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December 04
Technical website wins Plain English Award
Brendon Livingstone with Paul Ramsay with Award for WriteMark Plain English Website - private sectorEquinox IT’s decision to use plain English instead of technical jargon in its website was recognised at the Writemark Plain English Awards last night.

The Wellington and Auckland based information technology consultancy won the Best Plain English Website, in the private sector category.

Equinox IT’s Brendon Livingstone says when the firm launched their new website earlier in the year, they deliberately avoided over-used technology phrases and clichés.

“We wanted business decision-makers to find the information they needed without knowing the technical language or the solution required,” he says.

“At the same time, we knew IT professionals would want to go directly to the details they needed. This dual focus was an important consideration in the way we structured and wrote the content for the website.”

The Writemark Plain English judges noted that the Equinox IT website was an excellent example of ‘plain English in action’, which was an achievement given the complex and technical nature of the company’s work.

Image: Brendon Livingstone and Paul Ramsay of Equinox IT after accepting award.
November 18
Connect. Create. Transform. Visual Studio 2013 Launch Events

Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Launch, ALM Gold Partner

Next week Microsoft will hold two full day Visual Studio 2013 launch events, in Wellington and Auckland. As the New Zealand Microsoft Gold Partner for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), Equinox IT is playing an active role, participating and presenting at both events.

With a theme of modern application development, there will be presentations on agile planning, agile testing and quality enablement, enterprise dev/ops, and developing modern applications for Windows, the web and the cloud.

The events are spilt into morning and afternoon sessions, with the morning presentations suitable to decision makers and the afternoon to technical, project or testing members.

Check out the programme for the day, register and head along. We’d love to see you there.

September 17
Equinox IT first IT consulting company signatory to CloudCode™

Equinox IT is the first independent IT consulting company to sign as a signatory to the New Zealand Cloud Computing Code of Practice.

Launched in July 2013, CloudCode™ Version 2.0 is a voluntary, disclosure-based, Code of Practice that has been developed to improve the standard of services being provided by cloud service providers. The CloudCode was developed by the New Zealand cloud computing industry, facilitated by the Institute of IT Professionals New Zealand (IITP).

Cloud providers working through the process of becoming signatories include accounting software company Xero, IaaS provider Revera, and secure file host Mega Ltd.

The Code was developed with input from over 250 New Zealand cloud providers, users and other stakeholders over a two-year period and was funded by industry with major contributions from Equinox IT, Gen-I, NZCS, OneNet, Webdrive and Xero with Salesforce.com, Google, EOSS Online Ltd, InternetNZ, NZRise and Systems Advisory Services also contributing.

Equinox IT was been a major contributor to the Code since the first version was launched in early 2011. Dean Sloane, Equinox IT’s Chief Technology Officer has been an active advocate for the adoption of the Code and instrumental in developing the CloudCode disclosures.

“As the cloud continues to transform New Zealand business, it is important that there is an independent Code of Practice – a benchmark – that organisations can have confidence in. Equinox IT is proud to have been a major contributor to the development of the code and to be one of its first signatories.  The Institute of IT Professionals is to be congratulated on its leadership of this initiative,” says Equinox IT Director, Paul Ramsay.

“The CloudCode reflects a collective commitment to improve the standard of services provided by cloud service providers, and is already attracting international interest.  Why?  Because it provides certainty and builds trust.”

Equinox IT CloudCode Signatory 

Independent cloud computing advice
As a CloudCode signatory and an independent consultancy, Equinox IT provides consulting and advisory services in accordance with the Code of Practice. These services include architecture, technology options analysis, risk assessments, IT governance, performance management and independent quality assurance to help ensure that clients deploying cloud solutions are fully informed and choose the right solution for their needs.

Download the CloudCode.

September 04
The options for Next Generation Enterprise

Dr. Peter Weill, addressing Equinox IT consultants in August, talked about his research into Options for Next Generation Enterprise.

Dr. Weill is Chairman and Senior Research Scientist for the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (CISR). He was in Wellington as a guest of Equinox IT and spoke with government, Wellington City Council, and business leaders about CISR's research into why enterprises will need to be either drivers or participants in several digital ecosystems, and a driver in at least one to survive.

He discussed CISR’s research methodologies and said creating the framework for researching Options for the Next Generation Enterprise had been extremely difficult.

