Do you have a real-time management solution of your sales, delivery and after sales workforce that is in the field most of the time? Does your admin team wait for them to come back to their workplace to fill in their day’s status so as to update in management reports and dashboards? Are you able to track the actual course of action of your field staff and get a clear picture of it in real-time, and get a comparison – graphical, statistics, charts – representing what was planned for the day and what is the actual position – at any moment of time?
If yes, then you need to have a look at the Mobile Workforce Management Solution – FarEye – to compare the complexities in your existing solution and the ease & comfort in the solution proposed. If not, then you definitely need to have a look at the FarEye solution, without fail – and experience the sea change it can bring in your business. We all know the changing world scenario in terms of technology and mobility. The world is getting smarter every day to make its business solutions better in terms of getting accurate business reports so as to take right decisions in right moments. We also know very well that how much negative impact delayed decisions have on a business.
Hyperlocal business and Logistics business comprise of a lot of mobile workforce activities and a requirement of quick decisions in order to attain new business, retain existing customers and get quicker & accurate business results. A Hyperlocal business we can easily be related to local retail, healthcare, consumer durables, or financial services. In this kind of business environment, there is a constant need of assign and dispatch jobs that is to be monitored in real-time so as ao take decisions about re-assign and altering/ canceling dispatch in case of changes required due to real scenario differing from the planned ones due to whatever reasons. A right-time decision is more important than taking it at a later time when the action has lost its sanctity and value. Imagine if you are not able to communicate with your field workforce, you and your field workforce would be as good as you are living on two different planets. Communication does not mean talking over the phone, which is not feasible and possible in a business environment. It is about parsing the information at the time of its origin through your mobile app residing on your smartphone when you are in the field.
If your field workforce has a mobile app where they can update their field activities, capture customer feedback, and the team sitting at the back office monitoring it can get the status, job updates and customer feedback in real-time. For the evaluation of the performance of your field workforce, you have a built-in mechanism to assess it any moment of time without waiting for any reports from anyone to come to you. If all data is captured at the right time at the time of its origin in the field, you get whatever you need for your analysis purposes or decision making. A smart solution like FarEye would ensure job dispatching, Auto-Routing, Auto Assigning/ Allocating, and Tracking of your field workers.
On the operations front, there are features of live monitoring, live job updates, real-time coordination, an inclusion of a new request, alteration of an existing request, customer requests/feedback, notifications to customer, alerts to staff. All this brings out a better business scenario for you where you have various results, analytics and reports like digital proof of attempt, mileage and efficiency report, heat maps, job statistics, operational analytics and customer feedback/experience analysis & analytics.
In the nutshell, a smart enterprise mobile workforce management platform like FarEye helps you to closely track and monitor your on-field staff. It helps in streamlining the interactions and follow-up steps in a centralized control or monitoring system. The end result is reduced turn-around time. A smart solution like this helps you to streamline your efforts and brings out the efficient flow of business. This in turn gets your procedural and strategic development getting optimized.
Lean QuickStart Guide: A Simplified Beginner’s Guide To Lean by ClydeBank Business is meant for all persons who know nothing or very little about Lean, persons who have a little knowledge and exposure (working experience), or persons who want to examine their depth in the subject. The book has been carved well in such a manner to ensure that the concepts and ideas behind Lean are well understood. The book prepares you well on the subject to enable you to understand the Lean Business Model in any kind of industry or organization environment. After finishing this book, you will be able to take the Lean approach for all problems you handle.
I have started liking the audio books as it helps me to keep listening to it while on the go. The book has been narrated well by Lucy Vest. Lean, Scrum, Agile, TQM (Total Quality Management), Process Improvement are some of the common terms in use in today’s professional and business world. But what lies exactly behind these words is important to understand. The book talks in depth about the philosophies, concepts, and techniques of Lean business model. You can incorporate these concepts or ideas only once your own fundamentals are thorough. Lean QuickStart Guide: A Simplified Beginner’s Guide To Lean by ClydeBank Business promises to do that for you.
In today’s dynamic world, Lean is one of the most feasible and demanded business operations model around the globe. In that sense, it is good to read (or listen to) this book for all Lean business model enthusiasts from any industry vertical. The book starts with explaining you the important terminologies, and further explains you the six components that build Lean philosophy, the meaning of Lean production (Pill production), Value stream mapping and its significance, how to make value stream mapping effective with the help of tools, and finally the mistakes to avoid while performing your Lean Business Model journey.
Scrum QuickStart Guide: A Simplified Beginner’s Guide To Mastering Scrum by ClydeBank Business is a compelling ultimate guide if you want to learn and master scrum methodology so as to be able to implement it in your organization. Scrum is all about working as a team in a highly collaborative manner in any project arena. Collaboration and communication are the two fundamental keys in the scrum. Scrum methodology works well with any kind of project – IT or non-IT, internal or external, local or offshore, project teams working within the same campus or co-located. Efficiency and Effectiveness are what matters most in any project and that is where Scrum comes into the picture to ensure to fetch the best of both for a project in an organization.
Scrum is a more practical approach as compared to the older approaches like waterfall or relay when we talk about project management methodology. The main focus in Scrum stays on a common goal that ensure project success among a number of cross-functional teams. The book explains well about Daily Scrum and its importance. All the members of various teams working on a project are part of the Daily Scrum to talk about each member’s daily achievements, bottlenecks or obstacles, tasks for the day etc. Scrum enables to bind all teams together forming a single team to move ahead towards a common goal. The concept of Scrum originated from the Rugby Field.
The narration in audible book version of Scrum QuickStart Guide: A Simplified Beginner’s Guide To Mastering Scrum by ClydeBank Business is by Lucy Vest and the modulation and pitch have been used well to emphasize on certain terms as and when required in the book. Scrum ensures to take care of most painful issues that are faced in a project or an organization – like resource allocation, task management, individual and team accountability. The success of a project within an organization lies solely on the approach adopted. When it matters most to talk only about the progress of a team every individual becomes an important and critical unit of the team to achieve success on a regular basis.
Many organizations take Scrum as a very complicated activity but this book helps you to break those barriers as it presents the terms and processes in a very simplified manner so as to make you fully understand the subject to such an extent that you can take an initiative in adopting Scrum within your organization. Scrum, definitely, helps a lot in delivering your best in any kind of projects. It helps you to enhance your project management methodologies. It is always better to take a top down approach while implementing Scrum in your team or organization.
ITIL For Beginners: The Complete Beginner’s Guide To ITIL by ClydeBank Technology is an ultimate guide on strengthening your fundamental knowledge on ITIL framework. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a globally accepted framework targeting to fill in the gaps between business requirements and the IT deliverables. The guidelines defined in ITIL framework focus on IT deliveries with higher rate of efficiency. The drive begins with the IT infrastructure design so as to optimize its services as per business requirements.
KPIs (or Key Performance Indicators) is a popular term in the corporate world. ITIL also talks about using KPIs to measure the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of IT unit within an organization or an IT organization itself. ITIL standards or the framework ensures to capture the data related to performance, issues, process adherence; right at its inception so as to ensure that there is a continuous focus on process improvement and enhancement. Since ITIL is a framework, it is easy and flexible to adapt as per the individual organization structure and needs. This dynamic nature of ITIL does not restrict an organization to follow a fixed set of rules and hence thus has always a scope of scalability and flexibility.
