Delays in projects do happen. Sometimes with reasons within control and sometime beyond control. A proactive approach, hence, is always preferred so as to avoid a big disaster at a later stage of project nearing completion. The later is the disaster, the higher is the impact. Severity or the risk increases with the increase in phases of a project.
Some interesting factors during product development that become a sure shot in delay of a project are:
1. Lack of understanding of customer requirement.
2. Lack of documentation of above and getting it vetted by customer before diving in the pool.
3. Lack of Planning, scheduling monitoring and controlling.
4. Lack of adjusting customer changes coming during the development.
5. Lack of documentation at various stages.
Testing is a more serious job than coding. If there is a flaw in coding, tester is there to take care of it but there remains a flaw in your testing it is the customer that is going to shave off your head that too sometimes in a very bad manner depending on the severity of bugs or loopholes left in the product, bypassed by testing team and handed over to the customer.
Some basic things to avoid this which a tester can do are:
1. Run thoroughly through customer requirement. A small glitch/ ambiguity/ shortfall in CRD (customer requirement document) must of voiced in loudest of the tone so as to get clearest of the clarity. A careless bypass here might create a huge blunder at a later stage sometimes destroying the whole empire.
2. Strong in Querying gives you an extra edge otherwise for small queries you will have to depend on your programmers and that way they may try to misguide you in getting their coding passed falsely knowing your technical weakness.
3. Build your test cases looking at the product in a broader manner. Don’t hesitate to build thousands of test cases if there is a demand for that and an exhaustive testing is the requirement.
4. Perform testing on the product with two perspectives in mind – One, be as critical (constructively) as possible to drill down the minutest of the bug in coding; Two, Become customer while testing.
5. Report is as important as testing. If testing is done properly and that does not reflect in report – testing may go waste. Report has to be clear, crisp and simple.
Without preparing any background let us admit that a developer is prone to create bugs in the code he or she creates irrespective of volume/ length/ size or type of code. Though this reduces with the increase in experience but that is not a straight line formula in all cases. The mindset of a developer remains same that is build right since beginning and it becomes very difficult for a developer to get out of that mindset even after knowing the shortfalls of staying in that frame of mind while coding.
Let us look at some of the interesting factors that if avoided can prevent a developer becoming a devil programmer meaning getting into bug creation mode while writing his or her code:
1. Never write code with a misguiding factor that you are a supreme creator. It is not so. Avoid careless coding and think twice from different perspectives before finalizing your code and handing it over to testing team.
2. Try understanding the critic character in a tester that makes him a good evaluator and assessor of code thereby finding good amount of bugs.
3. Look at the way a tester goes into the shoe of the customer for which this coding is being done and then tasting the pudding the way customer would be in his day to day life while using this product.
4. Stop fearing from tester. There is always a fear of getting caught by Testing team and that fear sometimes generates bugs while coding.
5. Stop thinking of travelling the same road while coding. Think differently even for the same set of coding and that will give you a different kind of perspective.
6. Stop coding without documentation. That is a killer. That is merely a suicide.
7. Perform testing once your coding is done at your end before straightaway handing it over to testing team.
8. Stop becoming a victim of over tight schedules and thereby cooking half cooked food.
It rarely happens that any of the project phase finishes as per the stipulated plan. Due to one reason or the other, the planned tasks somehow get delayed and at times Project Manager is not able to anticipate this risk in advance. A way of moving towards perfection for a project manager would be to become able to anticipate risk of time delays in project well in advance and next step to it would be right sizing of project timelines including each and every task of the project.
Planning of timeline for an activity is based on experience, gut feel and some kind of objective measures. Overall if you see, for any activity, 50% is usually the accuracy level of it going right. Generally it is an underestimation (and rarely an overestimation) which if fluctuates high, sometimes, goes takes project out of control and becomes a major reason for its failure. Howsoever realistic a project manager becomes while defining project timelines for individual tasks which are part of different phases of a project, it skips certain micro level measure of timelines and hence deviates from producing and projecting a highly accurate plan. Being slightly over enthusiast at the time of projects also diverts you from leading to a 100% accurate plan.
Struggling to produce accurate estimation of certain task of a project also indicates that there is some lack of clarity in components of the task in question thereby inviting more of gut feel and speculation that leads to guess work rather than staying on the right track and producing something near to accurate timelines.
Three days back one of the world’s top company engaged in project management training – ESI International – has officially released in a press conference – Top Ten Trends in Project Management for 2013. ESI belongs to its parent company Informa Plc, and is engaged in providing highly focused training in project management all across the globe. They engage their customers during training them on project management through innovative training techniques that help them in optimizing and improving their ways of project, contract, customer requirement, and vendor management in a better and objective manner.
Over a period, ESI has been providing more than 100 specialized courses in almost 15 languages in more than 100 cities all across globe and has its headquarter in Arlington, Va., USA. As per their press release, by now they have trained over 1.35 million professionals in project management all across the globe. According to the trends there is a tremendous lack of leadership expertise in all fields of project management. The same was quoted by EVP, ESI International, J. LeRoy Ward stating “”Leadership skills are lacking within the project community, and until project managers learn how to properly lead teams and their projects, project execution will continue to be a problem.”
My interpretation of those 10 top trends is as below (the original trends declared by ESI International can be read by clicking here):
1. Organizations will keep fooling themselves by seeking strong project leaders but their major priority will
still lie on investing in hard skills. Poor organizations will ignoring soft skills in leaders?
