Book Review: The Right Way to Select Technology


The book, "The Right Way to Select Technology"This review is a long time in coming. I finished this book a while back but every time I would sit down to write the review a new crisis would emerge. I feel bad because Tony Byrne and Jarrod Gingras are two industry friends that I’ve known since my earliest days of writing the Word of Pie.

The Right Way To Select Technology describes a comprehensive approach to choosing technology products. It is in-depth and will do one of several things for you:

  • Make you realize how little you know about selecting technology
  • Convince you that you probably should hire help in running the selection process
  • Show you how you can make wiser technology decisions

I fell into the final group. I’ve been doing this for years across a range of products and additional skill development is always welcome. While no process will give you a 100% success rate, the components described by Tony and Jarrod will get you a lot closer to that magic number.

Before I go into detail, here’s the nitty-gritty takeaway: If you advise clients on technology selections, read this book. If you are running a technology selection for your company, get this book. If it is your first selection process, read it, hire help, and make sure the people you hire have read the book.

Detail and Brevity

This book is unique in being very detailed and brief all at the same time. The steps delineated are numerous but not unnecessarily so. Each step has its place in the process. The authors let you know when a step may not be necessary.

Throughout the book, there are stories and facts from the authors’ decades of experience of helping people select technology. They illustrate why some steps are important and when other steps may not make sense. Many stories will make those with deep experience in the technology wince in sympathy.

The book is brief in that the read is quick. While it ticks in at 161 pages, there is a lot of useful illustrations and checklists which are quickly consumed during a standard read. They help you learn what needs to be done and what questions to ask during the process. More importantly, they will serve as a useful reference when you go through the process.

The authors strike the right balance and the book quite useful. I learned several things and that is always a good barometer.

Logically Organized

Things are laid out in chronological order and divided in clear, logical, sections. That facilitates using the book as a reference. If you can readily make a strong business case but need help learning how to work with suppliers, it is easy to dive in and expand your knowledge in any given area.

This is important because most of us don’t live in the world of tech selection. We typically only do this once every few years. Unfortunately, too many of us will be brought in to do part of the selection, usually including a dissection of what is wrong with the current process. The handy checklists at the end of each chapter should work well for insuring nothing is missed.

An Important Tool

While many books I read simply educate, or entertain, me, there are only a few that I foresee being a ready reference for my future efforts. This book is definitely one of those.

When embarking on my next technology selection project, I’ll review this book, make sure my team members have read it, and give a copy to my client. If I am bidding on a project that includes a technology review, I may send them a copy so they understand the effort needed to make an informed decision.

If you’ve read this far, you obviously do this for a living or are about to select some new technology. Get the book and read it. You don’t have to do everything but the parts you do incorporate should lead you to a more successful outcome.

Disclaimer

I was sent a copy by Tony after he asked if I would like a copy. The usual author requests were made of me; if I like it, please write a review.

Information Governance Can Limit Data Breaches But That Isn’t The Answer


 

Spocks Brain is Gone, the ultimate in data theftYou may have noticed that there has been a large amount of data and information leaking out into the universe lately. Between people not protecting information, breaking rules around information, or your classic data breach, our personal information is out there, without us, more than ever.

The one thing I hear after every breach is the call for better Information Governance or Records Management. As Don Lueders, whom I respect, put it,

So called ‘data breaches’ are thefts of information and, as such, they are first and foremost a traditional records management problem.  Until organizations understand this and include records management as a critical component of their long term cybersecurity strategy, data breaches – and the disastrous consequences they bring – will continue unabated.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, this is a false sense of security. Disposing of records will not keep you out of the headlines. It will only give you a false sense of security.

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Book Review: Designing Connected Content


Designing Connected ContentTwo book reviews in a row? Yep. As I said in my last review, I’m reading non-fiction a lot more now and I have a backlog of industry books to read. One of the authors of this book, Carrie Hane, is a good friend. I watched her work on Designing Connect Content for pretty much all of 2017. I was very excited to finally get my copy.

For years, Carrie and her co-author, Mike Atherton, have been talking about Designing Future Friendly Content. In the web world this means using a structured content model so that the management of the content is not tightly coupled with the presentation layer. As design trends change, your content and underlying website structure doesn’t have to. Taken to its ultimate conclusion, you are looking at a headless Content Management System (CMS) supporting one or more presentation layers (web, mobile, Alexa…).

They finally took the time to write a book on the topic. It was time well spent.

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Book Review: Web Content Management


Web Content Management by Deane BarkerA long time ago, Deane Barker swung through DC on business and I was lucky enough to have breakfast with him. Even luckier, he gave me a copy of the book he had recently published through O’Reilly, Web Content Management. After nearly two years, during which I read very few non-fiction books, I picked it up and gave it a read.

I’m glad that I did.

I am not going to profess having learned a ton about Web Content Management (WCM) from reading Deane’s book. After all, I have been doing this whole content management thing for a while. However, it was great to read a collection of wisdom from Deane’s decades of experience focused in this domain. Deane is an excellent write and his practical (and witty) use of footnotes really conveys what is involved when you tackle a WCM project.

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InfoGovCon 2017 Continues to Set the Bar High


Governor Raimondo speaks at InfoGov17This post has been a long time in coming because I’ve been trying to process everything that happened this year. Once again, InfoGovCon was a great event and the Information Coalition should be proud at the quality of speakers that they assembled. After all, how many conferences score a governor and get them to talk about something relevant?

Conferences like InfoGovCon are critical for the industry. We are still building a template for consistent success. As Shannon Harmon, whom I had the pleasure to meet this year, put it,

The best practices are still being developed. The body of knowledge is under construction.  This makes information governance an exciting space within which to work.  It can also be immensely frustrating for those who want a well-defined structure in place.  Working in this space requires a certain comfort level with the unknown.

After decades of working in this space, I agree that there are still some unknowns. We have learned a lot about what NOT to do. It is the way we can get things done consistently that we are still putting together.

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An All New Monktoberfest, Putting Society First


Trips to Portland are never complete w/o some Speckled Ax coffee to jumpstart the day & the brainIf you’ve spent any time around me in the fall, you know that my favorite conference, by far, is the annual Monktoberfest. Hosted by Redmonk every year in Portland, Maine (aka Real Portland), Monktoberfest operates at the intersection of technology and social. I like to think of it as taking craft technology, craft beer, and mixing it together to find ways to make the world a better place.

This year Stephen O’Grady took it up a notch. The 12 months since the previous Monktoberfest have been, at best, tumultuous. This is not a phenomenon of any single industry or country. It feels like the coming to head of various forces in society that is making people of all walks of life realize that they have had enough.

Seeing, and feeling, this unfold made Stephen create the most important non-technical, tech conference you need to attend.

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Focusing on the Local by Joining the NCC-AIIM Executive Committee


Hanging out at AIIM Nats night w/ (left to right) Mark Mandel, AIIM Vice-Chair Mark Patrick, and dedicated AIIM staffer Theresa ResekI’ve talked a little bit here about the need to improve the local communities for information management. It is an area that ARMA does better than other groups in the industry but their focus and members can be intimidating for those who aren’t records managers. AIIM chapters are a decent alternative but there are a lot of challenges.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been chatting offline with some chapter leaders from both associations, brainstorming ideas, and trying to think of ways to improve the local community. Some of these discussions became more focused when Kevin Parker became the president of the local AIIM chapter, NCC-AIIM. During one of these discussions I agreed to join the chapter’s executive committee.

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