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June 10, 2014

Is Agile giving you personal fulfillment?

Years after the introduction of Agile development, many articles have been written about advantages of this software development methodology. Continuous delivery of working code, customer involvement and buy-in, quick response to a changing environment and self organizing teams are named among the many benifits. Agile is regarded as the optimal method to organize every IT organization. What strikes me is that only little has been written about the individual and Agile. When entering Agile and personal development in Google search, no results return. But isn't it that the members of the team are the once that have to strive for the agility of the method? And who will mentor them in doing this?


One might think that the Scrum master would have the role of mentoring any each member who needs personal growth, both technically as well as on a personal level. Cause doesn't the scrum master role have the same tasks as a team lead or project manager? Unfortunately this is not the case. By principal, the Scrum master is the facilitator of the group. The master is accountable for removing impediments for the team, so that the members can deliver the product goals and deliverables, not for people managing the once that need it. In practice,  a Scrum master acting as  a people manager might even result in conflicting responsibilities, unclear authority, and sub-optimal results. 


So if no people manager is available in a scrum team, is each member expected to be senior enough to self organize and motivate themselves? You can imagine that in a team, not all individuals work with the same enthousiasm and drive, which can cause frictions and different expectations. In a waterfall project a lead or a mentor could perform this steering or give personal attention. Who is there in a Scrum team?

Another shortcoming experienced in Scrum is the continuous sprinting. Personally, I have been sprinting for almost 4 years. Sprints in scrum can be seen as an interval running program; imagine 3 minutes of jogging at a quick 8 mph pace, followed by 1 minute slow walking, then 3 minutes at 8 mph again and 1 minute walking, and so on. But unlike interval running, where the run might end in an hour, scrum sprints have no ending. As if you are sprinting forever and ever. Often Scrum members complain about tiredness, because of continuously having to meet deadlines, without having an final goal or objective.

You might think that tiredness and lack of personal development could be solved by rotating roles and responsibilities. Just change your role every often from developer, to tester, to functional or even to scrum master. But are these roles interchangeable? Can a tester be a developer or scrum master. Mostly the roles and knowledge are locked and irreplaceable, due to the specific skill set needed.

So what do you think can be done to both reach the common goals of the team as well as cater to the personal (development) needs of each member?  




June 5, 2014

Data Quality Cockpit using SAP Information Steward and Data Services - Part 3


Setting up Data Quality Cockpit - Challenges and Key advantages

Previous blog: We discussed how to fix the issues identified with data and get better ROI

To make good use of the DQ cockpit, a proper data quality or governance organization is required. Data Stewards and owners need to continuously engage with business users to understand the changing needs in data and its validation to continuously build or keep the rules updated. As data matures and expires with time, the same rules may not always hold good and the rules or validations that govern the data needs to continuously change and refine as business demands. Analysts can run daily, weekly or periodic jobs to generate reports that can help business or information stewards understand the state of data quality and take continuous measures to keep data clean and reliable.

Below are some key advantages and benefits of the tool

  1. An easy plug in solution that could extract in-process data at particular stage of business process, cleanse/enrich and put data back into the productive database

  2. Rules that could be easily coded by data admins/stewards for data validation and ensure reuse in for actual cleansing. Rules can be exchanged between SAP IS and SAP DS

  3. Usage of external services for enriching data like the address directory services for different countries

  4. Periodic health check of the productive database and dashboard view to governance/business to ensure data standards and quality are maintained at appropriate levels

  5. Identifying duplicates , determination of survivor and maintaining history of merged records

  6. Financial impact analysis and calculating ROI

The SAP Information Steward and SAP Data Services are very important tools for the Stewards, Analysts and Business Users to regularly conduct a health check on the quality of data and take timely corrective actions. It is imperative that data quality management is not a one-time exercise but a continuous one. Continuous improvement in the quality of data enabled by SAP IS and SAP DS provide the key foundational elements that enable governance and improve trust in the data infrastructure of the Organization.

This blog is posted on behalf of Arvind H. Shenoy, Lead Consultant, Retail, CPG & Logistics, Infosys.

