TUG Buzz! for November 3, 2014


  1. November MoM - Jon Paris and Susan Gantner
  2. Project Risk article by Debbie Gallagher
  3. TEC2015 "This is my i"
  4. Email Consent
  5. iDev Cloud

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Meeting of Members

Admission: Free to all TUG members ($40 non-members)

Register for the next TUG MoM at: www.tug.ca/reg_meet_form.php


Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Schedule: 5:00 pm - Susan Gantner
6:00 pm - Social & buffet dinner
7:00 pm - Jon Paris
Meeting location: Living Arts Centre Mississauga

5:00 Speaker: Susan Gantner (Partner400)

Susan's career has spanned over 24 years in the field of application development. She began as a programmer developing applications for corporations in Atlanta, Georgia, working with a variety of hardware and software platforms. She joined IBM in 1985 and quickly developed a close association with the Rochester laboratory during the development of the AS/400 system.

Susan worked in Rochester, Minnesota for 5 years in the AS/400 Technical Support Center. She later moved to the IBM Toronto Software Laboratory to provide technical support for programming languages and AD tools on the AS/400.

Susan left IBM in 1999 to devote more time to teaching and consulting.Her primary emphasis is on enabling customers to take advantage of the latest programming and database technologies on OS/400. Susan is a regular speaker at COMMON conferences and other technical conferences around the world and holds a number of Speaker Excellence medals from COMMON.

Topic: More Favourite Things about RSE (aka RDi)

Perhaps you have seen Susan's "My Favourite Things about RSE" session at a past TUG TEC or another conference. This time she'll be focusing on a few of the lesser-known features .....

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7:00 Speaker: Jon Paris (Partner400)

Jon's IBM midrange career started when he fell in love with the System/38 while working as a consultant. This love affair ultimately led him to joining IBM. In 1987, Jon was hired by the IBM Toronto Laboratory to work on the S/36 and S/38 COBOL compilers. Subsequently Jon became involved with the AS/400 and in particular COBOL/400.>

In early 1989 Jon was transferred to the Languages Architecture and Planning Group, with particular responsibility for the COBOL and RPG languages. There he played a major role in the definition of the new RPG IV language and in promoting its use with IBM Business Partners and Users. He was also heavily involved in producing educational and other support materials and services related to other AS/400 programming languages and development tools, such as CODE/400 and VisualAge for RPG.

Jon left IBM in 1998 to focus on developing and delivering education focused on enhancing AS/400 and iSeries application development skills. Jon is a frequent speaker at User Groups meetings and conferences around the world, and holds a number of speaker excellence awards from COMMON.

Topic: Generating XML with RPG

More and more RPG shops are finding that XML is playing an increasing role in their data interchange operations. In this session we will introduce you to the basics of XML syntax......

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Identify project risks by listening every day

By Debbie Gallagher

There are plenty of resources available on project risk management. It’s an important topic. After all, if you mismanage risks, your project could run late, go over budget, fail to deliver its benefits, or fail to be completed at all.

The topic of project risk management is often treated academically. Try reading most books, articles, or blogs on the subject and you are quickly submerged in frameworks, assessments, protocols, Black Swan theory, and Monte Carlo simulation.

There is also some practical advice about holding an initial risk assessment meeting at the outset and again during the project, so risks can be logged and monitored. 

Unfortunately, there are also things that happen that team members don’t really recognize as project risks, as they are situations that happen all the time and assumed to be ‘just the way it is’.

Identify risks by listening
Often, additional risks can be identified outside of formal risk meetings. Once identified, risks can be managed, so identification is critical. Project managers need to practice their listening skills throughout the project to identify additional risks.

In any kind of project meeting or casual discussion, risks can be identified. Here are several examples I’ve heard at different times, and how I heard about them:

  • When we change the active directory security groups we need to make sure it isn’t month-end because there are always so many errors that users can’t work for a while. (In a meeting on scheduling)
  • At go-live, it’s always crazy trying to get the inventory to reconcile, the accountants end up doing lots of ‘plugs’ and estimates, then they figure it out correctly and fix it the next month. (In a status meeting, when the discussion got side-tracked to an unrelated topic)
  • When we launch new forms, the end users make a mess of them because they can’t figure out how to fill them in. Then we have to re-work the form and launch the revision. (At a kickoff meeting for a project to design and implement a new form)
  • We hope that Jenny never catches the flu, as no one else knows how to do that critical step we need at go-live. (At a status meeting, while explaining that a component is late due to Jenny’s lack of availability)
  • It seems like there’s an awful lot of work to be done on the go-live weekend, I wonder if it’s too tight. (In the kitchen, when the project manager was getting coffee)
  • We have a new vendor working on an internal web site for our HR department. (In a discussion about roles and responsibilities)
  • The vendor’s project manager is a sub-contractor; do you think she will keep the vendor’s senior management informed and engaged? (Informal chat, after the vendor’s project manager had been introduced)

The risks noted above did not come up in official risk identification meetings, but instead came up in other unrelated discussions.

Managing the risks
Because these came up outside of the formal risk meeting, and many were assumed as ‘just the way it is’, there was sometimes resistance when the question was asked ‘what can we do to manage this?’ However, when pressed further, it was frequently possible to identify steps that could be taken to manage the risk.

Let’s look at risk mitigation ideas for the first few risk examples:

  • If changes to AD security groups usually have a lot of errors, can they be subject to a rigorous review step before implementation, or can the testing approach be examined to see if there are gaps, or can part/all of the process be automated?
  • If it’s crazy trying to get the inventory to reconcile, how about a rehearsal, or customized reconciliation reports, or review the approach with the accounting department to see what additional controls are warranted?
  • If new forms are not well received, can they be vetted and changed as part of the project instead of after launch? Is it possible to create a user advisory panel, or run a pilot with a subset of users?

As you can see, once the risk is identified, it’s possible to come up with ideas on how to mitigate that risk.

Although the risk identification meetings can generate some ideas about risk, more risks can be identified if the project manager is listening for them.

Ask yourself every day: Did I hear something today that might suggest there’s a risk we aren’t managing?

Debbie Gallagher is a project manager and business analyst.
Debbie has also worked as a systems implementation consultant, and as an IT project auditor. She can be reached by email at debbie@gallaghers.ca

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TEC 2015 - "This is my i"

Mark your calendar: May 6-7, 2015
Seneca@York Campus, Toronto

Note: We have just started work on the registration site for TEC 2015, but in the meantime TUG members can register for the "double-earlybird" discount price of $495 per attendee (from now until January 31st, 2015) by sending an email to admin@tug.ca. This is a $200 saving, so be sure take advantage of it!

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