“We do a lot of interviews and research to come up with the dimensions we think will be important in predicting the future of business. The dimension that took us by surprise (and in hindsight shouldn’t have) was the value in knowing your end consumer. More specifically, we believe knowing your customer’s goals makes a key difference,” said Dr. Weill.

 

© 2013 MIT Sloan CISR-Weill, Woerner

He said the Options framework was based upon two axes: Business Design—the value chain ecosystem; and Knowledge of Your End Customer. CISR research in turn generated the four quadrants: Omnichannel Business (e.g. USAA, Woolworths Australia, Coles Australia); Open Ecosystem Driver e.g. (Amazon); Great Modular Product/ Service Producer (e.g. PayPal); and Supplier (e.g. purchasing insurance via an agent).

“CISR’s research indicated that when margins are low, organisations become under pressure and seek to move out of their quadrant.

“Most companies who are multi-channel are trying (and this is a big, difficult change) to become omnichannel businesses offering a multi-product client experience.

“Our research shows organisations in the Supplier quadrant wanting to move up, and businesses currently in the Omnichannel Business quadrant seeking to move right towards an Open Ecosystem Driver. Huge investments are now being made to move within these axes.

“The exception is an organisation such as PayPal which has determined to be the best in the world at one thing, and plug-and-play in anyone else’s’ ecosystem,” said Dr. Weill.

Assessing the options
One way you can measure your options is to bring the Voice of the Customer inside your company said Dr Weill.

He referenced the USA Net Promoter Score (NPS) 2013 benchmarking survey which noted the average Financial Services industry ranking for banks was 29%. In other words 29% of customers would net promote their bank to their friends. The United States Automobile Association (USAA) ranked first in this category with 78% in the 2013 survey. Significantly USAA also led the Select Insurance sector with an 80% approval ranking for their home content insurance.

Amazon was by far the highest-ranking organisation in the Online Services sector with a NPS ranking of 69% outstripped bricks and mortar retailers.

Dr. Weill, looking at USAA’s NPS performances and paraphrasing Bill Gates’ famous quote, said “We all need banking. I’m just not convinced we need banks.”

USAA’s results also supported, he said, CISR’s July 2013 Research Briefing that companies with better digital business models have higher financial performance. CISR found that enterprises with above-average digital business effectiveness had revenue growth eleven percentage points higher than their industry average.

An Australasian context
Dr. Weill said that Coles, the supermarket chain, is now one of the larger insurance players in Australia.

“They’ve added insurance to their customer experience and the relationship they already have with you.”

As well as owning Coles, parent company Wesfarmers also owns Bunnings, Target, Kmart and Officeworks, together with substantial coal, chemicals and insurance operations.

"Wesfarmers is now a diversified mining, energy, retail, insurance and agricultural corporation that has successfully expanded its insurance business through the relationships customers have with Coles," said Dr. Weill.

More
Read Tom Pullar-Strecker’s September Dominion Post story about USAA’s car purchase digital ecosystem.

Measuring the impact of digitisation on your organisation
Complete the following six-question poll based on MIT CISR's own research polls. It will help you to assess the future impact of digitisation on your organisation. 

The poll takes just a couple of minutes and is anonymous. Summary results will be presented in a future blog post.

Complete the digital ecosystem poll

August 30
MIT's Dr Weill Presents on Creating a Vibrant Digital Ecosystem

MIT CISR Dr Peter Weill Digital Ecosystems PresentationOne of Equinox IT's core values is 'knowledge exists to be shared'. So last week when we had Dr Peter Weill, Chair of the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) in Wellington, we got him to share his research findings on digital ecosystems at a free event hosted by Equinox IT together with the Wellington City Council.

The intent of the event was to provide valuable insight to IT professionals, business people and council members to help us all work towards making Wellington, along with the organisations that operate within our city, a digital success story.

Dr Weill is ranked in the top 25 most influential people in IT. The MIT CISR conducts field-based research on issues related to the management and use of information technology in complex organisations, and much of their recent research has focused on the digitisation of organisations and digital ecosystems. Find out what we mean by digital ecosystems in our blog post What is a digital ecosystem?

