Book Review – Practical Change Management

I work supporting and developing Business Intelligence solutions, a job that is all about changing things: updating a table layout in a database, changing an IP address in the ETL, adding users to the OLAP tool – pretty standard GitHub/SourceForge chores and the like. So when I was given a chance to review the new Impackt book, Practical Change Management for IT Projects, I dove in, little knowing how mistaken I was and how happy this misunderstanding was about to become.

Reading the book was like seeing the sea for the first time: wow! There is a whole field of corporate change management, with people planning and rolling out a change in detail!

I work with a large (+10.000 employees, US$1Billion/Year) brazillian federal government IT company and we do plan our rollouts (for new systems, new process, new softwares, corporate culture change and so on), but the book addresses it in a deeper level than we have ever done. The author writes with focus, with the tight and well constructed sentences only those who had done something a lot are able to use. You can see it is so and not a professional polished text because among the concise wording, here and there, you can spot some odd constructions, and sometimes the train of thought is strained a bit too long, even for the native English speaker.

Managing the Change without Chance

If Change Management, the discipline of planning and conducting some change in an organisation, were a shrink-wrapped product, this book would be its instruction manual. It neatly explains what change management is and how the change eventually go around happening (or not.) She explains what are and and then identifies the components of a change (the “Pillars of Change”), the participants, the components of a change program and finally she lays out a project pattern for making the change happen in an orderly fashion. So there is quite a detailed work break-down, with roles, activities, milestones, deliverables, documentation (with templates and credible examples), control meetings. The whole shebang.

Concurrently, and I believe this is what add most value to this book, while the author presents all the information and the method she walks the reader trough every piece of it by using a Case Study set at the beggining of the book. In it, Acme Corp is adopting a new buying system in replacement for an old one. This change must happen in every division of the company and, to makes things look worse, this very system holds a sizeable amount of responsability for the results of Acme. If something goes awry this fictional company profitability might be badly hurten.

The Only Constant is Change

Practical Change Management for IT Projects is worth every penny. If you might be affected by change anytime, buy and read it at once. It seems Change Management is not that widespread discipline as is Project Management so it might be possible your company has never heard about it in that formal way. I am no novice on corporate life and it strucks me with some shame I have never seem it around. I am at ease to confess my loss at it just because the last words in the book are saved for telling you (the reader) the importance of the awareness of Change Management, that this awareness is key to success and how to rise it. Hence, to share those ideas and the book are an important exercise alongside everything else.

The Hands Down

I must admit I became an Emily Carr’s fan. I enjoyed reading the book by its sheer style, the upbeat never-surrender-never-retreat attitude. There is some inspiring grandeur in how she poses the problem and the hardship everyone faces daily, and the feeling she imparts on the need for change just makes you feel good.

Well, now that I said how much the book is worth and much I enjoyed it, I can tell what I didn’t like.

The Caveats

To make it sure: the book is good, you won’t regret buying it. However…

She operates the change management on some level of optimism. Unfortunatelly, real companies seem to be much more difficult to deal than Acme. On ocasion she sets some ideal situation that is simply not every time attainable. Some sort of compromise usually kicks in everything we do but she does not acknowledge that much (she doesn’t deny it, thoug.) For instance, on location 2187 she states the extreme importance of having every event you invite user to to be well planed and features a bug-free version of the product involved in the change. Good luck getting it…

She avoids dealing with all the possible variations and cenarios, or even with a small set of possibilities, so everything seems to be under an “ideal world” lighting. Although the consideration on some variability would enrich the book, taking in consideration its lenght, the templates, walkthroughs, insights and tips, by not addressing this much of variability doesn’t hurt the final results and, after all, makes for a more readable and practical book.

Another thing I can spot as some hidden hindrance to the newly broken Change Manager is that she makes it seem so much easy and success prone. There is nothing wrong here, for with some training and a bit of practicing it will probably became easier to drive a change program. The risk is not being aware how easy it is not. She knows how to do and have come confidence on doing it and she stress constantly a Change Program takes a lot of effort to turn in a success, but she writes very well and easily gets the reader carried away (again, nothing wrong – passion is good. Just kiss with lights on, and with open eyes.)

Finally, I couldn’t find any reference to Scrum or some Agile method. The program has a very conservative look of a waterfall planing. Of course if it works out good, I can’t ask for anything else. But Scrum is such a powerfull way of managing project that Change Management, being all about commiting changes, should be connected to it in some way.

Conclusion

As I said, Practical Change Management for IT Projects is very good and in fact a must have: practical, usefull guide on how to make change happen and how to have some control on it. All in all, a good read in all the senses. Its only downsides are some optmism and a couple of beatifull scenarios. I also miss some relationship with Scrum or any Agile technique, but none of those aspects are really an issue.

There is some changing come my way and I am very happy I have mistakenly turned to this book for some dull code-versioning stintch. After all it was not anything I would imagine, but thanks to this misunderstanding now I can really help make change happening, something I didn’t even know about a couple of weeks ago.

Anúncios

Wiley and the No to Data Vault

Wiley has done one very big mistake it will regret: it has turned down an offer to publish a work on par with several of its own catalogue, namely Prof. Ralph Kimball and Mr. Bill Inmon.

