Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ten things to do, If you are setting up a Offshore Center

Ten things to do, If you are setting up a Offshore Center

If you are in the process of to setup an offshore center, make sure to
plan for the following. [assuming that you have cleared with all legal matters

1.Chart-out a plan for implementing a new methodology of capturing and
communicating requirements, design the software, tracking development
and making sure software matches the specification.
2.Plan for transition / implement development process in synchronization
with your corporate or other development centers.
3.Plan for strategies selecting offshore talent . Make sure concern hiring
manager is involved in the selection process.
4.Plan for implementing software quality models (Ex: SW-CMM) at the very
least level.
5.Chart a plan for implementing best practices on phase wise from the
beginning of the offshore operations.
6.Plan on extended work day, because of time zones difference it is very important to synchronizing with offshore teams.
7.Work on Communication strategies (Ex: Email, Conference [Web, Video, Telecon]
8.Prepare strategy for 24x 7 support [ in case your projects expect 24x7 support]
9.Work on backup plan for infrastructure problems.
10.Plan for out sourcing strategies, in case your ODC is managing local vendors. Workout a SLA’s to meet your expectations.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Bargain tips for Vendor agreements"

When you are negotiating with your vendors agreements you can use following tips

1. Client organization does significant business with current vendor.
2. Multiyear working relationship exists between vendor and client.
3. Client organization has strong reputation and brand name.
4. Client organization provides vendor with entree to new vertical market.
5. client organization has a large IT budget.
6. Compare other vendor prices.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

" How To Set Up an Offshore Development Center in India "

How To Set Up an Offshore Development Center in India Read more...

I have captured good practices how Japanese companies use TPS

Information Technology at Toyota
Toyota is all about the customer. We hear a lot — and I’ve written a lot on this blog — about the Toyota Production System, anglicized in the United States as Lean, but we haven’t known much about the role of Information Technology at Toyota.

Baseline Magazine has a great article on Toyota; specifically, the role of technology at Toyota:

And behind TPS is information technology—supporting and enabling the business processes that help Toyota eliminate waste, operate with virtually no inventory and continually improve production.

Technology does not drive business processes at Toyota. The Toyota Production System does. However, technology plays a critical role by supporting, enabling and bringing to life on a mass scale the processes derived by adhering to TPS.

And more,

Over the years, Toyota refined a number of other concepts and production methods that support the two central TPS pillars. And behind each of those pillars are information systems, supporting and enabling the processes:

Just-in-time: Toyota employs one of the most sophisticated supply chain systems in manufacturing, working closely with suppliers to ensure that parts arrive just when needed. For example, when a car comes out of the paint shop in Georgetown, the system sends seat supplier Johnson Controls an electronic message detailing the exact configuration of the seats required (leather upholstery, bucket seats, etc.); Johnson Controls has four hours to ship those seats to the plant in the exact sequence required. The instructions are provided by Toyota’s proprietary Assembly Line Control System (ALCS) software.

Jidoka: At every stage of the assembly line, Toyota employs devices allowing workers to stop production to correct defects. Such devices may be as simple as a rope strung above the assembly line, or a button that can be pushed. In other cases, it is sophisticated monitoring software such as Activplant’s Performance Management System, which can alert operators to problems with equipment or robots in real time.

Kaizen: This is a system for continuous improvement. Toyota constantly looks to improve its business processes by finding ways to take Muda (waste) out of the system. It can be as simple as moving a tool to an assembly station so a worker does not need to waste time walking to get the tool. Or it may involve technology, such as allowing dealerships to swap car inventories using the Dealer Daily, an Internet portal, so customers are not left waiting longer for the vehicle they want.
Andons: Wherever possible, Toyota uses visual controls, or Andons, such as overhead displays, plasma screens and electronic dashboards to quickly convey the state of work. On the assembly line floor, for example, overhead Andons tell a supervisor with one glance whether the station is functioning smoothly (a green light), whether there is a problem being investigated (yellow light) or whether the assembly line has stopped (red light). Newer plasma screens, tied into assembly line equipment, provide even more information such as which machine malfunctioned, the operator and the exact conditions (speed, temperature) when it broke down.