ITIL For Beginners: The Complete Beginner’s Guide To ITIL by ClydeBank Technology explains about ITIL in a very easy and natural way so as to make the concepts quite clear by means of rightly quoted examples. The intent of this book is to make its reader completely clear about the concepts and guidelines that build the ITIL framework. So even if you are a part of IT but a rookie in the ITIL field, this is the book that you must refer to for a thorough understanding of the subject. It not only helps you in understanding the concepts but also prepares you to right candidate for the implementation of its guidelines in your organization. So whether you intend to deploy ITIL in your organization or prepare for the ITIL Exam – this is the right book for you. The book is also helpful for non-IT business professionals to understand how the efficiency, performance and effectiveness of IT function can be optimized in your organization.
Overall, ITIL For Beginners: The Complete Beginner’s Guide To ITIL by ClydeBank Technology talks about principles and philosophies behind the ITIL framework, tools & techniques required to deploy it in a very systematic approach. It also highlights how the deployment of ITIL helps both – IT and the business and hence always bring a win-win situation. The processes and KPIs are well explained and finally there is a word of caution explaining what not to do while the deployment of ITIL framework in your organization.
Today’s world is of web, cloud and mobility. An organization that is more on the on-premise model is bound to be more expensive, having limited mobility and having a higher dependency on internal tech staff which all is quite dangerous and risky. This in turn results into more of firefighting mode than a smooth sustainable model of technology amalgamated with the business.
A wireframe is also known as the screen blueprint or page schema, is a design to represent the skeleton of the page you are planning to design. Wireframes are usually prepared for two purposes. The first purpose is to get a nod from the customer for whom the page is getting designed so as to avoid any ambiguity to rise at a later stage.
Prototyping is basically modelling of the concept that is to be produced or built. It is almost a simulation of the real product in terms of its functioning, workflow and design.
The customer gets a clear cut idea of how his page will appear in real in terms of UI (user interface), navigation and design (appearance). The second purpose is to give a crisp directive to the team of respective designers and developers so move in the appropriate design so as to optimize resource usage and minimize rework. This is the right approach to gel the business requirement with the creative ideas. A wireframe gives a fair amount of idea on the functionality of the page.
Once you have done prototyping and wireframing done and signed off by the customer/end user, there are least chances of getting disruptions in launching the product post design and development.
Let us understand first what do we mean by Intellectual Asset. It could be a piece of code being required to be used repeatedly by various development teams working on various projects. Or it could be the piece of code that is required at many places during the product development within the same project. Doesn’t matter. What matters most is the amount of effort required by different resources to build the same logic repeatedly. It is a loss of resource time. What if you had this piece of code in your Intellectual Assets library in a well-specified manner so that any time any member requires it can just pick and use it in his chunk of coding. These team members might be located at a single place in the same building or co-located in various geographies.
The same logic applied to product user manual, a technical document, some kind of training material. All such properties are usually not taken care of in an organization in a structured manner. Even if some effort is done in building a repository, the further update is not done as and when it happens thus making it an obsolete piece. Such obsolete pieces not only eat your space but also create chaos and confusion.
The amount of effort in building a systematic storage for such kind of intellectual assets not only help you in optimizing your resource usage but also minimize rework. Ensure that the Intellectual Assets are organized and published in a very simple and effective manner for your global teams working within the organization.
If you are planning to move from project management to Agile project management, if you are already in Agile projects or if you are enthusiast to learn about Agile Projects, then it is important to learn about some elements that are critical. Control charts are for controlling obstacles in an Agile project. Obstacles could be related to any are of the project – logistics, financial, administrative, technical, human resource, policies, processes, stakeholders or for that sake management. A lift, for example, became an obstacle for a project team and was pointed out by one of the members during one of their daily scrum standing meeting.
The team member reported that the lift in use is very slow and takes more than required time to reach his workplace on the tenth floor. The issue was raised and was okayed by Scrum Master as an issue to be resolved. it was reported as an obstacle to project progress to the administration department. The admin guys tried all kind of repairing possibilities could find that replacement of the lift with a new one is the only option left. It asked for a big expense and hence the matter reached the Vice President Operations. After a number of further approvals, finally the administration department got a nod to go ahead. Till the new lift came in place, the obstacle kept reflecting in the control chart with a timeline give by the administration department.
That means a control chart is meant for any kind of obstacle hampering the performance of a project team and then once approved as an obstacle, the ownership lies with the respective department to close the issue in a stipulated timeframe.
Coordination and Collaboration are the prime keys of Agile Project Management. Constant and Consistent – that is what it needs to be. There are co-located teams that are engaged in the same project, partially or completely. But all it needs to adhere to is the daily/ periodic rituals of Agile. Product backlog, daily standing meeting, backlog refinement all lead to operational efficiency and optimized whole.
Besides daily meeting that could go in a connected and collaborative manner, there could be a lot more in terms of sharing for consolidation of daily tasks of the teams. There is a mobile application Shoto that is free and has certain matching features that suit our requirements. The requirement is plain and simple and so is the product that matched. The requirement is about sharing of photos clicked in a collaborative way without any efforts, in an automated manner. Imagine there are four co-located teams working on a project. Every team has five members. So in total we have 20 team members working on a project. Shoto helps you in sharing all your project related photos on the cloud so that anyone as part of the project, from anywhere, can have access to these photos. Every contributed photo goes along with date time stamp, location and then the moment you tag people in the pics, the bunch of pics becomes eligible for sharing with them.
Shoto is available on iOS and android that claims that the app helps you finding the unseen photos that you and your friends have taken in your individual smartphones sharing the moments together. The app automatically locates all the pics that are taken together at the same place and time and then it intelligently arranges them together in various albums in a meaningful manner.
This builds up your project photos library in quite an impressing and systematic manner. There are two ways to share the pics. If you tag the relevant team members, the push notification automatically reaches them via message or mail. Otherwise, you can share the album.
The name of this business application says it all. It is about collaborating in an optimized manner with your field force to enable you start delivering better. It is all about enablement, convenience, and collaboration. FarEye is an enterprise mobility platform to help you in managing your mobile workforce and to provide vertical and horizontal transparency across all your field related operations. The application has been widely accepted across various verticals across the globe. Currently, it is performing over a million transactions per day making around 6 customers happy every second. With 30+ clients in 7 countries, the acceptance level is going up in a consistent manner.
In today’s business scenario, Enterprise Mobility is the basic demand of the day. Organizations need a high level of collaboration among its workforce. If you are not having a mobility solution in your organization, you are missing the competitive edge you need to sustain and elevate your success stories. You need to keep your employees and customers motivated and engaged in a most innovative manner so as to gain that extra edge and momentum in your business. If you are able to attain it, then obviously it is going to provide you a great success in your productivity and efficiency thereby helping you in building more success stories. A real-time access to data, status update, alerts is something that you can’t afford to miss. And finally that is what is going to give a positive thrust to your business sales whether you are in service or product industry.
