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Ram Rajagopalan

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
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About Ram Rajagopalan

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  • Name
    Ramachandran Rajagopalan
  • Company
    TCS
  • Designation
    AVP

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  1. I wasn’t able to get the survey report to analyze the details behind the survey. The optimistic way of looking at it is that 84% of Agile projects are successful in some forms, which is in many ways around twice the success rates of traditional waterfall approach. Reference (https://vitalitychicago.com/blog/agile-projects-are-more-successful-traditional-projects/) "Agile Software Development is a lightweight software engineering framework that promotes iterative development throughout the life-cycle of the project, close collaboration between the development team and business side, constant communication, and tightly-knit teams. " A key aspect of Agile projects is fail fast. Sometimes there is a blur on what is genuine continuous improvement vs genuine failure I feel it is also got to do with the type of organizations adopting this. We have the new age technology companies (Google, Facebook etc.) vs the traditional Enterprises adopting Agile. For New Age companies, speed is of utmost importance. They constantly are looking at bringing new products to market. The mindset is towards faster rollout, fail fast and improve faster, focus on end to end straight through processes with customer focus as paramount importance. The people who they employ are also tech geeks suited for agile. For Enterprise companies, they are saddled with ageing technologies, often a huge complex myraid set of technologies. They try to leverage existing IT ecosystem to bring in change needed to compete with nimble new competitors. They also train existing business and IT SMEs on Agile and expect them to adopt the new ways of working. The same is the case with many of the legacy IT Services companies, where the large portion of the employee base is used to the traditional Waterfall methodologies. The biggest reason for failure of Agile projects is due to Planning. Most companies don’t have two strong critical roles - Product Owners and Architects. A badly designed and thought through project is only going to iteratively fail. Product Owners need to have a strong handle on the roadmap for the applications and value it delivers. Agile also requires the business SMEs to work in a lot more collaborative manner than before. With myriad of new technologies available, and short durations of Sprints, its critical to have Architects who have a strong vision on the stack to take care of performance and security. The role of the Architect is also to keep it simple, that in turns reduces the chances of failure. Key aspect of Agile is strong collaboration and constant communication. A good collaboration tool is equally important to track the progress and have a strong control on the various aspects of the project. Teams also tend to be geographically distributed. Organizations need to invest in such collaboration tools, including video conference to make face to face interactions. Since Agile involves a small team, its equally important that there is good synergy within the team members. Cannot have a hierarchical approach, discouraging members to speak up. In traditional approach, it became very compartmentalized with specialists for design, documentation, development, testing, deployment etc., but in Agile there is expectation of each member to own end to end, and not looking at passing things to another team. Retrospect and Learning needs to be done in all earnest. More often teams tend to focus too much on process metrics like velocity, backlog, burn down charts etc. and tend to forget the goal - the business value that is to be delivered. This results in teams focusing on getting things done mechanically, being rigid on addressing changes required so as not to break the sprint. Ultimately working software is the key to successful projects. Agile itself is a very simple approach, having some 10-12 key principles. As the saying goes "The devil is in the detail", making Agile successful or not depends on the details behind the planning and execution.
  2. Pareto charts are used to identify the top causes for a particular effect (defects). Its often associated with 80-20 rule, 80% of variances are due to 20% of causes, though often not necessary to meet the guideline. Paynter Chart is a statistical graphical tool that drills down the Pareto chart. It enhances the Pareto Chart with a run chart, that indicate what items add up to the count for each reporting period. The chart displays a subset of key sub groups as a bar chart, with the total across subgroups on the top. Benefits - Helps to drill down the composition of each bar of the Pareto to spot trends and patterns. Paynter Chart was developed by Ford Motor Company Reference Sites https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/17279712/paynter-chart-analysis-guidelines-chrysler http://www.statit.com/support/faqs/gpaynter.shtml http://www.statit.com/support/quality_practice_tips/usingpareto_payntercharts.shtml
