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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ITKE – The IT Files – Denny Cherry

A fellow blogger, author, developer, twitter enthusiast, speaker, SQL Guru and more. To read more about Denny click the links below

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ITKE – The IT Files – Raj Perumal

I had a fun conversation with Raj Perumal.

Raj has been in the software development industry for over 15 years. He is a thinker, blogger, leader, writer and more. To know him more click one of the links below.

Read more here

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CVA or NVA – Inventory – 6

Inventory is the sixth item in D.O.W.N.T.I.M.E post.  Inventory is considered to be transactions waiting to be processed or batch processing. Inventory can also be storage or things that are in stored long term.

Photo Courtesy: David Niblack

This is a one of the few types of waste that are not as prevalent in software development as some of the other types of waste. If we have a retail store and spent a lot on storing inventory, we can think of ways to reduce the cost spent on storage.

If you application does batch processing and things are work in progress it would benefit to look at whether there is a need for real time updates. If real time updates does not occur, how much time is wasted from customer perspective if things are sitting in batch.

For example if there is a loan processing application that accepts loan application but does not send it to the core system real time instead does a nightly batch update. Suppose the core system is then used for making decisions in terms of loan approval and then the approval has to be sent back to the loan processing for the banks to give borrowers an estimate. Also the results from the core system comes back via nightly batch uploads only. If we take the two batch events that occur at night we see that there are atleast 2 nights delay just to see the results. We have to look at

  • Is this acceptable time range for customers?
  • If not then what can we do to save time?
  • Can we get the users access to both the systems?
  • Are there ways to pull a report and send it out real time if there is a need for instant approval?
So where there are delays being built into your software application think of the time spent and if that time spent is worth the money. 
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Yes I did it!

Another goal is down. I presented my white paper at the TCQAA (Twin Cities Quality Assurance Association). They provide a forum for beginners like me to present their materials.

I presented my white paper that was recently published via the Software Test Pro Newsletter. This was my first time with an audience of about 50-60. I usually do it at a smaller scale within my organization. For me to be able to present this outside to peers and people from software testing industry felt really nice.

Thank you TCQAA for the forum to let me talk.

Thank you to my colleagues who came in to support me.

Thank you to the attendees who had great questions and encouraged me.

Another goal down. 3 more to go.

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Strengths and You

We spend a lot of time focusing on things we are weak at. Growing up I was weak in biology and I got extra help for it. Later in school I didn’t like finance and spent all my time cramming for those tests. I never spent time on things I was good at.

Thinking back if I had spent half the time of my stregths I would have shown atleast two times the result I did on things I was not so good at. I am not saying we should stop focusing on things we are not so good at but lets at least give the same time and effort to things we are good at.

How do we find our strengths and how to maximize on them?

There are several tests out there in the market that can help you find your strengths. My favorite way to do this is to observe. For a week or two I write down activities I do. I then highlight the ones that really made my day exciting, fun and fulfilling. I then try to see what in those activities really made me going.

For example I am an idea person and love activities where we sit down and brainstorm for ideas. I also love strategic planning where I can look at the big picture and fill in the details.

Same way you can spend time writing things you do and identifying what in those activities are really driving you. Do you like when you are left alone on projects where you can create something on your own or do you like it when you can spend time with customers troubleshooting and helping them setup their products? Then based on this information you can identify your strengths.

What to do Once I have identified my strengths?

Use them. Talk to your manager and see if you can work on projects where you can use your strengths. If you cant use your strengths all the time then find small projects that you can do on the side to keep up your enthusiasm.

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CVA or NVA – Transportation – 5

Hello all. Am back with my 5th piece in the series of Customer Value Add. Transportation is the travel of data/document or moving things manually throughout a building. This a very big issue in manufacturing industry where parts of a car or products have to be moved from one place to another.

In the software development world this issue is not a very big concern. With emails, instant chats, www, etc movement of data doesn’t take very long. Even then there are places that we can definitely improve.

