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Newsletter - May 2015

 
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PM Essence
Demystifying Technology for the Underprivileged High School Students
 - Bhaskar Nagaraja

 Introduction

 

Demystifying Technology for the Underprivileged High School Students – the program was started by a large Semiconductor manufacturing MNC and the main objective is to provide free computer awareness and computer education to rural, government, under privileged high school students who cannot afford it. An initiative to make them computer literate, ignite the interest in technology, especially computers, in their mind so that they understand the role of computers in today's world, understand how fast world is moving with computing and what are the various opportunities available for them to develop the skills. This project also gives an opportunity for the students to see the real time latest computing devices which we display and demo. Also, we plan to setup computer labs at high schools with good strength of students, through MNC’s provided water fall computers/laptops.

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In Bangalore – the IT hub of the country and corporate headquarter of this company, a huge gap exists among the privileged and the underprivileged people in the city, in terms of understanding and appreciation of technology and its potential – that it was not an 'elitist & complicated' tool but one that was 'wondrous' and could transform lives. Accordingly, I developed a strategy of focusing on the un-included segments within the city, especially children from underprivileged rural backgrounds and women for a project to 'demystify' technology for them and ignite interest in technology at the grassroots. Team designed and ran sessions for 'demystifying microprocessors' for over 3445 children underserved from 18 high schools in and around Bangalore, many of them from rural backgrounds through fun and interactive workshops where volunteers not only talked about the need and benefit of technology in daily life, computer architectures and applications, but also carried a variety of devices with them in a mobile experiential lab mode, so that children who would never get an opportunity to get exposed to these concepts get to actually explore, touch and feel the devices, and get excited about careers in technology – which from being 'complicated and remote' now appeared 'fun, easy and attainable'.

 

In 2 hours of workshop we go through day to day examples of how computers are used through presentation slides, videos and demos. We talk about history of computers, how it evolved from Abacus to today's smartphone / tablets. We showcase different forms of computing devices like Ultra-book, Netbook, Classmate PC, Tablet, Smartphones, Mother board, Microprocessor. Also, we talk about examples of how Animations and Graphics are made using computers.

 

Then little bit of Intel and microprocessor- microprocessor works for Computers like brain works for human being. Finally, a quiz is conducted and small prizes are given for correct responses. The session ends with display of all latest devices where students can look and ask if they have questions about them.

Execution

 

Team has been successful in running a dedicated sustained yearlong campaign which included the largest ever individual volunteer driven mobilization of MNC’s employees – 492 EEs agreed to partner and join in this endeavour!!! It was a huge challenge getting the sustained interest and support of so many employees, coordinating with them, training them through train the trainer sessions.

 

Team also coordinated with the Innovation Centre at Folsom, MNC's IT to understand how the Innovation centre works, how it caters to the school students and mobilized devices like Motherboard, RAM, Microprocessor, Classmate PC, Classmate tablet, Netbook, Tablet, Ultra-book, Convertible, Detachable, Smartphones to give the children a mobile experiential experience of interacting with technology.
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Team worked with internal MNC's groups to get the latest devices, including unreleased devices, on lease basis. To further sustain the interest developed by the children, we mobilized waterfall PCs and helped set up a lab at DMM School Dommasandra, Anjana Vidya Kendra.

 

This project is running at 0 $. All the devices are leased / borrowed from MNC's Internal groups and returned after the session. Volunteers manage the quiz prizes and travel cost by carpooling.

 

So overall 0 $ project with high returns!

 

Project Sustainability, Monitoring and Evaluation

 

MNC's Volunteers and NGO follow the following step:
 
  1. Revisit the schools every 3 months to see how students have utilized the education.
  2. Computer usage contest is conducted every year, where we invite 2 students from each school to our MNC's campus and present on what they have learnt on computers and how they have used them. Winning students are rewarded.
  3. Once the computer lab is setup, we plan to visit them in 3 months to make sure the lab is in use.
  4. Currently, sessions are conducted weekly or bi-weekly in schools but we continue to increase this with multiple sessions being conducted at different schools on same day. This way every volunteer will get to teach the children and many senior volunteers will be driving these parallel sessions.
  5. Teaching material is improved regularly to make it interesting for both volunteers and students.

Contributions

 

The impact of this project is best captured in the words of one of its beneficiaries. Says Dr. Raju, a renowned scientist and Founder of Brahmi Educational Trust – “As a participating NGO and school we believe this program stimulates innate abilities in children, demonstrates and exposes them to the world of technology and makes them believe it is not complex anymore. The program has been extremely useful in making children appreciate technology that has touched their lives in so many different ways. A child goes through a sense of achievement and fulfilment the moment he/she is able to answer (and earn a prize) what we consider obvious questions. 

