Friday, 10 August 2018

Money Ball: Fantasy Football Kicks Off Tonight - Jeff's Degenerates

You might think that this blog post is out of place here but I'm hoping use some of the data that is  freely available on the internet to demonstrate some of the features of  R and data analysis so please hold in there and its a little break from the norm too

Fantasy Football

I have been persuaded for the first time since I was a young lad to enter a fantasy football team and in doing so I have ended up  entering several private leagues with different groups of friends. There is very little money involved and this is very much just for fun. The last time I entered one of these was before the internet was widespread back in the 1990s. To enter the game you had a buy a national newspaper enter your details on a coupon and mail it in - I don't think transfers and substitutions were even possible back then. How  times have changed since then... Actually the competition is quite fierce and with the internet you now have full control of you team and your squad and can make changes pretty frequently within the rules to you entered team.

I'm playing on the https://fantasy.premierleague.com/ website my team name is Jeff's Degenerates and  there seems to be lots of people who  seem to be having a go at being the next, Pep, Klopp or Jose.

I'll keep you posted of the progress as the season progresses - This is my starting 11 for this week's games with some manual data analysis used during the team selection based of last season's players points total

Jeff's Degenerates Starting 11 

Super 6

In slight variant on the fantasy football I've also entered a super 6 league. The gist of this is where you predict the scores of 6 games playing on a Saturday afternoon. You get awarded points for the correct result and more points  if you get the correct score.

I think had a little bit of beginners luck last week there was no data analysis used at all, it was the first games of the season and there was no recent form to go on - I got 4/6 results 3 with the correct score, giving me a total 17 points. I'm not sure how many people play the competition I'm told its at least 10,000 maybe even 100,000. It could be more than that. Anyway my 17 points left me 638 spot across every player -  5 x 3 for the correct score and 2 points  for the correct result

Super 6 - Week 1 scores 


These are the scores I have gone with for this week


I'll try and remember to update you how I get on.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Free Session, Free Beer, Free Food - # Not the GDPR News

This is a final call for attendees. We are have the last few seats available in out #Not the GDPR news - Why projects fail seminar that is taking place in Cardiff on Thursday evening



Wonder why projects fail? Want to spot the signs of failure? Want to know how to turn failure into success? CPS Group are hosting an Interactive Seminar with Wyeden’s Mark Williams & Gethyn from gethynellis.com (40+ years project experience between them). Wyenot come along, enjoy some drinks & food, chat with peer’s, listen & join in as you wish…& have fun? 

If you fancy some free beer, free food and a free seminar why not join Mark Williams and myself this Thursday evening. It is free for you to register...click  the link which will take you to the EventBrite website. Your name and email address is all you need to register. 

Oh and you'll get to see what this face was all about


Monday, 9 April 2018

# Not the GDPR News -t minus 10 days

# Not the GDPR News -t minus 10 days

There is ten days to go and there are still some seats left for our #Not the GDPR news - a session on turning around failing projects.

Mark Williams and myself will delivering the session in Cardiff on the 19th April... in 10 days time! 


#Not the GDPR News

Please note that this is not a session on GDPR!

This is the session abstract

Wonder why projects fail? Want to spot the signs of failure? Want to know how to turn failure into success? CPS Group are hosting an Interactive Seminar with Wyeden’s Mark Williams & Gethyn from gethynellis.com (40+ years project experience between them). Wyenot come along, enjoy some drinks & food, chat with peer’s, listen & join in as you wish…& have fun? 

It is free for you to register...click  the link which will take you to the EventBrite website. Your name and email address is all you need to register. If you register and come along to the session on 19th you'll not only get a great session but there will be some free drinks (beers and soft drinks) and nibbles too. 

If you know someone, a friend of colleague who would also enjoy this session feel free to forward it on to them.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Why Projects Fail...Free Session, Free Beer and Free Food

Why Projects Fail...Free Session, Free Beer and Free Food 

Mark Williams and myself will delivering a seminar called #Not the GDPR news in Cardiff on the 19th April...



#Not the GDPR News

This is not a session on GDPR!


This is the session abstract



Want to do The Right Things? Want to do Things Right? Want to make something happen successfully? Well…why don’t you come along to CPSGroup, Cardiff, Thursday 19th April and hear & join in with Wyeden’s Mark Williams and Gethyn Ellis from gethynellis.com, get 40+ years of project experience distilled into one evening, as they discuss and facilitate comment with you and your peers? Book here Interested but can’t make it? Register here, webinar to follow later in year.

