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Expectations of owners and users

Zulfikar Deen  on “Expectations of owners and users”. The video is at the end of this blog)

Let’s start from an end user. For end-users the solution makes their job easier, more productive and efficient. Any solution which gets delivered to them, they expect them to work hundred percent, there is no full thought process of DevOps and my side of the view here. I can’t have half-baked or DevOps. I got something working for you , let me know how it works, then I will build it better for you, these half -baked  doesn’t work for me. When the solution goes to my end user, it has to be working hundred percent. If there are 10 features that have been planned and if three of them are working, then all the three features must work hundred percent. That’s an expectation.

Secondly, the end users are expecting  and treating the whole solution as a black box, they don’t differentiate whether it’s an application, it’s a front end, it is a network or  it is a backup. If it doesn’t work, it’s of no use. We need to ensure that the whole solution looks at everything and one can’t have a siloed view that it’s my solution.  For example if we are rolling out a partner solution to our end user or to an internal built solution, if it doesn’t work then even if the reason is not related to the application the users would still say this application did not work.  It’s the responsibility of the whole system to ensure that this whole thing is tested properly and taken a holistic view. 

As an IT organizationor or  as a CIO organization when the  partners are dealing with us, they cannot treat IT organization as their customer because we are not their customers. We and the partner together are servicing our business so they need to co-ordinate and work very well with us to meet the expectations of my business users. Often they make a mistake treating IT organization as a customer. We are not their customers. We are  working on behalf of them taking their solution to the end users. Hence, partners need to support us and empathize with our team.

From the business any system that  is rolled out, it has to have value in some form. Whether its improvement in clinical quality or reduction in my operation cost or make my people more productive, There has to be some associated business benefit. 

The problem before and after is , before we take up solution to business, I should be able to prove or I should be able to at least articulate along with the partners how this will help the business in those parameters whether it is clinical quality or compliance.If  it is compliance, It is critical.GST it has to be there, there’s no other choice. It could be compliance or clinical quality or operation efficiency or revenue.I need to be able to prove it is helpful to the business and the system should have the mechanism to show matrix around this.Many times, that’s a key piece we miss in many software.The matrix of the system, whether it is in terms of adoption, in terms of usage, in terms of usability in terms of business metrics. All the matrix should be bid to the system. 

When putting the system in place, when my business asks the questions such as how are we doing? what is our ROI in the last one year? Here, I shouldn’t be scrambling that I got the system in place and people are using but what’s happening is not known . If I can’t figure out or produce some reports to figure out how the system is being used. It’s of no use.  Such aspects need to be baked in the system. What’s my adoption level? What’s my business metrics? they need to be part of the system. So for the end users it is about the solution. For the business users it’s about the adoption and the business metrics out of it.

On Career Growth

(In this SmartBits, Anuj Magazine outlines “ On Career Growth “.  The video is at the end of this blog)

Career growth can be divided into two buckets. One is  the nonlinearity aspect of the career, and the other uni-dimensionality. One of the things found common in most reasonably sized organisation is that each and every organization has career paths and the way the career paths tend to get designed are that there is an entry role that one gets into post college and then there is a role at the top.

The role which is essentially at the top of these ladders are of a VP or a Department Head.  Looking at these career paths, the highest designation in the organization is that of a CEO, if we associate these two logically, we will tend to think why organizations do not give a path till the CEO role in the organisation. This led to the question on the linear approach of following the career paths,  that are designed in the organisation.

Mark Templeton CEO of Citrix for around 20 years and quite respected in his field said that career paths up to the top in the organisation rarely tend to be linear, they always zigzag. One needs to figure out where the next dot is, to move forward. This questions the rationale behind the linear careers. There is nothing wrong having a predictable career path. It does help to solve a problem in the organisation. For instance HR wants predictable processes, even employees want them too, and there is nothing wrong with that, as not everyone wants to be a CEO. But there are other merits to following a nonlinear path.

The second part is on the uni dimensionality, let us take example of startups, .When the startup is new and the product market fit is not achieved, people play different roles being in one designation such as marketing, coding, testing or they may be hustling around and doing sales. In early stage organizations, one can afford to be a specialist in the interest of moving the organisation forward, but when it comes to scale, the uni- dimensionality, the specialisation matter,  of having a deep knowledge of one subject or maybe a related set of technology help scales the organisation and go to the next level.

