Agile Project Planning: How to Budget When Using Agile

The holidays are approaching. For many kids, this means writing long, wish-filled letters to Santa in hopes of snagging enough toys and games to keep themselves satisfied throughout the new year. While this strategy frequently works for children with indulgent parents, it’s a poor model for devising agile project planning budgets for IT.

Yet agile project budgeting is remarkably similar to kids at Christmas for many project managers. They’re asked to deliver a wish list of projects and price tags in December to serve as the foundation for the next year’s budgets. Project managers are reduced to guessing at (and hoping for!) what they think seems like reasonable projections and budget requests. This involves trying to define most of an agile project plan’s requirements in advance, or what IT business consultant and writer, Scott Ambler, calls “the classic Big Requirements Up Front (BRUF) tactic.” He correctly notes that BRUF is rarely accurate.

Read the full post on the Intertech blog.

How Smart Strategy Can Move your Business Ahead (Part 2)

The-100-Title-OnlyThe second in a series of two posts

Last time I shared how values are a key part of any company’s competitive strategy. This series of posts is inspired by my new book, “The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership.” Today I’ll delve deeper into the role of values as a strategic tool for building a strong team and giving your company a competitive advantage in the process.

After your company has clearly identified the values that set it apart from competitors, you should begin articulating your values internally on a regular basis. Don’t be like Ole in the old Ole and Lena joke:

Lena: “Why don’t you ever tell me that you love me Ole?”

Ole: “I told you I love you the day we got married. If it changes I’ll let you know.”

To be authentic, people and companies need to articulate what they care about early and often. At Intertech, we have devised the following value statements, which are posted on signs and regularly included in our employee newsletter:

Attitude: Each day we choose our attitude. Attitude is contagious. For others to be positive, excited and inspired we must be so.

Commitment: As a team, we deliver. We demand more of ourselves than others could ask.

Excellence: We’re committed to providing a world-class customer experience that results in world-class customer satisfaction.

Words are important. Words in action are powerful. So find ways to make the words describing your values mean something tangible, then sit back and be amazed. That’s what happened at Intertech when we created the ACE program. ACE is an acronym for our values and it’s how we make our values comes alive every day. The program encourages team members to nominate fellow team members who are “caught” living one of our core values.

ACE nominations are included in our weekly newsletter. Four times a year, we host company-wide meetings in which employees who either nominated someone or were nominated themselves, have the chance to win gift cards through drawings.

Once a year we host the ACE awards (sort of like the Academy Awards but without the tuxedos, champagne or George Clooney!). ACE award categories include: Top ACE, top ACE nominator, and top Rookie ACE (the newest employee who received the most ACE nominations).

It might sound silly to outsiders, but being called an “ACE” at Intertech means a lot to our people. The results: increased camaraderie, satisfied customers, revenues that consistently exceed expectations and very low employee turnover.

There are countless ways to recognize and reward employees who embody your company values. Doing this, with the full support of senior management, will communicate volumes to employees about the importance of company values while helping keep them alive as a powerful force within your organization.

Next time: Strategy and Goals: You can’t have one with the other!

The 100 Update & Announcing My New Business Journal Column

businessjournalsAutumn is here, which for many of us, still evokes back-to-school memories and excitement about learning. What better time to brush up on workplace fundamentals, from building a winning business to advancing as a star performer? If you haven’t had a chance to read my latest book, The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership, I urge you to do so now.

Intertech has received more than 50 awards for growth, innovation and being a great place to work. The 100 details all the strategies that made it happen. I’ve been honored to receive dozens of positive reviews, including this comment from AbeTech Bar Code & RFID Solutions President Steve Schmidt:

“The 100 artfully captures Salonek’s decades of leadership achievements and details repeatable steps that we all can take to improve our business results. Read the book, learn the secrets and enjoy the fruits of winning in the marketplace.”

If you’re interested but super busy, you’ll be happy to know that The 100 probably is the most concise, easy-to-read business book you’ll ever encounter. Bring it on your next flight and arrive at your destination with dozens of new ideas and practical strategies to make your work life (and the rest of your life!) more productive and successful.

What else is new?

  • The Business Journal has asked me to contribute regular “how to” articles, beginning next month, based on topics in The 100. My column will appear bi-weekly on the Business Journal’s online edition. Please check out my columns and leave your comments in the feedback section.
  • Speaking of comments, I would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on The 100. Reviews on Amazon always are welcome, of course, or you can contact me directly at
  • My blog, is another place to tell me what you’re thinking, access the book’s downloads, or watch me delivering talks or being interviewed.

Lastly, please accept my personal thanks if you joined us in August for Intertech’s 25th anniversary celebration. Without all of you, Intertech still would be just a dream for a guy sitting in a cubicle thinking “There’s gotta be a better way!”

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!