Out with the UAT! November 2, 2011Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Enterprise Content Management.
Tags: bpm, Business Process Management, ecm, Enterprise Content Management, project, Project Management, testing, UAT, User Acceptance Test
Its long been more than a decade of software project deliveries for me and over the period it has been punctured with many a UAT. If I were to honestly rate failure-to-success ratios with UAT over the first attempt, it would stand at 95%-5%!
That’s how difficult it is to get a UAT right the first time round. Either it must be me or it must be in the entire concept of UAT. And when you make it an ECM or a BPM UAT, it goes from bad to worse. I mean how can you get it right with solutions that aim to bring structure to a spontaneous practice ?
Giving due to credit to my hardly invisible narcissistic nature, the fault can’t lie with me and must be with the concept of UAT. And I truly believe the User Acceptance Test is a rearguard safety feature similar to those with a parachute for both business and IT.
I mean, how many professionals does it take to send out a clear message that “I don’t know what I wanted in the first place” and “I don’t know if I built what you didn’t know you wanted in the first place”.
It is time the concept of UAT was made redundant as it definitely has not shown any signs of clear improvement over the years and across different businesses and technologies.
So, what if we simply eliminate the UAT? How would we verify if business got what they asked for and if IT delivered what was asked for?
Well, why would you spend time building something if you didn’t know what was being asked for? Would you build a Burj Khalifa or an Empire State Building and then ask if this was what you wanted in the first place? Of course not!
Just because Information Technology provides one with flexibility does not mean it must be abused by making it go through a trial and run exercise every time. I have always believed there is a lot to learn from those masters of the project management - The Construction Industry. They too start from an idea to a visualization to a blueprint to delivery. Yet, once built, they do performance tests and not go back to the drawing board to add another floor to a foundation that was not built for it in the first place.
In the domains of ECM and BPM, it is time the UAT was made extinct. The business gets to place its requirement in a clear and crisp form and then IT delivers it to the dot. No User tests, only performance and integration tests!
Thus enforcing Business to ensure they are sure of what they ask for and enforcing IT to ensure they deliver what was explicitly asked. If I ask for a Spicy McChicken, please don’t serve me a Double Mac!
Of course, this will be a challenge in the initial period, however, over time, Business and IT will find that balance to make sure both of them have a smooth ride. Its like marriage, the beginning can be tough, but through continuous interaction and communication, the vibes get better and life gains rhythm. Coming from an Asian culture, where in most societies, divorce is considered taboo, the husband and wife find a way to live and love each other.
For Business and IT to come closer, one must bring forth a certain enforcement and getting rid of the UAT is my recommended Small Step and Giant Leap, 2-in-1!!
Ramadan in the GCC – A lesson in ECM & BPM Project Governance August 16, 2011Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Enterprise Content Management.
Tags: Bahrain, bpm, Business Process Management, ecm, Enterprise Content Management, GCC, governance, information governance, Kuwait, Oman, project governance, Project Management, Qatar, Ramadan, Saudi Arabia, UAE
The Holy Month of Ramadan brings forth a religious and spiritual ambience to the GCC. How it manages to create this mood is through reduced working hours ( 6 hours a day) and enforcement of abstinence from food and beverage
consumption during the fasting hours ( dawn to dusk). Both, the reduced hours and the abstinence are applicable to one and all, irrespective of their religion.
For those less aware of Ramadan, it is a holy month in the Islamic (Hijri) Calendar when Muslims all over the world fast from dawn to dusk without water and food. During this period, Muslims also give plenty in charity (Zakat), abstain from all sins and maintain discipline and order. In the GCC, this is encouraged by less work pressure but is also enforced through regulations that support the practices of the month.
How this impacts the Muslims and Non-Muslims is very interesting to observe. The Muslims, obviously, welcome the environment in the GCC as it helps them go through the month through social support and acceptance. The Non-Muslims, especially new arrivals from countries with minimal Islamic exposure (expect the next generation French to lead this group), tend to be frustrated and then over time adjust themselves with great difficulty at being forced not to eat or drink in public (Funnily, they rarely tend to praise the convenience of reduced working hours and pressure).
