Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Micro Review: ZTE AW3632 3G Data Card: Assures High Speed Internet Access

 First to Review on Amazon India
Rated 4.0 out of 5     
Assures High Speed Internet Access

ZTE AW3632 14.4 Mbps (3G + WiFi) Data Card, 3G USB Modem with WiFi Support
ZTE AW3632 is a 3G Data Card USB Dongle. It can have storage up to 32 GB. Having an internal antenna makes its size compact. It has been launched by a Chinese company ZTE soon after entering Indian market. More launches of products in India from ZTE are in pipeline.

ZTE AW 3632 has an LED indicator and assures you to get a high speed internet access. 

Micro Review: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC H300: A Low Cost Good Performance Camera

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC H300 (Black)

Rated 4.0 out of 5     

A Low Cost Good Performance Camera
Sony DSC-H300 is an optimally prized product from Sony to cater to the needs of good photography seekers with tight pocket but not ready to compromise with the performance and output of a digital camera. This camera comes within the range of Rs 13k with optical zoom that can go up to 35x and is 20.1 mega pixel. It supports digital zoom up to 70x and has an advanced flash technology.

This Digital Camera has a comfortable grip to hold while shooting and the body is as good as any professional camera. Sony DSC-H300 supports you with 720p HD movie recording. 

Micro Review: Huawei E3121 3G USB Data Card: Best Buy With 32 GB Storage 3G 14.4 Mbps Data Card

Huawei E3121 2G 3G USB Modem Data card 14.4 Mbps Fully Unlocked First to Review n Amazon India
Rated 4.0 out of 5
Best Buy With 32 GB Storage 3G 14.4 Mbps Data Card
Within a range of INR 1500 you get a best deal for a 3G 14.4 Mbps data card from Huawei. Huawei E3121 supports both HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) and HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access). With 32 GB internal data storage capacity Huawei E3121 14.4 Mbps 3G Data Card is a good deal to look into with the features it supports – like voice and sms, usb dongle support, internal antenna etc. 

Micro Review Buffalo N150 Wireless Adapter: Excellent Advanced Security Features And Compact Sized Device

Buffalo WLI-UC-GNM Wireless N150 Ultra Compact Usb 2.0 Adapter
Rated 4.0 out of 5
Excellent Advanced Security Features And Compact Sized Device
This USB wireless adapter from Buffalo costing around INR 850 is a perfect buy for your high speed connectivity requirements through wireless. It works well for a home or SOHO (small office home office) environment with almost no dead spots and providing you optimized range to work upon.

You have an admin console for security management to an extent of enhanced level. Size wise it is one of the most ultra-compact wireless adapters. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

An Ever Growing Tussle Between Product And Quality Leads

For generations there is a fundamentally ongoing fight between the product team and the quality team of any project. This is a generic fight for which there has not been a solution found so far. The fight is as below.

Product manager and his team always think that their product is fantastically built as per customer requirement with 100% requirements business needs met while building it. And the product is bug free. They further have a mindset that the product when goes to quality for internal testing on a test bed similar to live environment, the testing team takes extra long time with an intention of overstretching the whole exercise of testing just to maintain their importance intact. 

According to product team 90% of the bugs are either unnecessarily listed to build the test report long with large number of bug findings or the similar kind of bugs are repeated for the same purpose.

Top 5 Priorities Of A Project Manager For 2014

Learning keeps on adding ‘value’ ingredient in the professional life of a project manager. Project manager has to be a quick learner and grasping agent to get the crux of matter so as to adopt enhanced process of managing his projects. Every project brings in a new bouquet of learning. The shortfalls and failures bring in a determination of not repeating the same in next upcoming projects. The successes carry on with a message of maintaining the same in forthcoming projects.

Let us look at the top 5 priorities that would be on cards of a project manager during the year 2014:

1. Requirements: Focus will be there to grab business and customer requirements as crisply and elaborately as possible. Requirements and business processes do not change on daily basis once they get established and optimized. During such changes happening there would be a risk of changes in the requirements but then it has to be handled in a matured manner.

