1. Study carefully all relevant documents handed over to you while assigning you your new role.
2. Don’t feel hurt when you are being told about so many problems regarding customers, teams, tasks, project etc., the moment you walk in the office. It is fine as long as you are aware about these issues beforehand and have already assigned people on this or have taken up in your task list.
3. A number of guys would like giving you advice on how to manage certain things or the new portfolio you have taken up. As long as you are cool in listening to their advice and are confident on how you will be managing your show in your own way – nothing to worry.
4. Don’t worry if you are not too comfortable in the beginning. Nobody is when assigned a new set of tasks. It is a natural phenomena to get conversant to ‘change’ that happens in life. Tune yourself accordingly and don’t panic with the situation at any cost.
5. The moment you accepted this new role, you knew that you can do it. So stop thinking negative about your fitment in managing your project. Someone in the top management already has confidence in you and that is why you have been given this role.
6. Look at the things around you in an organized manner. Start relating success, failure, teams, tasks, goals and you will be able to manage things in a better way. Plan accordingly and don’t change your plans so often.
7. Spend time with your teams who will help you in getting deeper insights of the project in hand. Ask their opinion on issues where you feel stuck.
8. Make your team managers owners of their teams and their responsibilities. Appreciate for their successes and help them where they feel they are failing.
9. Gel with the streamline of people in the project – teams, various stakeholders, management, customer.
10. Trust yourself.
Project managers are not out of this world entities. They are one among us but with a difference of managing things more smartly and effectively. Success does not come on its own. It takes lot of efforts and habits to inculcate to become a successful project manager. If we talk about top five habits of project managers, those can be listed down as below:
1. Have a structured to-do list: A number of times, in between some important meeting, or while performing tasks, some important piece of information about an action to be performed comes. Having a good memory is a blessing but not having a well organized to-do list is a curse. You compromise with it and you will soon get to know the negative impact of this on your life.
2. Don’t take breaks just for the sake of it: Having breaks is a good thing to refresh and re-energize yourself but don’t use it just for the sake of it.
3. Prioritize your tasks: Adding and managing you to-do list is one thing, prioritizing and re-prioritizing with regular reviews works like cherry on the cake.
4. Understand the best productive hours of your day: You can’t be equally effective and productive during all hours of the day. Understand what hours usually you are on top of your vigor and use it for finishing your most important tasks during those hours.
5. Don’t hesitate to do multitasking: Your brain is a complex processing unit and hence can handle multiple tasks at a time without any compromise with quality or delivery. Learn and understand your power to handle this tool.
In a business scenario lot of development requirements keep coming up from various functions. Each function is vital to business and hence can’t be ignored just like that. There has to be a measurable systematic approach through which the requirements are assessed and then accepted or rejected (or put on hold for the time being, depending on things in hand prior to new requirement). The measurable criteria can be formulated on following parameters:
Requirement: Try understanding what exactly is the requirement. Prepare a business case by drafting out exact functional requirements, its current situation, meaning how it is being handled currently; and what is desired, i.e. how the function desires this functionality to be handled through system, once developed.
Criticality: Understand the criticality of requirement from horse’s mouth. A function may be projecting it as a big deal but actually it might not be critical from management’s angle. Align everyone and then workout the volume of criticality of this requirement.
Urgency: The criticality, though would be the major deciding factor in defining urgency of this new requirement to be developed but there would be certain more critical requirements already in pipeline that need to be assessed before finally arriving at a conclusion.
Business Impact: A large requirement comprising of large volume of manhour efforts might have a little business impact and vice versa. Hence understanding the impact of this requirement on business is important to measure. Best way is to measure the negative impact on business if this functionality is not built and the positive impact it will bring in on the business after its development and deployment in the system.
Manpower Efforts: Definitely it is a big criteria playing role in deciding on taking a new development task, reject or put it on hold. At times, a very critical and urgent requirement, in lack of manpower resources in-house, might call for an outsourcing.
Whenever a new task of development comes to a development team, it encounters various scenarios that we are going to highlight below. The new requirement might be in shape of an add-on to an existing functionality, an altogether new requirement or a revamp of existing functionality. What various scenarios are faced when a requirement comes, are as below:
1. The development team (or a segment of the team) is just finished with its existing task in hand and hence is ready to take up the new task. Bang on! The slowing down train picks up the speed.
2. The development team has a task in hand that is about to finish in a short period. No worries! The new task in next to go. Sounds good.
3. The development team has a long list of tasks in hand already and there is no scope of taking this task as of now. This is a case of over choking.
a. A reshaping of priorities might take place here. The new requirement could come on top of the list
sliding all other requirements in the queue downwards.
b. If reshaping is not possible since all other tasks in hand are equally important and can’t be pushed
down, an immediate recruitment could take place to put new team on new task.
c. Recruitment of a team might not be very practical in such circumstances when the task is important,
critical and urgent. In this situation, an outsourcing is the immediate solution.
A situation may come during any project lifecycle when smoothly running train all of a sudden almost comes to a halt. When nobody in the train seems to be clear about their destination. When there is no driver vanishing out of blue. Or even if one is there, is not certain on where he is currently and what direction he needs to take further. That is what happens in a real project sometimes.
The stakeholders are unclear on what is the current situation and what exactly is the gap in attaining the next milestone. The Project Manager is lost altogether with no certainty about what was the starting point, where has the project reached, what all has been done, what is left, what is the next milestone, how to attain it; and so on. The teams are very much there in the scenario, but under such circumstances, are directionless, exhausted and unmotivated. Project manager doesn’t seem to have control of the situation. There is more of brick breaking, blaming and excuses for non fulfilment of targets during the review meetings.
Targets seem impossible to achieve. Customer requirements are lost or forgotten, teams reach to a higher level of dissatisfaction and management seems unaware of all this.
A project may be progressing well at a certain point but you can never assure the same situation of this project throughout. It could get entrapped into a bad situation at any moment of time and then it could go to an extent that it becomes an impossible task to revive it back. There is no single point that causes this situation of a smooth running train (project) to fall out and hence impact heavily on all passengers (stakeholders). It could get initiated by a single trigger or situation but then that trigger which is responsible to cause bad impact on a project could further be triggering n number of other factors or situations to add on to its bad impact and hence taking it to a worse condition.
The three major factors that could have escalating impact on worsening the situation of a project which could further cause a long series of chain reaction giving birth to various other factors are:
1. Loose control of PM: A project manager is supposed to have reigns of his project tightly controlled throughout the project lifecycle. The moment this control is left a little loose, things will go out of control, at times, to an extent, that it becomes difficult to assemble back the broken parts. A smart project manager would proactively sense the coming turmoil and would take appropriate measurements to avoid it.
2. Lesser Engagement of PMO: Where PMO exists only for the namesake it holds no control over the health and progress of a project, which leads to a difficult situation, most of the time.
