Top 7.5 Signs that Your CIO IS READY for the New Normal



My colleague, Trisha Winter, in her last blog picked on CIOs who are NOT READY for the New Normal.  That harshes my mellow, so I’m going to talk about Super-CIO capabilities that show readiness for the tranformative world of the IT executive.

If you remember, the New Normal is the reality that technology has become so pervasive that it is becoming a company’s primary way to engage with their customers.  And in order to support this, every company must think of themselves as a technology company first, their main product or service is secondary.

This New Normal is unavoidable so companies need to make sure that they are setting themselves up to succeed.  This means starting with IT and the CIO.  If you are a CEO and your CIO matches these signs, it is probably time for a promotion and raise, not for you but for your CIO.

  1. Your CIO understands your business and collaborates well with line of business (LoB) peers.Technical leadership requires a bit of salesmanship and showmanship, so your CIO should brush up on her/his speaking skills, or go to open-mic night at the local comedy club.  Hey, if Dick Costolo of Twitter can do it, so can every technology leader!  Best of all, your CIO must understand your business from the inside-out.  So, look for that interest and enthusiasm.
  2. Your CIO understands all technologies in use by the company.Your CIO not only understands the latest technologies, but understands the applicability of these technologies to your business and is able to articulate the value to you and the LoBs.  The IT ecosystem and culture means fostering an environment where disruptive things like BYOD, IT in Marketing, etc. all work together.
  3. Your CIO understands what your customers experience when they engage with technologies that they use to do business with you.Tech performance is MOST meaningful in the experience that your customers have when they’re directly doing business with you.  Your technical leaders and staff must be appraised on technology customer-experience and be tightly aligned with customer-facing employees.
  4. Your CIO measures all ‘moving parts’ of your technology investments and understands the value and practicality of all components.As the saying goes “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, an application, no matter how well it is developed, has at least one constraint that limits its performance. This is the basic Theory of Constraints, and great CIOs understand that application performance improvement is a complex, constant activity.
  5. Your CIO measures technology investments and technology performance against P&L.It’s a lofty goal to tranform IT from a cost-center into a profit-center, and ‘New Normal” CIOs will at least understand their value related to the performance of the company and will constantly work towards improving both the bottom and top lines of the company
  6. Your CIO understands big-data.  New Normal CIOs can articulate how big-data Volume, Variety, and Velocity can affect your company, and has added the fourth ‘V’alue benefit to the discussion.  ”Big Data” is an overused term, and some technology companies are trying to equate it to ‘just another buzz word’, BUT, the technology itself can and should be transformational into insight into sales success and customer retention.  Your CIO should be well-versed in discussing how real-time analytics can help your company.  If they have a problem describing the value, have them call me and I’ll teach them a card-trick on how to illustrate the value of big-data.  More on this in a future TechTalk
  7. Your CIO has implemented DevOps ‘best-practices’ and has created new ‘better-practices’ that differentiate your company from your competition.To me the word that best describes good DevOps processes is cadence.   Developing and deploying apps on a cadence fosters communication, collaboration, discipline, agility and leanness to your Development and Operations activities.  My favorite acronym is FUD = Focus, Urgency and Discipline.  Your DevOps teams should look at your competitors and figure out ways to expose their technology weakness and exploit your strengths in the marketplace.

7.5 BONUS! Your CIO has afternoon “thought-experiments” with his cat.


About Paul Czarnik
Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

Big Data? Let’s talk about LITTLE data!


