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Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
New York, USA
Management Consultant and Agile Practioner
Interests: Golf, digital photography and international travel.
Recent Activity
It appears that everybody is talking about data privacy these days. It made the news when we recently learnt that vast amounts of credit/debit card information were stolen by unscrupulous individuals from retail stores. Not too long before that, the broadcast media and politicians were up in arms when it was revealed that our government has been surreptitiously collecting metadata related to our phone calls. Well, metadata is the wrapper that cloaks real data to provide it context and meaning. So does it mean that the government has been only collecting data that identifies the originator and the recipient of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
Working agreements between team members are important in Scrum because the team is self organizing. There are three core roles in Scrum - the Product Owner (PO), the Scrum Master (SM) and the team. Here is a sample working agreement that I have used in some of my projects. ALWAYS PO is available to the answer requests from the team for information on product features (stories). PO is responsible for creating the backlog and prioritizing user stories. PO is responsible for user presentations at the end of every sprint. SM is the facilitator (servant leader) of the following agile ceremonies... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
This article is as much a review of the book titled “Flight of the Buffalo” by Belasco and Stayer as it is a description of my journey from software engineer to a technology manager. Although the book was published almost 20 years, the ideas espoused by the authors are very relevant even today as more companies are adopting a flat management hierarchy and implementing agile methodologies. I was first given the opportunity to lead a project in the early 1990s at the company where I was working as a lead software programmer. It involved the development of a product that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2012 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
The above question was a topic of discussion in one of the forums on LinkedIn recently. "Sandbagging" refers to delaying (or timing) the reporting of certain project accomplishments ("good news") to maximize the (monetary) benefits and goodwill that may be accorded to the project manager and team. Reporting the status of a project accurately and honestly is the right thing to do. But I find it troubling and disheartening that the above topic even warrants a discussion. It is an indication of a lack of trust between the business side and the project team. Speaking from my area of expertise... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2012 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
We need Alpha Leaders, not Alpha Males to run companies. History has shown that Alpha Leaders tend to think big, take bold and decisive actions, which in turn engenders change in the way we work, live and interact with others. Alpha Males lead by using the command and control approach, which is becoming less important in an increasingly service oriented world that depends on innovation and team participation to survive. Alpha Leaders and Alpha Males are not specific to any one gender. Both share many similar character traits. However, there are some characteristics that are unique to an Alpha Leader... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2012 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
Classical psychology text books tell us that people cannot multitask. They say it's psychologically impossible. But we are multitasking more and more, not only in our workplace but also at home. Are we really getting more things done? Not really, say Professor Clifford Nass and his colleagues Eyal Ophir and Anthony Wagner of Stanford University. In a study of two groups of people - one made up of heavy multitaskers and the other made up of people who did not multitask as much - they found that the heavy multitaskers consistently underperformed the light multitaskers in problem solving because the... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2012 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
When I reflect on the various software projects I have either worked on, or managed in the last two decades, it soon becomes apparent that all my successful projects have had some things in common. They are: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan The four items mentioned above happen to be the core elements of "The Agile Manifesto”. In this blog, I want to focus on the second item, which is "working software over comprehensive documentation." Scott Ambler of IBM says that... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2012 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
The following is an excerpt from the editorial that appeared in the April 2012 issue of the ASQ Quality Islander. I have been a software engineer for most of my adult life. The good news is that software still fascinates me. We are going through an incredible period of technological innovations, which has forced the software industry to constantly change to accommodate new programming paradigms. We started with procedural programming; moved to structured, functional, event-driven, object-oriented and a host of other programming methodologies. The bad news is that software quality continues to be terrible when compared to hardware, pharmaceutical, manufacturing... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2012 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
There are three things in life that are certain - death, taxes and the crystal ball dropping in Times Square (New York City) on New Year's Eve. Truth be told, I did not really see the ball drop this year because the TV channel that my wife and I were watching got to the ball only after it had slid almost to the bottom of the pole. Anyway this is a good time to peer into the crystal ball and make a few predictions for 2012. While most of the experts seem to be fixated on the number 10, I'll... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2012 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
Happy New Year! "Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you've always wanted to do but couldn't find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You'll look ten years younger." - Ann Landers Unlike the hundreds of thousands of people who braved the cold and thronged to the crossroads of the world - the heart of Times Square in New York City... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2012 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
9th Annual Fall ASQ Conference on Risk Management Presented by Samuel Prasad, PhD, PMP, CSQE Farmingdale State College Friday, November 4th, 2011 Risk analysis and prioritization during the software development life cycle are key to controlling quality, managing costs and bringing a product to market on time. Learn the agile approach to risk analysis and how to identify applications that require more stringent testing because they are prone to higher risks. The results of risk assessments are used to create test scenarios and select specific test cases aimed at eliminating much of the defects prior to the construction phase. Most... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
What is good quality data? Good quality data means that all master data is complete, consistent, accurate, time stamped and industry standards based. What is the advantage of good quality data? Good data quality will improve internal business processes for manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, intermediaries and other third parties. Will this add costs? Instituting any data quality/accuracy program will involve additional resources, very much depending on the size of an organization and experience with data quality management. But improving the quality of data from end-to-end will reduce costs, improve productivity and accelerate product speed to market. Poor data quality affects businesses... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
