Monday, October 20, 2014

A few methods to increase APEX visibility in your organization

In the APEX (I pronounce it APP-EX, sue me.) community we have a really good mix of professionals and plenty of them are in larger organizations that don’t specialize in APEX development.  Yet, along the way someone has decided to create a few workspaces for convenience and has been fighting the good fight ever since to gain some acceptance from the organization at large.  Being one who has fought that fight a couple of times I can empathize with these guys because they are the risk takers and there are rewards to being the one to get it accepted.

I feel that there are a few ways to make that exposure increase without forcing the hand of the powers that be and causing unwanted friction.
Not that this journey is without bumps in the road but there are methods to introduce this (or any new) technology that build confidence while keeping as smooth a passage as possible. 

Be an Entrepreneur

Even in a large company there are entrepreneurial opportunities.  It involves finding the small targets that can build end user enthusiasm and/or acceptance.  Spreadsheets and Local Databases (Like MS Access) are the best likely targets.  These are usually built to fill the gaps where IT has not provided a viable alternative to meet a particular department’s needs and that group would have created the files to make a particular business operation happen.  It could be said that metrics is one of the largest reasons this is done.  These are some of the least secure and most vulnerable to data corruption in business.

Providing visibility in this respect is getting a copy of one of these items and making a Proof of Concept that they can then see and play with.  In just about every case I have done this, the user group adopted and started using it within days.  This level of acceptance depends on your ability as a developer and analyst to interpret what and how they do these operations and present a less complicated method in return.  Remember that if it saves them time to do other critical things they are more likely to jump in.

Step outside your Sphere

We all have friends at work.  Many are not in the same operational area.  As an influencer it is to the benefit of your efforts to listen to those friends and see what their challenges are in their areas.  It may even be that you are already aware of some of them.  Why not put some effort into helping them solve those challenges, if it can be done with APEX then the level of visibility expands and can start to take on a life of its own.

Be a Teacher

One of the most successful efforts I ever had in bringing APEX to life was to learn who in the business could be trained and trusted to build applications in APEX.  Teaching these people had caused a couple of really fun effects.

First, I didn’t really have to develop every small items to replace a spreadsheet or Access DB.  It was in their ability to bring these items.

Secondly, my role more became an advisory and administrative one, where users and developers came to for advice on how to accomplish more interesting tasks.

Finally, and not really the best of effects it can cause an exponential growth that needs to carry some standards and be managed to keep it under control.  Rapid growth changes the entrepreneurial role into the management role.  But this is also the critical mass that is needed to nudge the higher managers and architects into accepting and providing resources to APEX related efforts.  Be ready to discuss the benefits when they take notice.

So in summary:
  • Be willing to take risks for a good idea
  • Look for the small but significant victories
  • Be willing to fish for others to build momentum
  • Simplify their life with your efforts
  • Go beyond your normal boundaries to find those opportunities
  • Teach others to fish for themselves and be available to coach along the way

So if you are exposing APEX to the organization, and it has become a solo or small effort on your part these methods can help you to breathe life into the grass-roots movement that would make APEX the next great tool in your company.

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