Author: Shiv Sivaguru

How can I handle unplanned meetings, scheduled at very short notice?

If such meetings happen on a regular basis, one must explore why. Such meetings tend to disrupt the rhythm of the team and have an adverse impact on the overall productivity. Here are a few tips to avoid or at least reduce such interruptions. Publish a protocol for responses to various types of issues raised; this will help set expectations with others who need some responses or solutions It is not necessary that every call or request needs to be handled immediately If the time is not suitable or convenient, it is perfectly OK to suggest an alternate time or a call back, based on other prior commitments Schedule a rhythm of discussions Standup meetings Grooming sessions Technical review or solutioning discussions Planning discussions : release, sprint etc Retrospectives : sprint, release etc Identify SMEs / SPOCs for specific topics While a question might come to you, it may not be possible to respond authoritatively, when specialist knowledge or experience is required Identifying the right set of persons to handle the requests would not only increase the confidence of the persons raising he points, but also possibly reduce the time required to respond Also declare some time windows as ‘quiet times’ aka DND times During this period every day, all team members would be free to focus on their own responsibilities without any interruptions This will help every member...

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Is the time for the daily stand up flexible?

The time at which the standup meeting is scheduled is flexible. But, changing it on a daily basis is not. Choose the most convenient time for all team members to join the meeting. When some members are not co-located, there might be time zone constraints. The preference is to have this meeting as the first action in the morning. That way, it will help in Team members warming up for the day on a cheerful note and this promotes better teamwork Team members will also get a clear picture of what is planned for the day A side benefit is that the day would start on time! When a standup meeting must be scheduled sometime during the day, the updates would relate to both what happened the previous afternoon as well as that morning. There may be a tendency to forget the previous day’s progress or issues, if there was a more pressing or challenging situation in the morning. This can happen even when the stand up is held first thing in the morning, but that can be addressed by the team members having a log of what they are doing, which can also serve as a source for retrospection It is a good practice to use the board [that is updated as and when some change is needed, such as completion of tasks or progress / impediment faced...

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Role of Architecture in DevOps

DevOps approaches highlight the value of early and frequent releases into production. In extreme cases, it is continuous deployment. In order to achieve this – or even progress towards this, the underlying application as well as the portfolio architecture should be aware of such evolution. The discipline of Enterprise Architecture recommends structured approaches to layer the solutions and ensure that multiple perspectives are addressed adequately. Building applications today is a lot more complex even for enterprise internal applications, as they need to cater to the expectations of the changing profiles of the workforce, changing patterns of technology adoption – including the trend to BYOD (Bring your own device) as well as the need to integrate information from multiple sources to infer patterns for better decision making. Agile approaches have helped development teams become more productive and engage the customers throughout the life cycle. One of the common misconceptions about Agile is that there is no need for spending time on architecting the solution. That is not correct. While some portions of the detailed architecture [or design] could evolve over time, the core non-functional requirements need to be considered in making choices on technology, design patterns etc. Additional aspects related to the application being fault-tolerant, or, in more advanced implementations, self-healing etc. will require run time tracking and logging of application behavior and analysis of causes that can be rectified....

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The challenges with browser neutral software development

I recently read a book – More Joel on Software. Joel Spolsky, known for his blog was one of my favorite authors and thinkers since the 90s. Joel has very strong opinions on many aspects related to software development. From his stint with Microsoft – working on VBA, to the stints in New York in consulting and at a large media organiza tion and then moving on to set up his own company, he has been very vocal on his thoughts on various aspects. Whether it is how an organization should recruit – do referrals work? – or the focus on user experience, in the days when it was still called HID – Human Interface Design, or UI [just user interface] or the reason why the industry has shot itself in the foot by not having clear standards and allowing for uncoordinated interpretations when the standards are implemented, Joel has his point of view. I used to read Joel’s contributions very regularly, as many of my interest areas were also his focus topics. This book is a collection of many of his prior art – including blog posts, articles and a lecture at his alma mater. In particular, I liked his explanation of why Microsoft had to take pragmatic decisions – as against the design favored by the idealists – in the design of IE 8. Using an analogy...

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How to begin a DevOps journey?

One question that I get asked frequently, when talking about DevOps is: where do I begin? A follow-up question is – Can you recommend any checklist or set of steps to get into DevOps? My short answer to that question is: start where you can show some short term improvements. How does one identify that? In most organizations, one neglected area is IT operations. Even though there are models and techniques – such as ITIL or Lean, Six Sigma etc, it is not very common for these to be integrated with the ways of working of the organization. So, it is best if one can start with the operations area and look for some quick wins. The KEDB for those implementing ITIL or the log of tickets for others along with runbooks for applications can provide a lot of insight into identifying the top time and effort consuming activities that can either be reduced or eliminated. In doing this, automation of activities, self service capabilities for users, enhancement of applications could be considered for improvements. For activities that are repetitive or those that need to scale across the server farms, as well as the incoming quality gate activities for assessing the application quality and stability through testing in an integrated manner – consider automation. Step 2 could be to look at the handoff interfaces within the IT ops groups...

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