OK, I’m going to stay on tech here, away from the politics of big-data, because you can draw your own conclusions.  By now EVERYBODY has heard about ‘big data’, the information companies gather and what the government requires they acquire.  I personally have been involved in ‘lawful intercept’ projects and understand the technologies and laws that govern access. The fact is that ‘you’re opted in’, whether you like it or not, so when you think about what’s possible, you have to think of unlimited instrumentation, unlimited storage and unlimited computing power.  Everything is easily captured and quickly stored, ready to map(reduce) and query.  I’m not talking about batch analytics against a data-warehouse.  I’m talking about REALTIME analytics against realtime data. SO WHAT? Let’s talk about some use-cases that we can all easily understand.  Let’s instrument every vital sign occurring with the physiology of our bodies.  Everything event, every mood, every anomaly, every failure, every improvement.  Let’s map that against health models developed for our personal demographic and across geographies and populations.  I think we all understand that the benefits far outweigh the risks or politics and the technology exists to do this.  And even though it’s BIG DATA, it’s really the LITTLE DATA  that has the greatest benefit.  Did I eat a healthy meal or did it spike my blood-sugars.  Did my exercise improve my blood pressure or did I have a sudden unhealthy rise.  Does a cancerous cell that turned up in a fellow human have anything to do with my future risk for the same cancer, and can it be circumvented with preventative treatment?  Does the PERFORMANCE of my peers indicate PERFORMANCE for me and my descendants?  And, again, I’m talking about realtime-actionable information and predictive-long-term health benefits. HOW ABOUT YOU?  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO CIO’S? Since everything is possible and the use-cases limitless, it’s up to YOU as a TECHNOLOGIST to figure out what that means in your job.  How does data and fast access allow your company to find and retain customers?  Of course it depends on your industry so if you truly understand your target-customer and their compelling-reason-to-buy, what you need to understand about them should be quite obvious to you.   Assuming you figured out what data you need and how you acquire it, the trick is not to deluge your business peers with massive data-analytics, but to provideACTIONABLE analytics that your company can use to to improve and grow the business.  Think of it as a continuous process, based on your knowledge of your customer and the data they individually provide you and the collective intelligence that they communally provide you. So, when your CEO asks you what you’re doing about BIG DATA, you say “It’s the LITTLE DATAthat I’m interested in”.  And after she corrects your bad grammar, you can explain that while BIG DATA focuses on Volume, Variety and Velocity, LITTLE DATA focuses on VALUE. P-Cz About Paul Czarnik Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music. Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

Personal Performance Advice from a CTO

July 18, 2013 by Paul Czarnik

“Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then YOU are the sucker.”


The opening line to Rounders is about poker, but the idea certainly applies to many things.  Replace the setting from poker-table to boardroom table and ‘sucker’ with ‘non-performer’ and it should give us technology executives something to think about.

  • Am I the team-player or the prima donna?
  • Am I the disrupter or the disruptee?
  • Am I the communicator or the turtler?
  • Am I the performer or the non-performer?

If you don’t know who the weakest person is at the table, then it’s probably you.  And you’re gonna lose.

Personal Performance Begins With a Mirror

When I look myself in the mirror every morning, do I see a person ready to take on the day or someone trying to get through the day?  I cannot ask my staff and systems to perform unless I personally commit to my own personal performance:

  • Nutrition -I subscribe to a paleo lifestyle, which helps deal with the complexities of a technology lifestyle.
  • Fitness -I do daily workouts, focusing on activities which reduce stress.
  • Sleep -I wish I got the recommended level of sleep, but I wake up after 6 hours, so I try to spend early morning time in quiet activities.
  • Brainpower – Multitasking of the brain is a myth!  In order to simulate multitasking, my brain needs to ‘swap out’ of memory current tasks and ‘swap in’ new work.  This is non-efficient, stressful, and will actually degrade brain function.  I take on a task and do ‘deep thinking’, focused on the task at-hand.  Quality brain activity is much more valuable than quantity brain activity.  So many people are trying to be massively scaleable on task completion; I try to be massively good at a few tasks and  find myself much more satisfied with my productivity and the quality of my work.
  • Career – I work for a meritocracy, where personal performance improves career goals.  If I did not work for a meritocracy, I would find a company that embraces meritocracy or become an entrepreneur again.
  • Relationships – This is the most important thing! Personal relationships are important for quality-of-life.  Professional relationships are important for quality-of-career.  I try to pay special attention to all relationships.

Now I am far from perfect, but I do know that performance starts with me and personal performance really isn’t indicated by how much I eat or how many push-ups I can do.

Personal performance is about Focus, Urgency and Discipline (FUD).

