When there is lot of information coming our way during scope management plan, it is hard to sort through everything and organize the information in a way that makes sense and help the project team to make meaningful decisions. Whether we are brainstorming ideas, or when the team members are dealing with lot of information from a variety of sources, we can end up spending a huge amount of time trying to collect all the bits and pieces. Rather than letting the disjointed information get the best of us, we use an affinity diagram to help organize the information we collected during this process.
In my experience most decision-making exercises begin with brainstorming, and I think this is one of the most common application of affinity diagram. Usually after a brainstorming session we will come across pages of ideas. And, in most cases these won't be edited in any way, many of them will be very similar, and many will be closely related to other ideas in a variety of ways.
In my current project, each team member decided to write ideas on a separate sticky note and put them on a wall. Then we sorted ideas into groups by asking, what ideas are similar? Is this idea connected to any of the others? etc. We kept on moving the sticky notes around until consensus were reached. We continued to group ideas until we had reached the broadest.
The brainstorming session was the most challenging during the collect requirement process. We gathered ideas and content from all team members and key stakeholders. The data gathered were analyzed and different patterns were grouped and created. With the results available and the information gathered from team members, this diagram was presented to sponsor and key stakeholders to ensure that they had a heads up on the structure created.
Affinity diagrams are great tools for grouping and understanding large amounts of information. When you work through the process of creating relationships and working backwards from detailed information to broad groups, you get an insight you would not otherwise find. Team members themselves brainstormed and reorganized data which otherwise may not provide good results.
The lesson we learned from the project was that next time when we are confronting a large amount of information or number of ideas and if we feel overwhelmed at first glance, will use the affinity diagram approach to discover all the hidden linkages. And when we cannot see the forest for the trees, an affinity diagram may be exactly what we need to get back in focus.
Most of the project management activities, interact with variety of information, sometimes directly or indirectly, so organizations should have some form of information management system. Also, organizations are aware that information management strategy is highly crucial to the success of every business. Since it's difficult to survive in the current competitive and innovative world without a framework for information management strategy.
I think this strategy should aim to develop an information culture in which all members of the organization understand the importance of information in relation to their roles and responsibilities. Also, the ultimate objective of having a strategy is to develop a plan for implementing various systems to support the organizational needs.
The objectives of the information management strategy planning are to:
Key to the information management strategy is of course, understanding of the information needs of the organization and its employees and the way information flows through the organization. First of all, information should be held securely, and protected to ensure its confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA triad). All information in the organization should meet the necessary quality standards. Also, it should be delivered consistently across all end users and shouldn’t have to wait long to get their requested information.
Based on my research and experience, ownership is a critical element when implementing a strategic plan. So, without proper ownership, end users which are affected by the plan may resist in implementing it. The most effective means of developing ownership is to make sure that there is a broad participation from all end users across the organization during the planning process. Also, the participation can take place at many levels, including information gathering, brainstorming, focus groups, interviews, and facilitated workshops etc. Finally, by implementing the information management strategic plan we can make sure that the project management information needs are integrated, preserved, and leveraged throughout the entire project life cycle.
Many organizations are launching knowledge management initiatives and large proportion of those initiatives fail, but still no detailed attention has been paid to know the actual reasons for those failures. It looks like the practice of Knowledge Management (KM) tends to be too IT focused and many times IT directed. In this article, I’m going to analyze what went wrong with KM initiatives and to identify the key learning point.
Reasons for Knowledge Management Failure
There seems to be four distinct categories of KM failure like technology, culture, content and project management.
Some of the failure factors:
Knowledge management is a business practice rather than technology. The matter of fact is that getting employees to share what they know is no longer a technology challenge, but it should be considered as a corporate culture challenge. If the organization continues to reward people for keeping content rather than sharing it, then it’s never going to be successful. After all KM should be viewed as an integral part of the business operation rather than an optional and “nice-to-have” feature.
Organizations should consider knowledge sharing as a part of building competitive advantage among their competitors. I think by using the right tools organization can increase collaboration, communication, trust, and productivity. When the employees know that they have access to the resources they need and have a positive environment they are more likely to share information and allow to grow the organization’s competitive advantage.
I'm working in Healthcare IT for the last 14 years and from my experience healthcare is one of of the toughest environments for project managers. As you may know healthcare have their own challenges like privacy and security. Historically, security has been seen as an inconvenience, preventing users from doing what they want. However, many usability experts state that security features should not force users through complex steps. Instead, there are better ways to both enforce security and make the systems more usable.
Research shows that deploying new features and technologies in healthcare applications without considering information assurance and security makes patient privacy vulnerable. Additionally, patient identifiable and/or healthcare data of an individual are highly sensitive. Hence, security is a vital requirement of healthcare applications, especially in the case of patient privacy. Currently most healthcare providers are using handheld devices and mobile devices, so that they can have full access to patient information and clinical information. These mobile devices have global network connectivity and are easily integrated into the healthcare providers workflow. But are they really secured? We know from research and security experts that wireless networks have rapidly become a popular area for hackers and games like war walking is a popular pastimes activity for the hacker community.
It’s a human nature to try workarounds when something doesn’t work according to their need or expectation. This can create problems not only to the user but to the entire organization. In a healthcare environment timely reports or information is very critical. So, obviously the user is required to send information as soon as possible. In some cases the healthcare application may not work as expected or a feature that was previously working may be disabled in the new version for security reasons. Also some devices may not have the proper encryption technology, or identity protection applications that can adequately support a hospital’s patient data security and privacy policies.
When implementing a project in healthcare environment, it's our responsibility to be aware of the use of workarounds in the healthcare organization, so we have to make sure to update the security policy, risk assessments procedures and implement effective training.
The design problem posed by technological advances is enormous. The ever developing and the introduction of new technology would always prompt us to add more functionality to the product. The same technology that was designed to simplify life by providing more functions in each product would instead start to complicate the process by making product non-user-friendly. This is an imminent paradox of development in technology.
Many times customers never know what they want until they have had a chance to use it. We need a system wide approach of the design in full context of its use, one that starts with the user and ends with the technology. The problem is that design is really an iterative process. Iterative development actually means rapid prototyping. So the designers should work with the intended users, get an idea of their needs, do a quick mock-up at the earliest, and try it out before releasing the new product or feature.
Design is all about conveying information appropriately. Representations and their interpretations play an important role in design because designers, in various ways, need to externalize design proposals and present them to others-fellow designers, users, or managers. Designs should be tested with real users performing real tasks and where possible in the actual user environment. The results of usability testing may force a designer to revisit decisions made regarding use-related hazard in the design.
There should be a formal, human-centered product process where the process should propose and be built around an iterative design and study process. And finally, it should extend beyond the final release date of the product in order to collect field data and user feedback on performance, repair and service, usability and functionality that will drive the next release.
Definitely, the information need, want and demand changes rapidly; the need for today is not always the need for tomorrow. Customer-centered approach should be an ongoing process to overcome the limitation at least to some extent to benefit both the designer and the client. As always it is very difficult to satisfy all customer needs, designer should foresee the limitations for the improvements in the design.