Creating a Vibrant Digital Ecosystem Presentation
Dr Weill's presentation on digital ecosystems was thought-provoking and challenged existing thinking. The content was not speculation, but rather evidence from CISR research findings and real-world case studies. Some of the highlights included:

  • Insight into the how digitisation is creating the next generation organisation
  • The different business models to consider including suppliers, omnichannel businesses (e.g. Countdown), modular product / service producers (e.g. PayPal), and open ecosystem driver (e.g. Amazon)
  • Given the Wellington city focus Dr Weill presented a case study of New York city and how through activities relating to access to the internet, encouraging digital engagement, open government data, innovative education models, and supporting digital organisations the city was moving from a 'supplier' model to an 'open ecosystem driver' model.
  • Dr Weill also presented examples of how organisations in traditional verticals are using digitisation to experiment, allowing them to compete and change the landscape in different verticals. For example, Coles supermarket has become one of the largest retailers of insurance in Australia. France Telecom is offering mobile telephone enabled banking services in Africa with Orange Money. USAA has become a retailer of new cars by packaging a new car together with auto financing and insurance policies, all purchased online.
  • Dr Weill concluded by showing how organisations will move from supply chain models to ecosystem models, how governments will need to play a role in driving ecosystems and that organisations need to start experimenting and generating 'breakthrough initiatives' for the future.

Equinox IT is the only New Zealand-owned IT consulting company to sponsor the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR). We were excited to bring Dr Weill to New Zealand to inject thinking and to share knowledge on digital ecosystems.

What is the impact of digitisation on your organisation?
Complete the following 6 question poll. This is based on MIT CISR's own polls and will help you to assess the impact of digitisation on your organisation. It will take just a couple of minutes and is anonymous. Summary results will be presented in a future blog post.

Complete the digital ecosystem poll

September 04
New additions to the Equinox IT family

We are pleased to welcome new additions to the Equinox IT family.

Greg Hunt
Senior Consultant, Architecture Practice
With over 12-years proven experience in infrastructure, application and security solutions, Greg aligns business objectives with technology solutions and outcomes ownership from architecture through to delivery. He holds a Diploma in Business Computing and is a Microsoft Certified Professional (2000), VMWare Certified Professional, IBM Certified Systems Administrator (WebSphere Application Server, Network Deployment v6.0) Sun Certified Engineer (Sun ONE Directory Server 5.x) Sun Certified Systems Administrator (Solaris 8) Sophos PureMessage for Unix, and Sophos Anti-Virus for Windows Certified Engineer.


Hamish Macdonald
Client Consultant
Hamish joined Equinox IT in July 2013. He’s a business development professional who has advised clients in both the public and private sector. He has excellent relationships with ICT and business networks, and extensive experience consulting with multiple stakeholders and subject matter experts. Hamish holds a Bachelor of Arts, Geography & American Studies from the University of Canterbury.

James Wu
NET Development Specialist, Software Development
James is a passionate .NET developer with more than five years’ public and private sector experience developing web solutions using Microsoft frameworks and technologies. James holds a BSC majoring in Computer Science, and a Graduate Diploma in Information Science from Massey University.

Nigel Heeney
Consultant
Nigel joined Equinox IT in July as a Consultant in our Business Change practice. He has more than 15 years proven business analyst experience in New Zealand and Asia, and a proven ability to align ICT and business as part of multi-disciplinary teams on ICT, procurement, process improvement, and management systems projects. Nigel is a certified PRINCE2 practitioner, an IIBA member and is currently working towards CBAP certification.

August 09
Equinox IT is Proud to Host MIT's Dr Peter Weill to Present on Digital Ecosystems
Dr Peter Weill, Chairman of MIT Center for Information Systems ResearchAt Equinox IT we like to inject fresh thinking. So we are proud to welcome back Dr Peter Weill, Chairman and Senior Research Scientist for the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (CISR), to share the MIT’s latest research findings on digital ecosystems. In 2008 Ziff Davis recognised Dr Weill as #24 of The Top 100 Most Influential People in IT, the highest-ranked academic. The visit will take place 22 and 23 August in Wellington and Dr Weill will be accompanied by Dr Peter Reynolds, Research Scientist for the MIT CISR.

'Creating a Vibrant Digital Ecosystem' Event
On 23 August Dr Weill will present ‘Creating a Vibrant Digital Ecosystem’ in an event hosted by Equinox IT together with the Wellington City Council. The presentation is targeted at business and IT professionals and will be based on MIT CISR digital ecosystems research with reference to Wellington's digital ecosystem context.

Find out more about the 'Creating a Vibrant Digital Ecosystem' event

Dr Weill and Dr Reynolds will also work with Equinox IT and our clients during the visit on digital ecosystems and other recent information technology and digitisation research findings from the MIT CISR.