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The feeling “I have seen”, “I have touched” and “Now I know” is beyond the description of any words. Everyone knows that these students only need a push and they are in no way inferior to their city counterparts. These sessions provide the much needed spark for the child to believe – he / she too can learn! Statistics so far
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PM Essence
StrateJect: An Interactive Game for Project Management Experiential Learning
 
- Dr. Srinivas Telukunta, Mr. Srikanth Kumar Kota, Mr. Srinivas Potti, Mr. Harsha Shashank,
  Mr. Triloknath Reddy

Project Management is inherently an experiential learning, where learning by experience and motivation to apply to actual projects are central issues. An experiential learning process for project management requires an environment where a learner can act as project manager executing a project without the costs and risks associated with an unsuccessful project delivery. This can be broadly accomplished by two education strategies- One is business simulations and the other is usage of project management games. In this article we explain the latter strategy and present a technique to provide experiential learning to project managers based on a “Board Game” design, similar to the popular game “Monopoly” (Called as “StrateJect”).

 

Some salient features of “StrateJect” include:

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  1. Multilevel game which provides inputs for application of project management concepts of PMBOK 5 to a virtual project in an industry of user choice.
  2. Creation of collaborative environment where members can network with other project managers and monitor their performances which creates a Gamification environment to create motivation for users to learn application of project management in a competitive setting.
  3. Ease of customization for application of concepts of PMBOK 5 to various Industries and different departments within the same organization to customize project learning.

 

Project management can be considered as a universal concept and is applicable to all industries and functions, but according to the software engineering literature and recent researches its adoption in software projects is still inadequate and deficient. The high number of software projects that are cancelled each year and the number of projects presenting schedule and cost overruns may be consequences of this lack of awareness of project management. It is widely accepted that experienced project managers perform better than inexperienced managers in concluding their projects successfully to evolve a project strategy as it unfolds. However, still many project managers are promoted from technical teams due to their success in previous projects without proper training and education to acquire project management skills. Thus, education strategies adopted to prepare project managers play a very important role in preventing project failures due to inadequate use of project management techniques on software projects, providing the basis to improve the present scenario of so many failed projects.

 

StrateJect is a Project Management strategy execution game - By using the game, the user is asked to act as a project manager, planning and controlling software project with success, i.e. complete within the planned schedule and budget estimates. The game construction is based on three main elements, as can be seen in Figure 1: a simulation model, a simulation machine, and a game machine, which will be detailed on the following sections.

 

The simulation model of the game represents the project management world and the aspects that will be simulated and presented to the player. Such behavior is determined by the structure of the elements that participate in the system and the relationships among them. Such structure and relationships are described in the model through mathematical equations. This separation occurs by building distinct models (namely scenario models) for each uncertain aspect that can influence a software project. These are incorporated with the help of “Risk Modeling” which are an integral part of any project management execution as shown in Figure-2. By using games, it is possible to evaluate the impacts of the desired scenarios over the expected project behavior.

 

The Game simulation machine is the element responsible for controlling simulation steps, iteratively calculating model equations to evaluate system elements' behavior, which is different from ordinary simulators. Using ordinary simulators, a learner playing the role of a manager should prepare a plan (configuring model elements and relationships) and follow it until the end of the game. This static structured simulation does not represent with confidence the reality: during a software development project, the manager makes decision all the time during the development process – not only during the planning phase – modifying the original plan (and thus, the model structure) to better control the project.
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The Game Machine

 

The game machine is the element that the player interacts with and receives visual feedback from the model game simulation. It is able to create a project life cycle technique with continuous phases. Each phase represents a separate game simulation model, configured externally in a configuration file. This flexibility allows the adoption of several different educational goals using the same game depending on the learning needs of the project team. The player starts the subsequent phase immediately after finishing the preceding one. During a phase, the project development takes place with hired team members who remain fixed during the phase of the project. The productivity and weekly salary information is presented and the user can choose the project human resources which will affect the budget and schedule of completion of the work in the phase. The various roles in the game include.
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  1. Project Manager – This is the player's role, responsible for project planning and several decision-making during the game;
  2. Project Human Resources - The team to develop the project. Each resource has different skills and characteristics such as weekly salary, productivity, specified domain expertise etc;
  3. PMO - Represents all the other project stakeholders and responsible for the project plan acceptance, providing finance during development. 

