Methodology and Philosophy

What do I do that's different?
 
Indroduction/Background
 
Over 35 years in the infomation techology field have taught me some hard learned lessons about how developers and clients work to either create success or failure. Over the entire period the statistics on project failure have been consistant. Roughly 70% of all projects FAIL! All of the major IT research groups like Gartner have confirmed this time and time again. Lots of books have been written and courses are routinely taught at our finest business schools. In spite of the fact that we know this to be true, our methodologies haven't been successful in changing the results.
 
Included in this huge number of failures are lots of projects that were declared to be successes when the systems were delivered and implemented. How can this be? The landscape is littered with projects that failed, not because they didn't meet the specifications or weren't technically well done but failed because they were never adopted and used. One of the major reasons for this kind of failer is that the champion and owner of the project left the organization and noone filled that void. Projects that aren't owned die on the vine.
 
Another major reason for projects where the systems weren't adopted is a lack of adequate training. Every system/application requires some knowledge to use well. Failing to commit adequate resources to training is the easiest way to guarantee failure. Good training will leverage your investment to assure success.
 
The other thing that causes a great number of project failures is poor or nonexistent project management. The proprietary development process has created an adversarial relationship between most devlopers and their clients. Both are afraid that the other will take advantage of them. Both have good reason to think that way since most organizations have experiencesd failed or problematic projcest. The best cure for this is to understant the necesity of creating a trusting relationship. Developers need the client to provide clear and decicive input when decisions need to be made. Developers need to be able to offer advice and alternatives when they see a problem in the design or other goals of the project. It is not enough to simply "do what the client wants". Sometimes the client wants something that they really shouldn't want, etc.
 
Good planning and project management builds success into the project. Allowing for enough process to allow a developer to know what they need to know to get it right is essential to successful projects. Having appropriate buy-in from the organizations leadership and appropriate access to decision makers during the project are required to keep things on target and on time and within budget.
 
That having been said
 
There are two fundamentally different approaches to software dn systems design: Open Source and proprietary development. While lots of developers have adopted Open Source softare (OSS) most haven't adopted an open source methodology or adopted a true open source philosophy. Their management practice is still oriented towards locking in customers long term by keep knowledge close. They build systems using open source software but don't manage to empower their clients in the process. Training for users at all levels of the organization empowers the organization and reduces the cost of managing and maintaining systems. One of the things that I do that is quite different is that I work hard to build training and knowledge transfer into my projects. I insist that appropriate staff are identified to learn how to do as much as possible in-house. I'm more that happy to help when help is needed but I would rather you called me because it really was something outside of the everyday operations and maintenance, etc.
 
As the developer, I am part of the project team which includes the appropriate staff, decision makers, and other out-side resources. Working collaboratively and having clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all of the team members makes it a lot easier to get things done. Making sure that the value added of any particular element of a project is well understood and prioritization can be established to make sure that the most important elements get the level of attention they deserve and that small issues don't hold the project up.
 
The devil is always in the details! What most organizations call a specification document is usually a combination of some must have features and a long wish list. Items that take up only a few words can actually turn out to be major issues to resolve and drive the cost of the project. Getting the 85% that can be gotten for a price is the goal. There are always trade-offs and choices to make.
 
So, in summry, what's different about what I do is that I bring 35 years of project design and management experience to the process which allows me to accurately analyze a set of requirements so that they can be translated into a successful project plan. I practice good project management to build success into the project. I insist on training and knowledge transfer to guarantee project adoption and use of the system. My development methodology is aligned with the open source philosophy of openness, transparency and participation. I believe in the "learning organization" and help leverage my projects to grow the organization's capacity as part of the project implementation cycle.
 
If this sounds like a better model to you, please get in touch to discuss your project needs.

Client List

Partial List of My Current and Past Clients

 

  • Nonprofit Net, Inc.
  • Sustainable Arlington
  • New England Translators Association (NETA)
  • The Institute for the Advancement of AD/HD Coaching (IAAC)
  • Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC)
  • Boston Community Boating
  • Harmony Horse Stables, LLC
  • Noteworthy Sheet Music, LLC
  • Archdioses of Boston Office of Risk Management
  • Boston Joomla Users Group
  • Whole Octave
  • Whole Music Lessons
  • Sustainable Business Network (SBN)
  • Worcester Local First
  • Cambridge Local First
  • Somerville Local First
  • Massachusetts Green Jobs Network (MAGJC)
  • MSGDesign
  • Kenneth Gilbert, MD
  • Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
  • Muse Stew Productions

 

 

 

 

My Resume

Experience


July 2008 - Present

I am a member of the recently restrutured Board of Directors.

September 2005 –July 2008

I am a member of the Steering Committee which, in the absense of an expanded board, acts as the Board of Directors for this nonprofit organization. I am also the creator and developer of the organizations website and community building/outreach efforts.

(Non-Profit; 201-500 employees; Non-Profit Organization Management industry)
September 1998 – September 2003 (5 years 1 month)

Responsible for all IT realated activities across the entire enterprise. Network architect, customer service (helpdesk), application development, knowledge management systems design and implementation, training, strategy, vendor management, leadership, team building, etc

 

(Privately Held; 201-500 employees; Computer Software industry) 

 

September 1997 – April 1998 ( 8 months)

The company was a major player in the high-end postscript printing industry and went bankrupt due to poor financial management by the owner.

I was responsible for all computing at our 3 U.S. locations. I was part of the management team for the entire organization which I shared with my 2 UK counterparts.

