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Showing posts from November, 2007

Life is an equation you balance all the time

I had an interesting thought the other day - why can't we look at life like an equation that needed to be balanced all the time. On the left hand side of the equation the coefficients represent the priorities and the variables represent the commitments that exist. On the right hand side of the equation you can either use the constant for 24 hours for a day, 7 days for a week, 30/31 days for a month, 365 days for a year - but it is always a constant. The equation may look something like this 3x + 4y + 7z + 2a + 4b + 5c + ... = 24 The commitments never really go away they keep going down in priority and come up again and so the variables always stay in the equation its just that the priorities of the commitments keep changing and so the coefficients keep moving themselves up and down. Life is all about balancing this equation. The key is to never get any one coefficient so high that it gets out of hand. You need to always manage all the coefficients within manageable levels as they

An organization’s journey to CMM Level 3

This is an article I wrote more than 4 years ago to describe the journey of an organization to become CMM Level 3 compliant – I was part of the team working on it and this is my view of all that happened. It all started around September 2001 when it was decided that the organization would look at implementing the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). A formal Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG) was formed to achieve this. The SEPG conducted a Gap Analysis of the templates and guidelines in the Quality Management System that existed at that point of time, and updated them so that they complied with the CMM Level 2 Key Process Areas (KPA). There were then training sessions conducted for the members who were Project Leads and above on the QMS. The first audits were conducted on the projects to assess their compliance with the newly defined standards. Once we were comfortable that the projects were following the standards defined the team set a goal of reaching Level 3 by December 2002

A better understanding of the Capability Maturity Model

Having been a programmer for the first few years of my career - I moved to quality assurance some years ago to get a better understanding of processes around building quality software products. My first assignment was to work with an external consultant and ensure that a 500+ member organization was assessed to be at Level 3 of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). As a programmer my typical lifecycle was to get requirements over the phone, come up with my own design in my head, code it, unit test it and move it into system and integration testing. There was not much planning or process to the whole thing - just churn out as much as you could in the shortest amount of time and system and integration testing done by the client would tell you all your defects. So when I entered the world of quality assurance it was a whole new world. One of the first things I learnt was the necessity of having a Quality Control (QC) Function and a Peer Review Activity to validate the fitness of the prod

Are all services in India bad - Now its Hyundai

Based on my recent run-ins with various organizations for their services my experience seems to be going from bad to worse. Now its the turn of Hyundai when it came to servicing my car. Here is what happened - I took my car for servicing about a couple of weeks ago and as always I dropped it off in the morning at about 9:30 AM and I was told to come and pick it up in the evening at 5:00 PM. So I gave them a call just before leaving to go and pick it up and was told that there was some part in the steering wheel that was spoilt and so they have to change it and my car won't be ready till 7:00 PM. So I leave to go and pick it up at around 6:30 PM and was made to wait till 8:30 PM before my car got done. I drive it home, all seems fine at first until I realise that the central locking is not working any more. Since it was not a very serious problem I decided that I will get it fixed if and only if I drove in the direction of the service center. A couple of days later I got a call f

What is quality ?

I have realised that we use the word quality a lot in the software world but a lot of the software professionals do not understand the word when they use it. When one does not understand the word it is hard to deliver what it means. According to wikipedia quality means " non-inferiority, superiority or usefulness of something ". Let us step away from definitions for a moment and try and understand what we mean when we say - " This apple is of the highest quality ". A lot of answers I have got just say - it means it is the best - but my question is best against what ? So there is a comparison - there is a comparison against a perception or an expectation. Everyone has expectations when they go to buy a service or product and when those expectations are met the person is satisfied with the product or service and that is when the product or service is deemed to be of quality. Different people have different expectations of the same product. So each one of their per

Retail Boom - customer service is the key

Everyone around the world is talking about the retail boom happening in India and the way it is going to explode and everyone who is anyone in the world retail space wants to be in India. Having said that things have changed quite a bit in terms of presentation and availability of products in India but what has not changed is the attitude of the sales staff and the way customers are treated in the stores. The feeling one gets is that the store is doing the customer a favour by existing and serving the customer and its not the other way around where the customer is king and you need to do all you can to delight the customer. Let me give you a few examples of my experiences in the last couple of weeks to illustrate this. I visited Metro Cash and Carry (India) here in Hyderabad and I wanted to pick up some furniture. So I found what I wanted and was waiting for someone to help me find a packed piece. There were a couple of sales guys who were buying shirts (yes during store timings and

Building a website

I have been spending my last 4 weeks conceptualizing and building this website - http://www.dsouzaweb.com/ . How did I go about doing it. Collect the content The first thing that one needs to do is to collect a reasonable amount of content to put up on the website. I have been collecting a lot of the information on this site for the last 3 years through the yahoo group. What is a reasonable amount of content is subjective but I would say at least enough content for about 10 web pages ( at least that is what I think would make the website look like something worth visiting) Blog or Content Website A blog is a website that typically contains views of a person or a group of people. It is more like a diary of thoughts where content is displayed by date. On the other hand a content website is a collection of content on a particular subject where a blog is only one of the components. These content websites can be driven by static content or dynamic content that come from a database or it

How do I start blogging ?

I have been asked these questions a number of times How do I start blogging? What do I blog about? How often should I blog? How do I get people to read my blog? What happens if I do not blog everyday and readers come to my blog and don’t see anything and stop coming after that? I have been blogging for close to 3 years now and I went through pretty much the same set of questions when I started to blog. Let me try and answer these questions based on my experiences . How do I start blogging? First you have to find a site to host your blog – there are a lot of them out there like Blogger and wordpress being the more famous of the ones out there. I found this comparison chart that can be a start to compare the features but it is outdated. You can use it to get an idea of the features offered by the various blog hosts. Microsoft and Yahoo have their own blog hosting software within their social networking applications. I have been using blogger for all the 3 years that I have been blogg