In my previous post – NFC Project At City Stars Mall Cairo: A Step by Step Walk Through – I gave an oversight of this pilot project that had to be deployed on 2 floors of City Stars Mall in Cairo, Egypt for 400+ security guards attendance, shift management, real time control room management, prompt action for shortfall, supervisor patrolling, incident recording and reporting to control room with video/photos streaming.
The software and hardware requirement is mentioned in the previous post. Deployment was as below:
RFID wall mount tags had to be fixed on inside and outside the building. RFID enabled ID cards were issued to all guards and supervisors. Each tag while fixing on individual location was configured for the first time with location id, tag id with the help of app residing in Nokia 6210 Classic NFC phone. Similarly one card was issued to each guard with appropriate configuration of information of guard id, tag id. The desktop app had all the information of guard shift schedule for the month, guard details etc. similarly the location id had further derails in the master regarding floor, patrolling sequence etc.
Each guard had a duty position for static guards. First tagging was done on NFC phone lying with the supervisor at the time of entry from any of the entrances of the mall and then once posted, the supervisor used to take a round to tag the location tag and guard tag once again to ensure that the guard is posted at right location.
Similarly process of patrolling plan, actual patrolling, incident recording etc. was deployed successfully.
I was in Cairo for a period of 15-20 days to deploy and sign off this NFC based pilot project in one of the most renowned malls in the heart of Cairo City – known as City Stars Mall. City Stars is a two blocks 8 story huge building.
Project Requirement: Around 400+ guards coming in various shifts were having manual attendance, patrolling and monitoring system which was wasting a lot of time and confusion. Another reason for this pilot was that one of the guard’s body was found in one of the emergency exit area after 4 days of his death during which he was being assumed as an absconder. This attendance, patrolling, incident recording/reporting and monitoring was required to be automated in a way that a real time dashboard would be available with the centralized control room so as to manage the whole show optimally.
Software and hardware requirements:
Nokia 6210 Classic – NFC enabled, data enabled
RFID Tags – wall mount
RFID Cards – ID cards for guards and supervisors
Control Room – Desktop application with internet to get real time data.
What is a NFC phone – NFC is near field communication. An NFC phone is basically an RFID reader that can read RFID tags/ cards and with its data enabled, it can transmit information in real time to back end team.
With the help of above, the pilot was done successfully on two floors of the malls in flat 15 days.
I will explain the execution and deployment process in next post.
In my previous post we talked about three basic elements of large sized software projects and how to manage & control the first two elements.
Correct understanding of Project Scope
Optimized coordination among various teams working on the project
The first two elements being correct understanding of Project Scope and Accurate Project Costing & Scheduling. We also learnt how these two elements discussed in the previous post are tightly inter-correlated overlapping each other to some extent but success of one does not ensure the overall success of both. An equal amount of attention and focus is required on both the components in an independent manner. Similarly even if you, as a project manager, are able to control well over the first two elements, the third – Optimized coordination among various teams working on the project – is usually a cumbersome task bundled with a large volume of hurdles which are mostly invisible and hidden in nature, emerging all of a sudden from nowhere.
Most of the delays happening in a project’s timelines come out with this root cause that either one of the team did not complete their tasks in time, thereby creating recursive impact on the delays; or the coordination among teams who had to work on the project in a sequential manner did not plan in such a manner so as not to lose time during the handover-takeover phase.
Such hiccups are usually overcome if there is a regular review of tasks planned and tasks completed on a daily basis. Probably Agile is the answer to overcome this bundle of hurdles in an effective manner.
Three main challenges that usually go unnoticed in larger software projects could be listed as below:
Correct understanding of Project Scope
Optimized coordination among various teams working on the project
Everyone who has worked on a software project would agree that once you get more into day to day firefighting in managing a derailed project, the overall broader and wider view of project gets blurred and hence goes of out of focus. Though you feel that the efforts being put in the project will get it back on track but in reality it gets farther away from the tracks and hence increases gap exponentially rather than bringing it back on track. Team sizing and project scheduling depends on accurate project costing. Oversized team does not ensure accurate adherence of project timelines. Rather if by mistake you have taken more than required number of members in teams, logically it should result into earlier closures of project milestones. It does not.
Project costing also depends on correct understanding of project scope. If scope is not understood well, it might result into a weird project scope that further results into wrongly sized teams and project timelines. Even if you have bene able to understand project scope well and get it documented & vetted by relevant stakeholders, it does not guarantee still that you will be able to form right sized teams and build your project schedules with equal correctness right from the beginning. Usually the learning comes along with the project progress.
I will talk about Optimization in team coordination in our next post…
Logically roles of the three teams – Project Monitoring, Project Evaluation and Project Audit are sequential and slightly overlapping in nature but there are differentiating factors ensuring a need of separate teams to conduct these separate activities. Project Monitoring is the process to analyze the project growth and find out any gaps so as to bring the derailed project back on track by taking proper measures to mitigate the risks encountered. Project evaluation on the other hand is the assessment and evaluation process with a purpose of finding out major learning points so as to ensure proper sustenance to upcoming projects and ensuring that risks encountered during the current project do not recur.
Project Audit is the process of assessing the completed project in terms of legal and regulatory compliance in terms of financial transactions – mainly expenses and income entered in the books of accounts. It necessarily happens once the project has completed and signed off. The main purpose of project audit is to ensure management and other stakeholders about no irregularities taken place during the project and if there are any, that come to notice of the team, then a proper analysis and mitigation is ensured.
Basic purpose of Project Audit is to focus on the long term goals of ensuring acquiring a learning from each project and ensuring no repeat of same kind of mistakes.
Unlike constituents of Project Monitoring Team, where the members of the team are from internal management, the members of Project Evaluation Team comprise of members from external stakeholders also. The main reason for this difference is that whereas monitoring is the sole responsibility of internal management, and hence respective key members have to ensure its consistent progress; in case of project evaluation there is a process of assessment of shortfalls and the remedial actions taken in case of shortfalls.
Project Evaluation is the process of assessment of achievement of project goals, team efficiency, factors that impacted on project adversely, relevant other factors responsible for non-achievement of project goals and also the assessment of mitigation plans. Overall purpose of Project Evaluation is to ensure that monitoring process is foolproof and in case of any gaps found in the monitoring process, how to ensure that there is no gap left.
Whereas Project Monitoring periodicity is more frequent depending on the project methodology adopted, project evaluation is usually planned with longer periodicities. For most of the projects it happens at the end of the project. In some cases, there is a mid-term evaluation and then the final evaluation. In project monitoring, the emphasis is more on finding stopgaps and their remedies. In Project Evaluation it is more of accountability, Impact analysis and financial gain/loss.
