NetSuite had a substantial growth during 2013 with an overall increase in company revenue to the extent of 35%, i.e. USD 418 million. The main focus of NetSuite stays on financial accounting and ERP functionalities. NetSuite takes care of sales force automation to its core level comprising of opportunity management, lead management, billing management, order management and sales based incentive management. Netsuite is yet to show its strength in total solution for large sized organizations and as per Gartner, NetSuite has a stronghold but only for the segment where only sales force automation solutions are required.
The simple and foolproof manner in which NetSuite app takes care of ‘lead to order’ functionality, is well appreciated by the organizations using it. The way NetSuite is growing in a consistent manner shows less vulnerability and highly possible commitment for long term sustenance and presence. Another strong point is its accounting functionality embedded in the solution. On the other hand, being not totally focused on sales based solutions, it lacks in various important analytics to measure sales performance in the sales team. A clear cut vision is important to come out with the proper focused solution to increase its customer base.
Microsoft has moved its full concentration on cloud based solutions and hence any enhancements, or new features being built (or recently built) are taken care of first in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online solution so as to promote its current existing user base of the earlier on-premise solution to move on to cloud solution. The cloud based CRM is integrated well with Microsoft Office 365 Live and Microsoft Sharepoint apps. Microsoft Dynamics CRM online is also integrated with Microsoft Azure apps.
In 2013 Microsoft Dynamics CRM had a clear vision of improved usability bundled with some amount of mobility solution in it. Microsoft aims to target now the larger industry segments with higher user base rather than just focusing on small or medium business segment (SMBs). Reportedly as per Gartner, Microsoft in larger industry segment has been able to grab a business with a user base around 700 for their CRM online solution. Approximately USD 65 per user per month is what Microsoft charges for its CRM solution the the price tag is supposed to be quite lucrative looking at the competition.
Another good point for buyers opting for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online solution is its easy integration off the shelf available with other Microsoft products viz Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Lync, Skype, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Yammer thereby providing a complete integrated solution in terms of collaboration, content management, communication, Instant messaging, real time file sharing, enhanced productivity, scheduling etc. On mobility front, Microsoft is yet to establish confidence building among its CRM and collaboration customers but overall looking at the vertical and horizontal reach of Microsoft on global front, the product has to have its say in the market and a substantial growth is there on the cards over a couple of years.
CRMnext has its main focus on sales functionality, taking care of opportunity management, accounts management, pipeline management, forecasting and analytics. CRMnext has a good amount of presence in APac region (Asian Pacific Region) and the Middle East region (ME region). Evidently Gartner has estimated that the overall revenue of the vendor selling CRMnext is almost USD 40 million. The scalability of this app is well proven for a single organization having over 1,500 users getting fruitful desired results. Overall it is catering to more than 35,000 users.
Majority of CRMnext user base lies in India itself. The two variants that are widely opted for are SaaS based model and on-premise model. Both models cater to mid segment of the industry without pinching their pocket to get a suitable SFA (sales force automation) solution. Direct channels of CRMnext are there in Southeast Asia, Middle East and India. Outside these regions, customers are catered to from these locations with the help of tie ups with local implementation and support partners. That signals towards a word of caution towards the geographic coverage like in North America or in Western Europe, it is difficult to find sales or support.
Pivotal CRM is a Microsoft Certified Customer Relationship Management application sold under the banner of Aptean. Aptean has its headquarters in Atlanta. The product is bundled with sales force automation (SFA) software tools. The app has features of sales for automation, lead management, marketing automation, sales management, customer service automation, partner management. Pivotal CRM has been taken to its next level to run it on mobile platforms, drawing out useful analytics and call scripting.
Pivotal CRM is being provided in a customized manner for various industry segments based on their specific needs. The CRM suite in offer manages to take care of institutional asset management, capital markets, private and commercial banking, real estate and home building, legal services, healthcare, mutual fund management and so on. Since it is built on .NET framework from Microsoft, the solutions are universally accepted globally. Your license of Pivotal CRM saves licensing cost on various fronts like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Sharepoint and Microsoft Visual Studio as these are bundled along with the Pivotal CRM solution.
With the changing trends in technology, Pivotal CRM takes care of cloud based availability and mobility solutions thereby enabled to provide multiple delivery models for the overall app solution front. If an organization is using other products from Aptean like Ross ERP solution, Made2Manage ERP or Axis ERP; they get an integrated solution if they opt to use Pivoltal CRM. The best part is that customers who decided to go for Pivotal apps 14 years back, when they were launched, are still happy with the support and solution.
Since the coding is in C#, it is easy to find developers for customization. In 2014 Pivotal started providing their cloud based solutions (on Amazon Cloud services). Similarly in 2012-13 they started the availability of their apps on mobile platforms.
Pivotal CRM has an interesting history that I would like to share here. There was a new organization named as Pivotal Software that was founded in 1994 by Norm Francis. Francis had a stake in Basis Software Group (BSG). BSG is known for one of its product ACCPAC, which is an accounting application. ACCPAC was bought over by CA (Computer Associates) in 1985. Francis, after creating the company Pivotal Software, came out with an entirely new concept of 360 degrees of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The concept became so popular that it was adopted later by many other organizations and is till in use, widely across the globe. This concept basically talks about the end to end capturing of activities of all those directly involved in the process of customer relationship and sales.
Pivotal CRM’s first version came into existence before mid of 1996. And thereafter there were many evolutionary changes that took place in the product thereby releasing of its next versions. Pivotal Software gradually became Pivotal Corporation in 1999 in wake of expansion of their portfolio and services offered. Pivotal CRM was developed on Microsoft platform. Bill Gates, in the year 2000, Microsoft Chief, Bill Gates got so impressed with Pivotal CRM that he ensured it to be showcased worldwide during Microsoft Windows 2000 premiere. At that time Pivotal CRM was having its name as Pivotal eRelationship and was the first of its kind of eBRM (eBusiness Relationship Management) application that was certified for Win 2k Server environment.
In early 2004, Pivotal Corporation got acquired by a firm ChinaDotCom that was later known as CDC Software. There was a merger of CDC Software and another organization Consona Corporation in 2012 thereby emergence of an organization Aptean. Pivotal CRM, today is one of the major application in Aptean’s portfolio of their business applications to offer across the globe.
As per a technology report from Gartner in July this year, focusing on sales applications, sees salesforce.com leading the market compared to its nearest competitors SAP and Oracle. Cloud predominantly with SaaS model is taking an edge over various other variants of application delivery models. Salesforce has been consistently on top of the chart in terms of its B2B sales.
Automation of all activities related to sales, imbibing sales processes in the application, and admin controls in a smooth manner is the major strength of Sales force automation (SFA) applications. Probably it ensures the root level understanding of core B2B sales processes built in the application taking care of major functionalities like account management, contact management, opportunity management and so on. It takes care of ensuring improvement in sales effectiveness of sales teams by means of providing capability management like sales configuration, sales operations, proposal management and content management.
