PsodaVision launches to help you sync physical and digital kanban boards

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

Today I’m really proud to announce that our new tech, PsodaVision, is live! It has been a long time in the making but it was formally released this week.
We created PsodaVision to solve a problem we were facing. We needed to find a way to quickly and easily update our digital Psoda kanban board with the changes we were making on our physical boards. We searched and searched for a product that would help us, but nothing seemed to exist.
And so in typical Psoda fashion, we built it ourselves!

So, what is PsodaVision and how does it work?

PsodaVision bridges the gap between physical and digital kanban boards, letting you have the best of both worlds.
Have you ever been the poor sucker stuck in a room with your laptop after a stand-up meeting has finished, slowly and methodically updating your digital kanban board? Then you’ll know the pain we’re trying to eliminate!
PsodaVision combines the power of your phone with machine vision AI to simplify the process of synchronising physical and digital kanban task boards, which is one of the most common frustrations with Agile project management.
You take a photo of your physical kanban board (with all your moved sticky notes) and upload it to Psoda using our app.
Then go through and confirm the changes.
And that’s it! All your cards on your digital kanban board match your physical board.
What would have taken hours of manual labour now takes minutes, saving you valuable time and letting you do something more important.
Of course, we love PsodaVision, but we’re not alone! Massey University’s Strategic Project Management Director Blair Schmidt believes PsodaVision will make a big difference to their technology and continuous improvement teams’ work.
“Teams get the benefit of face-to-face interaction as they move stickies and discuss processes as well as project management software benefits such as links to additional detail, reporting or their expanded backlog,” says Schmidt.
PsodaVision is available now for Psoda’s existing users – you can access it from the programme and projects tab. If you don’t have an account, sign up for a free trial and give it a bash! Any feedback is welcome.

Video: Why you need requirements on your project…

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

Clearly defined requirements are crucial to successful delivery of a project. After all, unless you gather the requirements of a project, how will you know what it is meant to achieve and whether it has reached it objectives?
Requirements ensure everyone understands what the project is supposed to achieve, and as our video below demonstrates, without requirements, things can go quite astray on your project…

As you can see, gathering formal requirements before the project starts removes any nasty surprises as the project progresses. In fact, history has shown that the more time you spend up front on defining requirements, the less time you spend on development and rework.
Need a hand with requirements management on your project? The Psoda Requirements Management module can help you organise your project requirements, collaborate with your team, and manage change throughout the life of your programme or project.
To find out more, click here.

Five leadership techniques that help make me a better boss (I hope!)

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

Leadership is an interesting thing – most people see being a leader as something to aspire to, yet when you are a leader it can be very lonely and isolating.
As a leader of a team of diverse individuals it can be hard to make sure I meet everyone’s needs, including my own – which is often something that’s overlooked in most articles you read about leadership.
Some of the techniques I use to manage the team here at Psoda are:
Communicate openly and often
We have a daily stand up meeting that involves every member of the Psoda team. These meetings give me the opportunity to encourage everyone to raise any issues before they become a major problem.
Leading by example
I always try to show the team how I want them to behave. For example, I always speak to the team how I would like to be spoken to. I am open about my challenges and my successes.
Motivate
This is something I take really seriously. I motivate the team in different ways from having quarterly team lunches and fun activities, such as crazy golf or pool, to praising particularly good efforts.
Be present
As the CEO, it is often difficult to be in the office and be seen. I’ve found in the past that things slip when I’m not in contact for a period of time. I’ve solved that by blocking an hour a day in my calendar for the office. During that time I’m physically there and available for the team to come and talk to me, ask questions or share problems. I honour that time even if I’m travelling – I then make sure I beam in virtually through video conferencing (I personally can’t wait until the day I can appear in the office as a hologram!). I’ve found that goes a long way towards building trust and communication within the team.
Take some time for myself
I’m the first to admit this is very hard to achieve, as there is always something demanding attention. Yet, this is one of the most important things a leader can do. I feel I am a far better leader when I’m relaxed and fresh. To recharge I read a book, go for a walk, or play with technology even if it is only in five minute slots.
As a final point, whether you’re a new manager or have been leading people for a long time, it is crucial to take time to reflect on your leadership style and approach, and if there is anything you can change to be a better leader for your team. After all, we subject our people to performance reviews, it’s just fair that we do the same for ourselves!