2. Organizations adopting Agile Methodologies for project management without understanding its core values,
process and purpose will be prone to fail in their implementations.
3. Organizations that still think that project management is the ball game of only project manager will go
outdated faster unless they change their thinking.
4. Big sized projects pose different and big sized hurdles which become tougher to mitigate. But still Big
Projects do success in real life.
5. Major responsibility of PMO should only be promoting (by walking the talk even, if required) innovative techniques in conquering risks during project management. This will be the only way PMO will be able to prove its worth.
6. Level of PM certification will have to be increased by the U.S. government in order to do away with increasing condemnation all across.
7. Project managers will have to spread their wings and will have to upgrade themselves in management of vendors.
8. Project failures should result in termination of PMO as the sole accountable group with no other set of responsibilities.
9. With increasing count of projects and high pressure in project cost optimization (reduction), higher amount of focus will go on enhancement in role of portfolio management.
10. Organizations having a mindset of adopting Agile for the purpose of increasing project launch in production if succeed will have an amazing learning with them that will minimize their further chances of failures in future projects.
This is a lovely video found on Youtube. It talks about some basic fundamentals of project management in a very simple manner but conveying the message very clearly and crisply. Nothing much to say about what is there in this video. Just watch this less than 4 minutes video and take along all important points to be practiced in real life scenario.
First you look at this video and enjoy it. The beginning might frighten and worry you to see baby penguins caught in severe snowfall and low temperature and probably lost their way too. But gradually at the end they reached into safe hands. That gave a big sigh of relief and all worry goes off.
Is is not that similar kind of situations arises with project team during project management. The team feels, all of a sudden, quite low and lost; like small young penguins, wondering where are the elder penguins gone. Why is there no elder penguin to guide towards the right path?
You have paid a good amount of money to procure an excellent project management tool. This would have started with the identification of need of a project management tool after which you convinced your management and got an estimated budget approved for its procurement. Once the need is identified and approved by top management, next step also has been well taken care by you, by mapping it with the existing world class tools available in the market (or web) and zeroing down to the best of the lot.
Once procured, a special training has also been done on the tool along with extensive hands on for identified core team in the organization that would be working the tool to draw out best results regarding all projects running and required to be monitored and controlled on this tool. So far so good. But what about using all functionality and features available in this tool. Features would include sharing of files, collaborating, monitoring, task management, tracking, time management and or finance control on various/ some or all activities of a project.
An overall control is possible only if all important functionality and features available in project management tool are used efficiently. On top of it, if this tool gets integrated with various legacy or mainstream business applications in use in the organization, for sending or writing back important piece of information to be shared across various apps, it would be great. It helps a lot in monitoring and controlling of project across all relevant functions and stakeholders.
A standalone project management tool might not be able to cater to all relevant functions like finance, operations, PMO, logistics etc. And even if it; it would be asking for lot of duplicate entries that would be there as origin level entries at various points in various other applications. These other applications might be the legacy applications in use because of the unique functionality they are catering to, or the newly implemented main/ core business application covering most of the business functions.
Whatsoever is the case, entry of same kind of information in two or three places again not only takes away lot of efforts and time but also invite errors while entering the same data at various places. That is the purpose that if the data is available in any other applications – be it legacy or core business application like ERP, it is important to integrate it with your project management tool by building an interface or web services for the purpose of pushing or pulling; writing to or writing back; all identified important pieces of information. If need be, and if specified by security norms in the organization, for interfaces, encryption and decryption can be deployed depending on the severity of information flowing from one database to another.
Well, you, as a project manager, have identified the exact needs of your project management tool. In the next step you have also been able to identify the best option in the market. You also identified the champion who is going to drive project management with this tool, someone who is expert on using this tool to draw out best possible benefits out of it.
Tools are available in many forms such as – client server model, web based, cloud based etc. but it is evident that project management tool champion (usually someone from Project Management Office – PMO) is not the only person who is going to use this tool alone. There would be other team members who would need to update and record various tasks related to their function. It will be used by all guys related to Analysis, Design, Development, Quality, Deployment, Training and Support functions.
That is why training to all these guys who are required to update project tasks, closures, delays, etc. need a extensive hands on training on the tool so as to use it appropriately that caters to the needs of all stakeholders of that project. Not only that, there would be another groups of people, who would not be required to update tasks and status; but would be getting alerts, updates and various status reports for the purpose of monitoring and controlling purposes. This team also would require a training on usage of automated alerts/ reports coming into their mailbox, or on mobile; and where to hit for what purpose when logging into the tool for monitoring and controlling of project.
Assume that you have passed the first two steps well – Identifying your needs for procurement of a effective project management tool, and buying the right product (selecting, mapping, testing etc.). Now you have the vehicle in place (the tool) and also the destination is known well to everyone (successful completion of project); but what about the best suited driver for this kind of vehicle and destination? Have you already thought about it and you have someone in mind? Or this is something your are planning to start as a new subject matter after doing above two steps successfully.
If it is latter that is going to happen, you are already dead. Why dead, because if you have not bothered about the right driver during first two steps, especially the second step, you are bound to heading for a titanic, for sure. Searching for a best kind of driver after you have procured a vehicle, is something like starting off treatment of a patient without identifying doctor.
