The Times They Are A Changing

I am focusing on some new things here at Oracle.  I’ll be dedicating a lot more of my time looking into emerging technology trends and how we should be applying them to the enterprise ERP or financial management space.

So how does this effect this blog?

I’ve been blogging for many years on Intercompany, Financial Management and ERP, mixing in some general technology posts.  Now I plan to start writing about new technology trends a lot more.  I have always been interested in this, but now I have more time to get deeper into it and I find blogging about things helps me understand them better and get feedback and insight from others, so it is a win-win.  I have enjoyed all the comments on the blog and words of encouragement that people have given me in person, that has been a huge motivation to continue writing (even tho I have been posting as frequently as I would like the last few years) and respond to comments.  I hope that feedback will continue.

So now I have got this announcement out of the way, I can get started… watch this space.

5 things I don’t do to get more clicks

I was prompted to write the by this  very funny post on the excellent xkcd.com, which highlights what I think is a growing problem of attention grabbing headlines to try and drive traffic.  Everything has to be a ‘5 things…’ or ‘You won’t believe…’ type of headline and format of post, rather than a headline giving an idea what the post is about.

I do like to make snappy titles to my blog posts, but that is to make them more readable and memorable, if you were blogging about Enterprise Software and Accounting (possibly the two most boring subjects known to man) you would do the same.  I do the same with presentations, for example to make my point that mobile solutions need to think about rapidly changing platforms I brought in a host of mobile devices from the last 12 years, it is a trip down memory lane, a little bit of fun and it helps to emphasize my point.

What I don’t do is artificially squeeze a topic into the standard format that is said to generate more traffic to a blog.  I think this is selling your soul for clicks and if your writing has no soul then how can you expect to engage the readership you want to reach?  I personally tend to avoid clicking on headlines or links like “This video will blow your mind – MUST SEE”, the chances of my mind being blown are slim and I am fairly sure that if I don’t see it, then life will go on just fine.  I suspect most of my readers feel the same way about attention grabbing headlines, so probably nobody is reading this anyway.

Happy Fusion – Our Time is Now

robot clockWhilst I was visiting the Oracle offices in Hyderabad recently, the Fusion development team gave me the gift in this photo and that’s what prompted this post. Fusion has, and continues to be, an incredible journey. Building a full suite of enterprise applications from the ground up is certainly a challenge, but the learning from the continual customer interactions and the amazing people and products from the many companies that have joined Oracle during the acquisitions, has been an immensely rewarding and enjoyable and enriching experience. One thing that has been a little frustrating is that I was not able to blog in detail about Fusion while it was not released, but as it is now generally available, the time is now. The Oracle Applications Blog has relaunched recently and we’ll see a lot more content there, I saw a really nice paper by infosys on Fusion Financials and Joe (my former boss and now much respected colleague in the strategy team) has been active on the Fusion Financials strategy team blog and now I am ready to get my opinions and interpretation on things out there. This is a very exciting time for me, because I believe the team has done a phenomenal job of building Fusion Applications.

So over the next weeks and months I hope to bring you some interesting Fusion Applications posts and I will continue to mix in Ebusiness Suite and general tech topics as always. You will also see me getting a little more active on twitter again so please follow me there too and let me know what you think and what you would like to here more details about.

Some thoughts on global development teams

By David Haimes

I joined Oracle in 1997 working out of the UK, in a team split between Redwood Shores in California and the UK; my first project was working with people in The Netherlands and my boss was in Finland. So working globally is nothing new to me. At the moment my team are located in California, New York, U.K., Bangalore and Hyderabad. I have almost 15 years experience working in remote teams, to me it is the norm but some organizations are still getting used to it. So he are a few techniques I have found useful.

1) One team – Everyone is equal regardless of location

If you try to have one team your treat as an outsourcing team you will fail. You need to treat everyone as art of the same team and have everyone involved in design, code, test, etc. Having one location do a design and pas it to another team to code is not going to work. If you treat everyone as a single team you will be more productive, get the best out of all members of the team and have better motivated people who will stay in the team longer as they will get better opportunities to learn and grow. If you disagree with this, the rest of the post is not going to be relevant to you.

2) Get to Know Each Other

I did something called “Knowing Me, Knowing You” where each team member has to interview another and write up a little article about them. This should be trivial and light hearted and it’s essential that you decide who interviews who, to make sure everybody talks to somebody they don’t know well yet. After you have all written the articles, then post them in a central place and you can all read about each other.

3) Use Timezones to your advantage

You can get 24 hour coverage, so nobody should have to work through the night on critical issues – pass them around the globe. There are challenges here as you can lose efficiency with different people working an issue if it is not done right. I always recommend a warm handover – so you speak live to the person you’re passing the issue to and they get a chance to ask questions. Dropping them a mail and going to bed is not the right way!

4) Pick Up the Phone

It is very easy, particularly in a tech company to use electronic communication (IM, email, blogs, ec) all the time. These are great tools, but when you are remote you should use all the different communication tools available to you and sometimes you need t pick up the phone and talk.

5) Regular team meetings

This is something I have always struggled with, I don’t want to create a meeting that people don’t want to attend and get no benefit from, people’s time is valuable. However if I stop having regular meetings people feel they are out of touch, so I do my best to bring valuable content ie. not me droning on.

6) Have some fun together

Take a few minutes of team meetings or interactions for something light hearted. This checks everyone is awake and listening and lightens the mood, remember it will be early morning or late a night for some people. It is also good to share pictures of any team meals or events in each location with other locations. I was amazed when some team members in Hyderabad shared this Bollywood flash mob they were part of, great to see another side to them.

So these are 6 thoughts I had, but it is not the complete picture and I’d like to here your thoughts. The comments sections is below…

Still time to vote for blogging

If you read a lot of Oracle blogs you can’t have missed the news that you get to vote for some of the sessions at Oracle Open World this year on Oracle Mix. There’s a lot of great sessions suggested and although I’m about to plug my own I would encourage you to check out the other suggestions and vote often.

My suggestion is for a session inspired by the series I started on Why product development should blog, which only got as far as three part:

Why Product Development should Blog – How blogging will help your customers and YOU

A bold claim, but one I’m pretty confident I can back up. I’d also be interested in getting input form other bloggers within and without Oracle so I can share some of your wisdom in this session too. So add your comments and remember to go and vote.

Why Product Development Should Blog – Part 1

SaleI was talking with Jake about how my blog was going, I recounted some stories of great outcomes that had surprised me since I stepped into the blogosphere a few months ago. “Blog those” was his reply, he’s a very active blogger and has already blogged our conversation. This is part 1 in a series of I don’t know how many describing business value in my blogging.

A Troubled Customer

I got a comment from Manish, who before explaining the problem he was facing wrote:

We have taken the plunge with R12 Financials, GL in particular and your blog is like what the doctor ordered. This post is sort-of related to Intercompany but not quite so I apologize but I am really troubled.

A troubled customer who needs help, turns out they had logged a service request with support and had got an answer that was correct, but did not address the subtlety of their business problem. This is the sort of situation that could result in an implementation failing, Oracle losing revenue and getting a lot of bad PR. Continue reading