3. Customer Involvement: When there is no involvement of customer during the project lifecycle, it works like a sleeping volcano that could erupt out any moment of time. The later, the more disastrous.
Well as discussed in the previous post, a project could be passing through either of the two phases – good or bad. As long as the good phase is on, nothing troubles except that you hate to thing about the bad phase you encountered during this or any other project. But when the project passes through a bad phase, there are a number of critical milestones that get affected and therefore impacts the whole project.
Let us look at an excellent video from projectmanager.com that guides a project manager on how to deliver bad news about project. What are the important do’s and dont’s for it to manage and hence handle the situation in a better manner:
Every project can have only either of two phases during its entire project lifecycle. It can be either running through a good phase or a bad phase. A good phase is experienced as long as everything is going smooth, things are under control, targets are being met by each and every individual and follow up meetings are more of an enjoyment. In this phase customer is also engaged heavily to showcase the tremendous progress of project during that phase.
But this phase does not remain intact or sustained all through. There are a number of factors responsible for this turnaround. Three of the top interesting factors that mar the progress of a project during its happy state to switch it over to the sad state could be: Loose control of PM over the project, Lesser engagement of PMO, No involvement of customer. This brings in the bad phase of a project. During this phase everything goes haywire. Nothings seems to be under control. Review meetings become painful and insulting, targets become far from meeting deadlines, customer becomes angry, teams become highly dissatisfied and so on. Let us see in next few posts what impacts it brings and how to handle those impacts.
A project manager manages a project in terms of managing teams, meeting deadlines and milestones, and so on. But project leadership is about something different. Where on hand project manager tends to perform what organization desires, on the hand, a project leader would not hesitate in finding out and declaring loudly what needs to be done in the betterment of organization. He will have a deep clarity of the gap what organization is desiring to get done and what needs to be done that is much better in those terms.
Project leader would clearly and crisply understand business requirements, prepare report on the gap and how to mitigate the gap, by doing different things or same things in a different manner. He would be more appropriate in chalking out technical requirements aligning with business requirements with proper amount of analysis. Another example can be considered in terms of management of database and applications. If a management report is required from various applications having data residing on different databases, one way is to extract all relevant data in a new database and then cater to the management report from this new database.
Another (and smarter) way of doing it would be joining databases and extracting desired data directly from it.
Most of the companies do not have a policy to ensure a well documented database. At times companies take up this exercise seriously and produce a well explained and structured documentation for the database in use but gradually with the frequent changes happening and new applications taking place, all this gets lost in dust of pressure of work or any other relevant reason that is proved valid/ genuine by the team responsible for it. It is bound to happen if this focus is not sustained and maintained ethically right since beginning.
Smart companies knowing the importance of this activity create a separate team for this job. This team comprises of a mix of various tech and non tech team members. There would be database experts, server architecture experts and technical writers which shall be the part of this team. This team’s main job to dedicatedly perform database documentation and keep it in sync with all changes taking place thereupon. If this documentation is not in place the situation acts as a hidden/ sleeping volcano that can burst at any moment of time.
Imagine a situation in a business scenario when a big expansion is taking place in terms of staff and resources. Definitely when there will be increase in staff there would be increase in users of various application thereby increasing the load on application and database servers. Now if there is no documentation in place, there would be no assessment on to what extent the current servers can take load and what exactly is the expansion required for servers.
Various types of Project Managers exist each having its own style of functioning and managing a project. Though it is an ideal situation where different flavors gel into one person and make him the perfect project manager. But that happens only in ideal and imaginary situation. Rest all situations strive on reaching to ideal level. That is so with the project managers.
Various kind of successful project managers can be listed as:
1. Visionary: This kind of project managers will be always at a very high level of energy and very clear about his goals and milestones for a period more than the average project managers stipulate for themselves and their projects.
2. Resource generators: These project managers are very resource rich all the time due to their charismatic nature, transparent behavior and diplomatic ways of managing the things. They are expert in bartering, exchange and pulling of resources from other project teams so as to fasten their own deliveries.
3. Innovative: These project managers never stick to a fixed project methodology for long. They always strive out for betterment, optimization, and management of resources available to them in a near to perfect manner.
4. Delegatory: They will be expert in knowing the pros and cons of any individual in their team and hence would be able to stretch or extrapolate the energy rich candidates. These kind of project managers know well how and what to delegate to each individual in its own manner so as to achieve the results well in time.
5. Guiding: They would be more delved into nitty gritty proceedings of their project by involving them in every task being handled by every team.
No Yelling: The 9 Secrets of Marine Corps Leadership You Must Know to Win in Business written by Wally Adamchik has been a well acclaimed book all across the globe in terms of having some serious thoughts about leadership. The book was published way back in 2006 and is still a popular read for anyone interested in learning about leadership. The book basically talks about main principles of leadership which are applied in Marines and gradually to any kind of business. As the title reveals that this book is about the 9 secrets of Marine Corps leadership.
The 9 Secrets of Marine Corps Leadership You Must Know to Win in Business by Wally Adamchik not only reveals these 9 secrets about leadership in managing tough and sturdy Marine Corps but it also educates you on how to deploy it vertically and horizontally across any kind of business to get a high level of success. Overall there are 9 chapters in the book, each for a secret. The revelation begins with the topic Integrity. In this chapter Wally explains the fundamentals of Integrity that comes from Consistency, and Trustworthiness. After revealing Integrity as one of the strongest tool for leadership, the next focus moves on to the Technical Competence. The secret is learning about difference between Technical Expertise and Technical Competence. As long as a leader is competent in technical aspects of any business, there is a scope of further learning and progressing whereas the expertise becomes a dead end.
Next secrets are Setting the Example, Self awareness, Taking care of people, creating new leaders, regularly revising or communicating the Commander’s intent, Culture and Values, Rehearsals. Each chapter is not only exhaustively interesting but also contains a number of useful stories from Marine Corps and Civilian Businesses.
For all projects in software conducted for Government of Uganda, the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda shortly indicated as NITA-U has prepared a comprehensive guidebook titled as National Project Management Methodology Guide which acts as a controlling and managing media. Any agency, for that sake, national or international, that is engaged by Uganda government for development of a new software product have to ensure adherence to the National Project Management Methodology designed and developed by the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U).
Basically the major components of this is to ensure coverage of all essential steps required to ensure structured planning, control and management of IT projects. By adhering to it, it is assured to comply with appropriate methods, procedures and policies so as to ensure that world class good practices become essential component, or rather a driving agent, for any kind of IT project throughout, for all stages during its lifecycle. A vast experience and collaborative knowledge has been put behind to manage the show. Previous IT projects, successes and failures; with in-depth analysis has helped in building a strong knowledge base from all kind of lessons learnt.
Well defined processes, procedures, templates and guidelines are critical components to ensure extensive direction to users to follow the same without fail.