Data Quality Cockpit using SAP Information Steward and Data Services - Part 2


Setting up Data Quality Cockpit - Fixing data for better ROI

Previous blog: We discussed how we identified issues with data and where to focus our attention to fix

The data flow was setup within SAP BO Data Services with workflow steps containing the rules imported from SAP Info Steward. Additional workflow steps were included to enrich the data using transforms like address and company name transforms. The workflow was branched to apply different cleansing and transformation rules to data that belonged to different regions. The last step of the data flow was a matching step that allowed for grouping and scoring of the matched records. The higher the score and nearer to the upper threshold, the more was the chance of the record being a duplicate. The cleaned and matched record file was provided to business to verify and identify the actual duplicates based on business actuals. This completed the cleansing, transformation & matching of the data.

This data when loaded back to SAP IS and the same rules that were applied on the initial unclean data were applied on the cleansed and enriched data. The score card showed a great degree of improvement and gave a sense of how much reliable data had become after performing some simple cleansing and enrichment steps. This process of doing a health check on the quality of data is a continuous process and needs to be done periodically. By binding the rules & transforms into a web service and using it at the point of creation of data also ensures that data entering the system is clean and validated.

To understand the ROI by investing on tool and additional processes a simple impact analysis feature of the IS tool could be leveraged. By identifying the key attributes that define data, determining the cost of each bad attribute and its effect on the record, analyzing the impact of bad data on business and extrapolating it to the universe gives a sense of magnitude the bad data can have on the overall business.  This when translated into potential savings and presented in a form understandable by management provides answers to questions around ROI.

Continuation Part 3: We will discuss in next blog what are the challenges and key advantages

This blog is posted on behalf of Arvind H. Shenoy, Lead Consultant, Retail, CPG & Logistics, Infosys.

Data Quality Cockpit using SAP Information Steward and Data Services - Part 1


Setting up Data Quality Cockpit - Understanding the data quality

In our engagement with Customer's we often come across data quality with master data as a major issue and they are keen to implement solutions to tackle this by implementing master data solutions. It is frequently believed that MDM/MDG solves all problems related to master data and implementing it is sufficient to manage data quality. While it has solved the problem to some extent in terms of managing and governing master data, data quality issues are not completely resolved. This is as tools meant for managing master data are not good at cleaning and enriching the data. SAP has introduced two other tools, SAP Information Steward and SAP Data Services, primarily to tackle this issue of data quality. These two tools can very well complement the master data solution or work independently in providing a comprehensive solution for data quality management.

Below is an example of a customer situation and how we helped them solve their problem. They had issues with Master data being unclean, redundant and consisting of duplicates and did not have industry standard master data package but a homegrown application to manage master data processes

Business User complained of

  1. Rules insufficient to identify bad data

  2. No holistic view of data quality in the productive database

  3. Data in productive database has gone bad over a period of time

  4. Period DQ checks on productive database not possible due to tool limitations

  5. Despite rules - duplicates exist

Technical Support complained of

  1. Lack of scalability and extensibility

  2. Lot of effort goes into building custom tools, no funding

  3. No periodic upgrades and chance of technology getting outdated

  4. No out of box features, everything has to be coded as needed

A standard MDM package would have done only half the job as MDM is meant to consolidate, centralize and harmonize master data between various connected systems, but lacks in-depth data cleansing, transformations, enrichment and ongoing data quality assessment capabilities. The crux of the problem was in enabling business to control, monitor and maintain the quality of data on an continuous basis and at the same time leverage existing master data setup of the Client.

The solution implemented was a combination of SAP's Information Steward and SAP's Data Services which could be leveraged in the existing client's landscape with minimal disruption to the established business processes. SAP Info Steward provided the right tools to understand the fundamental areas of a problem in order to know where to focus the solution. This along with ETL capabilities of SAP Data Services provided the complete solution.

The profiling features together with DQ Scorecard was the first step to solving the DQ problem. The out of box profiling feature was used to understand the quality of data in terms of fill rate, dependencies, address validity, uniqueness and redundancies in the source data files. Rules gathered from existing process and additional business rules provided the definition for what qualified as good quality data.  These rules were configured into the SAP IS rule engine using the rule definition and binding features. Weightage was provided to different quality dimensions like the completeness, uniqueness, conformity, etc. By connecting SAP IS to the data staging environment and running the rules on the source data we arrived at a score card for in stage As Is quality of data. The score was low with many failed records which did not meet the criteria defined for standardization and cleanliness. It also showed which dimension of data had the most issues.

