Risk Handling Strategy

2012 – A GREAT YEAR FOR IT QA

2012 was a great year for IT QA. We did a lot of work as we always do. However, this year was special as we were appreciated from all quarters of Mobily – from management to the last developer/operations people. And the most satisfying part was that we were not used as the blame point for everything that went wrong with the IT. All of this required extreme amount of hard work from each of us. We needed planning very accurately to meet what we promised to deliver. Each team member cannot be thanked enough for this great example we set as a team. There was only member in the team who relaxed throughout the year and that was I. I had this unique opportunity because I had a great team of young blood who were not only skilful; but were extremely enthusiastic. I cannot single out a single person in the team who did not put in more than 100%.

However, I think I also played my part. The question is what was my part? For most part of the year, I was dousing concerns from the team members. We had situations throughput the year where someone or the other was discomforted. I have taken this as an area for improvement for myself and will strive to create an environment in 2013 where everyone could work without a worry in the world. This is the least I owe to the great set of people I am so blessed to be working with.

CONCERNS

Augmentation through Wipro

First, we needed augmenting the team as we calculated that we did not have the needed number of resources to handle the volume of work in hand. I had sounded Mobily Infotech (MIT) management in Sep2011 to work out an augmentation plan. However, due to HR policies, MIT could not recruit a single person till Jan2012. So, I needed reaching out to the vendors with whom we had frame contract to supply the resources. Wipro was most resourceful and offered to give the needed number of resources for 3 month trial period during which we could return any unfit candidates. I grabbed the opportunity as this process was better than any interview we could have conducted. This meant suddenly team at MIT saw 24 Wipro resources occupying workstation next to them. There was immediate concern whether IT QA would be out-sourced to Wipro and MIT team would be wound up. I held lengthy sessions explaining nothing of this nature was planned. However, team members would just not calm down. After about 2 months of working along with the Wipro resources, the MIT team members calmed down. However, the appreciable part was that during this period, the MIT team members worked relentlessly in enabling the team members from Wipro.

Out-sourcing to IBM

No sooner had the Wipro story settled down; the possibility of IT QA being outsourced to IBM surfaced. This news affected all the resources. The Mobily staff and the MIT staff were worried about their future as they had all sorts of appreciations about employment with IBM. The contractors from Prime Point, Maverick, Wipro, Ejada and Dar-Al-Riyadh were worried whether they would be persisted with or would IBM replace them with IBM staff.

I explained to the Mobily and MIT staff that Mobily Management was committed to their welfare and had laid out a clear condition for the best possible deal for their handover to IBM and guaranteed them 2 years of employment with IBM to prove their metal. I assured the contractors that we had secured their contract till Jul2013 (in fact, the contracts have been later secured till Dec2013).

The contractors were assured. However, the minds of the Mobily staff (and MIT staff to some extent) would just not relax.

MY SOLUTION

Seeing no way forward and seeing so many worried young brothers and sisters, I devised a Risk Handling Strategy modelled around the Risk Management Strategy I had studied during my PMP preparation. The strategy is portrayed below. I explained this about 10 times in different groups of the team members.

Risk Handling Strategy
Risk Handling Strategy

The strategy is simple.

When the possibility is known and the consequence is known, there is no risk.

For example, when we know that we have 100 test cases and we plan on testing only 50 test cases due to shortage of time, there is always going to be a possibility for errors in the transactions where the tests are not performed. As the possibility and consequence is known, we need planning our test cases such that we conduct tests for the most business impacting test cases such that the business risk is minimized. If all goes well, we may have eliminated all risks through such a plan.

From the context of IBM out-sourcing, as it was known that the staff would be transferred to IBM roles and they would be guaranteed 2 years’ service with IBM, the possibility that IBM may decide on off-loading them after 2 years existed. This meant that the team members needed working with 2 plans for the 2 years. First plan should be to impress IBM that they were fit for IBM and thus secure their jobs with IBM. Plan B should be to enhance their skills such that even if IBM did off-load them after 2 years, they would have least botheration in getting an alternate job.

So, as possibility and consequence were known, there was no risk as long as one can plan for the known consequences.

When possibility is unknown and the consequence is known, create a mitigation plan.

Continuing on the above example, if after 2 years IBM decided on off-loading the resource, the team member will face the situation where he/she needs looking for a new job. Normally, if the resources performed well, there would be no normal reason for IBM off-loading the resource. However, if Mobily decided on terminating the contract with IBM after 2 years, IBM could have a reason for off-loading the team member. Whether Mobily could actually end the contract with IBM was not known to the resources and thus the possibility itself is still unknown. However, if the possibility surfaced, the consequences were known that the team member would need looking for a new job.

As the consequence was known, the possible mitigation would be to acquire some more degrees and certificates which could help in getting a suitable job after IBM, if not a better job. In any case, everyone needs investing in him or herself. Also, an added qualification is never wasted.

If one observes carefully, by making good calculations, we have actually demoted this case to be a case of known possibility and known consequence.

When possibility is known and the consequence is unknown, create a contingency plan.

Further continuing on the example, if after 2 years IBM decided on off-loading the resource, the resource may be faced with a question about how long it would take to get a new job. Would it be 1 month or 3 months or 3 years? This consequence is not known at the present, though the possibility exists.

Under this circumstance, the team member needs planning for a contingency for the largest period of outage from the job market. A precise budget planning would yield that the team member needs saving a calculated amount of money per month to create a fund which would give for a greatest period of outage when all basic needs could be taken care of. Here it is also important to share this plan with the immediate family members so that they are aware and aligned with the possibility.

Once again, we have actually managed to demote the case to a case of known possibility and known consequence.

When possibility is unknown and the consequence is unknown, LEAVE IT TO THE ALMIGHTY.

One must admit the fact what the future holds is only known to The Almighty. We humans can try to think of possibilities. However, we can never think of everything. Is this also not the reason we always submit ourselves to The Almighty? To take care of such situations, do we not pray every day? I believe this is precisely why The Almighty exists – to carry us when we are absolutely incapacitated. We need trusting The Almighty that he actually is carrying us every day when we keep feeling proud that we are doing so through our capabilities.

After having planned so much, can we predict whether there will be an earthquake where we live? Can we predict that a war will not break out forcing all plans to be ruined? So, the only strategy possible for human beings is to LEAVE IT TO THE ALMIGHTY. Even in the corporate world, when we create water tight contracts, we include a clause called FORCE MAJUERE to handle all that we could not foresee.

Having said this, we need creating some more Almighties as well. This is done by utter sincerity in all our actions in everyday life. In the working life, the immediate Almighties are our Colleagues, our Customers and our Superiors – in no particular order. If we have a good relationship with our Colleagues, Customer and Superiors, chances are that they will help us in our times of need. The Almighty may appear through any of such medium. This requires a long period of cultivation (in fact right from our birth) and this cannot be faked.

BOTTOM LINE

Learn to Plan. Apply all the skills we use in our work life on our personal lives as well and the vice versa. By worrying, one does not do any favour for himself/herself. In fact, the biggest disfavour one can do one himself/herself is to worry and not use the time for planning.

Last, but not the least, we all owes it to The Almighty for all his blessings and gifts by being happy in our daily lives.

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