Industry surveys from various well-established analytics experts tell that around 80% of your future profits are bound to come from 20% of your existing customers. In that wake, you can’t afford to compromise with your services to existing customers. On top of it, if you are able to retain 5% extra customers in your kitty, you are probably going to achieve a higher success rate with increase in your profitability in a range of 25-125%. To achieve that you need to be committed to your customers. If your customer validates your commitment then it can result in more than 25% customer retention and revenues. So it obviously makes a lot of sense to hold your non-fruitful and unorganized sales and marketing initiatives and focus more towards customer retention. It is also a proven fact that the organization that focuses more on generating better customer experience are able to elevate their profits by 60% as compared to their competitors. Therefore, acquiring a powerful Enterprise Mobility solution can lead to this successful paradigm shift of agility, customer satisfaction, customer retention, workforce automation, real-time triggers and hence increase in profits and revenues.
A well-managed task force is far better than thinking that increasing your task force will result in better results. Leads not followed well in time can lead to a business loss because if it is not you, someone else will convert those leads that are there in the pipeline in the market. Similarly, management or task force sitting idle and waiting for information to arrive later when the need is NOW can result into chaos thereby bundling up your losses. With the adoption of a sturdy Enterprise Mobility solution can, therefore, lead to a good chunk of your mobile task-force to access critical data well in time and take appropriate action that is needed. Look at the administrative cost that you will save with this with the increase in mobility, accessibility, collaboration and actions.
That is where a well designed Enterprise Mobility solution like FarEye can help you in transforming your business. FarEye has all those features that a good Enterprise Mobility application would need. It is a simplified design with excellent UI (user interface) and a concept of the build cycle. It has a enhanced flexibility of customization. It has a sturdy, advanced and solid security architecture build around it. Some of the worth mentioning features of FarEye are:
Finally, it is always better to have a rugged and well-proven Enterprise Mobility platform rather than opting for an in-house solution that will take ages to build and still would not be able to match the product that is well-accepted in the market. Just think about the key differentiators like customization (efforts and resources), Capex to build and sustain this empire, configuration/ customization, and the expertise to retain/sustain/develop.
If you have an expertise in Agile Project Management, then probably you need to put your hands on some advanced book as this is meant for the rookies, starters and beginners in Agile Project Management. As the name Agile Project Management QuickStart Guide: A Simplified Beginners Guide to Agile Project Management suggests, it is meant to guide beginners in a very simplified manner telling you all about how to manage your projects in Agile way. I prefer audio books these days so as to keep listening to them when being on the move/driving or sitting in a lounge waiting for some business meet to happen. The book is written by ClydeBank Business and narrated by Dave Barron. Narration, voice, and interpretations are quite impressive and easy to understand. Duration of the book is almost 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Just keep one thing in mind while listening to this audio book. Go back and listen again if you skipped few lines or paragraphs or a chapter rather than continuing listening. It is always good to keep previous lesions intact in mind while moving further. Agile Project Management QuickStart Guide is written well with a focused approach to making one understand the different between traditional project methodologies like waterfall approach and the modern agile project management methodology. Agile project methodology always helps your project(s) to stay on track and achieve planned targets in terms of financials, timelines, and deliveries; without compromising quality. Noticeably, Agile project management or agile methodology permits you to entertain as many changes in the customer requirements as you wish as the crux of the game lies on iterations that are small but measurable. The customer is engaged throughout all iterations and after any iteration being signed off the next iteration’s requirements are re-evaluated with the customer before going for its development.
Before you adopt Agile Project Management, it is important to learn its basics that are well explained in this book so as to build a good foundation of your learning on the subject. Understanding the strategies and tools is an important factor before you jump into the real world of Agile Project Management. The book helps you understanding all this in a simplified manner with the help of some good case studies. As the book states, it is important for a project manager to be well organized, having a practical approach and, stay specific & crisp for managing a project in an agile way. The step by step building up approach taken in the book in a precise manner is good in understanding the subject while elevating the level of learning.
Before you finish this book you will be well aware of all the relevant terms and their significance in agile life. Few words like scrum, iterations or chunks, standing meeting, burn chart and so on, you will understand while listening to the various chapters of this book. Total 10 chapters are full of wisdom and a great learning. Chapter 1 starts with the basics of project management explaining what project management is and what its need is. Chapter 2 goes with the history of Agile Project Management. Chapter 3 brings the Agile Project Management on the table where your real journey of understanding the subject begins. And so it goes up to the chapter 10 telling about agile sub-industry that consists of agile professionals and their official activities. Definitely you require a different kind of discipline to imbibe in your teams to follow agile project management for which you need to have a thorough knowledge on the subject.
In one of my recent posts, I raised certain points on how critical it is for your organization to adopt enterprise mobility solution. Definitely, the organization that has a higher number of field staff, can’t afford to live without a mobility solution. Sales and Marketing are in any organization and the people working in this arena are mostly on the move. Then there are top management executives that are also part of the ‘on the move’ group because of meetings, discussions and lot of other activities happening at various office locations. A study shows that if there is more than 20% of your task force in the field most of the time, and if there is no enterprise mobility solution in place, the impact on business is higher in terms of quick actions and faster resolutions. That is why any organization having a good amount of task force in the field need to ensure a good enterprise mobility solution in place.
What all an enterprise mobility solution must provide? Let us discuss some salient features of a good enterprise mobility solution and how it can empower you to transform your business in many aspects:
So, while zeroing on best solution for managing your on the move task force and field operations, ensure to take care of above points besides ensuring that it caters to your business needs as per your process flow. Look at the customer base that will give you fair amount of idea on the versatility and flexibility an available solution can provide.
In next few posts, we will discuss which solution would be better to manage your field task force and related operations – in-premise or on the cloud?
Gunshot or tank shot – what would you term as a better team building scenario. Most of us would term tank shot as a team building tool but what if I say tank shot is a de facto. The team has already been formed, trained and evolved, only then it can perform happily and perfectly. Or would you still count it to be a great platform for building a team and evolving as best performers. You can. In fact, there is no harm in believing in that theory. 4, 5 or 6, or for that sake any number of persons are told to form a team, each one of them being a stranger to all others; and then decide on their roleplays?
Or we fix the team members (all strangers, though, initially), build a team, assign a role to each one of them and then start the show? Will it be a perfect tank shot right in the first go? Or it will take some shots to go waste before arriving at a stage of perfection?
And what is your view about gunshots scenario? Does it have any signals of team building or is it totally an individual player game. My opinion – gunshot is the beginning of team building and tank shot is the ultimate. During gunshot, if your gun does not work all of a sudden when it is the peak of requirement, and another individual lends you his gun, it is the beginning of team building.
Almost 40% of the employees access the business critical apps on the go. This does not mean these apps are available on mobile. It might be, but otherwise the access would be happening on a laptop. Definitely in today’s world the field force at any level would prefer to work on a handheld device – smartphone or a tablet. Any size beyond that would be trouble to manage on the go and would create multiple restrictions.
As per Dimensions data survey, around 80% of the employees having a leverage of working on business apps on the move i.e. using mobility for work have shown their productivity increased by around 10%. Organizations who have adopted enterprise mobility have been able to reduce 80% of their admin related work. A UK-based logistics company reduced the cost of managing their field staff by over 90%. All this is possible only if some well thought of decisions taken related to enterprise mobility, anywhere and anytime availability, leveraging technology power to field staff in a smarter way and above all securing heterogeneous platforms are adopted, implemented and well taken care of.
When you talk of Enterprise Mobility, the most critical elements that it must cater to are – Collaboration that too in a non-disruptive manner, measurable increase in productivity and efficiency, employee and customer satisfaction, and providing an extra edge over the competition. The first factor mentioned is something that is aimed for while the deployment of enterprise mobility. The rest three become automatic derivatives one the first one is achieved.
