RamsThoughts

February 15, 2010 1:42 am

You do know one song daddy!

It is often great to learn that we learn from toddlers. We had been to a local community celebration – Kannada sangha’s sanranti gathering – this afternoon. One of our neighbors sang a couple of songs. I had one of those songs several times before in my childhood and also later years. We were driving and starting humming that song. Being sheepish for yet not knowing the lyrics, I said – to my wife on passenger seat, “although I seem to know several songs – one or two liners – I wish I had known complete lyrics of at least one song. I need to learn the lyrics so i can hum a complete song.”

Now, from the back – on a child seat – our daughter chimed in – i thought she had fallen asleep, but looks like she was still alert thought about to fall asleep. we couldn’t here at the front and asked her to repeat – says: you know one song completely daddy – mudaakaraatha modakam [youtube video]. Well, we had both learned this song together a few months ago.

My wife chimed in – “look: she wants to encourage and uplift you to the best of her knowledge”

Certainly, it is interesting. When I thought about how and what most adults would have responded when I said, i didn’t know a single song completely, it would probably have been (a ) accept what i said (b) console in a different way (c ) some words that might make me feel much sorry about myself :)

On the other hand she didn’t want me to feel sorry for not knowing other songs, and rather uplift or encourage for knowing one so keep up learning others – not a big deal.

It is the matter of Attitude and how others centric that we get to in helping others grow.

To an extent it also follows (in terms of awareness and learn) what I just learned on Alan Page’s blog – about 5 orders of Ignorance – in the context of software development  – Links here – article about 5OI ; 5 orders of Ignorance

July 7, 2009 8:44 pm

Is it true – helping others is better than self analysis….

Filed under: Attitude,Personal Development,Project Management — ramsblog @ 8:44 pm

I hve noticed in several instances that some individuals are great in their Creativity while working with other individuals compared to brainstorming for themselves. Some are great coaching compared to doing things for themselves. I remember i had shared a similar thought once before.

so is this true creativity goes exponentially with pair programming or XP, and the quality and productivity increases as opposed to having the individuals left for themselves, specially while troubleshooting issues. Be it a software application or planning for a project.

what do you think?

if so, what are the ways one can learn to leverage his/her own brain for troubleshooting in a better way? I don’t think it is the experience, if that was the case, they would not be able to contribute high while helping / coaching others.

February 22, 2009 1:01 am

Reporting Reporting Reporting…

Filed under: Communication,Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 1:01 am

How much time do you spend on your status report at what-ever-job-or-business-you-work-with?

Per day, per week, per fortnight, per month, per year?

What is the value add? Who is the audience? How often is it reviewed? How many of those reports are looked back?

When started few years ago, I was a report junkie where I wanted provide the information nitty-gritty activities that goes on. Try to gather some numbers from the tools, formulate the charts, make them colorful, provide the risks and potential mitigation plan, etc etc…

I know the reporting makes it more meaningful provided it has the relevant information, at the same time, we also need to think about the cost involved.

When you look at the Project Management Hierarchy there are several cross functional teams, several levels of management, several applications, and several people of course, and few leads. There are reporting requirement involved at each every level in some way or the other. If you each one is preparing a report towards the same project, where the common goal of every individual, every element involved in the project is towards the project deliverable (you may add any number of factors to it viz., quality, complete functionality, etc etc etc), then think about the amount of time each individual puts in to create that report. Well, most times the specification of what the report should convey might be lacking in many situations, when you do have the expected format or certain expectations, every individual need to adhere to it.

Let’s assume there are about 20 people involved in a project and his/her own skilled areas. each one spending about 30minutes for “so-called-report” –> that makes it to 600minutes of your project time went into reporting and this repeats every week – even if it is 20minutes per individual – translates it to 400 minutes – and that’s about 8 to 10 hours of work.

In my mind, we need to come up with Tools to do such mundane repetitive tasks like gathering the numbers, consolidating the issues etc. Let our human brains do creative work.

