Monday, June 23, 2008

June 30, 2008


"Unless we learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it." This may be an old adage, but it is certainly true. Many organizations tend to regard project reviews as a waste of precious time and resources. Consequently, systems are installed without any type of follow-up. Because of this, many of the benefits were never realized. For example, clerical savings may have been part of the justification for a new system, but operating management did not reduce or reallocate the staff to realize the benefits. Without follow-up, "Parkinson's Law" may occur where "work expands to fill the time available."

As another example, a new operating management, created as a result of organizational changes, may not be utilizing the information provided by the system. They may be unaware of, or lack knowledge about the system. In order for management to have confidence in their systems organization and the systems installed, they should have tangible evidence that their significant investments are producing the promised results.

The systems organization can realize many benefits from a System Audit. It is not just a platitudinous statement to say that "we learn from our mistakes." It is a clear and established fact. A detailed audit provides Systems and Software personnel with an opportunity to review their estimating and design skills. This knowledge, along with historical data, can be gainfully applied to new systems and projects. As such, estimating guidelines can be updated.

A carefully executed audit can also add to the credibility of the systems organization by showing how well they performed and that they can account for their actions.

Finally, as a result of an audit, the systems organization may find that the new system is simply not functioning in spite of systems maintenance and revisions. In this event, the audit may indicate an entirely new approach should be taken as opposed to continually fighting the problem.


The System Audit should be scheduled for execution after the system has operated for an adequate period of time. Typically, this will be between thirty (30) and ninety (90) days after implementation. In some instances, it may be necessary to conduct more than one audit, depending on the timing of implementation and execution of the various sub-systems within the system. For example, users may want a detailed accounting of project costs immediately after startup. The actual system evaluation can follow thereafter.


Ideally, the audit should not be performed by the same individual(s) who developed the system. A neutral third party should be involved who can audit the system and project objectively.

The steps required to execute the System Audit are similar to:

  • "Current Systems Analysis" - the intent of this activity is to study the existing system, sample work, and evaluate strengths and weaknesses. This same type of work is performed in the System Audit. Here, the Systems Analyst uses the systems documentation to walk through the system.

  • "Prepare System Evaluation" - the intent of this activity is to estimate and schedule the remaining work effort, and perform a Cost/Benefit Analysis. During the System Audit, the Project Manager examines actual time reported, costs incurred and delivery dates. A final Cost/Benefit Analysis is calculated based on actual data (not estimated).


During the System Audit the Systems Analyst may identify errors, omissions and severe weaknesses in the new system. In this event, the analyst may initiate a Work Request to document the modification/improvement. This will then go through the normal process of evaluation and priority calculation.

A Project Management (PM) system can assemble all pertinent project data for analysis. This data can also be exported to other financial packages and spreadsheets for further analysis as required.


There are those who see System Audits as a waste of time and would rather scramble off to other assignments. As for me, I have always found the System Audit as an invaluable opportunity to fine tune the skills of our development staff and improve the standards and techniques used throughout the methodology. For example, after one System Audit we found it necessary to upgrade our programming standards to better promote consistency. We also found it necessary to obtain a prototyping tool to expedite the development of screens. This materially impacted subsequent projects which benefitted from the System Audit.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Keep the faith!

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is...

"Systems do not have a 'life cycle.' They may go on forever if kept viable with change. The only thing that has a 'life cycle' is a project which has a beginning for planning, a middle for execution, and an end for review."


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We have also produced a one-day training program of the same name. For more information on both the eBook and course, please visit our web site at:

While there, look for our MS PowerPoint presentation describing both the book and the training program.


I don't think there's too many of us who like to attend seemingly inconsequential meetings. It's hard to look attentive at those meetings where the boss is boring us to death about his recent fishing trip while we have a hot project waiting for us back at our desk. I am amazed by those people who seem to have no problem wasting your time.

There sure seems to be a lot of meetings that are poorly planned and run. Some managers just like to get together and "rap" about what's going on (and maybe sing a chorus of "Kumbaya" while they're at it). Michael Scott, the manager in NBC's sitcom "The Office" is perhaps the poster child for how to hold an ineffective meeting. I think the writers of the show have lampooned the subject from just about every possible angle.

I'm surprised how insensitive those running such meetings are to the people attending it. Understand this, unless someone is looking for an excuse to duck a work assignment, nobody wants to attend an inconsequential meeting.

Back when I first got involved with my homeowners association, the meetings lacked structure and would drown on literally for hours. When I finally became President I bought a gavel and printed up agendas for each meeting. What used to take hours to perform I got down to 55 minutes. In other words, it's certainly possible to put on a good meeting, you just need someone who knows what they are doing.

The other thing that bugs me about meetings is when people show up late thereby holding everybody up. Even worse, some people come totally unprepared. Only an a****** comes to a meeting without something to write with. Yet, we see this time and again, particularly by the newbies who simply don't know better.

I don't mind a good meeting that is constructive, timely, and well run. But please don't expect me to sit still anymore where we are going to do nothing more than talk about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.

Also, if you happen to be in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, be sure to stop by and check out our new Palm Harbor Business OASIS, a new business venue offering local business people a place to meet, work, network, and relax. Why pay a lot for leasing office space when you can become a member of the OASIS for as little as $100/month? For more information, visit our web site at:


I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "The Price of Gas":

An S.G. in Mt. Vernon, Illinois wrote...

"I remember wondering why we were negotiating with OPEC instead of developing our own resources. But I was young and got distracted with having children and caring for them. Oil was plentiful again. People became complacent. Maybe we will get it this time. After all, practice makes perfect."

An S.S. in Turkey wrote...

"I blame it all on PlaySkool which I used to watch when I was a child. They always sang a song that goes "Lets go driving in my car, car" :) No wonder I like to drive everywhere. I have been brainwashed as a toddler. Maybe they should change it to "Lets go riding on the bus, bus". Hmmm?"

I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Super Bowl Ads":

An O.O. in Bathurst, Australia wrote...

"The Apple ad would now cost $6 million, it runs for 60 seconds so it would be two slots, if NBC allowed Apple to do that. $3 million on a 10% margin, if you are lucky today, means $30 million in sales to pay for the ad!"

Again, thanks for your comments. For these and other comments, please visit my "Bryce is Right!" web site.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567.

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This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."




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