For all projects in software conducted for Government of Uganda, the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda shortly indicated as NITA-U has prepared a comprehensive guidebook titled as National Project Management Methodology Guide which acts as a controlling and managing media. Any agency, for that sake, national or international, that is engaged by Uganda government for development of a new software product have to ensure adherence to the National Project Management Methodology designed and developed by the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U).
Basically the major components of this is to ensure coverage of all essential steps required to ensure structured planning, control and management of IT projects. By adhering to it, it is assured to comply with appropriate methods, procedures and policies so as to ensure that world class good practices become essential component, or rather a driving agent, for any kind of IT project throughout, for all stages during its lifecycle. A vast experience and collaborative knowledge has been put behind to manage the show. Previous IT projects, successes and failures; with in-depth analysis has helped in building a strong knowledge base from all kind of lessons learnt.
Well defined processes, procedures, templates and guidelines are critical components to ensure extensive direction to users to follow the same without fail.
No wonder if you get to know that the global demand of expert software testing professionals is increasing exponentially. There are, in general, two misconceptions about this profession – one, a technology/ engineering guy if does not succeed in software development business take testing as a professional; and two, that software testing profession is not as demanding and successful as software development. Both are not true. A failed developer, unless has a different kind of flair and a real passion for testing can never succeed as a software testing professional. On the other hand this is also a misnomer that if you are not a good software developer, you cannot become a good testing professional.
With the increasing demand for software and hence software testing services, there is a regularly increasing demand for software development professionals. Software development has become a strong and powerful industry in itself with companies strongly putting their foot forward in the global markets for providing specialized software testing services. These services include end to end quality control, quality assurance, testing training, testing certifications and so on. A raw or semi cooked product has no value in today’s stringent and highly competitive market. Testing has become a separate domain with a specific kind of requirements for testing specific kind of products or for using specific kind of testing tools. Today, testing is not merely a paperwork for just the sake of formality to impress customer.
Testing, in today’s scenario is a specialized profession with specific skill sets. It is as highly paying job as software development. In fact in industry, expert software professionals are being paid higher than their equivalent counterparts engaged in software development.
Quality software engineer may appear to be performing different roles. There are several instances where people might not be aware of QA or even if they are aware of this word they might now be aware about the functions of Quality Assurance. On the other hand you will find people who are well aware of this term and the core functions performed by Quality Assurance.
A Quality Assurance Engineer is supposed to be planning and executing activities defined in the quality system in a well structured manner. These major activities that a QA engineer is supposed to be engaged in defining of development processes during the development cycle including audits, reviews and refinement. Audit would include finding out deviations from the standard procedures and their closure. The role of a quality assurance engineer also includes defining processes and procedures to be followed at every stage.
A quality assurance engineer has a major role in documentation of policies, procedures and systems.
Respect is the biggest tool to draw out automatically many more winning strokes for a project. If a Project Manager has a charisma to inculcate respect within and across teams, it drives always to a winning note, bringing in momentum and thrust towards quick and successful closures to any kind of challenges. In fact respect among all team members acts as a catalyst to boost a project.
It is always a two way process with a top down approach. Organizations with a heart (& courage) are able to adopt it with clear cut visibility. It comes from top up to you wherever you are in the hierarchy and automatically goes downwards… It works like a chain reaction, a virus, a communicable disease (all in a positive note) working silently but with a loud bang! It all depends on how much weightage you give in inculcating respect factor among all working on a project irrespective of the level and forte of each member. Not all organizations understand the value and its long term benefits in investing such time of soft activities but definitely once someone sitting on top level, if understand it gravity, would always ensure that such kind of culture always exists.
Sustenance with a good amount of urge to keep its level rising automatically becomes target of everyone in the team, once it starts with full amount of sincerity and the teams (and each of the team member) starts tasting the fruit.
Requirement analysis is the first exploratory exercise that happens during a project management cycle. It is a phase in which a set of business analysts visit the customer location so as to understand the actual business process by witnessing the real business scenario and meeting with core process experts who are managing the business flow from various fronts so as to understand the core business process and thereby chalk out the business/ customer requirements.
Requirement analysts are supposed to have an expertise in various areas. One core area is they need to be good probers and observers. Probing tool must be used at the time of discussion with process and business experts from customer end so as to finalize the requirements. RA team members must use their observation keenly in order to understand the actual processes being driven. It is the customer who needs to understand clearly what process will take place in what manner after it is taken shape of a business application.
There is always a gap between any process being driven manually and that through an application. The flow of process may not remain as it is when ruin through an application. There might be some changes happening in roles, functions, authorizations and approvals.
There are certain shortfalls at both ends during any phase of a project that keep eyebrows raised, questions sparked and delays caused. Usually the mindset at the beginning of any software project at customer end is – since we are the paying agents we will be having an upper hand throughout. So even if there is a lacking in defining customer requirements at the beginning during the requirement analysis phase, from customer end, it is felt that those shall be given at a later stage. But at a later stage it would have a recursive impact on documentation, development and delivery – that nobody tries to understand a that juncture.
Similarly at the delivery end, which has a higher stake in technology, sometimes oversees capturing of concrete customer requirements and when this hidden bomb explodes at a later stage, it causes damages to a large extent in terms of time and money. Let us try and understand some of the key factors to improve quality of capturing of customer requirement so as to avoid any hiccups at a later stage.
1. Ensure the best of the person knowing ins and outs of the business process is part of discussion.
2. Ensure there is sufficient buy-in of the customer management in sealing the requirements.
3. Ensure that sealing of requirements does not mean there will be no change in requirements at a later stage. This sealing is as at that moment of time when these requirements are taken and recorded. There could be external (or internal) factors imposing new requirements.
4. Ensure that the team capturing business requirements from delivery end does not seal requirements sitting in a meeting room. They should spend ample time living in the process with full understanding in real scenario.
5. Don’t commit 100% delivery of requirements without consulting with internal teams at delivery end – business group, technical group and deployment group in the same hierarchy.
Customer is the main source of inspiration and motivation for the development of any product planned to be developed or launched. It is the customer requirements that are kept on top of mind while developing a software. Customer is the end user and various connected links to the end users who are ultimately going to use the product. If a product is developed with all good and great efforts put into it, but does not get at par with the expectations of the end customer; it is bound to fall flat on the floor.
Now if the customer requirements are so important and crucial, why during the phase of Business/ Customer Requirements Analysis, so many gaps are there that lead to big disasters at a later stage. There are gaps at customer end and equally at the vendor end. Let us look at customer end – when customer does not understand the gravity of matter or takes it lightly with lighter mindset. Customer thinking of handling the gaps at a later stage, that he is aware of at this crucial juncture; but also knowing that there is no later stage to handle such gaps which are important to build right at this stage.
5 Myths that a customer carries at the juncture when Business Requirement Analysis is being done, which lead to failure later could be:
1. I am very busy: Well, though I know the process to the core but right now I am very busy so please talk to xyz down the line who will explain you on the basis of whatever he knows.
