Posts by Longhall Consulting

5 Phases of Professional Development

Too often, professionals say that the professional development they receive provides a limited application to their everyday world. Here The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory shares a five-phase framework that can help create comprehensive, ongoing, and — most importantly — meaningful professional development.

The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory has developed a research-based professional development framework that promotes ongoing professional development and encourages individual reflection and group inquiry into teachers’ practice. In practice, the five phases overlap, repeat, and often occur simultaneously:

Building a Knowledge Base.
The purpose of this phase is to acquire new knowledge and information and to build a conceptual understanding of it. Activities in this phase might include goal setting, assessing needs, participating in interactive workshops, and forming a study group.

Observing Models and Examples.
The purpose of this phase is to study instructional examples in order to develop a practical understanding of the research. In this phase, one might participate in activities such as school and classroom visitations, peer observation, using instructional artifacts, co-planning, and listening to or watching audio and video examples.

Reflecting on Your Practice.
The purpose of this phase is to analyze your instructional practice on the basis of new knowledge. Activities in this phase might include the use of journals or teacher-authored cases for collegial discussion and reflection.

Changing Your Practice.
The purpose of this phase is to translate your new knowledge into individual and collaborative plans and actions for curricular and instructional change. Activities might include action research, peer-coaching, support groups, and curriculum development.

Gaining and Sharing Expertise.
The purpose of this phase is to continue to refine your instructional practice, learning with and from colleagues while also sharing your practical wisdom with your peers. Activities in this phase might include team planning, mentoring or partnering with a colleague, and participating in a network.




10 Steps To A Successful Project Management Implementation

Nowadays many organizations are seriously overwhelmed with project portfolios that have dramatically grown in size, sophistication and the number of resources involved. Just to illustrate this point, recently a CEO of a large financial institution mentioned in a private conversation with me, “It seems only yesterday we had a couple of fifty-thousand dollar projects in our portfolio and today we have ten ongoing endeavors ranging in size from $5 to $20 million. We were not prepared for this”.

How should these organizations adjust their business models? Many companies are attempting deployments of their own project management frameworks to address the issues above. This article is aimed to provide senior executives of such organizations with the key lessons learned by the author stemming from numerous previous projects of similar nature.

Implementing Project Management

How Are We Doing?
Before we venture into the discussion of the finer points of project management implementation, let us analyze the current situation in the industry and assess our ability to handle projects.

According to researchers 19% of the project undertaken in 2008 were complete failures (i.e. cancelled because of significant cost overruns or being late). Forty six percent represented troubled projects (i.e. significantly over budget and/or late but completed nonetheless). And only 35% of projects undertaken were delivered on time and on budget (give or take a couple of percent here and there).

I don’t think anyone would argue that these figures demonstrate that we are a long way from perfection when it comes to selecting, planning and executing our projects.

The Key Steps

Here are some of the lessons learned derived from several successful implementations of project management frameworks performed by Thinktank Consulting at various organizations in Canada, US, Asia and Middle East.

Lesson # 1: Customize Methodology – Never try to impose an “off-the-shelf” project management methodology onto any organization. Instead:

Interview a cross-section of company employees and, if possible customers and suppliers, to obtain the real project-related issues.
Use the “best practices” project management methodology to tailor the solutions proposed to the concerns voices by the people working for the organization
Note: it is very likely that some of the issues voiced will not map directly to the domain of project management. For example, challenges like “most of our projects are of low value to the organization” or “we are constantly taking on way more projects than we are capable of handling” indicate issues with portfolio management (the science of project selection and strategic resource allocation) rather than with project management.

Lesson # 2: Champion Simplicity – Initially try to concentrate on the simplest forms of the methodology. If processes and documents become too complicated people will find creative ways to ignore them!

Lesson # 3: Use Focus Groups – Always use “focus groups” of company employees with at least a basic knowledge of project management to validate the processes and templates you are proposing. This will ensure that they are properly fine-tuned to company realities and you get buy-in.

Lesson # 4: What Is A Project? – Try to determine what constitutes a project and what doesn’t for that particular organization. Establish a threshold to distinguish between “project” and “business as usual”.

Lesson # 5: Educate Stakeholders – Run several one- or two-day company-wide project management seminars. Your mission is not to create several dozen project managers “overnight” but rather to familiarize all of the potential project stakeholders with the key concepts of project management and to spread the PM culture throughout your organization.

Lesson # 6: Be Patient – If a significant resistance to change is encountered (a very likely scenario) try to apply a phased approach. For example, select a group of pilot projects to be run under the new methodology to be followed by all flagship projects, to be followed by all projects.

Lesson # 7: Assign Dedicated Project Managers – Introduce the role of a full-time project manager to the company. Depending on the number of pilot projects the organization will probably require more than one.

