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Newsletter - Apr 2015

 
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PM Essence

Sandwich or Sauce

 

By - Shiv M Kumar
“Manager is one who manages anger" …someone said…!
 
Strategists will push from top. Smarties will push from bottom. Are you crushed in between OR adding to the taste? This decides your success. .
 
On the verge of getting caught in the cross-fire? Watch out, Pal. Understand the 'Strategist' first. Agree on the expectations. Don't assume putting it in record will help. Keep yourself flexible on the expectations...changes are inevitable.
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Once you are clear about the 'changing expectations', season your 'Smarties'. Converting the ‘ambiguous strategic direction' into 'a meaningful and clear direction' is the key. Not enough, you need to also prime them that these 'clear' directions are till the ball rolls in our court. Time comes when you have to throw this back to the 'Strategist' either as a feedback or progress, you first get prepared. Yes, to face the ambiguous understanding of the reality or ambitious future direction that may be progressive or scratch-up. Confusing eh? Don't worry; simply go prepared for the worst...!
 
Coming back to the 'Smarties' is the next challenge. Bravo!
 
Not to worry. Thank them first for the good job done till now. Just bring the good news that the project is enhanced. Give them fresh directions. Agree with them that our only goal is to excel our past performance. Go on...!
 
Are you 'crushed' in between OR 'adding to the taste'? You decide.
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PM Essence
accomplishment1

Lt. Col. L. Shri Harsha, Retd, PgMP, PMP

The professional contributions of Lt. Col. L. Shri Harsha, Retd, PgMP, PMP, VP – Academic Relations of the PMI Bangalore India Chapter has been acknowledged by various professional bodies in the country. In the last six months he has to his credit four publications and two presentations, which are listed below.

“Circumventing Arbitrations-Alternatives and Legal Framework” was published in the Journal of the Indian Institution of Technical Arbitrators in November 2014.
 
“Competent Teams for Challenging Times”, co-authored with Prof. Hema Harsha was published in Parikalpana, KIIT Journal of Management in January 2015.
 
“Integrated Waste Management in the Construction Industry” published in the Journal of the Indian Building Congress in 2014.
 
“Building Project Management Competencies : A Government of Karnataka – PMI Bangalore India Chapter Imitative” presented at the FICCI PMI Symposium at FICCI House in February 2015.
 
In spite of his hectic schedule, Harsha finds time to pursue his interests, acquire new skills and knowledge and actively volunteer with the Chapter. To get more information on his papers you can visit https://independent.academia.edu/LHarsha
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PM Essence
Social Mad-idea Discipline
- Namita Gupta, PMP, PMI-ACP

We are the so called 'Gen Z' who are witnessing the “Cool” life style. We are the ones who are advanced in so many ways when compared to our yester generations. Technology did wonders and social media is the key. Can we imagine our life without FB, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Tango etc. etc.? List is huge and we know we can't. To be very precise we can't resist, for an hour these days, forget about one full day. Nothing bad in really being connected right? Why are we even discussing it? We are discussing because we are not realising what we are losing in this shining world of social media.

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Social media is the forum which made us connected to old buddies from childhood whom it was near to impossible to connect. This is the very opportunity for us to keep ourselves updated about the world. Many heart touching stories, social awareness connects, missed relatives, close friends settled abroad so there is no second thought, it's really awesome. If so, what is it compelling me to pen down this article?

 

Let me start with a quote I read few days back “My internet was down for 5 minutes so I went downstairs and spoke to my family. They seem like nice people”

 

There was another video in which “A mother visited her daughter and without making noise, TO SURPRISE HER, sat silently on the next chair and got surprised by the very fact that her daughter has not realised her for 2 hours. Reason? She was busy with FB, WhatsApp etc., switching between laptop and smart phone.”

 

The very urge to write today was to come up with a sense of social media discipline in life. We are slowly getting indulged in social media to a level which has started affecting our personal lives and we have started losing our near and dear ones. More importantly, we are losing our own selves in this world. There are so many distractions around that we are unable to get few minutes only for our own selves in full day. 

 

The trigger for this is lack of communication or by lack of direct communication. Any relation in this world asks for time and communication, be it with others or own self. These are the building blocks or mediums through which any relation blossoms. We are not using these mediums effectively and efficiently in our day to day life today because we have plenty of things (office deadlines, fb, replying on WhatsApp, checking twitter etc.) to do and day is too short to fulfil all these commitments. We can't avoid office deadlines of course as end of day we need bread to survive. Then what we really need to discipline on? We need to balance ourselves and set our priorities right. Chetan Bhagat has rightly mentioned that “Work hard, but make time for your love, family & friends. Nobody remembers power point presentation on your final day”.