And if it is the former situation in your case, you are bound to be quite intelligent and proactive kind of project manager. What is meant by this is that you have a person in mind (it could be you also! but better to have someone else in your team!!) who is going to run this tool and manage the project for whole team, it is definitely a win-win situation. This equally well justifies your decision of zeroing down on the project management tool also.
You are in need of a good project management tool as a project manager to drive your projects efficiently and effortlessly. Your requirements have been specified well, let us assume and based on which you have shortlisted some products after discussions with various product owners who have to come to sell their product to you. Let us assume none of the product owners have bluffed you by falsely accepting availability of features in their product, that you are seeking for. Let us also assume that the demo of all products in question have been done thoroughly and you have been able to clearly identify or shortlist a final list of 2 or 3 products suiting your needs well.
These 2 or 3 products that are fitting the bill neatly, now need to be closely looked into, examined and scrutinized to find out best among all so as to give your ease and comfort in managing your projects. Finding best doesn’t mean any of these products are inferior to other that have been shortlisted. It only mean that find out the one that maps well with your requirements and the features in this product. There might be some very beautiful features available in a product but of no use to you, may be, because, the associated functionality of that project management tool, is not of much relevance or importance in your kind of scenario.
Final note of caution is to test shortlisted products well, spending as much time on them, as possible, so as to arrive at the best possible decision for procuring one of the product shortlisted.
Every project management tool does not cater to everyone. Similarly everyone doesn’t need exactly the same as the other. Each Project Manager’s requirements related to project management tool vary substantially from the other project manager. It also depends on level of maturity in organization where projects are being driven. Another factor that adds value to it is the customer. If customer is cautious about driving of project in right direction and aims to get is finished in time, it will build pressure on organization engaged for that particular project. Something like this, if becomes part of agreement, will create a need of building a good tool.
Purpose of a project management tool is monitoring and managing the show well. Projects too are of various sizes and gravity. A low intensity project might not require a highly sophisticated management tool irrespective of the size of this project. On the contrary a high severity project (having higher business stake), though even if it is of a smaller tenure of size, will definitely require a highly productive project management tool since the stake is higher in this kind of project.
IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is about selecting the most deserving cities across the globe for the purpose of improvements, changeover, and enhancement to benefit the various communities residing in those cities.
The seven cities in the Unites States, benefited by this challenge are:
1. Fresno – This city was selected by IBM to provide the city with an aid of USD 400,000 for the purpose of development in economic and neighborhood developments.
2. Second city to benefit from IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge 2012 is Buffalo, New York
3. Burlington, Vermont
4. Knoxville, Tennessee
5. Reno, Nevada
6. Richmond, Virginia
7. Tuscon, Arizona
If you are around Quebec City, it is impossible that you are not aware about the local activist, musician, writer and a young social worker Nora Loreto. She is about to complete her studies while pursuing Masters Degree in Education Foundations from the Saskatchewan University. She has been earlier the Editor in Chief of the Ryerson Free Press. She has also been Relations Ambassador for Ontario’s Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). Her music is quite popular online and she can be better read and understood on her blog.
While presenting her views on Quality Assurance she confirmed about the long time existence of evaluation, approval and improvement programs by professors and institutional bodies in Ontario in this respect. Recent engagement of ministry staff and in depth assessment by administrative bodies of university and colleges, the horizontal deployment of quality assurance all across for the purpose of achieving uniformity and standardization.
On top of it the strict norms built by OECD (Organization for economic co-operation and development) has geared up good amount of pressure in Europe for speedy progress in globalization and standardization of quality assurance in all aspects.
Project failure does not differentiate between size of the project. Failure may happen to large project with equal number of chances as there in smaller project. The factors pertaining to success of failure of project have equal amount of stake in any size of project. Recently there was a news about setback in a large stake project related to St Johns River and Vero Beach. The project was for a tenure of 30 years for the purpose of replumbing of the above said river headwaters to Vero Beach.
An investment of over USD 200 million was sanctioned for this project for the sole purpose of attaining improvement in quality of water in the regional lakes associated with St. Johns River. In fact the situation got worse after the start of this project as the water condition kept deteriorating, basically due to lot of modernization happening in the area and based on which lot of new residential localities got deployed. This also happened due to more and more businesses emerging as a new start up.
Besides complaints coming from various segments, fishermen were the most suffering lot as they complained about drastic decrease of fish which were earlier being anticipated to increase due to much cleaner water during this project.
Think if you as a Project Manager really need to buy a project management tool. I do not mean to say that a tool is not important to manage projects. It is. A good tool is always helpful in optimizing your efficiency, productivity and accuracy. Tools with higher level of automation produce higher results. Now before you start exploring a new tool in the market after you have identified the need of it, it is better to look around and get a stock of situation with existing applications/ tools existing in your portfolio.
Have a complete inventory of all products that are deployed and running in the organization for years. What all legacy software and business applications are there in place need to be examined if there is similar kind of functionality/ tool existing that is required for monitoring and managing projects. ERP, for instance, might have that module, though not activated or configured so far, as there was no need of it; but which can be activated to draw out the desired benefits.
Here below is a lovely comic strip from acentre.com on Managing Project Scope. This is self explanatory in telling how projects go haywire just because of non serious stakeholders, keeping lot of leverage and flexibility in changing scope and requirement.
At times customer is the main cause of project failure but then who is supposed to control all such activities.
