by , Agile, No Comments

Jan 5

New Metrics for Managing Turbulent Times

by Chad, Agile, Comments Off on New Metrics for Managing Turbulent Times

Jan 5

January 5, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

I’m pleased to kick off an editorial New Year at Cutter Consortium as guest editor for the March 2009 issue of the Cutter IT Journal. I’m posting the call for papers here in case any of you sports fans would like to make a submission for consideration. Let me know by emailing me 🙂
Cutter IT Journal
Guest Editor: Michael Mah
Abstract Submission Date: 13 January 2009 Articles Due: 6 February 2009

New Metrics for Managing Turbulent Times

The current economic downturn has cut a deep gash in the economies of virtually every country and industry, affecting the lives of perhaps every living person in many ways not seen in over 50 years. It seems as though the fall of communism was, in hindsight, a prelude to an even larger shockwave that would come and strike the heart of capitalism, completing a shakeup to economies of nearly every nation across the globe.

In a previous issue of CITJ, Guest Editor Bob Charette talked about fingers pointing at risk (mis)management as a major cause of the current economic crisis, with quantitative models and processes used by banks, mortgage companies, and financial institutions as being a source of failure in judgment and poor decision making. He says that investor Warren Buffet summed up the skepticism about quantitative models this way: “All I can say is, beware of geeks … bearing formulas.”

There is no doubt that there is plenty of blame to go around. To point the finger solely at financial metrics as being the root cause of the current crisis may be unfair. In fact, we also know that companies also had access to reliable and accurate information, but in many cases senior executives ignored warnings in an effort to generate even higher profits. In short, we might say that the one rather powerful human emotion that trumped the information at hand – both good and bad – was simple greed. In the movie “Wall Street,” the character of Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, said “Greed is good.” Well, is it?

So now that we’re suffering the consequences of poor macro-economic decision making, where do we go from here? How will IT managers make tough decisions in the face of the economic environments of the companies that they serve? There is no doubt that we are now firmly on the scarcity side of the abundance/scarcity continuum. For many (but not all), cost cutting is now the order of the day. Others may see opportunity. In the last economic downturn, a few companies like Intel and IBM famously invested in R&D as their competitors slashed investments, generating record profits in technologies like Wi-Fi, once the economy recovered. Who decides and how?

As to metrics, what information will companies rely upon to navigate through these times? What decisions might they make in the face of the scarcity/abundance dilemma? If organizations are driven by fear, will they make bad decisions or good ones while in that highly emotional state, regardless of whatever information is at hand? Will CFO’s rule the day and attempt to slash labor costs and mandate more use of offshore resources? Or will this strategy result in a divesting of valuable in-house knowledge and potentially cripple a company’s future as it undergoes an engineering lobotomy, leaving it unable to later recover? Will there be a return of more Death March projects as organizations are subjected to even more deadline pressure while simultaneously being hit with budget cuts and staffing limitations?

The March 2009 Cutter IT Journal invites useful debate and analyses on the new metrics being used by organizations to make critical decisions regarding their future in a time of enormous economic turbulence.

TOPICS OF INTEREST MAY INCLUDE (but are certainly not limited to) the following:

* What measures should organizations use if faced with a mandate to simply cut costs? Should these cuts be across the board and made with a hatchet, or will there be more deliberate, surgical cuts?

* How can IT managers make the opposite case if desired, to invest through the downturn? Are new ROI measures needed to argue the case for delivering value and business benefit rather than cutting expenditures?

* How should IT organizations measure themselves if cost cutting were to include offshoring? How should they measure vendors?

* Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, said in a Meet the Press interview that America has the brain power and talent to “innovate itself out of this recession.” How might one measure innovation and the resultant business benefit?

* How will organizations balance the reduction of costs with the need to still meet ever-important schedules while not sacrificing quality? What measures will they rely upon to achieve this balance?

* Forward looking firms will see this economic climate as an opportunity to enter markets vacated by weakened competitors. What indicators will companies use to identify when and how to move into these markets?

* Are Agile processes a no-brainer? When you consider that Agile espouses both incremental and earlier delivery of business value (instead of waiting until the end of a longer waterfall process/project), should organizations be looking at a different ROI model for Agile?

Please respond to Michael Mah at michael[dot]mah[at]qsma[dot]com with a copy to itjournal[at]cutter[dot]com, no later than 6 January and include an extended abstract and a short article outline showing major discussion points.

Articles are due on 6 February 2009.

Most Cutter IT Journal articles are approximately 2,500-3,500 words long, plus whatever graphics are appropriate. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact CITJ’s Group Publisher, Christine Generali at cgenerali[at]cutter[dot]com or the Guest Editor, Michael Mah at michael[dot]mah[at]qsma[dot]com. Editorial guidelines are available at

Typical readers of Cutter IT Journal range from CIOs and vice presidents of software organizations to IT managers, directors, project leaders, and very senior technical staff. Most work in fairly large organizations: Fortune 500 IT shops, large computer vendors (IBM, HP, etc.), and government agencies. 48% of our readership is outside of the US (15% from Canada, 14% Europe, 5% Australia/NZ, 14% elsewhere). Please avoid introductory-level, tutorial coverage of a topic. Assume you’re writing for someone who has been in the industry for 10 to 20 years, is very busy, and very impatient. Assume he or she will be asking, “What’s the point? What do I do with this information?” Apply the “So what?” test to everything you write.

We are pleased to offer Journal authors a year’s complimentary subscription and 10 copies of the issue in which they are published. In addition, we occasionally pull excerpts, along with the author’s bio, to include in our weekly Cutter Edge e-mail bulletin, which reaches another 8,000 readers. We’d also be pleased to quote you, or passages from your article, in Cutter press releases. If you plan to be speaking at industry conferences, we can arrange to make copies of your article or the entire issue available for attendees of those speaking engagements — furthering your own promotional efforts.

No other journal brings together so many cutting-edge thinkers, and lets them speak so bluntly and frankly. We strive to maintain the Journal’s reputation as the “Harvard Business Review of IT.” Our goal is to present well-grounded opinion (based on real, accountable experiences), research, and animated debate about each topic the Journal explores.


    Comments are closed.