It is free for you to register...click  the link which will take you to the EventBrite website. Your name and email address is all you need to register. If you register and come along to the session on 19th you'll not only get a great session but there will be some free drinks (beers and soft drinks) and nibbles too.

If you know someone, a friend of colleague who would also enjoy this session feel free to forward it on to them.

Monday, 26 March 2018

PROJECT LIFE LESSONS - # Not The GDPR News

PROJECT LIFE LESSONS - # Not The GDPR News

Mark Williams and myself will delivering a seminar called #Not the GDPR news in Cardiff on the 19th April...


#Not the GDPR News

This is not a session on GDPR!

PROJECT LIFE LESSONS - Come along to CPSGroup offices in central Cardiff, network with fellow professionals, listen and participate with Mark Williams and Gethyn Ellis as they discuss 40+ years of project life lessons experience, remind yourself of what should be done and/or take the best practice back into your business. Applies to Business Directors, Managers, Project Managers & Analysts, Developers, Testers and anyone with an interest in IT or Business Change projects. 19/04/18 @ CPSGroup Cardiff

It is free for you to register...click  the link which will take you to the EventBrite website. Your name and email address is all you need to register. If you register and come along to the session on 19th you'll not only get a great session but there will be some free drinks (beers and soft drinks) and nibbles too.

If you know someone, a friend of colleague who would also enjoy this session feel free to forward it on to them.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Recruitment Agents are not bad people...despite what you might read

Welcome to WIN at IT contracting: A FREE guide showing YOU How to get the most out of Recruitment Agent Relationships. My name is Gethyn Ellis I have been running a SQL Server consulting and training practice for the last ten years. You can check out my website and blog gethynellis.com and feel free to connect with me on twitter and LinkedIn – we follow back 

In this short post we will discuss why recruitment agents are not bad people, we’ll talk about some urban legends myths and horror stories that I have read about

Urban Legends, Myths and Horror stories

Some of the horror stories I have read on various sites over the years regarding recruiters remind me of school. Going to secondary school in particular. Someone, maybe one of your friends from primary school who may have had an older sibling or older cousin attending your soon to be secondary school telling you tales of “getting your head flushed down the toilet” or “thrown down the hockey banking”…You get a little scared or anxious then when you turn up and realises that nothing like happens at all you can relax and get on with your education.

Some of the worst stories I have heard include this one:
A recruiter phoned up a contractor, had a chat, asked for details about your current client, contract and fees etc. Asked who the hiring manager was (the decision maker at the client). Which is a very common occurrence as a contractor. The agent then phoned up the hiring manager, told them that the contractor was leaving and they could replace the contactor for less money and the client took the deal and the contractor was booted out.

Now I don’t know if this is true, I have never encountered anyone that this happened too and it has not happened to me. It seems like one of the secondary school stories I mentioned earlier . It probably happened to someone once, but it’s definitely not a regular occurrence. If you are in a contract you will have a relationship in place with the client and you won’t be getting replaced because some other agent can find someone fractionally cheaper. If this happens, it’s because something is fundamentally wrong with your relationship with the end client. I’ll talk more about that relationship and managing it in a later post.

Don’t get me wrong, details of your current contract and work are valuable to an agent. Again a good thing to know in building your relationship with any business partner, knowing what is valuable to them. If you are working a contract for a company and an agent has no connections in that organisation then they know you have information that would be valuable to them. They hire contractors, they have active contractors working on site, they might have other requirements that the agent could help find solutions for. 

Why do Recruiters sometimes get a bad press?

In fairness, most of the bad press I hear about comes from contractors, not the end client themselves. With the end client paying all the fees and the agents controlling the relationship it can feel sometimes the odds are stacked against the contractor. Agents work in a cutthroat business with tight targets. If an agent doesn’t fill a position, one of their competitors will – the targets set in recruitment agencies are pretty tough too. They get a bad press because of some one the less ethical recruiters out there not all of them are like that though, but as sales people they are trained to gain as much information as possible to help them make sales, some of things I have encountered included:

  • I have contract doing x – anyway tell me about what you have been up to for the last two years. There is no contract x
  • I have a contract doing x I’m going to need at least two references from your last two clients with no further details on the contract. There is no contract x – just a fishing call looking for details of people that engage contractor
I don’t put references on any documentation – why? The information is in fact valuable. If I feel like I’m getting hoodwinked I just give the details of the agent involved in setting up that engagement for me – if there is one. When I have secured the contract offer then its common practice to supply some references and testimonials of  work that you have done but I don’t  provide those details until we get to the stage where I have been offered the work. I’m sure other contractors out there have other scenarios and stories they could share and I’d be happy to read those in the comments.

