Wednesday, November 4, 2015

6 Essential Elements of a Well-Crafted IT Project Plan

For some businesses, the key to the company's salvation is business transformation by means of an information technology implementation project. But complex changes in business and system processes are risk-laden ventures, each one subject to internal and external threats. For this reason, a company's survival can depend on the near perfect execution of a well-crafted project plan that's created with careful consideration of all relevant issues, such as project scope and risk management.

Information Technology Project Scope

A first step in planning an IT project is gaining stakeholder agreement as to what work is within a project's scope. A plan's scope statement solidifies a project's scope and identifies the project manager and sponsor, as well as specifies the project's business and technical objectives and its anticipated completion date.

Project scope information guides a team's efforts toward producing a particular outcome within a certain time frame and for a particular cost. Consequently, a well-documented and agreed-to project scope is required to prevent the arbitrary expansion of a project's original objectives. The project manager commences work on the project scope document after leadership approval is given to planning the IT project.

IT Project Risk Management Plan

Risk management is another key element of the project planning process, which specifies how a project team plans to identify, prioritize and mitigate the impact of unforeseen events. To create this plan, the project team documents project risks that must be managed during a project's life cycle, such as financial risks. The risk management plan also identifies the actions the project team will take to address risks when it's cost-effective and reasonable to do so.

To plan for contingencies, the team creates a risk register that describes risks, such as those that may delay project completion or that may cause project costs to exceed the project budget. Also, the team specifies the preferred risk-response strategies that will negate or limit a risk's impact. Project team members complete the risk management plan in an early phase of the project's life cycle.

Information Technology Project Change Management Plan

Because a project is not a static undertaking and change is required as new project needs are identified, the team must create a change management plan. This plan ensures that a team focuses their efforts on the correct issues at the right time and for the right reasons. A simple question, "What must change for the project to be a success in terms of meeting its primary objectives and serving its stakeholders" can alert a project team of a needed project plan change and triggers efforts to document, evaluate, approve, prioritize, schedule and track the changes.

To revise a project plan, a team member creates a project change request and the project manager identifies change agents responsible for the implementing the change and assigns them the authority needed to ensure team members comply with the plan. The project manager creates the change management plan early in the project life cycle and specifies that a change will be considered if it aligns with project goals, provides value to the existing initiative and achieves benefits that exceed their costs.

IT Project Work Breakdown Structure

The work breakdown structure (WBS) provides a view of a project's hierarchy or its "big picture," and includes the individual activities a team will perform during a project's life cycle to accomplish project objectives.

After a project scope is defined, a project manager creates a WBS based on project deliverables, such as a report or software program.  Next, the PM breaks down these objectives to the intermediate objectives, which are subdivided to intermediate requirements.  For instance, to create a report, a team member may need to create a questionnaire or conduct interviews. The work breakdown structure supports the project cost estimation, project scheduling and work assignment processes. The project manager creates the work plan after the project scope is defined.

IT Project Communication Plan

Project communication may relate to a change in a project's scope, its risk, the project schedule, or the project staff or budget. Consequently, poor communication between a project manager, project sponsor and other stakeholders can increase project risks, the duplication of effort, the omission of needed activities and the misallocation of resources. To avoid these circumstances, all planned for communications between stakeholders is noted in a project communication plan, which is created by the project manager (PM), who also monitors the team's compliance with the plan.

The PM determines the objectives of each communication, when particular information is released, in what format information is released, to whom the information is distributed and how the information is stored.  After the project scope is firmly established, the communication plan can be created.

Information Technology Project Resource Plan

A project manager documents the number and types of resources a project requires in a project resource plan, which  the PM creates after a project scope is defined and approved by project stakeholders. As he creates the plan, the project manager makes note of resource availability, as well as resource costs.

To create the resource plan, the PM identifies the roles needed to accomplish each project plan activity, as well as the needed equipment and consumables, such as photocopiers, computers and telecommunications equipment, and copy paper and ink cartridges.

