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Newsletter - Aug 2014

 
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PM Essence

Management in Prayers

 

By - Namita Gupta, PMP, PMI-ACP

We all are connected to God in some or the other way. Some of us do daily prayers formally; some just remember Him as their own heart's voice. Whatever is the medium, whatever is the way, we are connected with that supreme power in some or the other manner. Have we ever thought, are we managed enough to give sometime to that Supreme? It sounds very funny if someone asks, how is your spiritual management going on? We hardly ask his question to others. Forget others, we hardly critic our own self for same. People who really believe in the holy strength may connect better with the thought that we need Spiritual management in the very same way we manage all other cores of our life. The obvious counter question will be, we can't say so, and how is it possible? Well, that's what we shall be looking in today.
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PMBOK® has a very important role to play in this field also. I never realised it till I thought through all the aspects of it. To my surprise, it's true and valid. We have different knowledge areas defined in PMBOK®. Let's see how all these special areas helps us device our Spiritual management (Refer the picture). Also if we really put little effort towards this management we shall see, how energetic, powerful we feel. This is a very interesting study and thought process. Spiritualism is connected and engrossed in every aspect of our life and yes it's deep inside. One has to have faith in oneself to en-cash the strength of this rich and powerful framework.
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There is a saying that everything we have been blessed with is His grace on us. We can't really give anything back to that Ultimate, however we should always try to indulge ourselves in 3 cores i.e. Tan (Service by one self), Mann (remembering Him in thoughts) & Dhan (Money offerings). When I thought about these 3 cores, I felt it's so closely related to different knowledge areas of management we have just glanced. Supreme power also in line with management fundamentals it seems. I know it sounds funny and may be awkward to few to have this kind of comparison but trust me, this helps. Any idea, any innovation, any miracle has to come on paper before it can be realized in reality. Let's see the “How” part of what we have discussed just now in diagram.
Isn't it amazing? We (this high tech generation) believe in tangible things. That is what we talk at length in our day to day corporate work and that is what we learn. Is it a tangible way to express the need of spiritual management in one's life? The obvious question which comes to the mind is what is the output of doing all this management? Why to invest so much of so called Tan, Mann and most importantly Dhan? We can convince ourselves by asking a very simple question, what do we get as an output when we go to a temple/church or Mosque? If we just give a very high level thought, what are the major things we are struggling in our day to day life today?
 
Stress, Mental pressures, business up downs, lack of contented feelings, lack of peace of mind, Lack of good health/Exercise?
 
All these things are addressed if we do spiritual management in our lives. It's not necessary to visit church for the same, it's just to manage and be in one some with your own self, your own soul. Its worth of an investment to catch up with our own self and realise we haven't got time off lately for such conversation. We haven't realised that we have spent so many years without talking to our own identity. What is the wish at the core of our heart? What madness we want to explore before we really check out of this world?
 
I myself am the first candidate to do so. I am writing this and realising that I need this with extreme urgency. I wish I do some spiritual management and have a gala meeting with self to explore what myself is up to before exploring any other person around. If this is being selfish, it's good to be selfish I guess, isn't it?. Be selfish and be explorer, to explore an immense world of inner happiness and peace - Within self by just doing Spiritual Management.
 
Disclaimer: PMBOK® is registered trademark of Project Management Institute (PMI®)We are living in a dynamic, ever-changing world where everything needs to be cont
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PM Essence

Global Warming: The case of the sinking iceberg in Agile Development

 

