Villanova Friday, Week 6: Team Productivity

This week, I attended two weeks of lectures on the Maximizing IS/IT Team Effectiveness course at Villanova University. This was challenging considering my day job. This was my week off.
This week it was all about managing teams in a positive way. We also discussed how to manage resistance. The lecturer explained it like this:
If you tell someone the exact same thing three times, it is not ignorance.
She said that managers who are not educated can ‘teach their way out’ of a problem. We need another set of eyes to deal with resistance from members of the project team.
How to deal with resistance
Resistance is when a member of a team is not on the same page.
Believes that change is impossible. This could be because the project team believes they are incapable or won’t accept change.
Does not believe the project vision is worthwhile.
Does not feel that the project is in alignment with their personal values.
Participation is not necessary.
Does not know what to do next or how to contribute to the project’s success.
Does not believe he/she has the qualifications to join the team.

What can you do?
First, identify the reason for resistance. Ask questions – All of these start with asking questions. Lou Russell, who is speaking on the small screen I am viewing the lectures, says, “Seek first, to understand.” She offers several ways to deal with resistance of different types, including:
If they are not required for the project, you can transfer them to meaningful work.
If they are needed, convince them that they are important and have a valuable role.
Provide stretch goals.
Assist individuals with understanding the three tasks ahead. This will help them to know what they should do next. If necessary, help them to prioritize.
Find out the values of your team member. What would it take for the team member to feel valued?

Assigning people tasks
We also discussed factors that influence the assignment of project tasks to people. Match the task to your person. A team that matches well will be more productive and efficient.
Russell covered 4 points
Diverse skills are better than one-to-one tasks. Spread them. Each person should have a variety.
Task identity: Make sure that the task is clearly identified, measurable, and realizable. Make sure that the person understands what they need.
Task importance: Make sure that the task is relevant to your project. Contributions should be important to the overall success and viability of the project.
Feedback: Individuals should receive constructive and developmental feedback. Regular feedback is essential.
We also covered giving feedback effectively, listening and facilitation skills and managing collaboration. This week, there was also a second exam. I have not yet received my grade so I won’t share it here.

Villanova Friday, Week 4: Effective Communication

Communication is the main focus in the Maximizing IS/IT Team Effectiveness course I am taking at Villanova University.
We discussed strategies for having one-on-one conversations with people. This includes how to find out the preferences and preferences for the person you are speaking to.
Two-thirds of people prefer visual information such as photos. Visual people speak at a fast rate and look up. They may also use visual words like “I see what you mean.”
15% prefer to listen to information. They are more inclined to look straight ahead. They use auditory words like “I hear you” or “I see you”. Auditory people also pause during speech to listen to their own voices.
The kinetic ranges from 18% to 30%. They are able to absorb information by feeling and touching things, both literally as well as emotionally. Kinetic people will not look down if you look down. Kinetic people speak animatedly, using phrases like “I feel.”

We chose an image we liked to help us identify how we prefer to receive information. Evidently, I am an auditory person. This is something I wouldn’t have said about me. This makes me wonder if the trinity of communication preferences may be scientific. I believe that people are capable of adapting to different situations, despite having preferences.
We also looked at the symptoms of ineffective communication.
Verbal indicators that we are not communicating effectively include clues in what and how it is being said.
“I don’t understand.”
“What?”
“We have never done this before.”
You can use either one-word answers, or short, clipped phrases.
Tonality refers to the ability to speak in the same voice.

Body language is a good indicator that we are not communicating effectively.
Body posture
Gestures
Expressions of facial expressions
Your eyes will reveal what they see
Fidgeting
Do something other than listening to you.

If communication fails, try these suggestions:
Eliminate assumptions from your message
Eliminate generalizations from your message
It is important to eliminate ‘weasel words’ like “I probably think it might work.”
Eliminate acronyms
Use the right words to make sure they understand what you are saying. Thong, for example, can be translated to mean something entirely different in Australia or the UK. These meanings shouldn’t be confused.

This is vital – as you may know, what we say is only part of the overall communication message.
What is the truth? 7%
38% of it comes directly from the way it’s said
55% of body language and actions are responsible to 55%.

We tend to be focused on the 7% and forget about the rest.
This week, we also took our second test. The highest score I received was 100 and I was close enough to the average class of 90%. If this test is any indication, then I’ll be average again. I scored 90% this time.
The test can be taken as many times as you like. You can repeat the test until you achieve the perfect score.

Villanova Friday, Week 3. IT Leadership Alchemy

This video explains the course text that I used in my Maximizing IT/IS Team Effectiveness studies. For those who wish, the transcript is available below.