No wonder if you get to know that the global demand of expert software testing professionals is increasing exponentially. There are, in general, two misconceptions about this profession – one, a technology/ engineering guy if does not succeed in software development business take testing as a professional; and two, that software testing profession is not as demanding and successful as software development. Both are not true. A failed developer, unless has a different kind of flair and a real passion for testing can never succeed as a software testing professional. On the other hand this is also a misnomer that if you are not a good software developer, you cannot become a good testing professional.
With the increasing demand for software and hence software testing services, there is a regularly increasing demand for software development professionals. Software development has become a strong and powerful industry in itself with companies strongly putting their foot forward in the global markets for providing specialized software testing services. These services include end to end quality control, quality assurance, testing training, testing certifications and so on. A raw or semi cooked product has no value in today’s stringent and highly competitive market. Testing has become a separate domain with a specific kind of requirements for testing specific kind of products or for using specific kind of testing tools. Today, testing is not merely a paperwork for just the sake of formality to impress customer.
Testing, in today’s scenario is a specialized profession with specific skill sets. It is as highly paying job as software development. In fact in industry, expert software professionals are being paid higher than their equivalent counterparts engaged in software development.
Quality software engineer may appear to be performing different roles. There are several instances where people might not be aware of QA or even if they are aware of this word they might now be aware about the functions of Quality Assurance. On the other hand you will find people who are well aware of this term and the core functions performed by Quality Assurance.
A Quality Assurance Engineer is supposed to be planning and executing activities defined in the quality system in a well structured manner. These major activities that a QA engineer is supposed to be engaged in defining of development processes during the development cycle including audits, reviews and refinement. Audit would include finding out deviations from the standard procedures and their closure. The role of a quality assurance engineer also includes defining processes and procedures to be followed at every stage.
A quality assurance engineer has a major role in documentation of policies, procedures and systems.
Respect is the biggest tool to draw out automatically many more winning strokes for a project. If a Project Manager has a charisma to inculcate respect within and across teams, it drives always to a winning note, bringing in momentum and thrust towards quick and successful closures to any kind of challenges. In fact respect among all team members acts as a catalyst to boost a project.
It is always a two way process with a top down approach. Organizations with a heart (& courage) are able to adopt it with clear cut visibility. It comes from top up to you wherever you are in the hierarchy and automatically goes downwards… It works like a chain reaction, a virus, a communicable disease (all in a positive note) working silently but with a loud bang! It all depends on how much weightage you give in inculcating respect factor among all working on a project irrespective of the level and forte of each member. Not all organizations understand the value and its long term benefits in investing such time of soft activities but definitely once someone sitting on top level, if understand it gravity, would always ensure that such kind of culture always exists.
Sustenance with a good amount of urge to keep its level rising automatically becomes target of everyone in the team, once it starts with full amount of sincerity and the teams (and each of the team member) starts tasting the fruit.
Requirement analysis is the first exploratory exercise that happens during a project management cycle. It is a phase in which a set of business analysts visit the customer location so as to understand the actual business process by witnessing the real business scenario and meeting with core process experts who are managing the business flow from various fronts so as to understand the core business process and thereby chalk out the business/ customer requirements.
Requirement analysts are supposed to have an expertise in various areas. One core area is they need to be good probers and observers. Probing tool must be used at the time of discussion with process and business experts from customer end so as to finalize the requirements. RA team members must use their observation keenly in order to understand the actual processes being driven. It is the customer who needs to understand clearly what process will take place in what manner after it is taken shape of a business application.
There is always a gap between any process being driven manually and that through an application. The flow of process may not remain as it is when ruin through an application. There might be some changes happening in roles, functions, authorizations and approvals.
There are certain shortfalls at both ends during any phase of a project that keep eyebrows raised, questions sparked and delays caused. Usually the mindset at the beginning of any software project at customer end is – since we are the paying agents we will be having an upper hand throughout. So even if there is a lacking in defining customer requirements at the beginning during the requirement analysis phase, from customer end, it is felt that those shall be given at a later stage. But at a later stage it would have a recursive impact on documentation, development and delivery – that nobody tries to understand a that juncture.
Similarly at the delivery end, which has a higher stake in technology, sometimes oversees capturing of concrete customer requirements and when this hidden bomb explodes at a later stage, it causes damages to a large extent in terms of time and money. Let us try and understand some of the key factors to improve quality of capturing of customer requirement so as to avoid any hiccups at a later stage.
1. Ensure the best of the person knowing ins and outs of the business process is part of discussion.
2. Ensure there is sufficient buy-in of the customer management in sealing the requirements.
3. Ensure that sealing of requirements does not mean there will be no change in requirements at a later stage. This sealing is as at that moment of time when these requirements are taken and recorded. There could be external (or internal) factors imposing new requirements.
4. Ensure that the team capturing business requirements from delivery end does not seal requirements sitting in a meeting room. They should spend ample time living in the process with full understanding in real scenario.
5. Don’t commit 100% delivery of requirements without consulting with internal teams at delivery end – business group, technical group and deployment group in the same hierarchy.
Customer is the main source of inspiration and motivation for the development of any product planned to be developed or launched. It is the customer requirements that are kept on top of mind while developing a software. Customer is the end user and various connected links to the end users who are ultimately going to use the product. If a product is developed with all good and great efforts put into it, but does not get at par with the expectations of the end customer; it is bound to fall flat on the floor.
Now if the customer requirements are so important and crucial, why during the phase of Business/ Customer Requirements Analysis, so many gaps are there that lead to big disasters at a later stage. There are gaps at customer end and equally at the vendor end. Let us look at customer end – when customer does not understand the gravity of matter or takes it lightly with lighter mindset. Customer thinking of handling the gaps at a later stage, that he is aware of at this crucial juncture; but also knowing that there is no later stage to handle such gaps which are important to build right at this stage.
5 Myths that a customer carries at the juncture when Business Requirement Analysis is being done, which lead to failure later could be:
1. I am very busy: Well, though I know the process to the core but right now I am very busy so please talk to xyz down the line who will explain you on the basis of whatever he knows.
2. I will manage it later: If things are not explained well right now (though they are supposed to be), don’t worry, we will manage them at a later stage (but when? at the time of product launch? thereby inviting a sleeping volcano to erupt)
3. If you have a doubt ask me: Though I am very busy even knowing that from customer end I am the rightmost candidate to explain the whole process but I am deputing someone below the line who has joined recently to explain it. And if he has any doubt anywhere, he will ask me. The poor guy doesn’t know where to ask what having his limited knowledge of the system.
4. I expect you to understand in 2 hours what I mastered in 2 years: I joined in the system, took my own sweet time to settle down and then understand the system. But when you have come to do the requirement analysis, I expect you to understand the whole business scenario up to the root level in a single meeting of 2 hours.