How the role of the PMO is evolving in the public sector

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

The Public Sector PMO Leadership Conference in Canberra earlier this month offered an invaluable insight into how approaches to project management are evolving – both within Australian government agencies and beyond.
The conference attracted a wide range of delegates from within the Australian and New Zealand public sector, as well as organisations, such as Psoda, which serve this sector.
One of the most notable themes of discussion at the event is how the role of the PMO is evolving within the public sector. I have summarised below some thoughts on this trend, as well as the other main insights I gained from the event, which are in no way meant to be an exhaustive account of the event!
The PMO as an agent of change
As can be expected, much of the conversation at the conference was dominated by the  evolution of the PMO in the public sector. What was clearly evident was that the role of the public sector PMO is maturing. PMOs now play more of a supportive, rather than a policing, role in public sector organisations.
In many instances the PMO is even perceived as being an agent of change for organisations. As PMOs actively monitor the progress of projects to ensure the benefits they are meant to deliver are realised, they are being seen as helping the organisation achieve better outcomes.
By taking ownership of the benefits individual project deliver to the organisation as a whole, PMOs can take on the mantle of agents of change for their organisations.
The enterprise PMO vs the portfolio PMO
Another trend we are seeing is that many organisations now have two distinct types of PMOs – the enterprise PMO and the portfolio PMO. Both operating in the same organisation, the enterprise PMO is responsible for providing the overall standards for all projects across the organisation, while the portfolio PMO supports the delivery of projects to those standards, but does not set the standards itself.
This approach is ideal for the public sector, since most organisations run a range of very different types of projects across the various parts of the organisation. For instance, a town or district council is responsible water works on one side and building cycle ways or managing parks on the other. These types of activities demand very different approaches to how projects are managed rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
In the past, many organisations attempted to have a centralised PMO responsible for all projects but this has generally not worked well. Splitting the distinct standards and portfolio management functions is proving to be a better approach, as it allows more flexibility on an individual project level.
This means the organisation’s leadership is not concerned with what methodology is used to run individual projects, but rather that there’s consistency across board in how risks, contracts, stakeholders, etc. are managed.
The ever-widening reach of Agile
Another particular theme of interest was how widely adopted Agile approaches are becoming across public sector agencies. There was also much talk about out how Agile as a methodology could be applied beyond project management into other areas of delivering public services.
An example I quite liked was a debate over whether roads could be built in “sprints” – where one section is fully completed and opened before work starts on the next stretch. That way the public could get the benefit of using a fully upgraded section of road sooner, while other portions are still under construction – eliminating the issue of large sections of the road network being affected by works at the same time. Of course, this approach does have its limitations and would probably only be effective on motorways with on-and off-rams, where access to the newly completed and yet-to-be started sections could be easily controlled.
However, that this discussion is taking place within the public sector is a great indicator that agencies are looking at how they can be more agile and deliver their services to taxpayers more effectively and, crucially in the current economic climate, more cost-effectively.
More rigour & process in project selection
In the same vein, many public sector agencies reported they are now looking to add more rigour and proper processes into how portfolios and projects are prioritised. There is a greater focus on examining empirical evidence to ensure better outcomes are achieved by focusing on the right projects in first place rather than committing to projects based on who shouts the loudest. There is now a real focus on pursuing the right projects and to kill off those which are not delivering the benefits they are meant to as early as possible.
Overall, it was clear from the conference that the public sector is getting better at tracking benefits against their projects. Agencies are also demonstrating a real commitment to ensuring the projects they run deliver greater efficiencies and better outcomes for taxpayers’ money.
This shows we are seeing a more sensible approach to spending in the public sector, which means things are definitely moving in the right direction.