Not only venerable, but also criterious and very serious publishing house, Wiley has fullfilled a role of leading while informing, for every technology that happens to be important nowadays has at least a book, if not several works, published through Wiley. To be published by Wiley is not only an honor reserved for those landmark works but also an acknowledgement of ideas whose time has come.

On the Business Intelligence industry Wiley has published every single most important work: Building the DW by Mr. Inmon, the very birth of a whole new field; The DW Toollkit, the paving book on Dimensional Modeling by Prof. Kimball, which is the sole most important data model for analysis and BI; OLAP Solutions by Erik Thomsem, the foundations of the most sucessfull analysis technique for BI; etc. etc. etc.

Not only conceptual, theoretical work has been being published by Wiley, but several other very important sources on knowledge sought all over the world, like the popular BI technology Pentaho, has gained the light of day by the skilled hands of Wiley: Pentaho Solutions, groundbreaking work, the first reference on Pentaho – an Open Source marvel of performance and flexibility – ever published, and the the official reference on its Data Integration technology, the Kettle Solutions – virtually a textbook. I took these two as an example of how far Wiley is able to see. Both are initial works by newly broken writters about a technology with a large amount on information avaliable for free – a double risk: unproven authors about freely available knowledge! But even so Wiley has published them. A couple of unproven writers on a risky subject are now the best source of info on an Open Source software. Gushing. Bold. Intelligent. A hallmark Wiley  job.

Unfortunally, by reasons beyond any reasonable pondering, Wiley has TURNED DOWN an offer which would bolster its own leading position! It has turned down an offer to have by their ranks new groundbreaking Business Intelligence technology – mature, stable, proven reliable and proven usefull on a number of very large enterprises as banks, IT companies and worldwide retaillers! U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E.

And this all really set me off because it will spoil my otherwise speckless record of Wiley-Only Library! I’ll just have to buy the most important Business Intelligence book on the last decade from some other publishing house!

Thank you and be seeing ya, Wiley!

Hello, other-publishing-house! Welcome to the avant garde!

Como Criar uma Dimensão Data

Em um Modelo Dimensional, o recurso mais valioso sem sombra de dúvida é uma boa dimensão Data. Ainda que uma estrela (um conjunto fato-dimensões) seja em si mesma um grande recurso analítico, ela é pouco útil se não agregar a capacidade de analisar os dados contra o tempo.

Kimball comenta o seguinte sobre a dimensão Data:

Kimball comenta sobre a dimensão Data.
Kimball comenta sobre a dimensão Data.

A sugestão é simples e muito prática: baixe este arquivo do site dele, copie a coluna com os INSERTs e cole num terminal SQL. Repare que, no comentário acima, ele ainda menciona a necessidade de se criar uma linha extra, com chave especial (zero?) para os fatos que ainda não tem data.

Usando o Pentaho Data Integration

No meu livro Pentaho na Prática há uma outra forma de se popular uma dimensão data, que é usando esta transformação do PDI:

Transformação para popular uma dimensão Data.
Transformação para popular uma dimensão Data.

Ela gera 10.000 linhas, a partir de 1/jan/1990, com dia da semana e mês, em inglês. Se você quiser traduzir, basta editar o conteúdo dos passos Days of week e Months. Porém, da mesma forma que a planilha do Kimball, essa transformação não cuida do registro zero – você deve inseri-lo manualmente.

Clique aqui para baixar o arquivo. Depois de descompactá-lo e abri-lo com o PDI, você precisa configurar apenas o último passo (figura abaixo: selecione uma conexão, informe o esquema se for necessário, e depois inserir o nome da tabela) e clicar no botão SQL para automagicamente criar a tabela.

Passo de saída para a transformação que popula a dimensão data.
Passo de saída para a transformação que popula a dimensão data.

Essa transformação vem na pasta de amostras do PDI 3.8. Infelizmente, as versões posteriores passaram a vir corrompidas.

Packt em Promoção por 24H!

Promoção Packt: Dia Anti-DRM – Qualquer Livro ou Vídeo a US$10,00!

A Packt está com uma promoção pelo Dia Anti-DRM (Day Against DRM)! Todos os produtos por US$10,00!! Eu sou cliente frequente da Packt, tenho muitos livros deles, e gosto muito da qualidade dos livros (não conheço nada dos vídeos.) Se você precisa aprender algo, dê uma olhada na biblioteca deles! Vale a pena!

Clique no banner abaixo ou aqui para ir diretamente para o site deles:

24H de Produtos a US$10,00!
24H de Produtos a US$10,00!

English

Day Against DRM at Packt! Everything at US$10,00!

Packt is on a 24H promotion for the Anti-DRM Day: any video or book for US$10,00 – too cheap!! I am a big fan of their books (I know nothing about their videos though): High quality, high value, ready to use information. Worht its weight on SSDs! ;-)

If you do need to learn something about all of the dozens FOSS books they offer, take a look at their library! You’re bound to find something usefull. For instance, they’ve half a dozen very good books on Pentaho! Click on the banner above or here to go there.