Professional

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Professional

This is where I link to the details about my 'day job'. I have been, over the past 20 years at various times: a tech writer, a marketing guy (blech), a publicist (essentially), an IT project manager, and an IT business analyst. Currently, I work mostly as a process improvement business analyst.

The Bane of Work Life in 2015 - Organizational Standards

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Working in corporate America, one is surrounded every day by the endless jargon of endless variants of organizational standards theory. In the manufacturing world, it was all ISO 9000. In the IT world, everything is all about ITIL. And everywhere you go, you see the religion of Jack Welch, the high holy Six Sigma. And there are sub-variants for particular areas of operation. Project management has Agile and Scrum. Purchasing has LEAN. Every department has a well-branded theory these days.

Do you know what the point is of all of this? It's really quite simple. It's to get people to do what they would have done anyway if anybody had any common sense.

Named as Manager of IT Asset and Vendor Management at WellStar

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Asset Management - Tracking down all the loose threadsAfter working for about two and a half years in various incarnations of the WellStar IT PMO, I've now been promoted to head up a new team. I'm still staying within the IT Administration department, But I'm taking on the job to create a unified Asset and Vendor Management team. We'll be responsibilble for standing up and/or expanding our IT CMDB (Configuration Management database) and an asset management tool. The current small team in place already handles IT maintenance contracts and assists with IT purchasing, but we will be greatly expanding the processes around tracking assets and vendor performance. Personally,  I'm very excited about this. It gives me a chance to both feed my analytical side, expand my management responsibilities, and I sincerely hope, help out a worthy organization grow and improve itself. WellStar is a not-for-profit healthcare organization in Northwest Georgia that I've found to be surprisingly progressive for a large enterprise in the Southern United States. I'm especially pleased with how proud WellStar is to be one of the best employers for women in the country. And I have to say that WellStar has about the most diverse team of talented professionals that I've ever worked with. 
 
WellStar Health Systems logoSo . . . I'm going to be very busy over the next few months and years taking on this new challenge. And from what I've seen . . . this kind of IT asset management initiative is at the core of the modern IT world. It's both interesting to me, and I feel, important. Improved management of IT assets is a key area of improvement for making sure that large organizations start to truly benefit from all of the innovations and technology we've seen come into the world in recent years. It's a marshalling of forces to better address the issues of the modern world. But first things first, I wonder where all of our printers are?

Got my PMP

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PMP Certificate #1813855After thinking about it long and hard, I finally decided I needed to go out and get the formal project management certfication. So after preparing for about two months, taking a course that WellStar very kindly paid for, and studying like a mad man for about three weeks, I took the PMP test yesterday. It was the hardest test I've taken since I had undergraduate Thermodynamics in 1989. The biggest thing that most people going into the PMP exam don't realize is that it isn't a case of studying the facts. PMI, the company that owns and runs the PMP certfication process, assumes you know the project management rules and terminology. No, the point of the test is to see how you apply them. In particular, they want you to answer with the interpretation of how all of that is applied that they themselves would use. It's a test of situational judgement . . . and you should NOT USE YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT. To pass the test, you have to put on the persona of a PMI certification author and answer with what *they* would do in that situation. And even with that, there are quite a few questions on the exam that seem to be judgement calls that even PMI isn't consistent on. I'd say, to get a perfect score on the PMP exam, you either need to have a psychic link back in time to the mind of the PMI question writer at the time they were writing the question, or you need to be plugged into some sort of PMI zeitgeist that must flow just under the surface of reality, like a Platonic project management reality of pure PMI reason. (a somewhat oxymoronic term, that last.)

The Fundamental Rule About How Organizations Work

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You know how modern organizations function? It's really simple. They spend huge amounts of time, usually wasted in meetings, and money, usually wasted on tools that nobody bothers to learn how to operate, setting up hugely complicated policies, processes, procedures, forms, methodologies, requirements, and guidelines.

And then everyone in the organization spends what little time they don't spend in meetings making sure that their people and their projects don't have to follow the rules.

Why Six Sigma? Why PMP?

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I've worked in and around various IT and technology related and technology using industries for many years. I've seen them all slowly go more and more formal in how they want to handle product creation, operations, HR,  . . . pretty much everything.  Since in many cases, the formal method works much less well than a less informal method, especially for small companies and places that want to encourage creativity, I often wonder WHY they've all decided to go this route.

