Tag Archives: 2MV

2MV-Final

The 2 Minute Innovation

And before you come to a seemingly easy conclusion, let me be very clear. I am definitely not talking about Nestle’s Maggi noodles which can be cooked in about just two minutes. So what could be the 2 minute innovation? Ever heard of 2MV (short for 2 minute video) as a daily reporting tool? Possibly NO! Allow me then to introduce you to the 2MV Habit that is religiously followed at Mindfire Solutions.

About the 2MV:

The 2MV Habit is a unique practice followed at Mindfire Solutions. This was exclusively designed to address problems that are typical to outsourcing/off-shoring/remote software development companies. The common problems pestering this industry are:

  • lack of visibility in true daily work progress,
  • absence of the human factor,
  • lack of synchronous communication owing to different time zones and
  • unavailability of rich communication possibilities (email and documents have their own limitations)

We call it the 2MV Habit because it is a daily practice wherein the developer records his daily progress in the form of 2 minute long videos that are actually screen-casts (videos of the screen) with the audio commentary by the developer. This could also include a little bit of code browsing as well.

So how does it differ from emails/documents?

The use of video/media differentiates 2MV from an email/document by creating software engineering artifacts that are rich in information. After some initial hiccups the developer realizes that while he can make a 2MV in 2 minutes, he would take around 5 minutes to draft an email/document. However, on the flip side, while the contents of an email/document can be scanned in a minimum 10 seconds time, it would actually take 2 minutes to go through a 2MV.

How the 2MV works?

Clients can log in to Mindfire Solutions’ cloud based project management system with the credentials that are provided to them at the time of on-boarding. Successful login takes the client to the 2MV home page wherein all recent activity is listed as a stream of events. One can then view the 2MVs by clicking on the 2MV icon which renders a flash / HTML5 player and plays the video on the homepage. Comments can be made from the event stream itself. There are also options in the account menu to change the email preferences on new 2MV upload, note addition, transcription addition and resetting of password etc.

2MV workflow

Benefits of using the 2MV Habit:

  • Giving demos daily helps the developer to view the work from the user’s perspective
  • The developers feels accountable to produce demonstrable work every day
  • The human voice renders a personal touch and helps forge better relationships in a remote team environment
  • It also helps the developers bond better with the testers bringing in better coordination between teams
  • Easier, faster and better daily status reporting
  • Instills a sense of ownership in the developer as the 2MV carries their personal signature
  • Rich knowledge base with visible gradual evolution of software and codebase
  • Any misunderstanding with respect to requirements or specs is detected at an early stage and fixed accordingly
  • Easier, faster and better transition to new team members whether in case of attrition or scaling up the existing team
  • Better insulation from human risks in team

A 2MV experience:

Let’s be honest. Everyone was not really enthusiastic when the 2MV was launched. As with just about anything that is new, there was some resistance to 2MV initially from one of the project teams. This was mainly because they were not comfortable recording the video (Ironically, they assumed it would take them more than 20 minutes to record a 2MV). Also they wanted to hang on to the traditional methods of email and online meetings with the client as they believed that they could email faster than record the day’s work in 2 minutes. Before panning it completely, they were coaxed to give it a try, one last time. And then the rest is history. The client loved this mode of communication and decided to use this method instead of emails and meetings. This helped them cut down time spent on meetings. Finding a time suitable for both the development team and the client was again a hindrance, but the 2MV helped get rid of it. The developer could record his day’s work before he left and the client could review it whenever/wherever he wanted to using any device (desktop/laptop/handheld). In this particular case (and as with most other cases), the client not only applauded Mindfire’s effort but also gave valuable feedback that we incorporated subsequently.

For a company that is ONLY into offshore small team software development, Mindfire Solutions offers its clients this unique status reporting tool that not only adds a personal touch but is also a rich repository of evolving project information. One of our clients commented that:

“We’d just like to say what a great idea the 2 minute video is in maintaining a good relationship between us and Mindfire. It is often difficult to build a personable relationship over such a distance but we feel this definitely helps! Seeing the developer’s computer screen brings things closer and enhances trust and support.”

Yet another client found 2MV to be an interesting concept and was of the opinion that:

“A 2-min video is best for more general info and UI demonstration.”

As for our developers, most of them appreciate Mindfire Solutions for this initiative as it has helped them better their communication skills. The fact that the client can add comment in the 2MV itself makes the communication very clear and less time consuming. One of them said, I have also spotted some issues in my code while making the 2 MV at the EOD. So, it’s like testing the whole thing you have worked on before you leave for the day :)”

And when I asked another developer how the 2MV is a mutually beneficial initiative he said,

“It helps to make changes on the work from the beginning as client provides feedback on the work from the scratch level where as in text emails client sends changes/fixes only after seeing the complete task on stage and its sometime difficult for the client to visualize the work from text and provide feedback. Also it helps the client in decision making whether or not to continue/pause the current functionality and jump to some urgent fixes.”

As 2MV is increasingly becoming popular as a project status reporting tool, it would not come as a big surprise if clients begin to choose this as a preferred mode of communication over email and skype. We surely live in interesting times!

(N.B. : There are many such practices at Mindfire Solutions. Watch this space for more innovative techniques/processes practiced at Mindfire Solution. We use technology to be efficient!)