Lesson # 8: Communicate – Debrief key stakeholders at every milestone. Presentation software like PowerPoint with charts, graphs and tables is your best friend! In general keep in mind that communications is the key. An intranet webpage dedicated to the new methodology and project-related news, seminars, debriefing lunch-and-learns, short updates during functional department head meetings – any combination of the above-mentioned tools should be used to carry the positive message to your organization.

Lesson # 9: Capture “Before” and “After” Data – Capturing the “before” and after” project related data is essential. Otherwise it would be very difficult to prove to the naysayers (and the executives) that the project performance and results have indeed improved and that the investment has been worth the effort.

Lesson # 10 Hire a Professional – As self-serving as it sounds, don’t assume this difficult endeavor can be undertaken by internal resources with little or no experience in such projects. Hiring an external knowledgeable and unbiased professional who is capable of interviewing the stakeholders, developing a customized project management methodology and training your employees is probably the most efficient approach to this project.

15 Futuristic Elearning Trends Evolving in 2016 & Beyond

Based on what we know now and by closely following the new eLearning technologies that keep evolving, we believe the following eLearning trends will be established or further developed in the near future:

1.Massive Open Online Courses

This flexible and diverse concept sounds simple -online videos of real-life lectures-, but not when it involves the astronomic number of 36,000 students, which is how many people enrolled in one of Harvard’s first massive online courses. And it’s not just Harvard that jumped on the MOOC bandwagon.

2. Credits & fees for MOOCs

It’s only natural that MOOC will eventually stop being a free service, since they do require the presence of an instructor, the use of technology, and quite soon content providers will have to enrich them with webinars, discussions, wikis, etc.

3.The importance and greater recognition of informal learning

Accessibility and availability of social media tools enable and encourage people to gain the information they need. This is bound to continue and evolve in the future, thanks to the plethora of free learning resources, such as podcasts, videos, blogs, webinars, etc.

4. Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely accessible documents and media, quite often written by the world’s best authorities on any subject and sector. This can only mean one thing. The role of the traditional educator will be transformed. And all this knowledge available should be used wisely, creatively and effectively to support learning in or outside the traditional classrooms such as in corporate world or customer services training in a company. An example of this can be seen at sky customer services which actively uses OERS to impart training to their employees.

5. The concept of research will be upgraded

This is linked to the above-mentioned role of the instructor/educator. Tedious publications, worn lectures, and absence of updated material will soon come to their very end, if they have not already come to an end! Students’ participation in knowledge building is the new comparative advantage for those who want to stand out in the education field. Knowledge is easily accessible and we need to let our students/learners create knowledge autonomously.

6. Big data

Most L&D departments are required to quantitatively prove the worth of their learning strategies to stakeholders with accurate statistics and in-depth information. As well as demonstrating the effectiveness of digital learning, the increased adoption of big data will allow E-Learning administrators to personalise learning content, provide timely motivation and test the effectiveness of various learning theories and strategies.

7. Growing influence of learning communities

The term is multifaceted, implying extending classroom practice, curriculum enhancement, student tasks, engagement of students, teachers and administrators, etc. They support learning, promote collective creativity and shared leadership, and unite learning groups with shared values, vision and practices in a global perspective.

8. Mobile Learning

Mobile learning, also known as mLearning, is not simply eLearning on a mobile device. The eLearning material for mobile learning is specifically developed for mobile devices and the proper course content conversion demands skillful Instructional Design that is compatible with mobile devices. eLearning has become a fiercely consumer driven industry and the developers of eLearning contents focus on prioritizing the client’s needs (Clark and Mayer, 2016, p.67).

A mobile consumer report by Google and Ipsos MediaCT found that 80% of users won’t leave home without their smartphone. This level of market penetration coupled with a global digitisation effort reinforcing the indispensibility of mobile devices necessitates the consideration of mobile learning in every L&D strategy.

9. Gamification In Learning

This is a trend which aims at making learning a fun experience for individuals and has become one of the most sensational eLearning trends in 2016. Gamification of learning is not just meant for kids, but it equally engaging for adults and facilitates interaction. Gamification is not a very new trend; however, it is an ever evolving one. This is an extremely powerful tool that improves learner innovation, skills, and problem solving capabilities.

10. Microlearning

In a world that is perennially in haste, microlearning is the trend that is catching up the fastest. This eLearning trend involves mini bytes of learning content made available to the learner or user to incorporate in his daily busy schedule without much difficulty (Hung, J.L. 2012, p.8). Microlearning utilizes 5-10 minute videos, single page documents, focused articles, specific, small chunks of data or lessons and other such innovative and concise training resources that doesn’t burden the learner with too much cognitive reading.

11. Tin Can API

Following on from an incredible year in 2014, Tin Can API is likely to continue to grow in popularity and adoption in 2015. Tin Can is a Learning Record Store (LRS) capable of tracking a learner’s progress as they engage in traditional, formal learning as well as informal, social learning. Tin Can is set to overtake SCORM as the go-to industry standard LRS.