The sales team performance management is take care of well in the app in terms of compensations to sales team members (sales based incentives), sales quota allocation and management (monitoring & timely alerts), territory/ region management.
We all are well versed with the philosophy of any project. There are customer requirements that create a need to build up some system to cater to those requirements in a structured and foolproof manner. These requirements might arise out of internal business needs or external customer seeking a solution. Customer if approaches you for a solution by means of building a new system for their business, or the other way round, if your sales team is able to break the ice and able to get a business from a customer, indicates that there is an amount of trust both ways and it has to be honored. Honoring this trust in best possible way is to deliver desired system well in time – as per the committed timelines to the customer and ensuring financials and quality do not cross the perimeters set for both.
Once the customer requirements are documented, mutual timelines are agreed upon on a broader scale, financial terms are finalized, an agreement takes place between the two parties. One party is the buyer – who has certain needs and is paying you as per your capabilities of catering to those needs. The other party is you, who is building a system to cater to customer needs. The project charter is prepared with stipulated or projected timelines for each of the major deliverables, we name them as milestones.
Now these milestones are further broken down into work breakdown structure – or WBS – allocating each task or set of tasks defined under each of the milestone to individual teams and team members.
A complete alignment is very important between these three ticket items.
Since you are managing one or more projects, multiple teams working on multiple or a single project and multiple stakeholders, you might be feeling yourself most of the time sandwiched between various conflicts, critical situations and issues seeking quick attention and immediate resolutions. Decision making during such situations might become difficult at times and you might be feeling like the last person left on a crashing airplane with not a single parachute left on the plane. Now if that is the case just relax and try looking at following situations and see if you can avoid these situations so as to overcome any kind of serious risks.
Team Priorities vs Business Priorities: There has to be a concrete alignment between the business priorities, project priorities and individual team’s priorities. If individual teams are not aligned well with the project priorities, the whole game plan is bound to go haywire. On the top of every level priority a single goal must be to come out of project successfully. Success of a project is determined in two parameters – timelines and within budgets. Timelines adherence must ensure no compromise with tasks or requirements; and quality of the outcome.
Team Members to have clarity of broader picture: Team members working on their individual tasks allocated to them regarding the ongoing project must be very clear about the overall project and customer requirements. Merely having a clear cut understanding of the micro tasks in their kitty might help in successful completion of the micro tasks but can leave a wide gap at the time of solving the puzzle called project (the macro scenario) with the individual puzzle pieces (micro done pieces).
Each leader has its own working and management style. The two extreme kind of leaders in the world are – one, leading from front and second, forcing from back. Both are successful and both are unique. Both have their own style, success & failure rates, and winning sprees. When you are working on multiple projects, managing multiple project teams – each project and each set of multiple teams need your equal attention and engagement. For a team, its project is supreme and so is what you have to maintain – for them.
There are some key points to manage your projects and teams:
Make each team realize as a unique team with multiple strengths. It is their strength that is going to get a win for you in that project. Going to micro level, each team’s member needs to live with such a feeling that he/ she is the strong pillar of the project and is a major contributor towards its success and drive to closure. That way even the low energy level gets raised to higher level thereby resulting into higher results with much accuracy rate.
Collaborate, Collaborate and Collaborate: Make a strong chain by joining hands – both sides – such that if one is tending to fall, the whole chain is there to support.
Work and Live like a community on a project. Make it like a family affair where no one runs away from responsibility and there are no boundaries or hard coded instructions – to do and not to do – in terms of sharing and helping – provided first you have finished your task in hand as per committed timelines. That should be the culture and feeling in each member.
You as a leader has to be there, visible or invisible, but an inherent presence in the mind is must. Wherever your teams are and how so distant you are from them, for calling you, contacting you, to share a win or to discuss a concern, you must be the next door neighbor to each of the team/ member.
Agile Projects require frequent meeting with all critical key stakeholders. The rule of the game is as follows. These meetings have to be of short duration, as crisp as possible and talk only about the scope of work defined for the period after last meeting and before this meeting. There might be a need of discussion of ‘change’ in terms of plan, scope and timelines. Important is that all stakeholders must attend every meeting so as to avoid and gaps that create killing bubbles in the main streamline of flow in the pipe. Prefer to have an hour’s meeting at least every alternate day and throw away the concept of a single weekly or monthly meeting in the dustbin.
Agility needs continuity and connectivity on a regular basis. It cannot compromise with its basic fundamentals. If all above is not adhered to in an Agile Project, then it should not be called Agile at all. Empowerment is another key factor in an Agile project. The complete process of ownership and approvals has to be least bureaucratic. There has to be no queues for approvals. No waiting. And no long process. Teams are empowered to steer and drive on their own. Each team (or rather each stakeholder) is empowered to take quick calls.
Important factor is to keep everyone aligned for any fresh calls taken in terms of ‘new’, ‘alternate’ or ‘drop’ with a clear disclosure of purpose behind it. Every such change has to happen for a ‘good’. Still the ultimate goal reams same for all stakeholders and well aligned with the individual team and member goals. No repetitions, no follow ups and no alerts. It has to be a free flow and well streamlined.
Recently read and reviewed an excellent fable book titled The Seller of Beliefs written by Trishala D Shah. The story is a journey of one day to a training but it covers the complete life in a day. As we grow we start forgetting the important and lovely lessons of life and start living like machines, forcing ourselves to run a fixed routine and get stuck at a small variation in life.
That is where this small booklet of 112 pages comes handy where it tells about the life with the hep of small games the lead character has to play sometimes along with her trainer and sometimes alone. The learning from these games is enormous that brings you back to the mainstream of life. Here are the key learning:
Don’t do anything to impress others.
Don’t get allured by quality in others, recognize your qualities.
A sound has two options – to become noise or to become a beautiful piece of music. What is your choice?
The real power lies within. Only effort you need to put in is to recognize it.
Understand the purpose of what you do instead of blindly doing it.
Get a clear sight of your goals.
At times you have no choice for a task, it has to be done means it has to be done.
The state of a project is dynamic. Up and down are various phases that do not stay for long.
If you want to reach to a state of effortlessness, it has to be traveled through only one road called EFFORT.
IF you are able to bring play like environment in work, it will increase your teams productivity manifold.
Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) by Jurgen Appelo is talks about the relationship between an organization and management and how the success of failure depends a lot on this relationship. As we go by the chapters, we learn to know that at times it is not any external factors that becomes a failure factor for Agile development but the management of the organization. Agile management demands a good amount of trustworthy direction and supervision that is missing in most of the cases.
Agile Master Jurgen Appelo tries to fill that gap by guiding in a simple doable manner in his book Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) where a practical focus is presented to provide a direction in managing an Agile team to start with and leading to an Agile organization. Current day software development is not as simple as it used to be, it comprises of lot of complexities that need to be handled and management so as to reach out to a winning goal. The excellent book Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn)) by Jurgen Appelo is excellent in many terms. It understands the maturity level today’s organizations have reached to and the level of intensity it requires in its growth. The prime concern for today’s organization is its people and relationships.
Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo is a marvelously written book to hep you in carving your path to make your wins the agile way.
This project is with a mission with a noble cause. The soil in Connecticut is very fertile and that is a binding factors in farming being sustained for years. Farmers here work hard to get the best possible vegetable and fruit products so as to feed a hungry state. Jack McConnell, an award winning photographer, was so inspired by the life of a farmer here, that he visited here to capture the hardships in the life of a farmer here. He was able to capture all ages of people working on the farms here.
The CT Farm Project has a purpose of ensuring that all relevant documents and pictures get captured and stored in a safe and secured place so as to share them with others to showcase the huge amount of efforts being put by the farmers for not only farming but also in taking care of their animals, equipment, resources, fields, crops and markets. Anyone connected to nature will definitely be falling in love with the pictures of the CT Farm Project.
Huawei has been appreciated across the globe for its agile network solution which is quite innovative and highly productive in nature that consists of a network focused on catering to service demands, users etc. Recently Huawei has launched their stat of the art agile network solution in South Africa, as was announced in a conference in Johannesburg. By now the tally goes to over 200 as far as Huawei’s agile network solution successful deployment is concerned, worldwide, in a variety of industry segments covering large enterprises, and industries like finance, medical, transport, media, education and public enterprises.
Agile network solution helps an enterprise in building a highly efficient solution to minimize manual intervention to a larger extent and the enabling system in taking intelligent decisions or actions. It has been deployed in a wide variety of industries demanding differently viable solutions like catering to wireless cities’ users, building an intelligent transport system, catering to the high volume of consumers coming to shopping malls for smart shopping and the customers demanding hassle free smart travel solutions across the globe. The end users get a high level of flexibility in order to access such services from anywhere, and on any kind of device they are using, thereby adding a unique agility factor. The portable device in use could be a tablet, laptop, mobile smartphone.
The first model of agile network design was introduced by Huawei in 2013 that had an emphasis on three agile ways of enterprise solution. The three concepts were:
Agile Management – which meant enabling of IP network quality awareness.
Agile Evolution – First time ever a campus network across the globe that is software-defined.
The concept worked well wherever it was deployed thereby bringing in excellent user experience, improved efficiency in operations & management etc. that proved to enhance the service performance by 4 times.
A new concept is getting heard these days which is ‘software defined workplace’. Now what does this mean? Citrix is one of the game changer in this direction and with the change in their strategy they announced Citrix as one of the company falling under ‘software defined companies or workplaces’. A company falling under this category boasts of having the technology enabled to an extent where any of its customer can be enabled with a mobile taskforce. A mobile taskforce in that aspect is able to access whatever information is required from anywhere, anytime and on any device; and thus enhancing their productivity manifold.
Mark Templeton, CEO Citrix said that the strategy here is to be going beyond the data center and workplaces. With the increasing focus on mobile computing, flexible timings, co-located teams etc. there has been a high demand on availability of required data/ information anytime and anywhere thereby breaking the usual working hours concept of 9 to 5. Purpose is to enable the customer in drawing our high amount of productivity, efficiency and availability to its various stakeholders. Overall concept thus is of business availability for higher number of hours which means that there will be someone or the other taking a call and fulfilling the requirement of customer – being anywhere, and be it any hour of the day. It obviously breaks the physical boundaries and build a wider spectrum of virtual world.
Employees thus can work from home or from any location of their choice without having a constraint of reporting in the office every morning at a stipulated office start hour. Higher availability of taskforce definitely helps in higher amount of business continuity and lowers the business risks as the visibility of the business becomes higher and wider.
Customer and business engagement in agile project is as critical and important as the involvement of project teams. Someone from the business side has to ensure high devotion in terms of time and process knowledge so as to ensure the path adopted by development team is right and best. So the product manager and business manager go hand in hand to build the best of product in question. There are certain motivational factors that help in driving a project, so it true for an agile project:
Empowerment: Agile talks of less monitoring and high empowerment. Decisions demand quick resolution here.
Responsibility: When each team, and in fact each team members is responsible for driving the vehicle with same thrust, an authority anyways come bundled with the responsibility. And thus emerges the accountability.
Availability: Since there are small iterations with each iterations accounted for some amount of achievement, availability of each of the stakeholders is very important.
Project size varies depending on various factors. It could be financial, resources, requirements and management. There could be a project with high amount of business requirements but having financial constraints from customer side. It could also depend on the location of teams working on a project, whether the complete team is centralized sitting in one location or are co-located at various locations. And then these co-locations might be falling under different time zones. IF that is the case where teams working on a project are located in different time zones, it is always better to start agile with one of the team at one location.
Never star a pilot with a high risk project as a pilot works in two ways – learning and optimizing. In fact it is the learning that helps in optimizing. In a high risk project where failure or delay could bring in high losses, it is always better not to try something new. On the contrary, a low risk project could help in learning a lot while adopting agile for that project. This way you can build a solid base for the next chain of projects and gradually adopt if for medium risk projects. And then finally when you become masters, go for a big leap of transformation in a high risk project.
On top of your mind it should be very clear that communication and engagement play a major role in agile.
Agile gives a great amount of flexibility to project management and the credit for that goes to its philosophy, process and methodology. The prime focus in Agile stays on strong communication, collaboration and higher overlapping of functional boundaries. The basic fundamental remains short iterations, assessment, prioritization and re-prioritization keeping in mind minimal reworks at later stage. This strategy ensures least overloading of budgets and timelines. This also ensure high momentum in project and team engagement.
An agile way of working is being followed by most of the organizations for their software project management but whether in what capacity, level and accuracy is still a point to ponder. It asks for a big change in mindset for the transformation from legacy project management methodologies to agile. Best bet is to start with small and then scale it out to large extent after measuring the positive results gained from the outputs. Selecting right project for the pilot is something which needs to be done in a right way.
If you are clear with project size, timelines, project teams etc., then it becomes easy to go for it. A too small project might not fetch you the leverage of getting the best out of it and so can happen with a very large project. Best option is to go for a mid sized project of 6-8 months of duration so as to reap the best benefits of agile.
Project management is not an easy task. It requires team management, risk management, planning, execution, sign offs, training, meetings and a lot more. Risks could be of any nature – some anticipated, some unperceived. Anticipated ones can be handled as some amount of thought process has already gone into it. But when some unanticipated storm comes, it calls for a quick decision, quick resolution and quick management. Project management as a whole is management of such sequences – something which has been experienced earlier and has been now an expertise to handle crisis but when the situation is new or of multiplied complexity, it creates a bigger threat and thus needs quicker resolution.
