Thursday, August 6, 2015

Agile vs Traditional Project Management


This post is meant for practicing project managers who are transitioning from traditional “earned-value-analysis” based project tracking, to an Agile Scrum based project tracking. It could also be vice-versa. I personally had to undergo this transition in the reverse order, as I moved from Nokia, where Agile Methodologies were well in practice, to Accenture, which was more traditional waterfall-model based. Note that I dont have very strong opinions on which is better – although most of the software industry is (or has) moved on to Agile, traditional “Earned Value” based tracking also has it’s benefits. The focus of this post is to try to put the two methods together, and make sense out of it. There could be cases where a team is following scrum, but the project manager needs to report to management in a more traditional format.

Let’s take a hypothetical project, where a team of 10 people have to implement the following feature list.
For simplicity, billing rate is kept at $10 per month, per resource.

Feature List
Dollar Value
Effort
 (Person Months)
Feature-1 100 10
Feature-2 50 5
Feature-3 100 10
Feature-4 25 2.5
Feature-5 25 2.5
Totals 300 30


Friday, September 12, 2014

After the Bloodbath – What Remains of Nokia

 

Nokia, as a company continues to operate after Microsoft took over it’s most quintessential division – the “Devices & Services” which made smartphones and feature phones. What remains now, are three divisions

 

  • Nokia Networks – The erstwhile Nokia-Siemens Network (NSN) division, where Siemens’ stake was later bought over by Nokia. This division is the largest, and now the “bread earner” for the Nokia family, so as to say.

 

  • Here – The mapping & navigation division, which was initially called “Ovi Maps”, then “Nokia Maps”, and finally “Here Maps”. It is the most frequently re-branded product/service to come out of Nokia, for sure.

 

  • Nokia Technology – I think better name for this division would have been Nokia IPR. This division is primarily involved in licensing the excellent portfolio of patents that Nokia owns, as well as developing new IPR.

 

In Q2 2014, Nokia reported revenues of 2.94 Billion EUR, which is a lot less than when the Devices & Services division was there (as expected) and a lot more less than the pre-Elop era, where Q2 revenues were around 9 ~ 10 Billion EUR (see previous posts to compare). Nokia is still loss making (considering the continuing operations), but by very thin margins – 28 million EUR. The chart below shows how each division is doing…...

 

image

As can be seen, Nokia Networks is by far the largest revenue earner, and is the main source of profits for the company. Here, has lower revenues, and sadly, hardly any profits (operating margin is 0%). I doubt that this would change over the quarters, as the mapping business is high-investment. Nokia Technology, on the other hand, holds a lot of promise for the company. While their revenues are even smaller than here (147 Million EUR), their operating margin is around 65%. This is expected, as what this division is doing is basically milking the cash cow of Nokia’s patent portfolio. It would be interesting to see the following few quarters, if Networks and Technology can help Nokia grow, and regain it’s lost glory. Meanwhile, it would also be interesting to see how Nokia’s ex Devices & Services is doing in Microsoft, but I assume that MS is not going to be as open with division-wise financial data, as Nokia is.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Quick Review of Windows Phone/Lumia 820

About a month back, I broke my self-imposed promise of never buying a Windows Phone, and purchased a Lumia 820. There are a few reasons why I chose a Lumia over the iPhones or Androids.

  • Why not an Upgraded iPhone? - My previous phone was the iPhone 3GS, which I thoroughly enjoyed for about 1.5 years. I missed a good primary camera (before the iPhone I had a Nokia N8), front facing camera for Skype calls, good video recording, and a battery that lasts the whole day. The 3GS was a great phone... actually, make that a great "entertainment device". As a phone, the iPhone was moderately good. Several times the phone would lose network connectivity, and not tell me about it (i.e. the RSSI indicators still sow full signal, but drop down when I try to make a call). I used to get a lot of complaints from people trying to get in touch with me, that my phone's always unreachable. Well, despite this issue, I loved using the phone, for surfing, facebook'ing, twitter'ing, keeping track of my stocks, and catching up on emails. But the minimal customization meant that I was getting tired of the UI... I guess this is bound to happen, as we use our phones every hour that we're awake. So when I was thinking of an upgrade, I was sure it's not going to be another iPhone. Although the Apple store was running a good offer of 7,000 bucks off on the iPhone 4, and 4S, but by now I was questioning what good would it be buying a phone which looks and feels pretty much like my old phone, but has some incremental improvements. So no iPhone for me!
  • Why not Android? - Android would have made the most sense, since I recently landed a job with an Android OEM, and was eligible for a product discount, but somehow I didn't want an Android phone. The main reason (and a very personal reason, IMHO strictly), is that I find the Android UI very un-aesthetically designed. The different screens have no unifying concept, and it looks like messy patchwork to me. Maybe it was my work - the fact that I have to handle these phones most of my working hours may have built a "familiarity breeds contempt" syndrome. So again, no Android.
  • Why Lumia? - One reason for leaning towards Lumia is of course, Nokia. Firstly, I worked for Nokia for a good 6.5 years (5 years as a employee, 1.5 years as a Accenture sub-contractor). There's still a good bit of emotional connect with the company, and I do want them to do well, as it's a good company. Emphasis on "good" is the topic of a later post maybe. Now, besides this emotional connect, there were a few things that I looked forward to from a Nokia phone - firstly, the great design. The Lumia devices all look great, and Nokia has even won design awards for the 720, 820 and 920 series (or was it 620, 720... I forget, but you get the point). 
Sure looks good, just sitting there!