2. Documentation: Documentation has been a consistent pain for project managers at the time of project crunch and hence needs to be managed appropriately.

3. Reviews: Project progress review control mechanism need to be redefined with customer as an active participant in all review meetings where the requirements and progress is to be discussed. The process of project review has to be more transparent for the benefit of all by engaging all stakeholders.

4. Closures: Each closure has to be signed off in a structured manner so as to ensure compliance to customer needs.

5. Teams: It is not difficult to get best of the people but to retain them is. Focus on engaging your team members beyond work prepositions so as to have an emotional tie up with the organization and work.

Top 5 Priorities Of A Test Lead For 2014

The success of a project is driven by the teams that work on it. Besides various other factors and logistics, it is always the team that matters most because static and non living things do not think and act according to changing environment and conditions but it is the human mind that has an ability to work efficiently even under stressed and constrained conditions. That is why the people factor remains on top always.

For Test Lead top 5 priorities on card for the year 2014 would be:

1. Requirements: Understanding of customer and business requirements beyond what has been documented by the analysts will be very important. It will be good if QC guy gets a chance to walk through the business process of the customer thoroughly.

2. Documentation: Documentation includes a lot and means a lot for QC. Right from test case building, test report, bug closure report and so on.

3. Experience: Testing is one expertise and business knowledge is another. Former comes from learning and education whereas latter comes from experience and wisdom. A tester needs to have both these expertise in a balanced form so as to align both the roads properly.

4. Team: Management of team, allocation of resources and retaining the best of resources is an art that needs to be learnt and managed.

5. Learning: Learning is a process that needs to be built in a structured manner. Learning must come from each project, each success, each failure and so on.

Top 5 Projects In Demand During 2014

5 type of projects will be in high demand during 2014 as listed below:

1. Education: Projects based on education delivery in a smarter way will in
    demand globally.

2. Retail: Systems to make retail business more comfortable, versatile and
    widely acceptable.

3. Security & Privacy: Demand will be high in making systems more
    secured while keeping privacy intact over the internet/ cloud.

4. Health: Global health management systems will be high in demand.

5. Governance: Management of public utilities, systems and facilities in an
    automated secured manner.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Impact Of Changes In Requirements And Commitment On Project Delays

For a successful project, the credit goes to the whole team. But for a project delayed or failed the one man in crisis is the project manager. Whatsoever the reasons may be for this delay/ failure but it is the project manager that has to bear the brunt. Let us look at the topmost reasons that cause project delay or project failure:

1. Change Management: The initial requirements from customer leads to development but as the work progresses, fresh requirements or changes in the existing requirements keep pumping in from customer end. There is no wonder about it to happen and one should take it as a natural phenomenon. After releasing their initial set of requirements, customer think tank keeps pondering over what else could be achieved which lead to these requirements. Critical part is to grab these requirements with a positive note, analyze well and segregate these requirements to two parts – to be added, or to be reverted back to customer with a justification for not adding it.

2. Commitment: For business critical apps development there is a deep rooted commitment required from each section, from each of the stakeholder. If that does not happen, there are chances of missing some important handling in time that could lead to a big disaster if raised at a later stage. It has been seen that if customer key users are not engaged well in time initially during the development phase for clearing off units built have higher risk of facing major setbacks in progress of project.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Micro Review: Acer C7 C710-2856 Chromebook: Quite Impressive Chromebook Against Good Price

Acer C7 C710-2856 Chromebook 11.6 inch comes with Chrome Operating System having 3 USB 2.0 slots and 1 HDMI slot. Processor is Intel Celeron 1.1 GHz with LCD display and it has wi-fi connectivity enabled in it.

