Tag Archives: information management

Workplace Warfare: the Myth of Information Management

During my lengthy-albeit-rambling stint in the professional workplace, I’ve been a data jockey of some sort or another.  Titles like drafter, designer, administrator, specialist and analyst may seem to describe diverse roles but they all had at their core a need to translate one person’s vague vision into another’s crystal ball.

When I was promoted to fired-up but naive product data wrangler for a US manufacturer, I had this stupid idea that creating a reliable, robust information management system would have grateful department heads erecting statues in my honor.  But when it came time to put some rubber to the road, I met a resistance to process improvement more powerful than any force known to nature.  Once managers learned my new role, I found myself persona non grata at– of all things– information strategy meetings.

And it’s because, deep down, people really don’t want their information managed.  And they’ll fight to keep it that way.  Continue reading

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Technically Employed: the Survivor’s Tale

I’m going to take a break from the Nokia ecosystem analyses tonight and return to the topic that launched this blog early last year: employment.  Particularly, in engineering, information management and related technical fields.  My career comfort zones.

Some personal bits: I freely admit to being a geek.  I actually love electronics.  And hardware.  And databases.  And designing.  And programming.  And process stuff.  Stitch them together and you’ve created my dream job.   Amazingly enough, I’ve come really close at a few employers.  At The Stanleyworks (now Stanley Black and Decker) I was a drafter who ultimately worked his way up the technical ladder to manage product data and requirements for the Mechanics Tools division.  I was in geek heaven.  Did I mention I love tools, too?  Continue reading

ProcessMaker: workflows from Open Source

In my last article I hinted about investigating the use of an open source tool in support of my current employment.  I won’t go into details about the use case itself but I will gladly describe the tool and its potential.  First, a little background.

The Need

As noted in previous articles, a large part of my work the past several years has been in information management, specifically product and application configuration.  I’ve so far had the pleasure of leading and supporting work on two major enterprise rollouts of workflow solutions, each employing different commercial offerings and approaches to implementation.

The first project addressed a huge gap in product data and change management for consumer products development.  PTC Windchill was selected for the workflow solution based on its own strengths and helped by the fact that PTC product engineering applications were already in use.

The next project at a later employer involved replacing a claims handling application with a true process workflow solution.  Serena Business Mashup (SBM) was selected over competing products due to its rich feature set and seemingly unlimited extensibility.  I found the development environment (Mashup Composer) to be flexible, powerful and intuitive.

Both projects were very successful in streamlining and improving the ability of stakeholders to view end-to-end processes and manage events in their domains.  The commercial products involved proved their value although expenses were certainly significant.

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Chewing and walking gum

The above title doesn’t make any sense, does it?  It’s a transposition of a silly old expression… but it’s indicative of the mixups that can occur when a person takes on too much at one time… and recent data proves once again it’s no laughing matter.

Multitasking, however, is the job requirement du jour it seems, expected of practically every employee as companies carve into the bone in desperate attempts to cut overhead.  And even if cost reduction is not part of the rationale, the goal remains to increase efficiency.

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Cloudy days for data, Part 1

Several years ago I was in a product data management role for a major US manufacturer, assessing our information management landscape and helping my boss develop a road map for bringing the 160-year-old company’s engineering systems and processes into the modern age.  What I discovered shocked me although I really should not have been surprised: the vast majority of our mission-critical business data was sequestered in spreadsheets and shared virally via emails.

This sort of working environment tends to spring up as a consequence of two conditions:

  1. Often the information management system(s) are lacking in necessary features, disconnected, difficult to utilize, poorly represented or even non-existant;
  2. People want to hold on to their stuff

Anecdotally, I found the latter to be the greater evil.  When information managers try to improve the first condition, they encounter resistance due to the second.  After all, information is power, and the gut feeling is that if we relenquish any control over it we lose apparent value.  So the people who could benefit most from fixing broken sharing systems often hurt themselves by actually becoming part of the problem.

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