Equinox IT is the only New Zealand IT consultancy to sponsor the MIT Sloan CISR, which provides us with access to the CISR’s latest research findings, resources and case studies, and we use this information to better advise our clients. Dr Weill and Dr Reynolds' visit follows a trip by Equinox IT Senior Consultant Peter Ng, to participate in the MIT CISR Summer Session 2013, held in Boston in June.

About MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR)
As part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) conducts field-based research on issues relating to the management and use of information technology in complex organisations. Their mission is to develop concepts and frameworks to help executives address the IT-related challenges of leading increasing dynamic, global, and information-intensive organisations. Find out more about the MIT CISR.

About Equinox IT
Equinox IT is New Zealand’s leading independent IT consultancy, delivering software development, consulting and training services. Established in 1995, we inject fresh thinking to solve tough business problems. Equinox IT has over 60 staff based in Wellington and Auckland.
August 12
New additions to the Equinox IT Family

We are pleased to welcome new additions to the Equinox IT family.

Erin Higgins Development Specialist Equinox ITErin Higgins
Development Specialist
Erin holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science, and a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Auckland. She has four years research experience building complex mathematical models of physiological systems, and several years’ experience in software development using Micrsoft and web-based technologies.


Ian Barrs, Sales Director, Equinox ITIan Barrs

Sales Director
Ian has more than 15 years’ business development and senior sales leadership experience in both New Zealand and the UK. He has a proven track record in the ICT, internet marketing and media industries and joins Equinox IT from a senior business development role at Vodafone where he was responsible for Government ICT. Ian first came to New Zealand from the UK during nine years with Dell Computer Corporation successfully growing their corporate business in both the UK and New Zealand markets.


Veronica Taylor, Consultant Business Change Practice, Equinox ITVeronica Taylor

Consultant, Business Change Practice
Veronica joined our Business Change Practice in June. She brings to Equinox IT extensive experience gained providing business and technology consultancy, business architecture, change management, and continuous improvement services in the Justice and public sector. Veronica holds a Master of Science - Psychology and a Bachelor of Science from Otago University.

August 08
Fresh perspectives on BA skills

I was recently privileged to be invited to chair the inaugural Business Analysis Skills Development Forum held in Auckland over 23 & 24 July 2013. This forum was created with the intention of introducing and exploring some of the foundation skills required of today's Business Analyst. These skills included process mapping, requirements analysis, stakeholder analysis, project initiation & scoping, and the BA's role in user acceptance testing. This last topic was presented by Peter Smeaton, a Senior Consultant with Equinox IT.

There were over 30 attendees from a diverse range of backgrounds. Most had less than one year's experience as a Business Analyst and were hungry for a deeper understanding of what this role means.

The speakers were all highly proficient in their areas of expertise and all provided a good introduction to the skills, capabilities and attributes Business Analysts need to succeed.

Though the speakers all had very different topics, three themes seemed to recur and the delegates were keen to explore these.

Communication
Whatever type of BA you are, the fundamental function required of you is to facilitate effective communication. This is within the project team and with the whole range of stakeholders. The way that we communicate (formal requirements documentation, contextual or scoping models, process maps and visual images) must be tailored to the audience and to the outcomes we expect. This isn't always easy - we each have our preferred styles and methods, but an effective BA must be able to stretch beyond such constraints and develop the skills and approaches to meet the stakeholder and project needs. We must also be able to adapt our communication style to the personality types we'll encounter. This takes more than a small degree of self-awareness. And of course, and often not done very well, we need to identify, analyse and manage our stakeholder community. If we don't know who we're talking to, about what or when, how successful can we possibly be?

Scoping
One of the key functions of a BA is to be able to define and manage scope, be it a full project or a smaller piece of work. This ties in closely with effective planning and all that entails. Techniques such as Contextual Scoping and Scope Modelling are two approaches speakers discussed, each with clear benefits. Failing to make sure everything’s in scope that should be (and no more) can have a fundamental impact on a project delivering the expected business benefits. Which brings me on to...

Benefits
So often project benefits are defined (to some degree) at the start of a project but are simply never measured after a project has completed. How do we know it was worth making the investment? One speaker discussed the Business Analyst as a 'Value Manager' - responsible for driving the maximum benefit out of any project. Is it going too far to consider this an accountability? Another speaker reflected how his organisation managed a project's benefits through a formal table of benefits that was monitored throughout the project and measured after the project had completed.