This is a lovely comic strip from BrightWork and says a lot about the misleading components of a project. The whole game of project management depends solely on its drivers. If it is being driven wholeheartedly engaging all its stakeholders, nothing can take it away from success. But the misleading factors are many that drift away a rightly started project from its progress path and move it towards failure.
The basic drifting (failing) facts of life of project management are:
1. Mindset that all project require same style of functioning
2. Unwarranted Optimism and Delusions of Competence
3. Irregular monitoring of project
4. Lack of Knowledge
5. Improper resource allocation
6. Improper planning
Nobody would think that the things that happen in developing, under-developed and not developed countries can happen in developed countries like the United States too. Passenger screening machines being supplied at U.S. airports has become a highly controversial matter now. The fact coming out is that the suspected component in the whole game is the privacy software which is supposed to control machines while they produce graphical images of bodies. Point being highlighted is about the manipulations being embedded in that privacy software.
Rapiscan is the name of the parent company that manufactures these scanning machines and has an agreement with U.S. Airports Authorities for supply of these machines. A letter has been issued to the company by the Transportation Security Administration Office seeking a clarification from them about any malpractices. These machines work on the basis of back-scatter radiation for the purpose of finding out any items hidden behind clothes. Objections that arose out of the usage of these machines is the exact imaging of the body that appears on the screen.
That is when an order from government came to this company for developing a privacy software to reside in this machine that will then be producing only a generic imagery of a passenger instead of a realistic image varying from person to person. This generic imagery would be more of an outlining of the body.
Somewhere there was a lacking in the whole process of development, testing, deployment, engagement of stakeholders etc. that created all this fuss.
Recently there was a new in papers circulated around San Francisco. This was regarding an exemplary achievement attained by the District Inspector of Air Quality Management Department of Bay Area which has been recognized and acclaimed by the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA). Sal Rueda, the district inspector of Bay Area AQM, has been awarded Rodney Swartzendruber Outstanding Inspector Award 2012, by the Enforcement Managers’ Committee of CAPCOA. This Committee of CAPCOA Enforcement Managers give Rodney Swartzendruber award every year to the persons working in Quality Field for their outstanding achievements during the year.
Sal Rueda, who works for Bay Area Dsitrict, one of the state’s 35 airs quality management districts, has been recognized for demonstrating outstanding performance consistently thereby contributing significantly benefiting effort being done by air pollution control boards. Sal had been working towards reducing diesel particulate matter in his district that falls near the Port of Oakland. He has been successful in limiting the negative health impacts of diesel particulate matter that was affecting the health of the community living in and around West Oakland. Some of the qualities that have made Sal to win this award are – his dedication, focused approach, able to speak and understand multiple languages, engaging well with different stakeholders involved including truckers and regulatory authorities, and good communication skills.
Probably with this kind of skill sets, any quality control person can win over toughest of the situations.
Here is a lovely picture that indicates a classic situation during a Project where it needs to be pushed. At such times, the project drivers are not able to drive it at the stipulated speed and hence loose its track of progress. In fact at times its progress starts fading out and it appears that instead of success this project will die an induced death.
At this juncture, someone from the project team with a larger amount of courage needs to come up and pump in some extra amount of energy so that project starts back and speeds up.
Can you as a project manager take that charge?
Here are some good thoughts on Quality that are worth looking at.
Here are few quotes/ posters I found on net which are quite relevant to the job of a QC and Code writing guys. Curiosity is something than can chip in an extra edge in both – a developer, and a tester.
Never lose your personal touch in anything that you do in life. Do it in your own ways, without bothering about what others will say but never compromise with the quality of your path taken and precision of your end results. Who knows you might be deviating from the best process of the world (which will never come into limelight, if you do it) by adopting a method of doing things as told by someone else.
And finally, done compromise with your emotions.
This is Constance MArie on WhoSay. This is a small Thanksgiving video, and its tagline says “Happy Thanksliving!!! The turkey gets to live.”
Well, if we correlate this occasion with Project lifecycle, let us see what are various Thanksgiving instances that arise during various phases:
1. Project initiation is the beginning. If there is no initiation, there will be no way forward. Once the ignition does its work, only then engine can start.
2. Team Formation: If all blessings are intact in right place, a right team formation becomes a big boon for project drive and completion.
3. Requirement Analysis and Documentation: High accuracy in requirements understanding, freezing and documentation minimizes project failure risks.
4. Project Review: If this goes in place happening regularly, in time, with right kind of actions and results, nothing like it.
5. Project Development to Deployment: Success of either of the two has no meaning. It has to be a twin success to grab an overall star.
6. Project Sign off: This will be not an issue if all above goes perfectly.
Watch this amazing Video first that made thousands of attendees of TED 2011 stand in admiration and clap so loudly for next 5 minutes. To understand the power of MAGIC and its holistic approach, will become quite clear after watching this video.
MAGIC is nothing but an honest approach to deceive yourself and your audience. It is not about LIE but how to embed it in LIFE that it becomes part of TRUTH and only TRUTH.
This presentation at TED 2011 was done by Marco Tempest who is a world known Techno-illusionist. He has some magical power to mix Technology and Illusion in such a manner that is quite enough to stun his audience wherever he is there to showcase his magic.