12. Cloud-Based eLearning Systems

Cloud-based corporate training is steadily gaining ground and the latest trend has seen Learning Management Systems and authoring tools switch to cloud-based platforms. Cloud-based online training is easily accessible to employees and reduces training costs significantly (Hung, J.L. 2012, p.10). Additionally, updating online training content and introducing new products and features is easy on Cloud and can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.

13. Wearable Technology Training

Wearable gadgets are the new rage in the world of technology. Google Glass, Apple Watch, and Oculus Rift are some of the gadgets that have pioneered the rising trend of Virtual Reality in eLearning through wearable gadgets. These wearable tech devices help users to interact with eLearning content in a multi-dimensional and more dynamic way (Clark and Mayer, 2016, p.68). These devices make eLearning more engaging and interactive to individuals. Technological advancements in the field make Virtual Reality more appealing with the help of 3D simulations and scenarios in the eLearning realm.

14. In-house content authoring

Technical advances, cost savings and a wider selection of rapid authoring tools means that L&D practitioners at all levels of technical capability can create their own E-Learning content. An indicator of the growing potential of authoring tools lies in the release of Articulate Storyline 2 and the increased functionality that comes along with it.

15. LMS

With organisations increasingly keen to monitor both formal and social learning, Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are set to be a big trend for 2015. Forecasts show that Learning Management Systems will grow at a rate of 25% for the next 5 years, reaching $7.8 billion in 2018.

Top 10 Technology Trends for 2016

Think of your last 24 hours. Chances are you’ve had several moments of continuous connection with information, apps, services, devices and other people. This “digital mesh” surrounds the individual and new, continuous and ambient experiences will emerge to exploit it.

Our lives are becoming increasingly connected to our devices, other people and a variety of things. Smart machines get smarter, and a new IT reality must evolve with technology architectures and platforms to support the advancement of a digitally connected world.
This year’s top 10 strategic technology trends are grouped into these three complementary trends that are mutually reinforcing with amplified disruptive characteristics.

Trend No. 1: The Device Mesh

The device mesh moves beyond the traditional desktop computer and mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) to encompass the full range of endpoints with which humans might interact. As the device mesh evolves, Gartner expects connection models to expand and greater cooperative interaction between devices to emerge. We will see significant development in wearables and augmented reality, especially in virtual reality.

Trend No. 2: Ambient User Experience

All of our digital interactions can become synchronized into a continuous and ambient digital experience that preserves our experience across traditional boundaries of devices, time and space. The experience blends physical, virtual and electronic environments, and uses real-time contextual information as the ambient environment changes or as the user moves from one place to another.
Organizations will need to consider their customers’ behavior journeys to shift the focus on design from discrete apps to the entire mesh of products and services involved in the user experience.

Trend No. 3: 3D-Printing Materials

We’ll see continued advances in 3D printing with a wide range of materials, including advanced nickel alloys, carbon fiber, glass, conductive ink, electronics, pharmaceuticals and biological materials for practical applications expanding into aerospace, medical, automotive, energy and the military.
Recent advances make it possible to mix multiple materials together with traditional 3D printing in one build. This could be useful for field operations or repairs when a specific tool is required and printed on demand. Biological 3D printing — such as the printing of skin and organs — is progressing from theory to reality; however, politicians and the public don’t have a full understanding of the implications.

Trend No. 4: Information of Everything

Everything surrounding us in the digital mesh is producing, using and communicating with virtually unmeasurable amounts of information. Organizations must learn how to identify what information provides strategic value, how to access data from different sources, and explore how algorithms leverage Information of Everything to fuel new business designs.

Trend No. 5: Advanced Machine Learning

Advanced machine learning is what makes smart machines appear “intelligent” by enabling them to both understand concepts in the environment, and also to learn. Through machine learning a smart machine can change its future behavior. This area is evolving quickly, and organizations must assess how they can apply these technologies to gain competitive advantage.

Trend No. 6: Autonomous Agents and Things

Advanced machine learning gives rise to a spectrum of smart machine implementations — including robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart advisors — that act in an autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) manner. This feeds into the ambient user experience in which an autonomous agent becomes the main user interface. Instead of interacting with menus, forms and buttons on a smartphone, the user speaks to an app, which is really an intelligent agent.

Trend No. 7: Adaptive Security Architecture

The complexities of digital business and the algorithmic economy, combined with an emerging “hacker industry,” significantly increase the threat surface for an organization. IT leaders must focus on detecting and responding to threats, as well as more traditional blocking and other measures to prevent attacks.

Trend No. 8: Advanced System Architecture

The digital mesh and smart machines require intense computing architecture demands to make them viable for organizations. They’ll get this added boost from ultra-efficient-neuromorphic architectures. Systems built on graphics processing units (GPUs) and field-programmable gate-arrays (FPGAs) will function more like human brains that are particularly suited to be applied to deep learning and other pattern-matching algorithms that smart machines use. FPGA-based architecture will allow distribution with less power into the tiniest Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints, such as homes, cars, wristwatches and even human beings.

