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How Agile methodologies mitigate cognitive biases that lead projects to failure

By Walter Abrigo, Managing Director at Santex

I want to emphasize in this article how the existence of two cognitive biases (which are almost always present in our daily lives) position agile methodology practices  as one of the most adaptable frameworks for project monitoring and management in general. This is especially true when the context of the given project development is complex, has changing requirements that are poorly defined, and where innovation, competitiveness, flexibility, and productivity all combined are critical to achieving the desired results.  

Cognitive biases

  1. The emotional aspect of our decisions and choices.

  2. The fallacy of planning.

By reviewing each of these biases, we can see how people’s behavior fits better and more consistently with the structure of Agile methodologies.

Our decisions and choices are emotional

The following cases demonstrate how in our everyday decision-making we often forget the Base Rates (or the true distribution of events). Additionally, we strive to make sense of representative stereotypes, we seek causes and explanations, and we have a natural aversion to losing whenever there is something at risk.

First Case: Forgetting the Base Rates (the true distribution of events)

Tom is extremely intelligent, although he lacks true creativity. He needs order and clarity, and prefers systematic organization. He has a strong competitive drive and seems to have little interest and sympathy for others. He does not enjoy dealing with other people. Although he’s self-centered, he has deep moral awareness.

Let’s order the following nine areas of expertise according to the probability that Tom would be a student in any of these fields. We’ll use 1 for the most likely and 9 for the least likely.

  • Business Administration

  • IT

  • Engineering

  • Humanities and Education

  • Law

  • Medicine

  • Physics and Biology

  • Social Sciences and social work

Most will agree that Tom fits well with the stereotypes of smaller groups of students, like IT and engineers, but would fit poorly into larger groups, like humanities and education, social sciences and social work. This is an example of how we substitute the probabilities of the Base Rates for representative stereotypes.  

Second Case: Prejudices based on stereotypes

Linda is thirty-one years old. She’s single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in Philosophy and when she was a student, she was very concerned about the issues of discrimination and social injustice. She participated in several anti-nuclear protests. Given this information, which of the following scenarios fits best with Linda’s personality?

  1. Linda is a bank teller.

  2. Linda is a bank teller and activist for the feminism movement.

Most will agree that Linda is most suited to the role of “bank teller and feminist.” The stereotypical teller may not be a feminist, so including this detail adds more emphasis to the description. Nonetheless, both feminist tellers and regular tellers share the common fact that they coexist in the world of ‘tellers.’

P(teller)=P(feminist teller) + P(teller not feminist).

Third Case: Seeking causes

Take the gender of six children born one after the other in a hospital. The sequence of boys and girls is random. Each event (birth) is independent of the other, and the number of boys and girls born in the hospital in the last hour has no effect on the gender of the next child. Consider now three possible sequences (M = male, F = female):

  1. MMMFFF

  2. FFFFFF

  3. MFMMFM

Are these sequences equally probable? The intuitive answer is, “Of course not!” but that is false. Because each event is independent and the results M and F are both (approximately) equally likely, all possible sequences for the six births are as likely as any other. Now that we know that this conclusion is true, it seems counterintuitive because only the third sequence appears to be completely random. Our minds are built with associative machinery that continuously seeks causal relationships, and this tendency leads to serious error in our evaluation of sequences that are truly random.

We are hunters of patterns, believers in a coherent world in which regularities (like a sequence of six girls) are not accidentally produced, but rather the effect of a particular cause or someone’s intention.

Fourth Case:  We are willing to risk more when it comes to losses than gains.

Situation 1: Imagine a group of people where each one has $3,000 and you give them a choice between:

  1. Receiving another $1,000, or

  2. Flipping a coin and playing the $1,000 for double or nothing: if they win they’ll receive an additional $2,000, but if they lose they get nothing.

What would you choose?

Situation 2: Imagine a group of people where each one has $5,000 and you give them a choice between:

  1. Giving up $1,000, or

  2. Flipping a coin to play $1,000 for double or nothing:  If they lose, they give up $2,000, but if they win they don’t lose any money.

What would you choose?

Most of us in Situation 1 prefer option 1 and most of us in Situation 2 prefer option 2. The interesting thing here is that the odds of the four options are identical, but differ considerably in our minds. We are more willing to take a risk when it comes to LOSSES and are more reluctant to take a risk when it comes to benefits.

The fallacy of planning

The fallacy of planning in one manifestation of an omnipresent optimistic bias. Almost all humans see the world as less harmful than it really is, our skills better than what they really are, and our goals easier to achieve than they really are. We also tend to exaggerate our ability to predict the future, which exudes optimistic overconfidence.