Should I be a generalist or a specialist? If you want to be a specialist, choose a field that is going to be relevant in the time to come.The people who chose artificial intelligence and machine learning fifteen years back are reaping the rewards of that. In IPL we see around 200 odd cricketers from India in that competition, which is hardly around two to three percent of the cricket playing population or even less and these are like hyper specialised individuals who specialise in their areas.For choosing a specialised field it is better to have the conviction to be in the top ten or twenty percent so that one can reap the rewards in the time to come.

Generalists are people who are more adaptable, who can learn a new skill in a shorter time and deliver value and it is more akin to the gig economy. Pick up the rules for some time and then move on to something else. There is nothing wrong in both of them. Both have its merits and demerits. Hyper specialisation is going to be the thing in the future.

The QA profession has been under pressure from external forces, as decision makers in organization want to see more value. It comes to more of an economics decision, that we always called as cost of quality, we never use the term profit of quality. We need people who can represent QA in a boardroom where value can be showcased, and that is lacking at the moment.

Build in quality

(In this SmartBits, Girish Elchuri outlines “Build in quality“.  The video is at the end of this blog)

One of the important things we have to remember is that we can not add quality. Adding quality is not similar to painting a wall. It has to be built in and for that, we should have all the processes in place, starting from architecture, design and development and so on.

An example in this context would be the way a German car company makes cars. They build the car, do extensive testing, fix it and then only release it to the customers so that they get an excellent product. Looking at another company in Japan that makes high end luxury cars, when this company finds a problem in one of the cars before it is shipped off, they stop the assembly line. Then, they find out where the defect has been introduced, fix the process and throw away all the cars that are manufactured with that defective process, and start manufacturing again. The result is that Japanese car with the same quality and luxury of German car is build at one-third the cost. It is a classic living example we have.

Building quality through absolute processes is more beneficial, important and efficient than trying to add quality or stating that quality can always be added later. When a pizza gets burnt then can the quality assurance team make it proper? Certainly not, because it is a one-way process. It is important to realize that we can’t add quality. 

We have to only build quality into a product as part of our architecture, design and development. It has to be the attitude of the organization. It has to come from top- down. Organizations, people and processes should have the attitude of building quality in and not adding it later.

System deployment architecture and testing

(In this SmartBits, Zulfikar Deen outlines System deployment architecture and testing“. The video is at the end of this blog)

it’s extremely important to understand system deployment architecture. Let’s say we are delivering the same system and as an organization we decide to deploy it in the cloud. It requires a completely different way of testing and we need to show whatever was appropriate works correctly.

If we decide to do a hybrid for various reasons, the solution remains the same, but as an internal decision-making, we may have to make a decision based on compliance. In India, we could take the data into the cloud without much of an issue, especially when the data centres are hosted here, but the same may not be the case in other countries. 
The same solution deployed differently in a different country implies testing has to be different. If it is a hybrid we are trying to work with the two different system fidelities, where part of the system sits on-premise, some of them on cloud. We need to be sure that the data flows through properly and it is secured.

We may not worry about system security between two systems if the entire system is deployed at one place, whereas if it goes through public and private clouds then testing has to be slightly different. If it is completely on-premise then deployment and  testing differs.

If we decide to use a part of it even in the cloud and using only infrastructure as a service the testing would be different. Again if we use a part of a service, say using a data factory from Azure, the testing has to be different because we are using a service provided by the cloud in a different way. We need to make sure it works, if we decide to use advanced services. If we were to use it as part of a whole system, it can’t be tested on-premise. Definitely we need to understand the deployment architecture, how we are planning to deploy and the testing therefore has to be appropriately done for that.

What is Blockchain?

(In this SmartBits, Yuvaraj Thanikachalam outlines What is Blockchain? “. The video is at the end of this blog)

The way we move files from one system to another system via copy and paste “Ctrl-C & Ctrl-V” is very popular with every computer savvy professional. On similar lines can we Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V the money? Why can’t we move the value in a digital format?
A gentleman by name Satoshi Nakamoto wrote a white paper on Bitcoin. He was trying to decentralize the internet, by creating a mechanism in the digital world to move the value from one pocket to the other without any central authority in place. To do this, he took this problem and solved it by using peer-to-peer technology, encryption technology, and database technology. Bringing all this together he created a solution called Bitcoin which everybody referred to as a Blockchain.
Bitcoin is one of the applications of Blockchain, it is not the Blockchain. Underlying technology which powers the innovation of moving money like a copy of a file from one pocket to another pocket solving the double-spending issue was revolutionary.