Poka Yoke: Toyota uses a range of these low-cost, highly reliable devices throughout its operations to prevent defects. A PokaYoke may be something as simple as a tool holder with an electronic sensor, or it may be a light curtain, a beam of light that sends a signal to a computer when a hand or some other object interrupts its flow. The curtain can signal a warning if, for instance, a worker fails to pick up a cotter pin, bolt, nut or some other required part.

Genchi Genbutsu: The literal translation of this term is, “Go and see for yourself.” Rather than hear about a problem, Toyota requires its workers, team leaders and executives to go and see a problem directly and to work collectively on a solution. At least 50% of Toyota’s information systems workers are stationed at plant sites to work directly with operations.

A case in point in how technology supports TPS and the customer:

In all, the Dealer Daily [Toyota's application for car dealers] incorporates more than 120 business applications, and like all Toyota initiatives, it is constantly undergoing Kaizen to look for more improvements and opportunities to remove Muda. Case in point: Toyota recently added the capability for dealers to find out which vehicles it has in the production pipeline, and make changes such as switching a cloth interior to leather. (Dealer Daily is integrated into Toyota’s mainframe systems through file transfer protocol and System Network Architecture [SNA], IBM’s proprietary networking architecture, although Web services are now being explored.) By logging in the next day, the dealer can find out if the changes were received in time and accepted. This allows the dealers to more closely customize orders to actual customer demand.

Here’s a look at the current proprietary technologies at Toyota, all modified to support the business:

So, Toyota uses Oracle ERP, Oracle 9i, Siebel for Automotive, SAS Business Intelligence, Hyperion Intelligence, Powerplay Impromptu Intelligence, Tibco Businessworks, Weblogic from BEA Systems, Demand Planner from i2, Activplant for robot monitoring, Dell servers, SQL Server, the Office suite, Norton for Antivirus, Blackberry for mobile messaging, and Citrix for remote Access.

I’m not sure why Toyota needs 3 different business intelligence tools, unless they serve a different need. I imagine that there’s a lot of overlap in feature set and that there’s redundancy in using three different business intelligence tools. It seems like muda to me, but I’m sure Toyota has its reasons.

For those wanting to work with Toyota, apparently it’s not easy:

“We know that at times it can be a very frustrating experience for companies who aren’t used to working with us,” says Millie Marshall, vice president of information systems for Toyota Manufacturing North America. “But we like to think we give back a lot to our vendors. We try to grow with our vendors, and teach them our methods for problem solving and how Toyota does business.”

But, it could be a very beneficial and very long-term relationship.


For more on Lean, Operations, Six Sigma, or Queueing Theory, please visit these pages:

On Game Theory
Queueing Theory 1
Queueing Theory 2
Queueing Theory 3
Queueing Theory 4
On Time-Traps and Waste
Applied Regression Analysis
Team Sizing
Click-to-Ship Processes
Root Cause Analysis
Lean at Krispy Kreme
Theory of Constraints and Camping
Lean for Software Development
Don’t Waste the Customer’s Time
Featuritis and the Focus on the Customer
Waste-Free Software Development

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

" Selecting a Right Vendor for Your Project "

In the organisations that are growing, the IT department is always stretched to -- and sometimes beyond -- capacity. Learning how to find the right help from the sea of vendors wanting to take your organisation's money is a necessity. The challenge is in sorting out what things are and should be important and which ones are not. Here’s some help.

Why finding the right vendor is important
The process of selecting vendors is necessarily a long one if done correctly. Finding the right vendor who will partner with you in your growth is something that simply has to take time so you can get to know them. The alternative, quickly choosing vendors and replacing them when they don’t work out, has its own set of challenges.
The first challenge is that you’re not promoting continuity, which means more frequent direction changes. These direction changes may be small but they can add up.

The second challenge comes when you have exhausted the potential vendors. Organisations sometimes "burn through" all of the consulting companies in a town and are faced with the fact that it is difficult or impossible to get support for their needs because no consulting company in town has had a good experience with them. As a result, they refuse to work with the organisation or they charge them premium rates.

The third challenge is the added risk that you take on by having so many people you don't know well working on your systems. They can potentially create security vulnerabilities, crash servers, steal corporate data, or destroy data. The risk of bringing people in is a healthy, necessary risk but one that should be managed. Changing vendors often can only exacerbate this risk.