5. I focus more on how to build the process rather than explaining the process: I will keep poking my nose in telling you how to build this process in the system (though I don’t know even the ABC of software development) rather than explaining you the actual process with minutest of the critical details that are important to be taken care of.
Few facts about customer requirements:
1. Customer requirements keep changing during the course of development of a product.
2. It is damn critical to absorb customer requirements, expectations and untold dreams precisely and correctly in documentation and product.
3. Behind every line of requirement specified by customer, there are 10 lines which is important to understand and document.
4. Customer requirements is not only the beginning phase of a product journey, it needs to be revisited and reviewed, along with the customer, during every phase.
5. Customer requirements told/ specified by customer, not documented well is a disaster for the product.
6. Customer requirements not signed off by customer is like an unsigned cheque with whatever hefty amount written on it.
7. Customer requirements not aligned properly and accurately from RA document to product (during development phase) leads to a different destination with no end results.
8. Perception of a product before designing of product is more important.
9. Quality testing without getting into customer’s shoe is worthless.
10. Well designed product if not presented well at the time of delivery and deployment, to end customer highlighting all his expectations met as key features will not be taken as a rich product by customer.
You ask any software company about their first wish and it will be a consistent desire to produce quality software. Ideally it would be fantastic if the product goes beyond the expectations of customer in terms of quality but usually it never happens. EVery time a product is handed over to customer, it lacks some or the other quality related issues the way customer had wished to have it. There are sometimes certain limitations that are imposed in the new product as an alteration or deviation as it could not have been possible to handle the business requirements as it is.
Software quality can not be defined in a single set of words. There are certain criteria or parameters on which it can be measured. The parameters and definition of quality of a software for a particular customer (or set of customers) would vary depending on geographic and local requirements that can’t be fixed just like that. How about linking quality of product with the quality of customer requirements. So let us try to jot down below the various factors that impact on quality of software:
1. Quality of customer requirements
2. Quality of RA team:
2. Quality of Project Manager
3. Quality of Development Team
4. Quality of Testing
5. Quality of Deployment Team
6. Quality of Documentation
7. Quality of End User
8. Quality of training
9. Quality of Management
10. Quality of Methodology used for Project Management.
In next few posts we would be discussing these factors in detail. It is important to note at this point of time that each of the factors listed above is a significant contributor for the overall quality of software/ product.
This is about Kibo Robot Project in which Toyota is participating in which Kobo Astronaut is travelling to space to find out exhaustive interesting facts and findings. The robot named Kirobo will be accompanied by few of the human astronauts – Commander Wakata and his team. Toyota’s role in this project is quite phenomenal. The robot Kirobo is fitted with an advanced voice recognition software developed by Toyota team. Why Toyota decided to join in, in this project is because the company is hopeful of building up of a society soon comprising of both – human and robots – existing together and helping each other in the newly dreamt ecosystem.
That is why Kirobo is being sent to the international space where he will meet and interact with the human representative Commander Wakata. The new software is different from all other existing interactive voice recognition software. The different is phenomenal as the new software instead of being one question at a time kind, is more of human nature where Kirobo listens sympathetically and replies back accordingly in an intelligent manner.
Hope you enjoy this new project and the video embedded above.
It was way back in 1962 that a young lady with an entrepreneurial foresight decided to launch an all woman software company. Her name was Dame Stephanie Shirley and she admitted later after the launch of her company named FI Group, that it was not an easy task to run an all woman show in a professional world and how she overcame those hurdles. The name F1 Group was later changed to Xansa. Basically the initial theme of this company was that this was a company of women and a company for women.
The aim of Shirley was quite impressive when she decided to launch this company with a unique purpose. She had an urge of building a different business model with a sole purpose of encouraging talented women to work in industries connected to technology and with a liberty to work in their own style with their own time schedules. Shirley confirmed later that where the whole business world at that time was busy with singular goals of money, margins, profits, cash flow etc., her focus was totally different – towards innovation, team-work, quality, delivery, excellence, which at that time were thought to be the softer side of management and were not too focussed during that time.
This was not a smooth beginning for her at the launch of her company. Few of the glitches she faced were – she rarely used to get replies to her business letters until she started using only her family name in her signatures – “Steve”. Shirley started this venture or unique kind of all women project because she felt that it is more difficult for women to balance family and work as compared to men as the women have higher amount of domestic engagements and responsibilities.
Education is an area where same style of teaching, same content of study material and same methodology works well provided the style, content and methodology has been well tested and proven well. The world does not stop here, a regular improvisation definitely is required so as to uplift the current level of all above three factors. There is though a customization factor that plays a major role once the same set of education has to be delivered across the globe in various countries. The same hold good for different students sitting in the same classroom.
Over a period of time children have become more adaptive to higher challenging environment right since their early years. Technology has a major say in this to bring in personalisation factor in each student’s learning. Since last one decade, children are moving quickly towards technology and that is why it has brought out higher amount of technological innovations. In U.S. more than one-third of teens carry their own smartphone and can’t live without it. In last few years, the level of knowledge about technology in children has increased by almost 50% as compared to their counterparts in earlier years. Classroom scenarios have changed from blackboard and chalks to electronic displays. Books have changed to digital books. Technologists are trying to find out more and more innovative ways of improvisation.
Almost two thirds of teachers use electronic gadgets to deliver their lessons. Social Networking, Blogging, Forums, etc is playing a high role in today’s scenario.
Digital data is like something valuable that is released from your end but you, yourself are not too sure and confident about how secure this data will stay on internet. This is what is true about all your emails, posts on social networks, tweets, blogs, articles etc. It is like an important piece of information is written on a small piece of paper and is left in the open atmosphere having high wind across. You don’t know the final destination of this paper and the important information it is carrying. Even if you find it lying at some place after some time, you can trace out exactly how many hands it has exchanged or how many people have gone through the information lying on this paper.
That is what is the fate of the digital data – including your mobile phone calls, text messages, and all other activities on internet. Digital Data security so long is not too prerogative. It is easier to find out a leakage to found out any information regarding you in the digital arena than that lying on papers in your drawer at your home of office. The same applies to the digital data belonging to a corporate. Whatever is the service level agreement a corporate has with a cloud service provider from whom it is availing a service, it is not too easy to find out the leakages and assure security, safety and privacy of its data with 100% assurance.
Internet thieves/ hackers are already there in the race to grab any kind of important information that is there in digital form. There are engines already and without much awareness about them which are churning out lot of digital information in a much meaningful form by using certain algorithms used for sorting, indexing, data crunching and data extracting.
Any roadmap to software development begins with a plan for its deployment post development. Whether it is a self sponsored project or based on a new requirement that has come from an external customer – before initiation, its destination is finalized. There could be another category of software that is to be launched in an open market – say a specific segment oriented product then the that specific segment becomes target audience for that product basis which the development requirements and customer needs are specified.