Kiwicon: a real security eye-opener for developers

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

I’ve always thought I was pretty security conscious with my own laptop, data and information – and that I could keep my own systems safe. But it only took a few hours at Kiwicon X to realise how wrong I was!!!
As a Linux fan and Mac user, I am always teasing my Windows friends at the office that you couldn’t catch malware or viruses on a Mac. Well, after what I heard at Kiwicon, I have to admit how mistaken I was…
The event was a real eye-opener for me about how insecure some of us are in the workplace and I came away from it with so much new and enlightening knowledge.
Here is some of what I learned from the talks – from a developer’s perspective (and hopefully not too nerdy):
$_GET Requests
Passwords today are still being sent unsalted/insecurely as a GET or POST request. Most web forms are still processing just plain text for passwords which allow man-in-the-middle attacks to retrieve these requests very easily.
As an example, @Amm0nRa demonstrated taking advantage of passing a script into a metroinfo.co.nz page that was meant to display errors via a GET request. With this he was able to inject JavaScript, which then loaded his JavaScript file. Now he was able to pass anything to the client, or send back unsalted passwords from the user back to a remote location.
Website showing hacked by kiwicon instead of the front page
Cross platform/Mobile
Cordova hacking is real!!! Cordova is becoming a very popular cross platform development framework. It allows developers to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to develop mobile or desktop applications.
So with a ton of applications powered by Cordova and its JavaScript engine, it didn’t take long before users were hacking these applications. The most common exploit is JavaScript link injection. As an example Moloch & Shubs showed us a chat program (I won’t mention the program as it hasn’t been fixed) in which they created a link that contained a JavaScript code execution. Once the link was clicked by a user, it started sending message to all the user’s contacts. So now the worm was all over the chat system infecting more and more users. The worm then searched for credit card information, passwords and any information it could find about users. It also allowed for remote control access.
Phishing
Phishing emails used to be old school, but today they are still happening and are even more advanced. Michele Orru from Kiwicon showed us how to launch and setup phishing in under 10 minutes.
The tools he provided were crazy – you could send out thousands of legit emails within minutes! The tool even provided tons of premade email templates that looked legit and convincing. It was also automated so all you had to do was supply a domain name and it would do all the hard work. With his tool, you can monitor who’s clicked your links, and view all their data collected. You also had full remote access of a user’s machine.
My conclusion
When developing, look at all input points of your code, from GET request to anything that could allow a cross-scripting injection. Don’t rely just on virus scanners or think you won’t get malware, as with links getting passed around today look legit but can contain JavaScript injection code.
Kiwicon was a great event and the knowledge can help anyone.

An idiot’s guide to being on a steering committee

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

If you’ve been conscripted into being on a steering committee for a project, but have no idea what this is or what you need to do, then this is the post for you!
First things first, here’s a quick definition of a steering committee to get you started:
A steering committee is a group of people made up with representatives from the project’s customer, people that will be affected by the project, people that contribute to the project and people from the organisation that is running the project. It provides strategic oversight, direction and approval to the project manager.
Why are steering committees needed anyway? Surely a responsible project manager should be able to manage their project without help?
Yes, and no. For the most part project managers have the authority and wherewithal to get on with the job at hand, but every so often something will crop up that needs higher level approval or help to get resolved.
For example, a project manager might be authorised to spend up to 25% of their budget on equipment. If suddenly the supplier puts their prices up it will increase the percentage to over 30%. The project manager will need to get approval from the steering committee to spend the additional money.
Or
A senior member of a team that is providing input into the project has stopped co-operating. The project manager has tried everything to no avail. By escalating this to the steering committee, they can put pressure on the team member to lift their game.
Steering committees also help keep the project team focussed and on track and they can intervene if they think things are going off the rails.

