The rise and fall of JBA software - AS400 ERP System21

  • Posted on: 27 November 2007
  • By: NickLitten

JBA was one of the world’s leading business software providers in the early 1990's. Based in Birmingham, it had offices nationwide due to explosive growth through the late 80's and early 1990's.

Founded in 1981 by two former IBM employees, JBA focused on developing business applications for the System38 and later the AS/400. Its flagship offering was System21, an enterprise wide management package that included modules for accounting, order processing, logistics, manufacturing, customer service warehousing solutions for anyone using AS400 systems. Complemented by unique solutions for specific industries, System 21 also gave many of the world’s leading food, automotive, drinks, style and service management companies the competitive advantage they needed in the nineties.

JBA’s ERP solutions were distinguished by their high functionality and closeness of fit to customer requirements. JBA was one of the first global ERP suppliers to provide industry sector specific products based on a standard commercial product set. These industry sector products contained many thousands of man years’ research and development which JBA went on to try to break down into a more component based technology.


An introduction it ITIL

  • Posted on: 27 November 2007
  • By: NickLitten

ITIL is the acronym for the "IT Infrastructure Library" guidelines developed by the CCTA (now OGC) in Norwich, England, for the British government.

Today, ITIL is the de-facto global standard in the area of service management. It contains comprehensive publicly accessible specialist documentation on the planning, provision and support of IT services. ITIL provides the basis for improvement of the use and effect of an operationally deployed IT infrastructure.

IT service organisations, employees from computing centres, suppliers, specialist consultants and trainers took part in the development of ITIL. ITIL describes the architecture for establishing and operating IT service management.

The internationally recognized ITIL®-logo has adorned the covers of ITIL® books for years. The familiar diamond consisting of a number of smaller diamonds is now internationally well-known.

An introduction to MSP

  • Posted on: 27 November 2007
  • By: NickLitten

MSP, which stands for managing successful programmes, is a a best-practice guide from Office of Government Commerce (OGC),UK describing a structured approach for managing programmes.

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) gives your organisation a framework for programme management - the co-ordinated management of a portfolio of projects which helps organisations to achieve benefits that are of strategic importance.

Intelligent Disobedience: The Difference Between Good and Great Project Managers

  • Posted on: 27 November 2007
  • By: NickLitten

The job of a project manager (PM) is often described as managing the triple constraint: scope, resources and schedule. In reality, this represents the goal of the PM. The PM must manage the production of the defined deliverables (scope), while being mindful of both the cost as well as caring for and feeding the people working on the project (resources). These must all be done within project timeframes (schedule).

However, the presence of risk, business concerns, technical issues, individual perceptions and priorities present frequent obstacles to the PM, who is pursuing success as measured by the triple constraint. Many of these obstacles can be overcome with diligence and communication, which usually comes naturally to those in the PM role. In some instances, however, these obstacles are formidable and can involve:

  • Proposing unpopular options/opinions
  • Standing up to senior management
  • Crafting compelling arguments/justifications to garner business support
  • "Bending" rules and processes when appropriate
  • Applying non-traditional techniques to create "unexpected" impressions as a means to change stakeholder perceptions
  • Using communication and influence skills to protect the organisation from itself

Performing these challenging tasks is what separates great PMs from average PMs. So what do the great PMs do to succeed at this formidable list of tasks? Great PMs utilise "intelligent disobedience."

Top 10 Qualities of a Project Manager

  • Posted on: 27 November 2007
  • By: NickLitten

Inspires a Shared Vision Project Manager Arms Folded

An effective project leader is often described as having a vision of where to go and the ability to articulate it. Visionaries thrive on change and being able to draw new boundaries. It was once said that a leader is someone who "lifts us up, gives us a reason for being and gives the vision and spirit to change." Visionary leaders enable people to feel they have a real stake in the project. They empower people to experience the vision on their own. According to Bennis "They offer people opportunities to create their own vision, to explore what the vision will mean to their jobs and lives, and to envision their future as part of the vision for the organisation." (Bennis, 1997)

Good Communicator

The ability to communicate with people at all levels is almost always named as the second most important skill by project managers and team members. Project leadership calls for clear communication about goals, responsibility, performance, expectations and feedback.

The Eight Project Management Skills

  • Posted on: 24 November 2007
  • By: NickLitten

Back in my early twenties I joined a company called JBA, based in Chertsey in the south of sunny old Blighty. JBA was a software house specializing on the old (but wonderful) IBM AS400. My job title was the ubiquitous ' IT Consultant' and my role was diverse and covered everything from hardcore programming, installing monitors, tweaking networks, plugging in printers, designing core software changes to affect hundreds of customers, writing specifications for application change and redevelopment through to meeting customers for project kickoff, planning and signoff. Time was always at a premium and I found myself unwittingly entering the world of project management since every task I worked on was a project in its own right. The company I worked for successfully turned a reasonable programmer into a poor project manager!

Worse than that the company also wanted me to be the ‘technical consultant"  of the various projects that I was handed and/or involved in. This basically meant that I had to learn a jack of all trades work ethos that allowed me to be involved in every element of a given process.

What I needed was the project management skills to manage change.

Picture my frazzled brain by mid-week: I must get this design optimised…but I must get it done by Friday and not spend any more than 15 hours doing it

The Project Team

  • Posted on: 24 November 2007
  • By: NickLitten

Applying Real-World Business Management By Exception

One of the key principles for project management success is ensuring that the PM responsibility must be matched by equivalent authority. The PM can’t be made responsible if they don’t have the ‘clout’ to make things happen.

Each individual on the project, and that includes the project manager, must be provided with a clear understanding of the Authority, Responsibility, and Accountability given to them so that their work can be accomplished.

Design Of The Project Organization

When designing the Project Team, start with standard roles such as user representative, hardware engineers, and so forth. Sit down and agree with the individual what responsibilities they will have, and what levels of authority for carrying out their work.

Make sure that these balance. Beware of giving someone (especially yourself!) lots of responsibility but not enough authority to carry out their responsibilities.

Taking the PMP Exam

  • Posted on: 18 November 2007
  • By: NickLitten

The basic PMP exam is not industry specific. The PMI Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ), which tests your knowledge of a particular industry, can be added to certify your expertise in Information Technology Project Management, Establishing a Project Management Office, and Project Management in the Automotive Industry.

Tips for taking the PMP exam

Passing the PMP exam requires extensive preparation. Use the following tips and techniques as part of that preparation, which should also include developing a comprehensive understanding of the PMBOK concepts and terminology, practicing previous exam questions when possible, and attending a few project management-training courses.

Question-oriented tips

Things to remember - how to be a good Project Manager

  • Posted on: 27 October 2007
  • By: NickLitten

Project managers are there to plan and manage the work – NOT to do it!


As a PM you will need to be a Leader And A Manager: Leaders share and communicate a common vision (of some future state); they gain agreement and establish the forward direction. They motivate others. Managers are results driven and focus on getting work done against agreed requirements. A good project manager will constantly switch from a leader to a manager as situations require.

As a PM you will need to be a Team Builder And A Team Leader: Because projects are often cross-functional in that they use people who may not have worked together before. It is up to the project manager to set the ‘tone’ of the team, and to lead them through the various team development phases to the point where they perform as a team. Often, the team individuals have their own line manager, and so the PM has no implied authority – yet still needs to motivate the individual. This is particularly true in a ‘Matrix’ organisation.

As a PM you will need to be a be A Problem Solver: This is a skill that can be learned – it just needs a little ‘detective’ work up-front! You will want to first identify the possible ‘causes’ that lead to the problem ‘symptom’. Now, causes can come from a variety of sources, some are: