Finding the Best Structure for Your Enterprise Development Team

An enterprise development team is a small group of dedicated specialists. They may focus on a new business project such as an IoT solution. Members of microteams cooperate with ideas while functioning semi-independently. These self-managing specialists are scarce in the job market. Thus, they are a relatively expensive resource and we must optimise their role.

Organisation?Size and Enterprise Development Team Structure

Organisation structure depends on the size of the business and the industry in which it functions. An enterprise development team for a micro business may be a few freelancers burning candles at both ends. While a large corporate may have a herd of full-timers with their own building. Most IoT solutions are born out of the efforts of microteams.

In this regard, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg blazed the trail with Microsoft and Facebook. They were both college students at the time, and both abandoned their business studies to follow their dreams. There is a strong case for liberating developers from top-down structures, and keeping management and initiative at arm?s length.

The Case for Separating Microteams from the?Organisation

Microsoft Corporation went on to become a massive corporate, with 114,000 employees, and its founder Bill Gates arguably one of the richest people in the world. Yet even it admits there are limitations to size. In Chapter 2 of its Visual Studio 6.0 program it says,

‘today’s component-based enterprise applications are different from traditional business applications in many ways. To build them successfully, you need not only new programming tools and architectures, but also new development and project management strategies.?

Microsoft goes on to confirm that traditional, top-down structures are inappropriate for component-based systems such as IoT solutions. We have moved on from ?monolithic, self-contained, standalone systems,? it says, ?where these worked relatively well.?

Microsoft’s model for enterprise development teams envisages individual members dedicated to one or more specific roles as follows:

  • Product Manager ? owns the vision statement and communicates progress
  • Program Manager ? owns the application specification and coordinates
  • Developer ? delivers a functional, fully-complying solution to specification
  • Quality Assurer ? verifies that the design complies with the specification
  • User Educator ? develops and publishes online and printed documentation
  • Logistics Planner ? ensures smooth rollout and deployment of the solution

Three Broad Structures for Microteams working on IoT Solutions

The organisation structure of an enterprise development team should also mirror the size of the business, and the industry in which it functions. While a large one may manage small microteams of employee specialists successfully, it will have to ring-fence them to preserve them from bureaucratic influence. A medium-size organisation may call in a ?big six? consultancy on a project basis. However, an independently sourced micro-team is the solution for a small business with say up to 100 employees.

The Case for Freelancing Individuals versus Functional Microteams

While it may be doable to source a virtual enterprise development team on a contracting portal, a fair amount of management input may be necessary before they weld into a well-oiled team. Remember, members of a micro-team must cooperate with ideas while functioning semi-independently. The spirit of cooperation takes time to incubate, and then grow.

This is the argument, briefly, for outsourcing your IoT project, and bringing in a professional, fully integrated micro-team to do the job quickly, and effectively. We can lay on whatever combination you require of project managers, program managers, developers, quality assurers, user educators, and logistic planners. We will manage the micro-team, the process, and the success of the project on your behalf while you get on running your business, which is what you do best.

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What Sub-Metering did for Nissan in Tennessee

When Nissan built its motor manufacturing plant in Smyrna 30 years ago, the 5.9 million square-foot factory employing over 8,000 people was state of art. After the 2005 hurricane season sky-rocketed energy prices, the energy team looked beyond efficient lighting at the more important aspect of utility usage in the plant itself. Let’s examine how they went about sub-metering and what it gained for them.

The Nissan energy team faced three challenges as they began their study. They had a rudimentary high-level data collection system (NEMAC) that was so primitive they had to transfer the data to spread-sheets to analyse it. To compound this, the engineering staff were focused on the priority of getting cars faster through the line. Finally, they faced the daunting task of making modifications to reticulation systems without affecting manufacturing throughput. But where to start?

The energy team chose the route of collaboration with assembly and maintenance people as they began the initial phase of tracking down existing meters and detecting gaps. They installed most additional equipment during normal service outages. Exceptions were treated as minor jobs to be done when convenient. Their next step was to connect the additional meters to their ageing NEMAC, and learn how to use it properly for the first time.

Although this was a cranky solution, it had the advantage of not calling for additional funding which would have caused delays. However operations personnel were concerned that energy-saving shutdowns between shifts and over weekends could cause false starts. ?We’ve already squeezed the lemon dry,? they seemed to say. ?What makes you think there?s more to come??

The energy team had a lucky break when they stumbled into an opportunity to prove their point early into implementation. They spotted a four-hourly power consumption spike they knew was worth examining. They traced this to an air dryer that was set to cyclical operation because it lacked a dew-point sensor. The company recovered the $1,500 this cost to fix, in an amazing 6 weeks.

Suitably encouraged and now supported by the operating and maintenance departments, the Smyrna energy team expanded their project to empower operating staff to adjust production schedules to optimise energy use, and maintenance staff to detect machines that were running without output value. The ongoing savings are significant and levels of shop floor staff motivation are higher.

