Business colleagues working in team

A Small External Enterprise Development Team is Cheaper than Your Own

Business colleagues working in team

Time is money in the application development business. We have to get to market sooner so someone else does not gazump us, and pip us at the post. We increase the likelihood of this with every delay. Moreover, the longer your in-house team takes to get you through the swamp, the higher the project cost to you.

Of course, in theory this should not be the case. Why bring in a team from outside, and pay more to support their corporate structure? Even going for a contract micro team ought not to make financial sense, because we have to fund their mark-up and their profit taking. Our common sense tells us that this is crazy. But, hold that thought for a minute. What would you say if a small external enterprise development team was actually cheaper? To achieve that, they would have to work faster too.

The costs of an Enterprise Internal Development Team

Even if you were able to keep your own team fully occupied – which is unlikely in the long term – having your own digital talent pool works out expensive when you factor in the total cost. Your difficulties begin with the hiring process, especially if you do not fully understand the project topic, and have to subcontract the hiring task.

If you decide to attempt this yourself, your learning curve could push out the project completion date. Whichever way you decide to go, you are up for paying advertising, orientation training, technical upskilling, travel expenses, and salaries all of which are going to rob your time. Moreover, a wrong recruitment decision would cost three times the new employee’s annual salary, and there is no sign of that changing.

But that is not all, not all by far. If want your in-house team to keep their work files in the office, then you are going to have to buy them laptops, plus extra screens so they can keep track of what they are doing. Those laptops are going to need desks, and those employees, chairs to sit in. Plus, you are going to need expensive workspace with good security for your team’s base.

If we really wanted to lay it on, we would add software / cloud costs, telephony, internet access, and ongoing technical training to the growing pile. We did a quick scan on PayScale. The median salary of a computer programmer in Ireland is €38,000 per year and that is just the beginning. If you need a program manager for your computer software, their salary will be almost double that at €65,000 annually.

Advantages of R&D outsourcing

The case for a small externally sourced enterprise development team revolves around the opportunity cost – or loss to put in bluntly – of hiring your own specialist staff for projects. If you own a smaller business with up to 100 people, you are going to have to find work for idle digital fingers, after you roll out your in-house enterprise project. If you do not, you head down the road towards owning a dysfunctional team lacking a core, shared objective to drive them forward.

Compared to this potential extravagance, hiring a small external enterprise development team on an as-needed basis makes far more sense. Using a good service provider as a ‘convenience store’ drives enterprise development costs down through the floor, relative to having your own permanent team. Moreover, the major savings that arise are in your hands and free to deploy as opportunities arise. A successful business is quick and nimble, with cash flow on tap for R & D.

Want to find out more?

Contact Denizon today to find out how we can your organisation overcome business challenges.

  • 0843 289 4539 (UK)
  • +353-1-443-3807 (Irl)
Professional Electrician Job

Field service and customer transparency

Professional Electrician Job

These days, a business is as good as it is transparent. Businesses are on unsteady ground because of the ever changing face of social media and a never-seen-before demand for information. With many sources of info on the internet, being credible is a sure way of building trust and loyalty among clients.

Here is an example. Customers will always believe what they see. If they see the work you put into furnishing their favourite products, you have a greater chance of getting their approval. They can invest more in what they see. The clothing merchandise Patagonia did this for their Footprint Chronicles line to show how their jackets are made and worked out fine for them.
Transparency is a must. Nowadays, customers never forget when they feel cheated. It is even harder to ensure transparency because many clients are also experts who scrutinise every detail. So, how can you keep transparency at the forefront?

Have transparent workforce management

Customers always look for new information and want to be in the know. There is nothing worse than not being able find a product manual or an easy way to set up appointments. By giving your clients a self-service option, they can pick the services they want. This leaves more time to get stuff done rather than answering unending service calls from dissatisfied customers.


For instance, you could have a field service customer self-service application that allows customers to look for personalised services, a machine manual, book appointments, or solve any other problem. Customers then get feedback anytime. This one-on-one approach can help customers feel like their questions are being answered. They’ll also not go through the hassle of long hold times to reach an available customer service representative.

 

Create transparency in field service repair projects

If field technicians have access to field service software, it allows technicians to be more open to customers. This gives them vital information like customer history and the ERP, so that they can explain changes that were made after past enquiries and what is being done in current products. Such information can be a guide for future updates or let the techs suggest products that suit a client’s taste. Unlike always staying offline and out of touch with your client, using field service software can allow entry of allowances and mileage, and also let the customer know the delivery time for their products.

