Using metrics to, you know, actually measure stuff?…that’s crazy talk!

A fundamental part of the work we do on our team is to measure things: the costs of deploying desktops, the business value of an application lifecycle management solution, the costs of managing a virtualized server environment, etc. In doing this, we aim to drive scenarios that amplify the value that our future products will have to our core customers. And to do that, it’s important to understand how our customers measure performance, costs, risk, and so forth and put that in a context of how our products are being used. In a recent survey I conducted of 45 developers, DBAs, and information workers and managers, I wanted to understand what metrics were being used measure the effectiveness of current processes and technologies across a set of application platform scenarios such as building composite apps, managing app servers, and data warehousing to name a few. What I found is that most respondents had very little sense of what measures were used to track the effectiveness of the work they do. This was especially surprising given the number of respondents who described themselves as having a very mature IT organization. In his excellent book: How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business , author Douglas Hubbard makes a compelling case for how it is possible to measure just about anything from a business context. The value of his message, in my opinion, is not that you can measure these things or even that you should. Rather, I think the biggest value here is how to measure. Without going into a lot of detail (and spoiling the thrilling end of the book!), he states that even if an organization doesn’t have a specific measure for some process or desired outcome, they will certainly at least have some observable way to detect an improvement that the business values . If not, you wouldn’t do it. Given that rather straightforward and somewhat obvious statement, it’s clear that every organization in a business context will have measureable processes, technologies, and/or outcomes whether or not they have specific metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs). What has your experience been in measuring your work against specific measures? How do you measure the effectiveness of your team’s work? Let me know at erik.svenson@microsoft.com or feel free to post a comment. All the best, Erik Svenson, Application Platform Lead, War on Cost Team

Tips and Tricks: Change the month the fiscal year starts on

I get this question a lot: How do I change the month that the fiscal year starts on? First, to make sure you’re reading a blog entry that pertains to you, let me define a fiscal year. The fiscal year is the year-long period, at the end of which an organization’s accounts are completed and financial statements are prepared for stakeholders and for tax purposes. Compare this to the calendar year, which is the

Project Server 2010 Administration Course

When:
Monday, December 06, 2010 at 9:30 AM - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 at 5:00 PM (GMT)

Where:
Technology House
Shottery Brook Office Park
Timothy's Bridge Road
CV37 9NR Stratford Upon Avon
United Kingdom

Hosted By:
Technology Associates International Limited

Technology Associates International Limited is one of the leading global project management consultancies specialising in Microsoft Office Project and Enterprise Project Management Solutions.

Planning, Deploying and Managing Microsoft Project Server 2010

When:
Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:30 AM - Friday, December 03, 2010 at 5:00 PM (GMT)

Where:
Technology House
Shottery Brook Office Park
Timothy's Bridge Road
CV37 9NR Stratford Upon Avon
United Kingdom

Hosted By:
Technology Associates International Limited

Technology Associates International Limited is one of the leading global project management consultancies specialising in Microsoft Office Project and Enterprise Project Management Solutions.

Tips and Tricks: Add miscellaneous costs to tasks using cost resources

Cost resources provide an easy way of applying miscellaneous or multiple costs to a task, like airfare and dining— in addition to the more commonly applied costs like people’s salaries or per-use costs, such as consultant fees. Cost resources don’t depend upon the amount of work done on tasks. Nor do they depend on any calendars used in the project, as do work resource salaries, or rate costs for material resources, such as computer time and rental machinery. Let’s look at this a little more closely since cost resources are created differently than the other costs, and they are applied differently as well. First, off to the Resource Sheet to create a few cost resources. In Project 2010, click the View tab, and then click click Resource Sheet .

Newly Published Content thus far for September 2010

The Microsoft Project Server 2010 Server Settings Backup/RestoreTool Describes how to use the Microsoft Project Server 2010 Server Settings Backup/Restore tool (available in the Project 2010 Resource Kit) to migrate server settings from one Project Server 2010 instance to another. Plan for virtual environments for Office Project Server 2010 Describes deploying Project Server 2010 in virtual environments. Plan for using Project Server 2010 in a Hyper-V virtual environment Describes deploying Project Server 2010 using a Hyper-V virtual environment. Hitchhiker’s Guide to Demand Management (white paper) A whitepaper discussing the Demand Management feature in Microsoft Project. Move all databases to a different server (Project Server 2010) Describes how to move all Microsoft Project databases to a different instance of Microsoft SQL Server.