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Content by Linda Zarate
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Reviews Written by
Linda Zarate "IT Ops Consultant" (Azusa, CA United States)

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Competing with Information: A Manager's Guide to Creating Business Value with Information Content
Competing with Information: A Manager's Guide to Creating Business Value with Information Content
by Donald A. Marchand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 76.99
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Wide look at IS/IT Management Issues, Sept. 22 2001
This book is a collection of essays that cover the full spectrum if IS/IT management challenges and practices. The essays are grouped into three Part and further subdivided into topic sections within their respective parts. Although the main audience is IS/IT management, this book should also be read by business process owners who are the consumers of IS/IT services.
Part I is brief and sets the context by discussing the larger issues of competing with information and how to use information to create business value. This is the foundation of the rest of the book and is aimed at IS/IT managers and [in my opinion] business process owners. Part II (Putting Information to Work) begins with Section A's four chapters that tie information as processed and provided to the business to business goals and objectives. The value of these chapters is they educate the IS/IT manager in the business value of the services and products that they are providing and showing them the bigger picture of their roles in supporting business objectives. Section B (Creating New Reality) consists of two chapters that touch upon knowledge management issues to a degree, and certainly illustrate how information can be leveraged into actionable knowledge. Section C's two chapters address cost reduction, while Section D devotes two chapters to risk management and control.

The most interesting portion of this book is Part III, which is focused on how to use information as a competitive advantage. The five chapters in this Part starts with the basics of competing with information, and ends with a look at building e-commerce capabilities.
Overall, this book will provide IS/IT managers with a good foundation in business uses of information, which promotes a better understanding of IS/IT's role as a service provider and information manager. This is important because, from what I've observed at many clients, IS/IT is focusing more and more on tools and technology, or infrastructure building. The direct result of this focus is a growing chasm between what's important to the business and what IS/IT perceives its role to be. The essays in this book will go a long way towards educating IS/IT management and refocusing them on what is really important.

Information Orientation: The Link to Business Performance
Information Orientation: The Link to Business Performance
by Donald A. Marchand
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 4.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Good guidelines for IT/Business Alignment, Sept. 22 2001
There is nothing especially profound in this book, which is a collection of nine essays more than a cohesive book with chapters that segue from one to the next. However, it does represent consistently good practices and valuable guidelines for every facet of IT-to-business alignment.
Among the strongest chapters, in my opinion, are: 3-How Senior Managers Assess IT Practices and Business Maturity, 6-Discovering the Link between the Information Orientation of Senior Managers and Business Performance, and 8: Information Orientation: A New Business Metric: Effective Information Use in Companies. These three chapters capture the essence of IT-to-business alignment and provide insights on challenges and barriers, and how to overcome them.
Each of the other chapters were well written and each contained additional insights. This book should be on the professional reading list of all IT managers, regardless of their technical domain. It is especially applicable to CIOs and director-level IT managers. The importance of this book to those audience is the fact that achieving alignment is something that is much talked about, but rarely accomplished. This book places the key issues in context and provides some sound advice.

101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques: The Handbook of New Ideas for Business
101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques: The Handbook of New Ideas for Business
by James M. Higgins
Edition: Paperback
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice collection of simple and effective tools, Sept. 21 2001
This book in my opinion will enhance your thinking process in terms of exercising your own creativity to solve business problems. The tools in this book can be used to bring out your own originality and expressiveness in seeking solutions.
I liked the way the author James M. Higgins, gave real life examples of Giant Corporations that have used one or more of these problem-solving techniques.
The 101 techniques described in this book are broken down to by problem solving stages: environmental analysis, recognizing and identifying problems, making assumptions, generating alternatives, making choices and implementing solutions. Each one of these processes is described in detail with graphics and, some chapters will have exercises that are deemed helpful in understanding the technique.
The techniques are presented in alphabetical order and are numbered twice, the first number denotes the techniques position from 1 to 101, and the second number is the techniques position within that section of the problem-solving model.
Chapter 4 which focused on individual techniques is the one that I personally found to be most helpful. In my line of work as an IT Consultant I have exercised a few of these techniques such as mind mapping, but I also found other techniques that I can't wait to start using my next project.
There are many techniques to try in this book, some of these techniques you may not like, others won't fit, but overall this is a handy book to use for your problem-solving efforts.

