Spend more to reduce costs?

It is becoming increasingly important to not to analyse energy consumption for all utility types, be it electricity, gas, water, heat, renewables, oil etc. The bottom line is both operational efficiency and utility costs monitoring. In the long run, these are management strategies designed to drive energy costs downwards as a continuous improvement cycle and as a measure of reducing carbon emissions.

It is also getting increasingly easier for organisations reduce energy use and achieve this goal using technology without having to “remember” to do it yourself. Organisations can never go wrong by investing in energy management software. There are varied software options to choose from depending on the organisational objective.
Some of the energy management objectives that organisations may need to meet are:

? Establishing baseline energy use

? Carrying out Energy audits

? Monitoring and measuring energy performance against the energy policies of an organisation and objectives

? Achieving energy certification
Energy management software?s come in handy when an organization wishes to achieve either of the above objectives.

Use of energy management software?s also assists organisations in measurement and verification of energy consumption as well as Monitoring and Targeting. Measurement and verification is where a company quantifies energy consumption beforehand (baseline energy use) and after energy consumption measurements are implemented in order to verify and report on the level of savings actually achieved.

Organisations that wish to verify the energy savings achieved by building retrofits can use energy management software?s. This is an important objective for companies that wish to either satisfy internal financial accounting and reporting requirements, or to meet the terms of third-party contracts for project implementation and management. Monitoring and targeting is also made easier by use of software. This is critical as a management technique, regardless of whether an organisation has specific facility retrofits in order to keep operations efficient and to monitor utility costs.
Overall, an investment in energy management software, is worthwhile in the achievement of management strategies designed to drive energy costs downwards as a continuous improvement cycle.

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Introduction to Matrix Management

A leader is responsible to empower his people and get the best out of them. Yet an organisational structure can either help or hamper performance. Worst, it can make or break success.

Looking at the fast-changing world of the global economy, whatsoever slows up and obstructs decision-making is a challenge. Hierarchical management is rather unattractive and functional silos are unlikable. Instead, employees desire to create teams equipped with flexibility, cooperation and coordination.

Recognising that companies have both vertical and horizontal chains of command, the matrix model is created. The concept of this principle lies in the ability to manage the collaboration of people across various functions and achieve strategic objectives through key projects.

Consider this scenario:

Ian is a sales executive of a company. His role is to sell a new product under the supervision of a product manager. The manager is expert about the product and she is accountable to coordinate the people across the organisation, making sure the product is achieved.

Moreover, Ian also reports to the sales manager who oversees his overall performance, monitors his pay and benefits and guides his personal development.

Complicated it may seem but this set-up is common to companies that seek to maximise the effect of expert product managers, without compromising the function of the staffing overhead in control of the organisation. This is a successful approach to management known as Matrix Management.

Matrix Management Defined

Matrix management is a type of organisational management wherein employees of similar skills are shared for work assignments. Simply stated, it is a structure in which the workforce reports to multiple managers of different roles.

For example, a team of engineers work under the supervision of their department head, which is the engineering manager. However, the same people from the engineering department may be assigned to other projects where they report to the project manager. Thus, while working on a designated project, each engineer has to work under various managers to accomplish the job.

Historical Background

Although some critics say that matrix management was first adopted in the Second World War, its origins can be traced more reliably to the US space programme of the 1960’s when President Kennedy has drawn his vision of putting a man on the moon. In order to accomplish the objective, NASA revolutionised its approach on the project leading to the consequent birth of ?matrix organisation?. This strategic method facilitated the energy, creativity and decision-making to triumph the grand vision.

In the 1970’s, matrix organisation received huge attention as the only new form of organisation in the twentieth century. In fact it was applied by Digital Equipment, Xerox, and Citibank. Despite its initial success, the enthusiasm of corporations with regards to matrix organisation declined in the 1980’s, largely because it was complex.

Furthermore, the drive for motivating people to work creatively and flexibly has only strengthened. And by the 1990’s, the evolution of matrix management geared towards creation and empowerment of virtual teams that focused on customer service and speedy delivery.

Although all forms of matrix has loopholes and flaws, research says that until today, matrix management is still the leading approach used by companies to achieve organisational goals.

What Is Technical Debt? A Complete Guide

You buy the latest iPhone on credit. Turn to fast car loan services to get yourself those wheels you’ve been eyeing for a while. Take out a mortgage to realise your dream of being a homeowner. Regardless of the motive, the common denominator is going into financial debt to achieve something today, and pay it off in future, with interest. The final cost will be higher than the loan value that you took out in the first place. However, debt is not limited to the financial world.

Technical Debt Definition

Technical debt – which is also referred to as code debt, design debt or tech debt – is the result of the development team taking shortcuts in the code to release a product today, which will need to be fixed later on. The quality of the code takes a backseat to issues like market forces, such as when there’s pressure to get a product out there to beat a deadline, front-run the competition, or even calm jittery consumers. Creating perfect code would take time, so the team opts for a compromised version, which they will come back later to resolve. It’s basically using a speedy temporary fix instead of waiting for a more comprehensive solution whose development would be slower.