When we complete a successful project, we assume that it was due to our accurate and detailed planning of controlled variables. We forget the random variables that impacted us positively. We assume the cause of success was within the plan, and we are the performers.  

When we finished a project and it was unsuccessful, we assume that this was due to the presence of external uncontrollable variables, not foreseen from the beginning which affected us negatively. The cause of failure is out of our hands, and we are not the performers.   

Agile methodologies mitigate these biases

Having raised the existence of these two cognitive biases (the emotional side of our decision-making and the fallacy in our planning), we see two aspects of Agile methodologies that make them in the most effective way to mitigate the biases: valuing people and response to change.

By realizing that our decisions are more emotional than they are rational, we place more value on individuals and their interactions than we do tools and processes. This allows us to communicate more empathetically and understand the emotion behind our choices.

Regarding the fallacy of planning, by putting more value on response to change, rather than following a plan, we can better detect the random variables that may arise and impact the results.

In this way, we can realize the importance and value that Agile methodologies have in reducing the noise and deviations that may occur during the development of a project.

Sources

KAHNEMAN, D. (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow. Debate Editorial.

About the Author - Walter Abrigo is a Managing Director at Santex. In addition to his large academic career, he possess market expertise in several organizational processes such as management control, change and strategy, recruiting and staffing as well as performance and engagement.

You can read the spanish version of this article published in “Pulso Social”.

Three steps to making communication more effective

Do you feel you aren’t heard or that people don’t respond the way that you expect?

Here are three areas that I have tried to focus on even more so since the beginning of 2015 and I hope it will make me more successful in both personal and professional situations.

confused_sign_post.jpgCommunication can always have glitches and we need to always be mindful of ways to improve.  Improvement is incremental and continuous. (Step by step we can always do better.)  Whether the communication is in the same office or a long distance, making sure that you consider these points should help in making communication more effective. In the case of Santex we have both company offices and customers who are a long distance apart.  So getting this right is important all the way around.

I think of these three incremental steps as questions that I ask when I am actively communicating.  

Am I providing context or a framework to the messages that I send to people?  

Providing context doesn’t mean using more words to explain something. To the opposite, it is providing a simple, understandable framework so that the person receiving the message understands why you are communicating the message and what your expectation is regarding your response.  If this is done in a consistent way, your audience can anticipate what they will get for a message and be better prepared.  

Context also means what is the context in which the message is received?  Timing can be extremely important. Sending a message in the middle of the night and asking people to respond within the next day may not be reasonable for people who plan ahead. It may make you appear disorganized and demanding even if your intent is to show energy and enthusiasm.

Do I have their attention?   People have so much stimulation of all senses that a message whether audible or visual can be missed because they just weren’t paying attention. Don’t assume that because you sent something that the person has received the message and they understand the significance of the message.  Trust is ok but still verify.

Is there a feedback loop for both the listener and the speaker to use and is it working? It really isn’t enough that you know that someone received the message. What’s the response to your message and does it have the consequence of having received this message?  Making sure that you understand the consequence makes the message more effective.  It’s also easier to reinforce positive behavior.

We all have room for improvement and I’m always looking to improve myself.  I hope this will help you.

About the Author - Doug Lewis is a Manager of Inside Sales and Business Development for Santex.  Throughout his career, Doug has developed high value sales and business relationships for companies seeking international markets.

Outsourcing: Overcoming the cultural gap

By Eduardo Coll – Santex’ Operations Director

In the past, outsourcing was a business dynamic only related to major multinational companies. Nowadays, small and medium firms are able to take advantage of this global trend as well. The software industry is no stranger to this tendency: The traditional approach of face-to-face in-house software development has been shifted to a more virtual nature using cutting-edge communication technologies and applications such as instant messaging, teleconferencing, videoconferencing (Skype & Google hangout) and NetMeeting.

But outsourcing does not end with the sealing of a contract and letting the services run. As the business world becomes increasingly interconnected, a new problem is bound to affect the internal structure of organizations, including software factories: The success of a project is highly dependent on the quality management of the outsourcing relationship and cultural differences are one of the biggest issues that companies stand against when externalizing their projects overseas.

Outsourcing fairy tale stories have led people to think that we all live in a globalized world where distance, borders, place and time no longer matter.  However, according to a study made by Accenture in 2008, more than 60% of all outsourcing deals fail, completely or partially, mainly because of a lack of cultural compatibility between the vendor and the client. Therefore, it is critical to understand that large gaps still exist and they have a genuine impact over performance. Time Zone differences, language barriers, distance, difference in customs, diverse decision-making styles as well as occasional face to face meeting, all add up to a series of intangible challenges that companies must deal with when outsourcing.

