Product Backlog of Successful Engagement

I think, a successful engagement needs successful completion of all the stories given in the following backlog.

  1. Programming – knowledge of technology
  2. Customer management – this is a niche skill
  3. Communication – this is a soft skill, communication becomes very sensitive as you start interacting with various stakeholders
  4. Building relation with various stakeholders – does not come naturally to everyone
  5. Consultancy beyond programming – proactive approach
  6. Finding repeat business and explore more business opportunities – need vision and business outlook
  7. Foresee risks and handling escalations – typical management areas
  8. Resourcing decisions and resource movements – need to have companywide resourcing perspective and vision, knowledge of the contract
  9. Bailing project out of crisis when in serious trouble – out of box thinking, crisis management experience

I wonder how many items of the above backlog a technical team along with scrum master can pick up. The software development team who is too focused (team must be focused) in development, playing with technology every minute – it’s hard for them to focus in all of the above mentioned areas. I am not saying it is impossible. There are teams who have done this. But this is something which is not possible for every individual and every team to follow successfully. First of all – it needs good amount of time which a team focused on technology and feature development cannot find it too easily. Then it needs all together different perspective. It does need experience and niche skills. Teams may have all of these but at times, may not at that level and to that extent where it is required. That’s why you need someone who can pick non-technical stories from the above backlog and help team’s effort align with these. You don’t want to call this role as manager, absolutely fine (I know some of the Agile practitioners are allergic to the word ‘manager’) but there needs to be someone for sure. I think it is over ambitious to expect from a technical team to pick up all of the above mentioned 9 stories. Although the non-technical stories are relevant in any scenarios, they become even more important when development is done in distributed mode.

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Life in a Corporate -3, Art of Writing Resume

Resume is the generally the corporate identity for any individual. In professional life, this is the first thing shared with anyone. Psychiatrists can even guess the personality of a person by looking at the resume. It is the first impression of you to any stakeholder who wants to engage you. Besides, resume also represents our written communication skills and presentation skills.

 

While making any professional document, it is very important to know the target audience. For resume – anyone from any background can be the audience. In fact, language of the resume should be written in such a manner that any kind of audience can easily understand. Another attribute of resume is that it should be able to generate interest in the reader and the interest must continue till the end. Here are few tips that might help:

 

  1. Short and simple sentences.
  2. Avoid abbreviations. If required, use extension at least first time.
  3. Nouns should be used as it is. (e.g. JUnit, JBoss, WebLogic).
  4. Same tense (past or present) throughout the document.
  5. Avoid repetition of phrases.
  6. Be explicit wherever possible. Write objectively. Avoid ambiguous words like etc., many, approximate. Idea here is – if you don’t know precisely about yourself – who else would know?
  7. Consistency in font, style.
  8. Avoid local references. Resume generally goes to international customers. For them any local reference (name of local university) has no meaning unless it is a well known thing (e.g. IIT, IIM etc.).
  9. Avoid highlighting (using bold) things unless it is of really significant importance.
  10. Grammatically correct. (e.g. no uppercase letter in between a sentence,  full stop at the end etc.)
  11. Avoid using copy paste from other person’s resume.
  12. If you have written any article or blog, it is good to give URL(s).
  13. Header and footer should appear on every page and must be consistent in font.
  14. Project description should be simple and concise so that it is easy to understand by anyone and generates interest.
  15. After finishing the resume, take a print out and verify if everything is in right format, no truncation.
  16. The project history should be in reverse chronological order.

 

Life in a Corporate -1 Art of Appreciation

I am starting a series of blogs where I will share my thoughts about human behavior in the context of corporate life. The first one in the series is about ‘Art of Appreciation’.

Appreciation is one part of human psychology that brings smile to the other person. Nature has provided human beings abundance ability to appreciate. It does not require any special skill to appreciate someone and it does not cost anything. Objectively, it has following hidden benefits:

  1. If people around you are happy, it will help you also to be happy.
  2. It motivates people and helps improve performance which is required to be successful
  3. If people around you are successful, then as a part of team you are bound to be successful
  4. It brings people closer to each other, increases harmony reduces enmity

Everyone has his own way to appreciate and how s/he wants to be appreciated. There is no rule of thumb to determine what the best way to appreciate is? I am highlighting a few types of appreciations:

  1. Public appreciation or in private
  2. Written or verbal
  3. Formal (email) or informal (skype, test message)
  4. In meetings in presence of peers or one-to-one

Frequency and timing of appreciation is also important. Some people need it too often and for others, once in a while is good enough. Timing of appreciation determines the impact of appreciation. If you appreciate today’s good work tomorrow, it may dilute the impact. Various ways to appreciate are:

  1. Words (can do wonders)
  2. Certificate (friends and family too can cherish)
  3. Monetary Incentives (e.g. movie tickets, gift vouchers, any other form of cash incentive)
  4. Gifts (e.g. book, souvenir)
  5. Bigger Responsibility

Sometime people don’t appreciate. Reasons could be:

  1. Lack of awareness about the importance of appreciation
  2. Peer competition prevents people appreciating others. It’s a myth that by appreciating, they are giving away advantage to peers and bringing others in limelight. In other words, people want to take all the credit themselves and hence prevent them to appreciate which is a violation of team spirit.

Appreciation must always be real based on your true judgment of good work of others. It must never be fake just to impress someone. Motive of appreciation is never to impress but an expression of your happiness straight from your heart about good work. We should be generous to appreciate colleagues, friends, and customers. Ability to appreciate is a reflection of your ability to collaborate. It has direct link if you are a team player or an individual contributor. Appreciation at the right moment in appropriate manner to the delight of the other person can spark someone’s performance to reach to new peaks. It can also help bridge the broken relationship.