Show customers what they’re paying for

With field service automation, billing will also be transparent. By using the available information about your field service solution, the station can send updated service reports to the customer like mileage, allowances, parts, hours worked, and photos of broken parts from the service. After the customer authenticates the transaction with a signature, the field service agent can generate and sent to the customer an invoice based on the agreed upon services. In case allowances and mileage can be forwarded to the customer, it will be shown on the invoice.
Because you use field service automation, it means that the customer will receive the invoice really fast – in days rather than weeks – and transparency will skyrocket because the whole experience of the service will leave a permanent mark in their mind.

Mistaking information for transparency

Being honest with your customer is the one thing. Wasting their time with unnecessary information is another. Here is an experience I had with a small retailer. Tracking information is only useful if it has recent updates and is accurate. If the company want to use real time tracking, let them do so under one condition – updates should be regular and on time so as not to leave the customer frustrated because they also make plans based on the same information. Late updates shed light on the nature of the service command. Everyone hates cooked-up real time information.

A company must not always have a one to one exchange of information with customers to maintain transparency..

  • Use simple language that all customers can understand
  • Don’t use abbreviations that only employees know
  • Never ever air your failures and flaws to your customers


It is interesting that most of the tools we use to keep in touch with our clients and servicing their requests can also be used to gather data and iron out possible errors to improve products and services. This is a good chance for service providers to evaluate and make necessary amendments.

There are some areas that will need improving while others will not, nevertheless, the client needs to always be informed and know why things are the way they are. Not all details should be told, so filter what you share.

5 ways field service supports customer service

Sales organisations are always in motion, working to deliver the right product to their customers. To keep customers smiling all times is hard and only needs close communication and fulfilling promises that were made to them. This is where the field service delivery team comes in. Field service can either meet this demand or fall short plummeting satisfaction rates.
This is a task that relies on right people using various parts and information to get the job done. No matter what, the customer always expects to get exceptional services whether it be over the phone, chats, in the field, online messaging, over email, or social media.


These five field service points are suitable for any business model and guarantee excellent company-client relations.

Proactive service

A proactive service gives more to the customer. More attention is given to the customer so that the right actions, deliveries and repairs are done. By getting everything right the first time, the customer has less to do ensuring that they are satisfied with the services.
However, the field service technician is flooded with a myriad of unpredictable situations; overheating equipment, stalled machines, and insufficient precaution. But through field management software, they get more data about the customer and type of service or parts expected and they easily ride through any storm and prevent future damage.

Transparency

Nothing frustrates a customer more than a schedule that delays repairs. They easily ditch you for better services elsewhere. By offering the customer a service where they book appointments based on their own availability, we can easily sync this to the technicians and manager’s calendar. This not only saves time but also money from otherwise idle equipment.

On-site and off-site collaboration

Having seamless communication between field and office technicians is vital. Field technicians need to know more about parts, repairs, client maintenance history, and predict what should be changed in the long run. The faster they do this the better.


There should be a system that creates and automates communication between field and office technicians. Let each have the upper hand when providing parts, products or services to the customer.

Flexibility

Information is key to field service agents. They make the first impression since they make the initial contact with clients. Regardless of the resources, the field technician must always be armed with mobile tools they will need to access online resources and be ready for any emergency.

Actionable performance improvements


Customers demand excellent service a company could offer. But as the game constantly shifts, the service management technicians must also come up with plans to stay up to par with competition. All these stems from coming up with KPIs, measuring them and turning them into a workable plan for the future.

Want to find out more?

Contact Denizon today to find out how we can your organisation overcome business challenges.

  • 0843 289 4539 (UK)
  • +353-1-443-3807 (Irl)
direction

Field service and improved visibility

direction

A manager is someone who has control over a company. They are given the responsibility of overseeing what the company does and making important decisions. The manager is the most important person in the empire and needs to be in the know at all times. Not what happened a day ago but in real-time and from any place.

Information is necessary for this to happen. It needs to be concise, brief and straightforward. Ideally, access to job status, location information, customer information, notifications and location information should be on the palms of their hands.

To sum it all up, there should be fluid communication among personnel in the field. Information should be accessed easily from one place as it flows to another to maintain steady two-way communication. This is possible with automation meaning that no amount of data will be left unseen or unused because of paperwork that was never handed over or looked into, reducing the chance of misinformation or missing information to a minimum.

