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Reshaping the PMO to focus on Value delivery. Blog series 2/6

– written by Rob Franklin, Mark Norwood and Priya Sivakumar



Abstract   

Reshaping PMOThere has been much debate about the future of the PMO within Agile (technology) delivery. Our hypothesis is that the function of the PMO needs to change from a process oriented, output-focused, bureaucratic organisation to a guiding people-before-process practice, measuring outcomes and the delivery of value to the organisation while supporting the effective use of allocated funding.   


There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all – Peter Drucker

Whilst the quote from Peter Drucker says it all; we would like to look at three key areas all organisations can focus on to grow their PMO’s into an enabling function in today’s VUCA world. The three areas we are going to look at are:


  • Moving the focus from delivering outputs efficiently to delivering the right outcomes

  • Enabling the organisation to support delivering outcomes through adaptive governance

  • Shifting PMO tools to enable people to focus on value instead of enforcing process

 

1) Moving the focus from delivering outputs efficiently to delivering the right outcomes

The PMO function has traditionally been focused on delivering projects in the most efficient way through various processes and activities like approving business cases, managing and tracking funding, resource allocation, monitoring delivery risk, project status reporting etc. The PMO relies heavily on the business owners to measure the outcome and impact created by the project. As the PMO focus is primarily on delivery of the project/programme and not the outcome, projects, particularly technology-centred projects, have consistently failed to create the impact promised in their business case.

We propose that we change the key focus of the PMO function to delivering the right outcomes through:

  • Managing the value created for the customer instead of projects delivered to the business;

  • Building the customer journey to identify the customer interactions and the key pain points that will guide the organisation to move towards customer centricity;

  • Stable backlog of aligned work that focuses on long term goals instead of ad-hoc projects;

  • Creating mechanics to enable the business to work on the most valuable projects through effective prioritisation;

  • Assessing ways to measure sustainable outcomes;


2) Enabling the organisation to support delivering outcomes through adaptive governance

In an Agile environment, the rigid structure of annual funding and ad-hoc resource allocation is not going to support the agility required for an organisation to thrive. Outdated governance by committee through programme/project reporting on time, cost, risk and scope once a month is not an effective way to deal with issues faced by teams delivering software iteratively. 

PMO’s should focus on championing Adaptive Governance, recognising the complexity of today’s opportunities and advocating for flexible and collaborative approaches to solve them; Here’s some key areas that needs to evolve for adaptive governance:

  • Committing to delivering a limited number of projects based on delivery capacity and the business’ capability to support and deliver multiple projects;

  • Having dedicated value stream teams to focus on identifying and implementing products and/or services to satisfy customer needs;

  • Funding value streams instead of big programmes of work to ensure continued focus on the customer;

  • Driving the shift from big bang complex release cycles to shorter iterative value delivery cycles.

  • Delegating the decision-making authority closer to where the work is done. Identifying the right delegation matrix, which removes red tape and streamlines the delivery pipeline;

  • Educating the business on the cost of delay and enabling them to make better decisions;

 

3) Shifting PMO tools to enable people to focus on value instead of enforcing process

All too often, policy and process are put in place to manage people and to monitor their productivity, when people should own the policy to derive the right outcome. Managers and employees spend more time accounting for the time they spend on task and activities than delivering the outcome needed to achieve the goal. On average, information workers spend over 15 hours or two days a week on routine administrative tasks, with 20% spending three days or more.[1]

Despite the knowledge of tools and resources they could use, most PMO are still running through spreadsheets. Far too many Project Managers and Scrum Masters are so busy collecting data, reporting on risks and issues, that they are deprived of the bandwidth to address inefficiencies in processes.

Providing the right tools will help eliminate these inefficiencies, while also freeing up Project Managers and Scrum Masters to work towards delivering outcomes.  Shifting the focus in the following areas will assist in enabling people to focus on value:

  • Identifying and implementing tools that automates/support iterative delivery for process like funding, risk management, capacity planning, progress reporting;

  • Having the right policies and tools, that increase visibility and promote communication;

  • Regularly review and gather feedback on the effectiveness of PMO standards, process, structures, tools and templates

The changes mentioned are neither quick nor easy, but they are not impossible to achieve. The organisation wanting to survive in the VUCA world needs to move away from quick and easy fixes that compounds problem for the future to focusing on the long-term benefit through evolving how we operate by constantly gathering feedback and reshaping the organisation.