Overall this cute Chromebook from Acer with resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels is a good to buy product for all who are comfortable with Chrome OS. 2GB DDR3 RAM makes it quite effective in performance.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

5 Top Features I Would Look For In A Website

What You Look For In A Website On The Internet:

Speed: Speed has always mattered most in any person’s life. Now in world of advanced technology with high bandwidth, excellent design tools, accelerators and other optimization techniques, the expectations have gone manifold. I remember at times, when I have typed url of a new website I decided to visit, on someone’s recommendation or search engine results, and if it takes too much time to load even partially, I just close it as the first impression for such site has gone totally negative even if the issue is with my bandwidth. Hence a website designer has to be innovative enough to ensure that website works at excellent speed even at low throughputs. And there are many ways of achieving it.

Design: Design is the first thing that hits on your mind the moment home page of the url you typed in your browser gets loaded, is the design and appearance. If it appeals, you would go further to explore it. But if it is cluttered and not at all appealing, probably first thing you will do is to click on the ‘x’ on top right. Page size, scroll decisions etc. make a big difference on a website page. Option of opening of the desired website on multiple browsers is an important factor these days.

Content: Content is the next big thing to meet expectations of the website visitor. Though it is difficult to meet every visitor’s expectations but then there needs to be a protocol followed to ensure that the content is as relevant, realistic, appealing and beautifully presented. There are lots of things to keep in mind while taking care of this aspect like text, font size, font theme, presentation (bold, italics, underline etc.), spellings, grammatically correct etc.

Navigation: This is what can either enhance visitor’s experience or mar the mood. Relevant tabs, content on those tabs, the ease with which cursor moves etc. is something that needs to be tested exhaustively at testing phase before releasing a website on live servers.

Availability: Internet is viral these days and is not limited to boundaries of time and zones across the globe. I might be an avid traveller and would expect my most visited websites to be available to me everywhere with same ease, comfort and speed. Even if I am not a traveller, still would expect the desired website to perform excellently, I browse it.

What Makes It Stand Out In The Millions Out There:

There are millions of new websites coming every year and half a million sites keep vanishing out. The reason of success of a website depends on top 5 features mentioned above. No doubt there are other things to keep in mind – like regular updates and having an interactive mode to keep in connect with your visitors for which the social connects can be taken help of.

Which Is My Favorite One And Why:

I have many favorite websites that I visit on a regular basis (at least more than twice a day). And those are my favorite because of all above 5 top features have been taken care of.

My favorite sites are:

  1. Gmail.com - for mailing
  2. Goodreads.com – as I am an avid reader and always hunt for new books.
  3. Junglee.com – for getting real life views of users on various products.
  4. Wikipedia.org – to get information as and when required on any topic.
  5. Blogger.com – as I am an avid blogger.
The entry is for a contest on The Blog Bowl and you can visite WebRiti to meet a team of professionals who have a superb expertise on wordpress themes and other aspects.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Short Story: When Lord Ram Used Most Admired Tablet In Satyug To Find Sita

It was shocking for Ram and Lakshman both to know that Sita has been kidnapped by Ravan with the help of his tantrums in which he got assisted by his uncle Marich. Ravan and Marich made a game plan to move Ram and Lakshman from the location and then as per plan disguised Ravan had to kidnap Sita in which he was 100% successful.

It was an impossible for Ram to find out, at first instance, who had kidnapped Sita and where had she been taken. And that is when Ram took out a device that was given to him by Lord Shiv when they had met last. This was an advanced tablet that was Wi-Fi, GPRS, GPS, Bluetooth enabled with high speed processor, superb screen resolution and with state of the art multimode facility along with extra-long life battery. At that time there was no names for these devices as those were produced through special powers Lords carried but Lord Shiv told Lord Ram, while handing over that tablet that in Kalyug during the end of the year 2013 there will be similar device that will create waves all across the globe.

Lord Shiva told that since I have produced it with my yogic powers, its name would be Yoga and shall be produced by a powerful industry leader in technology. It was this tablet with the help of which Lord Ram could locate Lanka, Ravan, Sita and strategize his master plan to get Sita released from Ravan. The tablet at that time played a major role in winning the battle against Ravan.