The second reason for Lumia was that as a ex-Nokia customer, there are a few things that I can take for granted - for e.g. the camera will be great, the audio quality excellent, and the battery life better than either iOS or Android. The presence of HAAC (High Amplitude Audio Capture) was also a feature that I was looking forward to, as I am an amateur musician.
At this point, maybe I could also explain why I chose a 820, and not the then-flagship 920... well the reason was that I was still not too sure about the Windows Phone platform. So I thought, instead of paying big bucks for the 920, and then having the possibility of not liking the phone interface, and cursing myself later, the 820 was a more affordable way to take a peek at how good or bad WP8 really is.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Look At the Pre-Elop Years

Recently I got a really relevant comment on my earlier post on Nokia. Let me copy-paste the comment here.

Anonymous said...
It Would be nice to see pre-Elop year in the graphs. Let's say Q3 2009 onwards. Now we know Nokia switched the strategy but do not e.g. see the rise of Android and drop of Nokia market share behind it.


I created this post to extend the revenue & profit graphs in the pre-Elop years. In fact, right from Q1 2009 to Q4 2012. So here's the first graph, showing revenues & net profit for Nokia group.

Click for larger view


As can be seen, the revenues were rising from 2009 onwards, peaking in each Q4 (the Western holiday season which sees greater revenues). However, the profitability of the company was not too great. Q3 2009 was loss-making, while most of the quarters, Nokia manged to make a few 100 million euros of profit.

Profits shot up in the Q4 of each 2009 (882 million euros), and 2010 (742 million euros). In Q1 2011, Elop's new Windows-Phone strategy was announced, and revenues started falling, and profitability was hit. But this was covered also in the last post.

Although it is easy to see that revenues were higher in the pre-Elop years of 2009 and 2010 (Elop joined Nokia in Q3 2010), one can always argue that the profitability of the company was in question. So was Nokia feeling the heat of the iPhone and Android beating down on it's profitability? To answer this,as in the last post, I looked at just the "Devices & Services" business... the one which is responsible for the smartphones and feature-phones.
So here's just Devices &Services over the same quarters...

Click for larger view


Now this graph shows solid revenue, profitability and growth in Devices & Services until Q4 2010. Note that the nature of the industry is such that the "Q4 peaks" will always occur. So for e.g. it was not alarming that revenues fell from Q4 2009 to Q1 2010. Note that even in weaker quarters, D&S maintained respectable profits. In fact, in some quarters it was the "sole bread earner", compensating for NSN's losses. All that changed from Q1 2011. Of course, there's no point in going over that again, as it's already covered in my last post.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

End of the year look at Nokia

It's almost been 2 years since Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced the drastic strategy change in smartphones from Symbian & Meego to Windows Phone. The announcement was done in Feb 11, 2011 - a date well remember by all ex-Nokia employees like me. At the time the strategy change was announced all of us knew that a change is needed. Symbian - once the most widely used  smartphone OS - was losing it's appeal. Symbian's UI was unintuitive, execution was slow, and organization was slow and bloated beyond imagination. Meego was promising, but was taking forever! 

A drastic change was needed, but was the shift to Windows Phone - an unproven smartphone OS from Stephen Elop's former employer - the correct choice? Let's take a look at how Nokia has been performing financially, ever since Stephen Elop took over (third quarter, 2010) to today.



Nokia Revenues Q3 2010 to Q3 2012

The above graph plots Nokia revenue & net profit over Q3 2010 to Q3 2012. In Q3 2010 Nokia earned approximately 10 billion euros in revenue, and only 322 million in profits. Not the best performance for a quarter - earning just a few hundred millions for over ten billion in sales means that something needs to change in the company. That "something" would probably be controlling costs, increasing ASP (Average Selling Price of handsets) by focussing more on smartphones, and getting rid of businesses that were burning cash.