The point I am making is that although we try to quantify performance with metrics and statistics, it really comes down to a subjective and qualitative analysis based on a commitment to performance.  And this starts with ourselves making that commitment, both personally and professionally.


Filed Under: Tech Talk
About Paul Czarnik
Paul the former CTO of Compuware, a venture-technologist and programmer. His hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

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What’s at Stake With IT Failures? Business Operations, IT Reputations, and a Lot of Money

As a CTO with 35 years of experience in IT, I know the value of technology performance. I understand how failures, slowdowns and interruptions can hobble a business and hurt the bottom line. Or at least I thought I understood. New information from a study my company recently commissioned has opened my eyes to just how costly IT performance issues can be, and how deeply damaging they can be across an organization.

What I love about this study, “Measuring the Business Impact of Technology Performance,” is that it isn’t focused on e-commerce. Instead, it gathered input from companies across the brick-and-mortar business spectrum – finance, retail, healthcare, manufacturing. This is so important because today technology is a vital part of every business, not just web-based businesses. Even more interesting is that it surveyed Line of Business (LoB) executives and IT leaders. This perspective allows us to see how differently those two groups view the influence of technology on a business.

The Numbers Tell the Story

The good news is that, although they ordered them a little differently, IT and LoB both have the same priorities when it comes to technology investments. They listed the top three as follows:

  • Increase speed of manufacturing and production.
  • Increase speed to market/to the consumer.
  • Ensure product/service quality.

The answers are a perfect example of how IT performance issues will impact a business across the board. This point is highlighted again in the study when respondents were asked which areas of their companies they would describe as “critically dependent” on technology operating efficiently. Of the 11 areas listed as options, 10 of them received what I would consider high scores from both groups. But this question also brings to light an important area of LoB/IT disconnect:

“While IT and LoB executives are in agreement with regard to the most ‘critically dependent’ areas, operational aspects such as supply chain, manufacturing and shipping/ receiving are considered more critically dependent on technology by IT executives.”

I believe this stat reveals two things: That IT is becoming more and more integrated into the business, and that IT needs to better communicate the ROI of technology failure avoidance and performance to LoB executives.

Here’s another example of how differently IT and LoB can perceive technology issues, seen through the prism of what it means to be “back to normal” after an IT failure.

How long did it take to get back to normal operations?

  • LoB executives said 24 days
  • IT executives said 11 days

That’s the definition of “disconnect,” and a huge red flag for anyone who’s concerned about IT’s reputation with the c-suite. Here are three more stats from the survey that aren’t helping perceptions of IT:

  • 80% of respondents say major technology performance issues are recurring.
  • 75% say issues are persisting or getting worse.
  • 48% say these issues are occurring several times per week to every day.

Building a better reputation for IT is going to demand strong technology advocates with access to LoB executives and the C-suite. A thriving company by definition must have a thriving and respected IT department.

What are these technology performance failures costing businesses? LoB and IT executives’ averaged response for a single technology failure, the short-term costs related to operations, sales and marketing are significant: $10.8 million, on average.

I’ve been in the technology business for more than three decades. I help customers think about technology performance and how it impacts their infrastructure and their business, and while many of the findings were validation of what I’ve long advocated, even I was surprised by a number of the figures in the study.

Finding Opportunity in Complexity

Technology has become a foundation for business — it supports everything from R&D and manufacturing to sales and customer service. That makes for a lot of moving pieces. Plus, today’s customers and employees have far more influence and power than ever before, so IT is no longer just a back-office issue — it’s in the back, in the middle and out front driving revenue.

What this all means is that today’s CTO needs to advocate for a complete technology performance strategy. Half measures won’t cut it — not when other companies are investing in disruptive technologies that will give them an edge, both at the enterprise level and with customers. And that advocate needs to be a change agent, someone who can break down silos, someone who understands why IT and the business need to come together in ways that will benefit both. Because, let’s face it, things aren’t going to get less complex from here.

Paul Czarnik is Chief Technology Officer at Compuware.