The same power now can be yours…Go grab it

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Short Love Story: And Then She Broke Tablet I Gifted To Her And My Heart Too But Yoga Saved Me

It was  public holiday and I was doing window shopping in one of the premium malls in Delhi. I looked into the trim and jazzy wall clock in one of the shops selling Italian clocks and the time indicated that I had almost spent 2 hours of my totally free day in this mall. And that is when I noticed her long neck.

We were meeting after almost 10 years. Last time when we met, it was the farewell in school where we were studying together for last 12 years. She had taken commerce in her senior secondary and had plans to do CA and then some advanced degree in Finance from Edinburgh, UK. I had no worries about my carrier as I already had an offer from London School of Arts for direct admission there with full scholarship based on my exemplary expertise in making wax statues. I was definite that she is none other than Neera and rushed towards her. When it was hardly 30 meters between us, I called her. She turned - and it was Neera. She recognized me instantly and we had a formal handshake. I invited her for a coffee.

She had completed her studies and had joined a British firm in their Asia head office in Delhi. I had started my training school in modern wax arts and had students from almost all the countries. My institute was among top 5 institutes in the world. Being an artist I had been an avid admirer of beauty since childhood but never dared to tell her during school days about how beautiful she was! But now - I decided to take a chance. She had a naughty smile on her face when I asked her if she had a boy friend. After confirming that she didn't have any so far, I proposed here there and then. And wow! she accepted. I gifted her a quite costly and high configuration tablet from a retail store selling multiple brands.

The next day I had a flight to Amsterdam to attend an Arts Exhibition. We decided to meet coming Sunday, which was 4 days away. That was quite appropriate as I was going for 3 days and had a late night return flight. I was very happy and so was she but probably my fate was not. It was too late, later, when I came to know, how foolish I was, to gift her a tablet without considering about its features and her choice about it. Probably neither was she.

From Amsterdam, I called her as soon as I landed there and Neera was quite amused. We spoke for about 30 minutes. Till now she had not opened her gift. I got busy the whole day till late night and the next day was more hectic. Only in the evening, next day, I got some time to call her. And that is when there was a blast. For full two days Neera had a big fight with the tablet. She had 20 bad points about it and to compensate it, no good points. Besides yelling about the the dull and glaring screen to such an extent that she was not even able to identify icons and read the text. The USB port was supporting only 1.0. No front camera and back camera was only 2 megapixels and no battery life. It had no supporting stands or tilting frames and hence she could use only in one position - sitting straight. Constrained life and products always bored her and hence she rejected the tablet and me too... While still talking there were two big blasts - one when she threw tablet on floor with a big bang - declaring that I had no knowledge about her choices; and second - when she declared - no meeting on coming Sunday with me, and supposedly never...

The next 3 days were very depressing. I tried calling Neera but she never picked up the phone. I reached back home early morning on Sunday and the whole day I was thinking how do I get Neera back in my life. That is when one of my close friends who incidentally was a techie too, after listening to my heartbreaking story, told me to visit a nearby Lenovo Store and look for their latest Yoga. The tablet I had in mind this time had to have certain qualities - auto adjustable screen brightness depending on surrounding lights, Excellent 12+ mega pixel camera and 4+ mega pixel front camera. Supporting 3G network, excellent speakers, supporting dual sim, Voice recognition and on top of it different tilting positions and postures possibilities so that Neera could use it while walking, sitting, standing, laying - all most in any way she wants to.

Two more great features that I had in mind were - water proof and extra long battery life even while using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, gaming, and other heavy online apps without compromising with performance.

Lenovo for those who do...

