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Leading, Managing, Doing

By:  Philip Smith

Phil Smith Bridge360I recently traveled to Europe on a business trip and was sitting up late in the hotel catching up on things that had happened at the home office while I was in flight.  I had the TV on in the background with a World War II documentary to keep me company. Fortunately the documentary ended and I was able to get back to the business at hand, but not before I picked up on a recurring point the documentary was making, which was Rommel’s impressive ability to lead his armies both strategically and tactically.  General Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944), popularly known as The Desert Fox, continuously sought out ways to be unpredictable and grabbed geographic advantages even when it did not look possible. Fortunately for the Allied forces, Rommel usually over-achieved his goals, unintentionally overextending his ability to hold a region, or leaving a critical supply line vulnerable.

I actually committed to this blog title a while back, as I was planning to write about the difference between leading, managing, and doing.  I was going to differentiate leaders as people who motivate, encourage, strategize, manage risk, and build balance within the business domain (people, business, and customer). I was going to describe the doers as the people who have the skills, training, capability, and motivation to show up for work every day and get the job done, whatever that job might be.  These doers have respect for their profession and manage their career to the best of their ability. The managers in the middle bring it all together. They are the team builders, the front lines to the client, the make-sure-it-gets-done-no-matter-what people, and the example to the rest of the team. I was going to dig into these concepts and attempt to surface some original wisdom.

However, that documentary took me briefly away from my workplace and put me on a different thought plane about leadership. The wisdom here is that success can result from surprising the competition. Internally, a leader must be consistent and predictable, such that the established vision can actually be achieved. Externally, it is best to leave competitors wondering what you, the market leader might be reinventing.

Managers are the people who enable leaders to lead. Their ability to comprehend the challenges their teams face while also working in support the larger objectives requires them to be creative on a daily basis. The team members who work in support of the managers also bring creativity to their work. At Bridge360, our people invent and reinvent on a daily basis, regardless of role. Sure, we’re not lighting homes on fire to conceal our forces (that would be ridiculous in peace time), but we are finding better ways to implement complex business rules in a legacy payment system. We are helping a client use new technology to improve their collection of marketing information, which will help with market penetration. We are implementing a website with reusable design elements and code snippets to allow a client to accelerate a massive technology refresh. And in the business that we were founded on, testing, we are deploying key people with key skill sets to make sure that our client’s new projects are brought to market in a reliable fashion. These projects require clearly defined roles, as well as the flexibility to be nimble and shape-shift (or even fully integrate ourselves into our client’s team structure) based on what the project may require.

Leading, managing, and doing… we are accomplishing it in surprising ways at all levels in the organization, and more importantly we are doing it for and with our clients.

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Mature Requirements

By Nadine Parmelee

Nadine ParmeleeIn an ideal world, as a project nears completion, time is taken to make sure project artifacts are checked for accuracy and archiving ­— for example: requirements documents, project plans, and specifications to name a few.  For the Quality Assurance team, their focus will be on the Test Plan, use cases/test cases, tools data and other elements associated with testing for the project.  This effort should be done throughout the project in order to maintain project integrity and mitigate any risks associated with people making mistakes because they were looking at down-level information.  This blog is intended to share why keeping requirements current before, during and upon completion of a project provides better quality products overall.

As a product matures and the requirements for existing features change, it is important to make sure requirements are updated, and/or new requirements are written. As project teams become more fluid, and new members may need to join, the ramp-up time (and costs) of adding new features and updating to a newer version can be greatly reduced when the information available to the current project team is up to date. Moreover, it is not uncommon once a product has been in use for a while for only a few people to remain who have any project experience who would be familiar with changes that have been made along the way, when, and why.

From a Quality Assurance Engineer’s perspective, having any confusion regarding what is ‘in test’ and what isn’t will lead to poor results.  It becomes confusing when test cases and the existing requirements don’t match up and the testing team is left to ‘figure out’ what the best course of action is to reach the correct expected results.  Do they have accurate test cases?  Do they have enough test cases?  Do they have all high risk data points in the test cases? Do the test cases give the desired coverage to deliver expected quality?  Keeping project requirements accurately documented throughout the lifecycle of the project, all the way through project close, is essential to enable your test team to start off on the right foot without ambiguity, and stay the course throughout.  Your test team can now concentrate their time and energy on making sure they are ready to test the new features and functionality and possibly enhance their delivery for even higher quality results.

It is my position that solid, well-understood and documented requirements will enhance all facets of delivering quality across entire project teams (especially the Quality Assurance people where you will often find my loyalties).