The intelligence of an organisation can only develop where there is change and a need for change. Enabling the organisation to adapt to the changing needs of the customer and market should be the primary function of PMO. 

We hope you found this useful, please share your feedback with us as we want to learn and grow our thinking on the PMO to further help organisations as they navigate the challenges of Agile and accelerated delivery requirements.

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LPS

Time for a PMO reset. Blog series 1/6

The PMO has an identity crisis. A fundamental question that often goes unanswered is “what are we here for?” Too many PMO managers will jump on the bandwagaon with a response that says something like “To deliver projects, on time and on budget”.  Yes, these things are important and can’t be ignored, but the deeper answer is something more akin with to deliver value to the organisation”. But how often do we ask ourselves what does this value consist of and who decides on what value means?   


If you are unsure of the answers to these questions, then it might be a good idea to write a PMO Charter and value proposition. Understand your reason for existence, define your mandate and values, define your scope of operations and clarify the various roles and responsibilities of the PMO. This is not as easy as it sounds in many organisations, but it plays a critical part in your perceived success. When facing difficult times, fall back on this purpose for guidance to understand what you are and what you are not, and ensure you communicate this in a clear and friendly way to your stakeholders. If expectations are misaligned then no matter how well you think you are performing, there will be disappointment from key stakeholders. This has fundamental ramifications on your strategic approach and also tactically how you operate. If the PMO is seen as a fast and furious mechanism to deliver projects and the PMO is proud of their Agile response and ability to get projects done at all costs, then the PMO risks the downsides to this approach which can include factors such as

   
  1. Lack of visibility on where projects are at – who can tell me? 

  2. Lack of prioritisation – first come first served which doesn’t support the value model 

  3. Lack of proper resource management simply because often we don’t know what is coming our way as new initiatives are thrust upon us in haste

  4. Lack of maturity when it comes to change management and financial reporting. Can anyone really tell what the project is costing and how we are tracking?     

  Quality is thus impaired and the accolades for delivering on time become rather muted, sapping the morale of the team who have worked so hard to deliver a successful project.   

 

There are some key steps to resetting this above scenario. 

  
  1. As already stated, know your purpose and what the business expects of you. If they want fast and furious then identify how you can deliver this through a quality lens. For example, this might be managed better through tighter change management to minimise cost and scope creep – make it Steering Group or Senior Management’s responsibly for the approved change and spend, not the project manager or PMO manager. Managing expectations is often overlooked as the focus remains fixed on timelines. Training, hand-over documentation and support arrangements, comprehension of benefits, impact on users’ jobs and internal politics play an equally important part.  

  2.  Secure support from the senior leadership team. It is they after all, who you will be delivering project outcomes for to progress their departments business goals and it is they who often determine what value looks like and whether it was delivered or not. They also can help provide the funding, resource and steer on what you do as you try to provide that value and deliver on promises made.   

    Understand what is important to them and ask them where they see the challenges in your delivery. This can be a vital start to closing gaps in perceptions and expectations. Perhaps even getting real assistance in terms of adding resource to an under-resourced PMO function. If they need greater visibility on the programme or projects roadmap then a conversation about resourcing and value can start to be held. If they want more financial accountability then show them the way this will be achieved i.e. resource, tools, process and formally initiate the requests down this path so you can demonstrate to all your commitment to improving the things that matter to people.

  3. Be open and honest with your day to day key stakeholders – if you open up to key stakeholders they may be able to help – whether backing your request for more staff to fill quality/governance gaps i.e. risk and issue management, reporting, or tools to provide greater visibility on schedules and dependencies; they may be able to help by supporting your requests, whether in meetings or via other management forums. They can’t help you if they don’t understand the competing demands on the PMO for resource, the priorities (or lack of priorities) and the real constraints that you face.

    If you are going to instigate tighter governance for the sake of quality delivery, then show them how they will benefit from this. Answer the Whats in it for me?question and ask for their support. This has to be handled carefully because Gartner state that 68% of stakeholders already perceive their PMO to be bureaucratic (2013 Gartner PPM Summit). Of course, you need to be able to show some quick wins in this area, so they continue to provide their support.   

  4. Initiate a Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP). It’s all very well having a bunch of ideas for improvement, but the needs of the day soon overtake good intentions. By creating a CIP, you announce to the world (well your world at least), that you are serious about resetting the PMO and making it a valued contributor to the organisation and its goals. Becoming a high performance, efficient function will be a natural outcome as you progress on this journey.   

    Identify the gaps in your operations directly with your customers whoever they may be. Look to the things that can help them and you – people, process, tools and then prioritise each, bearing in mind any dependencies that may arise. Look to those aspects first that that bring the most value. Define your expected outcomes, assign target dates and don’t be afraid to ask for additional resource and funding to make this happen. You can’t undertake this alone as yet another added task in an already full calendar. If your organisation seriously wants to enhance the PMO delivery capability, then it will need to invest in it like any other initiative that delivers benefits. It also clearly shows support for what you are trying to achieve. You will need this as your journey progresses and bumps along the way are felt.     



We already know that 25% of PMO’s fail in the first 12 months and 50% within 2 years (Duddy & Perry, 2010), but nevertheless they are fast becoming more permanent fixtures in larger organisations. The fact is that they remain and need to be periodically realigned to meet changing organisational strategy and needs. As the business navigates its way through an increasingly complex and changing industry landscape.    



There are many other ways to reset your PMO, including undertaking a Maturity Assessment, reviewing your processes and methodologies and looking for gaps and better ways to do things. You could conduct a self-assessment/review or get someone from the outside to look at it with a fresh set of eyes, where they also question your rationale on how you operate. “That’s how we work around here” is becoming less accepted as the drive for results increases.   


Understand your purpose, try new ways of working, develop new success criteria, collaborate with your stakeholders in new ways and understand that all-important question why the PMO exists in the first placeWhat is the business value we deliver?”  Can you answer this question definitively or is it time you looked to ‘reset the PMO’ so you can answer that question with confidence.    


– Written by Richard Sell

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LPS

LPS appoints GM Digital Rob Franklin

We would like to take this opportunity to officially welcome Rob Franklin to our LPS Head Office to head up our Digital Practice as GM of Digital. He is starting his new role at the end of August. Rob is not new to LPS at all. In fact he has worked for LPS since 2007. This excludes a stint in Australia honing his skills for Hewlett Packard as Major Programmes Project Director. His most recent role has been with Vodafone and over the past 3 years has worked several senior Digital roles, most recently Vodafone’s Digital Delivery and Performance Manager. His previous experience includes Air NZ, Fonterra, Revera, Origin Energy and Tower spanning a wide range of industries and he will be jumping right into his new role with Auckland Transport to add another to this list. 



Rob GM Digital, and the Digital team at LPS, have been working very hard over the past 6 months and more to build and develop a state of the art Digital Service offering. The service includes Digital consultation, design, governance, Agile, DevOps, Platform Strategy, Development and Change.  You can check out their website here https://lps.co.nz/digital/ with a link to our new tool: the Agile Warrant of Fitness. 

 

If you’d like to get in touch with Rob, or the Digital team you can email him or link up on LinkedIn.

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LPS

Blog Series Testing: Blog number #3: Strategy for testing
By Venkat Raghavan


Welcome back to the final blog of the series, hope you enjoyed reading the last two, and thank you all for your kind feedback and comments. Before we get on with this blog strategy for testing , here is a quick summary of what we have covered thus far, If you haven’t read them then please check them out.


  • Triggers – Leaders wanting their organizations to transform to deliver value and fast.
  • Fast changing technology landscape – New tools, shifting left. etc. – # Philosophy
  • Some interesting transformation case studies from across the globe.
  • Move from away ‘break the system’ to ‘create a quality system’ thinking (Thanks to My colleague MN for this line) – #Big Picture
  • Breaking barriers: Co-own and collaborate, ‘fail together and win together’ – #Big Picture, #Culture, #Learning.
  • Automation at the crux of it all – driving efficiency and not just productivity

 

Phew! Now looking back at it, I think there we covered quite a lot of ground in those two blogs. Again, that was just the tip of the iceberg, each of these topics can be vast oceans in themselves.

Let’s kick off this blog by looking at how changing technology landscapes and transformations are going to affect the testing community, what is that they really expect from us, and how will it have an impact on the role of the tester and the tool they use, how will it evolve and how should the community adapt.