On similar lines I would be taking it further in next few posts regarding an organization that is a startup but has already stirred the market with acquisition of 30 clients in 7 countries and is catering to over a million transactions per day.
Following are the thought pointers for any business to move in the right direction when going digital whether in terms of business, business promotion or campaigns:
: The barriers of geographies has been cut by the internet. Now two like-minded businesses, consumers, or mix can talk and interact.
: Connecting digitally is much easier and cost effective.
: Every business does not require similar strategy to start and scale-up.
: A well-proven fact.
: Choosing a right partner having a right balance of knowledge of technology and business and on top of it a topping of common sense is a must.
There are many reasons that the digital media spend will increase by over 100% in 2016. With the great technological advancements in Social Media platforms that too with a high amount of versatility is going to give a thunderous leverage to businesses to mark their presence on digital media – online and real-time in no time. Already most of the corporate have understood the power of the internet, networking and social media platforms.
Following are the trends that are going to change the paradigm in a big way:
: More and more businesses and professionals are now moving on FaceBook with their business or professional page.
: With Twitter allowing videos (though short ones) with tweets, it has brought a revolution in the digital world.
: The same goes on Instagram. You can upload small videos and short stories related to your business and profession. The stories here can be longer than the limitations on twitter.
: Posting business stories on Klout, with simultaneous postings on twitter and facebook, gives it a triple thrust.
: Business introductions – one to one, one to many are happening in reality. Product detailing, product knowledge delivery and more are also quite prominently happening in a scheduled manner.
: On Periscope you can broadcast real-time video streaming and that too in an interactive manner. Thus giving a global audience and interactions.
: Irrespective of geographies, teaching is happening virtually in real-time and on-demand models.
: People have always been keen for DIYs. It is good for businesses to shoot DIYs not only to educate existing clientele but also to showcase the strengths of their products to prospective clients.
: Businesses are engaging bloggers and freelance technical writers for the spread of word about their business.
: These are happening and increasingly.
As the second visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is less than a month away, the individual registration has already started and is till 31st August. The visit is scheduled to be on 27th September where a grand reception is awaiting Mr Narendra Modi at SAP center in Silicon Valley in San Jose, California. There are 500 different community organizations that are jointly participating in this giant reception for the Indian Prime Minister. There have already more than 40,000 registrations confirmed which are higher by 10,000 when Mr. Modi visited Madison Square Garden in New York earlier. The visit is to attend the 70th session of the UN General Assembly that is held every year.
The main motive behind visiting Silicon Valley by the Indian Prime Minister is to promote his campaign for ‘Digital India’. The individual privacy has become a major concern as raised by more than 100 well-known academics in the United States. The joint statement by them says that Indian Prime Minister is appearing ignorant about the personal privacy – a concern raised by critics in India saying the amount of an individual’s information will invade and might get used in a wrong way by the government machinery. Is this going against the constitutional rights of an Indian citizen is the point of concern.
Ninety percent of the startups worldwide vanish in a span of three years. Prime reason remains lack of business model, sustenance model, business processes and business automation in place. It also matters the speed at which the strategies are formulated and executed. The biggest mistake that remains with most of them is the initial thrust of thought process and its execution that goes with a full throttle, but there is no parallel strategy to move on. So once the initial ignition is over, there is no fuel left for the way ahead. And then the whole path goes distorted.
There are some tips for any kind of startup that can help in survival and sustenance for a long term as listed below:
I am in the process of studying and helping a couple of startups these days and getting more into them so as to keep them away from losing the battle at any cost.
Product behaviour is a very important aspect that needs to be taken care of during development, staging and testing. Ensure that before your product comes on the production server, it is 100% perfect in behaviour, especially when it is a portal providing direct consumer transactions of any kind. I had a strange experience while browsing through a premium online portal Zomato. The portal is about everything in food, restaurants and eating joints. It not only talks about the restaurants in India but covers almost all prominent cities across the globe.
Zomato is almost over a decade old and has earned a good name. It is in fact treated as a landmark in the food industry. The ratings are taken very seriously and so is the foodies experience with each review of a restaurant has a personal experience attached. Now, the important point is that if you are a product owner of an online product like Zomato, you need to be extra careful while launching any additional feature, altering an existing feature or for that sake even changing the content; howsoever minute it may be.
If you look at the two screenshots above and try finding out the commonalities and differences, it might even surprise you after knowing the facts. The two pages are from the same portal, for the same restaurant but showing a major discrepancy. On one page you see the restaurant is open for taking online orders whereas the other page shows the restaurant is closed for accepting online orders. Would you as a product owner accept this major variation?
When you use a mobile app the most desired features in mind would be regarding its usability, ease, design and functionality. Basically, it has covered everything that any application must have to provide confidence and comfort to its users. Recently I downloaded a new mobile app Tiny Owl that facilitates you to order food online. Some excellent features that it has and some features that it must have are worth mentioning here.
The features that impressed:
6. Smooth and Fast Completion: The complete process of selecting a restaurant, selecting your dishes, ordering, payment – is all quite smooth and fast; and much better than other online food order sites.
What it doesn’t have as of now:
NASSCOM (The National Association of Software and Services Companies) is a not-for-profit organization in India. It is engaged in various technology-related activities and is a conglomerate of IIT (Indian Information Technology) and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Industry. It was established in 1988, almost 27 years back and since then it has taken many initiatives to facilitate the IT Industry in India. Among the recent initiatives of NASSCOM, the one that is the most prominent is the NPC Showcase. There are many important pointers to note down and take immediate action are as below:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized quite strongly on Startup India this Independence Day speech. NASSCOM taking it along is quite happy that the tech startup environment in India is already on a high note and is moving in an exponential manner on a positive note. There are various communities related to products and start-ups that are very hopeful for an excellent future ahead. NASSCOM in order to align the efforts, enthusiasm and energies together, is organizing its most awaited annual national event the NASSCOM Product Conclave. The event is bound to take place from 13 to 15 October 2015. It is not only going to attract local, state and national but also international technology gurus, enthusiasts, and aspirants to attend this event and gain a high volume of networking and fruitful interactions. The three-day event will take place in Bangalore.
The event is expected to bring in new dimensions and tie-ups in the tech ecosystem carving a clear-cut direction for a healthy future and building ample opportunities during its journey.There is going to be a lot more than the last year’s elements like summits, showcases, enterprise connects, huddles and investors forums. The wide industry segment that eagerly waits for this event every year includes healthcare, education, finance, big data, mobility, web app, retail, funding, travel & tourism and so on. There are quite intense workshops and roundtables that happen for each industry segment. During NPC every year the participants get ample opportunities to brainstorm, network and build corporate tie-ups in a fruitful manner.
Every year many aspirants lose the opportunity to attend this event due to the limited seats and it being highly in demand. Looking at your calendar and your enthusiasm, ensure to enrol and book your seat well in advance. Till a particular date you can also avail early bird discounts.
Finding sponsors and investors for a startup is not difficult. Starting, setting and running the business also is not difficult provided you are an entrepreneur and have an instinct of choosing right candidates for your requirements. What matters most is to stay alive and sustain your business. Because if you are not able to sustain, you will not be able to survive for long. And if you don’t survive for long, you will slowly become extinct. There are so many such examples where even with a substantial financial boost and cash reserves went bankrupt.
