What time is it?

~ by Randy Wagner

Multiple Clocks

Almost everything in our lives is governed, in one way or another, by the clock. Workdays, meeting time, dinner time, release schedules, the list goes on and on. However, the one thing that is easy to lose sight of is that we’re working with multiple clocks and that time can have different value for everyone. Keeping an eye on multiple clocks can help get the project done and keep a customer happy.

Project Clocks

Most of us work within a project clock. There is a cadence and a projected completion date. Sprints are defined and stories estimated and burned down. Time is money and hours are monitored carefully in scrums, planning, and retrospectives. But that project clock is not the only clock that matters.

Departmental Calendar Clocks

For those of us in the insurance industry, we’re subject to lots of clocks. Month, quarter, and year end workloads may impact which resources are available or when production releases are allowed. Departments vary so that underwriting may be crushed at the end of the month while Finance gears up on the first, which may impact UAT staff availability. Year end is subject to holidays and HR policies may press on a work force to use their vacation or lose it. Strategic corporate initiatives may drive releases or delay them.

Regulatory and Contract Clocks

Vendors join the fray as well. Some external integrations need to be approved with specified time allotted in the contract for review and approval. Individual worker contracts may need to be extended to accommodate schedule slippage. Regulatory changes come with deadlines as well. On an even longer time scale, work may be driven by the expected retirement of key personnel.

Transactional Clocks

Even within the systems, we often track multiple times. QA lays out the calendars for various transactions when moving the clock for time-travel testing. Billing cycles, non-pay scenarios, expirations, out of sequence, renewals, and all manner of time-driven events require thinking in multiple dimensions. Time is extremely important to the insurance enterprise. In many regards, insurance is time-driven, and many important events rely on preset calendar dates.

Good Management is Good Time Management

Keeping track of time across all the clocks can be a dizzying effort. Like a network operations center, it would be convenient to have multiple clocks on the wall that can be viewed at a glance to see how all the times coordinate. Make sure to actively ask the team which clocks matter most and how they will impact the work.

Whether it is managing requirements, development, and QA within a sprint or getting a major release to Production on time, and therefore on budget, good management is good time management. Working within the various customer clocks is challenging but necessary for good relationship management. And, while you are exerting all the effort, coordination, planning, and execution, make sure you’re having a good time doing it.

Randy Wagner is Director of Quality Assurance for CastleBay Companies. He has 20 years of consulting experience across private and public sectors, Guidewire InsuranceSuite, InsuranceNow, and Duck Creek, with specializations in quality assurance, project management, configuration management, and automation.