As a project manager can you build this magic in your project. Of course you can! How? Just Think…
Pune local city administrative body – Pune Municipal Corporation – PMC – has finally shortlisted global software company – IBM India for working together on a new and comprehensive project. This project will be aimed at building a comprehensive healthcare solution for the residents of Pune. The requirements shall be chalked out by PMC and the development will be taking place at IBM office. The project is covered under IBM’s smarter cities challenge grants under which thirty three cities across the globe have been covered for the year 2012.
This initiative by IBM names as Smarter Cities Challenge Grants started in 2011 is for a tenure of three years during which overall hundred cities across the globe have to be covered for various basic services enhancements for which IBM has a total grant of USD fifty million. Thirty Three cities were selected from all across the globe have been selected in 2012 out of which two Indian cities – Pune and Ahmedabad were part of those. Pune has been chosen to get an optimized healthcare solution for its citizens whereas Ahmedabad citizens will have a betterment in traffic and other citizen services in the city.
This extensive healthcare system for Pune Citizens shall cover a micro level monitoring system to track attacks of epidemics in the city. Historical data shall act as the backbone of the database for analyzing and working out on some conclusions related to forecasting of tentative epidemics that could strike in future based on the previous patterns. The analysis will definitely help in taking proactive measures to fight against it and mitigate the risk. The Project Team comprises of a number of scientists working with IBM India and volunteers from various other streams for the purpose of running of pilot.
Thirty One cities across the globe have been shortlisted for 2013 to work with local governing bodies in order to enhance local citizen’s life. Two cities of India again have been chosen for this – Gurgaon and Chennai.
The grant provides the city with access to IBM’s top experts to analyze and recommend ways that will enable Gurgaon and Chennai to become even better places to live and work. Towards the close of the project, IBM experts will provide city leaders with analysis and recommendations to support successful growth, better delivery of municipal services, more citizen engagement, and improved efficiency.
A Controlling kind of project manager would be more of a monarch and less kind of diplomatic. This kind of project manager would not be interested in liberalism or any kind of flexibility. He would be liking more of the silent obeying guys in his team rather than those who discuss and like to put their point of view for any kind of scenario during any phase of project management. This kind of PM would not be interested in terms like democracy and would taking ideas more from Hitlerism than Gandhism.
An Influencing project manager would be more towards doer than demanding from others to do. This guy would be interested in waling the talk and demonstrating how to do what is required to do in case someone is not clear about it. He would be more practical and leader kind of guy not believing in getting things done by force but by means of using charismatic manners.
Team members would like to work with Influencing Project Manager but there might be an overall maturity level issue in the team. Generally influencing project manager would be very clear about what to do and how to do. He might not be very strategic and having management skills. He would have risen within the team mostly from the ground level to this level thereby gaining respect from all team members who would be admiring his capabilities and technical skills.
Controlling Project Manager would be more successful in case overall maturity level is high in the team and most of the team members are highly skilled and self motivators.
This is a classic example of the BIG DATA concept that is heating up globally that has been revolutionizing whole Technology world. The BIG DATA concept is logically a strategic collaboration of data spread across internet including social media sites and then analyzing this huge chunk of collaborated data on the basis of keywords to arrive at some logical conclusions.
The article clearly elaborates how BIG DATA concept has helped Obama in winning the recent Presidential Elections and enabled him run the office for second consecutive term. The data on all social media sites was churned and analyzed for various purposes so as to find out right kind of audience for right kind of campaigns.
1. Quality is to be built along with the project development and not after it
2. Quality is not a single person’s or team’s task
3. Quality is not a TASK, it is a CULTURE
4. If Project is an investment, Quality is an assurance of secured return on this investment
5. Quality need not be explained, it speaks on its own
1. Project Management is not a game, it is a strategy
2. Project Tools are irrelevant to Project Drive and Success. Same Project Tool may not fit well for another
project team working on similar kind of project
3. Stakeholders are as important drivers of the project as project manager
4. Project Team is like chess board, each move signifies the gravity of passion of winning
5. All projects may not fail for same reason
6. Success of each stage of project bring you nearer to overall project success but does not guarantee it
7. PMO has to act like an institute in the whole framework of Project Management
8. Onus of failure of a project should not go only to Project Manager but definitely deserves a bigger chunk
9. Project Failure brings in more amount of learning as compared to its success
10. No learning from a project is a bigger failure than its own success or failure
Customer is supreme – is a well known saying. Every business knows how much truth this small sentence comprising of just 3 words is. The power that it carries is so huge that it can groom a small local unknown business to an international fame, and vice versa. We all have seen many big names vanishing right after reaching their peaks. And if gone into depth, it is always the customer that plays a major role in such kind of transformations.
A year by year study conducted by Watermark Consulting, engaged in customer experience, on impact of stocks of a company viz a viz its relationship with customer shows that the stock price of any company is directly proportional to its higher volume of customers boasting about a great experience out of its services or product and delivery.
The year on year survey was conducted on top 10 and bottom 10 companies and it was evidently proven that the top 10 companies doing excellent performance at stock market was having a larger chunk of customer having a DELIGHT FACTOR. This is one reason that brings in greater ROI in terms of business, stock performance, financial growth, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
This was the first time Chris Cooper from Richmond was attending a hackathon. He was not at all aware that he was going to be the grand prize winner among all participants. After reading an invitation on meetup.com (the online site that is quite prominently active in US for meetings and discussions), he decided to participate in the event to ascertain his programming skills. Initially he had no better motive than attending this interesting event to get some fun out of it and meeting some local people at the venue.