Based on my expertise in helping startups to sustain, grow and have a permanent presence in the market, I was recently approached by an old friend of mine who started a flourishing startup a year back but had started facing some issues lately. I had to get into the routine so as to understand the missing components. Following are the immediate actions suggested that got approvals for the incorporation:
There was a total chaos. Business was at full bloom, but everything was being taken up as a firefighting situation. Everyone was working but without any standard guidelines or procedures. The first thing I did was to get each function standardized.
There was no accountability. Accidents were happening as and when there was any scope. And scope was ample for this. There were a lot of postmortems. But resultant was nil. Everything used to get to square one. Clear hierarchy, roles & responsibilities were defined.
KRAs were defined for each and every person in a function. Accountability evolved gradually and the performance became objective rather than being subjective and on the gut-feel basis.
Flow diagram of each and every activity within a function was drawn. Though it was not final, it evolved gradually engaging a lot of brainstorming and multiple sessions.
Now was the time to bring in technology and mobility to build a workflow in the system. Tabs were procured for field staff. Attendance was moved from manual to NFC-based. Duplicity removed by populating already existing data in the system. Rules were set to capture data at its origin.
Life is better now. Evolution, enhancements, and improvements never stop here. Everyone in the organization is welcome to suggest for the betterment.
Though IT Governance has to do a lot together, both are not in the direct vicinity of Project Management. But if you think otherwise both activities stated formerly can itself be taken under project management, separately. Well, that is a different topic altogether to introspect and discuss. Here I am going to highlight the impact of weakness in IT Asset Management and hence in IT Governance on Project Management. For instance, you are taking care of a project that has just initiated and has to pass through various stages to reach to its final destination – Project Sign-off.
Your project timelines are under the clouds of bigger security threats if IT Asset Management is not there in proper shape, well managed and up-to-date. The legacy applications, systems running on outdated operating system and the older hardware in place that is not equipped well to protect itself; all are the lucrative chunks of cheese to invite cyber attacks and hence could cause a total breakdown of your network.
That is where a clear cut actionable guidance is required on IT Governance front to think in this direction thereby reducing the critical risk hanging on the neck of the business and also to ensure to get rid of frequent critical business applications and network downtime.
The prime business of business apps is to facilitate the business and not drift it to a more lethargic condition. There are certain key indicators that can tell you clearly if your business apps are either out of their life or if those are newly deployed, have been a waste of time and efforts (and of course, a big chunk of your business revenue).
If all this is happening on a regular basis, it is really high time for you to look into your legacy business apps and evaluate properly for concluding a decision for their revamp.
Business apps are meant to shift the turmoiling business processes and situations to a comfort zone. It needs to straighten the zig-zag happening in the business. A lot of investment goes into business apps development, deployment and upkeep. at times businesses take a call of deploying a famous business app just thinking that the business will automatically be streamlined. That is not the case. There needs to be a systematic and scientific approach for selecting a suitable business app. Before that it is important to understand the pain areas in the business.
Even after selection of your business apps if there is a high level of conflict among key process owners, key business line owners and the top management, there is something missing in the pudding in the making. Obviously as you are the owner of your business, there is the app owner vendor whose responsibility is to convince you the need of his app for your business. If you ask for vague features, it would be very easy for the vendor to convince you on his app being ideally the best to cater to your business needs. Some vague requirements with no head and tail would be asking your vendor if his app would be able to streamline your business. Definitely he will never say No.
You need to be specifically asking him the exact issues that are not letting you streamline your business and then let him demonstrate the app and how it will be able to handle your business specific needs to kill those pain areas. And last but not the least, never forget to check with his existing customers not of his choice but by selecting them on your own.
As per a recent news published in The Hindu Businessline, India would be needing 0.4 million project managers every year till 2020. This figure is as per the PMI India. The figures have evolved based on the advancement and development projections presented by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Based on the volume and intensity of projects being undertaken aimed to be undertaken, there is definitely a serious requirement of certified project managers.
This is a fabulous example of chain reaction and exponentiation. The need of growth of the country evolved with the increase in talent in the country and an open stance taken by the government. The Project Management Institute that is a not-for-profit organization has come out with various flexible plans for achieving this mission. The institution has tied up with various corporate, universities and colleges for imparting training free of cost. Almost 2000 certified project managers are being shelved out of the PMI.
A project manager cannot afford to take a shortcut during any stage of his project. Shortcuts always mean compromise. And compromise in a project means a sure death sooner or later. There are various leadership qualities that a project manager needs to inculcate in himself so as to reach a stage where the chances of a failure become too bleak. At times when a project is running with tight timelines and some further crisis makes it tighter, the management itself tries to push a project manager to take shortcuts. During such conditions, it is the project manager who has to oppose for such compromises that could impact a project in the longer run.
The three leadership qualities that a project manager needs to grow within are:
Build a capacity to proactively smell the mildly evolving silos within or among the teams. It takes a little extra amount of wisdom to understand the silence or miscommunication creating silos. You can work towards removing silos only when you learn to understand it first. There are many ways to remove silos for which you need to become a human manager.
Never let a situation arise when you are cornered or are forced to go in isolation. Never get driven by situations. Face whatever comes in your way as an obstacle in a bold manner without diverting your path out of fear or lack of confidence.
For your nirvana you don’t need to perform any rituals or a deep & long meditation.Your nirvana lies in only one thing and that is a successful closure of your projects. Build the rhythm, Maintain the rhythm and learn to build the same rhythm in your teams.
Software testing is as important during a project lifecycle as hard disciplined practice for a contestant preparing himself for a gold medal in Olympics. During this exhaustive practice, the player tries to overcome all his flaws and shortcomings. For this the player need to understand first the flaws and shortfalls, only then he can overcome those. The same analogy can be used for the software during and post development. It needs to undergo various acid tests and virtual scenarios that resemble the setup that is going to be there at customer’s for the live show.
The software testing team has to be fully equipped to visualize and induce all kind of threats and vulnerabilities that could lead to a disaster at the customer location. The QC team has to have a balanced combination of technical, functional, business and design experts. Each of this expertise has to test the product as per their perspective but keeping clearly the customer needs in mind.
A successful product development does not mean its deployment will also go successfully. Similarly a great project deployment team does not ensure a good quality product development. Both are entirely different and need a different attention. That is where the role of Quality Assurance comes into picture. Quality Assurance ensure a complete and universal handling of a project including all important aspects or phases within. Product development is an integral component of project lifecycle. In fact it is the crucial development phase of a project that is completely focused on the development of product. Some projects are limited to product development itself and the product deployment is taken later as a separate project.
Product Quality is handled by the quality control (QC) team. When we talk of software product, it is the testing team that works hand in hand with the development team. The testing results are closely monitored by product manager and quality manager. Test cases, type of testing included, and test reports play a major role in the overall quality of a product.
Project quality is a wider spectrum and it needs a varying attention to handle. It is the QA team on which the onus for project quality lies. Project quality must handle all the phases of a project successfully on the quality front and ensure each phase adheres to the quality standards and guidelines. Relevant reports, regular monitoring and audits play major role in ensuring project quality.
A successful project closure doesn’t mean there will be stopgaps any further and all clouds of danger on the project are over. Project sign-off and project closure if happen on a successful note, are always welcomed by any project implementation team. Some activities that still need a lot of attention even after this stage is over, become crucial to get your project keep going successfully even after handover and sign off.