A great example of cultural difference can be observed when applying diverse software methodologies: In India, China and Southeast Asia there may be a focus on well-defined instructions and structured processes. Work usually proceeds more comfortably in Waterfall and V-model processes. On the other hand, Latin America and Eastern European cultures are similar to that of Western Europe and the USA, may be a more conducive environment to accept the flexibility, proactiveness of Agile methodologies and direct communication.

Another example that shows the importance of the cultural gap is communication: Software development is a communication-intensive industry, especially during the requirements stage which is relied on to remove uncertainty from the process. Because of language barriers, many times conversations lose effectiveness and critical information is missed. When addressed incorrectly, the problems encountered during this phase can create further delays which impact on the project schedule.

The above mentioned facts prove the importance not only of cultural compatibility but also of cultural adaptability. In order to be successful on this global trend, companies need to develop culturally intelligence, which is a form of organizational capacity in functioning effectively in culturally diverse situations. Today, firms can no longer choose their outsourcing providers and destinations only from a cost-effective perspective; other criteria should be introduced to a company’s outsourcing strategy.

How we address the cultural gap at Santex

Outsourcing involves relying on global virtual project teams where managing across cultures is recognized to be a critical factor and a major managerial challenge that requires significant time and effort.

Initiatives for Staff: Fostering international openness  

  • Team members travel back and forth to participate in different activities and local venues from our different offices in Peru, Argentina and the US
  • Everyone at Santex take English classes twice a week with US native speakers
  • Hold monthly Tech-meetups with our offices in Lima (Perú), San Diego and Iowa (USA)
  • Team Building activities: Sport days, Santex changemakers program (volunteering group)

Initiatives for Clients: Managing expectations

  • Set realistic expectations
  • Provide internal visibility
  • Define a successful and appropriate working framework to facilitate the flow of ideas and various initiatives for maximum added value
  • Communicate effectively throughout
  • Consider a face-to-face configuration meeting to bridge the differences

About the AuthorEduardo Coll is a natural born leader. He used to be a Master Java developer for the company but his communication skills opened him a different professional path as an Operations Director.

Sources

Keys to get a job as a Junior Developer

By Lorenzo Sauchelli – PHP Developer at Santex

What makes a Junior Developer and why companies look for them?

Getting a job when you have no experience can be hard, particularly so in the field of computer science. Usually a company does not look for a ‘Junior Developer’, and not just because they lack the required coding skills to work on a project. The employer has no way of knowing if the would-be employee has the potential to grow into a Senior Developer, have the right work ethics that fit the company, or if they can carry their load on their shoulders without having to constantly ask for help.

Here at Santex we are running a Trainee Program to help junior developers in these areas. There will always be 12 junior developers in the team working on exciting internal projects. The idea is that they get real world experience, evolving into a Full-Stack Developer – basically someone that’s familiar with each layer of development, front-end, back-end, business logic, everything. At the same time, they can work on a product that can be useful for the company.

The skills required for a “Junior” position are completely different than those for a “Senior” one. When we look for Senior developers, we look for people who are not just knowledgeable, but also experienced. Junior Developers, are expected to need a guiding hand.

Another common issue is that companies have much less reliable ways to tell apart the good junior candidates from the not-so-good ones. With senior developers, we can immediately tell if they don’t fit the criteria we’re looking for. With Juniors? It’s another story. We need to discern some key aptitudes that help us detect the great candidates:

  • Life Experience. Since we can’t really measure their work experience, we need to rely on what they tell us about themselves in other areas. Accomplishments that at first glance have little to do with software development can be telltales about how they might act in our industry.
  • Humility. We’re talking about unproven developers here, so arrogant behavior raises a red flag. And not just in a ‘who do they think they are?’ way, it can be a toxic attitude that breaks teams and company culture.
  • Confidence. While this might sound contradictory when put in a list next to ‘humility’, it’s also important that the candidate shows that they’re capable. If they are afraid to speak their mind or unsure about their abilities, chances are they will never grow. Hiring them has little use for a company that’s looking to nurture them into senior developers.
  • Ambition. While a right mix of humility and confidence is necessary, if the desire to learn and grow is not there, then it’s no use. No matter how smart the candidate is, if they don’t want to learn, then they’ll never be capable of expanding their expertise.
  • Logic. Of course, to code, any developer needs a good head on their shoulders. They need to be able to think about a problem and come up with a useful solution to it. This doesn’t mean they need to know everything about the programming language they use, but they need to be able come up with creative solutions themselves. If they can’t even get past a FizzBuzz, then they’re not likely to get past the ‘Junior’ moniker.
  • Communication skills. We don’t look for people that sit all day long coding, keeping to themselves and never talk with anyone around them. We want people who talk, share and explain themselves. Communication builds teams and improves individuals.