Project Monitoring talks about a continuous and periodic analysis of a project plan to understand the timelines and milestones as per initial plan and find out the gaps, if any. Basically its main purpose is to analyze the progress of project to see if the desired goals as per plan have been achieved or not. A gap in achievement of stipulated goals might call in for a rapid action, management’s intervention to take some urgent decision or an emergency meeting with all stakeholders. Monitoring process is usually managed by an internal project team comprising of members fr
Project Monitoring team’s main role is to keep an eye the ongoing project to monitor its progress, and take immediate mitigation action in case of a gap is found out in planned goal due to any risk. The mitigation plan that is now a new component of the project plan is updated to all stakeholders respectively with the newly defined timelines for achieving project goals.
What PRINCE2 ensures is that it enables you to drive your PRojects IN Controlled Environments and thus the name PRINCE2. Now what does it mean. It means that firstly the methodology enables you to understand all the controlling agents of a project that can be held responsible for its success of failure. Without this understanding you will never be able to make your projects run in a controlled environment.
There are 3 major components in PRINCE2 that are very important to define and measure. These are – Output, Outcome and Benefit. Let us understand what each of the term means. Project Output is overall product that results into during the project and is deployed at customer location to help him get the business results as per the expectations. The product built is the business requirements of customer that have been translated into an application. These products could be direct or indirect, objective or subjective, tangible or intangible; but definitely are clearly visible and desired.
Project Outcome in PRINCE2 is the measurable changes that take place in an organization while using project outputs. Definitely any product has to have a usage strategy and results expectations.
Project Benefit is the improvement that is resultant of project outcome. Definitely this improvement has to be clearly measurable and has to be resulted to be an advantage to the customer. Project benefit is always tangible and measurable; and can be worked out in financial terms.
If you are able to tie a successful marriage knot between the people (various teams working on a project) and the business requirements, in any project, during its project initiation phase, you have ensured an achievement of a very high rate of success for your project goals. That is what Agile development methodology does if you understand it well, adopt it by heart and put it in the blood of your project. You can very well find out the difference in the way you have been driving your projects towards success versus the actual success rate, once you adopt Agile strategy and make it an integral part of your project.
Agile talks about innovative approaches to be adopted in collaborating your various teams working on a project in such a way that everyone becomes equally engaged in a project and hence effectively a substantial partner in the success of a project. The whole team becomes a well synchronized unit that works in a perfect rhythm to move towards the project goals and achieving those goals. Ultimately it is the business requirement that leads in formation of business application development strategy and other strategies around the main strategy keeping complete attention intact on the nucleus of the requirements.
The strategies formed are so strongly built to optimally sync each individual’s vision with the business needs so as to bring in a total transformed culture across various teams working on the same project. Once this culture reaches to its maturity level, there are various things that start happening within and outside the organization. Teams feel more satisfied, customer pumps in more business, overall commitment and delivery mechanism improves, quality enhances, and a consistently optimizing environment builds in.
PRINCE2 is other words is PRojects IN Controlled Environment. The main goal of PRINCE2 methodology is to form an effective project management mechanism. As we are all aware that any project start with Project Initiation Phase and the first thing that is substantial in that phase is the project description. PRINCE2 has evolved with tremendously effective and result oriented templates to have a near to perfection mapping of business case with the project description so as to have a direct relationship between business requirements with the product development plan. PRINCE2 also helps in following, managing and controlling the plans with the help of its powerful project templates.
An important point to note here is that business case is one of the core component of Project Initiation Document in PRINCE2 and remains a prominent point of reference throughout the project lifecycle. Logically any system you adopt or follow, the main reason behind it remains to be a good performer and effective during the project management’s various phases. The system adopted must be able to make you more comfortable, effective controller, perfect driver and proactive risk mitigating agency.
Ultimately it is people on top of any system who drive a project or it is the system that drives people towards success during a project – choice is yours. Even with the best of systems deployed in your organization, if you are not able to drive your projects towards success, there is some wolf among the sheep in your core management team who is strong enough to impact your driving force to wrong direction.
A set of software development process, procedures and methodologies, know as Agile Software Development works entirely on a different kind of strategy as compared to our legacy software development processes. In agile software development we talk about Iterations and incremental development. The focus here lies more on building of self driven & self organized cross-functional teams that are responsible for concrete evolution of requirements and solutions.
In agile software development you talk of quick outbursts of results rather than a goal set for software development team to travel on a long road to reach to their destination. Here emphasis is more on milestones that are small pieces of ultimate goal that is required to be achieved. And these small pieces are like building blocks that enable you to reduce your distance from your final destination by achieving each milestone and reducing distance to your goal block by block.
For further insight you can refer to this fantastic article.
Whenever you talk of a set of activities involving a number of teams in managing a project, it is termed as project management. The set of activities that need to be catered to in project management are project planning, project organization, project team, project control mechanism, project management procedures, methodologies and processes. Why these set of activities are important in project management – to reach to a successful project closure, to achieve your project goals and to get financial and new business results in a favorable manner. Definitely in order to achieve these goals, you require a number of teams to perform the necessary tasks or activities. That is the whole ecosystem of Project Management.
Now, in this ecosystem there are some adverse forces that keep active to generate some negative impact, to drift teams away from performing desired tasks, and in slowing down the whole mechanism in reaching to its desired goals in desired timelines. These negative forces appear in different forms and shapes – sometimes in an anticipated way and sometimes totally like a ghost appearing all of a sudden – unannounced and unnoticed.
A smart project manager would always keep cool when the tides are in favor and keep thinking on the ways to tackling the situation in case of adverse situations. The ultimate goal of understanding the whole gamut of project management ecosystem is to learn the art of sailing smoothly during adverse situations.
Recently I interacted with a professional photographer from Mexico City and while learning about his work I could sense that they have a similar (if not same!) kind of Project Management activities to manage their project assignments. Their projects also vary in size thereby earmarking the duration of a project. These assignments are also of similar kind of nature as software projects – overseas, offshore, domestic, international and so on…
And so I decided to talk to Rodrigo to understand how does he manage his projects and other aspects related to his projects’ management.
Rodrigo Jardón, September 20th, 1987
Mexico City based photographer. Rodrigo works to cover social issues ranging from demonstrations in Cuba to refugee camps in the Western Sahara and Palestine, and from sporting events in South Korea to rock concerts in Fargo, North Dakota.