Trend No. 9: Mesh App and Service Architecture

The mesh app and service architecture are what enable delivery of apps and services to the flexible and dynamic environment of the digital mesh. This architecture will serve users’ requirements as they vary over time. It brings together the many information sources, devices, apps, services and microservices into a flexible architecture in which apps extend across multiple endpoint devices and can coordinate with one another to produce a continuous digital experience.

Trend No. 10: Internet of Things Architecture and Platforms

IoT platforms exist behind the mesh app and service architecture. The technologies and standards in the IoT platform form a base set of capabilities for communicating, controlling, managing and securing endpoints in the IoT. The platforms aggregate data from endpoints behind the scenes from an architectural and a technology standpoint to make the IoT a reality.

5 Things Young People Can Do to Change the World

Young people aren’t just the leaders of tomorrow – they’re making huge changes to the world around them, right now. Whether it’s through social media or ‘hashtag’ activism, writing online or in their paper about a cause, or taking part in a protest, there are many ways that young people can ‘be the change’ and make a difference to the world.

1. Volunteer
Many young people volunteer in some way these days. It’s not just for adding experience to your CV – whether it’s a teaching or sports project, to animals and conservation work, to a hospice or a community centre, you can make a real difference!
Usually, the more local you can volunteer, or the more focused the action point, the better! Volunteering abroad can often be a great experience, and definitely life changing, but ‘voluntourism‘ projects aimed for young people aren’t always the best way to help communities. To start with, focus on how you can help your local area or a cause within your country.

2. Write to your political representative
A great way to start writing to your political representative is researching what some of your favourite charities are doing. Many charities, such as anti-poverty or environmental ones, will be running advocacy campaigns with petitions or with options to write to your representative regarding the issue. Through these, you can learn the best ways you can ask your representative to take action.
MPs want to hear from their constituents and what they’re interested in – that’s their job! However, they can’t tackle poverty or climate change singlehandedly – what they really want is to know what they can personally do about it. Write to them, or even ask for a meeting with them, and show them what you think they should be focusing on.

3. Use online platforms to reach others
There’s never been a greater time in history for reaching out to millions of people around the world. You’ve probably seen how a single Twitter hashtag can create massive social awareness, such as #BlackLivesMatter and #YesAllWomen. What hashtags can you contribute to, or even create?
If longer writing is more your thing, writing for an online portal like Huffington Post is a great place to start. You can write blogs and original content for HuffPo to reach new audiences, and if it’s featured then you could see your article reaching thousands of people.

4. Giving other young people a role
One of the best ways you can make a difference is to inspire others to join you. Not only are you teaching other young people about important issues, but you’re encouraging them to teach others too. That’s one reason why many charities and organisations have resources for young people who want to get involved as an ambassador for their cause. But you can do the same thing! Maybe you want to launch a campaign on raising awareness of a social issue, for example, but you need help to do everything. If you can create a team to join you, by giving everyone a role as an ambassador and a change agent, you’re helping them to put their own ideas into reality and make a much wider difference.

5. Think out of the box
Why do videos, campaigns, or pictures go viral? Normally a big reason behind this is because it’s something not many people will have seen before, which makes it ‘shareable’. By finding a way to make a difference in a completely unique way, you can find ways to reach entirely new audiences.

Are We Heading Towards a Cashless Future?

What the future holds for financial services may be the stuff of present-day science fiction – or something far more revolutionary If you’ve watched a sci-fi movie in the last 30 years, you’ll know what the future of money is – because no one ever pays for anything. From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cab ride in Total Recall to Luke Skywalker getting a drink at a scary spaceport bar, nary a shekel changes hands. Which isn’t, it turns out, lazy scriptwriting – it really is the future of seamless payments.

Obsessed with removing the distressing, time-consuming and purchase-squashing horror of pulling a £10 note from your pocket, a host of digital startups, tech labs and major banks are looking to revolutionise every aspect of anteing up. They are turning to biometrics, data, artificial intelligence (AI) and even bio-implants to ensure you can leave your house, step into a driverless taxi and grab breakfast from your usual coffee shop without even thinking about payments. Indeed, the main reason for interacting with the smartphone or wearable banking app will be to manage your personal portfolio.

So dramatic are the anticipated changes that Francisco Gonzales, chief executive of Spanish banking giant BBVA, predicts the next 20 years will see an entirely new financial ecosystem being created, going from 20,000 analogue banks today worldwide to no more than several dozen digital banks. He predicts that diverse niche businesses will exist, but will be tied into the digital banks for the so-called banking rails that underpin transactions.

Predictions versus reality
Of course, nothing is as simple as this. For a start, cash is stubborn. The working man’s tax haven, hard to track and easy to spend, is outperforming predictions of its demise. In 2015 it was still the most popular form of payment, accounting for 48 per cent of all transactions, compared with 24 per cent for debit cards and 10 per cent for direct debit. 2015 was, however, the first year cash slipped below 50 per cent of all transactions. With just 34 per cent of payments expected to be cash by 2024, what will take its place?