This is the book that I use for the Maximizing IT/IS Team Effectiveness course at Villanova University. It’s called IT Leadership Alchemy and was written by Lou Russell, Jeff Feldman, and Jeff Feldman.
They use alchemy to convert base metals into precious metals in order to illustrate leadership principles throughout the book. They have done a wonderful job of illustrating this concept. However, in other places, I feel they have gone a bit too far with the metaphor. If you read me a bit, you might be able see my point.
This is Chapter 3, which focuses on resilience.
Alchemy is the process of combining base ingredients to create something new. The sum of its parts is greater than the whole. Resiliency is a combination of skills that increase each other’s potential. Each skill is valuable, but when they are combined, they make something truly special.
They tried to force it in some places, I believe. Although the book is valuable, it doesn’t negate its value. It contains a section about coaching that is very helpful. This is my favorite section of the book.
The discussion also discusses the nature of trust and how leaders can foster trust. Chapter 4 also includes a section on interpersonal skills and team skills that I found interesting. What I found most interesting was this: “Trust is based upon our opinion about a person within a given context. It can be shaped or influenced in many ways.
Credibility refers to the level of skill, knowledge and experience we believe an individual has within the context in which they are willing to trust us.
Consistency: The extent to which we believe we can predict an individual’s performance based on past experiences.
Communication: The amount of information we receive on a regular basis gives us the confidence and reassurance we need to feel that our trust has been earned.

This section and the entire thing about managing conflicts, I found very fascinating. It’s also very useful because it covers other areas that I didn’t find as helpful. Communication, the section about communications is actually very poor. The communication chapter did not address us as project leaders or IT managers, according to me. It does not tell you about active listening which is something you should know as project manager. This was my opinion.
It’s still a fascinating read. I’m still not done with the book. I have not yet read all of the parts. The authors emphasize the importance journaling, which is the act or writing down your thoughts and feelings. If you kept a leadership journal, you will get more from the book. It’s not something that I find easy, but I have been taking notes all through the book. This is my interpretation of journaling exercises. I look forward reading the last chapters and seeing what Villanova has in store.

Villanova Friday, Week 2 Personal Productivity

I started the Maximizing IS/IT Team Efficiency course last week at Villanova University. Live sessions are held online every week, but they are held in my sleep so I’m unable to attend.
I listened to the transcript from this week’s first chat as it is recorded. It was a shame I couldn’t stay awake to participate in the chat. It sounded fascinating. After everyone had figured out how their microphones worked, the combination text chat, phone, and slides worked well. The group discussed the qualities of a great leader, and why. The group discussed the characteristics of great leadership, including humility as well as selflessness. The suggested candidate was President Obama.
Joan Knutson, course facilitator, said that it is rare for people to nominate leaders. It is easier to look back on a person’s life and see their contributions and their responses. We can’t wait to see people’s success as project leaders. We hope that the course will help us improve our leadership skills.
Logging in to my class website I noticed that it displayed all the course information for Week 2 automatically. Confession: I hadn’t listened to the lectures from the previous week (although the train ride made it easier for me to read the readings). So I had to go back and finish them before I began this week’s lessons.
Many of these were related to personal effectiveness. These included prioritizing tasks and being disciplined when responding to emails. Joan was talking with me and I thought I was an excellent time manager.
Week 2 is over, which means there is a test. I failed the test last time. I used the reference books to help me score 90%. It was a tremendous achievement.
Reading time: A few minutes. Lecture time: 1.5 hours. (And there are still four lectures that I haven’t played). Class chat time: 20 minutes listening to the first half of the recording. Exercises: Erm, no time!
Disclosure: Villanova granted me access to the course in exchange for writing about it.