While visiting Lenovo Store tomorrow, I am hopeful, I would get what I am dreaming off and that is the only thing to help me get Neera back in my life...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pitfalls of Project Managers Changing Jobs In Short Duration

It is very interesting to note that there is a group of project managers who do not stay in an organization for long. They set a rule not to stay longer than 2 years or so. Or maybe the rule gets imposed on them automatically due to their own pitfalls to enable them to keep surviving in the ecosystem. Let us look at what makes it happen in case of such project managers. The main factors could be their attitude or lifestyle.

These guys are not fundamentally strong in their project management skills. They appear to be confident and strong get goers in their talks but not in their walk. They talk high about their past achievements which probably they have never achieved in reality. They are good in ensuring management about their capability in handling any kind of tight situations and tough projects but in actual they have their plans of exit at right moment well in advance.

They will not be able to run projects well and that will apparently start appearing after a short while. They would spend their intelligence not in learning business, processes and procedures; but on how smartly to shift cap to one or the other instead of owning it. Logically at the point of insertion in the beginning itself should raise eyebrows of the management for such candidates who have appeared for candidature with a track record of spending not significant time in their previous organizations.

How Much Tech Savvy A Project Manager Should Be?

Keep pace with the Technology: The way technologies are changing at a very fast pace, it will be foolish to stay with your legacy technology running for years whereas the world is adopting newer technologies for the similar kind of projects. There is no doubt that when the existing technology was selected, it would have been a state of the art and latest of the technologies kind of solution. But remember that over a period of time, technologies get faded away in wake of newer, robust and advanced technology entrants.

Remember that development for all business apps start with a prerequisite set of requirements basis which timelines and plans are built and team sizing, resources etc. are set. Once this business requirement is converted to an app, it is released on Test Server, Staging Server and Live Server respectively for QC, UAT and go-live in the same pattern. Gradually when this app is handed over to end users on go-live environment, the app usage starts triggering along with the desired business results chickening out.

But story does not end here. New requirements that either go to changes in existing functionalities or new functionality built keep pouring in there by reshaping the size and environment of your existing app. That is where your awareness towards newer technologies to manage and control any kind of crunch in the existing one, is very critical.

3 Fundamental Pillars To Drive Your Project To Success

Methodology & Approach: Every project does not fall in a generic project methodology. It is important to understand the type of project before making it enlisted under a particular project methodology. For this, based on the projects undertaken and new upcoming ones, relevant project methodologies to be identified and defined. Right project methodology helps project manager and other teams to ensure following right processes and documentations for each project phase in that methodology. A new project marked in wrong methodology could lead to extreme level of confusion and thus leading to failures.

Issue Management: Issues are integral part of any project arising during any of the phases of a project. Taking issues in a lighter way could lead to losing the right direction of a project and hence getting it derailed from its progress track. A single issue management charter with process driven approach with right & understandable definition of issue, its categorization, its severity and its closure with identification of ‘who’ is responsible for closure of issue, is very important. Any issue, howsoever small, could lead to a big disaster. A regular review is a must.

Communications: Be it project management, team management or issues management; nothing will move in right direction, if inappropriate or incomplete or missing communications happen during a project. Project manager must ensure to graduate each of the team members and team leads on how to handle communications and its importance. Right kind of information, to right people, at right time with right kind of actions required must be a set protocol of communications. For example, if a piece of information is just for the sake of information, or an action is required, along with its criticality, should be the right approach to manage.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Date Constrained Projects Go Uncontrolled?

It happens at times when you have a mission critical project with tight timelines from customer that increases its stake manifold, for which you place best of your teams comprising of high skills and experience, and on top of it you provide state of the art tools to tackle all kind of situations; and still the timelines are not met and things go out of control. It is always important to go for a deep analysis for such kind of failures to such an extent that the shortfalls are identified with their core reasons; and are sidelined once for all, for all forthcoming similar kind of projects.

It is well said that disciplined approach and hard work pay well in comparison to merely hard work. Well defined processes and procedures play a major role in this. If these are in place, it makes your tasks easier in managing and guiding your teams. Since there is no differentiation among teams and the standard procedures apply to everyone, irrespective of who and what, the same procedures need to be followed.