Jesse McWaters, project lead of disruptive innovation in financial services at the World Economic Forum, predicts three key systemic changes: the triumph of the “default card”, the card that consumers use in online and mobile payments; expecting this to be a debit card, he predicts the death of the credit card; and he expects digital currency systems to modernise the payments infrastructure. What this doesn’t account for is the surge in innovation in financial technology (fintech), with challenger banks and new service providers hoping to use predictive technology and AI to overhaul lending, and introduce sweeping changes.

“The biggest change we’ve seen recently is that for the first time in 350 years, banks are interested in their customers’ experience – customers used to have to go to the bank, now the bank has to come to them,” explains Phil Cantor, iGTB’s head of digital. “In time, technology will help restructure the way banks work with customers completely. Right now, if I need a loan to pay an overseas supplier, that’s at least two departments at my bank. What customers need is a bank that can keep them liquid so they can order money into an account when they need it and pay it back when they have it.”

Mr Cantor points to Square, the payments platform now offering loans to its merchants without them even requesting one, basing the loan offering on the transaction volume it sees the merchant processing and repayment directly out of the transaction stream.

Taking lending a step further
Moving corporate banking closer to this fluid lending, iGTB recently launched sanctions screening, an AI which offers a natural-language contextual search of social media to identify high-risk clients, along with a wearables extension of its corporate banking digital enterprise platform CBX, offering the complete spectrum of transaction banking and aimed initially at the Apple Watch.

This kind of broad interface offers trusted banks a chance to move from traditional bank to bonafide consumer brands, argues Andy Masters, head of savings and wealth at KPMG. In the short term he envisages a near future where mainstream financial services brands such as Barclays would use technology that already exists to bring together all their pension, savings, borrowing and cash account values from any provider on the same smartphone app. Slightly further out, he predicts machine-driven financial planning advice, which will view assets and liabilities, understand a customer’s risk attitude, and recommend strategies in real time and prompt customer action.

“There are data privacy concerns, of course, but if you’d suggested ten years ago that private companies would issue people with a device that measures their health on a minute-by-minute basis, there would have been a big brother outcry,” says Mr Masters. “Then along came the likes of Fitbit. It needs an under-the-radar approach like the Fitbit, but banks could become the mobile equivalent of the old AOL home pages.”

Manufacturing Trends to Watch Out for in 2016

The Internet’s large-scale global penetration has spawned an increasingly large number of technology and web-savvy consumers, creating a huge opportunity for both industrial manufacturers and their end customers. Over the past decade, the application of e-commerce in manufacturing and industrial distribution, has evolved from basic communication and transaction channel between buyer and seller, to an end-to-end collaboration medium between all stakeholders. This collaboration is driven by companies looking to increase sales by offering online product recommendations and promotions, as well as end-customers seeking the rich and personalized online experience that many retail websites offer.

E-commerce is a way for manufacturers to experiment with new products without risking a significant investment. Instead of setting up brick-and-mortar stores, or keeping inventory on hand, you can start offering this new product on your new store.

Manufacturing Business Technology recently wrote the 5 e-commerce trends for 2016 for manufacturers to look at that include:

Manufacturers will seek to increase their share of aftermarket parts sales.
Manufacturers will seek custom (or specifically tailored) e-commerce solutions.
Manufacturers will integrate e-commerce systems with IoT (Internet of Things) initiatives.
Equipment manufacturers will require dealers to adopt modern parts management systems, and to integrate those systems with their own.
Manufacturers will sell more parts directly to consumers, even if it’s still through their dealer channel.
A recent report by Frost & Sullivan, “The Future of Parts and Service Retailing in the Automotive Aftermarket” , predicts that by 2025, 10 to 15 percent of all global parts sales will be made online. This trend will be seen in the Equipment Manufacturing sector as well, especially in international markets.

The hindrance for manufacturers in the past was having a system in place to handle opening up to multi-channel or even omnichannel sales. However, with the various supply chain systems manufacturers use, such as ERP, WMS, and TMS, the systems must all provide options to integrate together with such e-commerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, and others in order to take hold in 2016.

Concepts of Business Process Re-engineering

The concept of business process reengineering (BPR) is to rethink and break down existing business processes. This allows a company to reduce costs and improve productivity through newer, more efficient processes. It is important to remember however, that though there are instances where this is necessary, business process reengineering is not without its disadvantages. This makes it vital to weigh your decision carefully. One of the most obvious adverse effects of a company’s decision to reengineer is a lowered employee morale. Most people are vary of change and do not manage to adapt to it easily. This aspect needs to be kept in mind when trying to make the decision to go through with the activity.

In this article, we will discuss:

  1. The history of business process reengineering
  2. The steps to help you implement business process reengineering
  3. Successes and failures of business process reengineering 
  4. Some famous examples.