Yet, the governments are able to manage this in spite of the fact that they have a strong Non-Muslim expatriate workforce that is also necessary to keep their country functional and their economy alive. Bear in mind that there is no excessive force applied to enforce these practices upon others. Also, the Non-Muslims are not forced to fast; they are merely restricted from consumption in public as mark of respect. In fact, there are a few restaurants open and all restaurants are allowed to do home delivery.
How then, do the governments manage this?
It’s simple, through Acceptance and Enforcement.
While the majority Muslims accept with open and spiritual arms, the significant minority Non-Muslims swallow it as a spoonful of culture and a bowl full of strict regulations. A heady mix of belief and fear has worked its magic to ensure the Holy Month of Ramadan has for decades kept its sanctity and structure in the GCC as per the practices of this region.
As an inspired ECM and BPM professional, my challenges in projects have always been about bringing best practices and standards of both domains into active use. I would not be bold to say that they have been major successes most of the time with respect to the initial objectives of such projects (see ECM = Enterprise Culture Management: The GCC Analogy for the rationale).
Just like the month of Ramadan, ECM and BPM projects also require discipline (to maintain consistency), abstinence (to avoid old bad habits) and regulations (strong policies to enforce practice). If one is able to add charity (flexibility to function) to this mix, a recipe for better project success may be there for us to savor.
ECM and BPM projects must address the requirements of the larger public (the business users) to gain Acceptance while restraining the old habits of the significant minority (the management) through Enforcement as most deviations originate from management than the “Average Joe” workforce.
Perhaps, the Rest of the World can learn something from GCC on how to apply governance through a mix of acceptance and enforcement. Now, if only GCC corporates also learnt this, I would have more satisfying projects delivered to write home about.
3 Simple Tricks to BPM Project Management March 27, 2011Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management.
Tags: bpm, business analysis, business process automation, Business Process Management, change, change management, information governance, information management, Project Management, requirements management
For the Users, With the Users, By the Users.
Inspired the legendary Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote, BPM Project Management requires a lavish dollop of democratic practices.
Traditional Project Management practices cover the 3 pillars of any project – Scope, Time and Budget. But, BPM requires more than these and includes a fourth and possibly the most difficult of them all to manage – Effort.
Leading a BPM Project is a herculean task. By adopting 3 simple tricks, it is possible to make it easier than it would otherwise be. In no way does this replace your current Project Management methodology, be it PMP or PRINCE2, but aims to enhance the effectiveness of both with a touch of social service.
For the Users
Conventional management logic requires PMs to be based away from the users and relying on their Business Analysts to take care of the users. In BPM, it is recommended that as a PM, you engage yourself hands-on in defining and executive 1 process.
While the decision makers and influencers are key stakeholders, BPM’s success lies in sorting the details with the users and by leading from the front and working for them actively in the beginning, you are able to understand their concerns and requirements, their culture and gain their trust.
Hence, the first move and initial hard work must come not from the BA, but from the PM. So go ahead and model the first process yourself.
With the Users
Assuming the PM has modeled the first process, it is quite natural to fall back and drift away from the users to traditional project management practices.
Don’t do it. Not yet. BPM is a slippery character and hence, requires consistent focus and care. Having lead from the front, it is time for the PM to now position alongside the users as they begin to model their processes. Be a partner, a shadow, a shoulder to lean on as they learn the ropes of process modeling.
This is where the PM truly gains their trust, where the PM becomes a part of them, of the team, of their pain, of their pleasures. Gain that key brownie point that would be the ace up the sleeve.
By the Users
Mankind is such a social being. And most of them are emotional social beings. Once they have begun to trust and accepted someone, they tend to commit themselves lock, stock and barrel to the cause. A trait well utilized by religious and political leaders.
As a BPM Project Manager, without any ulterior motives, this camaraderie will motivate the users to adopt BPM with passion and emotion. Once you achieve this, you will witness that BPM now moves into auto-pilot. Now would be the time to go back to fully focusing on your scope, time and budget.
I wish you all the success.
P.S. It is easier done than said. I have done it.