So what should you do to be a good steering committee member?

  1. Make sure you fully understand what the project is supposed to be delivering. This can be found in the project charter, project initiation document and project management plan.
  2. Read all of the reports the project manager gives to you before the steering committee meeting and look for anything that is out of place
  3. If you’re given any actions complete them promptly and make sure to send your updates to the project manager
  4. Be prepared to challenge anything you don’t agree with
  5. Commit to attending as many meetings as possible
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Now that you know what is expected of you as a steering committee member, relax and enjoy the role you’re playing in ensuring the success of the project. With any luck there will be muffins at the next steering committee meeting, which is always a bonus!

New Zealand project management champions celebrated

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

Celebrating success is important – it helps recognise great achievements and inspires people to deliver their best.
Project managers may not always feel they get the recognition they deserve for all their hard work and efforts, but thankfully that is exactly what the NZ Project Management Awards aim to achieve.
The awards, presented by the Project Management Institute of New Zealand (PMINZ), were announced in Auckland last week, as part of the annual New Zealand Project Management Conference.
We exhibited at the conference itself – it was an enjoyable two days with loads of great networking opportunities, informative talks and reunions with old friends.
The master classes and keynote speakers provided some excellent insights into the current state of project management and agile was front and centre.
However, the Project Management Awards were the highlight of the event.
Now in their eighth year, we believe these awards make an invaluable contribution to the New Zealand project management profession. They help to highlight the great work project managers do each day and are an incentive for everyone to lift their game.
We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the winners!
Here’s a full list of the New Zealand Project Management Awards winners:
Quest Serviced Apartments Volunteer of the Year
Mike Roberts – South Island Branch
Human Systems International Research Achievement Award
Dr Alice Yan Chang-Richards
Project Plus PMO of the Year
IAG NZ Enterprise PMO, Auckland
Entity Group Emerging Project Manager of the Year
Graeme Walker – Fonterra
Falcon Training Project Manager of the Year
Chris Jones – Meridian Energy
KPMG Public Sector Project of the Year
Geospatial Future Mode of Operation – Auckland Council
PMINZ Project of the Year
Cricket World Cup 2015 Overlay – Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd
We are already looking forward to next year’s conference and awards in Christchurch!

Psoda is exhibiting at the PMI Conference in Auckland

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

With just over a week to go, the Psoda team is getting geared up to exhibit at this year’s Project Management Institute New Zealand conference in Auckland.
This is going to be a big one as we’re launching our latest product, Psoda Storm, there. Register here for updates as we reveal Psoda Storm next week.
Attending and sponsoring events like this is really important to us, not just to promote our awesome products but to help us engage with the wider project management community to ensure we keep up to date with the latest trends in the industry.
We’re really looking forward to hearing what the speakers have to say on a range of project management topics and it will be great to share the learning and experience with our customers.
The PMINZ Conference is on from the 6th to the 8th of September at the Langham Hotel in Auckland. If you’re there come and say hello – we’re at stand 2.