Business process reengineering, also called BPR, is the redesign and analysis of workflow, in an effort to make it more efficient.

In the early 1990’s, Michael Hammer and James Champy published a book, “Reengineering the Corporation”, that stated that in some cases, radical redesign and reorganization within a company were the only way to reduce costs and improve service quality. To this end, they said, information technologywas the key element for allowing this to happen.

Hammer and Champy said that most large companies made (now invalid) assumptions about their goals, people and technology that were impacting the workflow. They suggested seven principles that could be used to reengineer and help streamline workflows, thus improving quality, time management and cost.

Hammer and Champy suggested the following seven principles in their book.

  • Organize around outcomes, not tasks.
  • Identify all the processes in an organization and prioritize them in order of redesign urgency.
  • Integrate information processing work into the real work that produces the information.
  • Treat geographically dispersed resources as though they were centralized.
  • Link parallel activities in the workflow instead of just integrating their results.
  • Put the decision point where the work is performed, and build control into the process.
  • Capture information once and at the source.

What does this mean in simpler language? Essentially, for a successful BPR effort, it is important to look at all the tasks that are working to achieve the same goal. This exercise can then allow several jobs to be combined into one. In addition, parallel processes leading to the same outcome should be connected within the process rather than just combining results at the end. Also, it is important to look at all available resources and place the actual work where it makes the most sense.

To make the process most efficient, the power to make decisions regarding it should be given to the people performing the process and any unnecessary control systems should be eliminated. Instead of having extra processes to record information relating to the process, a resource within the process should provide all necessary data to increase accuracy and reduce redundancy.

The following steps (Davenport, 1992) can help BPR realize its core principles of customer satisfaction, reduced costs of business and increased competitiveness.

Any BPR activity needs to begin with a clearly defined and measurable objectives. Whether the goal is reducing costs, improving quality of product, or increasing efficiency, the framework for what needs to be achieved has to be decided upon at the outset, in line with the company’s vision and mission.

Once a clear goal is in mind, all processes need to be studied and those seen as ‘slacking’ or that can be improved need to be identified. Among these, those processes with direct impact on the company’s output or those that clash with the company’s mission become part of the ‘red’ list. This clear identification makes the difference between BPR success and failure.

With a list of slacking processes in hand, it is imperative to identify how they were identified as such. Are they taking too much time to complete? Is the quality of the outcome being compromised? Whatever the issue, each process must be judged objectively either against industry standards or ethically obtained competitor best practices.

An efficient and relevant IT system is an essential BPR enabler. Without such a system, it is not possible to keep a check on all factors affecting the change. Before setting out on a radical BPR activity, it is vital to set in place information systems that can deal with the magnitude of the change.

Before any new product is launched, a prototype is tested out. A failure at a testing stage should never be implemented at a larger scale. BPR projects fail more often than not for a variety of reasons but a basic reason is the inability to identify and accept any limitations at the testing stage. Among other factors, both the management’s attitude towards the new way of work and the employees’  outlook towards the change should be carefully assessed.

Managing change brought about by BPR activities is the final effort towards a successful project. Providing updated documentation, organizational structures, governance models as well as updated charts of authority and responsibility leave little room for confusion and allow a smooth transition into the new way of work.

Business process reengineering is a radical change activity that cannot be repeated if it goes wrong the first time. It is often a high risk activity that involves monetary investment and a risk of demotivated employees. In is essential to have buy in all the way from top management down and it should have a broad functional scope.

It is important to acknowledge and understand that BPR is not a foolproof method of success. As with all activities it runs the risk of failure.

A BPR program can be successful if:

  • Customer needs are made the priority and this vision is used to appropriately direct business practices.
  • There are cost advantages to be achieved that help the organization become more competitive in its industry
  • A strategic view of all operational processes is taken with relevant questions being asked about the established way of work and how it can be developed over the long term into more efficient business practices
  • There is a willingness to look beyond tasks and traditional functional boundaries with a focus outcomes. Through this, entire processes can be eliminated or amalgamated into fewer but more relevant and powerful processes throughout the organization.
  • There is a real desire to simplify the way of work by objectively assessing all activities and tasks and eliminating any that add less value and more complexity.

A BPR program will fail if:

  • It is seen as a way to make minor adjustments and improvements to existing processes. If there is no clear willingness to put all existing process onto the chopping block, there is no chance of success
  • It is seen as a one-time cost cutting exercise. In reality, cost reductions are often a handy by product of the activity but not the primary concern. It is also not a one-time activity but an ongoing change in mindset
  • There is no success in gaining dedicated long term commitment from management and the employees. Bringing people onboard is a difficult task and many BPR initiatives never take off because enough effort is not put into securing support
  • There is less effort to redesign and more to automate
  • One department is prioritized at the expense of the process.