If we talk of top 5 critical steps of a project, following could be the listed ones:
1. Project Execution: Most of the regular project management organizations build a PMO (Project Management Office) to ensure successful execution of project and have a structured plan for risk management (assessment and mitigation). Where we don’t have a PMO, the responsibility lies with the Project Manager for its successful execution.
2. Scope Management: When we talk of scope management, it becomes a project in itself. Managing scope is not an easy task. A small correction in scope at a later stage could ask for a total revamp. Scope management calls for correct and complete scope capturing.
3. Development Planning and Hand Holding: Scope of business requirements gets translated into technical scoping and thus development is done by the team. Development responsibility does not end with product launch but even beyond that for the hand holding.
4. Plan Tracking: Plans prepared need to be monitored and informed to the relevant stakeholders.
5. Team building and Capacity building: Teams, if keep on performing the same tasks repeatedly become stagnant. Their capacity need to be expanded with team maturity.
Each application passes through a lifecycle of its own once it goes live. The lifecycle of an application after it goes live is somewhat similar to a newborn child. Let us see how it goes.
Child develops inside the womb, Application developed.
Mother gets inspected by doctor from time to time, app under development gets inspected by QC and Customer.
Child takes birth, App launched.
Child grows along with getting conversant with parents/ family/ surroundings, App users start getting conversant with the app.
Child cries/ Cribs attended by parents, App misbehaves/ bugs encountered attended by resolution/ support team.
Child matures, app matures
child undergoes education/ training, app undergoes additional requirements.
Man, Matured app
Marriage and children, integration with other apps
Old man, old app
Dies, becomes useless
Another child conceived somewhere in some womb, another app requirements come up.
Now this is called a perfect product launch when the full hall of audience from various streams of life fully applaud about the product and the applaud comes from the heart of each one of them. The product that was launched today by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, India is the first ever Smart Learning tool meant for the entire school going youth of the country. The Digital Education Store is a storehouse of structured form of all learning required from a bundle of text books and through various school and private learning sessions. This single Digital Smart Learning cloud based tool is meant to cover all scattered form of learning knowledge at one place in a simple but powerful manner.
This must be quite inspiring for the school going middle and senior level students to find and use this extremely helpful digital media that will run on all Samsung tablets. Definitely there has been a great effort that has gone into this project for its development, design and UI under the umbrella of Samsung’s Media Solutions Center (MSC). The newly launched tool is highly innovative, supportive, interactive and comprehensive study material for almost 75 million youth studying from standard 1st to 12th in schools and those aspiring to get through various competitive exams. Focus is purely on covering the complete course content in an interesting and interactive form where after each chapter of each subject, the student can assess the amount of knowledge acquired by means of an objective test. This is where the software application is going to hit among the huge chunk of masses.
But the story never ends with the launch of a beautiful and powerful product. In fact that is just the beginning of product in the real life of its end users where it has to win over all kind of hurdles.
This is an excellent book written by Mike Cohn who is the founder of Mountain Goat Software. The title of the book Agile Estimating And Planning says it all for estimating and planning of an Agile Project. It says if the planning and estimating is not done in an agile way, the agile project is not relevant to this estimating and planning. Without taking agile into account while planning and estimating of your projects, you cannot run your projects in Agile way.
Mountain Goat Software is a legendary, over 20 years old company engaged in consulting in process and project management. The company is a leading training organization for many global corporate. Mike Cohn has clientele ranging from small start-ups to a large number of top 40 Fortune companies. Mike is also a founding member of well known Agile Alliance besides being a regular contributor to a number of related magazines and a renowned speaker at a number of conferences. Mike has also written a good amount of books like User Stories Applied in 2004.
Agile Estimating and Planning talks of a number of important features like planning, estimating and scheduling thereby answering the questions like – What to plan to build and its timelines, sizing of estimations and when to do what with a quantitative answer to “How much?”. The book has 7 sections and 23 chapters. At the end of each chapter you will find a well organized set of key learning points from that chapter to be imbibed in real life scenarios. The book has intelligently taken care of global companies without being focused on a specific country.
Part 1 of the book focuses on importance of planning, problems arising out of wrong planning and how to set goals in an agile atmosphere. A good plan needs to be built in a crisp manner to make is agile planning. Whereas Chapter 1 explains above, chapter 2 talks about the difference between traditional, orthodox project approach where estimating and planning go usually haywire, thus resulting in project delays or failures. In chapter 3 we learn about the meaning of agility and the broad level significance of agile estimating and planning that is further explained to micro level in further chapters.
Part 2 talks in depth about project estimation, estimation sizing and estimation duration. Story building is well explained in chapter 4 & 5. Chapter 6 deals with story points with a fantastic explanation on planning poker. Chapter 7 further focuses on alignment of story points with estimations and thus reviewing at the end of each story point so as to go for re-estimating.
Overall a must read for all agile aspirants to experts so as to gain a great deal of insight on the subject.
The event ALE 2014 going to be in Kraków this year, is meant to be engrossing and engaging for all Scrum Masters and in addition for all developers who are working in Agile environment or strive to learn about the subject. The presentation that is quite important to attend is on the topic – Involving UX and Visual Design while working in an Agile Development environment. ALE stands for Agile Lean Europe. ALE is a group of professionals who are dedicated in building a unique Agile and Lean community all across Europe who learn to work in a most collaborative manner while having fun.
As we all know that product design is the soul of any web project or for that sake any project. It is very important to understand why simplification of UX is important and thereby building user friendly interfaces plays a major role in any web project. That is where the key role of visual designers and graphics in UIs becomes quite important. To achieve success in building user friendly interfaces, it is important then to learn why waterfall approach does not fit in for such kind of projects. It is not at all advisable to finish all UX related work before the beginning of visual design. In today’s world where project timelines are tight and require least rework with first time right kind of approach, lean and agile definitely play a major role to achieve this.
Whereas waterfall talks of different teams working on a project, Agile says the same in entirely different manner with a motto of one team working on a project having several roles. In ALE2014 during 20-22 August, the attendees are also going to learn about how to move from Waterfall to Agile, Building and using User Stories, Scope of user stories, using scrum effectively, learning about Kanban and how to use it in project management.
You can see a detailed program here.
A Professor of the Practice in prestigious Department of Architecture in MIT, Sheila Kennedy, has bagged the Inaugural Design Innovator Award presented to her by the Architectural Record Magazine. This Inaugural award is newly built program to recognize the increased contribution of women in the Design profession that is apparently focused and extraordinary in nature. Recognition in this category is based on the dedicated amount of work done by Sheila Kennedy in area of marvelous innovative initiatives taken in materials and new building categories.
Kennedy has proved a tremendous amount of contribution in her work towards intersections of architecture, innovative approach in public space and digital networks. Her work that has been recognized and awarded is towards state of the art contribution in the Public Ferry Terminal in Manhattan of the East 34th Street. Kennedy has been recently honored with this award in the New York AIA Design Excellence Merit Award for the year 2014 where her excellence has been recognized as Building of the Month for the month of October 2014. The award has been jointly sponsored by Culture Now and New York AIA bodies. The unique part is the digital fabrication technology used by Kennedy for this speedy construction. Technology used in this project is interactive sensing system wherein the control mechanism is on tidal flows that move in the surface of the river.