It was intriguing to see how these themes kept coming up and how the delegates were quick to discuss all the different challenges and opportunities each theme presented. I found it interesting to reflect on my own approach to these things and to have some fresh perspectives introduced by the challenging and enquiring minds of less experienced BAs.
 
I hope this forum continues as I think the value of challenging the status quo is immensely valuable.  After all, it’s what BAs are supposed to do!

About Stephen Soanes
Steve is a Consultant with Equinox IT's Business Change Practice and is based in Auckland. He has over 20 years of experience in providing business analysis, business process design and organisational change management consulting services. His experience is across a range of industries including banking, finance, insurance, transport, logistics, telecommunications, utilities, local government and IT services.

July 18
Delivering Digital Development in the Capital

Delivering Digital Development WorkshopIn my capacity as co-chair of NZRise and Director of independent New Zealand IT consulting company Equinox IT, I was pleased to participate in the NZRise 'Delivering Digital Development' workshop held in the Capital in late May.

Sponsored by the Wellington City Council and with the support of the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP), the workshop focused on the Council’s 'Wellington Digital Strategy'.

The strategy’s aim is to set the direction for Wellington to achieve global recognition as a creative digital city.

The workshop included illustrative case studies and group discussions to explore three key areas of the strategy:

  1. How can we encourage innovation both within our own organisations and within the region?
  2. What do we need to do to facilitate the growth and development of the digital technology sector within the region?
  3. What trends and issues do we need to consider in the future?

Many participants felt that the Wellington region has carved out a unique position with many interactions and inter-relationships between organisations being facilitated by digital platforms.

What I personally found stimulating was the wide range of organisations that work together to develop creative digital products such as web design, gaming, applications, film, music, digital art and web tools.

I believe that by continuing to leverage these capabilities we can continue to add value and grow our region’s economic base.

As an analogy, I’m excited by the outstanding work of Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor (and many others) to build innovative, collaborative enterprises in the Wellington region based on shared digital platforms – in essence an interconnected ecosystem of both creative and economic potential.

I see small to medium-sized specialist organisations emerging to work alongside the likes of Wingnut Films, Weta Digital, Weta Workshop and Park Road Production (the contractors producing the chain mail costumes and Performing Legs for example) and the emergence of associated services and facilities (such as the Embassy and Roxy) to create an end-to-end ecosystem that has added immense economic value not only to the region but to the country as a whole. We’re not lying down and dying!

Creating a digital ecosystem
Digital technologies now permeate a much broader range of industries that what we might previously have simply equated with ICT alone. If organisations look at the nature of their business today, they will see that digital technologies are playing a much greater part in their operations than they ever have before. I believe we’re at the beginning of a new era where we’ll see organisations leveraging their investment in digital technologies to deliver enhanced products and services to their customers.

Rather than working as individual entities (as has often been the case in the past), I think the conclusion we can draw is that the sum of the whole is certainly going to be greater than the parts. Leveraging digitisation and participating collaboratively in a digital ecosystem will enable us to achieve a greater level of growth than if we all went ahead and did things individually.

I think we’ll see the likes of Trade Me and Xero becoming digital ecosystems in their own right as other organisations deliver add-ons and extensions.

Summary
Key to this change is moving away from an individual mind-set - no organisation exists for and by itself - and looking beyond to greater opportunities in a given sector, region and nationally. It’s about the creation of additional value and using technologies in a smart way to achieve that. By collaborating digitally, we’ll be growing the overall opportunity for products and services in a given area.

The region’s health and education sectors, for example, represent two major opportunities for the creation of a digital ecosystem that would add value to both the organisations involved and the region as a whole.

Download the Wellington Digital Strategy

Wellington Creative Digital Capital

About Paul Ramsay
Paul has 30 years’ experience in the information technology (IT) industry, and is a Director of Equinox IT where he works as a Principal Consultant. He is actively involved in the broader IT community, and is currently the co-chair of NZRise and was Founding President of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) New Zealand Chapter. Paul is also a regular trainer, facilitator and presenter.

August 14
Thriving in an increasingly digital economy

Many of you will be aware of Equinox IT’s sponsorship of the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR), based in Boston, Massachusetts. CISR conducts field-based research on issues related to the management and use of information technology in complex organisations.

