It's a Project Manager's World Newsletter with Dr. James Brown
      September 2010 Full Moon Edition      

Why reputations are becoming a reality in the digital landscape

Suppose as a project manager you could pick who you would like to work in support of your project's tasks.  In addition to the ability to pick, you could look across the organization and see the actual performance rankings of the people bidding on/available to do your work.  These performance rankings were accurate and evaluated the team member’s real work history of performance by role.


This may sound like a fantasy but I had the opportunity to hear Pat Toole, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at IBM speak on September 14, 2010 and he stated IBM is doing just that for some of their application development. 

The digital reputation


In IBM's process application developers have a “digital reputation” that is visible to project managers.  This reputation includes ranking on cycle time, quality, schedule, reuse and cost.  Rankings are also provided for different roles like planner, developer, tester, etc. 


Project managers can look at a developer’s digital reputation before making a selection as to who will do the work.  I have personally used Elance ( ) to have a variety of work done in support of my own business and this system sounds similar with the exception being it is internal to a company.


Do the application developers like it? 


Mr. Toole also stated the application developers like the system and enjoy building their digital reputation.  This is not surprising to me because people want to be recognized for good work and a system like this does it in a fair and open manner.  Too many times the real contributors can go unrecognized in an organization and a system like this minimizes the likelihood of that occurring.  I am willing to guess some of these developers are as concerned about their ranking as my son is concerned about his Halo ranking on XBOX.


I use both eBay (where sellers have a digital reputation) and Elance (where service providers have a digital reputation) with great confidence.  It is a natural progression that this type of public reputation of performance history will find its way into the work environment with great benefit. 


Some other takeaways from Toole’s speech


  • When they work to get the process right (through simplification) there is typically a 3 to 1 payback.
  • In order to drive profitable growth you must have strong, credible data.
  • They manage emergencies like the fire department.  They send a truck with everything (all of the experts). Once it has been established what is actually wrong then they decide who can return and who has to stay and fight the fire.
  • His major stakeholders rank his performance every quarter.
  • More than 55 percent of their employees do not work in traditional work environments…therefore collaboration is critical.


Dr. James T. Brown PMP

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