Scrum By The Book, a video presented by Per Beining is of around 40 odd minutes duration and is focuses on providing you a walk through of the basis of Scrum, its fundamentals and fundamental elements; and of course, the interconnection among all these factors. The video is beautifully built and presented with a superb kind of related animation so as to cover the most popular form of Agile Methodology – Scrum.
This 42 minutes of video is fully engaging and at no point of time lets you get disengaged from what is being presented. It clearly talks about Sprints, Sprint planning, Sprint Backlog, Spring Goal, Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team, Potential Releasable Product Increment, Tasks, Daily Scrum, Burn down or Burn up Chart, Definition of Done, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective, Product Backlog, Product Backlog Grooming, Spring Cancellation and so on. Overall a very effective video and a must watch for all Aglie/ Scrum professionals/ enthusiasts.
Looking at the global verticals becoming interconnected by sharing similar kind of issues and in wake of sharing the challenges with online communities and trying finding out optimum solutions by joining hands with best of the brains, Ford Silicon Valley Lab has launched a global challenge for development community to find out the best of the solutions for challenges being faced at various levels in various countries/ cities. Innovation is the key to all challenges. Mobility is the key problem being faced worldwide whether it is connected to economical, affordability, environmental, social or global factors.
Who Can Participate In This Challenge:
a. An application development professional in the capacity of individuals
b. An organization with a team size of less than 50 employees
c. A large organization with a strength of employees more than 50
Whereas category a and b above are applicable to compete for the prize money, category c can participate to get a non-cash Large Organization Recognition Award, which in no terms is lesser.
What Platform: Developers are free to use and development tools on any platform. They can use Ford’s proprietary development tool OpenXC too.
Purpose: The prize winning (or recognition winning) application will become part of Ford Automobiles for deployment or further enhancement/ development. The application developed might also be used as an integrated tool with their any of the existing apps (Ford Sync).
Location: Developers belonging to any city across the globe may submit relevant app(s) for any locations mentioned for the contest – Lisbon, Los Angeles, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Shanghai, Johannesburg cities and the entire Argentina country. The competition/ challenge is specific/ unique for specific location depending on the specific requirements of these locations.
Duration: The challenge has started from July 15th, 2014 and is on till October 14th, 2014.
What Exactly is to be developed: Location wise requirements are as below:
Lisbon: Developers are required to develop an application that helps Ford in optimizing the delivery of their goods and services in a sustainable manner for cities having population within a limit of 600,000.
Mumbai: The application to be submitted for this city is covered under Monsoon App Downpour Challenge where the complete focus of the app will remain on improvement of mobility forces during the severe weathers.
Delhi: The challenge is named as SUMURR Golden Hour Challenge in which the main attention of the application is meant to reduce time for taking care of traumatic instances.
Chennai: Challenge in Chennai is named as SUMURR mHealth Challenge. The focus of the app has to be on providing information on health services to rural areas.
Los Angeles: The app challenge here is to develop Parking Lots 2.0 in which the main focus is to provide innovative and unique ways of providing outdoor surface parking lots.
Shanghai: The challenge here is to provide an app that provides a transformational assistance in improving mobility. The challenge is called Urban Community Challenge.
Johannesburg: Developers for this challenge need to develop accessories to improve mobility.
Argentina: The developers need to bring in an innovative app to define the future of mobility for the whole Argentina including urban planning, new mobility models in public and private arena.
This Dilbert video on Why Projects Fail by George Carr gives an entirely different perspective on why Projects Fail where the project management approach is not in place, your boss is not at all clear about what a project actually is, and how it needs to be handled. In that kind of scenario, in the name of project management lot of rubbish things keep happening that becomes a killer for the project itself. Projections, Project Design and Project mobility; all go for a toss…
Here is another excellent video by Jennifer, Director, ProjectManager.com on the top 10 reasons why projects fail. Most of the reasons, as project managers, have already known to many of us, that we have faced from time to time, project to project, customer to customer and organization to organization. At times we tend to forget these failure reasons of past projects and thus ignore to anticipate the failure signals in an ongoing project.
Google and Raven Aerostar started a project last year in which a final product had to be launched in February end this year. The product was nothing but a number of balloons, where one of that, named as Ibis 152, was launched in New Zealand this February. The purpose of this balloon was to travel in the stratosphere. Withing its first 120 days it has traveled around the Earth two times. The balloon during its travel is providing internet services during its presence in the remotest of the areas where there is no provision of internet availability so far. Its total tenure is defined as two years during which it has to keep travelling and providing internet facilities in the remote areas across the globe.
Agua Fria is a place in Brazil which is quite remote area and internet availability has been a big drawback there. The balloon while its travel over the Brazil provided internet via wireless connections to over 100 million people who had not tasted the butter so far. The successful achievement of the milestone has given further strength to Google’s mission of launching more such balloons that will fly in the stratosphere and provide broadband services through wireless connections in remote and rural areas. This is helping them in achieving more target audience who have never got a chance to work over internet, and also coverage of wider areas across the globe.
The science that works behind this is the phenomena of presence of multiple layers of wind in the stratosphere and each layer has its own direction and speed. Each of the balloon covers an area of around 40 kilometers in diameter to provide internet bandwidth. Each of the balloon is having its own powerful antenna with enhanced RF technology and similar antennas have been deployed at various remote locations in many countries. So while travelling each balloon talks to another balloon and the ground antennas thus making internet availability possible.
If you know about LINQS you must be knowing about the techie brain behind it, Raghvendra Saboo, 37. Raghvendra, an M Tech from IIIT (International Institute of Information Technology), Bangalore, India; has over 12 years of experience in software technology and he has worked with a number of global majors like GE Global Research, Tata Infotech, GXS and Oracle. LINQS is the brainchild of Raghvendra on which he started working on development of this mobile and web based application in Feb last year (2013), with a lean team of size of merely 4 members including himself and his wife and two freelancers. In June this year the product is launched and is reaching the wide horizons of its users. By now, the licenses sold are almost reaching to 4 digits.
LINQS is not required to be downloaded on a mobile as it is a browser based app and runs on the mobile browser. It works on the technology of Near Field Communication (NFC) tags and QR Codes. The company is reportedly expected to reach to its break even within 12 months of product launch. The product category is such that there are major tie ups with consumer durable companies in pipeline and being anticipated.
LINQS products are available online that can be bought in an easy manner. ICard, for instance, is a digital business card. The app (NFC and QR code based) is able to store digital business card on a simple tapping. Cloudbook, another important app, is a notepad or notebook where you can store number of your important notes, documents, pictures etc. that goes directly into safe cloud servers and can be retrieved anytime, anywhere. Another important and interesting app is Lost and Found tags with help of which you can tag your valuable product and find them in case they are lost at any moment of time.
