Friday, October 19, 2012

Yarl Geek Challenge - Requirements Round

Before you start reading the rest of the post please do remember the following unwritten rules about Yarl Geek Challenge.

1. Think out of the box
2. Playing it safe will give you an average score, having average scores will not make you win!
3. So remember there is nothing to loose and everything to gain, its a competition for you to take risks and pursuit your dreams!
4. None of the tools techniques given here might give the right answers to your project, they are just indicators, feel free to innovate and achieve the objective of the round.

Round Objective: Express the user experience of the chosen concept.

There are different techniques in which teams could start their requirements analysis, for example a simple approach might be to do a stake holder analysis. Where you simply start by identifying the potential users of the system and then trying to map the features and functionality each of these users expects from the system. By doing this you could try to capture a greater part of the user experience that users will expect from the system. Alternatively you could start with an analysis of the domain or analysis of a bench marked product. There are plenty of methods which could be used. Trick is to choose a simple yet effective way which would allow you to capture the scope well for your project.

Teams are free to choose how they want to express their user experience design, they could do it via a presentation, they could use a PPT, they could run it on a simulator like windows mobile or android, they could use a prototype, they could even design it on some sheets of papers and show it, they could use a story board, use case diagrams, etc. The trick is to use the technique/s which would best express the intended use of the system to the judges. Evaluation will not be based on the standards the teams had adhered to, but will be based on the quality of the user experience they had designed/envisioned for their product.

When at requirement stage another important trick is to figure out the minimum viable product. Which basically means for you to find out what are the minimal set of features you could start shipping your product with. This is important for teams which had picked large scale projects.

Make sure additionally you identify the following too,
- Areas which you wouldn't consider under the project scope ( "No go areas" ;) )
- External integration
- Any special non-functional requirements

The judges will be looking for the following when evaluating,

1. Quality of the user experience expressed
2. How well the scope had been identified and defined
3. Understanding of the domain and the problem being solved
4. Depth of analysis

Good luck with the preparations, if you have any questions about this round please do not hesitate to contact me!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yarl Geek Challenge - Season 1

Seated around a table at queens cafe peering over a mind map some of Yarl IT Hub's Geek challenge organizing team members turned themselves in to a team and tried to apply a fictitious concept of "Mobile based early warning system" through the rounds of Yarl Geek Challenge. As the prospectus explained ( its a 5 round competition.

So what the team was trying to do was trying put on the hat of the participants and trying to live through the competition assuming if they themselves are competing how they would face each round. Each round was quite intriguing, there were cross arguments, critical analysis, burst of brilliance and of course a lot of comedy.

The first real fight started at the design stage, trying to figure out which was the most appropriate technology stack. It was quite a spectacle and leaving us with some of the questions judges could potentially fire at teams. Then picking the complex algorithm part of the competition was quite interesting, team wanted to flex their (brain) muscles by trying to pick the part of the early warning system which had the highest complexity so that they could show off their skill in designing algorithms, discussions were not just about making the algorithm correct but also on how team could show efficient algorithm designs.

Then the most intriguing problem was how to justify a business model for an early warning system - its saves lifes but where does it 'make money' ! A spark of innovation in business modelling was needed. It cannot be analysed using the usual pattern of thinking we would apply for a consumer product, the team digged deep to come up with the most astonishing business case for it. Its more a dream being painted as a business model but it was a beautiful dream being weaved together as a team. Almost all of a sudden after spending a few hours on it we all felt an affection towards the concept. Now imagine spending four days and living on a concept?!

Now this is the opportunity that's their for the participants of Yarl Geek Challenge. You come with your own concept take it progressively through the above mentioned rounds while being in a competitive environment. Each team must and should strive to win, but at the end of it if each participants leaves 'Yarl Geek Challenge' having learnt and improved themselves, when compared to where they started we could all walk out as winners!

Its a rare opportunity where there will be mentors from the industry and academia who would guide you and be there to help you in the above process. There would also be some of the premier local IT companies participating as sponsors and its one of the rare opportunities to show case your talent to them! Registrations close on the 11th of October and the proposal round is on the 13th of October. So do not miss out on a golden opportunity! Be there or be missed out and regret for a long time to come!  (click here to register )