Archive for category Technology

Is the P5 the best car Rover ever made?

Rover P5 Gets my vote !!!

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I Love Agile

AgileA month or so ago someone told me that they wanted to introduce Agile development but they had heard that I didn’t like Agile. I have to say that I was shocked by this as it isn’t true, I love Agile.

I love Agile for its flexibility, I love Agile as it brings the customer into the development process, I love Agile for the visibility it brings to projects, I love Agile for delivering better speed to market, I love Agile for the way it empowers the team and enables collaboration, and most of all I love Agile as a mindset.

What I don’t love is when Agile isn’t used properly, when people abuse Agile, when teams invent their own version of Agile, or when Agile is used as an excuse for lack of transparency, non-delivery or poor discipline.

Development teams that adopt Agile in a consistent way and share best practice deliver a step change for their organisation. However, to turn the step change into a giant leap, add the commercial teams into the mix and get everyone using Agile. You’ll be amazed with the results.

I love Agile (when it is done properly!)

Thanks for reading, whats your take on Agile?

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You need to hire for Innovation

More important now than ever before…

Technology Matters

Innovation is a topic very close to my heart and a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending an excellent workshop delivered by Dr Anne Stevens the VP of Design at Kone elevators.

The session was hugely insightful and very educational… and whilst I’m not going to share the details verbatim, I thought I would share some of the very thought provoking statements like:

“The same old thinking gets the same old results … you need new thinking to get new results”

“Creativity must be present at every level of every technical part of the organisation”

“Even a mature innovative team need a coach otherwise it’s easy to innovate badly”

“A common mistake is to just let people loose with innovation”

“No great website is conceived by more than three people”

“Passionate creatures do not follow scripts”

Towards the end of the session Anne went on to share…

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Global technology company supporting the North East technology revolution

imageThis is a copy of a great article that one of my guys had published today.

Sage, the only FTSE 100 technology company is now 32 years old, and with over six million customers is the third largest business software company worldwide. In 1981 it was just another North East tech start-up with a feverish ambition to explore new ideas and innovate.

Whilst the company is now much bigger the ambition remains. “We’re always driving forwards,” says Graeme Fletcher, Head of Enterprise Technology & Development.  “Whilst we continue to develop the highly successful on premise products that our customers love, we’ve also embraced modern technology and moved into the world of cloud-computing.  For example, SageOne, our new proposition for start-up and small business, is delivered entirely online. Sage 200, our proven financial software for growing medium-size businesses, is now available in the cloud as well as being available as an ‘on premise’ version to give our customers more choice.”

Despite its huge success and global growth, the UK &Ireland, and Global headquarters remain in the North East.  The strikingly modern, glass-and-steel offices in Gosforth’s Great Park is home to over 1300 employees working in an atmosphere of relaxed but purposeful intent.

Apart from a pride in its roots, there are two main reasons why Sage continues to support the North East. The first is the quality of the workforce. “The capability is here, so why move?” shrugs Graeme. “Our people are highly skilled, and we can draw talent direct from the universities and the local rich talent pool”.

Sage has structured graduate and apprenticeship schemes and is eager to strengthen its links with the region’s universities and schools. For example, Sage mentors North East students for the annual international Microsoft Imagine Cup Challenge, which is open to students worldwide to create innovative and original software applications.  Mark Thompson, Development Team Leader, who mentored students for this year’s Challenge said: “It was fantastic to see the ideas the students came up with and their passion for software development.  The experience connected Sage to some of the brightest up and coming minds in the North East and offered some great examples of true innovation.”

Sage’s three-year apprenticeship scheme is possibly one of the most challenging, and exciting in the industry.  In the first year alone, apprentices are expected to make group presentations, participate in meetings, deliver work to deadlines, as well as get to grips with a wide range of technologies and methodologies, from testing applications to coding, from web development to data modelling.  “I gained an incredible amount of experience, skills and knowledge of the IT world during my first year,” says Ryan Burness, aged 19, of his first year as an apprentice.  “I worked with many teams within the development function which allowed me to gain so many new technical skills; an opportunity that not many people in the IT industry have the chance to experience.”