Growing these skills is as important for immature teams, as is for matured teams to keep nurturing and excelling in these.

3 Critical Weapons For Winning A Battle Called Project Management

If you really want to be a successful project manager you need to acquire following three powerful weapons so as to be a winner all the time whether the conditions are favorable or you are travelling in rough seas. The teams that are formed usually have all mixes of human beings having different styles of working and delivering results in different fashions. Overall momentum is something which need to be maintained all the time to race along the ticking clock. The three important and potent weapons that can help you are as below:

Skills: You need to have high quality project management skills to win your battle. If you are leading a team of unbeatable and brave soldiers but lacking the same in you, would not lead you to a winning situation.

Tools: Whether it is project management tools, bug tracking tools or incident recording tools – you need to assess your needs and acquire these tools accordingly. Overstuffing yourself beyond required commodities will lead to a burden on your head. But vice versa also holds equally good meaning if you are underestimating your needs and go for the battle along with your team with shortage of armory, your defeat is sealed right in the beginning.

Experience: Guys with rich experience under their belt and laurels shining on their shirts are always moral boosters in the teams. Hence it is important to have such guys, at least one in each team to keep overall tempo at high pitch all the time.


All Projects Face Budget Constraints

Budget for any project is allocated right at its initiation phase. Budgeting includes lot of factors but the main factor remains customer defined timelines. Keeping this target defined by customer in mind, a backward calculation is done and accordingly time allocation to each phase is done, team sizing is defined and resource planning is done. After all it is customer that matters the most.

Well, it does not mean that there is a scope of comparison even if this backward calculation is being done. Two prime factors that play a major role in this whole game is quality and finances. Budgeting beyond optimum level and compromising with quality of the product will mar the beauty of product and impact on business badly. When timelines are shorter there is another way of pulling your socks and not letting you beaten down. It requires higher level of skilled task force, error free tools and rich experience to win over in such kind of wars.


Meaning of CTTR In Project Management

Project Management mainly comprises of converting customer requirements and business needs to an application so as to enable customer in running its business in a much smoother and error free environment. It needs to be imbibed of business processes, workflow (if required by customer) and minimization of manual interventions to a maximum extent. Any business process that speaks about business enhancement, improvisation and optimization by transforming it from manual to automation enabled through coding needs to be thrown into a dustbin.

Timelines of a project are mostly defined as per customer guidelines. At times it is important for a customer to get a solution within a stipulated time frame if the app is related to a pre-scheduled launch in a big way and the app is going to play a major role in that particular launch. Usually a project where customer has no say in desired results’ release timelines especially when it is a customer sponsored project, it is definitely a major glitch. Either the requirements are not serious or customer has no intentions to pay for the product later.

CTTR is Customer Time To Release which means the timelines defined by the customer regarding release of product. All project timelines, budgeting and allocations are a total derivative of CTTR.

Friday, November 22, 2013

4 Takeaways From PMP For Project Management

PMP is a good source in two aspects. One, it gives you a great insight on how to manage your projects in a more efficient and risk free manner. Second, if you appear for its exam and qualify, you get a universally accepted accreditation that is highly appreciated worldwide. PMP (Project Management Professional ®) offered globally by PMI is a boundary free certification. During your learning towards PMP you learn a lot about project management something that you have never learnt before or come across during any other kind of learning towards project management.

Four takeaways that you can be assured of during your learning of PMP can be listed as below:

1.    It provides you a well-organized and highly structured method of managing your projects and related activities. The inbuilt flexibility enables you to design your project management methodologies as per your company’s requirements.

2.    You get empowered and leveraged to take full control of your project(s) and mitigate risks anticipated in advance (or those come in the way in an unannounced manner). Your learning gets enhanced to enable you to plan, execute, monitor, control and steer your projects in a professionally organized manner without getting drifted away from best practices being followed across the globe, similar to your industry.