For any product that is planned to be launched for a global market, there has to be a concrete plan for its localization in different countries. A non localized global product will never fit in – in all countries. BY Localization we mean – language, process and country specific requirements. A very good product developed in English might not do well in countries where English is not used as a primary or secondary language. Similarly a process that fits well in a larger set of globe, might not hold good for a few countries and shall therefore require some customization.
Localization in terms of language can be termed as translation of that product in local language. That localization can be done in three manners – manually, in an automated manner or in a hybrid manner.
Irrespective of the kind of business you are running, in today’s era or technology and information, it is undoubtedly confirmed that project management tools, processes and methodologies can help in growth of any business provided fitted with right set of tools, processes and methodologies. Once thing within a business is also clear that all different projects being initiated and driven within the organization do not fit in for success if thrown in the same box of a single kind of project methodology.
Different projects even within a company can’t be driven following same process or methodology. Different projects having different customer requirements comprising of different stakeholders and using different kind of technologies will require an introspection whether the roadmap of all kind of projects will be same starting with project initiation and closing with project closure phase. With businesses becoming more information intensive due to higher competition and survival of the fittest scenario. By becoming more information intensive and running a project with proper methodology businesses can achieve higher success in terms of successful completion of projects.
So whether it is a small business running in a local vicinity or an international business – project management helps any kind of business to initiate, plan, prioritize, develop, manage, coordinate, control and close their projects successfully.
Google Loon is Google’s one of the most precious projects so far as far as its width and breadth is concerned. Project Loon is about an assemblage of balloons that will float in the atmosphere above 50 km of the earth’s surface. These balloons will appear like mini satellites floating at a low range. The purpose of this project is quite unique and for a very good cause. The cause is to provide broadband availability via these balloons in non developed countries. This project has been categorized by Google as one of the White Spaces project.
White Spaces is a term derived from Telecommunications where it indicates the unused bands of frequencies left in between the used bands of frequencies. It is important to leave a stipulated unused band of frequency in between the two used bands of frequencies so as to avoid interference. Hence Google decided to work on these unused bands known as White Spaces with development of technology where they assured no compromise of interference will be there thereby assuring no quality compromise for paid users and bandplan companies. By using these White Spaces Google plans to provide very nominal cost (or almost free) availability of internet in poor countries.
The pilot for this novel and noble project was conducted in New Zealand. The people falling within the vicinity of Google Loons got 15 minutes of bandwidth access before those floating balloons drifted away to another location in the stratosphere. If this project takes off in real life scenario with projected results, it will be giving a big thrust and boon to the business and locales where Google plans to launch their Loons in not too developed countries. What makes it more possible to reality is because winds in the stratosphere area are not as fast as compared to Troposphere and below.
Understanding the need to address quality issues the African Union has ultimately taken a call to form a separate, independent and empowered agency to assess and optimize the performance of educational institutes engaged in higher education in the continent; and also help to fasten professional mobility throughout the continent. The African Union decided to build this agency under the umbrella of Continental Quality Assurance and Accreditation cell.
Recently Dr Yohannes Woldetensae, who is among one of the senior education experts working in the department of HR, Science and Technology at AUC (African Union Commission), stated that it is immediately required to increase the efficiency of African Higher Education so as to increase its competence. This importance emerged out during a special interview conducted by University World News with Dr. Woldetensae, where he further elaborated that few of the most critical issues being faced by the higher education process in Africa like very less participation, lower facilities for learning, increasing demands by students, shortfall of appropriate teaching staff, out of date teaching process etc. need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Various reasons that can be treated as cause to these issues are – negligible research work happening in African Universities thereby resulting in very low research work being published out, lower volumes of qualified staff that results into higher workload, gap between education and industry/ employer demand, lack of strong processes and QMS (Quality Management System) in place, and on top of it – missing leadership and no visibility of governance.
Though AfriQAN – the African Quality Assurance Network does exist in Ghana at its Association of African Universities but due to its ineffectiveness and various other reasons the African Union Commission strongly feels emergence of a Continental Accreditation Agency in the field of Higher Education so as to control and manage above mentioned quality related shortfalls becoming a pain point for the whole continent.
It is all about quality but not on the planet Earth. It is about Curiosity Rover from NASA that is currently on the planet Mars that is around 50 million miles away from Earth. The purpose of sending Mars Curiosity Rover by NASA to the Red Planet is to find out the traces of life that ever, if at all, existed there. There had been some vital indications last month only, that this 1.6 billion Pound worth of robot found out some evidences that supported the fact that the red planet could have supported existence of microscopic life.
Mars Curiosity Rover was launched in November 2011 that landed on Mars in August 2012. This has been one of the most important missions of NASA that required 100% accuracy in its coding for the Mars Curiosity Rover. A single coding error could during its development could have been the reason of one of the biggest disasters, ever. The software developed for Mars Curiosity Rover in Mars Science Laboratory demanded a highest level of rigorous testing as a single bug left untraced and fixed could have resulted into a severe crash rather than a safe landing. That is why NASA hired extremely reliable software testing services of Coverity engaging them in the project right since its beginning.
The code analysis, testing and fixing of bugs was a daily routine till the product reached to a highest level of confidence. Since the risk involved was huge, it was very important to ensure perfect coding with not a single bug left in the product by the time it was ready for the launch.
Healthcare is a booming industry for last many years and shall remain so for coming few years. Technological innovations and engagements have made this industry much more responsible in terms of providing solutions to complex cases, collaboration in terms of global forums and discussions; and availability of historical data anytime anywhere. GE Healthcare is a global player in healthcare with its presence in almost all countries worldwide. Understanding the power of technology and deciding to gain quick dividend, the company has decided to spend over USD 2 billion during the coming 5 years in the field of software by building advanced applications and building state of the art systems so as to take a leap way ahead of other major global players in the same field.
Main focus is on finding out new and innovative ways to improvise upon productivity and operational fields. The project will be undertaken jointly with the group company GE Software Centre of Excellence which is in San Ramon, California in collaboration with other Research and Development centres across the globe to build new software solutions. The new applications are aimed not only to help in advancement in providing solutions for managing customer data, operations etc. but also for high level analytical solutions. These advanced applications are supposed to be fast, reliable and well organized. The diagnosis will be much more reliable, faster and trustworthy even in highly complex cases. And so will be the treatment and care for the patients.
GE Healthcare has their CoE (Centre of Excellence) situated in Bengluru, India. It has a large and dedicated software development team for last many years so as to develop breakthrough solutions for various fields in healthcare.
If you are planning to fire your project manager you are in turn challenging your own credibility. It is you who designated your project manager knowing about his/ her strengths and weakness and arriving at a conclusion that overall assessment goes into his/ her favor as project manager who in turn will be best among the team/ peers to manage the show well. If it does not happen later, it is not him/ her, but you who needs to look into the mirror and introspect within – what went wrong?