Agreed, specially talking about road blocks and attempting towards removing them from the project individuals is what the project management should be looking at. and that would help keep the project healthy, but it is interesting to see the amount of time most projects put into merely status reporting.

borrowing this book from the library to understand what the author has to say about project risk management.

What is your opinion about reporting and how much time do you think would a project spend on such activity?

February 17, 2009 12:39 am

Knowledge Management

Filed under: Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 12:39 am

I was at the SEASPIN presentation few days ago. The presenter Jeff Smith talked about  Knowledge Management and how it influences/impacts the organization. It was a great forum that we mostly discussed a lot on pros and cons. Listening to the audience there, Knowledge (information) management is not only an issue at the team level or an organization level or a company level, it appears to be at the industry wide. talking about this, there are gazillion number of tools and processes in place. There are practices and processes that get implemented and gradually disappears within a year or two.

certain teams try to consolidate all the documents in a single so-called “repository” and despite, documents are scattered everywhere. Have you been in a situation where you look for documents and find and search for them and still not able to locate those documents after hours and hours of search and finally create another copy. Well, at some point you would find duplicate documents around and not being able to make out the latest one. What would you do, would you merge them? would you review both the documents or would you judge on the latest modified date and keep the recent one? How do you even know that’s the legitimate valid document?

This kind of situation, in a way, turns into searching for the required information. Jeff puts this as “Search is a backup plan for a lack of Plan” –> I so agree with him, based on what we understand from the scenarios I described above. We end of searching for information when we fail finding at the known repositories and that boils down to lack of better planning in Information Architecture or Information Management.

It was a great insight overall. Thank you, Jeff.

December 12, 2008 6:17 pm

SEI Webinar: Process Improvement on Dec 18

Filed under: Events,Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 6:17 pm

SEIs webinar titled “Process Improvement at the Edges” scheduled on Dec 18, 2008.

For free registration see here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/941082132

Title: SEI Webinar Series: Process Improvement at the Edges

Date: Thursday, December 18, 2008

Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

 

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June 17, 2008 12:05 am

Agile Project summit in Seattle…

Filed under: Agile,Events,Project Management — ramsblog @ 12:05 am

I just received an email about Agile summit. APLN summit is scheduled in Seattle for July 17 – 18th, 2008. Flyer can be downloaded from here and more details about APLN on this website

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May 21, 2008 7:14 pm

Software Quality…

280Group writes an article about “why Software still stinks here“. In this article the author says the product management is the key reason for why software fails. I like the way this article starts and pointing one of the key impediments as “being open for critical feedback and ideas“. I liked the way it was put across in one phrase as “this industry still so amused by its own opportunities” as an improvement factor.

I believe there are other factors to be accounted as well.

a. Strategy: Good strategy to drive the project management

b. being able to coach the teams and being transparent of what product management thinks of the end product and the teams knowing the exact same thing.

c. being open for feedback from the team – this has already been addressed in this article. additionally, most times the managements are firm on what they want and not really listen to the team though the management change the course (shift) when market changes. Why not the management listen to the internal team for what they have to say.

d. when it comes to “about buggy, inflexible and incomplete applications” –> irrespective of how the product management is, only the team can certify the quality gates and the entire team has to come up with the measures to comply with that. It is the team work and not just one product manager, I think.

I have been in the application development projects where the customers did not really know what they really really wanted, and I agree, it is our responsibility to help customers to define the features they really really want and omit the obsolete requirements. Agreed, product management plays a key role here, at the same time, I think, the entire engineering team should put themselves in customer shoes while designing the solution early on and not really blame the customers for not providing the requirements.

note: I am probably sounding a bit biased or defending here, but I am trying to see from a cursory look and from my own experience being in the industry.

 

March 6, 2008 5:59 pm

Agile Open Conference – NorthWest

Filed under: Agile,Events,Project Management — ramsblog @ 5:59 pm

One of a kind conference (Open-Space) where experienced Agile practitioners get together and discuss about various topics sharing their insights and experiences. A great way to learn from experiences others go through. It is going to be held in Seattle on March 18th and 19th. 

