New Beginnings

Sometime you need New Beginnings and for almost a year I was looking for one. I was doing a lot of things at work and outside of work but I still felt something was missing. This year I started a new job and have been trying to prioritize the things I did.

A few things I am planning to focus on in 2012

  1. My new job
  2. Health
  3. Get back to blogging (I really miss this)
  4. Learning new things (I think this is the biggest motivation that can help me get my first three goals going)

Well with these in mind I am going to wrap this post for today. Will be back with more soon.

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That’s Two Things #1 – Google+

  1. I got an email from my brother early last week who usually is a phone or instant messenger kinda guy. So I was curious to see what he sent me. And there I saw for the first time – Google+. Curiosity made me click the link and sign into Google+. Do I like it? I don’t know yet. I don’t want to jump into conclusions and then later bite my tongue.
  2. I started looking for blogs, articles and twitters around Google+. Here is link to a couple that I like

 

So if you are in Google+ come find me. 

 

 

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Tester’s Musings: Light At the End of the Tunnel

A lot of times we are caught in the constant struggle of just keeping up with things. There is a lot going on and its harder to feel like there is anything positive going on with work or personal things. I am currently in this state of feeling frustrated and not accomplishing things. I am working on a number of projects: some for my products and some for my department and some just personal goals.

For reasons that are out of my control I feel like I am working and working but things are not getting done. My to do list is growing and I am not able to accomplish anything. I am in a bike going 100 miles per hour but I am not getting anywhere since the bike is static.

To try to get out of this feeling I have been trying to break things down in my mind to show progress and to get the feeling that I have accomplished something.

To do this

  1. I had to break things down. Break it into parts and pieces that I knew for sure I could complete. Almost like a backlog for things I need to get done.
  2. I then added dependencies on these. What tasks can I complete on my own and tasks that I have no control over or tasks that I need input from others.
  3. I then started identifying items that I can spend a few hours on and have a quick win. This is to boost my own ego. I need some wins to tackle the longer projects.
  4. I also added items that are fun so that I am not bogged down and burnt out.
  5. I talked to other team members whom I was dependent on and told them about my frustrations. It helped. They were able to give me what I want or give me alternatives so I could proceed.
  6. I took time outs or break to do nothing. Stressing over how much I have to do was an impediment and I couldn’t focus.
I feel so much better. This past month has made me look at work differently. I may not be getting as much done as I wanted to but I am making progress and that is a good sign. 
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The IT Files – Matt Heusser

A name that you can always see in Software Test Pro site. A name that you can see busily helping/replying/mentoring on twitter. A name that never is shy to say what he thinks. A name: Matt Heusser.

A consulting software tester and software process naturalist, Matt has spent his adult career developing, testing, and leading in dev/testing of computer software. Beyond the work itself, Matt has had notable roles as a part-time instructor in Information Systems at Calvin College, a contributing editor to Software Test & Performance Magazine, the lead organizer for the 2008 Workshop On Technical Debt, and most recently as Senior Editor for the “How To Reduce The Cost Of Software Testing” book project.

Read more at

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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ITKE – The IT Files – Pradeep Soundarajan

Read the complete interview at

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

 

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ITKE – The IT Files – Blindu Eusebiu

Read full interview at

Part 1

Part 2

 

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Waste and Non Value Add in Software Development

In my series Customer Value Add I went over the list of wastes as identified in lean six sigma. I would now like to connect this to software development and identify where there can be best and how it can be eliminated or reduced.