Companies commit to a business transformation by means of an information technology implementation project to achieve particular business goals. Any change in a business or system process, however, is a risk-laden venture. A company limits its exposure by drafting and adhering to a well-crafted project plan that's created with careful consideration of all relevant issues, such as project scope and risk management.


The Ohio State University: Project Management Framework

CIO: How to Create a Clear Project Plan, Elizabeth and Richard Larson, 09-10- 2004


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stay secure - October news from Code42



October 2015

This Month at Code42

EXCLUSIVE NEWS + RESOURCES

Protect against data leaks using the Code42 API

Did you know there is a prototype data leak/loss prevention and detection (DLP) security solution available through the Code42 API? The Code42 API Python script monitors and protects the CrashPlan archives of selected users in your Code42 environment against unauthorized or suspicious restore activity. Read this support documentation to learn the purposes, limitations and principles of the script; how to configure, install and implement the script; and how to interpret its output.
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RELEASE NOTES

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POLICY 
NOTIFICATIONS

Code42 secures $85 million investment to continue expansion in endpoint data protection, security, forensics and analytics

Code42 is excited to announce that it has secured $85 million in Series B funding. "We protect the most important information for the world's largest enterprises. This funding enables us to grow even faster in endpoint backup and accelerates our efforts to build analytics and actionable intelligence on top of the historical archive of end-user data," said Joe Payne, president and CEO at Code42.

The history of the web's greediest villain: ransomware

They say history repeats itself, and there's no exception when it comes to ransomware. Becoming infected with ransomware—be it CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, CTB-Locker, TorrentLocker, or one of their many variants—can feel like the digital equivalent of getting mugged. Do you know the origins of ransomware?

Endpoint data control is critical for legal hold + eDiscovery

The right tools can make collection of custodial data faster and simpler—with no nagging questions about discovery integrity or data spoliation. Code42 endpoint data protection and security supports legal hold capabilities. In this IDC analyst report, read how enterprises can combine endpoint data protection and eDiscovery on a single platform and review the risks and challenges associated with data stored beyond the reach of IT departments, risk managers and corporate attorneys.

API cool tools: Advanced REST Client extension for Google Chrome

Code42 Systems Engineer Amir Kader shares why the Advanced REST Client extension for Google Chrome is useful, and how to use it in conjunction with the Code42 API Documentation Viewer. The Documentation Viewer outlines what is required to invoke a resource and what should be returned—but it doesn't show you real data. In this post, you will learn how to use this extension to test resources that are documented, and see the output in a readable format.
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"CrashPlan gives us complete visibility into backup activities and status for all DKSH users, and has cut the number of backup and restore-related service tickets significantly."
-Sven Maushake, General Manager of Global IT Infrastructure for DKSH



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bit by Bit: your trusted disaster recovery provider


Information technology is essential to the continuation of critical business functions. So it stands to reason that protecting your organization's data and IT infrastructure in the event of a natural or man-made disaster is a top business priority. All organizations, regardless of size, should have a disaster recovery plan.
Statistics show that on average, over 40% of businesses that do not have disaster recovery plan go out of business after a major loss like a fire, a break-in, a storm or sabotage. With statistics like this in mind, disaster recovery planning should be a top priority for SMBs. A disaster recovery and business continuity plan will bring about the following advantages:
Achieve peace of mind. Get rid of any worries related to the catastrophic loss of your computer data. We provide complete backup protection of your critical business information.
Restore faith in your backups. We ensure your data and systems are continually backed up, automated and always up-to-date.
Count on a speedy recovery. If a disaster occurs, rest assured your business will be up and running immediately.
Protect more than just data. Our solution defends against your entire system, including anti-virus software and other security measures
Let Bit by Bit help your IT department with its disaster recovery procedures, ensuring that you can keep critical services running regardless of power outage, hurricane or human error. Give us a call today at 866-391-1566.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Top Cloud Computing Trends of 2015

A 2015 survey conducted by RightScale, one of the leading cloud computing managers in the world, shed some light on the latest trends in cloud computing. While cloud storage is still in its early childhood, the revolutionary data storage solution has taken the tech industry by storm. From rapid adoption to hybrid strategies, here are the top cloud computing trends of the year.