Villanova Friday: Week 1: Understanding Your Leadership Style

I am taking a course called Maximising IS/IT Team Effectiveness at Villanova University. This is Week 1, and I am overwhelmed.
When I log in, I see messages, documents, and entries to my class roster. I am unable to make the video lectures work despite reading the help files and running a browser check application. Finally, I give up and download the videos. If I was not feeling behind, I could have contacted university’s tech support team. However, I feel I am already behind on the course material so downloading it is the best option.
Villanova has sent me the videos via a link on the web (which doesn’t work for me), as well as downloads and on a CD which arrived in my mailbox two weeks ago. I was also given a workbook containing all the slides as well as a copy of IT Leadership Alchemy by Lou Russell and Jeff Feldman. Finally, I received a small, lined, exercise manual that I hadn’t used since I turned 16. It makes me feel like I’ve returned to school.
An online course
The course is 100% online, so I can complete it from London at my own time and place. Even though I don’t have to speak to my tutors, it seems absurd not to have the opportunity to interact with them. The Villanova chat room’s weekly online discussions start at 1.30 AM UK Time. Even though I work late into evenings, I usually go to sleep by that time. Next week, transcripts will be available. They will be available next week.
Multiple choice online tests can be used to evaluate the course. These tests give an indication of the difficulty of the lectures and course material. I pass the first test, even though I have never listened to or read any lectures. I fail. This is a good sign. This is a good sign.
The lectures
Lou Russell, coauthor and co-author of Alchemy, will give the lectures. This week, there are five. I downloaded the videos but was unable to determine how long they lasted. The welcome video to the course is only 8 minutes long. This is a positive sign. I didn’t think I would be able spend hours on my computer watching videos.
Lou gives a video lecture. Lou is very approachable and engaging. She explains the fundamental concepts and beliefs that make leaders and sets the stage for the lessons to come. The course includes:
How to manage your personal style
Management of others: Influencing, communicating and managing
Management of groups of people within a group
You can manage stakeholders outside of the project’s borders with stakeholder management

Grace Hopper is mentioned in the article as an IS/IT leader. A company that laid off a staff person by text message while he was at a conference is also mentioned as an example of how it can be avoided. She believes that IT leadership is about recognizing the potential that exists already. This is not the same as fixing people who are broken or bad.
Lou walks me through exercises and then asks me to stop the video so I can find the answers. Lou then walks me through the solution. This week’s course focuses on developing my leadership style. We also do a self-assessment. I have a variety of styles and it is difficult to be classified.
Disclosure: Villanova granted me access to the course in exchange for writing about it.

Understanding the Concepts of Gantt Chart (CPM) and Critical Path Methodology.

Gantt charts:
Gantt chart, a type bar chart that illustrates a project plan, is named after Henry Gantt, its inventor.
Gantt charts are a project management tool that helps in planning and scheduling projects of any size, but they can also be useful for simplifying more complex projects.
This chart lists the tasks that must be completed on the vertical axis, and the time intervals that must be followed on the horizontal. The graph’s horizontal bars show the duration of each activity.
This chart helps you plan the activities and tasks required to complete a project.
These charts show when an activity should start and when it should stop according to a timeline.
Gantt charts can also be used to show the resources allocated to each task and what percentage.
Gantt charts can also help you track milestones and other significant accomplishments, such as the completion of a project phase or a key deliverable.
The Gantt chart shows the progress of the entire project. It can be used to determine if the project is ahead, behind, or on time compared to the baseline plan.
Gantt charts are useful for monitoring progress and setting priorities.
Gantt charts have two major flaws: they don’t show the dependencies of tasks to one another and it doesn’t show which tasks are ‘critical to finishing the project on schedule.
Gantt Chart is a reliable method to estimate the scope and cost for a software development project
Here’s an example of a Gantt Chart:

Critical Path Methodology (CPM).

The critical path is a sequence of activities whose total activity time is longer that the sum for any other route through the network.
Critical Path Analysis is used in all types of projects, including software development, software development, research projects and product development. It can also be used for maintenance and plant construction.
This method of mathematical analysis can be applied to any project that has interdependent activities.
Every project schedule has at least one critical path. This is usually the case for non-manipulated schedules.
Because everything should go according to the schedule, the critical path will give the project the shortest completion time.
Activities that aren’t in the critical path can be slowed.
Slack time is the time that a task can be delayed, but not cause another task to be delayed or affect the completion date of an overall project.
Activities on a critical pathway have zero slack, and vice versa, activities with zero idle time are on a crucial path
If you plan to add staff to tasks that place time constraints on a project’s duration, it is important to validate the critical path first.
Here’s an example of the Critical path methodology.

The above image represents a project. Let’s call it Project A. The stages of the project run from Stage 1 through Stage 11. There are many ways to complete the project. The numbers above the arrows represent the time it took to complete each task. Let’s now calculate the time it takes to complete each task. In this case, path 1 is the longest, and takes the longest time to complete the project.
Comparison of Gantt chart versus Critical Path methodology
Gantt charts don’t show how activities relate to each other, but Critical Path methodology does.

Understanding the concepts of compliance testing and substantive testing

The IS auditor performs initial compliance testing before moving on to substantive testing. Let’s now look at the concepts of substantive and compliance testing. This article will help you to understand the differences between substantive and compliance testing.