When preparing notes for the NZRise ‘Delivering Digital Development’ workshop in May, I referenced CISR’s International Executive Workshop presentation The Next Generation Enterprise: Thriving in an Increasingly Digital Economy presented by Dr Peter Weill and Dr Stephanie L. Woerner in Sydney in December 2012.

In looking at Next Generation Enterprises, Dr Weill and Dr Woerner said:

  • The world is rapidly digitising and connecting—individuals, enterprises, devices, governments, transactions, collaborations, socially
  • Digitisation is gradually changing the ‘essence’ of enterprises—e.g. less clear boundaries.

IT-driven transformation
The report identified four key types of IT-driven transformation:

  • Businesses will move from supply chains to ecosystems with increasing power to customers (with customer experience and ecosystem resilience dominating performance measures) 
  • Ecosystems will become more open
  • Intermediary B2B business will steadily disappear (e.g., agents, brokers, retailors, industrial suppliers) and be replaced by ecosystems
  • Enterprises will be either drivers or participants in several ecosystems and need to be a driver in at least one to survive.

Dr Peter Weill in Wellington during August 2013
I’m pleased to confirm that Equinox IT will host Dr Peter Weill in Wellington on 22 and 23 August 2013 as part of our ongoing commitment to the ICT sector. Dr Weill is a Senior Research Scientist and Chair of the MIT CISR. In 2008, Ziff Davis recognized Weill as #24 of The Top 100 Most Influential People in IT, the highest-ranked academic. Dr Weill will be accompanied on the visit by Dr Peter Reynolds, Research Scientist for the MIT CISR.

During his visit Dr Weill will present 'Creating a Vibrant Digital Ecosystem' in an event hosted by Equinox IT together with the Wellington City Council. The presentation is targeted at business and IT professionals and will be based on MIT CISR digital ecosystems research with reference to Wellington's digital ecosystem context.

Find out more about the 'Creating a Vibrant Digital Ecosystem' event

Dr Weill and Dr Reynolds will also work with Equinox IT and our clients during the visit on digital ecosysems and other recent information technology and digitisation research findings from the MIT CISR.

About the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR)
As part of the Massachusetts Institute of technology Sloan School of Management, the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) conducts field-based research on issues relating to the management and use of information technology in complex organisations. Their mission is to develop concepts and frameworks to help executives address the IT-related challenges of leading increasingly dynamic, global, and information-intensive organisations. Find out more about the MIT CISR.

July 18
New Zealand Experience Report presented at Workshop on Performance and Reliability
The 20th Workshop on Performance and Reliability, New York, May 2013

Richard Leeke Presenting at WOPR Workshop on Performance and ReliabilityIn mid-May 2013 I joined colleague Richard Leeke for the 20th Workshop on Performance and Reliability (WOPR) in the Garment District of the Big Apple.

Richard is Principal Consultant, Performance Engineering Practice at Equinox IT. He’s a world recognised expert in performance testing, and previously served as a WOPR Content Owner. His experiential paper, Pushing the Limits of Testing Tools, was accepted into the WOPR20 programme.

About WOPR
WOPR is a series of peer workshops for performance engineers & testers, operations planners, development managers, and related professionals. In the workshops, subject matter experts and practitioners share experiences which are then used to inform group discussions about systems performance, reliability, scalability and recoverability.

The workshops emphasise mutual learning, sharing experiences and discussing problems and solutions.

With a 30-participant limit, each speaker at these twice-yearly WOPR events presents a project experience. A facilitated discussion follows to distil the experience and the issues that it raises. These discussions sometimes continue for several hours.

At WOPR20, participants from Belgium, the Netherlands and New Zealand joined attendees from North America. Ross Collard, Content Owner for WOPR20, selected the theme, The Leading Edge of Performance and Reliability.

Highlights of WOPR20
Presentations at WOPR20 included discussions about modelling performance at extremely large scales, testing in the Cloud, big data platforms, mobile analytics, and a report on the on-going development of a new tooling approach. Distilling those experiences led to conversations about tooling and instrumentation methodology, modelling reliability in software systems, and the role and nature of testing in a continuous-release world.

Papers I particularly liked included Facebook’s Capacity Planning Engineer, Goranka Bjedov, talking about how Facebook Heat Maps Pinpoint Network's Trouble Spots when for example Hurricane Sandy hit, and Julian Harty’s paper on using Mobile Analytics Results for Quality Improvement and the issues of privacy around data acquisition from apps.