 

One thing I appreciate about west is that are very clear in their priorities and time management. A clear bifurcation of personal, social and professional life. They are not confused like us. I used this word confused due to multiple reasons. We get confuse on where to spend more time. We get obsessed by technology because it has come to us as a new wonder. In this epic of dealing with new wonders we start losing other important things. Think about a fact, we have seen our parents, without all these technologies. They were managing with a landline phone and a TV set at home and living very happily and perhaps very content life. I belong to a middle class family where we used to live in a joint family with 4 families in one house very happily. 

 

There was one bathroom and onetoilet and still we use to reach our respective places (fathers to offices, Kids to school, mothers to work) at right time. On the contrary, today I live in an apartment where we are total 3 members with an access to 3 bathrooms and 3 toilets and still we all are hurrying and getting late every day.

 

Life style changes have already created lot of pressure and stress in our lives and on top of that we are thwarting ourselves with unnecessary arguments arising due to less time for our loved ones. We need to learn & manage the judicious use of technology which can enhance our living and not creating further damages. We need FB, Twitter, and WhatsApp for sure but when we are back home and have very little time left for our near & dear ones - let’s pause on it for a minute. Nothing will stop if you are away for few hours. Get back after sometime, who is stopping you. I remember few funny incidents. One of my friends has put on FB, who will miss me if I delete my FB and WhatsApp? He didn't get any reply for 4-5 hours. He again re posted on his timeline and this time few people responded don't do that buddy.. I saw he deleted the account next day for a week and again came in limelight. This time he posted, it may not affect you but I can't live without you FB. So the bottom line is, at end of the day, it's our personal choice. He was probably testing and I am sure with this experiment he came back with some refined thoughts. Try this if you really want to see how many people try to reach in your absence

 

We desperately need a balance and as a manager, my managerial instinct is overpowering me to give some “gyan” to do it. We need to make sure that:

• There is no silence when 2 people sitting near to each other.  

• Quality of time is not compromised with near & dear ones

• We are not stopping letters, greeting cards and phone calls to family & friends

• We are not leaving even one chance unturned to be F2F with family & friends (Agile way)

• On top of all, we are spending some time with our own self without any message/email/FB alert

• Use social media, but use it with some level of moderation.

 

brain
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PM Essence

Testing Technique in Agile – Pair Testing

 

By - Mrs.Rama Komarabathini, PMP, PMI-ACP
Introduction
Software projects, especially the product development teams, today are fast moving away from the traditional development methodology and adopting Agile for obvious advantages. However, advantages are accompanied by a number of challenges especially to the testing team.
 
Agile projects introduce time-boxed development – hence clearly time is the most important constraint. 
 
Agile brings in faster pace of development hence squeezing the QA team's ability to develop and maintain test cases.
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With Agile's principle of “welcome changing requirements even late in development cycle”, the test scripts need to be kept updated with changing requirement.
 
Development spill overs - The development team over commits thereby squeezing the time available for the testers.
 
New features developed in sprints, churn out code to such an extent that it increases the risk of regression.
 
In short, time available for testing is limited; use whatever is available efficiently and effectively.
 
The power of two
It's not for nothing that people from time immemorial have talked about the power of two people working together. The wellknown proverb in English states it all – “Two heads is better than one”.
 
This notion is also expressed in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. The two verses 9 & 10 of the Chapter 4 from the book Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) quote,
 
9. Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work
10. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
 
Wondering what has Bible got to do with Agile testing techniques? Read on…
 
The other day, I overheard a conversation of two college going girls. Apparently they had to walk quite a distance to go to the nearest bus stop. One was saying to the other – “You know, when I walk alone to the bus stop, it so boring and appears to take eternity to reach there. But when we walk together time flies so fast and it appears that we have covered the same distance in a jiffy”. So what's happening here? In a nutshell, the work (of walking to the bus stop) is getting done efficiently when two people are involved.
 
This got me wondering – Can I not apply the same concept to testing? I was determined to start Pair Testing in my project. Whilst pair testing is not a new concept, it is surprising that not many testers use or know about it.
 
So what is Pair Testing? It is a technique in which two people test an application at the same computer by continuously exchanging ideas.
 
The pilot, who is in charge of the keyboard and mouse, is responsible to perform the actual testing tasks, whilst the co-pilot analyses, reviews and guides the pilot. The two members involved could take turns to be pilot and co-pilot at alternative instances.
 
How to apply Pair Testing? Don’t over complicate. Keep the process simple, straightforward, flexible and easy to use. The following steps have been very effective for me in implementing Pair testing,
 
Determine the duration of testing – Working in pairs, sometimes deprives the members of thinking individually. It also leads to one being over dependent on the other. So work in short bursts – 60 to 90 minutes per session is ideal.
 
Identify scope of testing – Decide what should be tested in a session.
 
Establish a goal – My goal, “No software is bug free, let's find at least one”.
 
Determine the pilot and the co-pilot – and rotate the responsibilities.
 
Execute the tests – Book a room for yourselves for the duration of the session.
 
Stick to the scope – Do not deviate from it.
 
Applicability of Pair Testing Pair Testing need NOT limited to “test case execution”. It can be applied almost all QA activities. This includes functional analysis, test case designs, exploratory testing and bug reporting. However, introduce the concept by starting with test case execution.
 
Advantages of Pair Testing Pair testing brings in efficiency thereby reducing time due to following reasons,
 
Better knowledge - Lower chance of functional misunderstanding. Hence time taken to redo the test cases is avoided.
 
Inherent test case reviews – Test case reviews not required since they already have been written by two people.
 
High creativity – Brainstorming between the two members leads to better creativity and test coverage.
 
Increased productivity – Limits interruptions leading to better focus, high productivity and better testing.
 
Improved testing methodology – Sharing of past experiences leading to improved testing and hence reduced time for test cycle. 
 
Time saving – Use of pilot-copilot mode resulting in sharing of tasks and responsibilities.
 
Better bug reporting – Reduces time spent in discussing bugs with developers.
 
Effective training technique – Hence, reduces the time for a separate functional training session.
 
Better coordination – Generates positive energy and increased coordination.
 
Better reproduction of bugs – It becomes easier to reproduce tricky bugs because you start seeing patterns when working in pairs.
 
Factors for successful implementation You may start thinking that Pair Testing is probably the next best thing after sliced bread. However, as always there are challenges. You will need to put appropriate steps in place.
 
Time, practice and adaptation – Don't expect the process to work the first time. Adopt and adapt processes continuously to suit your project.
 
Social inclination – Allow the member to spend as much time as possible with each other.
 
No Jealousy/ego factor – The members involved should be open to criticism. Pair members with care.
 
Team work – The members should work as a team with a combined goal.
 
Don't measure individual performance– change the pairs to find the best combination.
 
Conclusion Having practically used it, I have shared my experiences of Pair Testing. However, it is not a magic wand for all your testing problems. It is complementary to the other testing techniques. Use it wisely and carefully.
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PM Essence
Are Product Managers Future Entrepreneurs?
By - Pinkesh Shah
 
("This article is reproduced with permission from IEEE Fusion”)

Product Management is more of a mindset change.

 

“Product Management has many definitions but most experts will agree that its essentially the art & science of delivering delighting solutions to real market problems and doing it rather predictably.”

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So if a Product Manager is supposed to

 

Get customer insights

 

Validate a proposed solution

 

Develop a business/monetization model

 

Develop specifications/requirements for teams to build a delighting solution

 

Help launch and figure out the go to market strategy

 

then, how is it different from what an entrepreneur ends up doing?

 

Here is my take on how Product Managers need slightly different skills than an entrepreneur -

 

a. Leadership Skills - Conflict management, stakeholder management, influence building. Product Managers have to influence multiple stake holders for decision making, hence leadership skills are more critical.

 

b. Internal vs External – Product Managers have to spend more time internal to the company compared to an entrepreneur who might be completely customer/market focused (funded startups have Boards to answer as well but time investments are lower)

 

c. Plumber vs Oil Digger – As a Product Manager you have potentially lots of resources that you need to be aware of and know how to leverage (existing customers, brand, sales force, budgets etc.). So the key thing here is to “connect” the right pipes in the organization so oil falls in your bucket as opposed to dig for oil (find early adopters, investors etc.)

 

d. Risk Appetite - Emotionally a Product Manager might be less attached to the business as personal wealth is not at stake (reputation is on the line though!). A good Product Manager should have the right passion for the product and a good entrepreneur knows when to quit and pivot based on market feedback! While there are differences in skillsets, the end goal for both seems to be aligned – “delivering value”.

 

So at the end, is it fair to say that Product Managers are Future Entrepreneurs?