He is usually a concert photographer but since March 2012 he has a personal project of photo essays called “Tourism in the lives of others” on his webpage. It contains sequences of images ordered in a narrative to transmit a feeling more than information, closer to poetry than documentary, as he sees it.
How challenging is your work?
I have basically two works: Concert photography, where I make money from, and Documentary photography, where I cover social issues and even violent demonstrations. That is the challenge: to combine those two lives at the same time, but it is also the best part as it helps me to keep balance of myself.
What basic skills are required to become a good photographer?
Devotion for your work.
When did you realize to take photography as a career?
When I realized I that if I worked hard enough I could use photography as an excuse to travel, free concerts, and even make some money!
What are the main challenges in this career?
As a freelance photographer I think the hardest part is to administrate your time and money, as you are your own company.
How many projects do you do in a year?
Around 2 or 3 big documentary projects, the rest of the year I do concert photos.
How the sizing of photography project is done?
I usually save money and go to places to get exposed to situations, as Susan Sontag says: “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.” (Melancholy Objects, p. 57).
Does it require a team to perform these projects?
I usually work alone taking the photos, but I like people writing about them in order to know their perception, the last collaborative project I did was in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas with writer Alice Driver entitled “My homeland”.
What various roles are you required to perform in a photography project?
In my photo-essays I am the producer of the content, but I think that the most important role is as an editor, when I select and arrange the images previously taken in order to evoke emotions in the viewer, this can take days or even weeks.
What career did you plan during your education days?
I wanted to be a book illustrator.
What languages you can speak and write?
Spanish and English.
What are various styles or genres of photography?
It is often divided based on the use of the image between art and documentary photography or candid and posed depending on the technique, but nowadays everything is mixed. My favorite genre is the photo essay: a set of photographs that are intended to tell a story or evoke a series of emotions in the viewer.
When did you start photography?
My brother got cancer about 13 years ago, and my mom bought me a basic digital camera to take photos and videos of him. When he died there were only those images, and this is how photography became important in my life.
When my family was recovered, I traveled with my mother in her fieldwork. She is an educational researcher, and I accompanied her to take photos to illustrate their research, especially in the Mexican borders.
Would you like to share some of your major projects?
What are your forthcoming projects?
I`m looking forward to finish a series of photo essays on in the different countries of the divided Kurdistan, in order to reflect the subtle violence against the Kurdish people, and looking for writers to add texts to my previous photo essays in order to make them more collaborative.
Driving a project to a road that ensures smoothly progressive flow with least number of speed breakers has always been a prime requirement in project management and that is where the role of a project manager comes into picture. A project manager need to have more of leadership qualities to attain higher amount of success in his project ventures. That is what the new book The Power of Project Management Leadership: Your Guide on How to Achieve Outstanding Results by Laszlo A. Retfalvi emphasizes on.
The book talks about crucial requirements for the leadership that holds and controls project management, to run a project successfully in today’s scenario of higher complexities, greater demands of zero defect, stricter following of timelines, tough roads and highly aggressive/volatile customers. There have been many books earlier on guiding how to run a project successfully or how to handle project manager in a more effective manner. The power of Project Management Leadership by Laszlo A Retfalvi focuses more on a project manager as an individual to empower him for managing a project by means of inculcating certain leadership qualities that can help him managing his projects in a more effective manner and having effective and timely closures in a successful manner. The book talks about marrying management and leadership in such a powerful manner but with a concrete balance. If understood and followed well, the book can act as a superb guide to a project manager to acquire higher levels of excellence.
Overall The Power of Project Management Leadership: Your Guide on How to Achieve Outstanding Results by Laszlo A. Retfalvi is an excellent book and a must read for all project managers to find out the hidden treasure of leadership skills within, polish them and use them effectively to acquire excellent results in their projects.
Let us consider we have reached to the final lap of project management. Business requirements were captured well. Current business scenario was captured well. Gap analysis was done successfully and signed off. Development took off well and landed well in between covering different QC destinations where various passengers ported and deported. And finally it has reached to a stage of deployment after exhaustive testing is completed. The team has landed at customer site to sit along with key process owners and key process users (mind it that process owners and process users are different usually depending on the size of organization, but both are key drivers of the business process of their respective field/area as both have important and critical credentials in running the show).
The broad level run of software developed might cross key process owners’ den successfully but might land into a large list of queries when it lands into the lap of key business users for their respective modules. The micro level in-depth requirements that arise at this stage are inevitable and need a firm addressable confirmation from the deployment team (who in turn will have to go back to development and testing team for incorporation of these changes) unless the changes required are too weird and out of scope.
For instance – initially – while capturing the business process – for a cash voucher flow – current scenario would be a paper voucher created in business that goes to various stages of approvals before final payout. The clear cut requirement would be for automation of this complete process along with the workflow. A last minute call at the time of deployment could be logistics of workflow, mobility, rejections logic that could seek changes.
Project management, project needs, software development, software development technology – methodologies, policies and processes have undergone a major transformation during last 20 years. There have been many drivers and derivatives that emerged out of one big revolution that can be held responsible for this and that is Internet.
Internet has brought out a tremendous revolution all across the globe. It has in fact brought globalization to every corner of the world and probably has played a unique role in marrying globalization with localization. What it means is that awareness about what is happening across the globe was very much limited to printed world with very low audience. Internet has been able to bring all on a common platform with awareness about best of everything happening at some corner of the world or other. All good and bad got published over the internet almost in real time and near to real time environment thereby bringing awareness about latest technologies, success stories, good organizations, failure factors and universal learning.
Connectivity has become easier, faster and reliable. A project team sitting in one corner of the world, easily manages to connect with the customer in other corner of the world over a virtual platform for communication, video conferencing, document sharing and meeting reviews. Even deployments, training and handovers are taking place now over a virtual environment and shall be a big reality sooner when no physical movement of a project team would be required at customer location – be it for the purpose of understanding of current business scenario, business requirements or for product development, deployment, training etc.
When there is a gap between project management, project processes and performance management; it becomes a bottleneck for project manager to move out of a tunnel with no visibility of light. The main reason lies behind this is that all energy flowing in the project starts flowing in a conflicting manner thereby nullifying the positive impact and gradually generating negative impact on the progress of project. Project manager has to be quite tactic in this aspect so as to handle such conflicts strategically in order to avoid any packet of energy going waste.
There are certain business needs specified by the customer that are required to be built in an application to handle the business flow of the customer. To achieve this, the teams engaged for this project need to follow certain project methodology that is most suitable for this kind of project and then in order to achieve success there is a need of following certain processes defined & documented in that particular project methodology. There would be certain documents, certain formats, certain procedures to follow to keep project moving in right direction and also to make all stakeholders stay on same page.