  3. Customer is always King!. But all organizations need to determine what type of Kings they want to deal with, which will help them in achieving a sustainable and profitable growth. In IT services sector, ideally you want to work with Customers who treat you as Transformation partner, to work in join partnership on solving their business requirements. This is in contrast to vendor partnership resulting in staff augmentation. But to get there takes a lot of effort to build the Brand, capability and delivery excellence etc. for customers to treat you that way. Working with larger Fortune 500 Corporations means a more structured approach for contracts, services and payments. But they also typically tend to mitigate risks by having more than one vendor for their requirements. Working with small to medium size organizations, may lead to challenges on size of contract, payment issues etc, with upside of becoming a strategic partner when the customer organization grows. Working with customers mean investments in Customer Relationships, Proposals, Proof of concepts etc, which are justifiable only if the relationship grows. Its better to trim the tail (where returns are meagre compared to investments) and refocus on profitable customers. Organizations need to decide on their customers based on the products and services they provide, their stage of growth, risk appetite and financial situation. Its better to turn down customers, when the requirement is not a skill the company has or wants to build, or there is insufficient capacity to meet the requirement, or requirements are not clear leading to potential scope creeps. There is an Explicit and Implicit way of selecting the customers to do business with. Implicit is indirectly stated or implied, while Explicit is directly stated and spelled out. In Explicit, companies usually spell out policies to meet to work with customers and vendors. There might be a minimum revenue size requirement, years of existence, credit worthiness, geographical location etc. This usually changes as the organization grows. In Implicit, Companies can segment the customers they want to work with and design appropriate strategies so that customers self select. For example, a high end luxury brand Retailer, will have stores located in Premium locations or malls, offer limited but exquisite products and pricing is in the higher range. They offer excellent customer service (Nordstorm, Coach, Burberry etc). Similarly Retailers, like Walmart offering Every day low price, target the general population, offer a wider catalogue at affordable price range. There is a dynamic of margin vs volume play, and based on which companies design their investments. This is visible in many sectors Hotel (2 or 3 star vs 5 star), Mobiles (Apple vs Android), Cars (BMW vs Hyundai) etc.
  4. Drum Buffer Rope is a concept popularized by Eliyahu Goldratt in his book Goal. It was used in analogy to a Boy Scout team, to ensure that the team doesn’t get dispersed wide due to the variations in speed of the fast movers vs the slower ones. A synchronized approach ensured that the team is in step. Once the rope is stretched to the max, the fast movers have to slow down or stop. The same concept can be applied to manufacturing, where speed is controlled by the drum, buffer adjustments by a rope with a goal of increasing throughput. The drum relays the information of the bottleneck to the group. The rope controls the speed of the set of processes ahead of the bottleneck from running away and creating excess WIP. Rope is like a signal to the front of the line to start producing at the front as consumption is happening in the bottleneck. The limitation of DBR approach is due to shifting bottlenecks. Kanban is a Lean Management technique to achieve Just In Time. Kanban controls the upper limit of inventory, thus avoiding over capacity. It is achieved by going from the consumer of the process, taking demand from the end consumer up thorough the chain, with the rate of demand controlling the rate of production. Conceptually, for DBR, this is like keeping the drum at the last person and making it to a demand driven process.
  5. Bessel correction in statistics is used to correct the bias in the estimation of the population standard deviation. Variance calculated from sample is usually smaller, when used to estimate for population. Adjustment needs to be done to account for this. To give a context, we can calculate the mean and variance of all students in say class 10. Now if we randomly pick a small sample of 3-4 students and calculate their standard deviation, it may not capture extremes. It is more likely to get more of the same type of students. This standard deviation will likely be smaller than the population. Adjustment needs to be done for the bias Normally Variance is calculated as mean of the sum of squares of deviation of sample values from sample mean. Standard deviation is calculated as square root of the variance. When the population mean is unknown, to estimate the population variation, (n-1) is used instead of (n) in the denominator. This method is used when estimating population mean and variance from sample. The logic is that 1 degree of freedom is used in the sample mean and hence only (n-1) for the sample variance. When (n-1) is used, the variance will increase. References for more mathematical reasoning and formulas: https://www.statisticshowto.datasciencecentral.com/bessels-correction/ http://mathcenter.oxford.emory.edu/site/math117/besselCorrection/ https://proofwiki.org/wiki/Bessel%27s_Correction
  6. Scope creep is change in the expected output post the finalization of contract. Though there are several reasons, it happens due to insufficient documentation and scoping, changes in customer expectations as the project progress, weak project management. Sometimes all stakeholders are not identified before the project starts. To manage scope creep, it is important to ensure a strong program manager, all project team members need to be aware of the project scope, strong governance in place. It is better to have the project broken to smaller sprints so that customer expectations are managed by incremental deliverables.
  7. Prior probability doesn't consider all background information for predicting an event to happen. Posterior probability considers all background information to calculate probability of event. An example of Bayes in Retail e-commerce is based on user profile and searches predict the product he/she is looking for and make recommendations.
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