There needs to be an openness towards studying every single process in detail and a willingness to change whatever is needed to achieve overall efficiency. There is too much internal focus and not enough of an eye on the industry and what competitor best practices can be used as benchmarks


In his suggestions to Ford, Michael Hammer proposed something radical: Eliminate the invoice. In the new scenario, a buyer no longer needed to send a copy of the purchasing order form to the creditor administration. Instead, he registers an order in the online database. When the items appear at the store, the storekeeper check whether these correspond to the purchase order form in the system. In the old system he did not have access to this form. If the items match the order, he accepts them and registers this in the computer system. If they do not, the items are returned. Hammer reported that Ford benefited drastically from this change with an almost 75% decrease in workforce in the accounts payable department.

Taco Bell reimagined their business, focusing more on the retail service aspect and centralizing the manufacturing area. The K-Minus program was created and the meat, corn shells, beans, lettuce, cheese and tomatoes for their restaurants were now prepared in central commissaries outside the restaurant. At the restaurants, the prepared ingredients are assembled when ordered by a customer. Better employee morale, increased quality control, fewer accidents and injuries, bigger savings and more time for focusing on customer business processes are some of the successes of the new way of work. Taco Bell has gone from being a $500 million company in 1982 to a $3 billion company (Early 1990s).

Hallmark used to spend 3 years in bringing new products to the market. With more niche markets identified Hallmark executives were convinced that the product development process needed to be redesigned. Using reengineering, the goal was set to change cycle time to one year. They discovered to their surprise that two thirds of the product cycle was spent on planning and conceptualizing the card rather than on printing and production rework as had previously been thought. The concept spent 90% time waiting for a creative staffer to complete a new iteration till it was eventually finalized, In 1991, a new line of cards was brought to market in 8 months, ahead of schedule, by creating a cross functional team for product development.

Although there have been many BPR success stories, the process became somewhat unpopular in the late 1990s. There were many organizations who went through the attempts to redesign processes but did not manage to reap any of the myriad benefits promised. So it is essential to plan carefully before undertaking this exercise. First and foremost, a business problem needs to be identified. Are we manufacturing at higher costs than our industry? Is there a newer way of work that we have not brought into our processes? Do our processes seem overly complex? Are too many people doing too many similar things? After setting clear objectives and securing support from all levels of management within the company, it is important to approach the process as one of continuous learning and to keep an eye on new and emerging problems as well the existing way of work. The success of any BPR initiative hinges on how deeply a process improvement mindset is created and nurtured by both management and the process owners themselves.

Human Capital Development….. It has to be done.

Why Improving Leadership Development Is the Organizations Responsibility

Study after study demonstrates that the main reasons employees leave organizations are poor management and lack of leadership. In fact, a 2013 white paper from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), “The Challenges Leaders Face Around the World,” notes that 56 percent of organizations indicate a lack of leadership would impede organizational performance, and 31 percent predict that a leadership shortage would impact organizations over the next few years. 

Meanwhile, the CCL white paper also reports that 80 percent of executives cite the ability to develop leaders as one of the most important factors to impact an organization’s competitive advantage. Another bottom-line implication is that organizations with top-tier leadership have up to 10 percent higher three-year total shareholder returns.

To be sure, many books have been written on leadership, and billions of dollars have been spent on leadership development programs. Yet, despite these major investments in leadership development, the majority of people trust a stranger more than their boss. Why? One reason may be that the wrong people are in leadership roles, contends David Rock in the 2013 Fortunearticle, “Why Organizations Fail.” Rock explains that organizations continue to fail because they hire and promote managers with robust analytical skills but poor social skills. 

Clearly, the importance employees place on leadership is significantly different than their organizations—and this disconnect is not new. For example, in the 2005 ASAE article, “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave,” Leigh Branham reported that 89 percent of managers believe that employees leave organizations for more money, but only 12 percent of employees agree with this analysis. Similarly, a 2013 Gallup study reports that 80 percent of managers believe employees are just glad to have a job, while only 53 percent of employees feel this way. In fact, one estimate claims that 51 percent of employees leave organizations due to their managers. 

The implication of these staggering stats is that employees are just waiting for an opportunity to move on. Worse, in 2005 Branham estimated that this inability to retain workers could cost an organization 150 percent of an employee’s salary. We can only assume that estimate has increased significantly a decade later. Indeed, in recent times, particularly during the economic downturn, there still appears to be a major disconnect between the importance organizations and employees place on leadership. 

The good news: This disconnect provides organizations, and especially human capital professionals, an opportunity to ensure proper development for their leadership cadre. This is particularly imperative with an increasingly diverse workforce, and as Baby Boomers prepare to move on to retirement or another phase of their work lives. 

Also, there are opportunities for improvements as more women take on leadership roles. Just consider the 2013 Inc. article, “Between Mars and Venus: 7 Traits of True Leaders,” which highlights the blend of male/female traits that effective leaders demonstrate. Author Leigh Buchanan, Inc. magazine’s editor-at-large, makes the case that effective leaders demonstrate empathy, inclusiveness, vulnerability, generosity, humility, balance, and patience. And I tend to agree with this assessment. While conducting hundreds of leadership workshops over the last 30 years, I ask participants to describe the characteristics of effective leaders. Not surprisingly, a couple of traits continuously cited are communication and trust.