By Vijay Anand, CAST
“What more and more executives are realizing that the workable software now seems to contain more structural defects than ever before, especially the ones that span across layers”
We are living in a dynamic, ever-changing world where everything needs to be continuously agile and adaptive else one is set up for failure. Software development is not an exception. More and more product development now seems to happen on Agile methodology where we develop working software with the underlying presumption that requirements can mostly never be frozen. And this seems to work well. One can see that product functionality continues to be delivered perfectly as per customer requirements, given the frequent interactions via user stories or as I call "functional cradling" and JIT testing. So the part that is visible in the iceberg a.k.a functional defects seems to go down in production. But what about the underlying iceberg structure that is invisible - the code and how it integrates together in the final product?
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What more and more executives are realizing that the workable software now seems to contain more structural defects than ever before, especially the ones that span across layers - e.g. Architectural issues, proper framework use, complexity etc. As a result, this shift in defect ratio seem to move from typically 85:15 (Functional Defects: Structural defects) to now up to 70 - 30 in some cases.
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Developers today are more pressured to deliver functionality than ever before, given the fluidity of the Agile environment and hence sometime have to make a choice on ignoring the underlying structural quality for the sake of delivering functionality. This then becomes - Technical debt that hounds the team later resulting in lot of rework - root cause analysis (RCA), re-development, re-testing etc. on problems that are more and more cryptic and involve multiple best-of-breed technologies e.g. Team has to shut down and restart weblogic server every 4 hours in production. This somehow seems analogous to how we are exploiting earth for natural resources today at the cost of starving our future generations tomorrow.
 
So what can teams do to deliver workable software that not only delivers the right functionality but the right structural quality?
 
1. Publish a list of best practices that a team has to adhere and respect from a structural quality perspective to the development teams. Prevention and education is the first best medicine. 
 
2. Plan for 10% of the sprint cycle time to fix structural issues that could come up as part of the product development life cycle
 
3. Use an automated structural quality solution every sprint cycle to measure the application structural quality holistically and not just code quality - Resiliency, Performance, Security, Architectural compliance, maintainability etc.
 
4. Integrate any structural issues that come as part of the sprint cycle to a system like JIRA and move it to the product backlog for fix.
 
5. Provide developers the flexibility to prioritize and fix these structural issues based on how they execute their user stories for a release. This part thus doesn't constrict them totally but helps them manage their time better over a life cycle.
 
6. Just before the product is ready to be shipped, a quality gate at that stage ensures that the product is complete not only from a functional quality standpoint but also from a structural quality perspective.
 
In fact, you should further refer to a between Forrester - Wipro-CAST that discusses amongst others the trade-off between quality and speed in Agile development and how best-of-breed system integrators and partners are managing this facet. It has very interesting insights.
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PM Essence

Analytics – Can we do without it?

 

By - Satyamoy Chatterjee, Analyttica Datalab Pvt. Ltd.

At the risk of sounding “nonphilanthropic”, the mission and goal of any company is to make profit for its stake-holders (Of-course the CSR activities need to be respected and adhered to). The question really is, in this fast moving world where a strategy built on today's information soon becomes yesterday's news, how do I define 'longterm' and 'short-term' profit strategy. Can I really build a long term strategy and adhere to it or shall I constantly optimize. If it is the later, what is the best possible way to do so? If profitability for stakeholders is the goal, how do I keep on optimizing my drivers of P&L? How do I constantly optimize for revenue enhancement, cost optimization, loss mitigation and customer satisfaction.

 

We can debate, however, I firmly believe that analytics can help in answering all questions, if not completely atleast partially. Analytics soon will find a place in board room discussions in some form or the other. It will soon become, if not already, an integral component of company strategy. Decisions made from the gut needs to be validated through hard numbers. The feeling and intuition of a CXO needs to be soon quantified, validated and “rank-ordered” for prioritizing action.

 

Much has been talked and written about the importance of analytics, data science and technology. More often not in silos, at times in conjunction, and also harnessing the wealth of information hidden in Big Data for optimal business decisions. Given the fiercely competitive environment that we are in today, the question that is being constantly asked is how do I differentiate myself in terms of my product development, product marketing and positioning strategies. The 4Ps or I am not sure if there are 5 or 6 Ps now, the 5 forces of Porter, again could be 6+, the question really is what to apply when. Can analytics help to make that decision? At times, no action could be a recommendation of analytics instead of optimized action.

 

McKinsey and the likes have been articulating loud and clear about the significance of big data and analytics. Ondemand marketing is soon going to become the reality if it is not already so. The touch point to customer and the channels for that is going to evolve exponentially. I should be able to optimize for the ever changing customer needs every day if not create one as yet like Apple did. Can analytics help me do that?