In fact it is quite easy to fire the captain of a failed cruise but understand well that no captain would like to go his cruise perform worst or let his ship sink. He/ she will keep fighting till last moment to save the reputation at stake – his, customer’s and his own organization’s. A project manager who has just escalated from one step below to this position can’t perform as a project manager on that seat for last many years. A change in profile definitely asks for different set of activities and transformation in working style. This change and transformation can’t happen overnight. It takes time for a pebble to settle down in a troubled water. It is, at this juncture, that the newly formed project manager will need a couple of strong shoulders and arms to hold and support him/ her.
Well, at this juncture, it is someone above his position who needs to mentor, coach and groom project manager to really become a project manager. If it is a sustained performing well project manager for years who all of a sudden starts getting his project’s failed due to whatever reasons, it is more serious and again needs a learning.
In both cases, it is a great learning to understand the causes of failure and build the same existing project manager to fight against those causes by acting as a catalyst.
Quality is the longest journey in any project whereas other teams board and leave the train on various stations. Quality team has various roles during this long journey. Each role has its own set of requirements and impact on overall health of the project. These various roles can also be termed as different dimensions of Quality Team. Different dimensions because each dimension is clearly differentiable from the other but each is equally important and essential.
Following are the four dimensions of Quality Team during the complete journey of a Project:
1. Analysis of Business Analysis: As soon as business analysis/ business requirements/ user requirements document comes into final shape, it should immediately fall into the lap of Quality team for clearly understanding and conceptualizing the whole scenario in their mind and start of building their business/ logic test cases in parallel to development.
2. Quality Testing: QC (unit testing) goes hand in hand during development but a regressive testing is required at the end of development and before handing it over to key users for UAT. This is where a testbed is prepared which must be as close to the live environment as possible. Versatile range of test cases, integrity testing, load etc. is all done here. More the test cases, much better, provided all are meaningful, and not merely for the sake of just lengthening of list.
3. UAT: Presence of Q Team at the time of UAT is very important. You just can’t leave key users in isolation to perform UAT. Though it is very important to ensure the main driver here is end user and not QC team.
4. Go-Live: Mostly Quality team thinks their role get over once Testing is complete. But that is not true. Teams which agree to such kind of setup fail at large. Post deployment it is very important to notice the major bugs encountered during first six months and introspect why it could not happen during Testing Phase.
Following are the five essential guidelines for setting up your Staging Server while releasing it to key users for conducting UAT:
1. Select the right audience: If you are scared about failure of UAT and therefore select not too expert end user you are digging your own grave. Select the best of the key users who know in and out of business requirements basis which you have developed your product for them.
2. Documentation: Generate and provide right amount of documentation that included all user and business requirements captured, logical design, business flow and broad outlines of technical documentation. It will help UAT team to perform better while performing User Acceptance Testing and therefore you will get very useful feedback and Testing Results.
3. Testbed: Prepare your Staging Server as close to the real environment as possible. Though it makes more sense for QA server but still I always prefer the same alignment here too.
4. Vetting by QA and Development Head: Let your QA and development understand very clearly that getting a nod from QA during QA testing does not necessarily mean that QA is particularly relieved. UAT should be treated as an acid test for QA team.
5. Test Cases: Get all your QA functional, navigation and design test cases repository be passed to UAT team to provide them plenty of ideas to either generate their own new test cases or use from this repository (or both).
6. Plan In Advance: Since you know very well the release date committed to the customer (internal or external), plan UAT accordingly with sufficient time being provided to testing team (end users).
7: Adhere to Timelines: And last but not the least – adhere to timelines, keeping in mind that there could be blunders discovered in logic/ coding during UAT, hence keep time buffer with you accordingly.
Whether you are a rookie, amateur or an expert in coding, this book would definitely prove to be an interesting read for you. It does not really matter if you are not a developer, even then it will definitely give you a good amount of interesting information. Whether you are tester, programmer, or a non technical having a fair amount of interest in technology and logical thinking, do give it a try. I am sure once you start it, you would strive to delve into each page thoroughly right from page 1 to 248.
Nine Algorithms That Changed The Future has been beautifully written by John MacCormick is bound to give you an overview and insight of computing and possibilities about it. It starts with a pace that will be well absorbed by all kind of readers. First chapter starts with a general introduction to computing. The next 2 chapters will reveal all about algorithms for search engine covering concepts and importance of indexing and then the algorithm that works for the ranking of a page. In these 2 chapters you would learn about some amazing facts about indexing and page ranking.
Chapters 4 and 5 will give you an insight of coding theory. Where it is Introduction to public key cryptography that is covered in chapter 4, the next chapter provides you learning about error correction codes. Next chapter (no. 6) touches upon a unique kind of subject that is pattern recognition. Data compression is covered then in chapter 7 giving details of both kind of compressions – lossy and lossless; and the exact theories behind these two kind of compressions.
Without further revealing about rest of the chapters I am sure whatever revealed about is good enough to compel you to go for this lovely read.
NAO is a kid sized humanoid robot that interacts with autistic kids. The initiative named as ASK NAO initiated by a French company Aldeberan. NAO is a two feet tall humanoid robot conceptualized by this French company to assist kids who are autistic for whom in turn becomes difficult to relate people. NAO has a defined personality and with artificial intelligence it interacts with these autistic kids.
NAO has inbuilt abilities that makes him interact with children intelligently to become their good pal. Besides being their playmate NAO also assists them in learning and understanding things better. The new Autism Solution for Kids Program initiated by Aldeberan disclosed that many NAO humanoid robots are already rolled out and are performing an excellent role in playing with them and associating with them in teaching those autistic children about communication and other day to day interactive knowledgeable learnings.
As a part of ASK NAO mission Aldeberan has developed a number of educational games catering to specific needs of Autistic children to enable them on verbal and non-verbal communicative skills at a faster pace. It also helps them to learn and grow emotional intelligence, some fundamental skills matching to their age and mimicry etc. To start with this project has been launched in one of the schools in Birmingham and two schools in the United States.
As part of the ASK NAO program Aldeberan has developed educational games that allow children to work on verbal and non-verbal communication, emotional intelligence, mimicking, and even basic academic skills. The program has been tried out in three schools, one in the Birmingham (Topcliffe Primary), England the other two in the United States.
This excellent book titled Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People and Process written by Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker is full of wisdom covered in less than 200 pages. It is a must read for all those who manage any web based software project. When you read this book, assume yourself as a project manager (for those who are not at the time of reading this book) and only then you will get to know how to cope up with various development of various web based interactive apps.
A dumb, static or even dynamic website showcasing a corporate to digital world carries a different set of challenges with more focus on audience, content, marketing etc. but an interactive web portal has much more (in volume and quality) higher level of challenges as compared to the former, mostly in terms of usability, security, integration, database design, application architecture and so on. The book focuses on a single area which is how to be a great project manager which besides a must read for project managers or today should also be read by the current day developers who sooner or later are going to be project managers.
