Variance - The Misunderstood Ugly Word

When you hear the words "Cost Variance," "Schedule Variance," and "Performance Variance," do you immediately jump to the conclusion that the variance is negative and the project is somehow not where it is supposed to be? If you did, don't worry, you're not alone. All too often the word "Variance" is an unwelcome sound when delivering project status, so much so, that it fuels many Project Managers to sanitize or oversell their project's status. This is where projects tend to miss the built-in warning signs. You see, variance does not want to be taken for what's on the surface (typically represented by a numerical value or stoplight chart); it wants us to look under the hood to diagnose the issue and make a decision about what to do.

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Industrial Espionage

Industrial espionage has long been a proverbial thorn in the side of commercial businesses. While most people with only a limited knowledge of espionage may merely view industrial espionage as simple corporate theft, it actually has far more serious consequences than basic thievery. The act of espionage (aka spying) is quite serious as well as illegal, but new complexities are added when that act has the ability to wreak major havoc upon the economy.

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Escape the Service Management Twilight Zone

Does your organization have a service catalog in place, but struggle with low customer satisfaction or lack of user adoption? Is your organization hearing from customers, "I requested something from IT, but it has never been delivered and I don't know who to contact." Is your organization missing a one stop shop for customers to order services? Too many times we walk into organizations that are facing these challenges, but they are unsure of why and how to address the problems.

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Subjective Uncertainty

As a cost analyst, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the lack of data available and minimal amount of documentation provided. How can a cost analyst estimate the cost of a project or system when requirements, historical costs, and other data availability are limited? Gathering uncertainty data is no exception when it comes to this challenge in the data collection process. Uncertainty exists within every cost estimate; however, the application of sound modeling techniques to quantify the uncertainty will aid decision makers in making a more informed decision. When developing cost estimates, it is advisable to use primary data sources, but what do you do when such resources are not available or are completely exhausted?

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Does Luck Determine Implementation Success?

In honor of St. Patrick - I want to discuss the topic of luck - more specifically, luck in the Service Management world. According to Merriam Webster, luck is defined as "the things that happen to a person because of chance: the accidental way things happen without being planned." With that in mind, I am left to wonder, can we leave our Service Management implementation in the hands of luck and fate? I would argue that the clear answer should be no.

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Building a Successful Service Catalog

Watch on Demand - Mercedes Alvarez-Arancedo of California State University, East Bay (CSUEB), with Richard Pilgrim and Jason Rosenfeld of Cask, LLC hosted an information session with itSMF USA to help organizations learn how CSUEB:

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Department of Defense Spending Cuts

Spending on our nation's defense is often a target for budget cuts, and this year's Federal Budget process is no exception. The Department of Defense (DoD) budget is discretionary, which is to say that Congress can make arbitrary decrements to it. Contrast this with, spending for social security, Medicare and Medicaid, which are non-discretionary and therefore are "un-touchable" for budget cuts and are hence often referred to as entitlement programs.

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Cask Sponsored Fifth Annual USMC IT Day

Cask sponsored the Fifth Annual USMC IT Day heldat The Clubs at Quantico on Wednesday, April 16th. The event focused on "Information Technology in a Distributed Operations Environment." To learn more about how Cask supports efforts around the main theme of the event - "Information Technology in a Distributed Operations Environment," please view WHAT WE DO. For more infromation about the event, visit the AFCEA Quantico-PotomacWEBSITE

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How Baselines Are Like Ancient Burial Rituals, Google Maps, and Cliches

Establishing a program baseline is much easier said than done. To examine the challenges Project's face, we need to have a common perspective on what constitutes a baseline. Below are three common definition of a project baseline:

  • "The approved version of a work product that can be changed only through formal change control procedures and is used as a basis for comparison." - Project Manager Book of Knowledge
  • "A project's baseline is defined as the original scope, cost and schedule." - Various Sources
  • "The integration of planning, scheduling, budgeting, work authorization, and cost accumulation management processes provides the capability for establishing the performance measurement baseline (PMB)." -ANSI/EIA-748-A Intent Guide

What it boils down to is that planning a project is such a crucial element to the successful execution of a project, that the elements that make up the plan should be preserved. Now that we have a common reference of a baseline, let's explore how...

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The Importance of Establishing Commonality in Communication

In 1995, the English band "Led Zeppelin" was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. One of the songs on side two of Led Zeppelin's debut album was "Communication Breakdown".Whether it is this classic song, the band Genesis' "No Reply At All", lack of communication is a recurring theme among songwriters. Lack of communication is also a recurring theme in the failure of teams and projects.

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Economic Benefits Analysis - The Other Side of Cost

Over the past few years I've been delivering a presentation on Economic Benefits Analysis toboth domestic and international conference audiences.Cost estimators and cost analysts are curious about Economic Benefits Analysis because they are sometimes called upon to off-set their costs with an estimate of projected benefits and the project's expected return on investment (ROI). This can be within the context of a Business Case Analysis (BCA), Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA),or within formal deliverables such as an Economic Analysis (EA) for large major Government acquisition programs.This is important because in today's disruptive fiscal environment virtually all programs and projects are under review for increased investments, decreased investments,or divestment.

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Cask Attended NATO C4ISR Industry Conference & TechNet International 2014

Cask attended the NATO C4ISR Industry Conference & TechNet International 2014 Conference in Bucharest, Romania focusing on "From Assets to Services - Capability Delivery in the 21st Century."

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