The Guide to a Journey of Digital Transformation – Shamira Dias

“I have been serving in the IT Industry for almost 2 decades. My journey began as a Software Engineer, writing software codes in different languages such as C++ and Delphi. From there onwards, I moved toward Project Management, Delivery Management and eventually Accounting Management. I was one of the founding members of TIQRI back in 2008, and worked at the company for seven years before moving to Virtusa, where I took up the role of Associate Director. I eventually re-joined TIQRI and have been taking care of its affairs as CEO ever since.”

Speaking of the characteristics of effective Project Management Shamira stated, “If I were to take the main characteristics of a Project Manager; or rather as I would like to call them, “the 5 Pillars of Project Management”, the first of these would be exemplary leadership skills. This is one of the core attributes of being a Project Manager. Next, I would say that you need to be a people person as well as a good communicator. Ideally, this would mean initial communication with all team members, identifying their requirements and helping them achieve their goals. This makes the task of communicating and coordinating with your team much easier, and it also helps in getting them onboard in order to achieve a shared goal.  Thirdly, you need to be highly knowledgeable about the technicalities of the field in which you serve as a Project Manager. For example, in order to succeed as a Project Manager in the software engineering field, it is advisable that one knows the basic principles behind the subject. The same goes for Manufacturing and Construction. Without being able to grasp the basics of such, you will be at a disadvantage as a Project Manager. Next as a Project Manager, you need to be Quality-Conscious, especially when it comes to the Software Engineering industry as there are many bugs and defects that need to be sorted out on time before the end consumer can use the final product. The issue is that people tend to compromise on quality in order to deliver projects on time, which results in poorly manufactured software. This should never be the case, as a good Project Manager must always aim to deliver a complete and fully-functional product. Finally, you have to possess problem-solving skills along with the ability to make decisions. This is extremely important, as a Project Manager may come across various problems and constraints throughout his day to which quick solutions must be found. You should possess the mindset to convert such problems into positive outcomes by coming up with a solution to the problem. This comes with always fostering a solution-based mindset to quickly evaluate and solve issues in an efficient manner. In terms of making decisions, you must always make carefully calculated decisions that are backed by data rather than blindly calling the shots and hoping for the best. In my opinion, these are the main 5 principles or characteristics that any Project Manager must have.”

With regard to the importance of the role that a Project Manager has to play, Shamira had this to say. “Over time, the role of a Project Manager has gone through many developments. In fact, in a more modern context Project Managers are referred to as Scrum Masters. The main difference is that this role has changed from a top-down to a bottom-up approach. For example, if you are knowledgeable in the core business domain of the project you are handling it would be more beneficial than not knowing anything and trying to handle the project based on your management skills alone. Today, the role of a Scrum Master could be compared to the combination of a Project Manager and Business Analyst back in the day. The same could be said for the combined roles of a Project Manager and a Quality Assurance Engineer being equivalent to a modern Scrum Master. In a nutshell, the role has evolved from a more controlled and stable position to a diversified and cross-functional role.”

On the topic of TIQRIs’ evolution over the years, the CEO said, “TIQRI currently operates with around 150 Engineers and 15 offices around the world, catering to customers in the U.S., Europe, Middle East, Australia and Asia, while helping them to digitally transform their businesses. TIQRI was originally founded by Finn Worm-Petersen who currently serves as its Chairman. The company was founded in 2008 with around 15 founding members and 2 offices, which only catered to the Norwegian market. Initially, we only focused on providing customers with Software Engineering Services, but since then we have moved into providing End-to-End Digital Transformation Solutions such as UX & UI Solutions, Mobility, Cloud and Enterprise Solutions, Quality Assurance Services, Automation, and Project Management Consultancy. TIQRI has also played a major role in the IT industry. We organise a global event in the form of a developer conference known as ‘Dev Day’, which stands as Sri Lanka’s largest developer conference to date. This event has been organised on an annual basis since its inception in 2013, and around 400+ Software Engineers participated last year. This year, we’re planning on conducting a ‘Dev Day Week’ online with both foreign and local speakers, which will cater to an array of Software Engineers from around the island. We’ve been organising this event for the past 8 years and the member base has grown tremendously. TIQRI has also initiated an IT programme called ‘Kids can Code’, in an attempt to attract and motivate the next generation of Software Engineers in Sri Lanka. Overall, while TIQRI mainly caters towards the needs of foreign customers, it plays an important role in the IT industry of Sri Lanka as well.”

Moving onto the TIQRI’s ultimate mission, Shamira explained, “The ultimate mission that we at TIQRI always strive for, is to play an integral role in our customer’s digital transformation journey and help them to achieve their goals. We are also focused on providing a platform for our Software Engineers to grow and nurture their careers while becoming leaders in the IT industry.”

Shamira also shed light on the way forward for TIQRI in a post-Covid-19 economy. “The IT industry has been strategically positioned both during the pandemic as well as in its aftermath. To be quite frank, the digital transformation journey that we promote has at times been questioned by many companies. The reason for this is that most companies have not efficiently implemented technology into their daily operations. This was evident when they faced many challenges when working from home. This gives the IT industry a golden opportunity to strategically position itself in the current environment. Sri Lanka can also play an integral role in purposefully positioning itself in this post-Covid-19 environment. This is because Sri Lanka has a growing base of Software Engineers who constantly challenge themselves, and strive for perfection through creativity and innovation. In terms of numbers, it is difficult to compete with the likes of China and India, but in terms of creativity, Sri Lanka has what it takes to dominate such a competitive industry. Most of the projects that have been undertaken by Sri Lankans over the past few years have been more closely related to innovation. This makes the post-Covid-19 environment work in our favour as innovative and creative solutions will have to be found to solve the problems brought on by the “new normal”. For example, an Augmented Reality Solution for a handbag and shoe company, avoid customers having to come to the store to purchase their products; instead they will be provided with a screen on which a 3D model of their product along with its available colours would appear. This would enable customers to get the same experience as they would if they visited the store in person. This is just one of the many opportunities that will arise due to the current situation. It’s also an apt example to showcase how important the IT industry is in the post-pandemic era and it also hints at the near future, where we may potentially see a boom in the demand for such IT related products. I also believe that if Sri Lanka strives forward with creativity and innovation, we will be at the forefront of these new developments.”

He further added, “When it comes to TIQRI, this pandemic has allowed us to grow as a company by around 20% as of now, with the potential to further that to 35% during this year, making this one of the most successful periods for the company. At TIQRI, we’re always working with the mindset of growth, while providing more opportunities to Software Engineers in Sri Lanka so that they can globally position themselves in the industry.”

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