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Bringing Reality in Software Testing and Project Management

  • 01/07/2011
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR
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I often find it challenging in projects (Development/Testing) about how “real” we are in doing what we do. It has occurred several times that timelines are drawn, estimates are done and promises are made (both to internal stakeholders and customers) that a release would be done on so and so date without adequate analysis if we have been “real” about what and how much was considered in this entire exercise. This crucial factor is often ignored and it becomes extremely important in terms of feasibility and do-ability of an effort

It happened in one of the projects I was working on a couple of months back where the it had been running for over a year and the overall project completion milestone had been extended several times (initial plan was 6 months). The milestone was extended once more for just 2 months and then a question I asked myself was “If it did not work for the last 16 months, why do we think it will work in the next 2 months”?

I am not comfortable in just believing unless we have considered doing something that is “different” from what has been done in the past and we do know this new strategy should work. When this specific factor fell into the ears of the Project Management/ Leadership team, it was instead returned with a slightly philosophical note that we should stay positive and hope things will get better
Sure enough but I am sorry “Positivity” and “Hope” does help but this alone can never save a project! What does save a project is “meaningful action” that has been adequately analysed, strategized, estimated and essentially thought through. One cannot simply keep extending timelines and expect another 2 weeks or another 6 weeks would do the magic unless the budget is unlimited
I suggest (at a high level) some of these things do help in making things realistic and workable:

• Size – Taking stock of the current situation – Given the remaining time left for the project release and the promises made to clients, understand how much has been completed and what is left

• Prioritize – Understand what is most critical for the business and ensure they are addressed on priority to the fullest without any compromise on quality. It’s better to release something that works rather than everything that may or most likely will not work

• Estimate/ Plan/ Strategize -Estimate the effort/ resources that would be required for the pending tasks to be completed using realistic rules of thumb.

• Be creative – Bring some creative thinking on the table. Try a new way of doing things as opposed to the approaches taken in the past that have not worked. Determine the Pros and Cons of the various options available. Review the same with the same team that will deliver and get their confidence. Often times project team members find the timelines and expectations laughable because they have not been accounted for and they know it can never be done

• Review and learn from mistakes – Never repeat the same mistakes. Learn from the past and review decisions made this time with other teams/ mentors who have been involved with similar challenges

• Gut feel – Never ignore your gut! Many a times the inner voice tells you how things will end up and so if your gut says it will not work, think again but also be practical and not emotional about it

• Monitor – Set daily targets. Monitoring progress everyday works very well in the beginning to see where things are going. Ensure every resource is utilised to the fullest who have the right skill for the right job

• Issues/ Risks – Do not ignore issues that uncover as you move on, ensure they are taken note of and resolved

• No Gossip – Strictly no place for any gossip in the team. Keep the team spirits high and give them confidence with results achieved every day. Even the most cynical team member will start believing in the progress when results prove them wrong

Finally, after having done the best in finding an innovative solution to reach one’s objectives, we can all be hopeful and positive that things shall work this time because it’s not just this that went into the solution, it was also some substance and meaningful action

Milan Sengupta

Public Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/milansengupta

Senior Software QA/Testing consultant from Calgary, Canada with over 11 yrs of experience in Software Testing in India, Germany and Canada. I’ve had extensive experience in delivering quality software products and solutions for some of the best known Indian & Fortune 500 companies in the world incl. IBM, Alcatel, TATA Sons and Cisco Systems. Passionate about Test Management, Test Estimation and Test/QA Solutioning

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