For more details, see here  [http://www.agileopennorthwest.org/]

 

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February 14, 2008 12:02 am

Functional Specification – a Bible?

In Software development arena, I often hear people saying, “Functional Specification document is like a Bible for us.” Well, I tend to question this statement. It is too much ambiguous to me. What does a Bible mean? Does it mean the key source of information? (note: I am not pointing to the holy Bible). I asked if that is what they meant – whether as a key source of information for application development and testing. I heard “Yes – the information in this document is fairly technical in nature and derived from the Requirements Document. ”

Great – so that means, somebody wrote the Requirements as the understanding from the Business owners. The requirements were reviewed by the business owner and the representatives, and perhaps few end users have reviewed the requirements and passed along the feedback. Let’s assume requirements on paper are according to what end users have visualized. Note – requirements might not have all the prototypes and the exact screenshots to help their imagination.

So, now, Functional document is a subset of Requirements depending on the functional ownership of the piece of application. Requirements on the other hand, supposedly, the end to end solution, as what business is looking for. Now, comes the functional dev and test teams, looking at Functional document ” so called the key source” that provides the subset of the requirements. My question is, if the key developers and testers are not even reviewing the requirements, as to what Business wants, how would they be able to translate the piece of software into what business wants. At the end of the day, what we develop is for the end users to be efficient in what they do and not become frustrated of not having the feature they were looking for.

I was often countered, “why would you even want to look at the requirements document when we are deriving the information into Functional?” my answer was “a big picture“. As a developer, at times be blindfolded on 4 key points and forget the rest

  1. Object in question or to be coded
  2. What are the input parameters
  3. What are the output parameters
  4. what are the business rules (logic) go into this object

Well, that does not work for a testing individual to know just that, to perform his job. He needs to know more and beyond the vertical object to ensure many many factors impacting or influencing due to one vertical piece. This kind of information can be obtained :

  • partly from the functional,
  • partly from the requirements and
  • mostly from the end users or the product owner or from the user surveys depending on who the end users are.
  • Additionally, having the prototypes to the end users would definitely be a big bet.

Additionally, being involved in FS development and reviewing the Requirements at the same time and having the prototypes up-front, would potentially save a lot of cycle time at the later time and potentially reduce or eliminate any re-work due to mis-representation during the requirements process. We are all humans, at times what we draw on a piece of paper might be different when translated to the prototypes and users would see in a different angle when presented with at least the prototypes than doing a visio diagram or describing 5 pages for a little dialog box kind of UI.

I just noticed a post from Shrini about testing the Requirements Heuristics. Quite informative.

In summary, please, involve the business owner and the end users as part of the functional development and through the process till the end of the development/testing cycles. This helps the end users feel they are involved and will certainly be a lot of help to the dev/test teams as part of this process and at the same time, they get what they want and be accountable for what they have asked for since they were involved in design and decision process. At the end of the day, product is something that should help the end users to be effective in their activities and not hinder their productivity with a new piece of software application.

From the dev/test teams perspective, it is the quality output that we deliver to the end users / customers (note: the term quality output might be debatable, but let’s go with whatever you define quality as. this post doesn’t go into that level.)

(note: this post was not reviewed before posting to the blog)

February 11, 2008 12:01 am

Process oriented or deviate a little bit?

Filed under: Communication,Medical,Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 12:01 am

How best is the process oriented, step-by-step methodical execution of a project or a task would be? 
How about liberalizing, although existing great working process, a little bit to assess the impacts up-front and eliminate any unnecessary project costs?
How about clear communication ahead of time to reduce any possible project impacts?

I am having these and many more questions lingering in my mind in past 2 days, since I learned a lesson in another industry. I used to have these in software development project management past several years, but my new experience was with medical. Here is the recent instance, although thought of a short one, but became a bit longer text here, that taught me much more. 