Ways improved visibility will help your business through Field Service

Organisations using field services will agree that improved visibility has more business benefits and the real question is what aspect needs improving rather than discussing the benefits.

Real-time visibility

Managers need to be in the know from anywhere at any time. The manager needs information about the company. The need not to be physically present to have an idea of what’s going on. They should know everything at all times, from what was planned for the day to real-time events.

All this information should be easily accessed from one central point and should contain everything about the company and other relevant information.

Extending the back office into the field

This two-way communication is virtually irreplaceable. At any time, the information should flow among technicians in the field and those in the back office. This will help to have a better idea of how to manage the workload and come up with solutions to some work-related issues.


Everyone in the team should be informed and be up to speed about real-time events. Keeping everyone updated improves visibility because they can make updates and decisions based on the kind of information they get.

No more lost paperwork

Managing paper trail can be quite a hassle for organisations. With tons of workload, there can be many delays meaning that some information might be missed or forgotten. People might also choose not to turn up for work for days on end and can affect how much info is processed. Some work can be left undone, and work not invoiced.


When organisations use field service management services, information is fed only once and everything else is done automatically. Say goodbye to lags or relying on last month’s data. Work will move faster because people will have more time to focus on important things rather than chasing an endless paper trail.

Business intelligence

Field service management technology will let you know what is being done in the field and with such an abundance of data, will make sound decisions for the business.


Every decision is hinged on cold facts. Information needs to be easily accessed and filtered into the right categories so that sound business decisions are made from the collected data.

Growing revenue

The abundance of real-time information and improved visibility can determine whether a business will grow or not. Each piece of information can show trends that are critical for any business to improve. Trends show how each sector is doing and sheds more light into specific areas that need a total overhaul. This may include improving customer service, products on retail or hiring more technicians.


Without information, a company is one step closer to going out of business. Every action should be geared to increase the revenue and this starts by making the right choices.

Visibility when working offline

Working offline is an issue that can affect visibility. Sometimes agents will need to work in areas that have little network coverage or are deep down working in tunnels or are around heavy machines and turbines. Field service solutions are built for the mobile environment and for workers who may find themselves in non-connected areas so that they can still use their device while offline. This makes sure that there is no loss of information while working in-field

Time-saving

Certainly, business is constrained to its environments and if the demand changes it should prove to be flexible enough to adjust to changes as they happen. Field service solutions operations like schedule need to update instantly. Once activities start rolling, nothing should create lags in the schedule so that operations flow seamlessly at all time.


Field workers can then make updates and document changes easily on the job site directly on their device by using responsive site menus, drastically saving time while feeding data and complete orders.

Improved customer service

It is not a cliché to say that the customer is always right. With real-time information, both field service and back-office technicians can improve customer relations and satisfaction. With a unified system of sharing information like the ERPs and CRMs, the field officer can know more about specific clients, their history and other data to know more about what should be done in current and future orders. This means that better decisions will be made for each customer.

How improved visibility benefits different parts of the organisation


Improved visibility in all areas of the business makes information more accessible. Here are some of the benefits that various sects of a business can get from improved visibility.

The business owner
The manager owns the company and can access all information with just a single tap. A lot of data can be used to analyse the health of the venture. This includes revenue, inventory, customer surveys, employee hours, invoices and customer data.
Profitability is increased by putting more emphasis on customer satisfaction and improving the quality of end products and services.

The service manager
The service manager can see what is going on in the field in real-time, and look into measures that can improve the productivity of staff members in various departments.
And with workflow automation, time-saving is at the maximum because there is less paperwork consequently improving scheduling and job completion rates.

Service administrator/ dispatcher
For the team in the office, they can assign tasks faster. Scheduling is automatically done and updated in real-time. It eliminates the need for paperwork and leaves more time to be productive on other errands.

The field technician
Improved visibility for a field worker means that they can do their best in any task. They can share or get critical information about orders and customers. This drastically improves job completion rates and customer satisfaction.

HR
Live information can be used to track certain orders, the time it takes to complete orders, and the number of staff required in the organisation. Such data can be used in HR to reduce payroll errors and erroneous overtime costs.

Finance
Field service management software can also benefit the finance team by automation of invoices. A work order can be tracked from start to the end and invoiced immediately to retain faster payments. Relevant data can be used to track revenue and expenditures, and costs.

