What it takes to be a professional? – Part 2

This post is about what a mentor or manager expects from the professionals.


There are six topics in total:

  1. Can he/she plan their work?
  2. Can he/she execute the plan?
  3. Can he/she organize their work products properly?
  4. Can he/she do it independently?
  5. Can he/she communicate clearly of their needs, status and problems?
  6. Can he/she improve their productivity consistently using tools and techniques?

This post will cover the first three topics and the rest will be covered in the next post.

Can he/she plan their work?

This phase is to explain what are the qualities required for the teammates to plan their work on their own. The employees should be able to break down the given work and plan accordingly. Breakdown is very important for estimation. This will mainly increase accuracy. 

For example: If you are tasked with developing a screen for an MVC application then you need to break it down into the following and then estimate the time for design, development, testing , rework and deployment.

  • Database design.
  • Import DB objects into models in the MVC application.
  • Develop a controller to prepare the model and send it to the view.
  • Design the view and develop the controls, events and behaviours for the view.
  • Unit testing the controller.
  • UI testing the view using Nightwatch.js

They should be able to make a rough estimation based on the given requirements . The estimations should be done on the basis of some techniques like simple, medium, complex. T-shirt Sizing is one of the sizing techniques to estimate user story usually used in agile projects. It’s a relative Estimation Technique. With T-shirt measuring, the development team is made a request to evaluate whether they think a story is extra-small, small, medium, large, extra-large, or double extra-large. By expelling the numerical score, the development team is allowed to think in a more dynamic manner about the exertion associated with a story. The sizes can, if necessary, be given numerical value after the estimation is finished. One more technique is function point estimation. A Function Point (FP) is a unit of measurement to express the amount of business functionality an information system (as a product) provides to a user. FPs measure software size. They are widely accepted as an industry standard for functional sizing. Estimation must be a feedback loop.The flow of tasks must be clear to everyone involved in the project. UML diagrams can be used to explain the flow of tasks. Even if some one is lagging behind in understanding the flow, the other teammates should volunteer and make the flow clear to the respective person. They should be as clear as where the input of the tasks are coming from and where the output of the task goes to. This level of clarity will help them to track the exact status of the project and plan the tasks accordingly. There must be a skill  to gather information about the resources needed for the tasks. After gathering the information, they should validate their assumptions made on the skills of their resources. Assumptions can impact estimations like it may be overestimated or less estimated. So they must be tracking their realtime productivity in every project in order to make the estimation accurate. By reading the requirements, they should be able to analyze and identify the risk factors in the project and inform the manager. After all these, the tasks should be delegated to the right resources in order to improve the productivity. Using a calendar while planning really helps many people. This might help them to set reminders for the respective tasks. While planning they should include holidays, leaves and plan accordingly. By keeping the peak productivity hours in mind, the planning of tasks should be done. This will help them to finish some complex tasks in estimated time and also to easily achieve the goals set while planning. The individual should document the plan of the project. That document should be reviewed and approved by the manager. While planning the big picture should be in mind so that the flow does not get affected. Completing the tasks within the estimated time is what every manager wishes for. By planning the tasks properly like above mentioned steps, every professional can achieve it in ease.

Can he/she execute the plan?

This phase will explain what are the qualities required to execute the plan. Employees should focus on daily planning and that process should be strengthened. That helps them to move in the right direction. The calendar should be used while planning daily tasks. Hard appointments should be identified and blocked in the calendar. Make a note of the given tasks and prioritize it accordingly. Regularly check the mails, messages related to the project and reply to them. Note down the list of tasks that needs to be reviewed by you and the list of your tasks to be reviewed by others. Always do a review of a day’s activity before lunch. This helps to understand whether we are on the right track or more effort is needed for the completion of the task. Split a working day into chunks of time and classify them from peak productivity to weak productivity. Note down the actual time spent on every task. This may help you make an estimation accurately in the future. For the next project, the estimation time can be refined based on the current experience. The priorities should be set by keeping the big picture in mind because ultimately the aim is to complete the project on time. Before starting a task verify the input provided for the task. In the same way, verify your output before it is assigned for a review. The execution progress should be tracked against the plan at the end of every day

Can he/she organize their work products properly?

The first thing to be done is to find a tool to organize the work. There should be clarity in how to store the input and output of your tasks. The available resources should be communicated to the stakeholders in order to make the current scenario clear. The continuity of the work must not be disturbed by any external severe events. Status should be tracked at every phase of the project like documentation, unit testing. The work flow of the task should be decided and the communication points should be identified. This status should be communicated to the stakeholders automatically in real-time. Employees should document their work flow or register their issues they get and the method of solving them in an internal tool or a common platform that the company uses. This will minimize the dependency on you to understand the task you are working on. This will also make it easy for you to transition this task to others in the middle of some important new work that comes in.

In the next post I will cover the remaining points of what the manager/mentor expects from the professionals. 

  1. Can he/she do it independently?
  2. Can he/she communicate clearly of their needs, status and problems?
  3. Can he/she improve their productivity consistently using tools and techniques?


Founder & CEO

H.Thirukkumaran has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry. He worked in US for over 13 years for leading companies in various sectors like retail and ecommerce, investment banking, stock market, automobile and real estate He is the author of the book Learning Google BigQuery which explains how to build big data systems using Google BigQuery. He holds a masters in blockchain from Zigurat Innovation and Technology Business School from Barcelona Spain. He is also the India chapter lead for the Global Blockchain Initiative a non-profit from Germany that provides free education on blockchain. He currently lives in Chennai India.

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