Sunday, November 17, 2013

Zotero - Useful research tool

All netizens  process enormous quantities of  information in our daily lives. We try to recollect the previously processed information and usually try to rely on Google for search. If it is some thing that is on our computer hard disk, we may use search tools available for the operating system.  But these are inadequate, if you need to manage the public information resources  that you come across during your work.
Zotero icon(Credit:Zotero)

As people use multiple devices like desktop/laptop/tablet, the need for access to our files  has  led to popularization  of cloud storage sharing tools like Dropbox and also cloud applications like Google apps. However for research purposes Zotero is a special  free add-on to Firefox and other browsers, that helps to maintain your own card catalogue , have it portable through cloud and also lets  you stories copies of the important articles for offline use.

I became aware of this tool recently through Shyamal, an avid wikipedia contributor  who trained a batch of young wikipedians, on how they can take its help to improve Wikipedia citations.  I started using it  and It has become an essential tool for me. Do give it a try, if you have not tried this category of applications that can simplify you research/study work.

Monday, November 11, 2013

PMI ‌‌‌‌Bangalore Chapter's Footprints 7th Anniversary

I attended PMI ‌Bangalore Chapters' 7th Anniversary session of PM Footprints at Hotel Atria on 9 Nov 2013.  The event included a session titled  Agile development: Cultural Nuances by Sivan Menon, CTO - SW, GE Healthcare India, John F Welch Technology Center and  another one titled Meandering Musings by Siva Vajjhala, CEO & MD Advanced Business &Healthcare Solutions India.  It is a wonder that a program of this nature where a speaker presents on a topic  every two weeks  had recorded a total of 213 sessions without missing a beat over seven years.  The speakers who contributed to making this happen during 2012-13  were also recognized with a certificate and a small gift on the occasion.  I also felt  happy to have been a speaker for the session on Risk management few months back.
PM Footprints Logo

The event  provided an occasion to get to know Murali Santhanam and Vijay C Paul, who have taken over as President, Secretary respectively of PMI Bangalore Center.  BG Jayaram, past President thanked Amar Bhaskar for the program initiation and wished that it would evolve  to support virtual sessions and failure stories which will be of great help for professionals. The "Recognition of Excellence" award received by PMI Bangalore Chapter from PMI was presented to the audience by Vijay Paul. 

Sivan explained how Software development evolved over the years towards  Agile development with the Internet era. He explained that  human resource processes needed to change to support this transformation. He said that simple techniques like  empowering the teams to participate in selecting new team members or using 360 degree feedback for  appraisals are helpful in the cultural change. He spoke  about how he has seen Agile work even in a well regulated domain like medical products, by engaging more with customer has been beneficial and how these can be extended to other industries.

Siva focused on more down to earth matters like the common pit falls in pre-sales processes and use of human intelligence and triangulation to identify potential problems in early stages can be helpful based on his experiences at Mindtree. He also talked about  group dynamics and introduced the dangers of group think and group shift and how they can be avoided by  simple techniques like step ladder technique where individual group recommendations are combined  in a sequential manner with those from other groups.

During the Q&A session, T. R. Anand, Management Consultant & Advisor  opined that organizations need to develop skills to handle unstated scope, which may lead to risks/opportunities.

Rakesh who served as the anchor for the program and other speakers made the entire evening entertaining by humorous remarks.



Monday, November 04, 2013

Cloud based project management

Awareness of Project Management and its impact on business success  is increasing day by day, thanks to the advocacy of Project Management Organizations and also adverse publicity in the media about challenges in  delivering large and complex projects. Many companies have set up or planning to setup project management offices to help improve Project management maturity with appropriate focus on process, people and tools.
Ace project App
A project app(Credit:BiH via Commons)

Simple project management tools over the last decade have become more powerful  to be able to support project portfolio management. Another trend is that more tools are becoming available on cloud, which promotes  access to all project stakeholders  wherever they are physically.  Smart phone support is also increasing so that people can still access their projects even if they are on the move.   Integration of Social media like features and integration with other tools like email enables people  to collaborate better.

The above trends will enable more and more traditional companies to become better at project management as they move from ad-hoc and non Internet based processes to Internet based processes. While proprietary software like Microsoft Project 2013 has advanced features, several competitors are emerging,  offering solutions at various price points.  Traditional issue management software like Bugzilla are also evolving  to support  scrum teams,(Scrumbugz) while several collaboration tool vendors and Web 2.0 are offering enhanced support for project management.   New tools, developed from scratch to support agile development needs  are also available (Trello).