A good project manager will never be carried away by smaller wins registered during the journey of a project and thereby compromising with the the larger cause of project closure successfully. Smaller announcements, wins declarations and milestone achievements do need to be celebrated to keep team’s tempo up but at no point of time any of these should be treated as a biggest ‘wow’ as the latter can only be the successful project delivery and nothing else. Logically this big message should be very clearly passed to all teams right since beginning of a project.
There are two parts of this book. First part focuses on making a project manager successful. The second part goes more practical in taking a project as an example to demonstrate. In second part more emphasis goes on real life activities done during a project like – project preparation, project definition, execution, QA, staging, production, training, launch and finally its closure. Some very useful and practical tips have been given in the second part which can easily be grabbed as they make a lot of sense. These tips take care of both technical and non technical/ people aspects of a project. Some useful stuff that a project manager will grasp in some chapters will have to be inculcated down the line to their developers – like managing clients and their expectations, understanding scope creep and managing it in the best possible way, etc.
Overall, this 192 page book titled Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People and Process written by Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker is a good read, easy to understand and execute in real life.
SAP AG has taken a great initiative by deciding to recruit Autistic youth as software testers, QA specialists and programmers. For this they have joined hands with an organization known as Specialisterne. After a thorough study results SAP found out that people with autism carry a unique set of talent that perfectly gels with the prerequisites for becoming a programmer, tester or QA specialist. Approximately 1% of world’s population falls in this category.
Specialisterne is a globally known company that is engaged in development of talent in autistic people so as to enable their fitment for working in technology areas like software development, testing, data management and analysis. This company started in Denmark and gradually spread its wings for this noble cause in many countries across the globe.
They have their fully functional offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Germany, Poland and Iceland. In this project where SAP has partnered with Specialisterne, the latter will support former in many countries in the coming years.
Hats off to Zubair-ul-Rehman Lone for his focussed determination and strong will power to achieve this solo fate from his state of Jammu and Kashmir. Zubair against all odds of belonging to a place where opportunities for youth were too less because of limited scope of education, choice of subjects which could be counted easily on fingers and on top of it residing in a place where it was highly risky to opt for a unconventional path to build his career. But nothing could stop his desire to excel in an area and ultimately providing an honor to his state.
At 27, he has surpassed all these barriers and decided to achieve his career in a pathbreaking area. Being brilliant during his school days, Zubair easily got an admission in an engineering college where he studied economics. But after his studies he decided to begin his career in information technology. He started developing very economical web based application for micro and small sized companies.
It was in the year 2011 when Zubair, after joining Mercy Corps office in Kashmir, a global software development company, that his passion for project management in development projects started taking shape. He joined there as a Project Officer and gives all his credits to this company where he feels he got enough space to learn and execute. During his tenure there, he cleared the Level 1 examination of the Project Management for Development Professional (PMD Pro). It was at this juncture that he actually decided to go ahead for project management quite seriously.
Zubair has passed PMP (Project Management Profession) from Project Management Institute in April 2013. He is the first to achieve this fate from the state of J&K. Let us all cheer for Zubair!
ProofHub Online Project Management has come out with its mobile version so as to give you a complete freedom and flexibility to control your project from anywhere, anytime. ProofHub is a web based team collaboration and project management tool which assists you in managing your projects even if you have multiple teams working from multiple locations. It also helps you in scheduling, discussing, working and communicating with your clients, team members, management and other stakeholders.
ProofHub Project Management allows you to share files among scattered or same location teams so as to collaborate well, takes care of deadlines and raises timely alarms, assigns tasks and keep monitoring and tracking them, and also provides all data related to project, tasks and teams in a secured and centralized manner. Recently ProofHub has announced launch of its mobile version. Currently it covers features like Discussions, Milestones and To-Do’s but gradually they plan to cover all features in their mobile version too.
Beauty of mobile version of ProofHub Project Management tool is that it is mobile independent solution and that was really an uphill task to build a mobile application that works on all mobile platforms be it iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Microsoft. Basically the web and mobile versions, both have been given lot of efforts so as to make them so versatile and browser/ mobile independent respectively. To summarize ProofHub is an excellent web and mobile based cloud application project management, collaborative, team and task management tool.
Everyday a large number of projects are getting ordered signed worldwide leading to its kick off. But a big chunk of this does not get signed off and completed as per the stipulated timelines. The committed deadlines go haywire and lead to customer dissatisfaction in all those cases where a project is not completed in time. The scenario is universal all across the globe and not specific to any particular location. Any delays in project lead to extra amount of money and time. Major factors that lead to project delays are change in requirements, miscommunication, lack of documentation and clarity within the teams, lack of collaboration within teams, sponsors, clients and stakeholders.
Engagement factor going low within the team and among other stakeholders is also one of the major factors that leads to project delays and failures. Traditional project management that is also known as waterfall methodology, having its own legacy way of handling a project with its own set of rules and procedures. It is probably the rigidity factor in this model that does not let it finish successfully in time. Waterfall model, though goes into minutest of the details of project management, lacks in one major aspect and that is lack of flexibility in order to manage unforeseen risks and thereby managing them.
It also does not focus on human factor. Waterfall model does not promote engagement and collaboration among team members thereby results into lack of harmony among various stakeholders of project viz a viz the progress of project.
Every company that hires you when you are out of your graduation and are aspiring to become a developer or tester, will boast about being the best technology business in the ecosystem. Every company would be seeking the best of the cream with extreme talent, sincerity and dedication. If you are the lucky one to be called for a written test and if you are able to clear it, you would have your next task to appear for an interview. The company would definitely expect you to do some homework in advance and understand the core business of them beforehand.
If you are totally dumb about ‘what about’ that company, you probably lose all your charm for next steps. You have to go prepared with whatever information you can gather about that company and should be able to throw out confidently what all you learnt about the business. Ok, fine, so you know a bit about the core business of that company. What next? What all would you be able to give if you are given a chance to serve in this organization which is focused on using best of the technologies to achieve highest of the results. It would expect you to be an excellent developer who is capable to use his skills innovatively to find out great technical solutions.
There might be different teams working on various solutions but all teams must be imbibed with a common organizational culture that you are supposed to follow too. You have to demonstrate your passion genuinely. But in return don’t forget to demand a good culture, positive and formal environment, recognition of quality etc.
The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck To Success written by Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson is a great insight on the reality of life that for each person there is a limit to success. This book tries to make its readers understand first that any person belonging to any kind of pursuit will be able to climb the ladder of their success to a height and then will get stuck there. This height may vary from a person to person but this is what happens to each person who is running the race of success. A point comes in their life when they get stagnant and helpless at that point to get the same pace and further height to their success though till that point they were succeeding consistently and substantially.