This gave data stewards, analysts and information governance experts a very good understanding of where their data quality stands and where to fix to get maximum benefits.

Continuation Part 2: We will discuss in next blog how to fix the issues identified with data and get better ROI

This blog is posted on behalf of Arvind H. Shenoy, Lead Consultant, Retail, CPG & Logistics, Infosys.

Why is it so difficult to use your tablet for work?

Why corporations are cautious of Bring your own device (BYOD)?


Financial and tele-communications sector has moderate level of BYOD adoption.  Utilities, logistics and the sales teams for CPG are showing the strongest demand.  These are industries with field force people and mobility applications are widely leveraged for their day to day jobs. For other sectors the adoption is limited to active directory based E-mail, Contacts and Calendar Synchronization. Some of our customers are restricting the support to a specific job function, or a role (exs. Exempt full time employees, BYOD support beyond a certain level). Even on enterprise issued devices, use of VPN is mostly enforced when accessing internal systems and architectural reviews are strongly looking into security and vulnerabilities in app and data on device. So with personal devices, some of our clients are still leveraging virtual desktop to access enterprise apps.


Some of these customers are seeing a need to deploy more enterprise apps on personal devices but still the adoption is very low. This cannot be viewed as a conservative approach, considering the huge number of cyber-attacks and flaws in mobile platforms. We have already heard an epic flaw from Apple in Feb (1) , with two new security flaws reported in April (2) and May (3). Android is still viewed with suspicion, due to the open source nature that increases the attacks and malware on this platform. McAfee collected 2.47 million samples of new mobile malware last year with 744,000 being picked up in the fourth quarter alone. This is a 197 percent increase over 2012 (4).


How are our customers addressing the security concerns?


Some of our customers have been very successful in implementing mobility across the enterprise. Let us look some of the steps taken by these customers.

  • Address security during the application development lifecycle

Application code level security and security analysis are done at various stages of the software lifecycle.

Security aspects are validated on apps manually or using testing tools like AppScan.  Code audits are conducted to ensure that the specific compliance needs are addressed.


  • Distribution of Apps

Customers are using secure ways for app distribution and management. They are avoiding dependency on public app store and leveraging enterprise app stores.


  • Device management and policies

 Devices are password protected and managed by MDM. Secure device registration and management. Enterprises also control the distribution by forcing user to enroll their device. Policies are enforced to reset password periodically.


  • Data security

Some of the customers disable iCloud access, so that enterprise data is not synced with iCloud where enterprise has no control.  Most of our customers who have implemented BYOD have the ability to remotely wipe clean device and take appropriate action if device reported lost/stolen. Field force productivity applications are critically assessed for application level security generally like native encryption, on device and over the wire.


  • Adoption on Mobile device/App Management (MDM/MAM) products

 MDM / MAM is already a key focus area for enterprises.  SAP Afaria, MobileIron and AirWatch are some of the prominent tools used by our clients. We have worked with several of our customers to extend the security framework used in the organization in conjunction with the capabilities of the MDM platform there by managing different manifestations of mobile applications and devices.



 Following a comprehensive mobile security strategy helps adoption of mobility across the enterprise. It is critical for the IT organizations to embark on this journey now so that they don't get left behind and become reactive to the demand and pressure from business. The role of an experienced IT partner becomes very critical to ensure a successful implementation of mobility and BYOD across the enterprise. 






This blog is posted on behalf of N. Manoj, Senior Practice Engagement Manager, Mobility Unit, Infosys.


SAP Fiori - Setting a new Paradigm for SAP Customers


Web technologies have evolved at a staggering pace ever since the web came into existence. Today the internet connects about two billion people worldwide from consumers to enterprise users. The increasing complexity of business has meant that the user interfaces of ERP systems have become equally complex. This and the growing number of enterprise users has meant greater focus on user experience and the need for an easy-to-use web technology for rapidly building and deploying solutions for the enterprise.

SAP Fiori has set a new paradigm for its customers in the internet applications space.

How do Fiori and Fiori-like apps help?

