There are only twelve notes in Western music. Just twelve. And in any Western scale, there are even fewer – just seven notes.

It is surprising how many of us in tech have music alter-egos. I’m guessing it has something to do with how both areas of study result in a challenging combination of art and science. There are rules, there are guidelines, and there is structure – but within those rules, guidelines, and structure, we find creativity, imagination, and inspiration. We strive for elegance amidst the chaos, and many times we find the most interesting things when we examine the 3rd note and the 7th note of a scale.

Just like how 3rds and 7ths in music can add interest to a solo, certain aspects of data can add interest and depth to an analysis. Here are some examples:

Outliers: Outliers are data points that are significantly different from the majority of the data. They can provide valuable insights into the data and can be used to identify trends and patterns that may not be apparent in the main data set. Why does it cost so much money to run that one facility?

Trends: Trends refer to patterns or movements in data over time. They can help identify changes or shifts in behavior and can be used to predict future trends. Trends highlight drift, and drift over time highlight things that might not be readily visible from day to day, week to week, or month to month observation. Why did my no-show rate go from 3% to 5% over the past 6 months?

Relationships: Relationships between variables can reveal correlations and associations that may not be immediately apparent. For example, there may be a relationship between income and education levels or between age and voting behavior. This is where AI shines – finding how non-intuitive variables trend together.

Anomalies: Anomalies refer to unexpected or unusual patterns in the data. They can provide insights into potential issues or problems and can be used to identify areas that may require further investigation. Anomalies are similar to outliers, but the difference is important. Outliers are single data points. In my example above, the outlier is a single department. Expanding on that example, an anomaly would be that one facility was so much more expensive than others because it was in the center of a pandemic hotspot.

By focusing on these aspects of data, just like how musicians focus on 3rds and 7ths to add interest to a solo, you can find the most interesting and valuable insights in your analysis.

Is Your Project Failing?

My name is Patrick and I’ve had a failed project. It’s a tough thing to admit, but we’ve all been there. It’s one thing to be part of a failed effort, it’s another thing to take a critical look at yourself, your team, your process, and your company and figure out how to recognize the warning signs for next time. Don’t let failure define you, let it inform you.

Here are some warning signs you need to course correct:

Missed Deadlines: If your team is missing deadlines, it is a clear sign that something is not going as planned. Look at your milestones and make sure they are realistic. The reality is a year after the project is launched, very few people will remember you had to re-baseline your project. However, shaking a reputation of consistently late deliverables is difficult.

Budget Overruns: If you find yourself consistently exceeding your project budget, it is an indication that you may be facing issues with cost control, project scope management, or faulty forecasting. Take stock and re-examine your expenses.

Poor Quality: Everyone wants to work to the top of their degree. Project deliverables that do not meet expected quality standards often indicate issues with the project team or, more likely, a lack of resources. This vicious cycle leads to frustration, and turnover, and can lead to a death spiral if not managed correctly.

Scope Creep: Projects that are floundering tend to get redefined over time. There’s nothing wrong with this as business changes and a well-managed project accounts for shifting business needs. However, when projects are consistently managed by exception rather than definition, it often leads to delays and additional expenses. It’s a hard conversation to have, but you have to be open to the idea that the initial project has evolved to such a state that it needs to be abandoned and a new project launched.

Lack of Communication: It’s human nature to disengage from efforts we feel are not fruitful. If there is a lack of communication among project stakeholders or team members, this is often an early sign of frustration and can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and mistakes.

Stakeholder Dissatisfaction: If the stakeholders are not satisfied with the project outcomes or feel that their expectations are not being met, it indicates that the project is not going well. While this seems to be obvious, it is how you respond to this that can make or break your project. Be cognizant of early indicators of dissatisfaction and be careful to avoid a defensive posture. Instead, approach stakeholders with a learner mindset and find ways to connect them to the process.

If you notice one or more of these signs, it is essential to take immediate action to address the issues and get the project back on track. You may need to revise your project plan, reallocate resources, or seek external help to fix the problems. The strategy of hoping things will get better rarely works and, by the time you find that out, your project may well be beyond saving.

Internal Security Assessments and Your Vendors

An internal security assessment (ISA) from your vendors can help you understand the security risks associated with working with those vendors and can help you identify any potential vulnerabilities or weaknesses in their security measures. Here are some reasons why you should require your vendors to complete an ISA:

  • Protecting sensitive data: If you're sharing sensitive data with your vendors, it's important to ensure that they have appropriate security measures in place to protect that data. An ISA can help you verify that your vendors have adequate security controls in place to protect your data.

  • Compliance requirements: Depending on your industry, you may be required to conduct security assessments of your vendors to comply with GDPR, HIPAA, HITECH, PCI-DSS, or other state and federal regulations. Failing to comply with these regulations can result in fines, legal action, or damage to your company's reputation.

  • Third-party risk management: Working with vendors introduces additional risk to your organization. An ISA can help you identify potential vulnerabilities in your vendor's security measures and enable you to work with the vendor to mitigate those risks.

  • Improved security posture: By requiring ISAs of your vendors, you can ensure that your company is working with vendors who take security seriously. This can help improve your overall security posture and reduce the risk of security incidents.

Overall, requiring an ISA of your vendors can help you make informed decisions about your partners and ensure that you're taking the necessary steps to protect your organization and sensitive data.

If you do not have your own ISA, please feel free to download our ISA template.

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