This was 24-hour non-stop event that started on 19th Oct 2012 to end on 20th Oct. that was simultaneously organized at three different locations in Virginia. Cooper finally got the grand prize of USD 1,500 for his excellent piece of coding that he wrote for formulating a tool that helps in developing alerts for profiles of students in schools that have chances of getting in the dropout bucket. This tool in turn will then help the local associated educational administration agencies to find out ways to mitigate this risk for those students and get them out of that bracket of students having higher chances of dropouts.
The event termed as HAC4EDU was sponsored by Apps4VA
The purpose of this event is to provide an opportunity to aspirant developers to develop some innovative kind of programming to use student’s data and help in using that data to produce solutions for some challenging issues that are being faced in education circle.
This is related to Quality which all human beings always strive for. This is not related directly to software. But Quality in any area is inspirational and motivating for achieving higher and higher level of success without any compromise in life. That is what Quality conscious people do in life. They don’t compromise in achieving success. Getting better should always be measured in terms of quality that shall cover all other aspects of delivery – time, money, people, resources and process.
Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) has one of their mill named as Silicon Steel Mill. A team from this unit of RSP participated in the recently held International Convention on Quality Control Circles (ICQCC) – 2012 that was organized in KL (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Quality circles are formed to find out a scope of betterment in process in production units and then implement it successfully after analyzing it. This quality circle was named as “Aakash” meaning Sky, by the team members.
Prior to achieving this international three star award which is highest in that category, Aakash team had to undergo a very strict scrutiny process at the National Level Quality Circle Conference that was held in Hyderabad and among all teams present from various cities and states, they were adjudged as best for their going ahead for participating in this International Event in Malaysia.
Aakash team has achieved a phenomenal breakthrough in formulating an innovative enhancement in the process in their production line that was facing a long term problem of failure of Looper rope in one of their AP process of SSM. The team has achieved it by means of development of an indigenous logical circuit that would brake Looper drum at appropriate moment so as to avoid such failures. With appropriate enhancements in the process, the Aakash team has been able to reduce their stoppage in production line by more than 28 hours every month gradually saving an amount of Rs 56 lac annually (USD 0.11 million).
This has been achieved not only in terms of an annual saving, but also with an increase in safety and simplification of process.
Project Plan without a regular review is as good as a rail on the track without an engine. Hence though the rail is on the track but is not moving since there is no driving or moving force to it. Similarly howsoever structured or strong project plan is built, if there is no review to monitor the plan and assess if going in right direction and with right pace; it will be of no use. Review enables you to take proactive actions in response to some risks perceived during discussion about project plan tasks and their current status.
Risks don’t come in a planned manner. All of a sudden a risk may arise during a smooth going project. Teams and even the team members belonging to the same team do not sit together in today’s high speed life and professional requirements. Focus of any business is more on outcome and results rather than forcing old time discipline to be adhered to. Team members may work from anywhere working on the same module of a project during its development. A very structured task allocation, planning and its review would be required to manage this kind or for that sake any kind of development environment.
It is important to take help of technology to keep assessment and review abreast of any kind of lacunae. Review of particular tasks in a project plan allocated to a particular team member may not require whole team to assemble together. It may be a one to one kind. The whole purpose is to keep things get going… in right direction… with right pace…
The amount of data lying in the servers resting in data center of any organization might not be equivalently accessed, analysed and used in terms of Business Intelligence. The volume of terabytes of data viz a viz its churning to get some fruitful and crisp information might not be existing in right proportion. Any project where delivery of software is prime concern, it should also take care of the resultant reports for top management for the purpose of analysis of business in real scenario.
A software Project where business requirements and development is prime requirement of the project, must also take care of the concerns of top level management and their expectation from this software application right in the beginning at the time of requirements analysis phase. Content lying in server but of no use to management for analysis purposes is like having a large amount of currency in your pocket but not applicable in the country where you are. If a real justification of a software application and the infrastructure/ hardware cost is to be justified, it can be done only in this manner. Else the huge data lying in the servers lying in low temperature maintained data center will be a shear wastage.
Application development is not an easy task. It takes lot of planning and efforts to convert requirements into a code that is capable of delivering what is being asked for. It is not an easy job. The milestones and target dates committed keep everyone in the development and testing team on their toes till their targets are met. The value of data is meaningless as long as it resides in server and does not fetch any useful information.
iPhone 5 has been in news right since its launch was announced. Lot of news, articles, reviews and comments were there all across the world – some talking about its excellent features, some about the removal of Google Maps from iPhone 5 and insertion of Apple’s own map application pre-installed in the instrument. There were long queues and advance bookings so as to grab the piece during first 2 days of its launch. People from remote locations had camped and spend nights outside the stores to grab the piece on its launch date.
Well this news is not too good for Apple’s iPhone 5. The supply is getting affected due to some consistently serious issues arising during its quality inspection before the lots are sent outside the factory for sales to its various stores.
There is a reported crackdown happened at Foxconn Technology Group. Reportedly there are evidences of scratches and nicks on the pieces and that is what has caused the rejection of these pieces at quality station. With its launch not gone too far, happening last month only; and the demand getting higher and higher everyday, this issues is affecting the supplies of iPhone 5.
Stephen Covey is the man who brought Eisenhower matrix into limelight in front of the whole world. But the actual credit goes to this man – , the ex President of United Stated Dwight D. Eisenhower. Stephen Covey used it extensively in his first book ‘First Thing First’ and that is from where the matrix got quite popular all across the globe.