2. I will manage it later: If things are not explained well right now (though they are supposed to be), don’t worry, we will manage them at a later stage (but when? at the time of product launch? thereby inviting a sleeping volcano to erupt)
3. If you have a doubt ask me: Though I am very busy even knowing that from customer end I am the rightmost candidate to explain the whole process but I am deputing someone below the line who has joined recently to explain it. And if he has any doubt anywhere, he will ask me. The poor guy doesn’t know where to ask what having his limited knowledge of the system.
4. I expect you to understand in 2 hours what I mastered in 2 years: I joined in the system, took my own sweet time to settle down and then understand the system. But when you have come to do the requirement analysis, I expect you to understand the whole business scenario up to the root level in a single meeting of 2 hours.
5. I focus more on how to build the process rather than explaining the process: I will keep poking my nose in telling you how to build this process in the system (though I don’t know even the ABC of software development) rather than explaining you the actual process with minutest of the critical details that are important to be taken care of.
Few facts about customer requirements:
1. Customer requirements keep changing during the course of development of a product.
2. It is damn critical to absorb customer requirements, expectations and untold dreams precisely and correctly in documentation and product.
3. Behind every line of requirement specified by customer, there are 10 lines which is important to understand and document.
4. Customer requirements is not only the beginning phase of a product journey, it needs to be revisited and reviewed, along with the customer, during every phase.
5. Customer requirements told/ specified by customer, not documented well is a disaster for the product.
6. Customer requirements not signed off by customer is like an unsigned cheque with whatever hefty amount written on it.
7. Customer requirements not aligned properly and accurately from RA document to product (during development phase) leads to a different destination with no end results.
8. Perception of a product before designing of product is more important.
9. Quality testing without getting into customer’s shoe is worthless.
10. Well designed product if not presented well at the time of delivery and deployment, to end customer highlighting all his expectations met as key features will not be taken as a rich product by customer.
You ask any software company about their first wish and it will be a consistent desire to produce quality software. Ideally it would be fantastic if the product goes beyond the expectations of customer in terms of quality but usually it never happens. EVery time a product is handed over to customer, it lacks some or the other quality related issues the way customer had wished to have it. There are sometimes certain limitations that are imposed in the new product as an alteration or deviation as it could not have been possible to handle the business requirements as it is.
Software quality can not be defined in a single set of words. There are certain criteria or parameters on which it can be measured. The parameters and definition of quality of a software for a particular customer (or set of customers) would vary depending on geographic and local requirements that can’t be fixed just like that. How about linking quality of product with the quality of customer requirements. So let us try to jot down below the various factors that impact on quality of software:
1. Quality of customer requirements
2. Quality of RA team:
2. Quality of Project Manager
3. Quality of Development Team
4. Quality of Testing
5. Quality of Deployment Team
6. Quality of Documentation
7. Quality of End User
8. Quality of training
9. Quality of Management
10. Quality of Methodology used for Project Management.
In next few posts we would be discussing these factors in detail. It is important to note at this point of time that each of the factors listed above is a significant contributor for the overall quality of software/ product.
This is about Kibo Robot Project in which Toyota is participating in which Kobo Astronaut is travelling to space to find out exhaustive interesting facts and findings. The robot named Kirobo will be accompanied by few of the human astronauts – Commander Wakata and his team. Toyota’s role in this project is quite phenomenal. The robot Kirobo is fitted with an advanced voice recognition software developed by Toyota team. Why Toyota decided to join in, in this project is because the company is hopeful of building up of a society soon comprising of both – human and robots – existing together and helping each other in the newly dreamt ecosystem.
That is why Kirobo is being sent to the international space where he will meet and interact with the human representative Commander Wakata. The new software is different from all other existing interactive voice recognition software. The different is phenomenal as the new software instead of being one question at a time kind, is more of human nature where Kirobo listens sympathetically and replies back accordingly in an intelligent manner.
Hope you enjoy this new project and the video embedded above.
It was way back in 1962 that a young lady with an entrepreneurial foresight decided to launch an all woman software company. Her name was Dame Stephanie Shirley and she admitted later after the launch of her company named FI Group, that it was not an easy task to run an all woman show in a professional world and how she overcame those hurdles. The name F1 Group was later changed to Xansa. Basically the initial theme of this company was that this was a company of women and a company for women.
The aim of Shirley was quite impressive when she decided to launch this company with a unique purpose. She had an urge of building a different business model with a sole purpose of encouraging talented women to work in industries connected to technology and with a liberty to work in their own style with their own time schedules. Shirley confirmed later that where the whole business world at that time was busy with singular goals of money, margins, profits, cash flow etc., her focus was totally different – towards innovation, team-work, quality, delivery, excellence, which at that time were thought to be the softer side of management and were not too focussed during that time.
This was not a smooth beginning for her at the launch of her company. Few of the glitches she faced were – she rarely used to get replies to her business letters until she started using only her family name in her signatures – “Steve”. Shirley started this venture or unique kind of all women project because she felt that it is more difficult for women to balance family and work as compared to men as the women have higher amount of domestic engagements and responsibilities.
Education is an area where same style of teaching, same content of study material and same methodology works well provided the style, content and methodology has been well tested and proven well. The world does not stop here, a regular improvisation definitely is required so as to uplift the current level of all above three factors. There is though a customization factor that plays a major role once the same set of education has to be delivered across the globe in various countries. The same hold good for different students sitting in the same classroom.
Over a period of time children have become more adaptive to higher challenging environment right since their early years. Technology has a major say in this to bring in personalisation factor in each student’s learning. Since last one decade, children are moving quickly towards technology and that is why it has brought out higher amount of technological innovations. In U.S. more than one-third of teens carry their own smartphone and can’t live without it. In last few years, the level of knowledge about technology in children has increased by almost 50% as compared to their counterparts in earlier years. Classroom scenarios have changed from blackboard and chalks to electronic displays. Books have changed to digital books. Technologists are trying to find out more and more innovative ways of improvisation.
Almost two thirds of teachers use electronic gadgets to deliver their lessons. Social Networking, Blogging, Forums, etc is playing a high role in today’s scenario.
Digital data is like something valuable that is released from your end but you, yourself are not too sure and confident about how secure this data will stay on internet. This is what is true about all your emails, posts on social networks, tweets, blogs, articles etc. It is like an important piece of information is written on a small piece of paper and is left in the open atmosphere having high wind across. You don’t know the final destination of this paper and the important information it is carrying. Even if you find it lying at some place after some time, you can trace out exactly how many hands it has exchanged or how many people have gone through the information lying on this paper.
That is what is the fate of the digital data – including your mobile phone calls, text messages, and all other activities on internet. Digital Data security so long is not too prerogative. It is easier to find out a leakage to found out any information regarding you in the digital arena than that lying on papers in your drawer at your home of office. The same applies to the digital data belonging to a corporate. Whatever is the service level agreement a corporate has with a cloud service provider from whom it is availing a service, it is not too easy to find out the leakages and assure security, safety and privacy of its data with 100% assurance.