E-Business and IS Solutions: An Architectural Approach to Business Problems and Opportunities
E-Business and IS Solutions: An Architectural Approach to Business Problems and Opportunities
by William J. Buffam
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Principles & models cut through complexity, Sept. 19 2001
This book is a light, high-level view of architecture. It doesn't pretend to be a comprehensive "how-to" or highly technical tome. Instead, it breaks down the complexities of developing an architecture into a set of guiding principles and seven discrete steps. Products are not mentioned and technology is subordinated to broad discussions instead of specifics.
It starts with an extremely brief, but informational, description of the characteristics of e-business and some of the challenges and opportunities that set it apart from an architectural requirements standpoint. This is followed with an in-depth discussion of the "essence of architecture" that sets the tone and pace for the rest of the book. I like this because there is a vast difference between a definition, which can be succinctly described, and an essence, which is more a philosophy. The philosophy given by the author is sensible and lays the foundation for the principles and seven steps of defining the architecture that follow in later chapters. Especially valuable is way architecture is broken down into views: component, design, blueprint and framework. Also included in the essence section are two chapters, one addressing object-oriented methods and the other on project scope. Each contained a wealth of information and some sound points of view and advice. Regardless of your knowledge or experience I recommend reading through these two chapters because of the fresh ideas that pop up throughout them. It forced me to see things in ways that I do not normally observe.
The seven-step solution building process encompasses the eight chapters of Part II. The first chapter, introduction, gives guiding principles and these are worth printing on a large poster and memorizing. The process itself is (1) business modeling, (2) IS modeling, (3) Current IS analysis, (4) IS architectural planning, (5) implementation planning, (6) deployment and (7) review. In one respect there is nothing new or unique about this process, but the value in reading through each of the chapters is how clearly the approach is described and how the supporting information is developed. The writing here (and illustrations) exemplify clarity. I gained a lot, too, from the many lists and tables.
Part III is titled "Let's Get Practical" and is where the author ties together loose ends by addressing the use of consultants, methodologies (good and bad) and reuse. There is a lot of wisdom and advice here as in the rest of the book - much of it delivered with humor and always with good sense.
Overall, this is an excellent book. It's well written, filled with information and puts you in the right frame of mind to tackle architecture in a methodical manner. What it does not do is provide technical details or espouse any particular product or technology - there are other books for that.

Web Business Engineering: Using Offline Activities to Drive Internet Strategies
Web Business Engineering: Using Offline Activities to Drive Internet Strategies
by Nick V. Flor
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 2.33

5.0 out of 5 stars The way it should be done!, Sept. 16 2001
Until reading this book I thought I had a good understanding of what it took to design the underlying strategy and processes supporting commercial web sites. After reading this book I clearly saw how wrong I was.
The approach set forth in this incredible book is straightforward and focused solely on business imperatives. I suspect that the author and publisher realized that the title would attract IT professionals and consultants, which accounts for the inclusion of business 101. I almost skipped over this part and am glad I didn't. Even here what I thought I knew about business turned out to be superficial. The education you will receive in Business 101 goes well beyond the basics and I recommend that everyone read this regardless of whether you are an IT professional or have a business background. You might just discover that you've been misapplying common techniques such as NPV, IRR and ROI, or using the results in erroneous ways. In other words, the section titled "Business 101" is much, much more.
I loved the author's approach to value chain analysis, which is straightforward and based on a simple, but effective, notational language. Here, like in every other chapter, I learned techniques that will serve me well in general consulting assignments outside of web business engineering.
The web business engineering methodology itself is one of the leanest, most effective processes that I've ever encountered. I can only describe it as elegant. It's a blueprint for success when success is measured by how well a system is aligned to business strategy and goals. If you follow the method and resist the temptation to take shortcuts you will be rewarded with a system that meets all of your requirements and objectives whatever they may be - and you'll know exactly what the value of that system is to your organization.
A few observations about this book: (1) Give yourself plenty of time to read through this book and work through each example. It took me four times as long as it would for a book of approximate page count and topic complexity. If you're unwilling to make this commitment, perhaps you should pass this book up. (2) I fully agree with the author and a previous reviewer that web systems projects should be managed by business instead of IT. (3) If you're an IT professional get this book and read it from cover to cover - even if you never work on a web project you'll receive an incredible education in business factors and requirements analysis that will serve you well on *any* project. As a fellow IT professional I will assure you that this book will change your outlook.
This book is among the best I've read on any topic or subject and should be required reading for anyone who is assigned to a web project. It's also, in my opinion, one of the most important books published in the past few years.