This matrix reminds me a great book that I read years back – “I am OK, You are OK”. The book said there are four stages of any kind of situation – I am Ok You are Ok, I am Ok You are not Ok, I am not Ok You are Ok and I am not Ok You are not Ok.
The similar kind of concept lies here in Eisenhower Matrix. The four categories are – Urgent and Important, Not Urgent and Important, Urgent and Not Important; and finally Not Urgent and Not Important.
If project tasks are identified based on these four categories and accordingly dealt with, probably the life can become simpler in terms of managing complex projects.
Eisenhower himself is quoted it somewhere that :
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Project Management started like this and kept on running like this for years. It reflects the silos that exist within and across the teams working on a project. The silos at most of the times are not created intentionally, but it becomes prime responsibility of the key members of each team working on the same project to fill in the gap and bring them all together on a single platform. Bringing them all together on a single platform not only nullifies silos and gaps but also gets them all in sync and hence the energies get unidirectional and more presumptive.
Actual requirements of a customer and the way customer explains it, might carry a gap in it. And it is the Business Analyst’s job to bring that gap to the minutest if health of project is required to be intact throughout. Business Analyst has a dual responsibility. One, he has to fill in the gap between what is the business requirement of customer viz a viz how he puts it forward. Secondly, the BA has to ensure that whatever customer is explaining his requirements as, must be understood word by word without leaving a hole in it.
Theoretically it might sound quite simple, but it has taken ages, and a number of process experts across the globe have put all their expertise on it; but still the fight goes on and on and the gap has yet to be closed. Who has the medicine for this chronic disease being faced by all kind of projects all across the globe.
A project manager is always surrounded by project priorities falling in financial, logistic, people related, technical, machine related and many more categories. Each category is important and critical for project performance and enhancement. In each category, priorities will be set in different segments. There would be top most priorities, most critical priorities, less critical priorities, and may be sometimes non critical priorities.
So far so good but so many critical, semi critical, non critical and many more kind of priorities revolving around you will not let you work smoothly and perform consistently. The best way is to find out a method with which you are able to tackle all these problems without any hiccups and in an painless manner. How to do that? The best way is to arrange them in a sequential manner. You know very well – an elephant can never be eaten in one go. So is with priorities. Although those all are priorities but can’t be focused upon or taken into hand at the same time. There has to be some way out.
Once you have prioritized your priorities – take top 3, and forget rest of them for a while. Once you have only 3 priorities in front of you instead of a large pool, you will psychologically feel relieved and will be able to focus on all the three. Take first priority, find out the best possible solution, allocate it to the person whom you know will be able to perform it in your prescribed manner, give him a target date and set him free.
Do the same with rest two. And then go to your larger pool, pick top three…
This is a review of C++ Primer, Fifth Edition, by Stanley B. Lippman, Josee Lajoie and Barbara E. Moo, available from Addison-Wesley Professional. A complimentary e-copy was provided for this review.
It is important to understand what additions have been made to this book (and the language itself) as compared to the earlier variants. Since the inception of C++, a huge number of programmers have learned this language and benefited in one way or another. While earlier variants of C++ focused more on extracting machine efficiency, the latest version is all about making enhancements to programmer efficiency.
Some very important changes were incorporated by the C++ Standards Committee in 2011 and there was a major revision in ISO C++ Standards and Guidelines. Primarily, with these changes, the focus is on making C++ more universal so as to enhance its adaptability, reliability and stability. There is also emphasis on making C++ standard libraries more versatile, powerful and safer so as to increase their usability. An important point of these revisions is to ensure that programmers become more capable in writing abstractions and libraries. The C++ Primer covers all the important factors emphasized in the latest ISO C++ standard.
The new features making C++ 11 what it is are very well explained here, and the book serves as a good guide for any programmer. In particular, it covers features like ‘auto’ for type inference, smart pointers, and move-enabled containers, all of which enable a programmer to write their own customized classes without any hassles in an easier and more organized manner.
Any Project has high or low level of encountering gaps during its entire lifecycle. High or low will depend on how strong shield is built around the project to anticipate those gaps in advance and ensure getting them filled as soon as they occur during any phase of the project. There can be different forms of Project Managers for managing these projects. One kind will just burst out the moment a sudden gap is encountered during a project which was not anticipated in advance and will try creating hue and cry out of it.
This first type of Project Manager will just keep cribbing about the gap encountered thus making it more disastrous and deadly than it could actually be. If the focus is not gone on filling the gap that has just emerged out, probably the risk increases and it could cause more disaster if given more time to survive. On the other hand we have a small breed of some intelligent kind of Project Managers. This breed is not too worried about encountering any uninvited gap as they are well aware that these kind of scenarios do occur in project lifecycle. They, would rather, immediately assess different ways of filling the gap that has occurred suddenly and decide about the best of the solution out of those worked out.
And once the best solution is identified, its implementation/ action gets started immediately so as to fill the gap at the earliest and reduce the risk life. The higher is the
In any project prior to its development, during the initiation phase, risk assessment, analysis and mitigation planning is done. PM office, Project team, external stakeholders including the end customer management team members all become the part of this committee to work out and cover all possible areas from where any kind of risks can arise. Once all risks are listed down, their priority or severity is set based on their chances of occurance, gravity of impact on the project and time it would require for its mitigation.