There are many instances where projects have been concluded successfully but post deployment have not been able to cover a long distance. There have been conflicting instances where the post deployment hiccups became a big showstopper to carry on. What important needs to be done post closure can be listed as below:
Though sign-off has happened there would be a lot of queries coming across from the end users, complaining as a defect, but usually emerging out to be a usage issue. Obviously if the product is fantastic but you are not equipped well to run it, the success will not be there. Hence, ensure to train and re-train your end user with a regular initiative from your end. Run quizzes, sessions, special sessions, discussions etc. to keep your end users stronger in usage.
Out of so many end users identified in the beginning, trained during the course of deployment and finally signed off, ensure to identify the sparking ones of the lot. Make them as legends for other users. Identify their spark factor and bring it in others too.
Make your hot leads visit and meet these end users. Let the prospects see the horses in action in the field itself. Let them interact with the end users and learn the beauty of the product and the exclusive style of implementation from your end. It automatically puts a different kind of impression.
After completion of every project, as a project manager, you need to introspect to find out few answers. All projects might not end on a positive note. A project that travels its complete path without a single deviation to its timelines or financial guidelines can be termed as 100% successful. But it usually never happens or might be happening at a very low percentage. There are certain leverages set for any project at its beginning. If these ascertained leverages are consumed completely and still the project completes on a satisfactory note, you still will be able to make yourself and your management happy. But any extensions beyond this will definitely will get you in a sorry state not only internally but to your customer too.
The most important question that you need to ask yourself is the result of the equation of the project results versus the resources utilized. One thing is quite clear that you are bound to get a good result only if the project has been finished well within the stipulated time with no increase in financial and manpower budgets. A very interesting point to ponder here is that great learning come through bigger failures only. So even if you have failed in a project, sometimes, fpr those few failed projects if you ask yourself – Was it a good use of resources? the answer might come in positive.
Certain failures in projects ensure a no failure state for a long time to come. Such failures act as insurance for the forthcoming projects.
At times it might not be visible in the beginning about the learning your team would be taking along by the end of the project. But depending on the rough tides encountered during the project lifecycle, it might turn out that each member is carrying a heap of learning from the project. One thing is always sure about any project. Whatever tools and automation you deploy in your project lifecycle, you are always bound to come across some or the other kind of hiccups. It might happen at a member level alone, depending on a particular micro task assigned to him (from the WBS) or at team level when the whole team gets stuck and the project comes to a standstill due to a major showstopper.
That is the point where you get substantial learning. The more unique kind of issues encountered, bring in larger amount of learning. The spark of solution, when you are stuck with a problem, might come from any corner. Welcome as much ideas as possible during this stage so as to find out the best possible solution to resolve the issue. Brainstorming along with the team members is always good during the crisis to find out quick solutions.
When you are asked to lead a project it is very important for you to understand it to the root level and gain first hand experience. This might require a lot of discussions, interviews and brainstorming sessions with your own management, customer and internal team owners. Ensure that all such interactions add a substantial amount of knowledge and clarity related to project and by the end of each such interaction, more and more light must be visible to you by the end of the tunnel. You must left with no confusion about your new project because when you build your project team, the members will have a number of queries and confusions that you will be required to resolve.
At this instance you must be in a very comfortable position to address to any concerns of your team members related to the project. Be it related to technology being used in the project or be it related to functional, there must be a best possible clarity to you and your team. And wherever your team gets stuck, you as a project manager need to address to it and clear the clouds.
Software Testing is under the preview of Quality Control. The quality control team ascertains and ensures the software testing. There are many aspects of software testing and hence is possible to perform automated testing with the help of software testing tools. It is not possible to perform software testing in fully automated manner. There is always the human element that plays a major role in software testing. The overall purpose of software testing is to ensure that the software passes all checkpoints built to ascertain 100% customer acceptance. The software testing involves different variants of testing like smoke testing, stress testing, module testing, integration testing, product testing, functional testing, technical testing and so on. Usually, there is a testing team under a testing head in any project to ensure 100% product compliance as per customer’s specifications and product guidelines.
Software Quality Assurance is a wider spectrum that ensures quality aspect in the complete project. An organization working on various kind of projects need to follow different project methodologies. One project methodology will not fit in for any kind of project. It is the role of quality assurance to ascertain a specific project methodology for a specific kind of projects. For each project methodology, the project lifecycle will comprise of different sets of project phase components and hence there might be a substantial variance in the processes and documentation. Quality Assurance team not only assures drafting of right methodology, processes, and documentation/ reports for a project but is also ensures to carry out regular audits for compliance purposes.
In a nutshell, Quality Assurance is an agency that drafts project phase wise adherence guidelines, ensures its compliance and conducts audits to control it. Software Testing or Quality Assurance team ensures to comply with the testing processes, guidelines, and compliance.
No technology in project manager’s life can relieve him from efforts required in Quality Assurance. Quality Assurance is all about building quality processes that need to be adhered at relevant checkpoints. It is something like a check post after every few miles covered to ensure right passengers in the right vehicle adhering to all norms set for the travel of journey.
The two major differences between agile and legacy project management are –
1. The quality is not to be checked at the end of product completion. Rather is it required to be checked at every iteration. No code piece is to be released unless it has passed through the required quality norms. Who does it and ensure 100% compliance is another thing. But it has to be done means it has to be done. Whereas the norms and processes are to be the responsibility of quality assurance. It is the quality control that follows it. Quality Assurance ensures it is followed and all disciplines related to this are adhered to.
2. Another difference is the engagement of the customer. In Agile, the customer is required to be part of requirement finalization and reconfirmation at every iteration. Any changes required in the requirement are to be proactively taken up by the development team at the beginning of any iteration rather than doing a postmortem at the end of it. The customer is also required to be an integral part of testing and sign-off of each set of code at the end of an iteration cycle.
The integration of all iterations and the complete product testing is of course done at the end of all iterations. But it definitely reduces the quality issues by at least 70%.
A recent and a very simple example to understand the issue – A laptop was to be delivered to a remote location customer. Repairing cost a few dollars and delivery cost to that location – double than the repair cost. The laptop was brought in the repair center. It was repaired by one of the engineers and was sent to the customer by the service providing company through its field engineer. The field engineer delivered the laptop at the customer location. Delivery was signed off and next day when the customer tried to start his laptop, the OS failed to boot.
Another example. A laptop from the same organization is to be delivered at another customer location on a weekend. The delivery guy picks the repaired laptop to deliver it at the location but finds the end user is on a vacation for a couple of days. He leaves the repaired laptop at one of the end user’s friend’s location and tells his friend to inform the end user to inform him when he comes back from his vacation so the he picks up the faulty laptop and delivers this laptop to him. A week passes, no communication, and all of a sudden the next weekend, a senior operations person in the delivery company gets a complaint call about the same laptop delivery getting over delayed.
Both the examples mentioned above clearly denote two weak areas in the organization. The poor quality control and a worse quality assurance. There is an absence of well-defined control mechanism to ensure quality delivery to the customer. In both the cases, there is an additional cost that is borne by the company to re-deliver the right service to its end customer. It is not only the cost that matters, it is the reputation that goes haywire thereby resulting in a substantial reputation and trust loss. The latter loss is an exponential loss to the business.