Bottom line: Current leadership development isn’t working—only 32 percent of organizations are satisfied with their senior leadership team, remarks the 2013 Harvard Business Review article “How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management”—all while leaders face increasing demands to deliver faster results and improve their interactions with others. Perhaps, we are at a point where organizational leaders must transition from transactional and transformational models, as described by the Corporate Leadership Council in Driving Performance and Retention Through Employee Engagement. More importantly, these changing and challenging times are moving the needle to an even newer model: the network leader. 

3 Renowned Certifications in GRC

CEOs are always on the lookout for dependable folks who can identify potential exposures and quantify the impacts of risk on an organization while protecting the interests of employees, shareholders, other organizations and the general public. Here are six top-rated Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) certifications that are worth the time, cost and effort.

In the wake of several well-publicized corporate scandals about 15 years ago – Enron and WorldCom, to name two – and the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, organizations that must adhere to regulations for data security, financial accountability and consumer privacy can’t do without someone making sure internal processes are being carried out properly. Enter the need for competent governance, risk and compliance (GRC) professionals.

The goal of GRC, in general, is to ensure that proper policies and controls are in place to reduce risk, to set up a system of checks and balances to alert personnel when new risks materialize and to manage business processes more efficiently and proactively. Professionals with a GRC certification must juggle stakeholder expectations with business objectives, and ensure that organizational objectives are met while meeting compliance requirements. That’s an incredible amount of responsibility, and is absolutely necessary in today’s business climate.

All kinds of job roles require or benefit from a GRC certification, such as chief information officer, IT security analyst, security engineer architect, information assurance program manager and senior IT auditor, among others.

here are our picks for GRC certifications.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
One of the most sought-after GRC certifications by candidates and employers alike is the CRISC from ISACA, which identifies IT professionals who are responsible for managing IT and enterprise risk and ensuring that risk management goals are met. A CRISC is often heavily involved with overseeing the development, implementation and maintenance of information system (IS) controls designed to secure systems and manage risk. Since 2010, ISACA has issued over 18,000 CRISC credentials, which is a relatively high number in the GRC certification field.

The CRISC exam covers four domains: Risk Identification (Domain 1), Risk Assessment (Domain 2), Risk Response and Mitigation (Domain 3) and Risk and Control Monitoring and Reporting (Domain 4).

Requirements: Pass one exam (150 questions, four hours), prove a minimum of three years of cumulative work experience in IT risk and information systems associated with at least two of the four domains, adhere to the ISACA Code of Professional Ethics and comply with the CRISC Continuing Education Policy.

Exam cost: $440 to $675, depending on whether you are an ISACA member and when you register.

Project Management Institute-Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
Anyone who has pursued a project management certification is familiar with the Project Management Institute (PMI), either through research or by picking up the coveted Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. However, PMI also offers the Risk Management Profession (PMI-RMP) certification, as well as several others that focus on business management, processes, analysis and scheduling.

The PMI-RMP identifies IT professionals involved with large projects or working in complex environments who assess and identify project-based risks. They are also competent in designing and implementing mitigation plans that counter the risks from system vulnerabilities, natural disasters and the like.

The PMI-RMP exam covers five knowledge domains: Risk Strategy and Planning (Domain 1), Stakeholder Engagement (Domain 2), Risk Process Facilitation (Domain 3), Risk Monitoring and Reporting (Domain 4) and Perform Specialized Risk Analyses (Domain 5).

Requirements: Pass one exam (170 questions, 3.5 hours), prove achievement of a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent), and prove at least 4,500 hours of project risk management experience and 40 hours of project risk management education. The experience and education requirement can be substituted with a four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent), at least 3,000 hours of project risk management experience and 30 hours of project risk management education.

Exam cost: $520 (member), $670 (non-member).

Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA)
The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) is a global professional association that provides information, networking opportunities and education to auditors in business, government and the financial services industry. One of the IIA’s certifications is the CRMA, which recognizes individuals who are involved with risk management and assurance, governance, quality assurance and control self-assessment. A CRMA is considered a trusted advisor to senior management and members of audit committees in large organizations.

Requirements: One exam in two parts: CIA Exam Part 1 – Internal Audit Basics (125 questions, 2.5 hours) and CIA Exam Part 2 – Internal Audit Practice (100 questions, 2 hours). In addition, prove achievement of a 3- or 4-year post-secondary degree (or higher), or two years of post-secondary education and five years of internal auditing experience (or equivalent) or seven years of internal auditing experience. Prove at least two years of auditing experience or control-related business experience in risk management or quality assurance. Finally, provide a character reference signed by a person holding an IIA certification or a supervisor, provide proof of identification and agree to abide by the Code of Ethics established by The IIA.

Exam costs: $350 (members), $450 (non-members).