I had a surgery appointment for yesterday at the local hospital. A day before the surgery appointment, I seemed to develop cold and cough in the morning. Around Noon, I also had a temperature up to 100 deg. So called the Surgeon’s office and left a message about my situation asking if it was ok to keep the surgery appointment or postpone it to some other time until cough,cold,fever goes away. I received the call back from the doctor’s office later in the afternoon, saying the situation will be assessed by an anesthesiologist once I get there. I had a similar conversation with a pre-Op nurse as well.

Anyways, there I go to the hospital the following day with 102 deg fever. I was asked lie on a bed, a lab person came in to draw my blood sample. I said, I have fever, cough and cold, would you want to check the vitals first. She said, there will be another nurse to do so. There goes 2 tubes of my blood. 20 minutes later, a nurse comes in, confirms my name and date of birth. Asked her the same question that I appear to have cold and fever would that be checked first. She says – yes, we need to do your weight first – got myself weighed, she noted the number. I was then asked to dress up with hospital outfit – well obeyed that. 15 mins later, she comes in and checks my Blood pressure, temperature and pulse. She says, oh 39.4 in right ear and 39.1 in left ear, that’s not good for a surgery. I was like “(wink), I have been asking this since yesterday.” She was just about to inject an IV into my veins, but then went back to check with the surgeon upon checking the temperature again to make sure. 5 minutes later another nurse comes back and says, “Surgeon says we cannot perform the procedure now, this will have to be rescheduled”

Now, if only one of them had heard me and checked the temperature even before I got onto hospital bed? *sigh*

This shows, that the professionals following their scripted process would tax most around. Why not liberalize a bit and do the key steps first?

process_dev.jpg

cons of not checking temperature when we asked for (after arriving at the hospital)
a. I didn’t have use the Bed/stretcher and other paraphernalia (a pair of socks, head cap, gown, bed spread, etc)
b. I could have saved my blood (2 tubes were drawn for electrolytes panel test). This will be repeated if I reschedule my appointment for later time
c. two or three nurse staffs didn’t have to spend their 60-90 minutes on me
d. Lab work could be eliminated
e. Now, all these will be of course billed to my insurance. I don’t know how much money that is going to be.

Cons of not taking the decision the previous day:
a. I was not supposed to eat since the previous mid-night. also having the fever the previous day, wasn’t able to eat much – so it was pretty much 24hours between my first call to the doctor’s office till my visit to the hospital
b. I was very very tired when I arrived at the hospital – I could have at least consulted a family doctor to cure present situation
c. my wife had to take a day off to take me to the hospital
d. inconvenienced our neighbor to pick up our daughter from her school
e. plus all the above after arriving at the hospital

So, at times, it is better to take the decision ourselves instead of consulting the professionals. I could have canceled the appointment saying I wasn’t ready and uncomfortable with cold and fever, but I did not and waited professional advise, not knowing about fever and surgery.

Where was the problem?
After talking to the doctor personally, we realized, the information that was communicated from medical assistant to the doctors the previous day did not include my fever at 100′s that I mentioned to the person I talked to. *sigh – Communication!*

I have been in projects as a developer a decade ago where we had an application requirements (from a client) put together by another team, and we designed and developed an application accordingly. Once tested, we both went to the client with a close to finished product (yes, we did not do the prototyping back then; we used dbaseIII+; application was going to be installed on a machine with 20mb hard drive and 16mb RAM, I think). Looking at the screen shots, the business said, their requirements weren’t met – our product management translated the requirements differently to us. We had to re-design our database to get back to what they asked for, within a short span of time.
Cons:
a. Resources used up in building for wrongly understood requirement
b. Trust factor reduced with the Customer to some degree (owner of that company told me in one of my visits to deploy that application)
c. repeated visits to the customer at the last minute to re-design
d. etc…

(Disclaimer: for privacy, I have not mentioned the name of the hospital or the place. I will not disclose any names in this aspect. I have used this long story as a lesson learned and how this can be used in other situations, and to keep things in mind for assessing impacts in my other roles; and not point fingers )

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