The second reason why Sage continues to support the North East is that the region is now a powerful and growing technology hub.  “It ranges from the large employers like us, to literally hundreds of small technology companies and start-ups,” says Graeme.  “and we are actively supporting the local technology industry”.

In the last few weeks, he points out, Sage has sponsored two local events: the fourth annual DIBI (Design It: Build It) conference at Gateshead’s BALTIC; and DDD North (Developer! Developer! Developer!North) at the University of Sunderland.  The latter attracted hundreds of technologists from around the UK and abroad to listen share and connect.  “It was a fantastic knowledge-sharing and networking forum with many different experts giving talks on varied topics, all voluntarily.” says Graeme “which we were very happy to support.”

But those North East roots are more than just skin – or soil – deep.  They permeate far into the region’s communities.  What many people may not realise is that every Sage member of staff is given two paid charity volunteering days a year, in addition to their holidays, and the activities undertaken vary widely.

Join Sage and, history shows, you may not want to leave.  “If you have the ability, you can go where you want,” promises Graeme.  “A lot of our senior leadership team have worked their way up through the organisation, where we support talent from within, and supplement with talent from outside.”

If I didn’t already work there I’d be sending in my application…

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A bad tradesman always blames his tools…

Odyessy3How many times have you heard that? I’d rather think of it as a good tradesman always uses the best tools, or at least looks after his tools.

Reading the title of this post you’d be excused for thinking it’s about DIY when in fact it’s about golf.

A few years ago I was proud of the fact that I’d played with the same set of clubs for 10 or so years before I met someone who taught me otherwise. Technology advances in golf have been massive over the past few years and I benefitted from upgrading my trusty old clubs to a set that helped rather than hindered my game. If you can afford it I’d also recommend you get some custom fitted. That way when you play a bad shot then you know it’s the tradesman and not the tools.

However that said, the basic science of golf club design is the same as it’s always been, i.e. the more loft you have on the club, the higher it flies, and the longer the club the further it goes.

So why am I stating the obvious, well only recently I discovered that one of the most important, if not the most important, clubs in my bag… the putter, wasn’t working correctly and it was a problem with the tool rather than the tradesman (albeit it might have been the tradesman as well but please humour me).

Since buying a new putter (Odyessy #7) a few months back I found that it was great from about 10 feet in, but anything longer was inconsistent in that sometimes it would leave the ball way short whilst other times it would fly the ball past the hole, and yet I felt like I was making the same stroke. The other thing I found was that it didn’t work at all from just off the green (the so called Texas wedge).

Anyway, I thought to myself it’s time for a new putter but before I went to buy one I browsed the web and came across this article on the science of putters and in particular how loft works on putters.

I discovered that my putter had a -1 degree loft whereas the textbook loft should be +4 degrees. So earlier today I popped into my local pro shop and they adjusted the loft for me.

Having spent an hour or so on the practice green tonight I have to say it feels like a different putter. Long puts are more consistent and out of the fringe around the green it is much more consistent.

And the moral of the story is, sometimes it’s okay to blame the tools… but if you do then make sure you get them checked out.

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How to make Agile work for product development… It’s all about the people

Technology Matters

Some background before I get into the detail, I’ve been developing small, medium and large ‘shrink wrapped’ products for the past 12 years and before that I worked on large multi-million pound in house projects.

Why do I give this background? Well it’s to set context in relation to this post from @Martijnlinssen where Martijn questions whether Agile can be used effectively for product development. I read into Martijn post that whilst Agile might work for project development it doesn’t work as well (if at all?) for Product development. I chose to disagree with Martijn on this point and responded with the comment:

I’m not sure from reading this that you actually get agile (sorry Martijn).. Whilst I agree Agile is not for everything, Agile can be a highly effective way to deliver software (and even commercial business) projects.

What it isn’t is throw all control in the bin…

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How ironic that the Red Bull team are relaxed, did they know they were going to win?

Another video post from my visit to the British GP at Silverstone this year. This time it’s looking into the Red Bull garage.

Of all the teams in the pit lane they looked (and sounded) the most relaxed. Surely you would expect the opposite effect with Red Bull!

Did they know Mark Webber was going to win?

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