Saturday, August 02, 2008

CSR-Adopt a village

Indusprayas is currently involved in sponsoring the education of kids in various schools. We are also embarking on the efforts towards school adoption, wherein we would be getting involved not only in sponsoring the education but also the transformation of the school into a better entity. This may include things like provision of a library for the school, improving the infrastructure where ever possible and so on. Such an activity, i believe would have a very good impact and it does excite me to think about it.

On the same lines, i was thinking how feasible it is to 'Adopt a Village'. Intimidating as it may sound, this i believe would be revolutionary in all aspects.
First, it would be a step towards the creation of a Triple Bottom Line organization. The impact it would have on the society would be enormous and an organization can focus on education, environment, health and other such aspects all at the same time. This i believe, is important since one would be tackling and resolving problems at the root. More often than not, problems are not because of lack of education. A child not attending school cannot be just lack of interest but could be because of numerous reasons like health, finances etc. Steps like adoption of a family, village would cater to such issues and would be sustainable.
Such a step would go a long way in transforming the village and generations to come.
If this cannot be taken up by a single organization, it could be two or three organizations who could get together and take such a step. I believe working for a common cause is the best way to build up relations.
And what is it in for organizations apart from marketing and being a socially responsible organization? Damn, if only i was the Mayor/DM/CM, such organizations would be given good amount of tax breaks!

This thought process is just in the direction of going beyond assistance in education and so on. Unfeasible and unrealistic it may be, even if we took steps towards taking the sponsorship a step more than just education, the purpose would be served. While penning this down, i was thinking about adoption of families as a step in this direction!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Stepping into the new shoes...

Post May 15th, I have stepped into the an altogether new role of an associate consultant for the award winning solutions of Globallogic, Velocity. The role is an exciting one and as an associate consultant i am to assist the projects in process, methods and behaviors improvement and help them in aligning themselves to Velocity. 2 years into the past, if anybody would have asked me if i wanted to be in Software, i would have blatantly denied. But today, i am not only working in the same field but also enjoying it. Not that i still want to be a 'software developer' for life. Its just that the very idea of being able to bring about improvements in the project life cycle and thus improving the productivity is what i look forward to. As a developer for the past 2 yrs, i have had a good experience (eh?) about the problems that plague the life cycle of the project. Lack of clarity of requirements, delayed deadlines, frequent stressed out days, frustration of the developer, lack of clarity and what not. Even when i was working as a developer, i was thinking, There's got to be a better way of doing things! And that's when i tripped over Agile spelled with a capital A!
Agile as a methodology is so common sensical that i can still say that am not delving into the world of IT (see i am not being a hypocrite ;)). I could really relate to whatever problems ihad encountered and how going Agile could solve it. And it is not at all rocket science. Its just a simple change in behavior and adopting some light weight processes.
So the question is what would i do as a Velocity Consultant?Heck, there are n number of leads, managers and what not out there who can very well do the same. Why am i needed if this is so common sensical as i describe it.
Well, i know common sense is the least common (;)) but jokes apart, the so called incharge of the projects are so fraught and tied up with deliveries that they cannot bring about this so called revolution. After all, Agile in a sense is revolutionary because the biggest change it asks for is the change in the behaviors- change in the way we manage the teams, change in the way the developers code, change in the roles etc. Therefore, more often than not, these people do require an external force to change the way they function. And that is my bread and butter! :)
Still coming to terms with the Velocity solutions, i really feel that is promising and as i put it, my heart is where excitement is!
Lets see how it goes! Expect to be a regular one out here sharing my experiences. After all, its part of my MBO (the one without the payout :( offcourse.)
Auf widersehen!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Working in the IT Industry-Lessons to be unlearnt

With more than 60% of the population thriving on IT industry, I am sure you would have come across these often. Be it as a manager, lead, or resource, these scenarios are common place. And they go here not because i like them but i despise them.