Recently I attended an event where a stand-up comedian was invited as a gap filler after one of the interesting social media related interesting sessions. It is irrelevant to name that newcomer comedian who probably didn’t know about how to ensure not to cross that thin line gap between live comedy and cheap act. Just after a few minutes of the start of his show, it was apparent that he has nothing substantial to deliver. He was just using people present in the audience as a target for throwing poor jokes on them. It was clear that as a leader of his show and as a project manager of his program, he was lacking a lot of qualities that were important to make him a success.
Few of the top qualities that he was lacking are:
Before you jump into your new project as a project manager, ensure to study minutely about your project requirements, customer, teams and other stakeholders. Build your strategies and plans very clearly taking all into account.
The moment his introduction was made on the stage as a stand-up comedian, there was a big applause from the audience, in anticipation to a great show. Similarly as a project manager when you are introduced, your stakeholders applaud for you anticipating a great performance from you with a successful journey and timely closure.
You must understand your customer well before you start your journey. That is what the artist skipped. Knowing that all the audience present there was serious techies and professionals in their respective fields, the poor guy should have presented some stuff of substance and gravity rather than throwing poor jokes. As a project manager take your own time to understand the nerve of each of your end users and management to talk to them in their desired tone rather than being monotonous.
4. Perform well: When you are on the central stage, do your best, perform well and deliver at your peak. Ensure that you have enough material to keep your audience engaged during the stipulated time you are supposed to spend on the stage.
The poor guy didn’t start well and was not able to put any substance into his act. Definitely his sixth sense (if he had and was using it) would have already sent him some alert signals about the adversities that were bound to arise. If he was smart enough, he would have learned the situation and would have changed the direction of his act by intelligently adding substance to it (only if had it).
Acting quickly, transforming and bringing change in you based on the demand of the situation, is something that you need to learn as a project manager. The poor guy, when was stopped by one of the audience demanding some quality in his show reacted sharply and tried to gain attention from others in a very awkward manner rather than understanding the objections raised and clarifying the situation.
The poor guy must have learned the real meaning of his profession and the seriousness required in becoming a good stand-up comedian. The same goes true for a project manager too.
The most critical phase for this stand-up comedian was when the man who was opposing from audience side asked for a mic this guy announced in his mic instructing the organizers not to provide the mic. When the man asked him why, he said – ‘I am on the stage, not you’. That was a big blunder the so-called comedian made. Few moments later neither he had a mic in his hand, nor was he there on the stage.
The poor guy instead of overreacting and becoming adamant about his talent, if had apologized the audience for the cheap jokes and requested for a few seconds to build up a healthy atmosphere by redirecting his show in a meaningful direction, the situation would not have gone out of his hands.
That is the most important weapon any performer should have. Besides carrying it, one should have a knowledge also to use it in a right manner at the right time.
It is not difficult to deliver a product to your customer but meeting your customer’s expectations in terms of quality of the product and maintaining best of the services post delivery of a product is critical. That is where the core of the business lies. You will never be able to get a business again from your customer if you fail or deteriorate consistently in performance in the latter case. Think of a balloon which is filled with air and is full blown and tight in the beginning. That is the condition of the trust on you by your customer when you deliver a fantastic product to them. The rate at which the air slips out of the balloon depends on the quality of service you give to your customer. The day it is 50% air in the balloon, you have lost your customer in all aspects. So you can understand how important it is to keep the air intact in your ‘trust’ balloon.
What should we do to assure quality in terms of cost, delivery and services? Before that it is important to understand what each term means:
How do assure Quality in all the above areas:
TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) is a not-for-profit institute in India engaged in research on energy, sustainable development and environment. TERI’s main focus is on finding out innovative ways of efficient and sustainable usage of natural resources. It is an independent institute that took birth in 1974 and since then it has consistently proved itself as an institute of excellence as it has performed a good amount of path-breaking research. TERI is a well respected and recognized institute on the world arena. It is followed by a large number of policy makers, corporate and political leaders.
ICCG is International Center for Climate Governance. The international institute controls all action points being taken on global front in terms of climate change, related policies and economics. ICCG was formed in 2009 as a result of joint efforts from FEEM (Fondazion Eni Enrico Mattei) and Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The main focus of ICCG lies in research on governance and design of climate policy. A large number of international researchers engaged in environment are associated with ICCG.
Recently TERI has been adjudged as top-ranked among developing country think tanks in ICCG Climate Think Tank positions. This is under the category “Absolute Rankings”. Different think tanks of varying sizes are compared and the rankings are arrived at on certain parameters like the number of researchers actively working for the cause in an institution. These parameters are used to measure the effective yield of the think tank’s efficiency. In Absolute Ranking method, the measurement is done for the best think tank in terms of absolute value irrespective of their size and efficiency. TERI has been adjudged as 12th in the global ranking amongst Climate Change Think Tanks.
A couple of points to pick for Project Management Organizations are:
Project Management is a tricky job. The job of a project manager is like a car mechanic who adjusts the average by adjusting clutch, fuel discharge and brakes. All three have a different connection if we see in project management perspective. The clutch adjustment will lead to a better speed management, fuel flow related to funds & budgets, and brakes adjustment points towards the control mechanism. A fine tuning between the three is, therefore, becomes ownership of a project manager.
Clutch adjustment is equivalent of resource management where the more the resources, the happier is the project manager. But that is not true in all cases. More than required resources will lead to mismanagement and chaos. Hence keep your teams’ size as tight as possible. The brakes have to work perfectly well so as to save everyone’s life travelling in the vehicle called the project. Brakes mean proper checks and balances along with accurate reporting and monitoring mechanism in place. A small gap here could lead to a big mishap. Fuel definitely is limited in any size of an organization. A project manager has to be intelligent enough to monitor fuel leakages and fuel scarcity. Balancing of funds, resources, and skilled manpower has to be there in place.
Any mismatch in the above three could lead to a big disaster and then project manager would be in a dilemma of either stretching timelines beyond deadlines committed or pumping in more funds and resources to meet deadlines.
Project management must have inbuilt sensors for detection of flaws (or shortfalls) in the system to monitor project progress quality. These sensors have to carry a fast response time and should be active in all kind of environments of the project management ecosystem. The sensors developed should not only be capable of project quality monitoring but also must serve as a solution for enhancing the quality of a project.
The advancement in technology can be leveraged to develop such sensors that measure project progress in a very accurate manner. The mechanism must be system driven and should be free of human intervention for twisting the results in terms of manipulations and drawing of favorable but false results. The sensors must be able to connect every process, resource and stakeholder in a right manner so as to draw out a useful information for making right decisions in right time by the right person in the complete chain. This will enable everyone to take correct actions well in advance before the real crisis happens. Such mechanism will help in a proper sustenance of any kind of complex projects thereby increasing comfort in all zones of a project.
Issues that result from poor project management have been a point of concern for a long time and that is why proper, system based monitoring had become the call of the day.
A project failure does not mean necessarily the failure of a project manager. It is the project management mechanism that needs to be hit to ascertain the basic flaws in the mechanism. There might be a wrong project methodology adopted to handle a particular kind of project and hence the chances of project failure increase in that case.
It would be wrong to shoot your project manager if a project fails. A project manager with a consistent project success rate might also fail in a new kind of project, but then it indicates that the flaw is not in the project manager but in project management process. The process and procedures need to be looked into this particular case for a restructuring, revamping or realignment. That is where the full amount of energies must go rather than hitting on an individual. Because if this is not done properly, a new project manager with a better record also would fall in the similar kind of trap leading to project failure.