Getting hired
Now that we know about some of the key aptitudes companies look for, we can focus on how to show these qualities to an interviewer. Remember, the company is not just looking to find out what you can actually do today, but what you might be able to do in a few months, and years.

  • Talk about what you know. It’s obvious when someone talks about something they have no idea about. People that do this are wasting the interviewers time and their chances of getting hired go down really quick.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Just saying “I don’t know that yet” can do the trick. It can lead to the interviewer asking the candidate to use logic to come up with an answer. This brings to light how well the candidate works under pressure.
  • Learn from as many sources as possible. Blogs, books, and github repositories help the developers to improve themselves. Remember: You don’t need to know all the corners of the programming language you’re going to work with, but you need to show that you care enough that one day you will.
  • Ask questions, and learn to ask “the right questions”. This is key for any project, since a client might want something but not clearly say exactly what. The interviewer might talk about something that assumes some background knowledge to see if the candidate will ask about it.
  • Practice, practice, practice. If you claim to love your craft, you can’t be expected to not know how to write a single line of code. You will get a coding test or two and you’re expected to solve them. Usually it’s nothing major, but if you can’t solve these, then the employer will wonder how you’d ever work in a real-world project.

Nurturing Passion: The road to the Full-Stack Developer
Okay, so you got past the interview and got yourself hired. Good for you! But it’s far from over. Your goal now should be to continue improving yourself and continue showing the qualities that got you hired in the first place.

At Santex we say “WHERE TECHNOLOGY MEETS PASSION” in big bold letters. And to make that a reality we need to nurture this passion, to help the younger developers want to become experienced. The best way to get a Full-Stack Developer is to take steps forward and grow their passion for their craft.

Passion makes perfection. If you don’t love your work, then you won’t care for it, and if you don’t care for it, it will surely suffer for it, making it of a much lower quality. And in the world we live in, quality is a great divider. Clients don’t look for companies where the only thing that’s valued is how cheap the service they give is, they look for quality – even if they don’t know they want it.

So, to get to that much requested quality clients look for, we need skilled workers. Not just skilled workers, actually, but skilled workers that love their work. People that when making a commit, feel good with themselves for a job well done.

Before in this article, I mentioned the Santex Trainee Program and for good reason. It’s a moralizing idea that helps instill this much needed passion into people. Developers don’t love what they do just because they liked writing little programs when they were kids. Managers need to trust the developers and nurture their passion by creating a great workplace. They also need to identify when someone isn’t happy with what they’re doing. This program aims to help not just the new hires get involved in the field and grow them into Full-Stack Developers, but also help Team Leaders into being actual leaders, and create an idea of team that in turn, helps future hires land on softer ground and grow much quicker.

About the Author – Lorenzo is a passionate, experienced PHP developer who is always in search of new challenges. As a high-skilled developer for Santex, he is always looking for new ways of contributing.

How to install Magento2: Create a development environment for Magento 2

By Miguel Balparda – Magento Developer at Santex

This post it’s meant to give an idea of how to create a development environment for Magento Beta 2 dev.

This post will NOT attempt to explain the requirements to use Magento 2, it is only a guide to install Magento2 dev Beta and begin to understand the new directory structure and modules. Remember that this version is not ready for production.

The time required for a complete installation is between 1 and 2 hours depending on the internet connection available.

The minimum requirements were updated between versions 1 and 2 and you may find that a server where 1 runs might not be suitable for Magento 2 without modifying versions of the server software (MySQL, Apache, PHP).

We will use a virtual machine to preinstall all the necessary components to ensure compatibility with Magento 2 without modifying the components of the real or host machine.

93% of this guide will happen in the console without making differences between operating systems.

First step is to clone the VM with

git clone https://github.com/rgranadino/mage2_vagrant.git

Then we enter the directory with

cd mage2_vagrant

to run

git submodule update --init

Magento2, Magento2 sample data and the required libs like composer are listed as submodules in the .gitmodules file.

Once we have all the dependencies installed within the same directory we run

vagrant up

to initialize and provision the VM. We deduct vagrant is installed. If not then enter https://www.vagrantup.com/.

The process is long and without user intervention. This VM is provisioned with puppet. You may find puppet manifest at Manifests/mage.pp. Once complete we must add to the hosts file of the real machine the line

192.168.56.10 mage2.dev

to tell our PC to resolve the domain mage2.dev to the IP of the virtual machine.

Once the whole process is finished we can proceed to the installation of Magento2 entering http: //mage2.dev/ or from the VM.

Personally I chose the installation via command line using

reinstall -s

from the virtual machine to install Magento with Sample data included.