The important factor here is to put back the rail on track that has got derailed due to certain non-adherence or certain misalignment. So the big question comes here is that there has to be a mainstream person, mostly project manager, who should take charge of alignment between the teams, processes and various stakeholders requirements.
Project Management landscape has changed over a period of last decade. The change has been tremendous, consistent, and substantially visible. Changes have happened in terms of achieving success, clarity of matter, project methodologies, value of timelines & adherence, PMO, and finally the role of project manager itself.
In earlier project management scenario, a project manager was more of a symbolic entity which in last few years has emerged as a powerful driving and deciding force within the sphere. In earlier days project manager was more towards signing off docs and sign offs. There used to be ample reasons for project delays and failures that were thought to be beyond control of a project manager and hence in most of the projects where there were substantial delays or failures, the project manager used to use this armory of ‘genuine excuses’ and hence saving his neck.
Time has changed and now a project manager is supposed to be responsible for any kind of preempted risks or the unanticipated ones, howsoever severe or drastic they are in nature. The project manager is responsible for mitigating all such kind of risks and drives his project towards success or out of risk zone so as to take the whole team towards comfort zone.
That is why today’s project manager has to be more proactive, communicative, collaborative, innovative and alert.
When the product is ready to be handed over to testing team, the testing team needs to ensure completion of certain tasks before it actually starts the testing of code handed over to them by the development team. These important tasks ensure proper understanding of scope of testing, and help in preparing complete coverage of testing by building exhaustive (and relevant) test cases by the testing team. In any case these activities would be happening in all the cases but only need to be crosschecked to make it happen in a formal and structured manner.
These activities are:
Business Flow: Along with customer requirements, testing team needs to understand the real life business flow at customer end so as to align it well with its testing strategy, coverage and completeness.
Business Cases: Real life business cases need to be studied by the testing team for both the scenarios – one, for the current condition where the business might be handling the situation on a legacy system or manually; and secondly, how they would like to see it happening in the newly built application and environment. The simulation of both scenarios is quite important to understand what-is and what-needs-to-be situations.
Taking further on from few of my earlier posts on Project Plan and Project Management –
Here is some more insight on Project Planning:
Any project when goes in its execution phase, gets bundled with a set of assumptions, is a well-known fact. These assumptions vary on the basis of different factors that control a project. So we need to understand how do we tackle a situation where a live situation to go active in a few days/ weeks/ months from now is dependent on certain factors which are hypothetical in nature. There is a conflict already built, if you really notice, between a real and a hypothetical environment where both are banking on each other for making it a success.
It becomes quite important to understand what those hypothetical situations are known as assumptions, and what the basis on which it is being built. A classic example is team sizing which is decided on the basis of scope of work and past experience in handling similar kind of situation. For example it is worked out that the total effort for a particular task of development is say 20 man days and this development work is to finish in 5 days thereby deriving a requirement of 4 persons to be deputed for this particular task. Now important to know is the task itself – whether it is possible to split in 4 equal portions and handover each portion to each of the developer to finish in 4 days each so that one day is kept as a buffer, or the job is sequential where the second person can work only if first has completed the first portion.
How often do you wonder as a non testing member of a project team regarding the basis of categorizing bugs, setting their priority of fixing and their allocation to respective development guys? Logically there has to be a science behind it otherwise the exercise doesn’t make any sense. But above all whosoever takes the onus of prioritization of bugs needs to have some fundamental things in place.
First of all the test lead must have a concrete and complete knowledge of business and the business requirements – on the basis of which the project has been initiated and the product is being built. Based on the business requirements and priorities; and the kind of bugs that have been detected by the testing team; an alignment can be formed on the basis of which these bugs can be sorted out for their severity and priority. There has to be, definitely, a relationship between the severity of bug, and the priority being set for it to get fixed.
Ultimately all bugs have to be fixed by the development team. Then have you had another thought in mind, ever – why severity and priority is set for a bug, if all have to be fixed at the end of the day? Answer is simple – bugs with higher severity and priority shall go to highly expert members of the development team. And also when come back for validation – the same concept is to be applied among testing team members too.
Bug management complies of many of the activities related to bugs. It comprises of bug identification, documentation, reporting, action and closures. Once an initial set of bugs are reported to development team and they report back to testing team as fixed, the testing team needs to revalidate about the proper closure of these bugs. Validation of closure not only should be about the closure of reported bugs but also to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the application functionality and flow due to the fixing of these bugs.
So logically while validating each bug as fixed, there is a need of exhaustive amount of test cases that ensure testing as stated above. There could be cases where the bug identified and reported has been fixed and this fixing in code has put no adverse impact elsewhere. But it may happen otherwise also that the bug has been fixed and it has left an unwanted impact somewhere else in the code that now needs to be identified and fixed. There could be a third scenario where not only the reported bug has been left fixed to its fullest extent but while fixing it a new set of bugs have arisen.
Now, the most important thing: who among the team is focusing on improvising level of coding where the numbers of bugs reduce in every iteration? A special attention on taking a note on every code release is also important – if the severe bugs are getting reduced or not?
Business knowledge is equally important for two major teams working on a product – one, the development team, who has taken the burden of converting some key business processes into automation; and another, the testing team, who takes the onus of making the developed product – bug free – before it is decided to launch for production environment. A tester has in fact multiple roles while testing a product. While the development team has a big document – titled as “Business Requirements” to bank upon while development of the product; the testing team has to be more practical in terms of getting into the shoe of customer – when it comes to testing of product.
An effective testing has to look at product that has come for testing with multiple lenses. It has to ensure complete catering of business and customer needs, it has to ensure excellent usability and reaching at par with the expectations of the end users who are going to run business with the help of this newly developed product. Functionality of a product asks for a big amount of alignment with the real business environment.
An improperly or incompletely understood business requirement would lead to its equivalent development that would lead to wrong business results. Now the onus lies on testing team to find out the gap in developed product and the original business requirements. It might call for a fresh round of repetitive efforts by development team, but it is worth doing it rather than releasing an immature product in production environment.
Most of the time whenever a product has to go to testing team, the whole attention starts going into ensuring complete coverage of product, exhaustive testing, test results, test cases, test strategy, test plan and so on thereby thinking that the whole success of testing lies in adhering to all these factors and their compliance. If for once the focus is diverted to paying more attention to what enhancements need to be done while coding so that the bugs are minimized, probably it will make everybody’s life happier.