When we talk of various project management methodologies in practice worldwide, few names that come to mind quickly are RAD, Scrum, Waterfall, and PRINCE2. Let us try to understand what are the key features of each of these main project management methodologies. Logically, if we see, project management in a way is a great source of learning along with what it is intended for. Each methodology, which is accepted on a global front, strongly approves its strengths in driving a project. Then, if at the same time, if various PM methodologies are in use worldwide, various organizations using different methodology and projects in all those organizations are leading to successful closures, it only proves that each methodology is powerful enough. Only different, it means, is in each methodology’s strategy in handling the situations in various stages of project management.
is the oldest among all methodologies. This orthodox, conventional and traditional methodology is most widespread and popular among various verticals of industries. Various phases include requirements, design, development, integration, code and process validation, installation and then maintenance.
PRINCE2 is widely recognized and established in terms of project management. It is a standard and a methodology thereby taking an industry on a different stride. PRINCE2 is official tool used by the United Kingdom Government. Extensive training is very important before adopting PRICE2 for project management in your organization. It is also important to understand its fitment in your kind of projects and the industry for which it is meant for.
SCRUM is an entirely different kind of project management methodology. It needs an entirely different kind of mindset and culture in the organization. SCRUM emphasizes on a formula – one person, one project; meaning that one team member remains dedicated to one project rather than working on different projects at the same time. Project Manager has to be a SCRUM Master.
RAD (Rapid Application Development) focuses mainly on customer requirements and aligning those with the delivery of an ultimate system to cater to those needs in the best possible manner. There are various models and techniques which are imbibed in this methodology.
For any of your prominent business application there must be running a number of jobs and services. To accomplish a particular result, you must be aware, how much time a particular job takes to arrive at the result. For all such job an analysis is must to conclude which are the top 5 jobs that take too much of time that impact on business and application performance. And thus the focus must go onto these top jobs for their enhancement and performance. There is an excellent approach of parallel processing and remote partitioning to increase an application’s performance with Spring Batch.
Parallel processing, as we all know, is the parallel execution of many processes on the server end. In remote partitioning you have a benefit of running your application processes on a cluster of servers rather than on a single hardware piece.
Let us try understanding what is refactoring, what is the process of doing refactoring, why is it needed or required and what the purpose it achieves or helps us in achieving. Refactoring is a process in which you change your software system in such a manner that although the external behavior of the code or application remains unchanged but the internal architecture or structure of your application is improvised to a large extent in a big way. Refactoring is a known term among Agile, Kanban, Scrum and Kaizen professionals.
Refactoring is always performed in small chunks or phases. After each small chunk, you need to examine and ensure that the application system remains unaltered on its functionality front. Smart refactoring process is in which the bug fixes, existing feature enhancements and new feature additions are also taken care of during this. Eventually refactoring does not limit an application to just internal structure enhancements but also allows change in functionality, if there is a demand for it. Refactoring in fact makes it easier to incorporate changes in application in an easier manner and with least risk involved in it. Refactored code is also called clean code.
Refactoring is also sometimes compared to cleaning your kitchen while and after cooking. A larger kitchen caters to larger volume of dishes and consumers. when multiple dishes are to be prepared in multiple times for multiple lots of people, the cleaning and reorganizing process keeps happening during and in between each course. What it means is that in such a scenario, someone is taking care of all processes of cleaning and reorganizing in a regular manner. If this does not happen, the whole process would lead to a big disaster or a failure.
We have a number of mobile chat apps available in the market – or rather on internet market – Whatsapp, Line, Viber, WeChat, Facebook messenger, twitter and so on. Most of these apps support cross platforms so as to enable you to connect with your friends irrespective of the mobile they use and the operating system residing on their mobile – iPhone, Android, Windows, Symbian, Nokia S40 or the BB – blackberry. I am sure not all of the above apps would be supporting so large base of operating platforms mentioned above but one of these does – which is WeChat. It is among the top 4 recommended “best mobile messaging apps” on TNW. Almost similar recommendations are there for WeChat on tom’s Guide and a similar survey conducted on TechRadar during December 2013 showed it to be on number 3. Definitely the situation would have improved by now if a fresh survey by any technology firm is conducted. The reason for that is the unique and highly acclaimed features available in WeChat that we would see below.
Tencent Inc. came into existence in 1998, has, in last decade has become China’s top portal in Internet Services. Major projects undertaken by Tencent are under the verticals – Value added Internet services, Mobile and Telecom Services, and Online advertising. The fact that more than 50% of the employees of Tencent are engaged in R&D activities of the organization. Tencent pioneered in establishing China’s first Internet research institute in 2007 named as Tencent Research Institute with research campuses in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing. Tencent has acquired a number of patents in instant messaging, online payment services, information security, e-commerce, search engine, gaming etc.
The excellent features of WeChat are Voice/ Text/ Video Chat, Group Chat, Moments, Voice/Video Call, Stickers Gallery, Broadcast Message, Friend Radar, Favorite Message, Group Chat, QR Code Support, Shake, People Nearby, Walkie Talkie, Drift Bottle and many more. Definitely some of the features are unique and proprietary in nature, which would not be available in any other mobile chat app. This also shows the organization’s commitment to provide the best possible solutions and features to its customers in a regular manner. Enhancement, Innovation and Customer focus is the key to such kind of projects.
A fact to note is that the app was launched in 2011, it became a landmark by acquiring a huge base of over 300 million subscribers worldwide.
Have you met hitchBOT, the newborn hitchhiking robot who is onto its first venture hitchhike ride with a mission of bringing technology closer to people. The newly built robot that has a size of a 6-7 years old kid, is making his way across the whole country, Canada, with one ride at a time. If you want to know where is it right now, just go to its website and a real time tracker will let you know its current location. hitchBOT has over 5,000 followers on twitter who are keenly interacting regarding hitchBOT.
hitchBOT is totally dependent on people for its movement. It seeks one ride at a time to move from one location to another with a mission to cover the whole country. Its constituents include bucket, pool noodles, rubber gloves, wellington boots, solar panels and a chip based computerized brain. It is a robot from Port Credit, Ontario and has a mission of travelling the whole Canada, coast to coast, the whole summer, with an intent of making new friends, covering interesting places, having interactive conversations and capturing beautiful pictures and videos on its way. It is purely a Canadian research project. Its journey started from the coastal region of Halifax and was immediately became an attention for a couple, Anne and Brian Saulnier, who were heading towards Kouchibouguac National Park, hence becoming its first ride.
An initiative of Hamilton’s McMaster University, with David Harris Smith, an assistant professor there, is the man behind this whole project. hitchBOT is powered with multiple solar panels that can be charged from regular charging outlets. With multiple rides, hitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot is supposed to reach to Victoria finally. hitchBOT is enabled with GPS and 3G wireless connectivity to keep interacting with its twitter, instagram, facebook and other accounts for posting and updating its progress. People are crazy to have selfie with hitchBOT.