Winning Score: How to Design and Implement Organizational Scorecards
Winning Score: How to Design and Implement Organizational Scorecards
by Mark Graham Brown
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 3.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for mature organizations, Sept. 16 2001
This book goes a long way towards helping organizations actually implement balanced scorecards instead of giving them lip service. It also shows what to measure and why, and gives a list of measurement mistakes that render many company's balanced scorecard efforts meaningless.
Unlike Kaplan's and Norton's seminal (and decade old) book, "The Balanced Scorecard", this book is short on theory and heavy on practical applications. This is not a criticism of "The Balanced Scorecard" - just recognition of the fact that in the ensuing decade since that book was first published there have been lesson's learned about what does and does not work. The author distills these lesson's learned into this slim, content-filled book.
What I like most is the author clearly links metrics to vision, mission and strategy. This is what a balanced scorecard is supposed to be about, but this is not always so in practice. He also sorts out the difference between basic business indicators and critical success factors, which is augmented by an outstanding discussion (throughout the book) on top measurement mistakes, and a liberal sprinkling of tips throughout the book.
Probably the most valuable parts of the book are Part 3, where step-by-step procedures are given to implement an *effective* scorecard, and the appendices which contain case studies drawn from real organizations and actual scorecards. The examples given are worth their weight in gold and elevate this book from the theoretical to realistic and practical. My highest recommendation and 5 solid stars.

Business Process Management: Profiting From Process
Business Process Management: Profiting From Process
by Roger Burlton
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 34.00
21 used & new from CDN$ 3.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Best in class book with a full view of the subject, Sept. 16 2001
Among the stack of business process and process design books I've read this one stands out as the best. The reason for this bold statement is this is the only one that carefully examines business processes from the four dimensions of (1)Business, (2) Process, (3) Knowledge and (4)Business Rules. Contrast the four-dimensional view this book provides with the two-dimensional view most business process books take (business and process), and you'll begin to see why I like it so much and how this book is a good fit for process analysts and engineers who are faced with aligning business processes to e-commerce initiatives, or aligning IT to business.
What I like most is the book is divided into a management guide and a practitioner's guide. This is a unique approach that has a significant benefit: it aligns the sponsors and business process owners (managers) and the design and implementation teams (practitioners) into a unified team by giving each group the necessary information for business process management in their own language and from their own points of view. Among the "necessary information" are" ten guiding principles, a common framework and project management essentials.
I also like the way knowledge management is included, the clear focus on end results and the fact that the processes are designed for contemporary business (e-commerce, supply chain management, etc.), and incorporation of business rules. Combined, these make this book stand out as the best on the topic (in my opinion).
This book blends the no-nonsense process approach of pure process books with the fresh views of the current flood of "e" books, and does so without hype or gushing promises. It's down-to-earth, copiously illustrated and methodical. I strongly recommend this as the primary book on business process management and give it 5 stars.

The Thinker's Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving
The Thinker's Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving
by Morgan D. Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.73
70 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most effective book an analyst can own, Sept. 16 2001
Regardless of whether you specialize in a particular business skill, work in IT, are a consultant, or someone who wants to make a critical personal decision, this book will give you the necessary tools for decision making.
It has three parts: (1) 50 pages on the basics of problem solving and decision making, (2) a collection of the fourteen tools that will make you an effective problem solver or decision maker, and (3) Next steps for refining your problem solving.
Part 1 prepares you by getting you to think about thinking and providing insights to problem solving - sort of like a warm up before you engage in strenuous exercise. This is appropriate because as you work through the exercises associated with each tool you will be getting a strenuous mental workout - the author makes you think hard throughout the book.
The tools given in this book are the foundation of any problem solving process. Although the author presents them in their most basic form, there are endless variations of them (and you will recognize many as you read through this book). Each tool is presented by giving some background, situations in which the particular tool is most effective, step-by-step procedures for using the tool and exercises. Answers to each exercise, including worked examples, are provided in the back of the book. The tools themselves are: (1) Problem restatement, (2) PROs-CONs-FIXes, (3) Divergent Thinking, (4) Sorting, Chronologies and Timelines, (5) Causal Flow Diagramming, (6) Matrices, (7) Decision/Event Trees, (8) Weighted Ranking, (9) Hypothesis Testing, (10) Devil's Advocacy, (11) Probability Tree, (12) Utility Tree, (13) Utility Matrix and (14) Advanced Utility Analysis.
I cannot point to any one thing I like more than another in this excellent book. I've used virtually every tool listed at one time or another before reading this book. However, after going through the [not-so-easy] exercises provided I can assure you that the next time I have occasion to use any of the 14 tools I will do so with a great deal more skill and efficiency. Since I'm an IT consultant who is constantly involved in analysis and problem solving I keep this book nearby as a ready reference. It has proven it's value time after time and earns it my highest recommendation.