Real-time visibility gives a company many solutions to manage the workload. In the end, visibility is also useful in increasing revenue and a smooth transition of information for the company.

Want to find out more?

Contact Denizon today to find out how we can your organisation overcome business challenges.

  • 0843 289 4539 (UK)
  • +353-1-443-3807 (Irl)
Finances and budgeting, businessman stacking coins

Field service and its impact on your bottom line

Finances and budgeting, businessman stacking coins

There are many pointers to successful field service in any business. Generally, labour hours, parts, technician efficiency, performance indicators and other bunch of data are the most important. However, the icing on top is the total revenue. If you are in business, you must be cocksure that it’s making money, and when you don’t rake in enough you need to make some business decisions quick!

For the most part, field service companies will always have a field service management software to handle all the data. But how will this affect your outlook? 

Will this cause a direct increase in revenue? 

What will still need to be changed so that the ship stays afloat?

Increase your service jobs

As expected, the best field management software will guarantee a positive increase in appointments per week. On average, the field service team should expect at least a 50% increase in work turnover. There is a direct relation between the revenue you should be making and the number of calls in your schedule since the only way of making more cash is to get more work done. It is not recommended to raise costs because it increases the risk of losing customers easy when they can’t meet the extra expense. Field service software will help you bring in more customers and also manage technicians.

If you have much of the hard work done for you then you’d have more time to run the show. This is why premises are trying out software because they answer many problems like:

  • Automation and improved work order management
  • Fast dispatch from an array of drag-drop scheduling tools
  • Easy-to-use field service apps for technicians to receive and submit work orders
  • Can be integrated into account systems for faster billing time

Manual operations are costly and prone to error, and they don’t come cheap. Do away with them, reduce costs, sit back and watch as new customers steadily stream in. Grow the business by building lasting relations with your workforce and customers.

Increase technician’s abilities with mobile

If you want to get more profit, bank on technicians who complete service calls. Their task is obviously the hardest. They have an unpredictable job; at times they need to come up with quick responses or they may also be required to dig deep as well. The work does not need to be slowed with an endless paper trail while they could be elsewhere giving their all. These technicians require a working mobile field service management app.

As expected, field service leaders who use a mobile field service software report close to 20% increase in service visits per technician. This translates to each technician taking nearly a fifth more calls in a day. And as we had said before, more service calls can double the profits. How can technicians get extra time from a field service mobile app?

 

  • No need to drive to work to pick orders
  • Less time using the phone looking for service or parts information
  • Reduces the time needed to go through paper-based work
  • Less time driving to service calls because information is routed to their mobile phones

Increase revenue from technicians

If time is spent seamlessly, dispatchers will find time in a technician’s schedule for an extra service call. With all this being done within normal working hours, the business stands to increase its bottom line. This is what makes the business grow. Not by increasing technicians but by optimum utilisation of the current staff to get maximum profit. The logic is straightforward – a technician working 8 hours each day taking six calls a day will make more revenue than the one who takes four, because they are paid the same each, but the business benefits from the extra service calls.


The business stands to make more revenue per technician if it uses field service management software. The margins can go as high as 40% because the technician has all tools needed to get the job done faster. You increase revenue from field work too. Let technicians benefit from automated process and have all the tools for work that they need right on their mobile devices.

The target is always your bottom line

When field service leaders inquire about field service software, they need to know how it affect the bottom line: how they will spend less time drafting schedules, how each technician will increase revenue, how the business will grow. Simple as that!
Field service management applications bring a lot to the table. 

Don’t waste your time crunching a lot of numbers or sorting out schedules since this is what such an application should do. Automation, optimisation and mobility are all ways of increasing revenue. Let us help you reach your goals using our top shelf field management software. This will not only help your bottom line but will let you have more time to venture into untapped potentials.

Want to find out more?

Contact Denizon today to find out how we can your organisation overcome business challenges.

  • 0843 289 4539 (UK)
  • +353-1-443-3807 (Irl)

Operational Reviews

IT OPERATIONAL REVIEWS DEFINED
An IT operational review is an in-depth and objective review of an entire organisation or a specific segment of that organisation. It can be used to identify and address existing concerns within your company such as communication issues between departments, problems with customer relations, operating procedures, lack of profitability issues, and other factors that affect the stability of the business.
Operational reviews allow the organisation members to evaluate how well they are performing, given that they perform appropriately according to the procedures set by them, allocating their resources properly, and performing such tasks within time frame set and using cost-effective measures. More importantly, it also shows your company how well it is prepared to meet future challenges.
Simply put, the goals of an operational review are to increase revenue, improve market share, and reduce cost.