PMO comes into the picture in such cases to audit the process and ascertain right methodology to be in place. If need be, for a new kind of project that has come into the picture, a fresh project methodology has to be designed. After all, it is the methodology that defines proper steps to be defined in control mechanism including the reporting mechanism.
Project Scope, project timelines and monitoring are the prime tasks of a project manager. If a team member fails to honor his or her individual tasks timelines, it is not the failure of that individual team member. It clearly indicates a lack on a monitoring process. The monitoring process has to be well crafted so as to indicate any kind of delays in a proactive manner. There has to be a proper and crisp reporting mechanism in place to monitor the timelines at the micro level during a project. A single timeline skipped may cause a large amount of delay in task closure hence hampering the timely closure of a project.
That is where a project manager role comes into the picture not only in crafting accurate timelines for each individual unit of the project. Crafting of timelines further needs a regular monitoring. Reporting might be there in place but there has to be a proper monitoring to catch any hiccups.
As a project manager it is important for you to perform lot of conversions. First conversion that you do in your project management journey is customer requirement to project requirement. Similarly there are many conversions that happen during your project journey that we can list down as:
It is important to get a proper sign off of customer requirements. Also to note that your project contract must not allow more than five percent variation in requirements. Any scope change beyond that limit must call for a revised sign off in requirements, fresh conversions as mentioned above and fresh project closure dates. Another important point to note is that a single considerable change at development stage can become deadly. That is why projects with longer duration of project lifecycle have higher risks of requirement changes and hence project failures.
It is a fact that business scenario is dynamic in nature and hence changes are inevitable. Maturity level of an organization also impacts on the project’s health. Organizations having older establishment have higher chances of matured processes in place (though it is not a real fact) and hence have lower chances of seeking changes during a new project once requirements are finalized.
One of the question I asked, in an interview with Irum Zahra, an author from Pakistan, is based on managing her writing projects. I asked about her strategy formulations on planning, scheduling and monitoring her writing commitments, and her answer emphasized mainly on the fundamental realities of project management – project scope, milestones, work breakdown structure and timelines.
Without a project scope, you as a project manager would never be able to chalk out your milestones. Remember that the basis of your project scope is your customer. Get your customer requirements signed off, otherwise project scope will have a risk of higher than the permissible range of variations at a later stage. There is a rule of the game and that is – you can manage higher variation at an earlier stage of the project but at a later stage, even a small variation may create a higher risk of shattering your project timelines.
so once your project scope is clear, you can draw out your project milestones basis which it becomes simple to build the work breakdown structure. For each element of WBS, there has to be a timeline.
In an interview with Author Waheed Rabbani, one of my questions was based on considering writing a book as a project. If Waheed takes writing a book as a project, the key essential points he would take care of as project manager would be to maintain regular schedule a daily writing habit. That goes well for an author. How does it translate for project managers in software technology? Let me try to explain it as below:
Project Management is something most project managers have to struggle with. That is why there are many tips for project managers, techniques for making project management more effective, methods to adopt world class processes. Every project manager has to fight with the resistance originating from within. This resistance could be against leaving your comfort zone, finding ways to fight out against different kind of risks not encountered so far, tackling top management, creating best reporting process, engaging stakeholders etc. The repetitive actions become part of your routine exercise, but random threats seeking out of comfort zone actions need a little extra courage to break the barriers. First and foremost task is to convince yourself before you build a strategy to fight against these irregular kinds of threats or risks.
A regular schedule is important to maintain. Without a proper schedule, it will be difficult to monitor the progress of your project and without monitoring you would not be able to measure it. And without measurement you will not able to ascertain the level of risk of overshooting your timelines or budgets, or both. If there is a requirement of daily monitoring, you have to perform it aesthetically. One lose end from your end will have a recursive negative impact on your project’s health.
That is why a daily work schedule, maintaining logs of your work progress with respect to your project timelines, is very important.
A while ago (last month) I interviewed Rachel Holliday who is a British-born fashion blogger and stylist based in tropical Australia. This interview is published on my other blog. In that interview, one of the question I asked from Rachel is – What four top most things she takes care of for her fashion projects. The four points she mentioned say a lot for project managers in terms of learning and implementation in their professional life. The four important points Rachel mentioned are as below:
Planning is a critical area in project management. Without planning, you cannot ascertain your metrics and without metrics you cannot measure your success or failure. So it is very important to set your milestones for every phase of your project and keep a close watch on the deadlines set for those milestones. If possible, build a system driven alert system to raise an alarm well in time, proactively, for any kind of foreseen delays or failures. Also, it is important that an intelligent analytics is done to derive out various possibilities to mitigate risks arising out of these raised alarms and risks.
Give A Million Percent:
It is not a question of taking a chance in multiple projects handled by you and satisfying yourself if there is a balance between your wins and losses. Logically make yourself understand that in your projects you cannot take a chance of a failure. It has to be a ‘win’ in every case. For that whatever you have to do, do it. Give your best in each phase of your project and make it a grand success.
Be Friendly, But Professional:
You have to keep a perfect balance between your two faces. Being professional does not mean you have to act unfriendly and vice versa.
Networking is very important – among your peers, teammates, stakeholders, end users, customers, project teams, management and whosoever else is engaged in your project.
Let us understand few terminologies before getting into the related information.
MEED is over fifty-five years old organization engaged in organizing over thirty conferences and summits meant mainly for C-level executives. These summits and conferences are the best events for networking among C-level executives and have proven to be one of the best way of improving the revenue growth of relative businesses.
MEED Quality Awards for Projects: This is a much-awaited event occurring every year to identify and acknowledge the best practices adopted in construction projects in the GCC region.
Qatar Foundation (QF) new building has been acknowledged with the award of GCC Project of the Year. At the annual MEED Quality Awards for Projects event for the year 2015 held in Dubai on 27th May 2015. The excellence was noticed to such an extent in the Qatar Foundation building that it won four awards during the ceremony.
If you have not heard or got to know about IBM Internet of Things Foundation, you must. It is a service that is completely cloud-based and is fully managed. There seems to be a lot of in-house research and hard work gone into this project from IBM. The service offers to draw out value from Internet of Things (IoT) devices in quite a simple manner. You can, in fact, start with your own smartphone or any of the devices having a sensor, or a gateway or in any other way it is capable to connect and transmit. Using the technology developed by the IBM Internet of Things Foundation, the devices you sync or connect there, can start communicating in a secure manner by sending data to the cloud. This is done through the lightweight MQTT messaging protocol.
The way technology is changing in a very fast manner and gadgets, devices and things have started communicating, the data is getting accumulated on the cloud in a very big way. This huge data when analyzed in a sensible and constructive manner, is going to provide help in making a number of strategic decisions.
It is true that all those companies which have no presence on the internet are reduced seventy percent as compared to a decade ago. And the thirty percent that are left will have their presence on the internet in next three years. Almost every company, large of small, offline or online, on the cloud or on premise, is a data driven company. Big Data has already shown its power in two countries elections – the United States and India. So much so was the role played by big data and analytics that the opinion polls results went haywire in a big way.
Cloud computing, digital data and analytics are going to be the basic needs of any organization.