Note to Self – Be Careful When Doing Interviews

I don’t mind giving interviews.  But it can be rather surprising when an interview turns into the written word, especially when English isn’t the primary language.  No complaints, the journalist was pleasant, but the writing makes it seem that English isn’t my primary OR secondary language.Read for yourself!

Incorporate the FUD principle to succeed in IT- Focus, Urgency and Discipline
By Paul Czarnik  CTO-Compuware
Sunday, June 2, 2013

Detroit based Compuware(NASDAQ: CPWR), is a provider of integrated solutions for enterprise IT including IT portfolio management, application development, quality assurance and IT service management. Founded in 1973, the company holds a market cap of $2.41 billion.

Technology drives the pace of transformation for the world today. However, technology has far outpaced the ability for most companies to exploit it and has created massive opportunities for organizations that understand its functioning. The companies that are willing to take risks and invest for the future are going to turn out to be the successors.
Looking at technology from a programmers view, it is important to wear the “programmer hat” at all times, even if sometimes the technological approach conflicts with the business interests of the partner. Deciphering a company’s technical assets gives more insight into the corporation rather by reading through a balance sheet or marketing material. A positive mentality can consistently contribute to positive outcomes that the entire organization can rally behind.

Big Data will Transform Businesses

Although the widely talked about technological term has been co-opted in different contexts by different individuals, the single biggest foreseeable trend in technology is “Big Data”. In the true sense of real time analytics, Big Data is calculated from the abundant data sources that companies and third parties have amassed. The potential of this technology to transform business operations, sales and customer support is such that it is anticipated to prove devastating to those organizations that ignore this phenomenon.

For instance, how Big Data can help a healthcare company. Let’s imagine a situation of an epidemiologist, who is responsible for identifying flare-ups of infectious diseases as early as possible in an attempt to avert an epidemic or in a worst case scenario, a pandemic. In previous years, combating this problem used to involve relying on infectious disease specialists at the point of care reporting to national governing bodies that in turn contribute to a global database that would require queries to identify new outbreaks. Big data will sound the death knell to this cumbersome process. Big Data can permit a form of collective intelligence wherein all of the information, from the point of care and the labs and pharmacies, is fed in real time with standing queries and visualization tools to flag incidents as they occur in real time. With enough data from one model to the other, it is possible for the epidemiologist to move past identifying the trend in progress and skip right to predicting where the next outbreak is likely to emerge. This insight enables critical resources and caregivers to convene on the scene and perhaps inoculate the populace before they come in contact with the vector.

Entrepreneurs will “leapfrog” Current Business Models

Leveraging Big Data is one of the methods by which healthcare will benefit greatly from technology in the coming years; the current healthcare model will change drastically as entrepreneurs will “leapfrog” current business models and government regulations and take solutions directly to patients. The healthcare industry is antiquated and outdated and it will take a new generation of caregiver entrepreneurs to disrupt the current systems. 35 years ago, work on a universal medical-record format was abandoned after discovering that doctors and hospitals considered medical records their intellectual property. This is one scenario that is quickly changing.
With regards to the initiatives to keep the team technologically abreast of the competitors, it is important for a leader to be enthusiastic so as to wake up every morning at 5 a.m. and read, research and most importantly program. The only way to stay abreast of emerging technology and the competition is to stay involved in the technology. This includes running personalized products in the company’s internal production environment and to give the value that is promised to customers.
Technology has far outpaced the ability for most companies to exploit it, and that has created massive opportunity for the companies that “get it” and are willing to take the risks and invest for the future.

Effort and Initiative matter more than an Educational Qualification

The biggest pain point seen at Compuware and specifically across the industry and around the world is in a deficiency of a skilled workforce development. To combat the same, young individuals have to be trained to take on the technology jobs that are currently unfilled. However, one major drawback is that students are not very well informed about the growing market opportunities. This information gap will lead to many students not finding their true job where they will excel. In the current decade, effort and initiative matter a lot more than just a plain degree. The best way to overcome the shortfall is to begin teaching students coding techniques at a young age. It is the current generation’s responsibility to plant the seeds of pragmatism in the tender minds.