A large number of project managers who were recently surveyed by a UK based company for consolidating data for UK based project managers and thus using this data to drive out some conclusive results came out with stunning results. Only 28% of the project managers said they are happy where they are currently with the job profile they carry and are not thinking about a change in job. On the other hand a whooping 67% of project managers expressed their consent in not having a fair amount of satisfaction in their current job and profile and are looking for a change in job at a new place.
As per the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the latest release states that the salary in UK has acquired slowest rate of growth. In a parallel note released by Arras People, it says that the low increase in salaries specially in the project management industry has severely impacted on them. 75% of the project managers working in some of the excellent companies confirmed that their salary hike was far less than the inflation rate this year. Out of this 93% of the project managers are working in public sector organizations. Based on these figures, it is quite easy to rule out the level of disappointment and dissatisfaction among project managers in the United Kingdom.
Contrary to this, the demand of project managers is on rise and has upsurged by 13% as compared to previous year (2014 vs 2013). 68% of the companies have confirmed that the recruitment of project managers in their organization has put a positive impact on business growth.
This is an excellent video by Henrik Kniberg talking about Project Owner with a vision, Stakeholders, Development Team, User Stories, Capacity of delivering 4-6 user stories in a week by development team. This 15 minutes video is quite interesting and attention grabbing in terms of the information it provides on project management and the product ownership in an Agile Project.
Here is an excellent video from Jennifer, Director at ProjectManager.com which is quite concrete, crisp and comprehensive. A must watch for all project managers across the globe.
Basecamp Networks, a Georgia based development company has unveiled their latest product IntelliScout. IntelliScout is a web application that is closely integrated with Google Glass which is specially meant to assist Crop Scouts, Farmers and Agriculture community. Basecamp Networks has a motto of changing the idea of work through technology and that is what they emphasize on while working on their any of the projects. They believe in building ecosystems that are sustainable and smartly built. The core purpose is to make technology to work for real cause with real kind of solution.
So, the project makes it possible to look at a crop in real time irrespective of the geographic distances. In a hands free mode, once can take field notes, pictures of crops, videos, etc. and sharing it in real time so as to get engaged in a discussion. The crop scouts, who are more worried about the enemies of crops – pests, fungal infestations or rodents; are bound to get a lot of assistance from this solution. The application, IntelliScout, uses Google Glass for logging issues encountered during the surveys being done by crop scouts and sharing the real time data in real way in shape of notes, videos, snaps or any other form. The best thing is that it does not require a laptop, smartphone or camera.
The year long project by Basecamp Networks got over in March this year after which its testing began. Currently its deployment is in progress by means of building a global database of crops by mapping various crops being grown in various parts of globe.
Google X is a research division of Google Inc. and is currently engaged in a deep study of a human body and its connection with being healthy. The discovery is focusing on an inside out study of human body to understand how a perfect and healthy human body appears. The project is being termed as Baseline Study in which the research wing of Google is busy in collecting and studying genetic, molecular and cellular architecture based information from human body so as to arrive at a conclusion regarding the health patterns in a human body. These health patterns are termed as Biomarkers, also known as biological markers.
Once the concept of health patterns is captured in a right manner, will tremendously help in detecting and treating of serious unharnessed diseases and shall lead to a major breakthrough in medical sciences. Something which has never been achieved so far. This would help in ascertaining at a very preliminary stage about people who are prone to acquire chronic diseases at a later stage of their life, due to some inheritance in their genes, or some risky living patterns like smoking and drinking. If this diagnosis will happen at an earlier stage, it will help in mitigating the risk of loss of life or low chances of survival.
The research which started with 175 people whose tissue and body fluids samples will be the part of research, is being planned to increase to 1000 people for arriving at more accurate results.
When Facebook launched its IPO in 2012 under heavy expectations, speculations and rumors from investors, public and corporate world; it never knew the bad treatment it was going to get when the prices were reached to half in a period of 3 months. Keen watchers remained stuck to the movement of its stocks in the market. Either Facebook has remained as a secret planner for earning money without disclosing its strategies in advance, or the financial stalwarts have not been able to judge the weakness or strength of its scrip.
There is no doubt that after the launch of its IPO, Facebook had a bad period of struggle in the market. The projected inflows and earnings were not as per the agenda and even during a period of one year after the launch, Facebook’s earning from mobile advertising was not as it had anticipated. The speculations and rumors have been sidelined with the latest press release by Facebook where they declared their earnings for the second quarter of 2014. As per the results, Facebook has achieved to increase its revenue to 67%. Its weakest area of earnings through mobile ads has become now quite a strong piece of the overall revenue by having a contribution of 60%.
With increasing profit margins and its end users base, Facebook has become a top most ranker in terms of ad seller. With these results announced, Facebook shares price had a whooping jump by 5% and the current share price of USD 75.2 is almost double of the initial offering of USD 38 IPO.
It has proven and established its success on global front
It is independent of the project size, industry size or industry type.
The topmost priority of Extreme programming is customer.
It focuses on delivering what is actually required by the organization rather than talking about a delivery of big elephant with no clear vision of delivery date.
Instead of committing to produce everything it promises to produce what is the first need of organization. So once this gets delivered the next most important requirement becomes the first.
This way Extreme Programming never takes complete customer requirements in one go. It starts with outer periphery moving inwards.
It has proven its capability in providing a last minute change in the business requirement even during the time of delivery in a swift manner.
It puts a high emphasis on team collaboration and customer engagement in a constant manner.
Its simple mechanism has proved to be highly effective and productive.
It talks about least monitoring and high amount of self organization to produce highly efficient results.
The role of tester begins along with the developer and both go hand in hand.
Above with continuous engagement with customer promises to deliver any suggested changes with quicker implementation.
In continuation from my previous post on user stories, the basic fact about user stories remains established that it is a powerful mechanism to drive a project in a more promising mode. The results are more predictive in this way, quicker, and the whole game is played with a very low risk. Driving a new application development project based on user stories is not only interesting but high result oriented also.
User stories must be strongly depicted to provide low risk clue to declare the timelines. Release of user stories depends varies not more that 3 weeks and less than a week. While the development team starts working on a specific user story, it must be carried out in a most isolated state, with no interference, no other priorities and no alterations in plans. The developers must be very clear about the scope and boundaries of story. If a story is stretching beyond 3 weeks for its release, it needs to be fragmented into smaller pieces so as to arrive arrive within the limit of 1 to 3 weeks.
Similarly if a story is estimated to be released in less than a week’s time, it needs to be added to some other stories so as to lengthen the release time but keeping in mind that the combined time should not go beyond 3 weeks. A release plan contains release dates of a number of such user stories. Stories are always business process centric.
User stories are crisp, realistic, to the point, directional, practical, purposeful, resulting and have multipurpose.