Information Technology and Organizational Transformation: Innovation for the 21st Century Organization
Information Technology and Organizational Transformation: Innovation for the 21st Century Organization
by Robert D. Galliers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 135.95
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable resource for research & best practices, Sept. 14 2001
This collection of essays is devoted to all facets of aligning IT and business. While the central theme is integration of information technologies into the fabric of business processes as an enabler, the book touches on peripheral issues that cause you to think in much larger terms. If you take the holistic view that is presented in the book you will be armed with information, ideas and knowledge to accomplish an organizational transformation that meets your unique business needs.
Essays that I especially liked are:
Section 1 STARTING AFRESH: "Linking Strategy and IT-based Innovation", which gives an interesting perspective on marrying technological innovation to business strategy; and, "Computer Supported Collaborative Working". This essay will spark some ideas on how to integrate systems and business processes. Section 2 IT AND THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION in its entirety is short, but contains a wealth of information for knowledge engineers. In Section 3, INNOVATION, NETWORKS AND CORPORATE IDENTITY, the essay titled "Innovations as Precursors of Organizational Performance" is a fascinating study linking innovation to performance, with predictive indicators. This is probably my favorite essay. Section 4, IT AND ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE, is on the mark in all respects. Each essay contained information that was immediately useful to me for a project in which I was working.
Who this book is for: executive- and director-level management in both the business and IT domains will benefit most because of the strategic nature of the essays. This is not to say that this book does not also support tactical-level initiatives, because it does, and also provides a foundation of thought and practices for managers who occupy lower rungs on the organizational ladder. However, the most immediate value will be to the former group. Also, business and IT consultants will find this book to be thought-provoking and a source of viable ideas.

IS Management Handbook, Seventh Edition
IS Management Handbook, Seventh Edition
by Carol V. Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 208.64
16 used & new from CDN$ 28.63

5.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Reference for Consultants and IS/IT Ops, Sept. 14 2001
This is a collection of focused essays divided among five IS/IT management and operational domains:
SECTION 1 (Achieving Strategic IT Alignment), SECTION 2 (Designing and Operating an Enterprise Infrastructure), SECTION 3 (Providing Application Solutions), SECTION 4 (Exploiting Web Technologies)and SECTION 5 (Facilitating Knowledge Work).
Because this book covers such a wide landscape of management and operational issues it is impossible to let a potential reader know which are best since most readers are going to be interested in a particular domain or select topics in more than one of the five domains this book addresses. I'll cite the essays that I read out of personal interest or professional need, or that especially impressed me.
I read all of the essays in Section 1 because of research and professional interest. Each was well written and collectively they contained a wealth of valuable information on topics in that domain.
In Section 2 "Improving Data Center Productivity and Effectiveness", "Quality Assurance and Control" and Quality Information Services all contained invaluable information and reflected the authors' deep knowledge and insights into these topics. I skipped over the other essays in this section, but if the ones I read were any indication of the content and quality of the rest, then this section contains a wealth of information.
"Strategic Use of JAD" in Section 3 was insightful and gave me a lot of ideas on requirements elicitation and management using Joint Application Design workshops as effective approaches. I also liked "Project Success and Customer Needs", "Win-Win Projects" and "Managing the User/IS Relationship", each of which provided complementary approaches to user-center project management and how to assure that your project's final deliverables reflect true user requirements. This cluster of essays would make a small and valuable book in and of themselves.
I skipped over SECTION 4 (Exploiting Web Technologies) because I have other material on that domain; however, I did quickly glance through a few of the essays and thought they were accurate (from what little I read) and well written. Section 5, in its entirety, was filled with useful information. I carefully read through this section and found gems of information and insights in each of the essays, the most interesting of which is "Helping Users Help Themselves".
This book is suited for organizational use more than for individuals because of the range of topics covered. In my opinion the essays were on par with papers produced by the Meta Group, GartnerGroup and other consultative content providers, making this book a bargain and valuable resource.

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