3.    You get an enormous amount of knowledge on understanding gravity of documentation required for your kind of projects running in your organization. It helps you in planning and controlling scope, teams, financials, schedules/ timelines, quality, risks and closures in a way so as to assist you in achieving higher level of success in any kind of projects undertaken.

4.    You get well equipped with the tools and techniques to monitor the timelines of your project in a proactive manner with an advanced way of getting you informed about any contingencies prone to occur during project lifecycle.

Capturing Customer Requirement Is Mandatory To Get Signed Off

Capturing business requirement is a cumbersome process in many aspects. For some it might become difficult to capture concrete requirements if business is not process oriented and documentation centric. In such conditions there would be as many statements misaligned with each other as many mouths. Each member engaged even in a similar or same process might talk differently regarding the same process which could lead to a big confusion. In such conditions everybody would be eager to speak but nobody to vet the stated requirement.

In certain other conditions, systems in place could be too cumbersome that your timelines for closure of requirements capturing would definitely get shattered. Here, in this case, you would be running after the process owner, who would be rich in process knowledge and practical experience, but he would not be able to give you substantial time to help you in capturing requirements in multiple runs.

Requirement capturing goes useless if there are some ambiguities or misalignment that stops it for sign off. It is important to opinion from everyone who is part of a process in the organization and then a proper alignment needs to be done, if required, by involving top management into it.

4 Types Of Discussions To Conduct While Capturing Customer Requirements

Customer requirements never get finalized in one go. It takes multiple meetings and discussions to understand, draft and finalize so that it gets signed off and final nod to move ahead. The discussions that are held in this regard are primarily of four types. As listed below, these four types generally go in the same order but there are instances when in between one type get intermingled with another type. It also happens that during same discussion more than one type of discussion takes place.

One needs to be smart enough to differentiate between the type of discussion and thereby understanding the gravity of matter and level of documentation required to be performed. First type of discussion is General Discussion. Normally all initial discussion would be of this nature. This could also be treated as ice breaking as two different teams from different agencies are sitting across for a serious matter for the first time. This type of discussion would not be very crisp and conclusive.

Second kind of discussion is Scenario based discussion. The team expert in processes and procedures would showcase all possible scenarios so as to provide the other team an insight of the business requirements. Here – documentation needs to be very detailed and accurate so as to capture and understand business scenarios.
Third type of discussion would be Data Details. For a better understanding of scenarios discussed in other meetings, it is further explained with the help of actual business data or sample data simulated so as to build respective scenario.
Fourth kind of discussion would be Process Details where the business process is explained in detail. Important point is to study business process, data details and scenarios so as to find out and get resolved, if any ambiguity or misalignment occurs among the three.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Test Cases Base – Customer Requirement or Development Requirements?

I recently met with a test team with an excellent performance record. For all the applications where it had given a green have a track record of zero major bug encounter post its launch and 100% customer satisfaction with timely sign off. Definitely the credit goes to this test lead and his team. It was a point of curiosity at my end to know what was their process and methodology to give such a tremendous performance.

Their logic was very clear and crisp. The team lead had made a rule that during all customer requirements capturing by business analysis team – one QC member will be part of the team. Customer requirement finalization doc once signed by customer would be shared with testing team. The testing team, on getting customer requirements documents, would immediately start building test cases where on the other hand, requirements have reached to development team for preparing development plan, testing plan and release date.

While the development team is busy with meeting with their timelines, test team members had a clear cut charter of brainstorming and finalization of test cases built on the basis of customer requirements purely.

Project Plan and Project Plan Monitoring Are Two Different Entities

Project Plan is a onetime activity as and when a new project comes up. Project Manager or Project Lead prepares a project plan for the complete project while earmarking milestones to be achieved thereby measuring project movement towards its closure. Well said and done, if an organization or project team lives on this project plan till the completion of project without measuring the actual achievements scored at a shorter and prescribed frequency, it could lead to a disaster.