The focus on enhancement of coding process, procedures and methodology with only one thing in mind – minimal bugs – could make a big difference – in a permanent manner. Imagine that if the efforts and time in coding remains same but it is done in such a manner that there are minimal bugs in it, it saves a lot for later stages. First of all it starts building an extra level of confidence in all stakeholders the moment they realize that the same time that goes into coding, now saves a higher amount of time of the testing team as the coding has got enhancement and is now near to a bug free mode.
Another important factor is that the efforts required post coding, by testing team in finding bugs, reporting it back to the development team, and then bug fixing by development team; if now starts taking lesser time; it saves a lot of recurring efforts.
Bug Management is something that has not been standardized in a universal manner. Usually its management, reporting pattern, closure and confirmation process varies from organization to organization and there too the complete adherence to the process varies. At places you will find a very structured and elaborated bugs management system with each and every step being followed and managed aesthetically while at other places the bugs reporting itself might not be too structured.
The variance in adherence depends on many factors and culture being followed within an organization. It also depends on efforts being put for enhancement of processes, benchmark and stakeholders’ engagement. It has been found that if a same piece of code is handed over to 5 different testers for an independent testing by each, the reporting mechanism, level of testing, number of bugs etc. would vary in a very random manner. This inconsistency gives rise to a number of flaws and gaps in the process and mechanism.
The same variance would happen in case of the same team of testers is given a different set of products for the purpose of testing. The test coverage and test results would not be consistent unless and until the testing team follows a well-established process of testing that caters to some properly defined processes and procedures in order to maintain a universally acceptable testing mechanism.
It has become as well proven fact that a tester cannot become a good programmer and a programmer cannot be a good tester. It does not mean that a programmer doesn’t know how to test or he doesn’t have the capability to test the code he has written but testing his code as a tester is not possible for a programmer. There are various reasons given on the reason that why a good programmer is not a good tester in one of the earlier posts. One of the main reason is that a writer cannot be a critic of his own writing. Same goes true for a programmer. Programmer loves what he writes and himself would not love to find out fault in what he has created.
Even when there is a testing done by a programmer/ developer after writing his code, the prime thing in his mind remains that the code has been created by him and that is what holds him going into customer’s shoe and looking at the code from customer’s perspective. Whatever a programmer tests in his code is the technicality of the code. Two important things that he misses to map with his code are – one, the business flow; and two, the usability. At many instances I have discussion with developers on what they have written and what business requirement had been. And on such instances most of them argue to accept it as per the code written and express reservations in changing the code as per business requirement, by giving different reasons.
Role of testing team is to look into enhancement of the application built for a customer and making it as near to the scope and reality of business as per the expectations of the customer. If development had been free of errors or bugs, there would never have been a need for a separate dedicated testing team. Testing done by development team would have been sufficiently enough to launch the product, but it never happened. Why it does not happen is a separate story.
As already suggested in one of my previous post here, it is important for testers to follow certain set of guidelines to perform their task of testing as per the expectation of customer and other stakeholders as ultimately it is the product under scrutiny that is going to speak louder than the commitments and promises made to the customer. Because if it is not the testing team that catches the bug in the product then probably no one else before the launch of the product. And a bug encountered at a later stage when the product is launched and is catering to the business needs on a live environment, it would be too late for so many things.
A bug encountered at a later stage once the product is live, it not only hampers the reputation of product and the organization behind it, but also the future prospects of the organization. Documentation, well written processes and adherence to them, regular reviews and finally a sincere feedback plays a major role in keep moving in the right direction during a project.
Bug fixing for development team is as serious affair as a new built, or rather it must be a more serious affair. It is quite phenomenal that no product development has ever been 100% bug free. In fact importance and necessity of testing phase and testers is increasing exponentially. Again a general mistake that is done is that testing team takes it lightly after it has done first time exhaustive testing of the product once it come to them for testing after completion of development. An equal plan, set of test cases and same amount of seriousness is required to testing after bugs have been reported fixed by the development team and the product comes to them for testing of bugs.
It is good to do some iterative development- testing – bug fixing – testing here in order to perform it in a collaborative manner so as to save time and release in time. After a cycle of bug fixing has been done by the development team, the task for testing team become double fold. One – to ensure that the bugs reported have been fixed and two – there has not been a birth of new set of bugs while fixing the first set of bugs.
Reporting, documenting and reviewing is a good mechanism to manage the show during this cycle.
Test strategy, test plan, test schedule, test cases and test scenarios – everything go haywire if test schedule goes for a big deviation thereby disturbing the complete timelines of project. Definitely there should be no shortcuts taken for testing of a product thereby creating leakages that could lead to disaster at a later stage, but also important to allocate sufficient time for testing. Putting pressure on testing to finish it in time or rather before time because development plan got overshoot, is not a justifying phenomenon for product or customer.
There are many instances when testing goes for exceptions. In those cases the final test report submitted to development team must clearly state the deviations taken in the test plan along with appropriate reasons, and anticipated shortfall in coverage of testing. Someone in the Risk Management team must look at this report very carefully and find out the risks arising out of it. A proper mitigation plan needs to be chalked out depending on the risks and the severity arising out of these risks.
At times development team might have a confusion over a bug reported and/or they might not be able to simulate the same bug. Test team’s role becomes important in these cases to explain the same to development team for such reported bugs.
A comprehensive and detailed test report preparation during test phase of a newly developed product as mentioned in an earlier post here, makes a lot of sense in ensuring availability of light at the end of tunnel names as project management. Each phase of a project right since its inception is like a tunnel where at the beginning of your journey of that phase, you are never 100% confident for its timely and accurate closure. After all, projects, for years, have been a great topic of discussion and there is no company in the world that can claim this figure of 100% success in all their projects. There are always a number of hidden and visible threats to a project that could fall in the bucket of anticipated ones, or the ones emerging as a shocking surprise at any moment of time during project management.
Each test case must be given an equal amount of attention and the recording of results of test cases and test scenarios is quite important. All test cases do not result positive and same is true for vice versa. Hence it becomes important to record flaws encountered in the Bug Report in a clear and sensible manner so that least amount of time is spent by development team on understanding the bug and more time goes into fixing of bugs. At times, test team, in an attempt to show bigger count of bugs in their test report (so as to reflect higher amount of efforts gone in testing, which obviously is a misconcept) record multiple bugs for the same error thereby duplicating the reporting of bugs. A thorough inspection of Bugs Report is therefore important before handing it over to development team for fixing of bugs.