  1. Incomplete or partially completed work – if there is untested code. This is waste if customer find defects in areas that are not tested. Its best not to send or work on code that will not be tested completely. Running some code coverage reports might help identify areas that are not tested.
  2. Not commonly used features – There are studies that show only 20% of features is used by customers. Identify those features and work on enhancing them. At the same time try to reduce features that are not used. Create separate licensing and make it available on request.
  3. Extra Features – There could be features that feel like a good idea in the beginning but by the time its built it doesn’t add the same value that you thought it would. For new features try to create a prototype or create a portion of it and get feedback before investing a lot of time and money.
  4. Re-learning – If there are large gaps between releases or updates there could be some time lost learning tools, features, etc. This is more applicable when the releases are far apart or team is spread across multiple projects.
  5. Hand-offs and Handover - Especially if the project is on waterfall methodology and teams depend on others to complete their work before they can start theirs, there could be a significant amount of waste. Sometimes there is specialization work that once has to depend on. Plan for these so that other team members are not waiting on.
  6. Multitasking and task switches – When we multitask or switch between tasks we are wasting a lot of time. Switching our mind from one work to another or trying to focus on a few things at the same time creates more defects than focusing on one and completing it before moving on to another.
  7. Delays – delays between tasks, delays between deliverable’s, etc can causes waste in the development process. There are also chances of more defects when there are delays between tasks.
  8. Defects – defects in general is waste. It cause rework and we end up wasting more time on tasks that were unplanned.
These are some of the wastes that we see in software development. The goal should be to identify these on a regular basis and then spend time to put process improvements in place that can reduce waste. Reducing waste will give team more time to do tasks that add value for the customer. Value that they will pay for. Hence reducing waste is better for customer and your organization. 
Posted in Agile, Lean Six Sigma, Process, Software Technology, Software Testing, Strengths | Leave a comment

Fun @ work

Recently I have been complaining to my colleague that we don’t have enough fun at work. There are several reasons for this

  1. Too many releases – There are lots of regulation changes happening and we have been trying to keep up and that means more releases, hot-fixes and changes being delivered to the customer.
  2. Too many projects – each of the team members are being stretched across multiple projects. No matter how we look at it there is never enough time to focus on any one project or task. The stress level is higher with having to deliver on all projects.
  3. Too many changes within the organization – We are moving to agile. Yes this is a big cultural change for team members. We are also looking at moving to new defect tracking and test management tools. Team Server Foundation being one of them.
  4. Summer is here – With Summer comes more activities outside work and hence more people are out of the office. In the past this was taken into account when  planning deliverable. Not anymore.  Goes back to my point 1 where we have too much going on.

Well the list is endless but these are my top complaints against why we don’t have as much fun at work these days as we used to. Anyways when talking we got into the discussion of how come we can’t do something to make work more fun instead of expecting someone else to come and make it fun.

Here are some ideas

  •  Do happy hours with colleagues. Gives you time to relax and chill and not talk about work. Yes I know this is common but sometimes we have to add it back to our to-dos or we forget that we haven’t done this in a long time.
  • Do a team activity with colleagues. Go to a movie. I know we think why do this when I can do it with family or friends. Sharing experiences outside work help relieve tension and stress.
  • Lunch clubs – you can go out as a group, cater or even do a bring your own lunch lets chat type. Really the goal is to relax and talk.
  • Set time in calendars to go grab a coffee. This will help break routine.
  • Start the meeting 5 minutes late or end it 5 minutes early for teams to get some time with each other. This could be time to chat and catch up.

With these in mind I am going to try to bring some fun back to work.

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CVA or NVA – Employees Under Utilized – 8

The final one in non-value add category is Employees under utilized. This is when the knowledge and creativity of an employee is not fully used. This happens more than we think it does.

Due to lack of cross-training and cross-utilization of talents we could be missing could opportunities and skills. Brain storming, department meetings, strategy planning meetings, etc should be used to bring out talent that is hidden within the organization.

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CVA or NVA – Motion – 7

Next category in our downtime analysis is motion. Motion is poor organization within work area or location of equipment needed for the job or extra setup time.

For example if you have to log into a system to get data, then spend time to log into another system to input that data and then finally use another system to verify data, then you are wasting a lot of time switching between systems.

Same way if you have to use the phone a lot and it is set up in such a way that it takes you a few minutes to find it or answer it then you should think about moving it to a new place where it can be easily accessed.

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