In case of choosing the installation via web you need access the VM with

vagrant ssh

and run

cd /vagrant/data/magento2

composer install

to install the required packages via composer.

To read more about the installation and find all the necessary information and material visit Damian Culotta’s official website (Spanish) or visit http://magenticians.com/installing-magento-2-composer (English).

After the installation, your freshly installed Magento2 will be available at http: //mage2.dev/ and the admin will be at http://mage2.dev/admin

Dashboard access
User: admin
Password: p4ssw0rd

Some images

homepage-m2.png

category-m2.png

category-m2.png

pp-m2.png

Admin Dashboard

admin_m2.png

If you use the web interface to install, these are the accesses to the database:

Host: 127.0.0.1
User: root
Pass: mage2
DB name: mage2

About the Author – Miguel Balparda has been developing Magento for almost five years. During this time, he has witnessed the exponential growth the platform has undergone; today it is one of the largest and most popular online stores in the world. There is a great deal of documentation and resources available for both merchants and developers. It is best to start by scanning the official Magento website, where you can find resources to get in touch with the application, as well as free extensions to learn the structure of modules. Miguel can be contacted at communication@santexgroup.com

Be Green! Be a Changemaker.

By Roxana Morano

Small habits that help us build a better world for future generations.

Do you want to be a better person? Do you want to leave a better world to your children? You can save the world with your daily actions.

At Santex we encourage you to be green!

Reduce the use of resources, Re-use them as much as you can and Recycle them.

Santex is a green company, and we are Sin títuloproud of that.

Santex Changemaker Program is a global program that focuses on three main topics:

A) Recycling

B) Responsible consumption

C) Community

2

A) Recycling

Here at Santex we recycle:

Plastic:

Empty plastic bottles and bags are put into the grey container next to the kitchen. When it is full, they are taken to a big container we have installed on Velez Sarsfield Square, in front of Patio Olmos. CEIPOST Foundation takes all that plastic, process it and sells it to different companies to use it in construction, clothes, etc. This company is giving jobs to many people in Cordoba and also helps to reduce trash and improves the environment. You can find more information on www.ceipost.org.

Plastic Caps are taken to a big container in Hipermercado Libertad, to help children from a Hospital in Alta Gracia.

Technological Trash:

Batteries and technological trash are also collected here. They are taken to “Municipalidad de Cordoba”, who disarms and classifies technological trash to be re-used as part of new devices, and put batteries on safe cells to avoid contamination.

Paper and cardboard:

All paper and cardboard collected in the brown boxes are sent to Cotolengo Don Orione to help children over there.

B) Responsible consumption

Our first initiative was to educate about the use of water and paper.

We have some great stickers everywhere. Next to a water tap, where you can see: “Save Water”, just to let you know, we should not let water run unnecessarily.  Some other stickers said: “Don’t throw away too much paper!” Everything is just part of the same program.

We should reduce our consumption in order to conserve trees and drinkable water.

C) Community

We have given computers  that  are not in use anymore to low-income  school. We also have given IT lessons to children and adults through all year 2013. On 2015 we are planning to start again with a similar program.

NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?

If all these is not enough for you, and you want to do more for the environment, here you have some ideas you can follow:

  •       Plant a tree. Even if you live in an apartment, you can plant trees in big pots on your balcony, or you can grow seedlings and gift them to friends, as I do.
  •       Grown you own vegetables and create as many plants as you can. If you don’t have enough space you can make them and give them as a gift.
  •       Make a worm farm for compost, there you can recycle organic waste. If it is made properly, it should not smell at all. You can buy Californian worms on the Internet. They are not expensive and 3work for you creating the best compost for your plants.

 

 

 

Change your habits, change your mind, change the World.

 

Roxana Morano is a Java and Python developer for Santex. As one of our volunteers, in this article she explains how we live the Santex Changemaker Program.

Mocking with Python!

By Juan Norris, Python Developer at Santex

Here at Santex, we pride ourselves on delivering high quality software, and therefore testing is a big part of our day-to-day development process.

I’m currently working on a Python project that relies heavily on mock for unit tests. A few months ago, some new members who were not familiar with the mock library joined the team. As those of you who have used it may know, mock sometimes can be unintuitive, confusing and lead to “false positives” – passing tests that are not really testing anything – but it is also very useful and powerful.

So we found ourselves in the need of a way to explain this library a little bit, and that is why these slides were created.

We started with an introduction to what mock is and why should you use it. The slides are meant to be both a starting point and some best practices, because they explain the most important classes and helpers in the library, as well as how/when to use them and the common pitfalls you may run into.

Although there is not a lot of written information and this material is composed mostly of code examples, I hope this can get you started with Mocking in Python!

See Mocking in Python Presentation!