CIO views on Quality

This article is about views on quality from CIOs curated from a list of interesting articles. It is felt that solution quality is one of the Top-3 challenge doing DevOps adoption with reducing technical debt as a key focus area for 2019. Some of the interesting views from CIOs are “there’s no way you can satisfy the demands of digital transformation without DevOps, Continuous Testing”, “address testing and ensure it advances your digital transformation initiatives rather than holds them back”, “can’t risk disrupting frequent deployment,  this is where Continuous Testing comes in.”

Quality of solutions is a challenge during DevOps adoption
Based on Gartner’s 2019 DevOps Survey, ensuring the quality of solutions is among the top 3 challenges encountered during the adoption of DevOps. According to them,application leaders guiding a digital transformation initiative must make continuous quality the technical, organizational and cultural foundation of their strategy.

Many organizations are on a journey with DevOps, practicing continuous development and continuous deployment, yet a continuous approach to quality is often missing. Basic functional quality goals, is not sufficient to satisfy the quality expectations of the users, the business or the market. The growing pervasiveness of mobile, web, cloud and social computing scenarios has raised end users’ expectations for application quality. The notion of what constitutes superior quality has become much broader and includes overall user experience, quality of service (QoS), availability and performance, as well as security and privacy. It is no longer sufficient that the application just works. It must provide an optimised experience that leaves the user wanting to engage more and interact again. 


Reducing technical debt needs increasing focus
When asked CIOs “What are your top priorities for 2019?”, reducing Tech debt was 2nd most popular response. CIOs say reducing technical debt needs increasing focus. It isn’t wasting money. It’s about replacing brittle, monolithic systems with more secure, fluid, customizable systems. CIOs stress there is ROI in less maintenance labor, fewer incursions, and easier change. (Ref:

CIO’s views on Digital Transformation
Here are some views from CIO on Digital Transformation, consumer expectations, and hence the changing expectations from testing.

Rajeev Ravindran, SVP & CIO, Ryder System, Inc.
“Oftentimes, when people talk about digital transformation, they are really talking about technology. For me, taking the company “digital” is both about technology and a mindset shift. As a part of this mindset shift, we are moving from an applications-focused environment to a product-focused environment. In our new model, we look at every application as a product that has a life cycle determined by a product owner, who is typically in a business function other than IT.”

“In IT, we are moving from a linear thinking perspective to design thinking, and we are moving from waterfall to iterative. The goal of these changes is to create a customer-centric culture, whether those customers are internal or external to Ryder. The customer centric culture along with a product mindset will help with operational efficiency and revenue growth.” (Ref:

Andy Walter (Procter and Gamble)
“I think Continuous Testing is going to be core to companies being able to dynamically evolve their structures, their M and A, joint ventures, all these types of areas. While we were doing the Cody divestiture, we started a covert project of “how are companies going to be structured in the future?” And there’s no way you can satisfy the demands of digital transformation without DevOps, Continuous Testing, and the speed and agility they enable.” 

Jennifer Sepull (USAA, Kimberly Clark, American Honda)
“I think the beauty of creating a DevOps model is that you have a powerful team that is empowered to really connect with the consumer. When those teams come together in that powerful way, and they own the entire end-to-end process, there’s opportunities for innovation. Application development and testing are absolutely critical to making sure that those innovations, or that connection with the consumer, can happen.” This means that you have to address testing and ensure it advances your digital transformation initiatives rather than holds them back.” 

Robert Webb (Etihad)
“.. I know that software testers can make the CIO’s survival rate higher—but they can make the company more profitable, make it safer, and help it grow faster. If they make your testing faster and get your new apps out there, you can be more competitive. And if they can do that while lowering costs, that’s remarkable..” “..Transforming testing is pivotal for accelerating how software is digitising the business.” 

Vittorio Cretella (Mars)
We have to really understand how the user is reacting and how to achieve this optimal customer experience..”  “.. To accomplish this, we need constant deployment. But we also have to ensure that deploying functionality daily or hourly always improves the user experience. We can’t risk disrupting it—so this is where Continuous Testing comes in.” 

Andreas Kranabitl (SPAR ICS)
“..I believe that the most important element in digital transformation is people. We cannot have people spending their time on software testing tasks that can and should be automated. There is much higher-level work to do. We need future-oriented staff, and we can’t afford to make them suffer by asking them to do needless manual testing.” 

Robert Webb ( Etihad Aviation Group)
“..Can you make my testing faster and get my new apps out there so I can be more competitive? Can you do that in a way that makes testing more automated and safer, and can you do that while you’re lowering costs? This is something that is very, very unique, and I think we all have a wonderful opportunity to be part of this revolution..” (Ref: