The Optimization and Organization of Large Scale Demand

Kamal Qadri

Head of Software Quality Assurance at FICO


The Need for Process Development for Large Projects

I’d like to bring forth a reminder of how we can all gain more efficiency from our experiences by the creation and optimization of roadmaps in various scenarios. When presented with large scale demand — how can we organize and deduce into a more holistic approach? The challenge begs focus and the answer narrows down requirements.

What does leadership look like when presented with a project with 5,000 requirements? And yes, quite in the literal sense. Where do you go from there when there are no processes in place for that size of demand?

Not only does the size of the project alone pose a challenge for various teams, but having to modify a base product to fit the requirements of a client makes it difficult to navigate. We didn’t have processes in place for this kind of project, no resources, and no solid plan.

Plus, having 60-70 hour work weeks that were spread across multiple different time zones was on the docket for us — it was a challenge we had to face with the utmost efficiency paired with the right mindset.

Organizing Requirements to Streamline Efficiency

After being presented with a massive 2 year project, there was an immediate question of who can do what in order to support this? We looked at different strengths and skill sets, and had to organize our teams accordingly.

I knew there had to be a way to deduce the amount of requirements we we’re currently facing. So, we transformed those requirements into about 350 different groupings. This made it easier to manage and to then send teams in the right direction.

So not only were we creating a plan based on the efficacy of various teams, we also had to keep work-life balance in mind. How do you manage teams across multiple time zones and the 9-5 construct being out-the-door? No one can be available 24/7 and you just couldn’t set certain expectations of your teams if you yourself would not do it. There had to be an efficient and holistic way to incorporate balance, structure, and efficient working hours.

A Platform for Increased Support

That’s when we introduced Jira to our teams for project organization. On the platform I could see my team's updates when I would start my workday, answering any project status questions I might have.

Jira helped streamline efficiency and organization for this project. Communication is key when dealing with such large scale requirements, with no previous processes already in place. It helped us get to where we needed to be surprisingly well.

Expectations were then set, and quality was delivered by being able to manage the project in a palatable way. Once our teams and workloads were organized I had 1-1s with team members whenever they had certain blockers or when understanding needed to be created between a concept.

Meeting with team members also became an avenue to come together for a sort of work happy hour to de-stress, joke, and check-in as individuals. I think this is vital, especially when working on large scale projects. Having a well balanced team dynamic only supports efficiency and quality in the end.

Achieving Growth as a Company

The work was completed and submitted to our client thanks to the development of new processes and a drive for organization. The beneficial outcome of having such a large scale project was that we could essentially copy and paste these processes for future ones of that size.

In the end, we were given more work which was an indication for us that we achieved good planning, resource management, and execution for our client’s project. It was a good learning curve that ended up benefiting us as a company.

How to Maintain and Support Projects

  • More communication equals more visibility. When they say communication is key, it really is an understatement. The more you communicate, the more everyone has visibility on the status, and where everyone is at in their assignments. It is not only helpful, but vital in any size project. The more visible your project is, the less room there will be for miscommunication or confusion.

  • If you see a red flag, flag it! This means to be proactive. Flag concerns before they develop and cause more problems down the line. Being proactive is a sign that you are looking at the bigger picture, the end goal, and can not afford to have inefficient work done. Don’t be afraid to flag something on the spot as it only helps set up your teams for success in their projects.

  • Respect everyone’s time. This goes hand-in-hand with being proactive. When you respect everyone’s time, including your own, you are enabling efficiency and supporting the project. This creates a sense of responsibility and integrity for everyone involved when you put respect at the forefront of your focused time. Whether that’s for 1-1s with clients or team members, respecting people’s time shows you are serious about achieving success for the project; it is the most important requirement.

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Kamal Qadri

Head of Software Quality Assurance at FICO

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