About Juan Norris. He is a Python/Django developer with experience in JavaScript (Jquery, AJAX), MySQL and PostgreSQL. Juan is continuously learning and training to investigate new technologies.

Expectations of an American businessman– How to sell in the US Market

by Doug Lewis

Who am I?

I am an American businessman with over 30 years of experience selling and buying products in Asia, Australia, Europe and the U.S and Canada.  I have worked for technology companies in software and processing and in economic development in International Trade and entrepreneurism.

Where do I come from?

I’ve lived most of my life in the middle of the US but I have traveled throughout the US and in many other countries and I’ve lived in Japan and Sweden.  I understand quite a bit about international business but not a lot about doing business in South America and not a lot about Argentina.

Why is it worth selling to me?

Because I’m really not trying to sell to you.  I work for Santex.  Over 90% of our revenue comes from the US market.  I have nothing to sell you. I say this because unfortunately too many times the first connections between businesses who want to sell are people who are trying to sell to each other.  They are the people in international sales for each company or sometimes even the CEOs themselves. They just shouldn’t try to sell to each other.

So let’s suspend reality for a moment and assume in this case that I am buying from you.

MapaUSblog

I’m buying and I’m buying services in an economy where services are close to 80% of the economy.  That economy is 17 trillion dollars according to the Worldbank.  Trillion is 1 with 12 zeros behind it.  That means people pay 13.6 Trillion dollars per year for services in the US.  I’m buying for many reasons but here are a couple of them.  I am buying because after dealing with the rest of the world for a long time, I’m concerned about places and countries closer to home. I’m concerned that bigger countries than the US will have even more influence that will affect the future of my kids and their kids.

And because I’m really tired of dealing with 12 to 15 hour time differences with Asia.  It always means that someone is working in the middle of the night.  I want to find sources closer to home but I am also accountable to my stakeholders and customers to get a good price or provide a good value for them.  Price is a factor especially if I can get it somewhere else easily.

Just a word about competition.  If you are in software development services like I am, Your competition is not in this room.  Your competition isn’t in Cordoba.  It really isn’t even on this continent.  It is any place on the planet.  Because the software code can be developed wherever any one has a portable computer and can delivered when and wherever it’s needed.  Competing on price alone will leave you starving.  You need to deliver value to your customer.

If I’m going to buy from you then you are probably asking “what do I expect from you?”

I expect solid and simple communication the way that I want it.  Please don’t take me on a walk through the forest.  I don’t want to sift through information to try to find what you are trying to tell me.  I really don’t know what I’m looking for.  Get yourself organized.  Group your products into categories and name them.  In other words, I need your information presented in a context and it needs to be complete.

Don’t expect me to ask questions about something that I don’t know.  You know your product and you need to be able to communicate with me in my language. So I need your help.

I do expect you to have any material that you present be in standard American English.  I don’t expect you to speak perfect English but I need to be able to understand you.  If you need a translator then you need to provide it.  I don’t think you want one of my employees who studied Spanish in school and drank rum or tequila drinks on a beach in the Caribbean to be your translator.

As an American, I expect information to flow freely to me.  When you hold something back or I find out something later that I thought I should have known. I feel one of two ways, I am suspicious of your motives or I think you don’t know what you’re doing.

I’ve done business in around 40 countries but I really don’t know much about Argentina and so you will need to explain a little bit about your country and I want to learn.  I know there are the positives of doing business with you and I want you to get that point across but there is one factor that is more important than anything else.  I only deal with honest people. It makes my buying decisions much easier.  You just won’t get another chance if you don’t deliver what you promise.

I’ve heard about the government and the economy but I’m a business man.  I’m willing to buy a good product for a fair price.

I will do my research on you before we meet so I will expect to find you on LinkedIn with a profile in proper English.  I will expect some information on your website.  If you only have a Spanish website, I’ll let the browser do the translation but you never know what I will get that way.  I can tell you that in Hong Kong, Singapore and many other countries I will not only have websites in English but a lot of information for me.

I know enough about international business and dealing with business people around the globe to know that cultures are different.  I know that things like jokes and stories don’t always translate well so I personally avoid them.  I don’t like to confuse matters by being misunderstood by a joke and I certainly don’t want to explain a joke fearing that I mistaken the lack of laughing for misunderstanding the punch line.

Time is important to me.  I like to use it well and expect others to do so too.  I have a lot of people who make demands on my time.  Face to face meetings are so productive that I don’t want to have them be wasted.  I like a meeting agenda ahead of a meeting and I will come prepared and I expect that you will too.  I like to concentrate face to face meetings at places where I have meetings anyway.  International trade shows and conferences when I attend are places I can do this.