User stories are a good alternative of business requirement document but are shorter and crispier than the voluminous size of the latter.
User stories have a huge amount of objectivity in terms of declaring or demanding a business feature or function to be fulfilled by the software application.
They are somewhat having a good amount of resemblance with business scenarios.
User stories are created by or with the help of experts in specific business area in a specific format and limited text. User stories form a solid foundation for test cases specially the acceptance tests.
Unlike detailed requirement documents prepared in traditional project management process, user stories are limited to only of length that is sufficient enough to depict the requirement in such a fashion that the overall requirement framework can be understood, and provide near to perfect timelines for its deployment.
The actual detailed requirement is understood at the time of its development and deployment by developers.
The latter part happens in direct interaction of development team with the business core user or the story creator.
Software requirement arises out of a business need. Someone from the business side feels that some critical business requirement can be met by building an application and shall provide some amount of automation and enhancement as compared to the manual process; and then desires it to be built by either internal software development team or an external/ outsourced team. A business requirement document is then prepared to provide ‘what is’ and ‘what needs to be’ scenarios.
‘What is’ cites the current process as it is – end to end as happening in the business – manually or in a legacy standalone system. Due to this critical business process happening manually a lot of effort goes into translating the manual business information into some kind of system to get some sensible reports and analysis out of this. The latter might also not be happening in an application; it might be drawn out through some excel sheet with the help of some kind of functions and queries.
This business requirement then is to be given to the project manager/ product manager/ development manager to discuss it with the business team and their teams so as to prepare a technical document basis which the development work begins. The two ends of the bridge need to be well connected and have a strong connecting factor in between having a 50:50 knowledge of both ends. He must be able to identify what exactly is the requirement, what does the technical translation intend to deliver and if there is any gap between the two in shape of a risk, like a vehicle starting from one end and after covering the 80% of bridge realizes some disastrous facts about the bridge.
Project management comprises of a sequence of action points to act upon in various phases of project by various stakeholders. The project initiation phase itself calls for a number of important actions that lead it to its next phase – project development and then project execution and finally project sign off. Let us have a look at following important steps that need to be taken care of during project management:
Understanding/ Brainstorming/ Strategizing
Drawing Project Guidelines
Establishing a Baseline for Project
Adjusting teams, resources and aligning
Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects team) is currently engaged in its 24-months project’s 18th month activities. The project is termed as Project Tango and the main derivative of this project will be a tablet with 7-inch display embedded with 3D-mapping and other high end technologies. Though there is still a substantial time of 6 months for the product to be launched in the market, the project is supposedly going as per desired pace and results. Project Tango is all about an extraordinarily powerful Tango tablet with its extreme high-tech specifications grab the top rank in the market.
4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of primary storage, HDMI 7 USB 3.0 ports, 1080 pixels display characteristics and the most aggressive Nvidia processor is what you would be getting in this tablet under progress with Project Tango team. Besides regular features of OS – Android 4.4, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth it will be supporting 4G; it will be having two strong cameras placed at specific angle of 13 degrees to bring in special 3-D effect. There is also a depth sensor at the backside of tablet.
The projected cost of Tango tablet would be slightly above USD 1,000 and the target audience of course would be high end gaming enthusiasts needing a real like experience in gaming. Tango tablet project is being led by Johnny Lee. Besides gaming, the tablet would be of high use where 3D simulation is of high importance such as war, disasters and strategic situations.
while there is a section of organizations, developers and project managers who have built a large amount of trust in Agile Methodology, there is another section of the same set of people who challenge Agile methodology, its unrealistic & unstructured process; and its most cumbersome part – governance. As per the critics of Agile methodology, governance of the practices is a big challenge; and they put valid reasons to vet their version. While the success and failure can’t totally put the credit or blame for this on Agile methodology for the same kind of projects running in two similar kind of organizations leading to just the reverse fates.
There are a large number of organizations who have adopted Agile methodology and have been able to drive and govern it successfully. The reason for this success as per the pro’s is given to the right adoption of methodology and framework whereby the basic principles of self assurance, self discipline, right adoption of practices lead to good amount of governance and self accountability on its own emerging out of self ownership of success. It is widely evident that Agile methodology is always in continuum and highly collaborative. This dynamism is always a bi-directional tool for gaining success. On one hand it provides quick and visible results and on the other hand it demands a regular review of deliverables. With such quick reviews, any hiccup in the path of success is tackled with an alternative action plan.
Such kind of collaboration provides quicker results, instant identification of problem/risk and its faster resolution.
In my just concluded post I tried to highlight the basic difference between traditional project management and project management with Agile methodology. The emphasis remains on harnessing over the biggest hurdle in any project which is ‘unpredictability’. This unpredictability can happen in any shape – customer, task, resource, team member, management, PMO, or any other stakeholder. It is not that Agile removes unpredictability. What it does is that it provides a methodology to adopt to reduce unpredictability drastically thereby improving chances of success.
When you have a higher level of predictability available with you with the help of insight or foresightedness you will be able to act in a proactive manner to build a stronger strategy to overcome risks. Agile methodology helps you in building smaller task cycles and thus embedding them with clear cut results of deliverables. All this happens in shape of iterations. Agile methodology emphasizes on incremental (or iterative) progress rather than the legacy waterfall approach in traditional project management. We all know that in waterfall approach, project teams have lesser chances of getting things ‘first time right’, specially in development. In Agile methodology, unlike traditional project management approaches, each aspect of project is revisited and realigned. In first go it might appear to be a more time consuming approach. But if you see the amount of energies and time required for exact alignment is always lesser as compared to the risk of derailment at a later stage.
When each aspect of a project – customer requirements, development plan, development etc. are visited frequently with a target of focusing more on the alignment among all, it provides a firm base to the project teams to move ahead in the right direction assisting them in achieving their goals within stipulated time frames.
If comparison is done on the basis of success rate between the traditional orthodox project management and project management with Agile methodology, it is more than 50% of gap between the two, worldwide. What it means is that when you adopt agile methodology to manage your software project, your chances of winning the game increase because the methodology itself drives you in such a manner so as to enable you and your teams to get geared to achieve your milestones in a timely manner. What was happening earlier when Agile was not introduced in project management was that the failure rate was pretty higher and on top of it the reasons for failure used to be so prominent and powerful that a firm belief used to build up to accept these failures with open arms.
Gradually companies and corporate world started realizing that acceptance will do no good to both ends. Some transformation was required to be brought in to get into the crux of reasons for failure and then overpowering these reasons to convert failure into success. What Agile brought in was ‘harnessing over unpredictability’. Unpredictability was the most prominent reason that used to cause failures in traditional project management. This unpredictability used to happen in various shapes and forms; and during various project phases.
Agile is not a magic. It is merely as systematic and disciplined approach to focus on ‘micro’ parts of an elephant (project) rather than focusing on the wholesome and thereby losing control over it. Agile is a good learning for any project manager to get over the devils of a project.