Strategy for Testing

Testing has really come a long way, and has increasingly becoming more complex and demanding, there so many moving parts and these changes are coming faster that one can imagine. I have listed a few below that you would have experienced it in the recent past, are currently working with them or expected to work on them soon…

                                                                   

While technology is getting simpler on the outside (in terms of user experience) for the end user, it is increasingly becoming more challenging to keep up with the technology required to get the code across the line, and the releases are becoming more frequent and demanding. Automation can help with this to a certain degree, but the tester is still challenged constantly to ensure

  • The Test Strategy covers all aspects and returns most value and is highly dynamic and adaptive . What could you do here, try using strategies like Testing in Production (TiP) using a/b testing, beta releases, dark launch etc. are becoming more popular. Testers are now using ‘Monitoring’ in production along with pre-release testing.
  • They keep up with the Velocity – The Release is tested and deployed fast . The industry is rapidly moving to E-2-E Automation using CI /CD along with Agile and DevOps frameworks
  • The Testing suite is highly adaptive and smart– There are a lot of organization that have smart and adaptive test suites tailored to a release but then they are mostly put together by the team manually based on feedback and experiences. Predictive data analytics and Machine Learning will play a big part here in the future , so watch this space.
  • Optimize to changing technology stack and optimize constantly in terms of using the right tool set .Stay in touch with your industry peer via international and local forums, this helps your gauge where you are in the journey against the developing trends and then up skill as needed.

 

                                                                                                             



Coalescing Roles 

The silo-ed testing roles (automated and manual) or specialist testing roles are expected to transition to an interim state where the automated tester is expected to write repeatable tests across the functional / web / integration layers, and use manual testing as needed, say for things like exploratory testing, usability testing etc. This could be the same tester working across both or some dedicated across each, and gradually up-skilled into a hybrid capability, where anyone can work across any layers, which is essentially our future state below. This is where the tester transitions from trying to find bugs to creating quality software, i.e. into the Quality Assurance and Engineering roles.  The end state quality engineer now cuts across all layers like the front end, integrations and Unit level. The tester is now closer to the code / software, design, architecture etc., this according to me is the organic progression into DevOps / SRE and engineering, which is the next frontier.

Check out this really cool google video on DevOps vs SRE.

                                 

 So, get ready and up skill, learn coding (C# or Java. Python & JavaScript/TypeScript – are making a big comeback), If you are a functional tester, upskill in Selenium Web driver / Grid or an equivalent web automation tool, I recommend this as it is open source and industry favorite, let’s just call it my subjective view. Learn API automation and microservices if you were doing integration, web service testing, JSON is becoming quite popular. Think CI/CD as you get more confident with the tools and try to scale up to create your own pipeline. A brief look at pipelines below

                     

Learning and up skilling in the current time has become so much easier, there are tons of online content available and most of them are free, plus you can join forums to further tap in / augment community expertise and help, I have mentioned a few here (in no particular order )- uTest, Stackoverflow, SQA .

Hyper-Changing Tooling World

In my opinion(from a tooling perspective) the industry is moving towards a more open source and tools agnostic approach to testing and development. Testers have now started to lean on pure programming as opposed to tools because of the growing and connected developer /tester community and the agility it provides. There are so many libraries on offer, now a tester is just required to download a library, and associates dependencies to the test code, and wallah… he/ she are done in a jiff! And it’s just not libraries, the tools are getting so much smarter too, tools like ItelliJ, Eclipse etc. server managers / environments like NodeJS, containers, dynamic data platforms etc. As inviting as these may sound, one should tread carefully and try to avoid getting lost in the maze of these new tools /tech offerings. If you ask me, there is always some tools or utility or tech on offer that claims to better, so take your time before you decide on anything, do not be pressured or overwhelmed.

Lets call it a wrap now

Like I previously said, if there is code produced, it will need to be tested, and we will continue to exist, but only if we continuously keep evolving i.e Up-skilling, keeping up with the changing technology,process, tools, frameworks and adapting with the industry, accepting changes and even leading where possible.You can be that change /thought leader too and Yes AGILE and DEVOPS are here to stay, so get on to the boat sailor.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog series as much as I enjoyed writing it. I would love to hear your feedback, experiences and thoughts on this topic, so please comment on this blog or write to me venkat.raghavan@lps.co.nz. 