By the way, sometimes the easiest and most relaxed time to meet with me is at breakfast and it’s best before 8. I can take time with you not distracted by others in my com palm texting or calling me.  On occasion, I’ll have a business dinner but I coach my kids sports teams and have family activities after 6 so evenings are scheduled for me and I like to be in bed by 10.  Golf is good for those who play well but I don’t play.

Are you believable?

Will you really do what you say you will?  How would I know?  That’s why I expect that you have customer references. You are certified in quality standards and you belong to US and International industry and Professional groups.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the world; you only have one chance to make a good impression.  I may be dressed casual but I’m always impressed by someone who is dressed to sell.

How much do you really know about the US?

Do you know that there are at least 4 geographic markets in the US?  There are two that most people know and they still put them together.  There is the West Coast or Left Coast as we call it.  It’s fast paced but casual.  High tech but also Hollywood.  It’s where everyone from around the world takes their idea and their movie script to sell it.  Competition is fierce. Making a splash is nothing unusual.  It’s on a big ocean and people do it every day.  Money flows in and out easily until there isn’t anymore and then it crashes.

Then there’s the East Coast.  It’s traditional.  Money has been there a long time and they want to keep it that way.  They don’t give it up easily.  They are skeptical of everyone, even people they grew up with.  You can imagine how important it is to be credible.  There are more people squeezed into the land between Philadelphia and Boston than there are in Argentina.  That distance is 100 kilometers less than from Cordoba to Buenos Aires. And know your baseball teams.  Don’t wear that baseball cap you bought at Yankee stadium in Boston.

Moving along to the South.  They haven’t had money since the 1800′s.  There are pockets of wealth like Atlanta, Miami and Dallas.  Overall, it’s conservative but it’s changing.  People are moving in but people are still paid less and the infrastructure isn’t as good as other parts of the country.  People don’t part with money easily and especially not for products that don’t look like they are from home.  It’s the headquarters of Walmart, where  the company slogan is “Always the low price. Always.”

And then there’s the Midwest.  In the Midwest, there are two natural resources.  One is land and the other is people.  Both are becoming more scarce and therefore more valuable.  The land of 12 states is one fourth the size of Argentina and there 67 million people.  The largest city is Chicago.  It’s a world class city that considers itself in a league with Buenos Aires.  One hundred dollars will buy what 160 dollars buys in New York City.  The second largest city is 2 million people.  It’s Indianapolis and is a lot like Cordoba.

Energy production– wind, biofuels and oil and natural gas is the new industry in the Midwest.  Agriculture is changing from old to new to feed the world and manufacturing is finding its way in a new global market.  And what about the money?  The money is here.  It’s stable.  Midwesterners like to pay cash and they like to own what they buy, not borrow to pay for it.  They have experience taping into the east and west coast and once you are partners, they will take you with them.  You may just want to take a look.

So what’s the place where people are the wealthiest?  It’s in the Midwest.  It’s in fact Des Moines Iowa.

Here’s a video that makes that point.

So things are not always as they seem.  Sometimes unlikely places have more potential than at first glance.

For more information check out Doug Lewis’ presentation on Slideshare.

Doug Lewis is a Manager of Inside Sales and Business Development for Santex.  Throughout his career, Doug has developed high value sales and business relationships for companies seeking international markets.   Prior to joining Santex in 2012, Doug was with the Iowa Department of Economic Development  where he worked in the Innovation and Commercialization Division in entrepreneurial development. He was program Manager for the Iowa Demonstration fund which helps companies commercialize innovative products in three targeted industry sectors– Advanced Manufacturing, BioScience and Information Technology. Over 100 companies received close to $12 million in state funding to launch new, innovative products.

 

 

Embracing Corporate Social Responsability

By Nes Lopez

Corporate Social Responsibility refers to the way a corporation “gives back” to society. This focus usually includes contributions of time and money, a duty to provide environmentally friendly solutions and services and a desire to improve the way of living of society on a global and local stage. Social responsible corporations see to it that this belief filters to everything they do.

Corporate Social Responsability

Social responsibility can be effectively incorporated with effective strategies to advance goodwill, while building sustainable and impactful business. They provide the leadership to demonstrate how employees can pursue both objectives simultaneously. As such, socially conscious companies have stepped up their efforts with increasing effectiveness and productivity. It is an impressive movement and one that invites society at large to do even more.

Corporations that are serious about undertaking a social responsible and sustainable approach often have to battle the fact that other corporations have used this approach as a ploy or as a marketing scheme, or have questionable motives to engage in corporate social responsibility by jumping on the bandwagon and take advantage of the fad.