I've finally come to the conclusion that for most people, they don't know why. They're just following the flow.  But the flow; where has that come from?

Business Analysis - I'm 'In It' now

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I haven't posted much lately about my secular life. That's because my job as a Business Analyst (BA) at WellStar Health Systems has been getting more and more intensive.

This prompts me to start trying to capture my thoughts about what it means to be a business analyst nowadays. This is not an old profession. It's sort of a result of the move by IT and other organizations to go formal and certifications-based on how they do 'projects'.  Various organizations have attempted to set up Project Management Offices (PMOs) and to hire Project Managers (PMs) with formal training (usually (Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the PMI institute).)  But they've realized that there are gaps in the machine. The business analyst role was created largely to attempt to fill one of the big gaps. And as you might be getting an understanding from this intro text, much of the work of BAs seems to involve understanding an endless array of TLA's (Three Letter Acronyms.)  TLAs are the words of the priesthood. In any profession, these acronyms are the way that the high practitioners obscure and confuse everyone else about what it is that they are really doing. And BAs are supposed to step in and interpret the words of the high priests to everyone else. Well, that's part of it.

International Institute of Business AnalysisI'm going to comment on the BA profession from an 'outside the walled garden' perspective. I have not yet sought nor achieved a business analyst certification, although I've had some training in the theories, and have little doubt I can pass the test if I need to. In the BA world, the certification is mostly one of the certs offered by the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis), such as the CBAP (Certified Business Analyst Professional).   See what I mean about TLA's?  I am a member of the IIBA. I joined last year when my employer offered to pay the annual $150 membership fee. I've even gone to a couple of meetings. It was nice to meet other weirdo's like me.

Certification for a BA has been fairly straight-forward up until now, which is why the PMI decided to step in recently and create their *own* cert for BA's. Why keep things simple? It doesn't serve their purposes.  I'm going to try to write up my thoughts about this move by the PMI in a later blog entry. It's a big topic.


So I don't have a CBAP. I'll probably go get one in the next couple months, just because it's getting harder and harder to say you are a BA without having it. Not impossible, just harder. But, given that state, it means I'm working as professional BA but without all of the indoctrinational bullshit of the certification organization overlaid. So I want to try to capture my current perspective on what this job entails before it gets all mucked up by theory.  I have considered myself a business analyst for about three years now. In that time, I've worked for four different organizations, in a fairly broad spectrum of industries, each with a varying level of project management immaturity. And more importantly, I've gone through three separate job hunts as a BA in two different states. It's a rapidly evolving profession, and even most of the people who do it don't have a good grasp on what, exactly, it is. In the next few posts, I'm going to try to capture my thoughts on that topic.
 



Hired by WellStar Health Systems

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I just handed in notice at TMX Finance. I've taken a position at WellStar Health Systems, in Marietta, Georgia. WellStar is a not-for-profit medical services organization that owns and operates five hospitals, a bunch of clinics, and many doctor's groups and labs in the region to the northwest of Atlanta. I'm going to be a business analyst in the IT department's project management office.

Hired by TitleMax

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I was just hired to a six month contract by TMX Finance, in Alpharetta, Georgia. TMX is the IT operations and financial back end of the TitleMax corporation, the car title money lending company.

Laid off by Peek Traffic

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Well, just shy of 10 years on the job, I was just laid off by Peek Traffic today. I guess I was too expensive for the Mexican owners of the firm to stomach paying my American salary anymore.  Plus I once questioned the wisdom when they laid off Debrah Bortnick about a year ago. She was our front desk receptionist and answered the phones. She knew every person, by appearance and by voice, in the entire traffic control industry.

Best Practices

The Bane of Work Life in 2015 - Organizational Standards

Jay Oyster's picture

Working in corporate America, one is surrounded every day by the endless jargon of endless variants of organizational standards theory. In the manufacturing world, it was all ISO 9000. In the IT world, everything is all about ITIL. And everywhere you go, you see the religion of Jack Welch, the high holy Six Sigma. And there are sub-variants for particular areas of operation. Project management has Agile and Scrum. Purchasing has LEAN. Every department has a well-branded theory these days.

Do you know what the point is of all of this? It's really quite simple. It's to get people to do what they would have done anyway if anybody had any common sense.

This is where I link to the details about my 'day job'. I have been, over the past 20 years at various times: a tech writer, a marketing guy (blech), a publicist (essentially), an IT project manager, and an IT business analyst.