Let’s leave the final word to the energy team facilitator who says, ?The only disadvantage of sub-metering is that now we can’t imagine doing without it.?

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Month End Accounting the way it should Be Today

Month end accounting has always been a business critical exercise. Without the balance sheet, income statement, and other financial reports this exercise ultimately produces, management could not make informed decisions to keep the company in the right direction and at the ideal operational speed.

Now, in order to maintain optimal business velocity, month end activities have to be carried out as swiftly and as accurately as possible. Delays will only inhibit managers from reacting and effecting necessary adjustments in time. Inaccurate information, on the other hand, obviously lead to bad decisions.

But that’s not all. Never has the month end close been as demanding as it is today. Regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Solvency II, Dodd-Frank Act, and others, which call for more stringent controls and more robust risk management practices, are now forcing companies to find better ways to face the end of the month.

Sticking to old month-end practices while striving to achieve regulation compliance can either cost a company more (if they add manpower) or simply bog it down (if they don’t). Among the worst of these practices is the use of spreadsheets.

These User Developed Applications (UDAs) are very susceptible to errors. (See spreadsheet risks)

What’s more, consolidating data from spreadsheets as well as carrying out reconciliations on them is very time consuming. These activities usually require data from outside sources – i.e. a workstation in a different department, building, or (in the case of really large corporations) geographical locations.

Furthermore, if one of these sources fail, the financial reports won’t be complete. This is not a far-fetched scenario, considering that spreadsheet storage and backup is typically carried out by the average end user. This leaves the spreadsheet data vulnerable to hard disk crashes, virus attacks, and unexpected disasters.

Thus, in order to produce accurate financial reports on time all the time, you need a financial/IT solution that offers optimal provisions for risk management, collaboration, backup, and business continuity. Learn about server-based solutions and discover a better way to carry out month end accounting.

Spreadsheet Woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and Other Regulations

End User Computing (EUC) or end User Developed Application (UDA) systems like spreadsheets used to be ideal ad-hoc solutions for data processing and financial reporting. But those days are long gone.

Today, due to regulations like the:

  • Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act,
  • Dodd-Frank Act,
  • IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards),
  • E.U. Data Protection Directive,
  • Basel II,
  • NAIC Model Audit Rules,
  • FAS 157,
  • yes, there?s more ? and counting

a company can be bogged down when it tries to comply with such regulations while maintaining spreadsheet-reliant financial and information systems.

In an age where regulatory compliance have become part of the norm, companies need to enforce more stringent control measures like version control, access control, testing, reconciliation, and many others, in order to pass audits and to ensure that their spreadsheets are giving them only accurate and reliable information.

Now, the problem is, these control measures aren’t exactly tailor-made for a spreadsheet environment. While yes, it is possible to set up a spreadsheet and EUC control environment that utilises best practices, this is a potentially expensive, laborious, and time-consuming exercise, and even then, the system will still not be as foolproof or efficient as the regulations call for.

Testing and reconciliation alone can cost a significant amount of time and money to be effective:

  1. It requires multiple testers who need to test spreadsheets down to the cell level.
  2. Testers will have to deal with terribly disorganized and complicated spreadsheet systems that typically involve single cells being fed information by other cells in other sheets, which in turn may be found in other workbooks, or in another folder.
  3. Each month, an organisation may have new spreadsheets with new links, new macros, new formulas, new locations, and hence new objects to test.
  4. Spreadsheets rarely come with any kind of supporting documentation and version control, further hampering the verification process.
  5. Because Windows won’t allow you to open two Excel files with the same name simultaneously and because a succession of monthly-revised spreadsheets separated by mere folders but still bearing the same name is common in spreadsheet systems, it would be difficult to compare one spreadsheet with any of its older versions.

But testing and reconciliation are just two of the many activities that make regulatory compliance terribly tedious for a spreadsheet-reliant organisation. Therefore, the sheer intricacy of spreadsheet systems make examining and maintaining them next to impossible.

On the other hand, you can’t afford not to take these regulations seriously. Non-compliance with regulatory mandates can have dire consequences, not the least of which is the loss of investor confidence. And when investors start to doubt the management’s capability, customers will start to walk away too. Now that is a loss your competitors will only be too happy to gain.

Learn more about our server application solutions and discover a better way to comply with regulations.

More Spreadsheet Blogs


Spreadsheet Risks in Banks


Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets – obstacles to compliance in the Healthcare Industry


How Internal Auditors can win the War against Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in your company in an age of Business Intelligence


Still looking for a Way to Consolidate Excel Spreadsheets?


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Spreadsheet woes – ill equipped for an Agile Business Environment


Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Woes – Limited features for easy adoption of a control framework


Spreadsheet woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and other Regulations


Spreadsheet Risk Issues


Server Application Solutions – Don’t let Spreadsheets hold your Business back


Why Spreadsheets can send the pillars of Solvency II crashing down

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