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.

Some Learning For Business And Project Managers

It is very essential for Business and Project Managers to anticipate the pulsation and hence determine how newer technologies are emerging and marking their impact on businesses across the globe. Newer solutions could help them in tackling legacy driven systems’ issues and streamlining the business in a better way. There are case studies and global consultants available in this regard to teach on how business expansions can be well managed by imparting technology knowledge so as to enrich business processes.

Understanding of latest technologies, learning to explore them so as to understand where all and to what extent they fit into the business scenario and how much enhancement is provided, is an important initiation in this regard. Initiating adoption of newer technologies without any fundamental research can lead to a fluke resulting into a huge waste of money, time and resources. Fast changing business dynamics thereby creating critical situations where legacy systems come to a standstill can hit and ruin a business very badly. Timely interventions to get familiar, therefore, with latest technologies become quite crucial for the organizations.

Currently running legacy systems do not guarantee to sustain any business’ future needs. And that is why collaboration, decision, adaption and operation need to be introspected from time to time. If this is not done in a regular manner, a business will never get an opportunity to explore latest technologies, innovations and solutions.

Five Security Measures Required In Adopting Cloud Technology

1. Study the Industry: If it is decided that the organization for adaption of cloud technology, it becomes important to learn most commonly practiced data security controls in local and global environment.

2. Understanding of best practices in a newer technology is as important as knowing about the area where you are planning to buy a house. Be assured that you have enough knowledge about your business requirements and the best practices available in the arena for an effective data security strategy.

3. While learning about the global standards and practices, ensure that you have ample number of case studies, specially related to your industry to understand the key challenges that were faced by them while they were implementing data security strategy.

4. Selecting a vendor is a tough call in such cases. You need to select the best of the available vendors providing such services in terms of established one having minimal failure rate and higher rate of success in deployment/ serving. Also check the leaders in this field.

5. All said and done, having techies within the organization who understand the technology architecture and solutions for data security is again a must. External agencies can support and deploy to whatever extent, having someone at home who understands the crux is essential.

Friday, November 8, 2013

How Cloud, Mobile And Social Technologies Adoption Impacts Business

Every technology adoption in a business is seen to be on the positive side of its ROI. ROI includes tangible and non-tangible gains, both. There are various factors kept in mind by any business planning to adopt any, two of them, or all the three technologies to enhance their business. Few core factors can be taken into account are being discussed below.

Lower Capital and Operational Cost might not hold good in all adoptions as initial adoption of any new technology required both but it can be well balanced with the projected returns.
Innovation: These technologies require lot of innovation and ideas to establish. New paths need to be invented to acquire more customers, create customer delight and build larger volume of prospects.

Simplification of Processes: Core business processes take a steep change with adoption of these technologies.

Role of HR: HR has to play a major role in mobile and social technologies adoption. They become the strategic partners in a big way for these two technologies adoption in the organization.

Transformation: It demands a major change in functioning and processes of the business.

Evaluation and Assessment: A continuous evaluation and assessment process has to be in place while and post adoption of these technologies. There has to be a process to get feedback from customer and other stakeholders to ascertain the value gained.

Recruitment: Acquiring altogether different employees expert in these technologies to give it a thrust in adoption and fetching results out of it.

Security: Last but not the least, the most important factor – Security, needs to be handled and managed in an entirely different fashion in these scenarios.

Three Technologies That Revolutionized Businesses In Current Decade

Technology advancement is a continuous process. The three major technologies that have revolutionized the current decade are Social, Mobile and Cloud technologies which have impacted businesses in a very big way. There is no business these days which is untouched by the heat of these three technologies. Some businesses especially the large ones and those which are conscious about their outreach to last mile of consumers/ users have already taken the lead and taken initiatives to deploy it and delve into it in a larger manner.
Getting into any technology requires a structured planning and methodology. Without a proper planning or going into it without an organized manner can rather lead any business into a negative mode. There need to be appropriate policies and procedures in place along with a large amount of brainstorming to move ahead in adopting any or all of these technologies. All three technologies play a major role not only within the organization but in the outside world also among all stakeholders – be it prospective customers/ employees /.partners, or existing ones. For example regarding the security of information has to be taken care in a broader way to cater to multiple platforms, multiple devices and other needs.
These technologies are definitely making a big positive impact on the business provided these are handled with care. The investment in these technologies has also to be worked out in a sensible manner by taking care of various options available in the market otherwise a big investment might result into no end results.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Product Review: HP MFP M775 Series LJ Enterprise Color: Totally Amazing

These robust new entrants from HP in multi-function printer in M775 series are ideally perfect for enterprise color print solutions to manage high volumes of printing for various paper sizes up to A3. The intelligent device lets you configure and mange enterprise printing policies in a centralized and controlled manner thereby safeguarding and adhering to your corporate information policies. The user gets an chance to preview and edit scanning jobs so as to avoid paper wastage and saving time.

Some key features are supporting A3 paper size for creative printing for marketing, in-house HR and production posters printing, and other stuff; thereby avoiding dependency on outsourcing hence saving time and money. Pantone® technology is supported on these printers that is the best of class color printing technology with no deviation in color in display and in print making it most realistic and accurate. The large
touchscreen eases usage functionality even for a rookie user. Best part is that the printers are enabled to support you printing from smartphone/ tablet from anywhere in the world, using HP ePrint technology.

Its 100 page automatic document feeder makes it more versatile and user friendly saving user’s time and thus increasing productivity. The auto on/off intelligent feature makes it greener in terms of saving electrical energy. Via its hardware integration pocket it enables you to add security features like securing through smartcard reading and badge reading.

Three members of the MFP M775 series are M775dn, M775f and M775z. It prints up to 30 ppm (pages per minute) – both in black and color. Print resolution is up to 600 x 600 dpi (dots per inch) and supports
GP ImageREt 3600. The ballpark figure for duty cycle is up to 120,000 pages for A4/ Letter size. It also support Duplex printing in automated mode thereby saving time and money. Fax resolution is supported up to 300 x 300 dpi for sending; and 400 x 400 dpi for receiving fax at a speed of 33.6 kbps.

It does support USB but not 3.0. It works on Ethernet as a shared resource on a floor/ in a building. One more hiccup is that HP EcoSMART Fleet is not part of standard pack and therefore for configuring your security related printing policies; it has to be purchased at an additional cost.