1. What does compliance testing refer to?
It can also be referred to as conformity testing, assessment.
Compliance testing is the testing of controls
It is the process of testing or other activities to determine if a product, process, or service meets the requirements of a (Whether it’s a complaint or otherwise).
A compliance test is used to determine if controls are being applied in accordance with management policies and procedures.
It is a nonfunctional testing method to verify that the system has been developed in accordance with the organization’s standards.
2. When should you conduct Compliance testing?
Compliance testing is used to verify the effectiveness and existence of a process. It may include a trail or automated evidence to show that authorized modifications have been made to production programs.
3. What are some examples of compliance testing?
Examples of compliance testing include checking/verifying the following:User access rights
Procedures for program change control
Documentation procedures
Program documentation
Follow-up on exceptions
Log review
Software license audits

4. What does Substantive testing refer to?
Substantive testing refers to an audit procedure that examines financial statements and supporting documentation to determine if there are any errors.
Substantive testing is the testing of details in transactions
It is evidence of the integrity and validity of the financial statements’ balances and of the transactions supporting them
These tests are required to prove that financial records of an entity have been properly verified as valid, complete, and accurate.
5. When should you perform Substantive testing
Substantive testing can be performed when it is necessary to evaluate the controls in order to determine the basis for reliance, the nature, scope and timing of substantive test.
The balances are validated by performing analytic review procedures and validating transactions.
Always, substantive testing is done after compliance testing. If compliance testing shows weaker controls, substantive testing can be more stringent. If compliance testing shows that there is more internal control, substantive testing can be waived.
6. What are some examples of Substantive Testing?
The examples of substantive testing include check/verification of the following:Performance of a complex calculation (e.g., interest) on a sample of accounts or a sample of transactions to vouch for supporting documentation, etc.
Confirmation of the validity and accuracy of inventory valuation calculations
Confirmation of fixed assets balances using fixed asset records/register
Approval of the dividend was approved by review of the Minutes of Board of Directions.
For bank balance confirmation, obtain bank confirmation
Test of cut-off procedures

7. Correlation between substantive and compliance testing
Now that you are familiar with the concepts of compliance testing and substantive test, let’s look at an example to show how they relate.
Example 1 – Verification Customer Balances in an Organization
The IS auditor will first check with the organization about the billing system. He will also discuss how customers are encouraged and urged to pay on time. Follow-ups on any outstanding balances will be done. The IS auditor will make a decision based on observations and conversations with the organization.

HP gives up and joins the public AWS Cloud.

Hewlett-Packard has abandoned its plans to join the ranks of top public cloud providers. Instead, the company will concentrate on its private and managed clouds offerings, including support for Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), and Microsoft Azure.
This news comes at the same time that AWS announced its record-breaking financial growth in its most recent quarterly earnings filing. Report after report has already confirmed its dominance in cloud computing. These reports were likely to have influenced HP’s decision not to continue in the public cloud space and to cede it to AWS and Microsoft, as well as Google.
In a blog post last week, Bill Hilf, an HP executive, stated that the HP Helion Public Cloud offering will be discontinued on January 31, 2016. “As we did before, we will assist our customers in designing, building, and running the best cloud environments that suit their needs based on their workloads, their industry and business requirements.”
These needs should be geared towards public cloud computing services.
Hilf stated that customers who need access to large-scale public cloud providers will find it easier to get there with us. Hilf also said that we have partnered with Microsoft to provide support for Office 365 and Azure. “We also support PaaS customers wherever Cloud Foundry is used — in their private clouds, in our managed clouds, or in large-scale public clouds such as AWS and Azure.”
In March, HP updated its Helion offering to include the Eucalyptus cloud tool. HP stated in a statement that Eucalyptus was now part of the HP Helion portfolio. This gives customers the ability to deploy their existing AWS workloads into cloud environments they control (private, managed), and addresses the demand for cost-effective alternatives. “HP Helion Eucalyptus can be used as a private, managed, or hybrid cloud solution to address a wide range of customer requirements.”
In June, Helion added support for AWS compatible private clouds.
HP will now be focusing on private clouds and managed services. Hilf stated that the company has decided to double down on its private and managed cloud capabilities. “We will continue to invest in our HP Helion OpenStack platform and innovate for cloud-enabling software. HP Helion OpenStack has been well-received by customers and runs the industry’s leading private cloud solution, HP Helion CloudSystem. This solution continues to grow its revenue and win new enterprise customers. We will be focusing our cloud services resources on the Managed and Virtual Private Cloud offerings. These offerings will expand and we will make some exciting announcements in the coming weeks.