Internet thieves/ hackers are already there in the race to grab any kind of important information that is there in digital form. There are engines already and without much awareness about them which are churning out lot of digital information in a much meaningful form by using certain algorithms used for sorting, indexing, data crunching and data extracting.
Any roadmap to software development begins with a plan for its deployment post development. Whether it is a self sponsored project or based on a new requirement that has come from an external customer – before initiation, its destination is finalized. There could be another category of software that is to be launched in an open market – say a specific segment oriented product then the that specific segment becomes target audience for that product basis which the development requirements and customer needs are specified.
For any product that is planned to be launched for a global market, there has to be a concrete plan for its localization in different countries. A non localized global product will never fit in – in all countries. BY Localization we mean – language, process and country specific requirements. A very good product developed in English might not do well in countries where English is not used as a primary or secondary language. Similarly a process that fits well in a larger set of globe, might not hold good for a few countries and shall therefore require some customization.
Localization in terms of language can be termed as translation of that product in local language. That localization can be done in three manners – manually, in an automated manner or in a hybrid manner.
Irrespective of the kind of business you are running, in today’s era or technology and information, it is undoubtedly confirmed that project management tools, processes and methodologies can help in growth of any business provided fitted with right set of tools, processes and methodologies. Once thing within a business is also clear that all different projects being initiated and driven within the organization do not fit in for success if thrown in the same box of a single kind of project methodology.
Different projects even within a company can’t be driven following same process or methodology. Different projects having different customer requirements comprising of different stakeholders and using different kind of technologies will require an introspection whether the roadmap of all kind of projects will be same starting with project initiation and closing with project closure phase. With businesses becoming more information intensive due to higher competition and survival of the fittest scenario. By becoming more information intensive and running a project with proper methodology businesses can achieve higher success in terms of successful completion of projects.
So whether it is a small business running in a local vicinity or an international business – project management helps any kind of business to initiate, plan, prioritize, develop, manage, coordinate, control and close their projects successfully.
Google Loon is Google’s one of the most precious projects so far as far as its width and breadth is concerned. Project Loon is about an assemblage of balloons that will float in the atmosphere above 50 km of the earth’s surface. These balloons will appear like mini satellites floating at a low range. The purpose of this project is quite unique and for a very good cause. The cause is to provide broadband availability via these balloons in non developed countries. This project has been categorized by Google as one of the White Spaces project.
White Spaces is a term derived from Telecommunications where it indicates the unused bands of frequencies left in between the used bands of frequencies. It is important to leave a stipulated unused band of frequency in between the two used bands of frequencies so as to avoid interference. Hence Google decided to work on these unused bands known as White Spaces with development of technology where they assured no compromise of interference will be there thereby assuring no quality compromise for paid users and bandplan companies. By using these White Spaces Google plans to provide very nominal cost (or almost free) availability of internet in poor countries.
The pilot for this novel and noble project was conducted in New Zealand. The people falling within the vicinity of Google Loons got 15 minutes of bandwidth access before those floating balloons drifted away to another location in the stratosphere. If this project takes off in real life scenario with projected results, it will be giving a big thrust and boon to the business and locales where Google plans to launch their Loons in not too developed countries. What makes it more possible to reality is because winds in the stratosphere area are not as fast as compared to Troposphere and below.
Understanding the need to address quality issues the African Union has ultimately taken a call to form a separate, independent and empowered agency to assess and optimize the performance of educational institutes engaged in higher education in the continent; and also help to fasten professional mobility throughout the continent. The African Union decided to build this agency under the umbrella of Continental Quality Assurance and Accreditation cell.
Recently Dr Yohannes Woldetensae, who is among one of the senior education experts working in the department of HR, Science and Technology at AUC (African Union Commission), stated that it is immediately required to increase the efficiency of African Higher Education so as to increase its competence. This importance emerged out during a special interview conducted by University World News with Dr. Woldetensae, where he further elaborated that few of the most critical issues being faced by the higher education process in Africa like very less participation, lower facilities for learning, increasing demands by students, shortfall of appropriate teaching staff, out of date teaching process etc. need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Various reasons that can be treated as cause to these issues are – negligible research work happening in African Universities thereby resulting in very low research work being published out, lower volumes of qualified staff that results into higher workload, gap between education and industry/ employer demand, lack of strong processes and QMS (Quality Management System) in place, and on top of it – missing leadership and no visibility of governance.
Though AfriQAN – the African Quality Assurance Network does exist in Ghana at its Association of African Universities but due to its ineffectiveness and various other reasons the African Union Commission strongly feels emergence of a Continental Accreditation Agency in the field of Higher Education so as to control and manage above mentioned quality related shortfalls becoming a pain point for the whole continent.
It is all about quality but not on the planet Earth. It is about Curiosity Rover from NASA that is currently on the planet Mars that is around 50 million miles away from Earth. The purpose of sending Mars Curiosity Rover by NASA to the Red Planet is to find out the traces of life that ever, if at all, existed there. There had been some vital indications last month only, that this 1.6 billion Pound worth of robot found out some evidences that supported the fact that the red planet could have supported existence of microscopic life.
Mars Curiosity Rover was launched in November 2011 that landed on Mars in August 2012. This has been one of the most important missions of NASA that required 100% accuracy in its coding for the Mars Curiosity Rover. A single coding error could during its development could have been the reason of one of the biggest disasters, ever. The software developed for Mars Curiosity Rover in Mars Science Laboratory demanded a highest level of rigorous testing as a single bug left untraced and fixed could have resulted into a severe crash rather than a safe landing. That is why NASA hired extremely reliable software testing services of Coverity engaging them in the project right since its beginning.
The code analysis, testing and fixing of bugs was a daily routine till the product reached to a highest level of confidence. Since the risk involved was huge, it was very important to ensure perfect coding with not a single bug left in the product by the time it was ready for the launch.
Healthcare is a booming industry for last many years and shall remain so for coming few years. Technological innovations and engagements have made this industry much more responsible in terms of providing solutions to complex cases, collaboration in terms of global forums and discussions; and availability of historical data anytime anywhere. GE Healthcare is a global player in healthcare with its presence in almost all countries worldwide. Understanding the power of technology and deciding to gain quick dividend, the company has decided to spend over USD 2 billion during the coming 5 years in the field of software by building advanced applications and building state of the art systems so as to take a leap way ahead of other major global players in the same field.
Main focus is on finding out new and innovative ways to improvise upon productivity and operational fields. The project will be undertaken jointly with the group company GE Software Centre of Excellence which is in San Ramon, California in collaboration with other Research and Development centres across the globe to build new software solutions. The new applications are aimed not only to help in advancement in providing solutions for managing customer data, operations etc. but also for high level analytical solutions. These advanced applications are supposed to be fast, reliable and well organized. The diagnosis will be much more reliable, faster and trustworthy even in highly complex cases. And so will be the treatment and care for the patients.