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LPS

What is Jira? 

Jira is a platform that allows teams to handle issues throughout the life cycle of the problem. Jira can be tailored to fit different organisational structures and is highly customisable. It is mainly used for software development to track and manage development progress. The product was developed an Australian company called Atlassian and is written in Java. It provides bug tracking, issue tracking and project management functions. Continue reading what is Jira..

There are three main parts of Jira. The first is Jira Core and it is intended for project management. The second is Jira Software this includes the base software with the agile project management features. Finally there is Jira Service desk and this is used by business service desks or IT. Jira integrates with source control programs such as Clearcase, Git, Mercurial, Perforce, Concurrent Versions Systems and Team Foundation server.  

It is the number one software used by Agile teams in the world. Another great feature of Jira is real time reporting. The real time data allows people to act fast on improvements along the process of your project.  


What is Jira and  Agile? 

The Software supports Agile methodology whether that is scrum, kanban or another view of Agile. You can plan, manage and track all your agile software development projects in this one single Jira tool. It’s an agile project management tool.  


What is an epic? 

It is a broken down larger user story which is broken down into a smaller number of user stories. It might take a few epics several sprints to complete an epic. There is no difference between a story or a task.


What is a user story? 

A user story is a tool in Agile software to capture a description of a software feature from an end user perspective. It helps create a simplified description of the requirement from the user story.  

LPS encourages staff to be skilled this tool as it is becoming more common to use it on client site. The software is used all over the world and has a very high present in New Zealand as well as Australia where it originally was created. Udemy is a great place for individuals to become certified so we encourage staff to up skill.

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LPS, Testing

Are testers headed towards Extinction: BLOG# 2: Key Drivers
By Venkat Raghavan Test manager

And I am back… 😊 with Part II of my Blog Series. I hope you enjoyed reading the last one. Thank you all for your kind feedback and comments.

In the previous blog, we briefly looked at the triggers for change and the reason for the change. In this blog, we will look at the key drivers that will pave way for the future.


 

#PHILOSOPHY:


Shift Left, Fail early and Fast. Shift left and Fail early translates to using defect prevention techniques like establishing proper coverage (design, devand test), stringent peer reviews and early defect detection techniques like developing smart and effective unit tests, some examples are TDD , BDD or ATDD . Fail fast translates to using repeatable and scalable automation solutions. These can be for unit testing, code build /merge, deployments, functional and nonfunctional testing – Continuous Integration /Continuous Delivery.

And how do I embrace this #PHILOSOPHY:  How do I Shift left? The answer is simple, get involved in design, solutioning, unit testing (provide prescriptive list of quality goals) ; talk to the Product owners / BAs / architects /solutions designers / developers (#CULTURE) (#LEARNING) to understand why they are building the solutions in context to business value, what are the important levers, start thinking performance, security, scalability, functionality, recoverability, availability and start mapping these to the testing pyramid, and try and get as many early tests in as possible.


#LEARNING:


Upskilling isn’t just an organization mandate or personal development milestone anymore. It’s now starting to become an integral part of our job and making our team (#CULTURE) successful.


“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance – Socrates”

 

So, where did I START, … I started off with my online certifications (Udemy learning LPS can be a great place to start), youtube videos, brown bags, case studies, meetups etc.… to better understand the principles while still on the job and starting to apply those principles. I was interested in test management so I started moving into the enabler function. Then I stood up a few KANBAN and scrum teams. I also worked with the developers to drive an effective versioning strategy.

I helped the team move from SVN to BIT BUCKET, put together the automation strategy for continuous integration, kicked off developer peer reviews, created the first checklist for Unit testing, came up with the definition of done with the team, estimation techniques, did JIRA admin tasks like organizing epics, stories, setting up the board, setting up dashboards, integrating releases, testing, confluence, piloting the first rapid release change management process for agile projects, helped pilot automated deployment…etc. etc.

Now looking back I wonder if I have all the skills when I started? No, I didn’t. The team and I learnt and upskilled where there was a need and helped each other out. (#CULTURE) Did we limit ourselves to only testing? No, we did not. The testers sometime would do the peer review. Also the developers sometimes write the tests, etc… In summary, the team will have to rely on each other. Individuals will have to constantly keep upskilling and adapting with the team goals, as the team starts to continuously improve and optimize.