Recruitment Agents are not bad people


Most of these agents are trying to build up contacts and connections who they know hire contractors. They are working to sell your services. Always remember that recruit agents work in a cut throat business. Talking to their suppliers (IT Contractors) can help build up their network and list of warmish leads. If a client has hired contractor before they don’t need to be sold on the benefits of using contractors for current and future projects. Yes there are some unethical ones out there BUT these are few and far between. It will be helpful for you to be able to identify those early on. Most agents are very professional. All the agents I have ever had a business relationship have been excellent. Just be aware how you can identify people who fishing ultimately so I don’t invest too much time in that particular situation.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture

An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture

In this series I’m going to be looking at enterprise architecture. Over the last few years many of the projects that I have been involved with have involved complex digital transformation for large organisations. Delivering change in a large organisation can be a complicated and difficult process. The purpose of Enterprise Architecture is to align IT and IT systems to the business goals and objectives. When you break down to that sentence it seems full of common sense and it should be a common sense approach to take. However, business and IT alignment hasn’t always been the case, and in recent years more and more businesses are looking at their IT function as a key business driver as opposed to a cost centre. Enterprise Architecture can help with that… some of the terminology can be confusing and the nature of people who I will call stakeholders in the enterprise and how they react to and resist change can add to the complexity and delivery of enterprise architecture and business change. In this short series we are going to attempt to remove some of the confusion.

There are various tools frameworks and methodologies dedicated to Enterprise Architecture, The Zachman Framework and The Open Groups Architecture Framework being the most common. This series will try and remain framework neutral but we will make reference to these frameworks as we go along, and call on them where they provide a useful definition.  Just a caveat to note, we are TOGAF certified and work extensively with the TOGAF ADM. So if I seem to favour TOGAF over other frameworks you know why.

Lets start with some terminology

What is an Enterprise?

Let’s start by answer a simple question that can sometimes cause a lot of confusion. What is an Enterprise? It causes confusion because it can mean anything from a department that sits inside an organisation or a large organisation that consists of many departments’ suppliers and customers. The latter is called an extended enterprise. TOGAF defines an enterprise as “any collection of organisations that has a common set of goals.”

TOGAF goes on to list some examples including

  • A whole corporation (for example Learning Tree)
  • A single department (IT department)
  • A chain of geographically distant organisations linked by common ownership (I think amazon, amazon distribution and AWS as an example here)


From an enterprise architecture perspective the term enterprise can be used to represent the entire organisation (or extended organisation) or a specific area or department within and organisation. Using a fictitious insurance company as an example the Life Insurance arm of a large insurance company could be represent an enterprise  all of its own.

What is Architecture?

We will also look at some definitions of architecture
ISO defines architecture as
“Fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment embodied in its elements, relationships, and in the principles of its design and evolution”
TOGAF embraces but does not strictly adhere to the ISO definition of architecture. In fact in TOGAF architecture can have two meanings, the following is taken from Chapter 3 of the TOGAF document. Section 3.8 which provides a definition of architecure:
1. A formal description of a system, or a detailed plan of the system at component level, to guide its implementation (source: ISO/IEC 42010:2007).
2. The structure of components, their inter-relationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time.

What is Enterprise Architecture?

What is enterprise architecture? This again is an interesting question that can have many answers. I tend to think of enterprise architecture as being a strategic, business and technology perspective analysis of an enterprise  and documenting an enterprise in its current (as is) and future states (to be).
Enterprise architecture is all about aligning the IT and IT systems to business goals and objectives.
It can be used to optimize legacy sometimes fragments systems and processes into integrated environment that is responsive to change and supports the business’s goals. And as everyone knows you have to change to survive to that end enterprise architecture can help deliver that  change. In the age of digital transformation being a key business enabler understanding what you currently and where you want to get to can help you make key decisions on what needs to change in order to get to the desired future state. I was going to use end state, but you never really get to an end state. Just a state whereby you can change again.

If you do enterprise architecture well you can expect

  • Lower business costs
  • A more agile organisation
  • Business capabilities shared across the organisation
  • More efficient IT operation
  • Lower software development costs
  • Increased application portability
  • Improved ability to support enterprise wide initiatives 
  • Improved and simpler procurement


As you can see in theory Enterprise architecture should bring with it a number of benefits to the organisation. Which is why people spend time and effort in trying to get it right.

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