Tips to select the right vendor the first time.

1.Seek critical mass
When selecting a vendor, look for one that has "critical mass" in the area you’re seeking. Critical mass is the point at which there is enough of something that it becomes self-sustaining. If you’re hiring a SharePoint consultant, make sure the guy that you’re getting isn’t their only SharePoint consultant.
Many times vendors will try to buy their way into the market. They try to gain market share or the ability to perform a kind of service to see if the market makes sense for them. While the initial price may be enticing, what are you going to do if they decide not to stay in the market? The costs of changing to a new vendor -- and finding the right new vendor -- may quickly outweigh any small cost advantage that you gained by working with someone buying their way in.

2.Get what you expect (pay for)
There are two ways that you can find yourself in a bind when it comes to getting what you expect. First, you'll find that the vendor replaces the people that they listed in the proposal with others. Sometimes this is innocent enough. The person they proposed was swallowed up into another deal before you could get all of your contractual steps out of the way. Other times they include resumes of folks who are never available for your project at all. They are folks who are already fully engaged other places. They do this to get your agreement that they have the right people for your project -- which they may have. The question becomes whether you can get those right people to work on your projects or not.

Getting the right people on your project is a matter of insisting that you get agreed upon people through the negotiation stage and into the contract. If they’re unexpectedly swallowed up on another project, you will have the right to approve the resumes of the people they intend to replace them with.
In addition to the challenges of last-minute changes to staffing plans it’s always important to do informal background checks. Calling a company’s references should go well. After all, these are the people that the potential vendor has recommended. However, sometimes it’s better to find people who’ve worked with the company before who aren’t on the reference list -- particularly those whom you know or have a relationship with. They’re the most likely to give you the balanced story of the strengths and weakness of the organisation. In some cases you may even be able to do this with the people who are slated to be on the project. This will help you clearly understand what to expect and allows you to plan what that will mean to your project.

3.Select strategic
Because of the importance of selecting the right vendor and the potential costs and risks of the wrong decision, it’s critical to find long-term fits. The vendor you select must be interested enough in your organisation and the things you’re doing to be willing to work with you as you learn and grow. That means that you should be large enough of a customer to them to command their attention. If you spread out your work with several vendors and don’t really develop any repeatable pattern of work, they won’t really become a partner in helping you reach your goals, because you’re not helping them reach theirs. Conversely, it’s risky for both of you to represent too much (say more than 50%) of the vendors income. It makes them too vulnerable to temporary project delays on your end.
Everyone talks about vendors as partners. However, there's no common understanding of what that means. Partnerships with vendors require that both you and they work together to create situations that are beneficial for both organisations. When many vendors say partnership they sometimes mean they’ll be there to take your money when you are ready to give it to them. When many organisations say they want to partner with a consulting company it sometimes means that they want the consulting company to not make money so that they can look better in the short term.
Finding a partner is about finding a vendor who will be open with you and you can be open with. You can honestly discuss your needs and the vendor can try to find the best solutions for your needs.
The way that you can determine whether your vendor relationship is developing into a partnership is to ask yourself if you’re holding anything back from the vendor? Are you holding back how much is in your budget? Are you holding back the other needs that you don’t think they can fill? If you’re holding these things back, then it’s good evidence that you don’t feel like you have a strong partnership yet.

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Ten Questions Can help Clients to bulids Successful Vendor Management Systems (VMS)"

Ten Questions can help Clients to bulids successful Vendor Management systems (VMS);

1.Have you included hiring managers / users / PMO and vendors in the design and periodic evalution of the VMS program ?

2.Do you have the proper number of preferred vendors to work with ?

3.Do you provide the means for responsive communications?

4.Do you encourage (candidate)Project quality over (resume submittal speed) project release?

5.Do you have limits on the number of resumes vendors may sumbit per job order?

6.Do you provide vendors sufficient detail on the job/Project requirements?

7.Do you have adequately skilled VMS staff reviewing the Projects /resumes?

8.Do you provide vendors with prompt and sufficient Project closure (resume and interview) feedback?

9.Do you negotiate "too hard" on pricing and contractual terms with vendors?

10.Do you track vendor and program performance and share it with the vendors?