Why this happens? Why all of a sudden a person who is capable of touching new heights and climbing ladder of his success consistently gets helpless at certain point of time in his success path and gets blocked for further growth. What is that stops him? What forces him to become so helpless so that he is not able to find a clear cut way out of this crisis? What makes him blindfolded in such a way that the path that was clear to him so far all of a sudden vanishes from his sight? Has it reached to its peak? Has he got choked in terms of improvement? Has he stopped generating inner strength to drive him on his own? What exactly causes it?
This book from Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson tries to simplify this complex situation in one’s life to find out solution to this road blocking problem.
Online portal Siliconrepublic.com declared Fishbowl Software Development as the Tech Startup of the week. Fishbowl Software Development, recently started by Dave GRaham, who is its co-founder and managing director, is based in Dublin and is engaged in mobile applications for smartphone. They have launched a free smartphone application which helps virtual groups to schedule, attend and manage meetings. This app helps in generating repository of ideas, important points, tasks among the virtual group and share them with their updates. The fishbowl app is currently available for apple and android phones.
Just about a year and a half back, Dave Graham O’Flaherty planned to give a shape to his concept of fishbowl. The startup has now five persons working for the company that is gaining momentum and name in area of mobile apps. Dave Graham felt that in real life we all meet various people in our profession or in personal life and as such there is no way of keep last happened conversation intact at the time of next meeting with the same person or team again. Maintaining this continuity was the main purpose that was there in Graham’s mind when he conceptualized Fishbowl app that has main goal of collaboration and interaction.
The analogy of this app is rightly set with a fishbowl in a way that you are able to set your own bowl which will have a capability of broadcasting at your various locations via its interface. So it is like you have joined in a bowl from your location and if someone else joins in from some other location and sees your bowl active, he can join in there with their login credentials. Basically it is a concept of a group collaborating for same task with the help of different kind of ideas.
So many companies and countries come into news at some moment of time promising some commitment and then vanish afterwards with people trying to find out the company sometimes, and what happened to their commitment, at other times. But this is not in the case of Vietnam Software Testing Industry that has done a marvelous job of staying on their words and displaying fantastic results of their commitment to the entire software testing industry all across the globe.
Exactly one and a half years back there was a news that started with a line stating software testing industry in Vietnam is bound to prosper. It was being foreseen in wake of various multinational companies belonging to technology had started putting their steps on Vietnamese soil. This probably made a strong case for this country coming up as a superb software testing industry. And the promising factor stayed there to fulfil this commitment. The growth rate was perceived to be at 17%.
If you notice a new item that came up recently it says Vietnam software testing industry is among top 10 in the world. What a tremendous achievement it is.
This post came up on MAy 3, 2013 on MTV blog site regarding their offer to the game, technology and testing community staying in areas of Dallas/ Fort Worth. Techies/ Gamers /Testers to visit their Bethesda studios to play and test new and unreleased games. Purpose is to get real time feedback from these communities. People from Dallas/ Fort Worth can visit Bethesda’s studios and try their hands on new games in the newly made Play Test Lab. This is a voluntary exercise and is open to all public.
The Bethesda’s website provides some further information regarding the Play Tester Application. Volunteers who join for this exercise will be required to visit Bethesda Studio for 1-2 hours play test session after which they will have to provide their comments and feedback on their experience on quality aspects. Though this is not a paid task but still entitles participants to get some goodies including the games they liked in lieu of their time and feedback.
Gamers of any skill level – rookie, expert etc., can opt to join at Bethesda, but will have to qualify some criteria – like they should have more than 18 years of age. If the interested participant is working as a video game developer/ publisher/ tester/ reviewer; then he is not eligible to opt for this opportunity.
Speed: A project never runs on a smooth track with consistent speed. It needs to be geared up, accelerated or applying brakes on it depending on the situation. It is the project manager who has to manage and control the ABC of his project (accelerator, brakes and clutch) by understanding well when to release and when to press a particular paddle.
Disbursement: An equal amount of workload among the team members always goes on a winning note in such a way that it never creates conflicts, confusions or ambiguities among the team members. Though first level control should be there with the team leaders of their respective teams, but project manager needs to have a higher level of control in his hands to manage the game.
Entertainment: It is something related to the enjoyment factor while working on serious stuff. If work under high pressure seeking finest of the results is converted into an enjoyment factor with each of the teams getting equal portion of it, there is nothing like it.
Time: Meeting timelines with higher acceptability and accuracy is something a project can never do away with. Project manager has to inculcate this culture of meeting the timelines in all levels of his teams can produce wonders.
Balance: Balancing act has to be there in all aspects. Balance between business requirements and project timelines, workload and satisfaction level, sense of achievement and sense of responsibility, enjoying wins and converting losses to wins, customer and stakeholders, and so on.
A project manager is the main driver of his project. Depending on the project size, he might have large or small size of multiple teams to assist him to reach to his destination. The amount of heat lying over a project manager during a project at any moment of time is maximum as compared to any of the team managers, or other stakeholders. Though each team leader/ manager has his own targets assigned to be done by his team bound with the timelines, but overall it is the project manager who has to keep his sixth sense active all the time keeping every activity of the project under his radar. Unless he is able to have a wide angle lens to cover all the teams within his frame, he will never be able to control the situation arising out of smallest of the deviation that might arise unalarmed.
Best way to fight with the high amount of heat in project manager’s chamber is to share this heat with other team leaders working on the same project. This can happen in two ways – either build small channels from project manager’s chamber to other team leader’s chamber’s so that heat can move through those channels and gets distributed in a balanced manner; or bring all teams in his own chamber. The latter might result into a choking as in already super-heated chamber, if the number of people increase substantially, it might create a higher risk.
It is good if there are knobs built on each channel with a complete control to project manager so as to increase or decrease heat going via different channels heading towards different team’s chambers.
If Project Manager is the engine of a fast moving train, have you ever imagined the amount of pressure he has over his head to ensure the safety of each passenger in the train, timely arrival at and departure from each station, creating comfort zone for each passenger so that each one has its own amount of enjoyment and learning during the journey, proper guidance for each station and journey to each passenger so that none misses their target lines of getting down at their destination station or boarding in from their respective station. It requires a great team effort from all ends and though the main load is on the engine, but each coach has its own role to play, each staff member and passenger has its own course of action at appropriate points of time.
How this all is managed is quite interesting to understand. Though trains do miss timelines at times but there are numerous factors for such delays – sometimes controllable, sometimes going beyond control. Depending on other trains, station’s capacity, staff on duty, weather, any normal or abnormal risk factors etc., all this is managed at its best to provide its passengers best of the experience and service. This is not a simple task.
Imagine each train as a project, each trip as an itinerary, each staff as team member and each passenger as customer, the complete model fits into a size of a huge project. And the basic things in place have to be in place for all this to happen smoothly.