Each game phase is also divided into five steps: Begin stage, Project Planning, Planning Acceptance, Project Execution and End stage.

 
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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
The Square Root of Minus One
- Shekar Hariharan

Let me start with a story of 17 camels. It sure is not what I wrote or created but then I am just “borrowing” it to come to a point.

 

Once there was a Sheikh who had three sons. Through his life he had seen many ups and downs. Now as he lay on his deathbed - he thought of writing his “Will” so he can distribute his so called wealth. It read – One-Half of my total asset should go to my first son, One-Third to my second and One-Ninth to my third one. Shortly after writing the will, he died.

 

After the funeral, the sons wanted to proceed ahead with the distribution as per their fathers will. But they struck a dead-end. There were two issues. One – the only asset that the old man had were camels. And Two – they were seventeen in number!

brain

 

No matter what they did, they could not think of how one can divide seventeen by two, or three or nine! This was an insolvable problem using all the wisdom they had.

 

Then came a traveler who was crossing the village and happen to cross these fellas. He heard the “dilemma” and offered one solution. He said – “Why don't you take my camel and then see if it helps”.

 

So now they had eighteen (18) camels, One half (=9) went to First son, One- Third (=6) went to the second and One- Ninth (=2) went to the third.

 

So 9 (First Son) + 6(Second Son) + 2 (third Son) = 17.

 

After this transaction – to their surprise – The camel that they had loaned from the traveler was still left.

 

So the traveler took his camel back and proceeded back to his journey while the three sons sat perplexed – “How did this happen”

 

Okay – So why am I telling this story?

 

Well sometimes in our corporate life, we come across problems – technical, business, people, strategic or anything else where no “real” solution seems possible! It's almost like all those hours of brainstorming, stand-up meetings and/or review meetings just don't give us the solution we want.

 

We almost reach a point of “deadlock”, “brain freeze” or whatever else we may call it.

 

Does that mean “solution” doesn't exist? Or does it simply mean that “new problems” can't be solved using “old thoughts or methods”?

 

That's when “square root of minus one” comes handy!

 

Mathematically – Square root of minus one is called an “imaginary” number denoted by “i” and is used by Mathematicians and Scientists to solve “complex” problems. (Curious readers can google and find out loads of more information on it)

 

Like the name suggests – it doesn't exist (or rather need not exist) but merely by assuming its presence, complex problems can be solved.

 

Not many are aware, but “imaginary” or “complex” numbers are used widely for complex modeling such as determining how electrical circuits flows when alternating in those sinusoidal waves. Or modeling the forced spring/damper systems and movement of the shock absorber of a car as it goes over a bump. Or even in modeling the flow of a fluid around various obstacles, like around a pipe!

 

Using the concept of “imaginary” number is indeed very valuable for transforming the problem into a much simpler one.

Okay so what then?

 

In reality - the 18th camel could as well have been a figment of imagination (the “imaginary number”). It could have been conveniently added to the original problem and once the solution found, could have been simply discarded. We need not have had a traveler in the story.

 

Likewise in our own day-to-day corporate life (or even personal), the problems that look so complex just needs a different thought, a different assumption and a different “imagination” to simplify and arrive at a solution.

 

So the question I want to leave all of you with is –

 

Is it possible that the current “problem” or the “issue” that you are drowned in right now just needs that “imaginary” 18th camel to help get closer to the solution?

 

What is that 18th camel? Find that out and possibly you would be nearer to your solution.

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PM Essence
DidYouKnow
Q. This is a activity where a small group of people seated in circle, have a conversation in full view of larger group of listeners to discuss ideas related to "hot topics"? 

A. Fishbowls involve a small group of people (usually 5-8) seated in circle, having a conversation in full view of a larger group of listeners. Fishbowl processes provide a creative way to include the “public” in a small group discussion. They can be used in a wide variety of settings, including workshops, conferences, organizational meetings and public assemblies. Fishbowls are useful for ventilating “hot topics” or sharing ideas or information from a variety of perspectives. When the people in the middle are public officials or other decision-makers, this technique can help bring transparency to the decision-making process and increase trust and understanding about complex issues. Sometimes the discussion is a “closed conversation” among a specific group. More often, one or more chairs are open to “visitors” (i.e., members of the audience) who want to ask questions or make comments. Although largely self-organizing once the discussion gets underway, the fishbowl process usually has a facilitator or moderator. The fishbowl is almost always part of a larger process of dialogue and deliberation.

[Source - Internet]

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