THE BENEFITS OF AN IT OPERATIONAL REVIEW
The main objective of IT operational reviews is to help organisations like yours learn how to deal with and address issues, instead of simply reacting to the challenges brought about by growth and change.
In such review, the information provided is practical from both a financial and operational perspective. Using these data, the management can then come up with recommendations, which are not only realistic, but more importantly, can help the organisation achieve its goals. The review recognises the extent to which your internal controls actually work, and enables you to identify and understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

To be more specific, let’s list down the ways wherein an effective operational review can contribute to the success of the organisation.

The review process can:
– assess compliance within your own organisational objectives, policies and procedures;
– evaluate specific company operations independently and objectively;
– give an impartial assessment regarding the effectiveness of an organisation’s control systems;
– identify the appropriate standards for quantifying achievement of organisational objectives;
– evaluate the reliability and value of the company’s management data and reports;
– pinpoint problem areas and their underlying causes;
– give rise to opportunities that may increase profit, augment revenue, and reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the product or service.
Thus, each operational review conducted is unique, and can be holistic or specific to the activities of one department.

Our Operational Efficiencies cover the entire spectrum:

  • What to buy
  • Optimising what you’ve already bought e.g. underutilised servers, duplicate processes, poorly managed bandwidths
  • Making your team comfortable with the changes
  • Instilling Best Practices

UNCOVER WAYS TO DRIVE YOUR PROFITS UP, THROUGH OPERATIONAL REVIEWS

More Operational Review Blogs

Is Change Management a Myth or a Possibility

The theory that it is possible to manage organizational change (Change Management) in a particular direction has done the rounds for quite some time, but is it true about Change Management. Was Barrack Obama correct when he said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Or, was business coach Kelly A Morgan more on the button when she commented, “Changes are inevitable and not always controllable. What can be controlled is how you manage, react to, and work through the change process.” Let us consult the evidence and see what statisticians say.

What the Melcrum Report Tells Us
Melcrum are “internal communication specialists who work alongside leaders and teams around the globe to build skills and best practice in internal communication.” They published a report after researching over 1,000 companies that attempted change management and advised:

• More than 50% report improved customer satisfaction

• 33% report higher productivity

• 28% report improvements in employee advocacy

• 27% improved status as a great place to work

• 27% report increased profitability

• 25% report improved absenteeism
Sounds great until we flip the mirror around and consider what the majority apparently said:
• 50% had no improvement in customer service

• 67% did not report increased productivity

• 72% did not note improvements in employee advocacy

• 73% had no improved status among job seekers

• 73% did not report increased profitability

• 75% did not report any reduction of employee absenteeism

This shows it is still a great idea to hear what all parties have to say before reaching a conclusion. You may be interested to know the Melcrum report gave rise to the legend that 70% of organisation change initiatives fail. This finding has repeated numerous times. Let’s hear what the psychologists have to say next.
There is a certain amount of truth in the old adage that says, “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.” Which of us has not said, “Another flavour of the week … better keep heads down until it passes” during a spell in the corporate world. You cannot change an organization, but you can change an individual.
At the height of the Nazi occupation of 1942, French philosopher-writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral”. Psychology Today suggests five false assumptions change management rests upon, THAT ARE SIMPLY NOT TRUE.

1. The external world is orderly, stable, predictable and can be managed

2. Change managers are objective, and do not import their personal bias

3. The world is static and orderly and can be changed in linear steps

4. There is a neutral starting point where we can gather all participants

5. Change is worthy in itself, because all change is an improvement

Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” A prophet can work no miracles unless the people believe. From the foregoing, it is evident that change management of an organization is a 70% impossibility, but encouraging an individual to grow is another matter.
A McKinsey Report titled Change Leader, Change Thyself fingers unbelieving managers as the most effective stumbling stones to change management. To change as individuals – and perhaps collectively change as organizations – we need to “come to our own full richness”, and as shepherds lead our flock to their “promised land”, whatever that may be. Conversely, herding our flock with a pack of sheepdogs extinguishes that most precious thing of all, human inspiration.

How DevOps Oils the Value Chain

DevOps – a clipped compound of development and operations – is a way of working whereby software developers are in a team with project beneficiaries. A client centred approach extends the project plan to include the life cycle of the product or service, for which the software is developed.