If we look at how updates are made to our softwares, we see that its all via the internet. We no longer have to wait for a CD to come home to update patches to our softwares. We do not need trainers to actually go to the physical location and they can provide more training via the web and be more efficient with their time.

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CVA or NVA – Non-Value Added Processing – 4

Continuing with the Customer Value Add series this piece will address Non-Value Added Processing.

Another area where one can look to be more efficient is looking at the current processes steps and addressing areas where there could be non-value add due to non-value added processing.

What is non- value added processing?

These are tasks that the customer wont pay for but business might like reviews, approvals, checking, inspections, multiple of unneeded signatures, redundant processing, monitoring, etc.

As a software tester I dont always agree with this kind of waste. Testing does inspection, reviews, etc. And this is part of the software development process. What is important is to understand where there is non-value add and eliminate those. Some can be reduced but not completely reduced.

An example of this waste is when my colleague has to send receipts to manager for approval. This took a lot of time and added time to delivery to customer. So the manager and this person sat down and created a process. A check list that had several questions if those were all yes he could approve them and if there was a no in there it went to the manager for approval. One of the items in the checklist was is it less than $5000? Basically manager said anything less than $5000 could be approved by my collegues. This saved a lot of time for the customer and products were delivered in half the time it took before the process was put in place.

If you are in the health industry or financial industry inspection and double checking is really important and cannot be leaned out. What is important to understand is the distinction to make sure what we do really counts in the end towards making the product better for the customer.

How to find non-value added processing steps?

Create a current state map. You can use vision or hand write on a white board. Then label each step as value added or non-value add. Then see if there are ways to reduce or eliminate or combine non-value added steps.  There will be some steps that can never be completely eliminated and we shouldn’t try to either.

 

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CVA or NVA – Waiting (Idle Time) – 3

This is the third piece in the customer value add series. The next in the CVA or NVA analysis is Waiting (Idle Time). What does waiting time mean?

It’s the time between tasks where there is no work being done. Its delays, its time that work sits in someone’s inbox or out box and also time traps.

Photo Courtesy: David Niblack

 

What are some examples of waiting time and how to reduce or eliminate them?

People working in different time zones have to wait for the other team to start working if they depend on them. For example if there is an offshore office in India and one in Minnesota and the person in India has to get some clarification to proceed then they have to wait couple of hours. Can this be eliminated completely? No but they can be more efficient by having process in place like daily meetings to get the answers or review the work regularly so offshore can ask questions.

In software development we see this is a lot of places where people do their work on throw it over the wall to the next person. The work is handed over to the next person and there is delay, wait time, etc. What can we do? We can work more collaboratively. Agile and scrum focuses on helping teams to work together, or co-locate to be more efficient and avoid time traps. Teams have daily calls, they meet often and work together to get the product out the door to the customer.

Another example of this is the number of emails we send and receive and the time it takes to resolve some issues via hundreds of chain emails. What can we do? Get everyone into a meeting and talk. This will resolve the issue in less time and we can also get buy in or agreement from the relevant team members in one go.

We can look at our daily activities and process to see if there are time traps or waste and we should try to eliminate them to be more efficient and to add customer value add in the end. In short lets save customers time.

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CVA or NVA – Overproduction or Overengineering – 2

Over production or over engineering are considered a non-value add and a waste. When we try to add unnecessary steps to a process or make it more complicated than it is required we are creating more chances of creating defects in our work.

Photo Courtesy: Stephen w morris

A few examples are

  1. Having too many slides in a presentation. You loose the audience and are unable to get the right message across.
  2. Too many and too long reports – are you sending reports that take just too long to create and no one really looks at it? Then maybe its time to stop doing it.
  3. Creating too many copies of a report – are you customizing the report so much that you are creating multiple copies. Then look at how you can combine them. The more copies you have the more place you have to make updates where there are changes and the higher the likelihood of creating defects.
  4. Rewriting steps of a test cases – Are you writing the same steps several times in several places? If yes then try to create a test that can be called often. This will save a lot of maintenance time.
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