 

(Privately Held; 11-50 employees; Computer Networking industry)
November 1994 – August 1997 (2 years 10 months)

I directed the company's LAN/WAN services to corporate customers and led a team in developing internet services in the early days fo the internet boom. We developed and deployed the first pre-configured, drop-in Linux server utilizing HP server hardware and established a partnership with the leading Linux vendor of the day -- Caldera. We also developed a number of sucessful websites for our coporate customers and helped them take their products to the web.

 

(Educational Institution; 501-1000 employees; Higher Education industry)
September 1988 – September 1994 (6 years 1 month)

Responsible for all computing activities at the School of Government. I was the equivalent of the CIO. I architected the first LAN and WAN at the school and built the computing services from the ground up. We were the first school at Harvard to bring the full suite of internet technologies to the desktops of all faculty, staff and students. I established the first comprehensive training program for staff in the use of computers and applications. I designed and helped build a brand new student computer lab with a dedicated classroom for such training at any of the Harvard schools. I was responsible for all budgets for student, staff and research computing for the school. I also participated in University-wide copmuting and governance and helped to design and build the University's High Speed Backbone Network.  

 

(Public Company; 10,001 or more employees; Information Technology)
September 1988 – September 1990 (2 years 1 month)

I worked as a technical resource to the Strategic Partnership Program and reported directly to the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Unisys. This program provided grants to strategic partner organizations like Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to help them establish early computer networks at the beginning of the computing infrastructure buildout in the late '80s. Unisys' business in Federal, State and Local Government was strategic and I had recommened that they provide the technical resources to ensure that the grants given to the selected educational institutions was used well. They took my advice and loaned me to the Kennedy School of Government to oversee the 3 million dollar grant that they had given to KSG. I accepted the position of Director of Computer Services at KSG when the position became vacant and did both jobs simultaneously for 2 years. The program was eliminated at Unisys during a downturn in the computer industry during the early 90s.

(Non-Profit; 11-50 employees; Think Tanks industry)
September 1986 – August 1987 (1 year)

I was responsible for all computing in support of both the administrative computing and the research activities. 50% of my time was spant advising the Program for International Negotiations in their work developming computer aided negotiations tools and strategies under a grant from Unisys. The team included such noteables as Elliot Richardson and Howard Raifa.

(Public Company; 501-1000 employees; Broadcast Media industry)
September 1985 – August 1986 (1 year)

I acted as liason with headquarters and with our computing vendors. I installed and configured over 50 clustered (networked) computers throughout both the radio and TV stations at WBZ. I trained the entire staff in the use of word processing and spreadsheet software and designed a budget system that allowed all departmental budgets to roll-up to the master budget in the Controller's office. I assisted in the computerization of the TV News Room and in developing the first media database for the stations library of video tapes.

Services

Samenfeld Strategic Consulting provides services to large and small organizations. My broad experience in the for-profit, nonprofit, and academic sectors and across many different industries gives me a unique perspective on project management. My mantra is "Success is not an Accident". Click on the tabs below to find out more about the array of services I can provide to help your organization thrive.



Database Development

Database development for open source databases such as MySQL utilizing PHP. CiviCRM database development in the Joomla and Droopal/Civicspace Content Management Systems (CMS). {/tab}



Project Management

Project management is the most important factor in determining the success or failure of a project. A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Good project management ensures that projects are delivered on time and within budget. Success is not an accident.


Knowledge Management

What is Knowledge Management? It takes many shapes and forms. At its core it is usually based on a set of tools for collecting and organizing the information assets of an organization. Information alone is not Knowledge. Knowledge is information made useful through making it more readily available and by allowing it to be shared widely throughout the enterprise. When that knowledge is locked up in individual employees' heads it is not as valuable as when it is captured and shared. Good decisions require a combination of good information and hard learned lessons and experienced judgement. Organizations often refer to their employees as their biggest asset. Sometimes they forget to learn and capture the fruits of their employees' experience in systems so that it is retained when they move on. This is a waste of much of the investment represented by that employee's experience. Capturing and sharing best practice is essential to any organization that is striving for greatness and success.

 

Content Management/Web Development

Everything is moving to the web. Developing web based applications is more than just writing some html code. One of the best ways to develop web based applications is to use a Content Management System (CMS). Systems like Lotus Notes and GroupWise are proprietary CMSs that can cost quite a bit to install and maintain. There are some excellent Open Source alternatives such as Joomla (used for this site), Droopal/Civicspace, and Plone. All of these systems combine database back-ends with web front-ends. The purpose of any CMS is to move the focus from the technology to "content" and to provide a very flexible, modular environment for collaboration and information sharing.

 

Linux and Windows Server Support

I have worked with RHEL (Red Hat), Fedora, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, and Debian based Linux distros. I have 30 years of experience that began with SYSV, Berkeley, and Solaris based Unix systems.

 

Infrastructure Services

From wiring to email systems your information infrastructure is the foundation for everything else you do. Designing the right infrastructure makes everything else you do easier.

 

Network Design and Implementation

For many years people have been saying that their networks should be as reliable as electricity and other utilities. It should "just be there" and perform well no matter what is asked of it. In many cases networks don't live up to those expectations and even slow the organization's progress. All networks are not created equal. Making sure that all of the parts and pieces work together seamlessly is much more difficult than it may seem at first blush. When your network is unstable you appreciate what it takes to create a rock-solid network. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. As the DSL market has grown many organizations have tried to use it in place of their Frame Relay backbones. Some have regretted the move. In an era that has brought growing demands on our bandwidth resources with new technologies like Voice Over IP (VoIP), Video Conferencing, and lots of database access, Asychronous Transfer Mode (ATM) often offers the solution. ATM allows you to manage your bandwidth by allocating bandwidth to specific services for selected periods of time. This is especially important if you are running VoIP phone systems. DSL is a great technology for remote offices but is not always up to the demands of enterprise backbone networks. Getting your network right can make life much easier.


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