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Project management methodologies based on PMBOK and Scrum have more in common than they are different, which is contradictory to the wide-spread belief that the two don't mix. They are very much the same except for one key difference. Well, both PMBOK and Scrum are controlled by the triple constraints of cost, schedule, and scope. So where’s the difference? The difference is: in PMBOK the scope is locked down so that the project schedule and cost can be estimated. Scrum, on the other hand, embraces scope changes. So it only follows that no attempts are made to lock down scope.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
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In the beginning there was the ODS or operational data store - typically a collection of tables in a relational database. The ODS contained the company's raw data which was used to run historical reports on past transactions. Then came the data marts (DM) essentially a snapshot of the ODS. The BI Analysts who were highly skilled statisticians and mathematicians ran queries against the DM, extracted data from the DM and performed their analyses. But all the analyses in the world could not deliver critical information in a timely manner to help management make better operational decisions to improve customer... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
The future of Business Intelligence (BI) Analytics rests on emerging technologies that will use special hardware appliances that will effectively mine data at tremendous speeds and perform predictive analysis and extrapolate trends using simulation in real-time. Traditional BI products, including dashboards and ad hoc queries use historical data to generate reports, which only tell the story of what happened in the past. In future, predictive analytics, alerts and extrapolation of trends will become common practice through the real-time exploitation of informational patterns hidden in historical data to project what might happen. Hardware appliances like IBM's Neteeza and Oracle's Exadata provide... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
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In recent years many companies have jumped on the "business intelligence" (BI) bandwagon. What is BI? With access to vast amounts of data, BI is definitely not just a collection of reports generated from historical data. BI is also not software that can generate flashy-looking dashboards that provide readings of current key-performance-indicators but provide no actual intelligence based on extrapolations of past events. The net result is that many companies caught up in the BI hype have been quite disappointed in the return on their investment. To put it bluntly, BI with no predictive analytic capabilites to help organizations achieve... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
"Six Sigma" is a process man-agement strategy developed by Motorola in 1986 to improve the quality of products by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing outputs. "Lean" on the other hand is a production practice that aims to eliminate expenses for resources that are not creating value in the product. How do we combine Lean and Software especially since Lean Six Sigma has had its origins in manufacturing and does not translate easily to software development? The Poppendiecks in their book titled "Implementing Lean Software development" successfully make a case that writing software... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
The indicators used to measure software quality are usually classified into two groups - end-product quality metrics and in-process quality metrics. The study of the relationship between in-process and end-product quality metrics is the main focus of software quality engineering. It is not surprising that results of numerous studies conducted at Motorola and IBM have found that improvements in in-process quality almost always translate to an increase in end-product quality. END-PRODUCT QUALITY End-Product Quality metrics consist of: Defect density Mean time to failure Customer problems Customer satisfaction Defect density is a measure of the number of defects relative to the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
This is quite contrary to the theories developed by Kurt Lewin, Ronald Lipitt, and Ralph White in 1939 which state that there are only three major styles of leadership: Authoritarian Participative Delegative Authoritarian style of leadership assumes that the leader has all the information necessary to make the right decisions. For this style of leadership to succeed employees must unconditionally accept the power of the leader and follow directions without questioning them. It does not mean that the leader can use demeaning language, engage in abusive or unprofessional behavior. As you can well imagine, this style of leadership may work... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2011 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
ROI - Return on Investment - is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment. In other words, ROI helps in determining the extent of cost savings that are realized in return for use of a specific amount of money on a project. The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) states that the project charter - a document that formally authorizes a project - must clearly state the business justification for the project including return on investment. In many companies the CFO or COO requires ROI to be presented before funding is approved for a project. The... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2010 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
One of the primary goals of software testing is to find the maximum number of defects (bugs) using a minimum set of test cases. There is a testing method that helps achieve this goal called the Orthogonal Array Testing Strategy (OATS). This is a statistical method aimed at maximizing error detection while reducing the number of test cases by using pair-wise testing. What is pair-wise testing? Let us assume that the software being tested has 5 variables each of which can assume 4 states. The number of test cases that will be required to test all possible combinations is 4... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2010 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
The Long Island Chapter (Section 303) of the American Society of Quality (ASQ) presents an evening discussion on Software Quality Every day, companies around the world struggle with issues related to software quality. How would you rate the quality of software developed in your company? How many discussions have you had with your engineering teams or senior management about the quality of your software? Does your company have measurable software quality standards? Are your customers satisfied with the quality of your software? Software errors cost the U.S. economy more than $60 billion annually in actual damages. Software bugs are not... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2010 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
Next Generation Commerce (NGC) is defined as a ubiquitous convergence of multiple customer touch points like e-commerce web sites, social networking sites, call centers, emails, traditional channels and mobile devices. This implies that NGC must offer consistent service to its customers across all touch points. In today's world, customers check prices at multiple web sites; visit the local store; use social networking sites like FaceBook and Twitter via their mobile phones to share prices and discuss their shopping experiences with the world which in turn provides valuable feedback to the merchant. It's time that merchants use this wealth of data... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2010 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
Neither one works in the real world. A combination of both Waterfall and Agile methods are required to not only effectively manage the development of complex software required of most applications today but also keep clients engaged throughout the development process to ensure that the final product meets their functional and operational requirements. The Waterfall methodology was in fact never introduced as a workable model. It was presented as a "flawed" method in 1970 by W.W. Royce who argued that a pilot or prototype system be constructed first to identify risks and unknown behaviors before building the real system. However... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2010 at Samuel Prasad, Ph.D.
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Mar 15, 2010