GE Healthcare has their CoE (Centre of Excellence) situated in Bengluru, India. It has a large and dedicated software development team for last many years so as to develop breakthrough solutions for various fields in healthcare.
If you are planning to fire your project manager you are in turn challenging your own credibility. It is you who designated your project manager knowing about his/ her strengths and weakness and arriving at a conclusion that overall assessment goes into his/ her favor as project manager who in turn will be best among the team/ peers to manage the show well. If it does not happen later, it is not him/ her, but you who needs to look into the mirror and introspect within – what went wrong?
In fact it is quite easy to fire the captain of a failed cruise but understand well that no captain would like to go his cruise perform worst or let his ship sink. He/ she will keep fighting till last moment to save the reputation at stake – his, customer’s and his own organization’s. A project manager who has just escalated from one step below to this position can’t perform as a project manager on that seat for last many years. A change in profile definitely asks for different set of activities and transformation in working style. This change and transformation can’t happen overnight. It takes time for a pebble to settle down in a troubled water. It is, at this juncture, that the newly formed project manager will need a couple of strong shoulders and arms to hold and support him/ her.
Well, at this juncture, it is someone above his position who needs to mentor, coach and groom project manager to really become a project manager. If it is a sustained performing well project manager for years who all of a sudden starts getting his project’s failed due to whatever reasons, it is more serious and again needs a learning.
In both cases, it is a great learning to understand the causes of failure and build the same existing project manager to fight against those causes by acting as a catalyst.
Quality is the longest journey in any project whereas other teams board and leave the train on various stations. Quality team has various roles during this long journey. Each role has its own set of requirements and impact on overall health of the project. These various roles can also be termed as different dimensions of Quality Team. Different dimensions because each dimension is clearly differentiable from the other but each is equally important and essential.
Following are the four dimensions of Quality Team during the complete journey of a Project:
1. Analysis of Business Analysis: As soon as business analysis/ business requirements/ user requirements document comes into final shape, it should immediately fall into the lap of Quality team for clearly understanding and conceptualizing the whole scenario in their mind and start of building their business/ logic test cases in parallel to development.
2. Quality Testing: QC (unit testing) goes hand in hand during development but a regressive testing is required at the end of development and before handing it over to key users for UAT. This is where a testbed is prepared which must be as close to the live environment as possible. Versatile range of test cases, integrity testing, load etc. is all done here. More the test cases, much better, provided all are meaningful, and not merely for the sake of just lengthening of list.
3. UAT: Presence of Q Team at the time of UAT is very important. You just can’t leave key users in isolation to perform UAT. Though it is very important to ensure the main driver here is end user and not QC team.
4. Go-Live: Mostly Quality team thinks their role get over once Testing is complete. But that is not true. Teams which agree to such kind of setup fail at large. Post deployment it is very important to notice the major bugs encountered during first six months and introspect why it could not happen during Testing Phase.
Following are the five essential guidelines for setting up your Staging Server while releasing it to key users for conducting UAT:
1. Select the right audience: If you are scared about failure of UAT and therefore select not too expert end user you are digging your own grave. Select the best of the key users who know in and out of business requirements basis which you have developed your product for them.
2. Documentation: Generate and provide right amount of documentation that included all user and business requirements captured, logical design, business flow and broad outlines of technical documentation. It will help UAT team to perform better while performing User Acceptance Testing and therefore you will get very useful feedback and Testing Results.
3. Testbed: Prepare your Staging Server as close to the real environment as possible. Though it makes more sense for QA server but still I always prefer the same alignment here too.
4. Vetting by QA and Development Head: Let your QA and development understand very clearly that getting a nod from QA during QA testing does not necessarily mean that QA is particularly relieved. UAT should be treated as an acid test for QA team.
5. Test Cases: Get all your QA functional, navigation and design test cases repository be passed to UAT team to provide them plenty of ideas to either generate their own new test cases or use from this repository (or both).
6. Plan In Advance: Since you know very well the release date committed to the customer (internal or external), plan UAT accordingly with sufficient time being provided to testing team (end users).
7: Adhere to Timelines: And last but not the least – adhere to timelines, keeping in mind that there could be blunders discovered in logic/ coding during UAT, hence keep time buffer with you accordingly.
Whether you are a rookie, amateur or an expert in coding, this book would definitely prove to be an interesting read for you. It does not really matter if you are not a developer, even then it will definitely give you a good amount of interesting information. Whether you are tester, programmer, or a non technical having a fair amount of interest in technology and logical thinking, do give it a try. I am sure once you start it, you would strive to delve into each page thoroughly right from page 1 to 248.
Nine Algorithms That Changed The Future has been beautifully written by John MacCormick is bound to give you an overview and insight of computing and possibilities about it. It starts with a pace that will be well absorbed by all kind of readers. First chapter starts with a general introduction to computing. The next 2 chapters will reveal all about algorithms for search engine covering concepts and importance of indexing and then the algorithm that works for the ranking of a page. In these 2 chapters you would learn about some amazing facts about indexing and page ranking.
Chapters 4 and 5 will give you an insight of coding theory. Where it is Introduction to public key cryptography that is covered in chapter 4, the next chapter provides you learning about error correction codes. Next chapter (no. 6) touches upon a unique kind of subject that is pattern recognition. Data compression is covered then in chapter 7 giving details of both kind of compressions – lossy and lossless; and the exact theories behind these two kind of compressions.
Without further revealing about rest of the chapters I am sure whatever revealed about is good enough to compel you to go for this lovely read.
NAO is a kid sized humanoid robot that interacts with autistic kids. The initiative named as ASK NAO initiated by a French company Aldeberan. NAO is a two feet tall humanoid robot conceptualized by this French company to assist kids who are autistic for whom in turn becomes difficult to relate people. NAO has a defined personality and with artificial intelligence it interacts with these autistic kids.
NAO has inbuilt abilities that makes him interact with children intelligently to become their good pal. Besides being their playmate NAO also assists them in learning and understanding things better. The new Autism Solution for Kids Program initiated by Aldeberan disclosed that many NAO humanoid robots are already rolled out and are performing an excellent role in playing with them and associating with them in teaching those autistic children about communication and other day to day interactive knowledgeable learnings.
As a part of ASK NAO mission Aldeberan has developed a number of educational games catering to specific needs of Autistic children to enable them on verbal and non-verbal communicative skills at a faster pace. It also helps them to learn and grow emotional intelligence, some fundamental skills matching to their age and mimicry etc. To start with this project has been launched in one of the schools in Birmingham and two schools in the United States.
As part of the ASK NAO program Aldeberan has developed educational games that allow children to work on verbal and non-verbal communication, emotional intelligence, mimicking, and even basic academic skills. The program has been tried out in three schools, one in the Birmingham (Topcliffe Primary), England the other two in the United States.
This excellent book titled Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People and Process written by Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker is full of wisdom covered in less than 200 pages. It is a must read for all those who manage any web based software project. When you read this book, assume yourself as a project manager (for those who are not at the time of reading this book) and only then you will get to know how to cope up with various development of various web based interactive apps.
A dumb, static or even dynamic website showcasing a corporate to digital world carries a different set of challenges with more focus on audience, content, marketing etc. but an interactive web portal has much more (in volume and quality) higher level of challenges as compared to the former, mostly in terms of usability, security, integration, database design, application architecture and so on. The book focuses on a single area which is how to be a great project manager which besides a must read for project managers or today should also be read by the current day developers who sooner or later are going to be project managers.
A good project manager will never be carried away by smaller wins registered during the journey of a project and thereby compromising with the the larger cause of project closure successfully. Smaller announcements, wins declarations and milestone achievements do need to be celebrated to keep team’s tempo up but at no point of time any of these should be treated as a biggest ‘wow’ as the latter can only be the successful project delivery and nothing else. Logically this big message should be very clearly passed to all teams right since beginning of a project.
There are two parts of this book. First part focuses on making a project manager successful. The second part goes more practical in taking a project as an example to demonstrate. In second part more emphasis goes on real life activities done during a project like – project preparation, project definition, execution, QA, staging, production, training, launch and finally its closure. Some very useful and practical tips have been given in the second part which can easily be grabbed as they make a lot of sense. These tips take care of both technical and non technical/ people aspects of a project. Some useful stuff that a project manager will grasp in some chapters will have to be inculcated down the line to their developers – like managing clients and their expectations, understanding scope creep and managing it in the best possible way, etc.
Overall, this 192 page book titled Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People and Process written by Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker is a good read, easy to understand and execute in real life.
SAP AG has taken a great initiative by deciding to recruit Autistic youth as software testers, QA specialists and programmers. For this they have joined hands with an organization known as Specialisterne. After a thorough study results SAP found out that people with autism carry a unique set of talent that perfectly gels with the prerequisites for becoming a programmer, tester or QA specialist. Approximately 1% of world’s population falls in this category.
Specialisterne is a globally known company that is engaged in development of talent in autistic people so as to enable their fitment for working in technology areas like software development, testing, data management and analysis. This company started in Denmark and gradually spread its wings for this noble cause in many countries across the globe.
They have their fully functional offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Germany, Poland and Iceland. In this project where SAP has partnered with Specialisterne, the latter will support former in many countries in the coming years.
Hats off to Zubair-ul-Rehman Lone for his focussed determination and strong will power to achieve this solo fate from his state of Jammu and Kashmir. Zubair against all odds of belonging to a place where opportunities for youth were too less because of limited scope of education, choice of subjects which could be counted easily on fingers and on top of it residing in a place where it was highly risky to opt for a unconventional path to build his career. But nothing could stop his desire to excel in an area and ultimately providing an honor to his state.
At 27, he has surpassed all these barriers and decided to achieve his career in a pathbreaking area. Being brilliant during his school days, Zubair easily got an admission in an engineering college where he studied economics. But after his studies he decided to begin his career in information technology. He started developing very economical web based application for micro and small sized companies.
It was in the year 2011 when Zubair, after joining Mercy Corps office in Kashmir, a global software development company, that his passion for project management in development projects started taking shape. He joined there as a Project Officer and gives all his credits to this company where he feels he got enough space to learn and execute. During his tenure there, he cleared the Level 1 examination of the Project Management for Development Professional (PMD Pro). It was at this juncture that he actually decided to go ahead for project management quite seriously.
Zubair has passed PMP (Project Management Profession) from Project Management Institute in April 2013. He is the first to achieve this fate from the state of J&K. Let us all cheer for Zubair!
ProofHub Online Project Management has come out with its mobile version so as to give you a complete freedom and flexibility to control your project from anywhere, anytime. ProofHub is a web based team collaboration and project management tool which assists you in managing your projects even if you have multiple teams working from multiple locations. It also helps you in scheduling, discussing, working and communicating with your clients, team members, management and other stakeholders.
ProofHub Project Management allows you to share files among scattered or same location teams so as to collaborate well, takes care of deadlines and raises timely alarms, assigns tasks and keep monitoring and tracking them, and also provides all data related to project, tasks and teams in a secured and centralized manner. Recently ProofHub has announced launch of its mobile version. Currently it covers features like Discussions, Milestones and To-Do’s but gradually they plan to cover all features in their mobile version too.
Beauty of mobile version of ProofHub Project Management tool is that it is mobile independent solution and that was really an uphill task to build a mobile application that works on all mobile platforms be it iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Microsoft. Basically the web and mobile versions, both have been given lot of efforts so as to make them so versatile and browser/ mobile independent respectively. To summarize ProofHub is an excellent web and mobile based cloud application project management, collaborative, team and task management tool.
Everyday a large number of projects are getting ordered signed worldwide leading to its kick off. But a big chunk of this does not get signed off and completed as per the stipulated timelines. The committed deadlines go haywire and lead to customer dissatisfaction in all those cases where a project is not completed in time. The scenario is universal all across the globe and not specific to any particular location. Any delays in project lead to extra amount of money and time. Major factors that lead to project delays are change in requirements, miscommunication, lack of documentation and clarity within the teams, lack of collaboration within teams, sponsors, clients and stakeholders.
Engagement factor going low within the team and among other stakeholders is also one of the major factors that leads to project delays and failures. Traditional project management that is also known as waterfall methodology, having its own legacy way of handling a project with its own set of rules and procedures. It is probably the rigidity factor in this model that does not let it finish successfully in time. Waterfall model, though goes into minutest of the details of project management, lacks in one major aspect and that is lack of flexibility in order to manage unforeseen risks and thereby managing them.
It also does not focus on human factor. Waterfall model does not promote engagement and collaboration among team members thereby results into lack of harmony among various stakeholders of project viz a viz the progress of project.
Every company that hires you when you are out of your graduation and are aspiring to become a developer or tester, will boast about being the best technology business in the ecosystem. Every company would be seeking the best of the cream with extreme talent, sincerity and dedication. If you are the lucky one to be called for a written test and if you are able to clear it, you would have your next task to appear for an interview. The company would definitely expect you to do some homework in advance and understand the core business of them beforehand.
If you are totally dumb about ‘what about’ that company, you probably lose all your charm for next steps. You have to go prepared with whatever information you can gather about that company and should be able to throw out confidently what all you learnt about the business. Ok, fine, so you know a bit about the core business of that company. What next? What all would you be able to give if you are given a chance to serve in this organization which is focused on using best of the technologies to achieve highest of the results. It would expect you to be an excellent developer who is capable to use his skills innovatively to find out great technical solutions.
There might be different teams working on various solutions but all teams must be imbibed with a common organizational culture that you are supposed to follow too. You have to demonstrate your passion genuinely. But in return don’t forget to demand a good culture, positive and formal environment, recognition of quality etc.
The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck To Success written by Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson is a great insight on the reality of life that for each person there is a limit to success. This book tries to make its readers understand first that any person belonging to any kind of pursuit will be able to climb the ladder of their success to a height and then will get stuck there. This height may vary from a person to person but this is what happens to each person who is running the race of success. A point comes in their life when they get stagnant and helpless at that point to get the same pace and further height to their success though till that point they were succeeding consistently and substantially.
Why this happens? Why all of a sudden a person who is capable of touching new heights and climbing ladder of his success consistently gets helpless at certain point of time in his success path and gets blocked for further growth. What is that stops him? What forces him to become so helpless so that he is not able to find a clear cut way out of this crisis? What makes him blindfolded in such a way that the path that was clear to him so far all of a sudden vanishes from his sight? Has it reached to its peak? Has he got choked in terms of improvement? Has he stopped generating inner strength to drive him on his own? What exactly causes it?
This book from Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson tries to simplify this complex situation in one’s life to find out solution to this road blocking problem.
Online portal Siliconrepublic.com declared Fishbowl Software Development as the Tech Startup of the week. Fishbowl Software Development, recently started by Dave GRaham, who is its co-founder and managing director, is based in Dublin and is engaged in mobile applications for smartphone. They have launched a free smartphone application which helps virtual groups to schedule, attend and manage meetings. This app helps in generating repository of ideas, important points, tasks among the virtual group and share them with their updates. The fishbowl app is currently available for apple and android phones.
Just about a year and a half back, Dave Graham O’Flaherty planned to give a shape to his concept of fishbowl. The startup has now five persons working for the company that is gaining momentum and name in area of mobile apps. Dave Graham felt that in real life we all meet various people in our profession or in personal life and as such there is no way of keep last happened conversation intact at the time of next meeting with the same person or team again. Maintaining this continuity was the main purpose that was there in Graham’s mind when he conceptualized Fishbowl app that has main goal of collaboration and interaction.
The analogy of this app is rightly set with a fishbowl in a way that you are able to set your own bowl which will have a capability of broadcasting at your various locations via its interface. So it is like you have joined in a bowl from your location and if someone else joins in from some other location and sees your bowl active, he can join in there with their login credentials. Basically it is a concept of a group collaborating for same task with the help of different kind of ideas.
So many companies and countries come into news at some moment of time promising some commitment and then vanish afterwards with people trying to find out the company sometimes, and what happened to their commitment, at other times. But this is not in the case of Vietnam Software Testing Industry that has done a marvelous job of staying on their words and displaying fantastic results of their commitment to the entire software testing industry all across the globe.
Exactly one and a half years back there was a news that started with a line stating software testing industry in Vietnam is bound to prosper. It was being foreseen in wake of various multinational companies belonging to technology had started putting their steps on Vietnamese soil. This probably made a strong case for this country coming up as a superb software testing industry. And the promising factor stayed there to fulfil this commitment. The growth rate was perceived to be at 17%.
If you notice a new item that came up recently it says Vietnam software testing industry is among top 10 in the world. What a tremendous achievement it is.
This post came up on MAy 3, 2013 on MTV blog site regarding their offer to the game, technology and testing community staying in areas of Dallas/ Fort Worth. Techies/ Gamers /Testers to visit their Bethesda studios to play and test new and unreleased games. Purpose is to get real time feedback from these communities. People from Dallas/ Fort Worth can visit Bethesda’s studios and try their hands on new games in the newly made Play Test Lab. This is a voluntary exercise and is open to all public.
The Bethesda’s website provides some further information regarding the Play Tester Application. Volunteers who join for this exercise will be required to visit Bethesda Studio for 1-2 hours play test session after which they will have to provide their comments and feedback on their experience on quality aspects. Though this is not a paid task but still entitles participants to get some goodies including the games they liked in lieu of their time and feedback.
Gamers of any skill level – rookie, expert etc., can opt to join at Bethesda, but will have to qualify some criteria – like they should have more than 18 years of age. If the interested participant is working as a video game developer/ publisher/ tester/ reviewer; then he is not eligible to opt for this opportunity.
Speed: A project never runs on a smooth track with consistent speed. It needs to be geared up, accelerated or applying brakes on it depending on the situation. It is the project manager who has to manage and control the ABC of his project (accelerator, brakes and clutch) by understanding well when to release and when to press a particular paddle.
Disbursement: An equal amount of workload among the team members always goes on a winning note in such a way that it never creates conflicts, confusions or ambiguities among the team members. Though first level control should be there with the team leaders of their respective teams, but project manager needs to have a higher level of control in his hands to manage the game.
Entertainment: It is something related to the enjoyment factor while working on serious stuff. If work under high pressure seeking finest of the results is converted into an enjoyment factor with each of the teams getting equal portion of it, there is nothing like it.
Time: Meeting timelines with higher acceptability and accuracy is something a project can never do away with. Project manager has to inculcate this culture of meeting the timelines in all levels of his teams can produce wonders.
Balance: Balancing act has to be there in all aspects. Balance between business requirements and project timelines, workload and satisfaction level, sense of achievement and sense of responsibility, enjoying wins and converting losses to wins, customer and stakeholders, and so on.
A project manager is the main driver of his project. Depending on the project size, he might have large or small size of multiple teams to assist him to reach to his destination. The amount of heat lying over a project manager during a project at any moment of time is maximum as compared to any of the team managers, or other stakeholders. Though each team leader/ manager has his own targets assigned to be done by his team bound with the timelines, but overall it is the project manager who has to keep his sixth sense active all the time keeping every activity of the project under his radar. Unless he is able to have a wide angle lens to cover all the teams within his frame, he will never be able to control the situation arising out of smallest of the deviation that might arise unalarmed.
Best way to fight with the high amount of heat in project manager’s chamber is to share this heat with other team leaders working on the same project. This can happen in two ways – either build small channels from project manager’s chamber to other team leader’s chamber’s so that heat can move through those channels and gets distributed in a balanced manner; or bring all teams in his own chamber. The latter might result into a choking as in already super-heated chamber, if the number of people increase substantially, it might create a higher risk.
It is good if there are knobs built on each channel with a complete control to project manager so as to increase or decrease heat going via different channels heading towards different team’s chambers.
If Project Manager is the engine of a fast moving train, have you ever imagined the amount of pressure he has over his head to ensure the safety of each passenger in the train, timely arrival at and departure from each station, creating comfort zone for each passenger so that each one has its own amount of enjoyment and learning during the journey, proper guidance for each station and journey to each passenger so that none misses their target lines of getting down at their destination station or boarding in from their respective station. It requires a great team effort from all ends and though the main load is on the engine, but each coach has its own role to play, each staff member and passenger has its own course of action at appropriate points of time.
How this all is managed is quite interesting to understand. Though trains do miss timelines at times but there are numerous factors for such delays – sometimes controllable, sometimes going beyond control. Depending on other trains, station’s capacity, staff on duty, weather, any normal or abnormal risk factors etc., all this is managed at its best to provide its passengers best of the experience and service. This is not a simple task.
Imagine each train as a project, each trip as an itinerary, each staff as team member and each passenger as customer, the complete model fits into a size of a huge project. And the basic things in place have to be in place for all this to happen smoothly.
Agile manifesto talks about ‘people first’ and not about software for a software development project. it emphasizes on valuing people above everything else. If you are able to achieve that, nothing is impossible to achieve further. Though the manifesto looks simpler to adopt but is quite difficult to adhere to. Ten golden rules that emerge out of Agile manifesto can be listed as below:
1. If you treat your people as resources, you are wrong. Stop it.
2. If you are aware about your goals, don’t let yourself defocused from it, at any cost. Stay focused.
3. Enjoy the pain of delivery.
4. Make your progress measurables as short as possible so that it remains small, less risky, more chances to achieve it and build a system to learn from each such step and document it. Make your feedback process a valuable content provider for these documents.
5. If you want your teams to be highly performing all the time, keep investing in them.
6. If you hire standard people, build a standard physical environment; but then don’t look beyond standard returns. If not, do reverse to achieve higher goals and higher returns.
7. Have more leaders and less managers.
8. To build a collaborative environment, you need to build a social environment first to bind them all together.
9. Best practices can continuously be evolved.
10. Develop leaders into collaborative leaders so as to achieve better results.
If you are doing MS or Doctorate (PhD) in Computer Science or Computer Engineering or Electrical Engineering you can apply for selection in software engineer job in various global companies. This would be a full time job initially being taken as intern. It would not be a regular in nature. One needs to apply after doing some research through various global companies’ website and by the prescribed date mentioned there, if interested.
If an applicant complying above requirements, possesses 2 or more years of experience in development on .Net and have exposure in development of n-tier application in C#.Net/ ADO.Net using SQL Server; it becomes a better probability. Additional exposure on software components like GoDiagram, MS Office InterOp, Intel DAO, Infragistics, OWC would be preferred by most of the companies. The application is assumed to have complete knowledge of OOT, Java, XML and computer graphics.
Generally for such startup jobs the scope of various positions include – problem definition, path finding for the solution, development of solution and finally its implementation. One would be required to play multiple roles rather than sticking to the same profile. This would not only enhance one’s capabilities but also provide him a broader picture of the product lifecycle in such bigger organizations. The candidate once selected, will have to start as a business analyst to understand the core business requirements emerging out of addressal of their problems. Basis this, one will have to propose alternative solutions to a problem.
A prototyping would be required for demonstration of various possible solutions thereby arriving at the optimum one. Then the selected intern would be required to engage with design and development teams to get involved in database design, relationships, n-tier architecture, front end, user interface, usability, GUI etc.
Lot of software are launched on regular basis. Mostly these days you will find web based, cloud apps more in the making. At times some software get launched without much hype and propaganda and otherwise many software are launched with lot of advertising, hype creation and propaganda. Why many software falling in both above categories fail in first go, largely to such an extent that they vanish totally from the scenario. Others do vanish for a while, get repaired, replenished, revamped so as to provide a better solution and then emerge in the scenario back to cater to their respective audience.
Why these software fail just after launch indicate towards many factors, some of which can be listed as below:
1. Product not meeting customer expectations: If a product does not deliver what perception it creates in customer’s mind, it is bound to fail.
2. Product introduction is not comprehensively delivered along with the product launch: If a product launch is not accompanied with a complete set of specifications on what is it bound to deliver, what are the basic requirements to run it, what inputs it requires and what outputs it is capable to deliver along with what platform and what all integrations are possible.
3. Market study not done appropriately: A software produced in isolation without proper study of market would not be able to get appropriate amount of target audience.
4. Uncleared bugs: If product has not been tested well in terms of exploratory, exhaustive testing thereby leaving lot of leakages.
5. Compliance: If the product requires some regulatory compliance and it has not been built, the product is bound to fall flat.
Each software product launched in the market has a specific purpose, targeted audience and defined geographies. A game for instance will be targeted for a particular age group, a specific genre and available for audience all across the globe. An application related to small business segment might not have such a versatile scope as above mentioned for a game app. The latter app might have limited audience, limited part of financial transactions, limited countries and limited segment of business groups. One needs to be clear about all these factors while planning to procure a software product emerging out as a need based on the requirements specified by his business, family, personal or other fronts.
A 100% good app might appear to be bad if it is not parametrized well prior to making a purchase of it. All requirements of a user might not get catered to by any software. The set of requirements need to be matched well with the offers made by a software product. A better way is to first build a pool of software that would be capable to cater to your specific needs. There could be a level of compromise if you are going for a ready made product with negligible scope of customization. The rate of compromise would definitely vary from product to product among all the products lying in your shortlisted pool.
Next would be the exercise to sort of products where compromising is less. Among these sorted products chalk out those which do not match with your pocket. Once that is done, the pool by now would have shrunk to maximum five products. Now is the time to compare them one to one on the basis of business needs, price, vendor, availability, support and product life.
Testers have a dual responsibility while testing a product handed over to them. On one hand they are part of the organization that is responsible to launch this product. Development team, after finishing their coding part, hands over the product to testing team who in turn have to ensure that product is ready for UAT and finally to launch in production. From business and development angle, testers have to ensure that product marries well with the organizational values and standards, meets business goals, aligns well with customer requirements, developed with appropriate standards of coding and database management.
On the other hand a tester is also required to put his feet in end user’s shoes and look at the product from that angle, the way end user would look at it. Keeping aside the technicalities, standards, procedures and policies; the end user would be more focussed about the functionality, usability, navigation, ease and comfort, business flow and rules etc. From this angle, the tester is required to test the product in a manner so as to ensure complete satisfaction of end user.
That way, if you see, tester has a tough task as hand, provided he understand the gravity of matter. He is supposed to align business requirements, technology, business flow, and end user together on one platform by means of testing a product.
Nobody would like to have a bug prone app as far as end user is concerned. When an end user is paying for an app in the market, it means he expects to get what is committed to be delivered in a most satisfying manner with highest level of accuracy. Especially when the app is related to core business or financial transactions, this expectation level goes higher. Each of the end user who is going to use an app might not be a party to the core users who perform UAT (user acceptance testing).
One the other hand there is someone in the team who would be happy to encounter as many bugs in the product handed over to them as possible. This someone is the bunch of testers who are supposed to go all kind of testing in the product handed over to them by development team. This is the stage where the product is expected to become completely neat, bug free and highly stable. The higher the number of bugs encountered by testing team here, the better it is for the development team. The next stage which is UAT must have very minimal amount of bugs in the product and mostly those should be user or business specific. UAT bugs could be related to usability, navigation, functionality or business logic.
That is why it is interesting to know that if the core user from customer front is testing the relevant module of the product along with testing team, concerns related to both examining parties get addressed in one go.
