Teams: Are you Sitting on Untapped Potential? http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/it-teams-are-you-sitting-on-untapped-potential/ http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/it-teams-are-you-sitting-on-untapped-potential/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:52:45 +0000 http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/?p=19454 Often some of the most able, educated and creative talent in an organisation lies in the I.T. team yet they are not brought in at an early stage to help drive strategic change. Why not?

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    IT Ideas

    Often some of the most able, educated and creative talent in an organisation lies in the I.T. team yet they are not brought in at an early stage to help drive strategic change. Why not?

    The Snapshot

    • Senior Management teams need to harness the talent within their IT Depts. and to enable IT personnel to act as partners in the change process.
    • I.T. professionals should be “managing projects, not maintaining hardware”.
    • SaaS solutions can facilitate the outsourcing of tactical, technical support duties.

    I.T. Spend and Productivity Gain…or Fail?

    New technologies in business bring with them an expectation of improved productivity. Yet it’s interesting to discover that employees believe that the reality is very different.  In fact recent research shows that while companies target productivity gains of up to 20%, the majority of staff, 61%, believe I.T. is ineffective at helping them to work more efficiently or at reducing their workload.

    IT infographic

    Source CEB

    So what’s the answer – with so much dynamism in the market, how can companies harness technologies effectively to drive productivity and to compete successfully in this changing landscape? And why aren’t they?

    A recent report by McKinsey suggests the Top 10 IT-enabled business trends for the years ahead. The report discusses how Big Data and Advanced Analytics are enabling companies to respond to market needs and that ultimately this will help managers to make better business decisions-leading to new business models and improved productivity. In order to optimise the opportunities presented by the 10 trends outlined, it recommends that senior executives should focus their attention on the following issues:

    Transparent and Innovative Business Models

    • Rapid response to customer demand will need to become a core competency.

    Talent

    • The automation of jobs currently undertaken by knowledge workers will place more value on people with higher skills, therefore training will become a critical priority.

    Organisation

    • With increasing connectedness, companies will need to embrace more non-hierarchical organisational forms, which is likely to boost innovation and productivity.

    Privacy and Security

    • Protection of data and solid security management practices will become a core customer requirement and will be central to an organisations reputation.

    We strongly recommend that you check out the full article by McKinsey as you’ll recognise that many of the trends are becoming a reality already and it’s a heads-up for those who seek to become a pace-setter in their sector.

    However what’s also interesting about this study is that it emphasises the need for up skilling of IT resources in the future and the central role that IT will take in developing new business models. And if you’re in IT Project Management right now, you’ll see that your skills are likely to become even more valuable in the future.

    All of this points to the need for a change in thinking in terms of the role of the IT Dept. within organisations. Central to this change is the requirement to free-up IT specialists from support roles so that they can take on full managerial responsibility to drive change-with time to investigate new technologies and options which could re-invent the business model.

    SaaS delivers Thinking Time for I.T. Project Managers

    The growth of Software as a service (SaaS) is a welcome development and it may transform the way in which internal I.T. Depts. operate. By accessing cloud based software applications that don’t require in-house I.T. support, some experts believe that organisations will now be in a position to shift their thinking in terms of the function of the in-house I.T. team.

    As organisations re-organise IT resources around end-to-end business needs, simpler tasks can be outsourced and the internal team can be up-skilled to work more collaboratively and to think more analytically, and according to CEB 97% of IT staff will be effected by this change. IT budgets, up to 60%, are then likely to shift towards projects that can deliver real productivity gains.

    infographic

    Source CEB

    With Saas as an option, it’s worth asking the question “What’s the most useful work we could get our I.T. team to deliver?”. The answer is likely to lie in strategic thinking and inventive business solutions. By outsourcing support services through SaaS solutions companies have the opportunity to really make the most of the talent within.

    Talent Scout Your I.T. Team

    This consideration of the value of internal resources from a strategic perspective is a good first step towards disruption and true innovation. The key is to harness this disruptive thinking so that you produce a re-designed IT function that can partner with the company on its strategic growth curve.

    As part of this process you’ll need to assess how the business objectives can be both supported and informed by external I.T. developments as well as internal IT expertise.

    A good example of this sort of transition is highlighted in this article. The article focuses on how a global shipping company called AmeriJet had to reorganise their I.T. work processes in order to dramatically expand the size of their organisation.

    Some of the steps that Amerijet conducted during this process included:

    • Outsourcing of non-essential I.T. operations
    • Most applications were moved to the cloud
    • A more project focused I.T. Dept. was created

    Amerjet is a company that operates on a global scale, but there are still important lessons that can be taken from this case study for companies operating on a more micro scale. One of the clear benefits of outsourcing I.T. functions and responsibilities is that it allows the in-house I.T. staff more time to focus on project management- avoiding the wasted time that tactical support can so easily bleed away, day-in-day-out.

    For Amerjet, this innovation was driven by the company’s Senior Director of Technology and Information Services, Jennifer Torlone. Speaking about one of the most important changes made during the process, Torlone commented that “what emerged through the process was a newly-organized and newly-focused IT group that spends its time on managing projects rather than maintaining hardware”.

    The Way Ahead for I.T. Talent

    Game Changer for IT

    Via iStock

    While the growth in SaaS options will facilitate change, organisations need to plan their approach carefully and consider how to introduce these changes for best effect.

    The Corporate Executive Board offers advice and support to leading multinational organisations and it has identified the following five areas as being topics of popular concern;

    • Building a strategic workforce Plan
    • Identifying and developing I.T. talent
    • Developing business engagement skills
    • Supporting knowledge work
    • Creating strategic roadmaps

    This reflects the changing nature of I.T. roles and the need to plan a way forward. It emphasises the move towards a vision of the I.T. team working in a more effective and inter-connected way within organisation.

    Need Guidance?

    At Daysha Consulting we have in-depth experience of working with clients to harness IT expertise so that you can implement effective strategic change. From integrating innovation and design thinking into your project processes, to looking at more effective ways to deploy your resources, we can help. Call today to discuss your requirements. We look forward to talking with you.

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