Mitigation of each risk is a cost. Similarly each risk has an impact on project cost also. Hence there is a cost that is getting impacted by means of project delay etc. and there is a cost to overcome or mitigate this kind of delays. If cost of mitigation of a risk is higher than the cost of impact, nobody would like to invest in its mitigation. It is always true that higher is the impact cost, higher is the severity of the risk. And hence higher are the chances of its importance for mitigation.
After all kind of exercises of risk assessment, mitigation planning and management; there is always a hole from where unwanted rats always slide in, unstintingly. And you have no choice other than fighting against it, finding out quick ways to mitigate it and resolve it so that it has least impact on the progress of the running project.
Following parameters may be kept in mind while going for selection of an automating testing tool:
1. Cost: Cost of the tool should be clearly justifiable with the number of projects in hand, foreseen to come in future, cost of projects in hand and those coming in future. There is nothing wrong in looking for open source tools provided you have courage to go in depth of learning and adaptability.
2. Team Size: Large team size of developers vis-à-vis negligible testers is a death trap. You certainly need an automation tool else you will certainly require to increase number of testers.
3. Right Tool Selection: You just can’t go and adopt any tool just for the sake of having an automation tool. There must be criteria of choosing right tool for right kind of product to be tested. All tools do not fit for all platforms.
4. Usability: Team who is going to use that tool must be comfortable in using it. It must be easy to operate, clear in understanding and least cumbersome to operate
5. Recording: An automated tool without recording and playing back provision is useless.
6. Manual Skills: Any kind of automated tool will require manual skills in terms of team member having capability of writing manual scripts to be embedded in the automation tool.
7. GUI: Prefer to have a GUI based tool where things are easier to handle and understand
8. Reusability: The tool should be able to build a library in an intelligent manner where it is easier to pick a script to be reused for similar kind of testing at a later stage on the same of different product.
9. Maintainability: Tool should be up and running for long. It should not die at a shorter length.
10. Community: You never can master a tool, whatsoever you choose. You need a community to share your achievements, pains, feedback, suggestions, and so on.
We all have certain amount of myths within us and sometimes we start loving to live with them. A developer’s job is quite critical in any software development project as this is the guy who is doing all ground level work. Whatever he produces goes to the customer though after passing through testing phase.
Understanding the customer requirement is most critical for a developer even if he is master in coding. All excellent developers do not turn into successful ones dues to this factor. It is not bad living in myths if those are positive ones and have a narrow gap with the reality. The higher is the gap of a myth with reality, more difficult it becomes for others in the team to digest and ultimately if might produce a negative impact for overall project.
If we try finding out 5 myths of a developer that could turn dangerous for his own career could be listed as below:
1. I am supreme and am not bound to produce any bugs in my coding. Once this feeling chips in, developer starts negating any improvement points required for his coding and all bugs though get fixed by him but keeps him working carelessly.
2. Tester is just there to find out faults in my coding. If intentions of a tester are doubted by the developer, then probably he will not be able to take his feedback positively.
3. I must write a code that keeps my team dependent on me. Coding in an unstructured manner is a crime but some developer love doing it.
4. I can steal this code as I am writing it. This is unethical. Whatever a coder is writing, he is being paid for it.
5. Keep provisions of code going haywire with a future timestamp? This is a crime.
This is a video by ProjectManager.com and presented by their Program Direction – Jennifer Whitt, PMP. The topic is – Learn 7 steps to avoid project closing pitfalls and be left holding the project bag. Basically whatever is done in a project is for the successful closure, closure sign off and commercial closures. The whole journey of any project is based on certain pillars to make it stand, run and reach to its destination. First you have a look at the video and then we discuss few points further down the line.
Inputs, Acceptance approvals, documentation may all appear to be quite simple procedures and small activities but in real life these are basically the activities that if not done smoothly choke the progress of any project.
India has achieved its 100th Space mission and it makes India as a strong contender one among the top technically strong nations across the globe. India in fact is a unique example of absorbing so many cultures, so many castes, communities and so many contrasts complementing and supplementing; and making the whole nation as successful in various streams.
The same zeal and fire is required in a project manager who must understand the wider and long term goals without bothering about short term hiccups and criticism. Let us celebrate the day and move in the direction of managing projects with a higher level of responsibility and authority.
Your qualities are unacceptable as long as you don’t vet them yourself. Your value is ignored as long as you do not accept it yourself. The moment you realize your real value, you will wonder, that everyone else also becomes aware about it. Doing ordinary things in ordinary fora but even in ordinary projects you can manage or handle things in extraordinary manner so as to bring it to new achievements or heights. Doing same things in same manner endlessly will make you mechanized, inhuman and brainless entity.
IF you carry your brains with you, you are supposed to do small innovations in all aspects of life. A project will always have a scope of improvement in its various stages. Watch this video completely to understand what I have said above:
People who fear in life does not mean that they fail in all aspects of life. But keeping a fear in mind out of certain failures can hamper your progress, growth and success in a bigger way. It may become a mere showstopper and block all paths of your life intended to take you towards success and growth. People who do not fear in life for failing or making mistakes have higher tendency of doing extraordinary, amazing and out of box.
Every project will be a hit, success and finish in time is a misleading concept. There are issues – bigger or smaller – in any project. Running away from problems or failures will not let you each to your destination. Watch this lovely video of less than 2.5 minutes that will give you some energy to stay away from fear of failures.