We can then no longer speak of a software project for say Joe’s Accounting App. The software has no intrinsic value of its own. It follows that the software engineers are building an accounting app product. This is a small, crucially important distinction, because they are no longer in a silo with different business interests.

To take the analogy further, the developers are no longer contractors possibly trying to stretch out the process. They are members of Joe’s accounting company, and they are just as keen to get to market fast as Joe is to start earning income. DevOps uses this synergy to achieve the overarching business goal.

A Brief Introduction to OpsDev

You can skip this section if you already read this article. If not then you need to know that DevOps is a culture, not a working method. The three ‘members’ are the software developers, the beneficiaries, and a quality control mechanism. The developers break their task into smaller chunks instead of releasing the code to quality control as a single batch. As a result, the review process happens contiguously along these simplified lines.

CodeQCTest
CodeQCTest
CodeQCTest
CodeQCTest
Colour KeyDevelopersQuality ControlBeneficiary

 

This is a marked improvement over the previously cumbersome method below.

Write the CodeTest the CodeUse the Code
Evaluate, Schedule for Next Review

 

Working quickly and releasing smaller amounts of code means the OpsDev team learns quickly from mistakes, and should come to product release ahead of any competitor using the older, more linear method. The shared method of working releases huge resources in terms of user experience and in-line QC practices. Instead of being in a silo working on its own, development finds it has a richer brief and more support from being ‘on the same side of the organization’.

The Key Role that Application Program Interfaces Play

Application Program Interfaces, or API’s for short, are building blocks for software applications. Using proprietary software-bridges speeds this process up. A good example would be the PayPal applications that we find on so many websites today. API’s are not just for commercial sites, and they can reduce costs and improve efficiency considerably.

The following diagram courtesy of TIBCO illustrates how second-party applications integrate with PayPal architecture via an API façade.

Working quickly and releasing smaller amounts of code means the OpsDev team learns quickly from mistakes, and should come to product release ahead of any competitor using the older, more linear method. The shared method of working releases huge resources in terms of user experience and in-line QC practices. Instead of being in a silo working on its own, development finds it has a richer brief and more support from being ‘on the same side of the organization’.

imgd2.jpg

 

The DevOps Revolution Continues …

We close with some important insights from an interview with Jim Stoneham. He was general manager of the Yahoo Communities business unit, at the time Flickr became a part. “Flickr was a codebase,” Jim recalls, “that evolved to operate at high scale over 7 years – and continuing to scale while adding and refining features was no small challenge. During this transition, it was a huge advantage that there was such an integrated dev and ops team”

The ‘maturity model’ as engineers refer to DevOps status currently, enables developers to learn faster, and deploy upgrades ahead of their competitors. This means the client reaches and exceeds break-even sooner. DevOps lubricates the value chain so companies add value to a product faster. One reason it worked so well with Flickr, was the immense trust between Dev and Ops, and that is a lesson we should learn.

“We transformed from a team of employees to a team of owners. When you move at that speed, and are looking at the numbers and the results daily, your investment level radically changes. This just can’t happen in teams that release quarterly, and it’s difficult even with monthly cycles.” (Jim Stoneham)

The Child at Work: Fun Team Builds with LEGO SERIOUS PLAY

There is a child just below the surface in all of us. When were kids, adults lopped off the sharp bits that intruded into their ‘genteel’ society. Schools, to their everlasting shame sanded away our unique free spirits, as they stuck us into uniforms and imposed a daily classroom discipline. We received badges and prizes if we obeyed, and strict sanctions when we did not. This produced a generation of middle-age managers who no longer know how to play.

Life can be so deadly serious …

Things work pretty much the same in business. Life is deadly serious. If we want to keep our jobs, we must deliver on the bottom line in our departments. There is little time for fun outside the Christmas party, when we may, within the limits of decorum engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation, rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Team builds (and strategic planning sessions) can be deadly boring affairs that proceed down narrow funnels defined by human resource facilitators. No matter how hard HR they may try, the structural hierarchy will remain intact, unless they find a way to set it aside during the program. Injecting fun into the occasion liberates independent thought, and this is why.

… But not for a little child at play

Next time you dine out at a branded family restaurant, select a seat that allows you observe the kiddies’ play zone. Notice how inventive children become, when the family hierarchy is not there to tell them what to do (although parents may try from the wrong side of the soundproof glass). The ‘serious play’ side of fun team-builds aims to liberate managers by releasing their child for the duration. Shall we dig a little deeper into this and discover the dynamics?