#CULTURE:

 

This is at the very heart of any successful organizations.

 “CULTURE is the invisible happy energy in an organization that makes boring work sound like play “ -Venkat Raghavan  😊

Does that mean you should have fancy slides, e-bikes, massage/sleeping pods, gourmet café and buffets etc. To make your organization “cool “… well in my humble opinion infrastructure can only do so much to get the buzz going. It is the interaction between people and people itself that drives this invisible force. How does one start, and how did I start…? It was not easy I must admit.

1) I started off with breaking the convention and removing the barrier of the what I am supposed to do as part of my role…If I saw a problem I either tried to solve it myself or take support or get the experts together and resolve it. It could very well be someone else’s problem that they weren’t able to solve, doesn’t matter… as long as it helps the team get better. Keep in mind, you may end up stepping on people’s toes, and they may not like, so tread with caution. To avoid such predicaments, it is best to rationalize and discuss the ideas you have beforehand with your team or workmates, and collaboratively solve the problem.

2) being truly humble and coming out of the “I” mindset and thinking of “We”, make it a point to celebrate the success and failure as a team, make everyone feel welcome and express themselves in decision making/meetings, make them each feel valued. 

3) Sharing is caring. Sharing knowledge and expertise with the team and at the same time learning something new from each of your team members, everyone has got something to offer for sure, you just need to look closer.

4) Avoid unnecessary personal tension or politicking. If you have a conflict try and discuss it with your colleague. Sort the conflict out rather than sitting on it. Believe me most of the time it just some silly. Learn to forgive and take one more for the team (this was my magic mantra). Just let it go. Remember you have so many other things you can invest your energy on. 😊

One must have the attitude to:

– Move from independence to collaboration
– Be flexible and move towards stability
– See common team goals over his or her personal goals


 

#BIG_PICTURE:

Traditionally, as testers we would just look at requirements ignoring why they were created. This would mean we would focus our siloed tests (System test, Integration test, performance test etc.) to cater to these silos, prioritize them if need be and test. Developers followed suite, they just picked up what was given and seldom viewed the objectives holistically. Things like integration, performance, scalability etc. All that now is slowly changing or has begun changing as Product Managers / Product Owners are collaborating directly with developers and testers.

The POs’ work closely with their business counterparts and come up with a prioritized list of business features or problems, these are then picked up by the developers and testers who work autonomously to a develop a solution or increment that will create/generate value and finally deliver it. The whole team works towards a common goal and always prioritize value creation over everything else i.e. look at how this will benefit the customer and or generate $.

You can start right away by asking questions to yourself or your team (without annoying them too much). For example, what is my project really trying to achieve, and what is the business outcome, who is impacted, how does this make things better for them etc. If you don’t have the answers, ask your project team members. Try and put the product owner or business hat. Dare yourself to put that architecture/solution hat and see what they are trying to achieve with your project, how would you have done it differently to achieve better outcomes, any good ideas that you get, bounce it off your team and together drive it.

Example: We got rid of an excel based utility (which we were asked to update) and we in turn ended up delivering a user-configurable report straight out the upstream system, saving valuable time and effort, and above all simplifying the whole experience, all because we asked the right question and saw the big picture. It’s amazing what a right question to a right person can do.


This concludes BLOG#2. In the next blog I will touch on impacts to the current testing world, what is changing is and expected to change, and finally, conclude my blog series, so stay tuned…

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LPS

The LPS Wellington Office has moved.


LPS WELLINGTON OFFICE

We can now announce from the beginning of July we will have a new LPS Wellington office. On July 2nd the following address will be the new location for the Wellington office: Level 10, 142 Featherston Street, Wellington 6011. Our team is super excited about the new office. We can’t wait for our staff, clients, partners and wider connections to visit the new modern space.


Photos of the new LPS Wellington Office:

Here are a few images of what the office looks like. We can’t wait for you all to help us transform the blank canvas into our new LPS home.

LPS Wellington office Reception

LPS Wellington Kitchen


Keep an eye out for photos once the team has moved into the space.