That is where project plan monitoring comes into picture where during regular project review meetings the initial plan is measured against the actual tasks completed at their stipulated time. It is a well-known fact that a delay in meeting one deadline for release of a milestone or completion of a task has recursive negative impact on project overall. That is why a regular review is very important and a dashboard where plan versus actual timelines against each task is shared with all relevant stakeholders.

Teams engaged in more visibility feel more satisfied and get an automatic momentum and thrust to meet their timelines.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Changing Paradigms Of Project Management

Project Management, over a period of time, has become more optimized by means of evolving mechanisms. On the other hand Project Leaders and Managers are being asked to accept more challenges in terms of faster deliverables with higher amount of accuracy, managing frequent changes in customer requirement, while focusing on cost reduction. Cost reduction can happen by way of upgrading team members’ knowledge, using minimally required resources and managing attrition.

Attrition eats away a big cost. If talented and well groomed team members leave organization in between a running project, it takes a lot from various angles to manage the show in order to meet customer’s quality and timely delivery requirements. Innovative ideas like BYOD, centralized printing/ scanning resources, grooming team members for multiple tasks/ areas etc. are being implemented to optimize resource planning and management. For upgrading domain based knowledge of various team members regular training are must. Training without evaluation and monitoring can become a useless activity.

If with the increasing tenure of team members in the organization, a focused approach is maintained to prepare them to manage other domains where they have no expertise but which are critical for organization, it becomes quite helpful for the project manager in managing them by reallocating in case of a crisis. Times are gone when for critical areas dependency stays on a single person in the organization. That is the demand of time and also a requirement of certain standards where you are required to make organization more system dependent than person dependent.

Cloud Computing And Project Management

As and when pressure related to revenue streams builds up on any business, it automatically drills down to project teams. The project manager comes under scrutiny in terms of managing the same along with supporting aggressive business growth by driving deliverables faster for running projects without failing to address customer’s changing environment and requirements. Newer technologies like cloud computing, these calls can be taken up to mitigate the risks arisen by creating and delivering value addition by making technological boundaries limitless, speeding up deliverables and creating a new domain pool within the organization skilled to manage it.

Personal, private and heterogeneous cloud platforms can help in tackling these situations by making the deliverables to be used by end user/ customer as-a-service thereby helping customer in spending less and enabling themselves with delivering faster and lowering timelines by means of reusability and optimization. Fear of cloud is vanishing provided adequate security measures are embedded in the system so that the customer feels confident including large, medium and small organizations. There are a number of information systems experts in the market to understand an organizations business requirements and providing them appropriate knowledge of positive and negative impacts of cloud computing.

Organizations who have taken a lead in adopting cloud computing for their internal environment or external customers can be taken up as example and benchmark. Case studies can help in such cases to build confidence for the organizations who intend to take new initiatives in this regard.

6 Golden Tips For Project Managers To Tackle Changing Business And Technology Scenarios

1. Connect with thought leaders in global and local arena to learn about latest business technology trends. It is also important to understand the innovations taking place in latest technologies like cloud computing, mobility and analytics.

2. Collaborate, participate and get involved in latest discussions, forums, and expert columns to get the insights in successes and failures of these technologies related to mobile, cloud and analytics.

3. Without such engagements, a business or project manager can’t initiate a blueprint for his organization or customer regarding transformation proposed in terms of adaption of newer technologies and the optimization and benefits offered in return.

4. There is always a gap between current and future needs for any organization of any size. A time to time introspection is must to understand whether enhancement in legacy applications will suffice to cater to newly arisen business needs or there is a need of altogether new systems to manage and sustain business growth.

5. By getting insights about futuristic applications and technologies, business growth strategies can be well managed by creating competitive advantages and providing higher thrust to business.

6. Always strive for solutions that carry built in best practices relevant to the business – whether it is in house driven project or an outsourced one.