Hybridization

While the vast majority of workplaces have seen the many benefits of cloud computing, most are reluctant to entrust everything to the cloud just yet. The RightScale survey found that 82 percent of enterprises now have a hybridized strategy that involves both the cloud and traditional means of storage. That number was up significantly from 74 percent in 2014. While experts continue to speculate on this reluctance to fully adopt cloud computing, many professionals and enterprises alike are drawn by the apparent permanency of having traditional storage as a backup.

Public vs. Private

It seems that adopters prefer different forms of the cloud for different things. An impressive 88 percent of enterprises utilize the public cloud, while 63 percent use the private cloud. Enterprises clearly favor the public cloud, while organizations tend to prefer the private cloud for workloads. These figures are telling as to the future applications of cloud computing and its impact on the world of enterprise.

While the public cloud is clearly in the lead when it comes to overall adoption, larger scale enterprises show a defined preference for the private cloud. Some virtualized environments that have been redesigned may be labeled as private clouds, partially explaining the trend. Nonetheless, the public cloud is expected to grow significantly over a short period of time. 27 percent of enterprises expect to have more than 1,000 Vms in the public cloud within the next year. Experts suggest that as time progresses, enterprises may begin to divide cloud usage equally between public and private clouds for maximum workload efficiency.

Applications

While workplaces are becoming more and more reliant on the cloud, much of the workload is still left to traditional software. 68 percent of all enterprises run one-fifth or less of their applications in the cloud. Surprisingly, 55 percent of enterprises admit to keeping a large percentage of their application portfolios off the cloud. While these enterprises utilize cloud-friendly infrastructures, they are not even coming close to utilizing the cloud fully across workloads.

While the low rate of cloud application usage may seem like a negative to cloud development, experts suggest that this could actually lead to more growth in the long run. There is still plenty of space in the cloud for more applications, and as offerings in the IaaS field continue to grow, adopters may be drawn in by the vast array of possibilities for applications in the cloud.

DevOps and Docker

The survey found that DevOps adoptions rose to 66 percent overall, with a 71 percent enterprise adoption increase. These promising figures show that DevOps truly is the software development method of the future with a focus on communication and clarity. Docker adoption is also on the rise with as many as 13 percent of organizations utilizing the development platform and another 35 percent acknowledging plans for future use.

AWS and Azure

Thus far, AWS has dominated the cloud computing scene with an impressive adoption rate of 57 percent across all enterprises. Azure IaaS comes in at a distant second with a 12 percent adoption rate, but experts warn against labeling the platform at second rate. Azure's adoption rate doubled from 6 percent in 2014, making it a viable competitor for AWS. By 2018, it is estimated that 59 percent of all cloud workloads will be through Software-as-a-Service applications, marking a huge increase from 41 percent in 2013. This growing market promises to host plenty of competition both for developed platforms like AWS and steadily growing ones like Azure.

Increased Spending

Goldman Sach reports that overall spending on cloud computing is expected to grow 30 percent annually between 2013 and 2018. This growth rate is remarkable considering the overall IT industry's projected growth rate of 5 percent. Such figures make it obvious that the IT world is ready for more cloud computing solutions and will become increasingly dependent on cloud development platforms for storage and workload performance.

As the cloud computing industry continues to grow, enterprises are treated to an ever expanding market of applications and platforms to use. Not only is cloud computing running workloads more efficiently than ever, but enterprises are utilizing the cloud in its various forms more in 2015 than they ever have before.

Contact Bit by Bit for more information:   877.860.5831


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