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LPS, Testing

What are the triggers for change for testers? Are we headed towards Extinction?
By Venkat Raghavan Test manager

testers auckland and wellington

Morpheus (From The movie Matrix): “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

So, did I really have to make the title this dramatic? Of course I had to, and why? It is because this is my first blog at LPS and I wanted to spice it up…just to get more hits / read, a dramatic title (most of the times) gets the job done 😊. Jokes apart, this has kept me up at nights (or was it Netflix… um) and I started looking around for answers asking colleagues, attending brown bags, drink-ups and reading online content. I started to realize that I was not alone. The community plus industry was filled with people like me, and they all had similar questions, questions.

Where is this industry heading?

What is the next big disruptor, emerging trend?

Are my skills and me still relevant? What skills do I need and how far will they take me?

Agile or DevOps, is it here already and to stay what happens to SDLC?

Is Manual Testing going to become obsolete, Do I need automation? and it goes on…

I am sure there are many more questions, and many of you may share similar thoughts or feelings, so what better than addressing the elephant in the room and kicking off my blogging career  LPS by seeking answers to some of these questions.


Why and what is causing the change?

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change” – Heraclitus

keep calm and drink coffee

Before we get into the trends and disruptors, I think it would be good to set some context and get into the leaders’ shoes and see what they are seeing and why they are driving this. So, what do the leaders really want…? In summary, and based on the patterns of some of the industries and businesses in NZ, they are all striving to (my simplistic view, the list otherwise can get quite long).

1) Deliver better business outcome / value and fast via efficiencies /automation
2)Staying relevant and in most case ahead in terms of techno-business trends and disruptions in this highly volatile and competitive climate. (Some good examples:  Banking-NFC payments /Big Data / Machine Learning/AI. TV and Music – Streaming /online content. Automotive -Autonomous vehicles/ Battery driven etc.).


This vision has led to organizations embarking on transformation programs – call it technology transformation, new ways of working, automation, Dev Ops journey, Agile journey etc. and there are some splendid examples of what organizations have been able to achieve through their journeys. Some interesting case studies and success stories – Capital One , ING and good old Spotify.

 

How does this affect us the “Testing guys “?

“Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished:
If you’re alive, it isn’t “. -Richard Bach

Now that we set some context and triggers causing change, how do we Testers fit into all of this. The simple answer to all of this is – If there is code produced, there will exist bugs and it will need to be tested. Software Testing and or Quality is an integral part of the process / lifecycle and it cannot be ignored, as there are consequences or risks, and these risks will always need mitigation.

So, what will be different for us testers?

 I have summarized what I think is the continuously evolving picture of the key drivers that will affect our community, and each of these can be vast oceans in themselves, so we will try and look at each of these key drivers at a very high level in my next blog.

Again, this is purely my personal perspective and interpretation on the topic, and the ever-changing testing landscape, would be great to hear your thought and comments and stay tuned to read my next blog, coming soon…

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change management, LPS

What is Change Management?


People quite often ask what is change management? Change management is how you approach dealing with transition or transformation of organisations. This can involve their technologies, processes or goals. Strategies are used to help people adapt to the change and to also control the change. Procedures are included in the strategic plan to align with the change requests. Mechanisms are also used to follow up on the changes and respond to the requests.


Change management is what guides how companies prepare, equip and support people to successfully adopt the change in order to drive business success. Providing employees with structured approaches for supporting individuals through changes is very important. All changes will be different for each organisation due to the people and the organisation itself. There are three important parts of any change in a company explained further below. 



Organisational Change Management


A project team will be used to manage changes on a one on one basis. Change Management provides companies with step by step actions to take projects to the level needed to support the individuals impacted by those projects and changes. The change will happen on an individual level but on team project managing change one on one doesn’t work. 

Organisational change involves sectioning off the projects and people attached to each project and what those changes will be. Then create a plan that is customised for each project and group of people involved. This will include what training needs to be made and what those people need to be aware of prior and also after the change has been made.

Organisational change comes hand and hand with project management. Project management ensures your project’s solution is designed, developed and delivered, while change management ensures your project’s solution is effectively embraced, adopted and used.


