Want to learn – explain

Want to learn a topic – try to explain it to others. Actually I underestimated this practice or idea I heard from teachers in school and university. But had a chance to prove myself wrong. Several conversations I had recently regarding value structure helped me to understand what things needs to be done and which approach is better to use. Trying to share or explain ideas to others helps to shape up thinking, find answers for grey zones and bring up new ideas from others.

That’s why communities and meetups work – you learn. Took me too long to understand that.

Value structure

Forget old company structure – it doesn’t support growth! By the way did you notice that clients, customers or users are never represented in organizational structure? It is like company exists for itself, but not for the clients…

Inspired by Niels Pflaeging ideas was writing some posts about what type of change we are introducing in my company. Any change is not an easy thing to do as different people need different arguments. Analogy with Scrum framework helps to explain these ideas to those practicing Scrum. I must say this comparison is so obvious that you get buy-in instantly.

But there are other people in the company. I found this article about product lines which basically is orientation towards value but has this smell of control and hierarchy. But even with control mindset and orientation towards value creation brings such benefits:

  • Improved productivity by as much as 10x
  • Increased quality by as much as 10x
  • Decreased cost by as much as 60%
  • Decreased labor needs by as much as 87%
  • Decreased time to market (to field, to launch) by as much as 98%
  • Ability to move into new markets in months, not years

Have no idea how precise are these numbers and how they were collected, but i think this can help to sell it to top management. What do you think?

p.s. posts that i mentioned above:

  • Org. design: value structure Highlights from my presentation where i try to explain why do we need value oriented structure in the company

Quality: Who asks “What if…?” question

Testing involves operation of a system or application under controlled conditions and evaluating the results (eg, ‘if the user is in interface A of the application while using hardware B, and does C, than D should happen’). The controlled conditions should include both normal and abnormal conditions. Testing should intentionally attempt to make things go wrong to determine if things happen when they shouldn’t or things don’t happen when they should. It is oriented to ‘detection’.

Organizations vary considerably in how they assign responsibility for quality assurance and testing. Sometimes they’re the combined responsibility of one group or individual. Common are teams that include a mix of QA experts and engineers who work closely together to ensure that necessary attention to the topic and activities are in place. It will depend on what best fits an organization’s size and business structure.

Please take a look at the following link and you will get a lot of useful information about testing – http://www.aptest.com/resources.html

Do you spend enough time on quality? Here are very interesting facts that might help you to makeup your mind:

  • Software problems in the automated baggage sorting system of a major airport in February 2008 prevented thousands of passengers from checking baggage for their flights. It was reported that the breakdown occurred during a software upgrade, despite pre-testing of the software. The system continued to have problems in subsequent months.
  • News reports in December of 2007 indicated that significant software problems were continuing to occur in a new ERP payroll system for a large urban school system. It was believed that more than one-third of employees had received incorrect paychecks at various times since the new system went live the preceding January, resulting in overpayments of $53 million, as well as underpayments. An employees’ union brought a lawsuit against the school system, the cost of the ERP system was expected to rise by 40%, and the non-payroll part of the ERP system was delayed. Inadequate testing reportedly contributed to the problems.
  • In November of 2007 a regional government reportedly brought a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a software services vendor, claiming that the vendor ‘minimized quality’ in delivering software for a large criminal justice information system and the system did not meet requirements. The vendor also sued its subcontractor on the project.
  • In June of 2007 news reports claimed that software flaws in a popular online stock-picking contest could be used to gain an unfair advantage in pursuit of the game’s large cash prizes. Outside investigators were called in and in July the contest winner was announced. Reportedly the winner had previously been in 6th place, indicating that the top 5 contestants may have been disqualified.
  • A software problem contributed to a rail car fire in a major underground metro system in April of 2007 according to newspaper accounts. The software reportedly failed to perform as expected in detecting and preventing excess power usage in equipment on a new passenger rail car, resulting in overheating and fire in the rail car, and evacuation and shutdown of part of the system.

Do you find right balance between speed and quality? Do you have a team member who asks this question: “What if?…”