 

That brings the question of strong synergic integration of Business Analytics with Technology and Data Science. The content being generated today, every minute, is at the tune of gigs and terra. Yes understood, the question is so what? Does it help me generate context? If so how? If not, is there a way to fit the content to a context? Do I care? “Absolutely I have to”, if I don't, I have to pay a huge cost for not caring. Can analytics help me care? “Absolutely”. In order to achieve that or even knocking at the door to do so, I have to be immensely careful about the synergic integration of “Business Analytics” with “Technology” and “Data science”.

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PM Essence
 
Whose Backlog is it anyway?Improving product quality breaking jinx

Kalyan Neriyanuri & Vinodkumar Paranji Srirama
A multi-platform, multi-architecture, multi-bit (64 or 32), multi-OS client software product with several millions of installations in the market is the biggest challenge to maintain for any product maintenance team. If there are constant customer escalations month on month and attention from management for wrong reasons, it becomes a day to day challenge to motivate the team and keep them focused. Addition to the above is growing backlog of incidents, defects and enhancements. Such inflow would make any maintenance team to lose sight of its primary goal 'serve customers'. 
 
This article describes a real case study of A large IT company Software Team that worked through the above challenges defining a strategic transformation plan, executing the same with out-of-the box thinking methods, being flexible as well as taking calculated risks. 
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The end result has got the team to work on more customer requested features when compared to that of defect fixes, which was on the decline with better customer satisfaction. While the journey started in September 2011 with 12 escalations, 170 Incident backlog, 80+ Customer Encountered Severity 1 or 2 defect backlog and the frequency of 18 month release, today the team has reached 2 escalations, 80 Incident backlog, 14 Customer Encountered severity 1 or severity 2 defect backlog and the frequency of 4 month releases in May 2013 with reduced monthly inflow. There is consistent acknowledgement from the customers as well as the management team on the positive impact the team has made for the IT company and the customers.
 
This project was executed by using Quality as the key driver, preparing a joint plan with the Support and Quality assurance team, adopting the agile principles in defect fixing process, releasing product patches in a regular intervals by taking necessary feedback and outsourcing the work that were nonstrategic.
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The problem of backlog
 
The support organization elevates incidents from the customers to the maintenance team, either when the defect is narrowed down to the product or when the support organization is unable to analyze the problem setup and require the lab expertise.
 
This results in a reactive model for the maintenance team, where the interruptions are driven by
a) Criticality of the defect
b) Urgency of the customer
c) Business implications for other organisations e.g., pending closure of sales deal of other products
Typically the backlog contribution can be categorized into different buckets.
Internal
Maintenance Team
Support team
External
External & internal factors contributed to the backlog. The team owned-up the backlog and took the problem head-on & prevailed. The leadership team analyzed the root causes and engaged with the team and worked through an amazing transformation. It had established them as “The team” that is in achiever's category and a role model.
 
Taking stock
 
When the “Quality Improvement Plan” was conceived the team had the following challenges:
 
1. Work life balance for the engineering team
2. The total number of Incidents in backlog
3. Escalation backlog
4. Total number of severity 1 and severity 2 defect backlog
5. Average inflow of the Incidents
6. Average number of resolved Incidents
7. Average inflow of Severity 1 and Severity 2 defects
8. Average number of defects resolved
9. Average number of hot fixes released per month
10. Elapsed time between 2 patches
 
Challenges were addressed through:
 
Bringing Automation in place
Agile Adoption
Problem area analysis
Quicker delivery of hot fixes
Reduced release cycles
Interlock with Support
Joint plan involving Maintenance, QA and Support team
Joint goals defined for the product Program Management
Governance of Quality Improvement Plan
Team Self-Tracking
Moving a member(s) to a different geography
Non-strategic work outsourcing
Leadership Training
 
Essence of this case study demonstrates that a management team with a very strong strategic intent to achieve a transformation from maintenance intensive organization to a customer feature centric organization is possible. It can be achieved through partnering with key stakeholders, identified meaningful measures, stringent program management and connecting with people. Owning the problem at hand, articulating the vision, defining the mission and execution from grass root level contributes to success. 
 
With the overall efforts that took 2+ years, the team could overcome majority of challenges that were at the time when “Quality Improvement Plan” was put in place.
 