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The Architecture Of A Techie Paradise

mindfire solutions techie paradise

“Do you really like working at Mindfire Solutions? “ I asked and saw my friend give me an as-if-you-don’t-know-it-already look. He said, “Whoever would want to leave this techie paradise?”
You may begin to think that I was merely doing a survey. No, I was not! It was a candid coffee table conversation between the two of us. Little did I know that this conversation would reveal the reasons why Mindfire Solutions’ attrition rate is way too much lower than the industry average? Here’s the gist which explains why my friend has been hanging around the Mindfire premises for almost a decade.

You work because you choose to!

Mindfire is a true techie paradise, it offers salubrious working conditions that encourage techies and geeks to blossom to their true potential. A flat organization structure ensures that people are free to speak their mind and “work because they choose to”. The wet blanket of bureaucracy hardly gets a chance to snuff out the embers of innovation at the workplace. If you look at the people working here, you will realize that they are a bunch of spirited guys and gals doing good tech work and always asking for more work. In fact one of the employees wrote a Glassdoor review saying “a year in Mindfire is equivalent to three years of experience. Thanks to the vast exposure that techies get at Mindfire with regards to technology areas and client interaction they have a steeper learning curve and a greater opportunity to grow in expertise and reputation (salary also comes under this purview) as compared to their peers elsewhere. A recent recruit who worked for one of the Big 4 companies opined that “We (Mindfire) are just the Right size for recognition of skills/contributions as opposed to getting absorbed in a big company where positions/awards are pre-determined”.

Cooperation, Collaboration and Innovation is the culture here:

There is a culture of collaboration at Mindfire. Most employees feel Mindfire is like a family where there are always people to help out. This camaraderie among employees makes the organization a healthy place of work. There are no walls at Mindfire. We have open workplaces and it should not come as a surprise to find the CEO himself sitting next to you and coding. Even the company financials are made known to each and every employee at the end of every month to ensure transparency. Innovation is the lifeblood at Mindfire Solutions. The way we make extensive use of technology to ensure quality in the work that we do ascertains the fact. We have homegrown systems and tools in place that check for bugs in the code that we write for our customers, keep our client updated using 2MV (2 minute videos), address requests, needs and problems at work, help make better and universally accepted decisions, catalyze day-to-day work, increase the speed of learning and be aware about the happenings in the organization. Stupefied? Aren’t you?

An organization of Knowledge seekers:

That Mindfire wishes to foster a culture of learning and has a knowledge driven culture is evident in the manner it wants its employees to get themselves certified. It has sponsored over 300 certifications with 95% certified software engineers holding Industry recognized certifications from the Industry leaders like Oracle , Microsoft, FileMaker, Zend etc. So it should come as a surprise to know that each Mindfirean has an average of two certifications per head. Not only that, it has sponsored ACM membership for all its employees. There is a great emphasis on dissemination of knowledge. After all, the more you share your knowledge the more you get to learn. Mindfireans have conducted over 170 technical seminars with a cumulative total of 4000 attendees across teams and centres. They zealously participate in technical forums and have earned brownie points for themselves and the organization. In our endeavor to provide quality software services to our customers, over 2000 code reviews from across various tech areas have been done and there is a dedicated team of 100+ software QA specialists testing approximately 250 projects every week. There are 100+ subject matter experts to solve the developers’ queries anywhere and anytime. When it comes to IT spending Mindfire leaves no stone unturned. More than 500 people work on licensed software tools and this fiscal around 25 paid tools have been added in the extensive tools library. Mindfire Solutions is also the proud organizer of the DDM IT Quiz, a national level annual quiz fest for management and engineering students. This event is organized in the memory of one of our most talented employees whom we lost to a fatal road accident in 2010.

Oh and there’s a cherry on the cake too. In order to encourage its employees’ spirit of learning, Mindfire in a maverick move, distributed about 700 iPads and android devices to all its employees last December. Did you just let out a small sigh?

Flexibility in work life= great personal life:

One may begin to wonder that with so much work and learning going on at Mindfire Solutions the personal lives of its employees would be hitting rock bottom. But the situation is quite the opposite. We have fixed time for clients and that gives us more time for ourselves, family and friends. There are no strict rules/policies etched on stone and flexibility is given a lot of importance. Unlike larger companies where number of hours clocked is strictly monitored, people at Mindfire enjoy flexibility in working hours (no time sheets/registers/swipe machines) as long as the work gets done. New mothers/mothers-to-be can avail unlimited maternity leave, those who are ill can convalesce without worrying about losing their job and there is also the work-from-home option for those who cannot afford to come to office owing to certain urgencies at home. Also one does not have to haggle for leaves. Have you ever heard of a company that has a holiday calendar consisting of 365 holidays (366 in case of a leap year)? Well Mindfireans would know this better coz everyday is a holiday at Mindfire Solutions. Nobody forces you to work here. To reiterate a point already mentioned earlier, you work because you choose to. And last but not the least, in this world where “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL)” this organization offers free lunch for all its employees across the three centres. Surprised? Don’t be!

Here’s a company which offers tremendous work options in 60+ technology areas, a great learning opportunity and a flexible and laissez faire culture. Not to forget the handsome spot bonuses in lieu of good work done. I am sure now you understand what my friend meant when he said, “Whoever would want to leave this techie paradise?”

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