Another issue is that corporate social responsibility is far from being consistent and universal. There are many Non-governmental agencies that are taking an increasing role in pressuring major corporations to behave responsibly. Even though there is no consistency in government regulations regarding social responsibility and legislation can vary vastly between regions, it is really up to the company to go on its own and find a strategy that works for their individual line of business or needs, either by following in the steps of other business that have successfully adopted social responsibility and sustainability approach or work with consultants and subject matter experts.

One of the main reasons corporate social responsibility and sustainability have become such a “hot topic” is the issue that other topics as global warming, pollution, carbon emissions, deforestation are a daily and common occurrence in our media outlets. Even though these aspects are highly important, there are also other features regarding social responsibilities that are often not as publicized and communicated, such as: ethics, diversity and disabilities in the business environment.

If a business is dedicated to really being socially responsible and sustainable, the company culture will carry on to it’s employees and society will take notice, there is no need to auto-publicize or fabricate marketing ploys to show how “green” they are, or how many carbon credits they’ve earned; or how hiring minorities and disabled individuals makes them more socially responsible and aware, in an individual is capable to effectively perform their role it should not matter if they come from a different background or they have a disability.

Every business can find ways to be socially responsible, just by taking the earnest and sincere decision to take on this challenge is a step in the right direction.

Nes Lopez is a Senior Account Manager with a technical background in web and software development. Considerable experience managing projects from start to bottom with direct client interaction.

 

Candidate Casuistry for Test Automation

By Angel G. Terrera

As systems grow, the generation of manual test cases it is a task that becomes more difficult and expensive. Therefore, it is specially important to use techniques for test case automation from previously selected best candidates if we want to meet market standards and deliver on time.

TestingAutomation

When selecting candidate tests cases for automation, two different stages of software testing areas should be identified:

  • An area that hasn’t yet begun to automate their testing efforts.
  • An area that has implemented automation projects and intends to walk the path of continuous improvement.

These two different stages reflects the maturity of the area that selects possible candidates for test case automation.

For areas of type “a” a range of possibilities is opened up:

  • Identify and recognize the Candidate Casuistry from certain defined criteria.
  • Register the candidate casuistry in a tool for further monitoring, control and update.
  • Manage the execution of the generated scripts on the basis of the selected candidates scenarios  or integrate them with other tools that can run them.

Areas of type “b” encounter another range of possibilities. They should recognize from the already automated processes those test scenarios that according to their characteristic or outcome should begin to be “separated” as best candidates for continuous performance improvement.

Here I list some factors that

should be considered when selecting candidates for automation, depending on the type of scenario that has to be tested.

  • Automation Tool: The tool must be able to withstand the technology on which the application was built.
  • Time available for testing: Automating from scratch takes twice the time than making the script for manual testing.
  • Frequency of use of the application: Before carrying on automation efforts we should know if the application will be used constantly, sporadically or just once.
  • Complexity of the application: If the application is farily complicated we will have to evaluate certain candidates cases because the initial effort for automation is too high.
  • Stability and Variability version: We should consider automation If we have a stable version of updates, never underestimating its variability though.
  • 100% Automation: Will depend on how much human intervention the test scenario possesses.
  • Main flow: Identify/recognize/evaluate the main scenarios and it respective priority conditions (critical, important, urgent) that align the main business rules.
  • Avoid automating everything: The most common mistake is trying to automate all test cases. Automation scripts should be a support for manual testing and no replacement of it.
  • Evaluate combination III and VII: It refers to test cases linked to the core of the application that can be built at the beginning of the project and which can be then used in the rest of the development cycle.
  • Cost associated with automating test case: Assessing its complexity to decide whether to continue with the process of automation or go back to manual testing.
  • Maintenance Project: Identify the history incident as a source of information.
  • Think about the audience: Who will read and use the selected test cases?
  • Types of Tests: Consider particular scenarios of certain type of Test Cases (eg UAT, Regression, Smoke).
  • ROI: Return on Investment (ROI) for the business that each script has, specific to each company.
  • Number of steps and verification: The complexity is given by the number of steps (actions) and checkpoints (expected results) each of them have.

However, much will have to do with the type of project since the course of treatment is not the same for traditional (cascade) or agile projects.

Some positions related to assessing the best candidates state:

  • Scenarios that can not fail under any circumstances.
  • Features that if were missing would have a negative impact on the customer.
  • The selection begins with cases that cover the main functionalities.
  • Cases with average complexity of business, ie, it’s not too expensive to automate.

From the basis of this article, I will go a little deeper in the next one and explain more concrete situations.

Reference:
Content generated on the basis of the comments written by the members of the group TESTING& QA in Linkedin.

Angel G. Terrera is the Founder of TestingBaires.com, a website dedicated to the promotion of software testing.
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