Overall the team showed exemplary perseverance to stay together at tough times as the ride was not easy especially in the first few quarters in the project. It also helped to keep them focused on the execution, while the leadership team worked on the strategy, direction as well as stakeholder management. Communication played a key role here, Project’s management practice successfully bridged the expectation gap between team and senior management.
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PM Essence
Are you an IDEA FLIRT?
 
- Navneet Bhushan, Crafitti Consulting

Ideas are those thoughts that bring-in the genesis of change – many times fundamental. Obviously, every thought is not an Idea. However, ideas are thoughts that one doesn't get in regular run-ofthe-mill thinking. The key problem is that ideas come to prepared minds. In fact, many ideas just fly-away before we can capture, hold-on, express and develop them. 

 

The problem of ideas

 

Ideas are Free and Ideas are Cheap – We hear from many management Gurus as well as proclaimed Gurus! ~ No way! Human mind has an upper limit of keeping 7 plus or minus 2 different thoughts at the same instance - psychologists have told us. One evidence came in 1956 from the efforts of Miller (please see a link to his paper http://www.musanim.com/miller1956/). VIBGYOR – the 7 colors and 7 fundamental musical notes in the octave should give us a view of this limit of human mind.

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Let's assume every second 9 thoughts in our mind change completely. In a complete day our mind passes through 24 x 3600 x 9 =777600 thoughts (maximum) (assuming even when we are sleeping we still carry 9 thoughts per second - whatever those thoughts may be!). If we can catch one of these threefourth of a million thoughts that we get per day and develop it - every day - we can actually develop one idea per day!

 
There is one problem, though. They come to prepared minds. Only prepared minds can transform these thoughts into change. It requires an ability to generate and execute at the same time. We need to prepare our mind to catch the thought which may be the genesis of change - that is the thought that actually is an idea.
 
Evolution, however, has not helped us to be so well-prepared to catch ideas in our minds. In fact, human mind works best by avoiding the work of conscious thinking and observation. It respond to stimuli through a pattern matching mechanism that has stood the test of time. Fifty thousand years back, if our great great grandfathers were facing a tiger, the likely action would have been to run as fast as possible away from the tiger, rather than to brainstorm in a team meeting. In fact, the more successful we are with our past thinking to solve a problem, more ingrained it becomes in our minds. The success becomes what is called a psychological inertia of core
competence.
 
IDEAS need to be crafted through orchestrated immersion. Contrary to popular belief of organization having lots of ideas and it is all about execution, our experiences show ideas need to be crafted through orchestrated immersion of minds that work inside and with the enterprises.
 
In 1997 Stevens and Burley carried out a study of successful market products that showed 3000 raw ideas on an average resulted in one market success.
 
I have been asking this question in my workshops "How many raw ideas are needed to create one market success today?"
 
Some participants have mentioned just one idea is enough for market success. However, majority of delegates believe we need to generate more than 3000 raw ideas to create one successful market product/service in today's world.
 
Hence, my inference, ideas are not easy. If a thought that has been expressed is actually an IDEA, please do not consider it CHEAP or available dime a dozen. If it is an IDEA it cannot be CHEAP. The key is to recognize which of the thoughts actually is an IDEA.
 
Becoming an Idea Flirt
 
I suggest one needs to become an Idea Flirt as quickly as one can. An Idea Flirt is one who engages with ideas for some time - and then with next ideas. And more importantly flirt with as many ideas as one can at same time. In the process of flirting with many ideas - some ideas will develop into longer relationships - may be a long term relationship.
 
With some idea you may get into a marriage. The trick for being a successful Idea Flirt - is to keep on flirting with new ideas, even if you are in many long term relationships and even married to some of them.
 
This requires a continuous exploration of the field to search and being open to have tea/coffees and even one night stands with some of the ideas, while you continue to be in stable marriages and long term relationships with many of the stable ideas.
 
One important point is to know - how and when to get out of a relationship and even get out of the marriage with ideas. This will require leaving the ideas you are married to for time alone, and move on to “newer” and may be “younger” ideas. The key lesson however is never to divorce your ideas - even if your relationship with them is dead!