Web based application from TeamSnap Inc. that allows fans, sports teams, sports groups, sports enthusiasts, sports clubs and sports communities to communicate among themselves, stay connected and organized; has already been a big hit among its more than half million end users spread across 94 countries across the globe. TeamSnap, having their HQ in Boulder and have their development set up in Portland. In 2010 TeamSnap took a big challenge of developing this web based app for iPhone users. This went off successfully and finally the launch for iPhone, iPods and iPads was widely accepted by users. Average rating of this product was over 4.5 out of 5.
During the launch, Dave DuPont, CEO of TeamSnap, discussed about their decision of going for this development was inspired by their large amount of customers being iPhone users. So what was being missed in web based app got overcome in iPhone based app. Users who were on the move or away from their computer had not been able to access web based app and hence used to miss lots of last minute adventure that used to happen before, during and just after the match. With the launch of this iPhone app, users got overwhelmed when they were able to overcome above obstacles.
The app cam with many features like Match roster, team composition, schedules, timings, locations for all games and even of the practices. The users had an option of demanding map to reach to their destination. During the match, they could upload and view photographs, in real time. Any broadcasted messages or announcements from team manager, or team members was available to users for their teams marked as favorite.
This is a lovely video explaining Dr. Robert Claldini’s research on Persuasion and thereby deriving Principles of Persuasion which have been widely and globally accepted. Dr. Robert Claldini is Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing in Arizona State University, U.S.
According to the Principles of Persuasion identified by Dr.Robert Claldini there are 6 main factors in any situation and under any kind of circumstances that make us say YES. These 6 factors impacting human tendencies and behavior are:
Overall it is a lovely video and you would definitely enjoy. Just correlate it with the behavior of your team members, team leaders, team managers and project manager.
A project and its project manager are supposed to be most closely knit entities. Bonding between the two has to be strongest as compared to any other bonding existing among various teams or stakeholders engaged in a project. There are certain weakening factors that would force project manager to drift away from various projects he or she is managing and that could lead to a big disaster. most affected entity would be project manager, if such disconnects exist because it is project manager who can ensure their non existence.
Five major disconnects in that regard are:
Joint Pain: Organizational requirements, customer requirements, stakeholders concerns, teams’ issues have all to be in the agenda of project manager. Any pain areas related to these entities can’t differ from project manager’s pains. A one to one alignment is very important, else the two boats will be sailing in different directions with two different kind of missions which shall lead to a big disaster.
Reporting: Incomplete reporting, wrong reporting, or delayed reporting; are all deadly weapons, that are absolutely enough to kill any project and ultimately the project manager’s growth and career.
Timelines: Timely delivery of report is critical to drive any project. A ship is sinking, and if control tower is not reported about it with complete details will lead to vanishing of ship under deep waters with no traces left.
Self Tracker: It is important for a project manager to maintain a tracker for his own tasks to overcome all above mentioned hiccups.
Escalation: Escalation to next level is very important for anything going out of control so as to align all stakeholders and plan collectively for this risk mitigation in a best possible way.
Project Managers could be of various types. No two project managers can be alike in terms of managing their project, people and events. There could be some similarities in some aspects between two project managers but their way of tackling a particular situation, handling management, managing teams, tracking milestones, process of documentation etc., cannot be same. Let us see what kind of similarities lie in animals of jungle and project managers:
1. The Lion Project Manager: A project manager resembling lion kind behavior will have excellent leadership skills. He would not hesitate in exploring the unexplored arenas. He would be very cautious about his pride but will not miss out any opportunity. He will always stay connected to his teams howsoever distant he is from them at any moment of time. He will have current status of his project intact better than anyone else among stakeholders.
2. The Wolf Project Manager: A project manager whose working style resembles with a wolf would always be clear on what he needs to make his project successful and how to get what he needs. He would be perfect in sniffing out any good ideas pulping within project teams and tracking those ideas to give them a real shape.
3. The Spider Project Manager: Spider like project manager would always be sensitive in spinning his web and would design it based on the project requirements. the depth, width and design would always optimum enough to keep all his contacts, tasks and teams engaged and up to the mark.
4. The Flamingo Project Manager: This category of project manager would never be seen at a single place with single team talking about single task, for long. He would always be on his toes, hunting for better opportunities and ways to complete his project.
5. The Cheetah Project Manager: Project manager falling under this category would have a strong networking irrelevant of distances or vicinity. He would always be fast, dependable, and full of energy; all the time.
6. The Parrot Project Manager: A parrot like project manager would be a natural talker and full of good amount of advice for anyone having any kind of problem. He will have a good personal rapport and informal bonding not only with his team mates but others too. He is perfect in selecting right kind of words to say under any kind of circumstances and the right kind of opportunity to speak them out.
7. The Chimp Project Manager: He would always have lot to say. He is a firm believer of teamwork and would love to explain minutest of the requirement to each of the member of his team, in complete detail.
Recently read a good book from Robert S. Kaplan titled as What To Ask The Person In The Mirror. Robert Kaplan is well known as co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard. Formerly he was vice chairman of Goldman Sachs. In this book he has raised some genuine concerns related to Leadership like – Why focus is important for leaders? Is it possible to create leaders or it is only born leaders? How leaders cope up with setback? What all changes happen with moving one step up on the ladder of growth and success?
A deep introspection is required for a leader, as per Kaplan in a way that when a leader stands in front of a mirror, he must ask some basic fundamental questions from himself. Robert S Kaplan teaches in Harvard University in the field of management practice. Kaplan states that leaders have a very good quality of posing confident all the time even if they are not sure about the situation at times. What lessons can a Project Manager (Knowing that a project manager has to be a great leader) get from Robert S Kaplan based on his latest book What To Ask The Person In The Mirror, let us take a note of them as below:
1. There is a great relationship between Project Management and Being Focused.
2. Leadership qualities can be inculcated in a project manager by means of adopting few important
3. A good project manager has to be a good actor too, especially at the time of crisis.
4. A good project manager becomes expert over a period of time on getting out of state of confusion
quicker than others.
5. A good project manager when not sure about their decisions, takes a call based on their inner
There is a very interesting story that I read online recently. When an abandoned fort that was used as a prison was being stripped by a group of contracted laborers, they discovered a very amazing fact. When this team was dismantling this jail if was found that huge sized powerful locks and strong/ heavy doors were used along with solid iron bars covering the windows. Surprising fact that came out was that the walls were not the real walls. Those were constructed with only clay and paper but the finishing done on them with paints etc was so realistic that those appeared like iron walls. If one had wanted to escape away, walls would have easily broken with least of the efforts and all the prisoners would have escaped easily. Nobody ever tried because not a single person thought about it.
Does that not happen in a project. The teams working on various assignments of an ongoing project. We all become prisoners of our fears of exploring new possibilities because we have to follow predefined processes and procedures. At some moment of time someone needs to dare and try breaking the strong looking weak walls around so as to get some real fresh air that pumps up additional photons of energy.