How rampant is it? 25% of the development time in large software organisations is actually spent dealing with tech debt, according to a multiple case study of 15 organizations. “Large” here means organizations with over 250 employees. It is estimated that global technical debt will cost companies $4 trillion by 2024.

Is there interest on technical debt?

When you take out a mortgage or service a car loan, the longer that it takes to clear it the higher the interest will be. A similar case applies to technical debt. In the rush to release the software, it comes with problems like bugs in the code, incompatibility with some applications that would need it, absent documentation, and other issues that pop up over time. This will affect the usability of the product, slow down operations – and even grind systems to a halt, costing your business. Here’s the catch: just like the financial loan, the longer that one takes before resolving the issues with rushed software, the greater the problems will pile up, and more it will take to rectify and implement changes. This additional rework that will be required in future is the interest on the technical debt.

Reasons For Getting Into Technical Debt

In the financial world, there are good and bad reasons for getting into debt. Taking a loan to boost your business cashflow or buy that piece of land where you will build your home – these are understandable. Buying an expensive umbrella on credit because ‘it will go with your outfit‘ won’t win you an award for prudent financial management. This also applies to technical debt.

There are situations where product delivery takes precedence over having completely clean code, such as for start-ups that need their operations to keep running for the brand to remain relevant, a fintech app that consumers rely on daily, or situations where user feedback is needed for modifications to be made to the software early. On the other hand, incurring technical debt because the design team chooses to focus on other products that are more interesting, thus neglecting the software and only releasing a “just-usable” version will be a bad reason.

Some of the common reasons for technical debt include:

  • Inadequate project definition at the start – Where failing to accurately define product requirements up-front leads to software development that will need to be reworked later
  • Business pressure – Here the business is under pressure to release a product, such as an app or upgrade quickly before the required changes to the code are completed.
  • Lacking a test suite – Without the environment to exhaustively check for bugs and apply fixes before the public release of a product, more resources will be required later to resolve them as they arise.
  • Poor collaboration – From inadequate communication amongst the different product development teams and across the business hierarchy, to junior developers not being mentored properly, these will contribute to technical debt with the products that are released.
  • Lack of documentation – Have you launched code without its supporting documentation? This is a debt that will need to be fulfilled.
  • Parallel development – This is seen when working on different sections of a product in isolation which will, later on, need to be merged into a single source. The greater the extent of modification on an individual branch – especially when it affects its compatibility with the rest of the code, the higher the technical debt.
  • Skipping industrial standards – If you fail to adhere to industry-standard features and technologies when developing the product, there will be technical debt because you will eventually need to rework the product to align with them for it to continue being relevant.
  • Last-minute product changes – Incorporating changes that hadn’t been planned for just before its release will affect the future development of the product due to the checks, documentation and modifications that will be required later on

Types of Technical Debt

There are various types of technical debt, and this will largely depend on how you look at it.

  • Intentional technical debt – which is the debt that is consciously taken on as a strategy in the business operations.
  • Unintentional technical debt – where the debt is non-strategic, usually the consequences of a poor job being done.

This is further expounded in the Technical Debt Quadrant” put forth by Martin Fowler, which attempts to categorise it based on the context and intent:

Technical Debt Quadrant

Source: MartinFowler.com

Final thoughts

Technical debt is common, and not inherently bad. Just like financial debt, it will depend on the purpose that it has been taken up, and plans to clear it. Start-ups battling with pressure to launch their products and get ahead, software companies that have cut-throat competition to deliver fast – development teams usually find themselves having to take on technical debt instead of waiting to launch the products later. In fact, nearly all of the software products in use today have some sort of technical debt.

But no one likes being in debt. Actually, technical staff often find themselves clashing with business executives as they try to emphasise the implications involved when pushing for product launch before the code is completely ready. From a business perspective, it’s all about weighing the trade-offs, when factoring in aspects such as the aspects market situation, competition and consumer needs. So, is technical debt good or bad? It will depend on the context. Look at it this way: just like financial debt, it is not a problem as long as it is manageable. When you exceed your limits and allow the debt to spiral out of control, it can grind your operations to a halt, with the ripple effects cascading through your business.

 

Web Analytics

There’s a vast ocean of raw customer data on the Web. Ever thought of the implications if somehow you could harness all that data and transform it into useful information? Information that perhaps you can use in your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and conversion optimisation?

There are web analytics tools you can employ for these purposes. But using web analytics tools will only win you half the battle. You’ll have to be proficient in configuring these tools to generate insightful and actionable results out of them. A poorly configured tool can produce confusing or even misleading information.

Our web analysts possess the expertise to configure and use web analytics tools, as well as analyse results and leverage information obtained from them.

These are the things we can do to help you take advantage of web analytics.

  • Discuss with your managers to establish your specific goals, to determine what specific data we have to collect/analyse and to plan out how to go about with the entire process.
  • Help you select an appropriate tool, install it and set optimal configurations including page tags, filters, funnels, reports and others.
  • Wield the full force of your analytics tool(s) to make sound business decisions.
  • Monitor the entire web analytics system and implement adjustments when needed.

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