Goranka kindly complemented Richard on his work, “… the problems Richard solves makes my job look easy!”, and she told us “New Zealand is a frequent test bed for new Facebook features.”

Richard Leeke - Pushing the Limits of Testing Tools
Richard’s experiential paper told the story of grafting performance testing onto a government website.

Equinox IT evaluated eight test tools on paper before doing a proof of concept that eventually resolved the desired direction.

Richard’s team within Equinox IT then built a framework to enhance the capability of Microsoft Visual Studio Load Testing in order to support the application being tested. An experienced performance tester could use this framework to design and develop test scripts.

The outcome was that the process reduced the time to create a test suite from 600 hours to 150, while the time to re-record for a new build dropped down to 15 hours or so. This means a test run can happen in days, not weeks and resulted in significant savings and improved performance.

Summary
WOPR is an intense, professionally satisfying, inspiring workshop with an open format and the stimulating company of peers. For those of us working as trusted advisers diagnosing performance problems and advising clients about risk mitigation, stability, capability and capacity, WOPR20 delivered highly-respected insights from expert practitioners.
May 15
Colin Pope joins the Equinox IT team
Colin Pope, Consultant, Equinox ITColin Pope
Welcome to Colin Pope who joined our Wellington office in April as a consultant within our Architecture Practice. Colin brings together a range of skills in architecture, consulting and business.
April 12
Lean Experts to Visit New Zealand with Equinox IT
In June Equinox IT will welcome back Mary and Tom Poppendieck, international thought-leaders and authors on the topics of lean software development and lean leadership. Mary and Tom will visit Auckland and Wellington for one week with Equinox IT and deliver training and management briefings to grow awareness of and improve results through the application of lean principles and approaches.

Husband and wife, Tom and Mary are highly sought after pioneers and authors on the topic of applying lean manufacturing principles to software development and business. They last visited New Zealand with Equinox IT in December 2011, where they educated IT managers and professionals on Lean leadership.

Mary and Tom Poppendieck Lean Mindset WorkshopThe upcoming visit comes ahead of the launch on the Poppendieck’s new book ‘The Lean Mindset’, which will be available in September 2013. During their visit the Poppendiecks will deliver a public course in Wellington on 27-28 June, on this same topic Lean Mindset Workshop.

“There is strong evidence from around the world that the use of Lean principles and practices delivers better business and IT results” says Deane Sloan, Equinox IT Software Development Director. “We are committed to helping New Zealand organisations improve, and we are excited to have Mary and Tom Poppendieck return to New Zealand to work with Equinox IT and our clients”.

Equinox IT in February had Al Shalloway, another well-known international authority on Lean software development, in New Zealand training and presenting on the Lean approach Kanban. The Poppendieck visit provides another opportunity for organisations and professionals to raise their performance by understanding and using Lean approaches in their work.

Mary and Tom’s visit with Equinox will be one part of a larger 7 week trip for the Poppendiecks through Germany, Australia, and China, where they will be presenting and training on Lean topics.
April 15
Equinox IT Launches New Kanban Course with Net Objectives
Equinox IT has launched a new Kanban course targeted at software development and IT professionals and anyone else who wants to better manage the workflow of their work. The new course entitled Kanban for Workflow Improvement – a Simulation places emphasis on the hands-on application of the Kanban approach through a simulation, providing just enough theory for attendees to complete the next section of the simulation.

The new course is based on the Net Objectives ‘Kanban / Lean-Scrum One Day Simulation’ training course, modified by Equinox IT for New Zealand conditions. Equinox IT has formed a training partnership with Net Objectives following Al Shalloway’s visit to New Zealand in February to work with us. As the founder and CEO of Net Objectives Al Shalloway is also recognised internationally as a thought-leader and expert on Lean, Kanban and Scrum approaches, and worked with Equinox IT in February to build the capability of both the Equinox team and the broader New Zealand IT community.

Kanban is an approach for visualising and managing workflow by not allowing work to exceed certain capacity levels, and has become a popular approach used on Lean and Agile software development projects as well as many other business and IT initiatives. Based on Lean principles relating to eliminating waste and using pull-based systems, Kanban can help raise productivity and quality and reduce delays and costs in team-based work environments.

Equinox IT has scheduled a number of Kanban for Workflow Improvement – a Simulation courses in Wellington and Auckland starting in May.
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Tel: 09 307 9450

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