Fiori is a collection of role-based apps built on SAP UI5 framework for frequently used SAP ERP functions. SAP UI5 is an excellent framework based on open source and open standards like JQuery, HTML5, Javascript, CSS and others. It is designed to consume REST/OData services exposed by not only SAP Netweaver Gateway but by SAP HANA as well. This provides greater flexibility for developers to customize and build Fiori like apps to fulfill customer requirements when standard Fiori apps are not available.

These apps sit inside the Fiori Launchpad, which is a container providing real-time, role based and personalized single point of access for the end users. Creating Fiori-like Apps is an opportunity to expand custom requirements which are not part of standard SAP Fiori Apps.

Key considerations for optimizing the benefits of Fiori-like apps

To optimize the benefits of Fiori design principles, the following needs to be taken care while you implement Fiori-like apps.

  1. Identify the right Scenarios -To derive maximum benefits, identify the frequently used business functions and ones that require accessing multiple SAP transactions. This will benefit the user in performing his day-to-day tasks through a single user-friendly app.

  2. Classifying Scenarios - Classify scenarios based on Roles. Classification can also be based on Transactional, Analytical, Factsheet and Smart Business applications. An example for a Smart Business scenario is, a VP Sales may want to view specific real time Sales KPIs, drill-down to analyze and take action by launching a transaction from Fiori Launchpad.

  3. Keep it Simple & Intuitive - As SAP says "Keeping Simple Things Simple". Follow Fiori design principle of 1-1-3 approach - 1 User, 1 Use Case, 3 Screens!  Avoid complex screens with too many tabs and data to be filled and provide proactive and context aware support.

  4. Leverage Responsive Interface -It is important to keep in mind the different channels that end users will use and design your user interface accordingly to leverage the responsive interface feature of Fiori-like apps.

  5. Mobile enabling Enterprise Functions - Many of your backend functions can be mobile enabled by implementing Fiori-like apps without the need for a mobile middleware.

  6. Beware of the limitations - While most of the business requirements can be met using Fiori/SAP UI5 framework, there are certain limitations today like Offline Support, Bar Code Scanning etc.

 Fiori-like apps strikingly increase the user experience if implemented in the right manner by following the Fiori design principles and SAP UI5 guidelines.

While user experience is an important factor, selecting the right set of scenarios that business users often use will tremendously improve employee productivity and provide instant value to the enterprise!

This blog is posted on behalf of Suresh Santhana, Senior Technology Architect  and Sujesh K. C., Senior Technology Architext, Retail, CPG & Logistics, Infosys.



June 2, 2014

5 ways to make sure your mobile apps are successful for your enterprise


Mobile applications increase employee productivity by improving business process management and executing workflows like instantly checking inventory and reporting quality issues. While one can find many generic mobile apps for executing such workflows it is important to identify the relevant Mobile applications for an enterprise. These applications must ultimately be embedded in the broader work processes and policies and bring in the value perceived by your customer. In my experience with enterprise end users, here are a few points to think about when planning to embed mobile applications for your employees use.


1. What is the business Impact?


Analyze multiple use cases across the business units and arrive at prioritized ones relevant to your organization. Typical drivers for mobility are increase productivity, increase business velocity, eliminate bottlenecks, reduce downtime etc. Some of the prevalent usecases are related to work order execution, approvals , employee safety and compliance.


2.What are your options for employee mobile applications?


Identify a set of applications that can fit these business needs. If you are an SAP customer , some applications that my customers found useful are  SAP Work Manager, and approval applications like Cart Approval & SAP Payment Approvals. You can also prefer to build custom build applications with SAP providing a very good integration platform for custom applications.


3. How does this fit your enterprise device strategy?


It is also important to make a choice of the applications that fits in with the Corporate BYOD device strategy. Identify the supporting devices approved by the enterprise and decide on the technology to build for custom development. Please check device support for out of the box applications before purchase. Many organizations are also revisiting their security policies to allow usage of the applications for improved employee productivity.


4. Do a proof of concept before you decide on purchasing enterprise licenses. Obtain a few test licenses and assess the feasibility to expand to larger user base and business scenarios


5. It is also important to think about you deployment strategy for go-Live and how you will manage the mobile application life cycle once in production.

This blog is posted on behalf of N. Manoj, Senior Practice Engagement Manager, Mobility Unit, Infosys.

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