Canonical, its distributor, has reported that Ubuntu Kernel is now tuned for better AWS performance. Ubuntu Linux, which is the most popular platform on Amazon Web Services Inc.’s cloud, now performs more efficiently. Canonical, the company’s distributor, announced last week that it had tuned the Ubuntu kernel to run faster on AWS. This includes a 30 percent increase in kernel bootup speeds and other benefits, including a smaller kernel package. According to the London-based company, it has been working with AWS, which has provided Ubuntu for years in its many Linux distros, to improve “the most popular cloud OS on the most popular public cloud.” This claim is supported by numerous studies that name AWS the No. According to statistics from The Cloud Market, which list the breakdown of platform distributions on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud Web service (Amazon EC2), AWS is the No. 1 cloud provider. Cloud Market data shows that Ubuntu is the underlying platform of 56.4 percent (371,132) images on EC2. According to AWS, Ubuntu is the underlying platform for 56.4 percent of the 371,132 images available on EC2. Ubuntu is a popular platform for Linux stacks. AWS has hundreds upon hundreds of application stacks, and application servers that are based on Ubuntu. According to Canonical, developers and others who use the hundreds of application servers and stacks based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS that are available via an EC2 Quickstart and/or the AWS Marketplace will experience improved performance as of March 29. Canonical’s Udinachmany announced that the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release will now be available with an AWS-tuned Ubuntu Linux kernel in a blog post. Nachmany highlighted the following highlights of the AWS -tuned kernel.

  • A 15 percent smaller kernel package can provide up to 30 percent faster kernel boot speed.
  • Full support for Elastic network adapter (ENA), including driver version 1.1.2. Supports up to 20 Gbps network speeds for ENA instances types (currently I3, R4, X1, and M4.16xlarge).
  • Improved i3 instance support with NVMe storage drives under high IO loads.
  • Increased I/O performance in i3 instances
  • Improved instance initialization using NVMe-backed storage disks
  • To eliminate deadlocks on certain instance types, disable CONFIG_NO_HZ_FULL
  • Resolved CPU Throttling with AWS micro instances

It is available in a free version and three for-pay options. These options provide different levels of support and other services. Nachmany stated that instances running the AWS-tuned Ubuntu core will be supported by the company’s Ubuntu Advantage service. However, they won’t be able to support the Canonical Livepatch Service which allows developers to apply critical kernel patches without the need for a reboot. Nachmany stated that “investigation is underway in order to evaluate delivery of the service for users of AWS-tuned Ubuntu Kernel.” Livepatch can still be used if you prefer stability to speed. You can also revert to the old kernel. Developers can explore the details of the version 4.4.0-1013.22 kernel that underpins the AWS-tuned Ubuntu distribution at the linux-aws package site. AWS supports many other Linux distros such as CentOS, Debian Kali, Red Hat, Red Hat, and SUSE.

Uber reveals a year-old AWS data breach, exposing millions of users

Uber, the ride-sharing app, disclosed Tuesday that its Amazon Web Services account (AWS) was hacked last January, compromising personal information of 57,000,000 users worldwide, including 600,000. U.S. drivers.
Uber CEO Dara Khoroshahi, who was appointed in August, stated in a statement that he learned about the hack “recently” even though it occurred in “late 2016” while he was under the supervision of Travis Kalanick. In June, Kalanick resigned from his position as Uber’s CEO.
Khosrowshahi stated that the hack involved two individuals outside of the company who had improperly accessed user data stored on third-party cloud-based services that we use.
A Bloomberg report provided more details about the attack. The hackers gained access Uber’s private GitHub repository and stole the company’s AWS credentials. The hackers then logged in to Uber’s AWS account, downloaded files, and obtained personally identifiable data for millions of app users, including names and phone numbers, as well as driver’s license numbers.
However, the credit card numbers and social security numbers of users are not compromised.
Khosrowshahi stated that “at the time of the incident we took immediate measures to secure the data, and shut down any further unauthorized access by individuals,” “We identified the individuals and received assurances that the data had been deleted. We also took security measures to limit access to our cloud-based storage accounts and to strengthen controls.
Bloomberg reports that Uber paid $100,000 to hackers to keep quiet about the breach. Uber also admitted that it deliberately withheld information about the hack from regulators and affected drivers, as required by law.
Uber now claims it had a legal duty to report the hack both to regulators and drivers whose license numbers were stolen. Bloomberg reported that Uber paid hackers to delete the data, and kept the breach quiet. Joe Sullivan, Uber’s head for cybersecurity at the time, was also fired from the company in response to the hack.
Khosrowshahi stated that Uber is working to improve its security procedures in his statement. Uber is providing affected drivers with identity protection and credit cards at no cost. It also monitors the accounts that have been compromised.