It is important to ensure completeness of testing for any new product built based on the customer’s business requirements. These business requirements become the basic source for defining development requirements and subsequently testing requirements. Testing is as important phase of any project as the development. In fact every phase of a project in project management has serious impact on any next phase of the project. Based on business requirements and subsequent logic being built in the application by development team, Test Team prepares test cases to ensure complete coverage of testing of the product. These test cases have to be extensive, exhaustive and meaningful. Test environment, test bed and testing strategy have to be strong enough to ensure meeting of customer needs as per customer’s expectations and not as per development team’s wishes.
Any changes happening in the code during or after completion of testing, which could derive out of various reasons, must ensure retesting and that too in exhaustive manner, without bothering about the change in logic is small or at a large scale. For this purpose it makes a lot of sense that development and testing go hand in hand till the product ripens to its final shape and becomes ready for deployment. Test scenarios have to be properly aligned with the exhaustive test cases built. Equally important is to observe the pass and fail result of each test case. A small gap here could cause a big trouble later.
That is why documentation and recording is necessary. It becomes handy at a later stage too for reference purposes, as and when any need arises to refer to it.
There are many ways to ensure complete coverage of software testing as discussing in my earlier post here. Let us revisit those ways and introspect a little more on the same. A careful inspection and selection of activities is a must to ensure adherence of process, procedures, policies, methodologies and completeness of testing of any new product during its built or after its built. Or it could be equally important for a newer version of an existing built that has already been released to customer(s). First and foremost is to ensure complete understanding of business/ customer requirements and then the business logic built in the product to cater to these needs. A gap in understanding of these requirements and subsequent in slippage in complete coverage of product testing could lead to a big disaster post release of the product not only in terms of money and reputation but also in terms of acquiring new business or keep holding the existing ones.
Documentation here has a bigger role in terms of – first, drafting these requirements in a crisp elaborating manner, and second, getting a sign off from responsible authority from customer. Engagement of quality team right at this stage ensure smooth closure of later stages of the project. While development team meets to discuss these requirements to draft out their development charter, plan and broad level design. The requirement document must be given as an additional copy to testing team so that they find out points of discussion for any clarity required from analysts or customer. It makes sense obviously as it is the testing team that gets into the shoe of customer to see the behavior, flow and functionality built. As a development charter and plan is built, a similar charter and plan is important for testing. Test strategy is an integral part of this. Test Methodology, test schedule and requirement of testing tools needs come out of it that define the scope of testing and building of test cases.
Based on your interest qualification and career goals, there are 8 different certifications offered by PMI. Each certification is an independent entity with no linkages or prerequisites among each other. Check them below:
Project Management Professional (PMP): A well acknowledged and widely recognized certification that is having demand globally can be a great booster for your career in Project Management. Project Managers with this certification have definitely a higher recognition and importance than the others, who don’t have it. It is an excellent opportunity for experienced project managers to acquire this certification to get a clear cut edge over their peers and get their presence felt on a global front. It also provides an altogether different horizon to master project and team management.
Program Management Professional (PgMP): A higher level of certification for the project managers falling in the category of senior project managers (or those aspiring to become senior project manager) who are currently managing multiple teams and multiple projects. Specially designed certification enables senior project management professionals to gain an in-depth insight to manage large and complex projects, in multiples.
Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)SM: This higher level certification helps in gaining skills in portfolio management and mastery in handling multiple portfolios.
PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP): This certification is meant for experienced project managers who are following agile methodologies or are at the verge of getting into it so as to manage projects with Agile approach.
PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP): This is a special certification to build competence in managing risk portfolio in project management by means of assessment, analysis mitigation and closures of risks in a project or multiple projects.
PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP): This is an excellent certification for project managers who need expertise in scheduling & planning of projects.
OPM3 Professional Certification: The certification helps in aligning experience of a project manager with the practical knowledge gained during the journey of project management so as to maturely manage multiple projects.
If you are among software testing professionals, practitioners, consultants, managers, scholars, researchers, students or developers; and are around New York during 11 to 13 August 2014, don’t miss opportunity to attend the 9th Annual Conference on Software Testing, CAST 2014 with a theme of “The Art and Science of Testing”. It is being organized by Association for Software Testing (AST) since 2006. The unique feature of this conference is about its sessions where each of the sessions is run in two flavors – the first half is taken by the speaker who is master in the subject area and the other half is and open session to facilitate attendees for questions, discussions etc.
Some more unique features of CAST sessions is that it is for professional and learners in software testing field and is run by experts and masters in testing field with a sole purpose of improving and optimizing software testing and enhancing its learning to all attendees. The model of this conference is to share in an interactive manner, conduct discussions and run Q&A. It is a time when expert professionals, authors, blogger and other related personalities interact with each other.
CAST 2014 is being co-chaired by Anna Royzman and Keith Klain. The first day is set for Tutorials of full day duration to be conducted by experts in their respective areas. Next 2 days are for interactive sessions.
If you are around Dublin, and belong to software testing community, mark your calendars to attend EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference 2014 during 24th to 27th November 2014 at The Convention Centre, Dublin. The beautiful theme this year is Diversity, Innovation, Leadership. The deadline for submission of application for speakers and active workshops was till 14th February 2014. Notification of Acceptance is on 21st March 2014.
Program is chaired by Paul Gerrard. Paul is associated with EuroSTAR event since 1993 when the first event was organized for the first time in London. Here is the video in which Paul talks about the forthcoming event.
A test strategy is a must to be in place before the team starts testing on a software project. Though the template and components of a test strategy may vary from organization to organization and also from project to project within the same organization, there are certain important aspects and key elements that need to be integral part of a test strategy. The careful insertion of these key elements in your test strategy will definitely ensure higher level of optimization of your time, resources and money spent on the whole exercise.
Testing experts need to expertise in learning the strategic as well as practical approach towards software testing. Keeping a benchmark helps in improvisation in your above approaches. As a single project management methodology does not fit well for all kind of software projects, same is the case in software testing. Your test strategy, test cases and testing methodologies, test estimation and exhaustive risk management would vary depending on these factors.
A clear cut roadmap to drive your software testing is important not only for crisp functioning within the function but it also give a clear insight about the function to management and other stakeholders. For any new testing technology that you plan to introduce to your management must have a business case in place.
Software Test Professionals (STP) Conference is happening this spring during 14 to 17 April 2014 in New Orleans, LA. It is like a must attend conference for all professionals who are connected to testing phenomena, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of getting lot of insight, learning and knowledge on the subject. One of the benefit that you get while attending such a conference is to meet and talk to your peers, seniors and legends in software testing. You get to know lot about what is happening in software testing from the horse’s mouth and this way you understand the new things happening out of your own pond.