Many of us have less than perfect oral communication skills. This is one of the great impediments to modern business meetings. We may not have sufficient time to formulate our thoughts for them to remain relevant when we speak. When we express them, we sense the group’s impatience for us to hurry up, so other members can have their opportunity to contribute.

Sharing better thinking with LEGO® bricks

Most of us feel an urge to click the brightly coloured plastic bricks together that carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen released into a war-weary world in 1949. The basic kit is a great leveller because the blocks are all the same, and the discriminators are the colours and the power of our imagination. Watching a free-form LEGO builder in action is equally fascinating, as we wonder ‘what they will do next’ and ‘what is happening in their mind.’

Examples of LEGO Serious PLAY in action

Instead of asking team members to describe themselves in a minute, a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator may gather them around a table piled high with LEGO bricks instead, and ask them to each build a model of themselves. The atmosphere is informal with interaction and banter encouraged. It is still serious play though, as team members get to know each other, and their own personalities better

The system is equally effective in strategic sessions, where the facilitator provides specially selected building blocks for the team to experiment with as they learn to listen, and share. This enables them to deconstruct a problem into its component parts, and share solutions regardless of seniority, culture, and communication skills.

Creating problem- and solution-landscapes three dimensionally this way, enables open conversations that keep the focus on the problem. Participants at these team builds do not only reach effective consensus faster. They are also busy building better communication skills as they do.

The Future of Cloud Backup and Recovery

We came across a post on Docurated that pulled together thirty-seven suggestions for the top cloud storage mistakes user companies make. Given that cloud storage seems to be the best backup solution for now at least, we decided to turn these ideas around to sense the direction cloud backup and recovery needs to take, if it is still to be relevant in say ten years’ time.

Has Cloud Storage Largely Saturated the West?
It probably has. Outside of major corporates who make their own arrangements – and SME’s that use free services by email providers – the middle band of companies in Europe and America have found their service providers, although they may have never tested the recovery process, to see if it works.

The new gold rush in the cloud backup and recovery business is, or should be emerging markets in Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. There, connectivity is brittler than over here. To be relevant in these fragile, more populous areas our cloud backup and recovery industry need to be more agile and nimble.

• It must provide a simpler service emerging commerce can afford, refresh its user interfaces in third world languages, have more accessible help, and be patient to explain how cloud storage works to newbies. In other words, it must source its call centre operators in the areas it serves.

• It must adapt to local connectivity standards, and stop expecting someone with ADSL broadband to keep up with cloud server networks running at up to 1GBPS compared to their 10MBPS at best. For user sourcing and retention purposes, these new cloud backup and recovery services must be the ones who adapt.

• It must facilitate disaster recovery simulations among its clients in calmer moments when things are going well. Are they backing up the right files, are they updating these, and are their brittle ADSL networks able to cope with their cloud service providers’ upload and download speeds?

• It must develop lean and agile systems slim enough to accommodate a micro client starting out, but sufficiently elastic to transfer them seamlessly to big data performance. The Asian, African, South American, and Middle Eastern regions are volume driven, and individual economies of scale are still rare.

• It must not expect its users to know automatically what they need, and be honest to admit that Western solutions may be wrong-sized. Conversion funnels in the new gold rush are bound to be longer. Engagements there depend on trust, not elevator sales letters. Our competition in these countries already works this way.

• It must be honest and admit cloud storage is only part of the solution. To recruit and retain users it must step back to 1983, when Compuserve offered its customers 128k of disc space, and spent an amount of effort explaining how to filter what to put there.

Cloud Storage of Data is Only One Part of the Solution
Governance reports and stock certificates burn just as easily as do servers in a fire. We must not transfer bad habits to exciting new markets. We close this article with the thoughts of John Howie, COO of Cloud Security Alliance, as reported in the Docurated post we mentioned, and these apply across the globe, we believe.
There is no single most important thing to carry forward into the future of cloud backup and recovery. We must be mindful when moving data that this can be fragile too. We must also create layers of backup the way insurance companies reinsure, that make any one cloud backup and recovery business redundant if it happens.
We hold the trust of our customers in our hands but trust is delicate too. We must cease trying to make a pile of money quickly, and become more interested in ensuring that data transferred back and forth is synchronised. The cloud backup and recovery industry needs only one notorious mistake, to become redundant itself in the ten years we mentioned.