Hence what a company can do to succeed in its endeavor is to replace the traditional acronym of FUD-Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt prevalent in certain areas of industrial lingo, with that of Focus, Urgency and Discipline. These are the principles that have guided my principles, my team and Compuware as a whole. (As told to Vignesh.A)

Preparing for the Next-Normal in IT Transformation

nextnormalThe phrase ‘new normal’ has been used a lot in technology, marketing and even has it’s own TV show on NBC (I’ve never seen it). The term ‘New Normal’ is fine for understanding what is happening today, but CIO’s really need to focus on a few things when planning  for  ’the NEXT-Normal’ .

BE LEAN  Why plan for the Next-Normal? Because it will be here much faster than you can imagine.  Business and technology trends are moving so quickly, tech-leaders must be attentive to new enablers to support the business.  Exploiting these technologies require that you also be lean and agile, so that you can quickly make decisions that will differentiate your company from the competition.  I have primarily used the term ‘lean’ in context of ‘lean startups’, but now am applying the same lean principles to IT transformation.  It’s not about saving money; it’s about IT ‘health’, much like being lean in your physique is about your personal health.

plansvbudgetPLAN, DON’T BUDGET   Let’s start with last years budget.  I’m not asking whether or not you were over or under your target, but did you execute on the priorities you originally planned?  I would guess that most of us would say “things changed” during the year.  Our IT Department never even uses the term ‘budget’.  We call them ‘plans’, because we understand that business priorities change, technology evolves and people change their minds.  We are chartered to maintain financial governance but we are evaluated based on value, productivity and innovation.  A good plan beats a budget any day.

FINE-GRAINED TRANSPARENCY  The next thing to do is account for every penny that is allocated, and do it for every business-unit, corporate entity and customer you support.  It’s a lot of work but the Next-Normal requires that you provide services competitively.  Does this mean that a business group can bypass your services for outside services?  YES!  In the past, this was called ‘shadow-IT’ and it was a good excuse for corporate IT to command control. Command-and-Control is gone; the Next-Normal requires Communication-and-Collaboration.  Yes, it is a good idea to take advantage of centralized services where operational scale means better value, but internal IT must be cost-competitive and be able to prove it.  Fine-grained analysis provides the transparency needed when transforming IT to the Next-Normal.

ThumbsUpHIRE PROFICIENT, PROLIFIC PEOPLE   Finally, the most important part of the Next-Normal.  Being lean is about running your organization with less people, but higher talented (and pricier) staff.    I have experienced much greater success with a smaller group of highly-skilled technicians than a large group of ordinary technicians or a super-large outsourced group.  The ‘Next-Normal’ in IT requires you to have smaller teams of talented individuals who are smart, motivated, optimistic and goal-oriented.  This is where you demonstrate your value to an organization.  The ability to hire and retain such staff is a skill that you must have in the ‘Next-Normal’.  It’s the same skill that you must have with your customers to ‘communicate and collaborate’ with your staff so that they operate in the same ‘lean’ philosophy across your organization.  I find it very easy to justify more expensive, local talent that delivers results than a large organization with large project schedules.

START THE NEXT-NORMAL TODAY!  So, how does an IT Department make the transformation?  First, by NOT considering it a TRANSFORMATION.  The Next-Normal requires constant change, so transform yourself into an entrepreneur running a startup, embrace the startup relationship with your internal customers, and motivate staff to become startup employees. Learn more about the consumer driven IT strategy forcing all this transformation talk here.

Want to learn more about “lean”?  Go to


 About Paul Czarnik

Paul the former CTO of Compuware, a venture-technologist and programmer. His hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

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Core vs. Context – Analyzing Your Services


OK, let’s get this over with.  Like quickly pulling off a bandaid.

I do not like Core vs. Context Analysis!
Why?  Because it’s hard!
And every time I do it my chasm mentor finds a weakness.  Boo!


Let me explain. Geoffrey Moore, in his excellent book “Dealing with Darwin“, outlined a market framework that identified process which differentiate your offerings from your competition.  These differentiations set your strategy and focus on what’s important for your customers.