Networking done during these conferences with like minded professionals helps you in many ways so as to help you in improvising your career goals, finding out new techniques for testing your apps, discuss about latest tools, ongoing and upcoming trends in testing, existing processes and their optimization, insights in other industries and so on. There are 6 tracks finalized so far with a number of sessions in each track. So depending on the choice of your areas if is important to tick mark which tracks or sessions you would not afford to miss in case you are planning to attend this 4 days conference. The detail of tracks and sessions can be found here.
Coming years are usage of mobile technology in the corporate word – to cater to their desktop/ enterprise apps on mobile platrofrm so as to provide the versatility and freedom to use it anywhere, anytime with least amount of gadgets requirements. In today’s scenario, everyone is using a smartphone that is quite capable of running an application. Most of us are already using many of those applications already on our phones.
Enterprise apps need a little extra attention in terms of development, quality and security. If an enterprise app is required to be made available on mobile phones of the employees it becomes a complex requirement in terms of the deployment looking at the number of variants of the OSes being used in the mobile phones. Mobile application development and deployment is not as simple as a Windows platform Client-Server application or a web based application. Testing becomes a major area in mobile apps development and deployment. Take for example any legacy application running in your organization that needs to be deployed on mobile platform and it has to be available on every employee’s mobile phone irrespective of its operating system. The same enterprise application is now required to be produced in a lighter version so as to support its deployment on mobile phones.
Quality becomes apparently a big task when it comes to testing of the functioning of same app on various versions of phones using various versions of the same and different operating systems. Simply deciding on moving an enterprise app to mobile platform without building up a strong development, deployment, testing and security team within would be a problematic affair.
2014 would be a year to focus more on development and deployment of mobile applications in corporate world all across the globe. Corporate are seeking an absolute confidence in using their enterprise software apps on mobile, at least to cover the core business part. Confidence is definitely required on three major fronts before taking mobile apps to a level of enterprise business – development, quality and security. the way requirements are increasing day by day to build mobile features of the business apps that are running in the organization, it is becoming important to understand the increase in demand for mobile apps developers and testers.
Smartbear conducted a survey among 1000+ developers and testing community to find out the extent of focus on mobile apps on a global arena and came out with following results as stated in the infographic.
Click image to see a larger versionHow Well Do you Know Your HTML5? Test Your Knowledge via SmartBear
Each software built is associated with some stakeholders and audience. The higher is he number of audience, meaning the number of users, the higher is the risk. Risk goes in many variants of two main components – money and reputation. It impacts on financials, business, customers, stock price, sales, revenue and many more factors.
When it comes to a world class leader in manufacturing of vehicles, the stake and risk increases manifold. As per a news item, recently Toyota had to recall almost 2 million newly launched Prius hybrid car from the market due to a bug in the software embedded within the vehicle to perform certain functions. We all know the complete lifecycle of a software. It goes through various phases – requirements, development, deployment, launch etc. In between there are certain stages where quality has a major role to play which impart in depth testing of the product. Testing is critical in many aspects.
Prius is the latest generation of full hybrid electric car produced by Toyota for its mid sized segment customers. It was rated as one of the cleanest vehicles in the United States based on its smog forming emission technology. The latest recall that happened early this week was due to a glitch in the software because of which the gas electric system of the car was automatically getting shutdown. The recall has happened in many countries including Japan, North America, and many places in Europe. Toyota is a company that is heavily dependent on technology for their manufacturing process. Besides having highest level of quality control mechanism in Toyota manufacturing plants that is manged via Software Quality Management (SQM), they use Prince2 and CMMI to a large extent for their software applications used for the development and manufacturing processes.
This post is in continuation to my previous post on the same subject. In last post we discussed about 4 suicidal traits that could close the gates of growth for a project manager. Let us look further at the rest of 5 negative traits which the writer Abhinav Pandey has recommended to follow in his new book 9 Don’ts To Success because the DOs don’t work published by Grapevine India.
The 4 traits discussed in previous post are: Distraction, Mistakes, Fake, and Lies. Here are the rest of traits below:
5. Arrogance: An arrogant project manager will be difficult to adjust in a project. This trait might be useful to follow for an artist or a film actor who is on the peak of his career and can dictate his terms from there but not for a project manager by any means.
6. Risks: This is the only point that I agreed to the author that a project manager must follow. There again, the project manager has to be smart enough to understand the difference between a calculated risk and blind risk. He must be able to assess the risk factor in the risk being taken.
7. Negative Thinking: It will lead to nowhere if a project manager starts following this trait.
8. Flamboyance: This again would be a disastrous trait if a project manager starts following it.
9. Manipulation: Agreed! But not to full extent. This is the second trait in the whole list of 9 recommended by the author. I would say a project manager can be manipulative but has to be careful enough in playing his cards. A positive and sensible note is important in this music played (if at all!) by the project manager.
Thanks to Abhinav Pandey for compiling these 9 traits that we would be discussing below in his new book titled as 9 Don’ts To Success because the DOs don’t work published by Grapevine India. I was wondering after reading this book whether these traits recommended by the author to follow would work for a project manager in his success if he starts following them, and the answer was a big NO that came from within. Let us see why these traits would not work for a 5. project manager in making him more successful in his ventures:
1. Distraction: Would distraction from customer, customer requirements, business needs and project management help a project manager in achieving bigger goals than what he is able to achieve by focusing on these.
2. Mistakes: Which organization will accept a project manager making mistakes too often and that too repeatedly the same mistakes. Probably none. Taking risk is different from making mistakes. Having a watch from various stakeholders on the project, it is something a project manager can never afford.
3. Fake: How a project manager can act fake is not clear. The author opens this chapter with a statement that artificial flowers last longer than the real ones. But then worldwide real ones are preferred over the artificial ones. Moreover “fake” in no sense mean “artificial”.
4. Lies: No point in discussing. If a project manager starts following this trait, that would be suicidal for his career.
Part – 1/2: Next 5 traits discussed in following post…
One absolutely important role of Quality function which is not there in written in their agendas anywhere but which is always done by them is to take all stakeholders in sync and perform a consolidation of product unanimously before letting is QC cleared and okayed for release to customer. Why is it so important for them to engage all stakeholders and win their confidence is very crucial to avoid any confusions and conflicts occurring at a later stage after the product has been released.
Testing criteria must be made very clear and the exceptions highlighting is most important factor stating what is not under the scope of testing. Scope of testing has to sync well with the exact business requirements for which the product has been or is being built to cater to its needs. Getting into the shoe of end user and looking at the product functionality and usage as per his perspective is also very important factor for quality function.
