A Week in the Life of a Solution Analyst at TekStream

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A Week in the Life of a
Solution Analyst at TekStream

 By: Matthew Clemmons | Sr. Solutions Analyst

Here at TekStream, business is booming, and so is the demand for quality employees.  Over the past week, I have personally interviewed four candidates for the position of Solution Analyst.  At TekStream, a Solution Analyst plays a hybrid role.  One part Business Analyst and one part Project manager, an SA, as we call it, has their hands in just about every aspect of a project from pre-sales all the way through post mortem.

As a Senior Solution Analyst, I am often asked the following during interviews: “What is a typical day like for you?”  A question that may be considered cliche in some circles, but given the demands of this unique role, the question is necessary.

Since there’s no typical day for an SA at TekStream, I provide the recruit with a more holistic view and share what my current week entails.

It’s Monday, and timesheets were due on Friday, so I first review submitted time and update my project plans with approved hours.  With each plan fresh in my mind, I conduct status updates, both formal and informal, and update my plans accordingly.  After lunch, I conduct a requirements session for an enhancement project phase over the phone before finishing up a demo for a Pre-Sales session I have with a client later in the week.

On Tuesday, I’m kicking off an SIT session with the team on a WebCenter Portal project.  We’ve booked one of the big conference rooms so we can work “war room” style and we’ve ordered in for lunch.  Everyone gets fed and we continue our productive session into the afternoon.  Before heading out for the day, I catch up with the client project manager on the enhancement project and we prep for Thursday’s requirements gathering session.

Wednesday is already here.  I kick off day two of the Portal SIT session and head to the Pre-Sales session I prepared for on Monday.  Luckily, our client is right around the corner, so I don’t have to drive too far.  After a productive meeting, I’m back in the office to update my PM Director, VP of Delivery, and CEO on my latest project happenings in our bi-weekly PMO meeting before closing out the SIT session for the day.

This Thursday is my biweekly scheduled work from home day.  This day gives me a chance to skip the commute to and from the office and get a bit more work done.  It also allows me to pick up my 21 month old daughter from her “Mommy’s Day Out” class at lunchtime.  Once I’m back in the home office, I dial in to the requirements session I prepped for on Tuesday and drive the session to completion.  I still have a bit of time in the day, so I clean up my notes and create mockups to support our session decisions while everything is still fresh in my mind.  After sending that material out, I check in with the testing team to ensure we’re still making solid progress.  Before I shut down, I ensure that all of my project plan information has been uploaded to our reporting system so that during tomorrow’s resourcing meeting, the team has my latest data so that any staffing decisions made are based on accurate information.

Friday is here and I’m looking to close the week out strong.  After spending time with the SIT team, answering a few requirements and functional design questions, I help out by executing some test cases before my the resourcing meeting.  During the resourcing meeting, I collaborate with the other PMs and secure time of the performance testing resource I need on the project that just started SIT.  It’s a team member’s birthday, so we take him out for lunch and have a few laughs.  Once back at work, I attend an internal training session one of our Directors is leading and learn about an upcoming WebCenter Content product release.  Three o’clock rolls around and it’s time for our Friday social hour.  I don’t have a client meeting scheduled, so I join the team in the break room, have a snack and a few laughs, enjoy a choice beverage, and play a round of pool.  Afterwards, I head back to my desk and tie up a few loose ends before heading to the SIT war room and learning our test cases have all been run and we only have 7 remaining defects, all with a priority of “low.”  Not bad.

While there’s no typical day for an SA at TekStream, there is a typical week: it’s one that is unique, challenging, demanding, and exciting and always promises something new.

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Tracking the Plan – Successfully Managing a Software Development Project

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Tracking the Plan

Successfully Managing a Software Development Project

By: Mubeen Bolar | Director, Project Management

The goal of every software development project is to meet the original delivery date while staying within confines of the original scope and budget. A simple concept that depends on a lot of different variables, like availability of resources, the skillset of the resources,  availability of the environment , finalized requirements, project management and the project plan. Sometimes the project plan for a project is in Excel and most times it is in tool like Microsoft Project. It is advisable to use a tool like Microsoft Project as it designed for the purpose of tracking the progress of the project to the plan.

A project plan must be realistic and it must contains all tasks necessary to complete the software development project, including analysis, development, testing, deployment, reviews, sign offs, technical and project management oversight and support. Each task must be linked according to the order of execution such that when the date of the first task moves out, the dates of the rest of the linked tasks also move out by the same proportion. In Microsoft Project, the series of tasks and sub-tasks must roll up to a single parent task which is the name of the project. This parent task will display the roll up values for the entire project in the following columns:

  1. Duration – How many days it will take to complete the project
  2. Start Date
  3. Finish Date
  4. Cost – Total cost of the project (Work x Rate per hour for each resource)
  5. Work – Total estimated hours  required to complete all the task in the plan
  6. Actual Work – Total hours actually worked by the team on all the tasks
  7. Remaining Work – Total estimated hours of remaining work

The project manager must be able to identify when the project is starting to deviate from the plan. One of the best ways to monitor the project plan is to enter the actual hours worked by each resource against the tasks to which the resource is assigned. This can be done on a weekly basis by running a report from the time-sheet management system. When actual hours are entered for each task, the remaining hours will change to display balance of the Work hours left (Work-Actual Work = Remaining Work). The project manager must meet with each resource to review the remaining hours on each of their tasks. . If the resource does not need all the remaining hours for certain tasks, the remaining hours for these tasks should be reduced. On the other hand, if the resource needs more hours to complete certain tasks, the remaining hours for these tasks must be increased.

Reducing the remaining hours on a task will reduce the timeline and budget as the resource is taking less time to complete the work.  Increasing the remaining hours will increase the timeline and budget as the resource is taking longer to complete the work. This exercise done on a weekly basis will show the impact of the remaining hours on the overall budget in terms of the changes to the Cost and Total Estimated hours. As remaining hours increase the timeline will also be impacted resulting in the end date of the project moving out. A project manager can take corrective steps as soon as the deviation is identified.

Speak with Mubeen Bolar about this blog post or the management of your project.

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