I’ve conveniently hijacked this concept for IT, because it applies.  If you break down every one of your offerings into ‘services’, you can now categorize them into Core, Context, Mission-Critical and Non-Mission-Critical services.


I always seem to make the mistake of putting too many services into the Mission-Critical / Core quadrant.  Networks?  Sure, can’t run the company without them.  E-mail? Ditto.  Applications?  All of them!  Too many CIO’s think that everything they do is MC-Core.


They may be mission-critical to the business.  You do need to produce product, invoice your customers, collect money, pay employees/vendors, etc., but these things are still contextual to you.  What that means is that though they are in your delivery charter, they are still services that you could outsource or offload to someone else.  The key word here is DIFFERENTIATION!  What do you do, as a service organization, that is different from what everyone else can do.  It may be dealing with trade-secrets, intellectual-property or data that is key to the value of the company.  These are areas in which you must invest IT assets for the benefit of your company.  Everything else must face scrutiny in how you prioritize your focus, effort and budget.   Once you have identified your services, you then must act on that analysis.  And that’s coming later.


This is an exercise where you really need to be BULLISH!!  If you get this right, then you are doing a valuable job for your company.  

If not, then you yourself have become NON-MISSION-CRITICAL and CONTEXTUAL.

And that’s not BULLISH!


Transmogrifying the World




OK, I’m supposed to be talking about ‘Core vs. Context’.  Mea Culpa.

Only I would dare to mix technology and religion!
Disclosure:  I worship and am a music-minister at a St. Patrick’s of White Lake.

So what does this have to do with IT?  A lot!  If you pay attention to what’s been happening, you probably have noticed that Pope Francis has publicly spoken about transforming the Catholic Church.  He wants a ‘poor church for the poor’.  While that has dramatic implications on the ‘way things are currently being done’, it should also remind you that transformation of anything, including something as big as the Catholic church, has commonalities to IT Transformation projects, such as:

  1. Change is necessary
  2. Change has to start ‘at the top’
  3. Technology is a key component to change

The last one excites me the most.  As I ponder changes in IT, technology is a major driver in transformation, after people.  There’s a lot to do and no time to waste.


So let’s think about the ‘church transformation’ and how technology plays an important role.  If the church becomes ‘poor’ by divesting it’s riches and investing in technology, it becomes much more influential and relevant by leveraging social-media, collaboration and logistics to meet it’s mission.  I don’t need to spell it out but, “imagine” no religion, but a community of ‘believers’ who spread their message, very economically, through current and future technologies, helping the needy through the technologies of logistical delivery.

That’s pretty powerful, practical and mission-fulfilling. This is what I believe as a technologist and a human.  (I won’t bore you with my personal philosophies).


OK, Back to BullishIT.  As leader of an IT organization, maybe we could take an early lesson from leaders such as Pope Francis:

  1. BE URGENT!  The world isn’t waiting and neither is technology
  2. BE HUMBLE!  The only thing that matters is getting it done
  3. BE POOR!  Stop complaining about your budget.  If you’re smart and creative you’ll figure out how to do amazing things cost-effectively.
  4. BE TRANSPARENT!  Well, this is very  important and we’ll see how this works out.
  5. BE COLLABORATIVE!  Reach out to other smart people who can help you.

Maybe I’m being a little bit naive and simplistic, but above all I have hope in technology people and faith in technology’s ability to do enormous good.  The lesson here is that we don’t have a lot of time, so get going!


Venturing Alone



What’s it like to start a business on your own?  I mean just you, no one else.  Is it possible?  When I started my company in 1985, I had a partner but I was the first to jump off the cliff into the venture.  It was scary and I was very busy.  My partner joined after a couple months, which made things easier.But, what if you’re doing it TOTALLY on your own, and although consulting gigs are still putting food on the table, I’d like to focus on software product startups.

I think that it’s fair to compare software startups similarly to writing a book, or creating a piece of art that you sell.  A lot of work being done by yourself that requires discipline, creativity, and alone-time to create a product that you are going to sell, support and market.