How to set up an ideation portfolio in 6 steps

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

Have you ever had the most awesome, super-duper idea that, if implemented, would save your organisation a gazillion dollars and make you a millionaire? What happened when you shared the idea with your manager? Did they do anything with it? Did you receive feedback? Or did it disappear into the ether to a) never be heard of again, or b) be claimed by someone else who got all the glory?
Organisations around the world are realising that the best source of ideas generally come from the inside and are implementing programmes to capture, analyse, score and implement them.
This is where portfolio management can help by providing a defined ideation process. Obviously portfolio management is much more complex than simply capturing ideas, but this  article will focus on the ideas capturing, scoring and prioritisation aspects of portfolio management.
Step 1: Capturing ideas
Ideas can be captured in any format, but it’s worth putting together even a simple form so that there is consistency in the information being gathered. Make it as easy as possible for people to submit ideas, for example using a simple online form or suggestion boxes around the office.
You can choose whether to make submissions anonymous or not. You can also offer a prize for any ideas that are successfully implemented to encourage more submissions.
Step 2: Pipeline
It’s worth defining the steps or process the ideas will go through and what will be done in each phase. For instance, the first stage is for all ideas. A basic analysis against metrics/indicators will filter the second stage. More detailed cost/benefits analysis in the third phase, etc. This will help you process ideas in a consistent manner and will also provide some useful data on how your portfolio is progressing, which is always useful.
Step 3: Pick the right indicators
The indicators (or metrics) you choose to score your ideas against are probably the most important part of the process. You need to pick metrics that give you enough information to accurately decide if an idea should move onto the next step in the process but that aren’t so tight they incorrectly discount good ideas. You want to make sure that your portfolio is balanced.
Some example indicators are:

  • Cost
  • Likelihood of success
  • Risk profile
  • Complexity
  • Potential benefit/value

Step 4: Weightings
For every round of ideas you may want to adjust the weightings you apply to each of the indicators. This may be driven by changes in business priorities, customers, competitors, legal requirements or other external factors.
Step 5: Score ideas
Once you start receiving ideas, it’s important that you process them quickly. On the one hand, you can do them piecemeal or on the other be really formal and have weekly, fortnightly or monthly meetings where all ideas are discussed.
Just remember that when scoring ideas it is important to be as objective as possible.
Step 6: Prioritise
One of the best ways to prioritise your ideas is to use a bubble diagram that plots the various ideas according to your criteria. You can put a line/curve on the graph and say anything below the line is discarded and anything above the line goes forward.
It is also likely that you do not have the budget to act on all of the ideas right now, so you may pick off the top ideas that fit into your budget.
By the way, be sure not to throw away the ideas you discard in this round. They may become more important in the next round as the weightings change.
Conclusion
By encouraging people to submit ideas you may end up with a lot of ore to dig through to find the nuggets. Having a well-designed process to prioritise those ideas will make it that much easier to find the gold!
How Psoda can help
Our portfolio management module is fully configurable and is designed to support the entire process. You can set up a form to capture ideas, build a pipeline with workflows and stage gates to transition your ideas through, configure the indicators so that they are exactly what you want to measure, view your ideas in bubble charts so you can quickly and easily see those that do and don’t make the grade and run reports at all stages of the process to give real time, current updates. Click here to sign up for a free trial and test it for yourself.
Coming soon – Psoda Storm
For another way to ensure your great ideas don’t go down the drain, we will soon launch an exciting new tool, called Psoda Storm. Register your interest here, and we’ll keep posted on developments with Psoda Storm.

We’re a Silver Sponsor at ITx 2016 next week

Written by Bruce Aylward


Bruce is Chief Everything Officer at Psoda and an award winning ICT leader. After starting life as a rocket scientist he created Psoda and has been taking the product to the world for over 10 years.

Next week sees Wellington host one of the largest IT conferences this year. ITx 2016 is 12 conferences in one and will host upwards of 700 delegates from across the technology industry, government and academia.
As a Wellington-based technology company, we’re proud to be supporting ITx 2016 as a Silver Sponsor.  We see events such as this as crucial to encouraging dialogue and collaboration on innovation, technology and education amongst IT professionals, decision-makers, leaders and academics.
With just under a week to go to the event, it is with great anticipation that we’re making the final preparations to be at ITx 2016 and look forward to engaging with both speakers and attendees.
We’re also really looking forward to taking back some real-world case studies and experiences to our customers and the wider Psoda team, and will share how Psoda can help project managers run successful projects – be they in the public or private sector, large or small.
ITx 2016 takes place at the TSB Arena in Wellington from Monday 11th July until Wednesday 13th July. If you are there, do come and see us –  we’re at stand 16 in the exhibition hall.