Enterprise Change Management Capability

Enterprise change management is an organizational core competency that provides competitive differentiation and the ability to effectively adapt to the ever-changing world. An enterprise change management capability means effective change management is embedded into your organization. This is through roles, structures, processes, projects and leadership competencies. Change management processes are applied to initiatives. Leaders have the skills to guide their teams through the changes and this leads employees to know what to ask for in order to be successful.

In conclusion enterprise change management capability allows individuals to embrace change more quickly and effectively. A company can respond quickly to market changes, embrace strategic initiatives, and adopt new technology. As a result of responding quickly to market, there is less productivity impact. The following needs a strategic approach to embed change management across an organization.

 

Individual Change Management

Individual change is the understanding of an individuals experience throughout the change. It is understanding what this person needs in order for the change to go well. It involves knowing what messages to tell people and at what times. You also need to factor in that you need to coach people and help them develop the new skills that are involved in the change.  Individual change management is based on psychology and neuroscience. It applies actionable frameworks to individual change. In conclusion to answer what is change management really depends on the organisation and it’s stricture to determine what changes need to be managed and in what ways.

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change management, LPS

Leading Change
By Deanna Sorrell – Change Manager RBNZ

 

Change… we’ve all encountered a change in some shape or form (good or bad!), especially at work as we’re encouraged to be ‘agile’, ‘lean’, efficient and effective. In many organisations change is the new norm and so is actively encouraged and embraced. Ensuring change is adopted and sustained is the challenge, and there are eight steps you can follow to help with the success of your change journey.


*Kotter’s 8-step process for leading change:

Creating a climate for change 

1. Increase Urgency 

2. Build the guiding team 

3. Get the right Vision 

Engaging and enabling the whole organisation 

4. Communicate for buy-in 

5. Empowering action 

6. Create short-term wins 

Implementing and sustaining the change 

7. Don’t let up 

8. Make it stick 

Let’s explore each step in more detail, outlining what you should do as well as what you should try to avoid… 

Creating a climate for change 


1. Increase Urgency 

DO 

* Examine market and competitive realities for potential crises and/or untapped opportunities. 

* Convince at least 75% of your managers that the status quo is more dangerous than the unknown. 

AVOID 

* Underestimating the difficulty of driving people from their comfort zones. 

* Becoming paralysed by risks. 


2. Build the guiding team 

DO 

* Assemble a group of change agents with shared commitment and enough power to lead the change effort. 

* Encourage the group to work as a team outside the normal hierarchy.

AVOID 

* People with no prior experience of teamwork at the top. 

* Relegating team leadership to HR, or elsewhere rather than a senior line manager. 


3. Get the right Vision 

DO 

* Create a vision to direct the change effort. 

* Develop strategies for realising this vision. 

AVOID 

* Presenting a vision that’s too complicated or vague. 

Engaging and enabling the whole organisation 


4. Communicate for buy-in 

DO 

* Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies for achieving it. 

* Teach new behaviours by the examples given by the guiding coalition. 

AVOID 

* Under communicating the vision. 

* Behaving in ways that oppose the vision. 


5. Empowering action 

DO 

* Remove or change systems or structures undermining the vision. 

* Encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions. 

AVOID 

* Failing to remove powerful individuals who resist the change effort. 


6. Create short-term wins 

DO 

* Define and engineer visible performance improvements. 

* Recognise and rewards employees contributing to those improvements. 

AVOID 

* Leaving short-term successes to chance. 

* Failing to score successes soon enough. 

Implementing and sustaining the change 


7. Don’t let up 

DO 

* Use increased credibility from early wins to change systems, structures and policies undermining the vision. 

* Hire, promote and develop employees who can implement the vision. 

* Reinvigorate the change process with new projects and change agents. 

AVOID 

* Declaring victory too soon – with the first performance improvements. 

* Allowing resistors to convince the ‘troops’ that the war has been won. 


8. Make it stick 

DO 

* Articulate connections between new behaviours and corporate success. 

* Create leadership development and succession plans consistent with the new approach. 

AVOID 

* Not creating new social norms and shared values consistent with change. 

* Promoting people into leadership positions who don’t personify the new approach. 

*John P.Kotter is internationally known and widely regarded as the foremost speaker on the topics of Leading Change. He is the premier voice on how the best organisations actually achieve successful transformations, having identified and extracted the success factors into a methodology, the 8-Step Process for Leading Change.

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