1) This project is critical. We must deliver by this deadline
Run for your lives! The count down has begun. The world is coming to an end, as this functionality remains undelivered. In India, there is no project in IT which is not critical. I am sure that the 123 agreement, the CTBT, the delhi metro project don't even come near when it is about delivery of a patch deemed as highly critical but correction of a misspelled name, changing the text font, changing the background and what not. The crux is that people and specifically managers (now don't stare at me when i say that! All i am doing is referring to the common race) do not understand that by deeming something illogical as critical, all they are doing is increasing the frustration levels, uneasiness of the resources. Why on earth do we need to deem a project or a enhancement as critical when they can be lived without it. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?

2) Give us a rough estimate of how many man hours would it take?Siddharth, come on, you said it was 15 days. That was a commitment to the client we made. Its unprofessional to go back on that.

First of all, tell me this. Where the heck did you study?Didn't we all know what the word 'estimate' means? For the uninitiated, according to the online dictionary, it means A tentative evaluation or rough calculation, as of worth, quantity, or size. Please note the specific stress on rough. I really fail to understand how the word has been skewed to such an extent, that we fail to understand that an estimate refers to only a rough quantization and is not accurate. And if it were, it would not have been called an estimate. And why do we always have to associate the word estimate with professionalism? I can see no connection there. Couldn't we just do away with this practice?And are we paid labour, that our efforts are calculated in man hours. What a derision of the world of Information technology. We are engineers and let us maintain the dignity of the same.

3) you said 4 days of effort. And you are 2 people. So that means this can be done in 2 days.
You fail to see that one of them has an experience of 4 years and i am a neophyte. How can we both be possibly giving the same delivery and with the same efficiency? If that be the case, man we really don't need those fat pay checks for the experienced ones, do we?

4) We need this, that, that, this, even this, even that in the demo. It cannot be done without it.

Now should i refer back to the meaning of the word demo? All i want to say is that, a demo by all means is a demonstration of the functionality and in no way the final product. We all understand this and still we want the slightest of the configurations in the demo. What for?So that the client suggests some changes and you redo the whole thing and waste those precious 'man hours'. Now, somebody said productivity right?

5) We have 2 resources dedicated full time for this.

Which resource are we talking about? Natural, energy, man made, conventional, non conventional? Ohh i failed to realise that you were talking about people. I just wish that we did away with this practice.

For me, all these are not critical remarks but something which i need to learn, infact we all need to. Maybe these are just the way it should be, but for me these are the lessons to be learnt. One of the person i had a chance to work under, was how i would want to grow into as a professional. Someone who places immense faith in people. Personally, i believe in the immense power of people over everything else. I would rather give complete power to the subordinates and let them come up with something. Because, in the end, thats what is important. The delivery and the satisfaction of people. One of the key ingredients of a leader.

And that brings me to another point. This is the reason why i feel that Agile is the way to go. Not because i feel that it is technologically superior or something. For me the sole reason for an interest in it would be its importance on people over processes. Protecting people from the clutches of unwanted processes. Lets go back to each one of the above and see how Agile fits in there, even though i do not know the ABC of Agile (well as of now, i stand uneducated on this topic, but not for long)

1) This project is critical. We must deliver by this deadline
Well, you are a stake holder in the development too. And you also know how much effort we are putting in. With the iteration planning meetings, burn down charts, you get to know
where we are standing. We understand that this is critical, and you also understand that we also are doing our best. And do not try to push us too hard. Our scrum master is there to save us from thy wrath.

2) Give us a rough estimate of how many man hours would it take?Siddharth, come on, you said it was 15 days. That was a commitment to the client we made. Its unprofessional to go back on that.

Agile, completely understands the true meaning of an estimate. While it does want it to get better and better in terms of accuracy, whatever could not go in can be put in the backlog. Its the best we could do. And all along we track the progress with the burn down charts. We know that we have got a dip there and haven't met the expectation. But we are trying to close the gap in the chart.

3) you said 4 days of effort. And you are 2 people. So that means this can be done in 2 days.
Agile realizes that while one resource could do a job in 4 days, the same can be done by another in 2 days and vice versa. So, if i am better, i get the task during the IPM since my odds were the best (i said that i can do it in 2 days flat while others would have taken 4 days, and not only that, i still get to explain why i can do it in 2 days and why it should not take more than that). Realize that what i am good at, he might not be and vice versa.

4) We need this, that, that, this, even this, even that in the demo. It cannot be done without it.
For Agile, the working code matters more than anything else. It is not the super cool UI they want in the very first iteration. They would come up with a working functionality, and tell the client that all these cool things can be added to it in another iteration. And best of all, they include the client in the whole process.

5) We have 2 resources dedicated full time for this.
Hmmm...I don't really know how Agile would help here, but from what i could gather from Aman, he used to say that for Agile, it is two team members which are important. They would rather pair up and program and would never say that it would be completed in 2 days flat. They understand that 1+1 is not always 2 in any practical case and if it were it would be the epitome of synergy.

With these ramblings, i think i better get to what i was doing. High time i started writing those dreaded essays.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Straight from the heart....

Ok...This one is as a result of a direct ruling by the Home Ministry that thou shalt write something today. And obviously, when the Home ministry passes such an order, that would mean that the topic can not diverge from her. To hell with politics, technology, crap about vegetarianism, ICL, stock markets and all. Everything is there till i get a chance to live!
Thinking about it, govt. seems to be right in its demand. After all, its our first anniversary and we are not together. Obviously, she deserves some royal treatment. On 25th Jan, 2007, I had proposed Gia at 4:00 am in the morning (although she would say it was 5:00 am! Never mind! Do not listen to her. What would she know about it! It was me whose life was at stake and who was at the receiving end!), sneaking into her room and asking her to marry me. Today, on 25 Jan, 2008 we complete exactly one year of being together.

By far, this has been the most interesting experience we have had. Through these four years, we have fought, cried, laughed and done some crazy things (Not for the faint hearted! ;) ). We have realized that we have differences, we both like different things, hate different things, but there has been one common thing. We both cannot do without each other. And that common thing is what our love is all about. There hasn’t been a day when I could stay mad at her for the whole day. I need to talk to her every day and she wants to talk to me many more times a day, a good sign for a guy that his girl still loves him. We started out as a couple who didn’t know each other well, who could not say ‘I love you’ to each other (I could but she could not! ;) See how committed I am!). There was this time that we were both artificial (I was! She wasn’t. Happy?). But gradually and with time, we learnt a lot of things from each other, realized that even though we are a little different what matters is that we love each other a lot and cannot do without each other. With every phone call and visit, our love blossomed. And I realized that Gia is more than just plain beauty. Realized that when she falls in love, there is nothing in this world that can take that thing away from her. And I am the lucky ass who is that thing. I realized that from inside, she is the most beautiful kid I have ever known or come across. One who would get upset if she cannot get hold of her cookies, or one who would cry if I didn’t say that I love her. Her dreams are not like many of the idiots including me. They are as sweet as, well, going to Disneyland. This is one girl, capable of doing just about everything to me. She can make me laugh, cry and what not. And this is one girl who can be kick ass jealous sometimes (even though there is nothing to be jealous of. Its only her and her and as usual she can never trust me! J ). I remember the beautiful things she has done for me and I have been so stupid by not appreciating it (I did realize it sweety! I seriously did!). All this make me realize that life with her is what I could have dreamt. Or I should say, never dreamt.

Gia, even though this one year, I have not been able to spend quality time with you, I have so involved and engrossed in something that I could not realize that you were upset, I want to tell you that life with you still remains what I could never dream off. I know I have erred at many a places, and I have taken away this precious time from you, have been so engrossed that I did not find time to meet you even on your birthday or our anniversary, I have broken promises, I still want to tell you that with you and only with you I want to spend my life. Only you and you can be my wife. Thanks for being so supportive throughout this phase. Love you lots!

Happy proposal anniversary,

Love Sid

PS: Now that its going to be over soon, where do you think we should celebrate? La Meridian? ;)