Imagine a scenario when quality is sitting in isolation with no information about what projects are in pipeline at what stage and what is the plan of things coming into their kitty for testing and QC approval. Gone are the days when this used to happen. Quality has to be part of all stages of Project Management now. Right time to allow them to peak inside the door is Business Analysis stage when a team of business analysts is about to sit with the business stalwarts of customer business for finalizing the business requirements and current scenario. A quality gut at this stage if is part of the team can start absorbing the right kind of energy to drive it till the final stages.
Quality guy might have different set of questions in mind that could be raised during analysis stage. If he is not part of this stage and later gets a document of analysis and requirements from BA team, it might be a postmortem and might not simulate the queries from Q perspective that could have arisen during real scenario, provided he be the part of it. Similar kind of scenarios where QC team gets isolated (or is made to do so) is the development phase when developers are discussing, developing and performing unit testing.
A Quality person at this stage equally engaged in all kind of developmental and requirement discussions could act as a boon for the product as the absorption of crux of customer business is already settled in his mind and during final QC testing all this wisdom could become handy.
Projects do get delayed mostly as per their plans due to various reasons. But mostly the major brunt is to be absorbed by testing. Reasons for this could be many but important to learn is to cover the testing team with a shield so that none of this kind of panicking pressures penetrate and create chaos in testing phase. Some of the known factors causing pressure on testing phase are:
1. Wrong Planning: Initial planning if not reviewed on a regular basis is definitely going to cause its impact somewhere.
2. Customer Demand: At times there are factors at customer end that compel them to redefine their timelines of go-live of running project for which the pressure is put on project team. Development takes its own sweet time and so does the testing but usually pressure of such kind fall on QC to squeeze their timelines to roll out testing in a quicker manner.
3. Development: Delay in development completion could squeeze testing phase timelines thereby eating out their calendar dates planned to go for testing.
4. Unplanned Shortfall: Shortages that occur suddenly during running phases cause severe impact depending on the resources or persons that vanish all of a sudden from the scene.
5. Other Unplanned Priorities: A suitable time allocated for testing might get sacrificed for some other unplanned but critical activity that jumps into the team’s pocket.
If you feel that speed produces better results, you are wrong and carrying a misconception in mind. Speed in lack of proper direction and predefined or planned results is always a disaster. One has to be very clear what results are in demand while carrying out testing of a product. That is where a structured and planned testing comes into picture.
At times, in presence of high pressure due to multiple projects running at the same time, each with a timeline to launch, which mostly contains a number of constraints of time and resources; the pressure jumps on to the bottom line to fasten their work and deliver fast. Under pressure, a Test Lead might direct his test team members to perform the testing ‘quickly’ to meet their deadline. This might happen due to various reasons, a wrong planning, a pre-pone launch request from customer, a delay in development, a shortfall in manpower and resources than original plan, another priority eating out the allocated time and so on…
But everyone in the team especially the middle and top line must understand that putting the bottom line under extra pressure will never lead to quick and accurate results. Speed often compromises with the accuracy…
Before talking about procurement of tools to manage quality of a product whether through QC (testing during development, post development and UAT – user acceptance testing), one must thing about the human brain that is going to drive these testing and while running these tools. It becomes important to know the quality factor lying in the brain of each of the member of quality team or testing team. Quality has to come from mind and once that stage is acquired that each brain engaged in testing of a product is a quality thinker and quality doer, it is never attained with the help of market tools for generating test environment, test cases, simulation, load or stress scenarios.
A test team member has to clearly understand that unless Quality does not become a tool for mind, it has no meaning and the member himself loses his own weightage in the scenario. If there are more doubts in the mind of tester regarding product, it is evident that the product testing would not reach to a justifying stage and the testing phase is definitely leading to a bug prone product.
Quality is objective. It is measurable. It can be seen, felt and measured. Teams working on testing of a product know well how to measure the testing effort and quality imbibed in the product. A straight measure of quality in a product is the encounter of bug in the product post its release. Multiple bugs detected by multiple users in live environment is definitely a disaster for the product. A straight question raised in such cases goes on the role of quality testing team and their efforts.
Test cases, test bed, testing efforts is all what counts in the measurement of testing in efforts to produce a bug free product to go live for end user and business environment. It is very important to engage test team members right since the inception stage of a project so as to avoid any confusion at a later stage that will definitely lead to time loss which is a big factor in a project. Projects do get delayed but the intelligence required to manage a project is to ensure delays caused by unnecessary and unwanted activities.
Another very interesting question asked is as below:
When handling multiple projects simultaneously for multiple vendor portfolio, how would you address conflicts if happens between testers/test leads or any two cross-sectional QA leads due to project stress? Also, how should one manage the current critical project deadlines if you are being given an ad-hoc high priority work on top of the existing ones?
Having a scenario of managing ongoing multiple projects simultaneously for multiple vendor portfolio is not something new that is encountered by project managers. Seniority of a project managers comes along with wisdom that comes with experience. Right on day one a project manager does not know how would he handle such kind of situation when his environment and ecosystem demands for heterogeneous deliverables, for heterogeneous stakeholders with heterogeneous list of top priorities and tremendous pressure. Conflicts and clashes becomes frequent occurring events under such circumstances when all teams and team members are under time and delivery pressures. Imagine a real life matching scenario when common resources are being used by two QA leads for two different projects falling under the same project manager and different project managers.
A concrete work plan with deliverables for each project by each member with exact timelines is very important. Only hitch in this kind of condition is the unplanned absence of any critical team member.
An ad-hoc priority on top of existing ones – all with squeezed timelines of delivery is another issue. To handle this it is important that such in-bouncing priorities which are totally unplanned must come through a common route and that route is strong enough to take a call what to compromise in lieu of what. In parallel to this, what is being compromised needs to be informed to the respective stakeholders, which is the responsibility of this common route. Let this common route be Project Manager.
Quality is not a “one department” or “one person” baby in an organization. It is a mission that has to be followed by each and every person of the organization working at any level right from the office boy, pantry boy, helper, up to the top most level. Quality can not speak different languages or having different meanings in a team, project, or the organization. It is a culture. It is a definition of life within the organization.
Quality has to be built on regular basis. It is not like a building of the organization that is built and you start sitting and working inside it. It is a building of indefinite size, indefinite scope but with a clear cut, crisp, measurable and adoptable mandate. It cannot be enforced to anyone. It has to be exemplified and demonstrated by each and every brick in the wall – meaning by each and every person in the organization. Quality in a never ending journey but on a definite path and a definite target to achieve.
If above level is achieved in any organization, there can be no hurdle in its way to reach at the top.