The nine-point checklist I’ve written about in the past also applies to one-person enterprises.  The good news is that you will own the checklist with no misunderstanding.  Also, you will have no one else to blame.  You own the business strategy and execution.

  • Target Customer – Remember, that this is ONLY you, so you need to be precise in who you’re selling to.
  • Compelling reason to buy – This also needs to be extremely clear and goes hand-in-hand with your target.
  • Whole product – This requires a LOT of work on your side, also a lot of diverse skills, which means you need to depend on…
  • Partners & Allies – You better find people, especially other entrepreneurs, that you can depend.
  • Distribution model – It better be SaaS or download.
  • Competition  – This is one area where you don’t want to worry too much.  Run fast and out-sell them all!
  • Positioning – Again, an area to be precise and focused.
  • Pricing – If you’re going it alone you should be able to have a decnt cost/value ratio, but don’t undersell yourself   I’ve seen this happen too many times and you end up working WAY TOO HARD.
  • Next Target – I wouldn’t worry about this right now.  Focus on succeeding with your current customer base.  Build loyalty and they’ll help you find your adjacency.


I have met a lot of folks who ‘go it alone’.  They all are wonderful, inspired people.  I don’t want to name names here because some folks don’t want the world to know that their app depends on them alone.I think one of the biggest challenges that lone-startups have is, basically, loneliness.  It’s tough when you’re not feeling well, or are a little down, or just want to have someone to share your daily successes and challenges.  My advice there is to network as much as possible with many people, even if it just means meeting for lunch or coffee.  Blog, post, stay on top of social-media, because relationships are still the most important component of any business and it is even more valuable when you’re building a business on your own.

So, go it alone?  Sure, just go with your eyes open.  Everything is on you so pick the right startup, work hard and have fun!



The IT ‘Empty Nest’ – Letting Go



IT Transmogrification continues…

Previously, I talked about some GUIDING PRINCIPLES in approaching IT Transformation.  The first is:

Define each IT service you provide along with costs

The reason you do this is so that you can have a BUSINESS CONVERSATION with your customer about the service you provide and how much you are charging for that service.  You need to do this for EVERY service you provide, defining the WHOLE SERVICE, too.  Headcount, contracts, SLA’s, hardware, software, anything that’s involved in providing the services must be detailed and costed.
How many times have you heard from your customer “Just give it to us, we could do it better and cheaper”.  Well, my response is “Be careful what you ask for”.


Here’s the trick.  You have to illustrate the service in a way to your customer ‘as if’ you are delegating the service to their authority and responsibility.  The reason you must go through this exercise is because your customer must be in a position to ‘opt out’ of that service.  In opting out, they must also define how they will fulfill that service in a cost-effective manner that meets their needs and also be accountable for that service. Most services, even if they are insourced or outsourced, must be governed by a corporate entity, and that oversite remains with IT.

This is a necessary discussion because it makes them understand the service better and it makes IT more competitive.  By looking at SaaS offerings, doing it themselves or, perhaps, realizing that they don’t need the service, we all become better corporate citizens and the relationship to your customer is now beyond service-provider.  These discussions allow you to become the ‘trusted adviser’ of IT services.

Our team went through this exercise and every conversation we had with our customers was very cooperative and productive.  They were appreciative of the transparency we provided and became constructive discussions on what they really needed and how much autonomy they wanted.


  “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free”

More times than not, you’ll find that your customer really doesn’t want to manage the service themselves.  They want a say in understanding the ROI on the service and you must treat them as a paying customer who can take their money somewhere else.   Authority and Responsibility begats Accountability and something-else-that-begins-with-the-letter-R. (I forget).

The lesson-learned here is complete transparency on the service you provide to your customer so that you will continue to provide that service.  On the other hand, if they take it and regret it, you could end up with ‘Boomerang IT’, and nobody wants that!

This is the NEW NORMAL.  This is BULLISH!

Next time I’ll talk a bit on “CORE VS. CONTEXT” analysis. BIG FUN!