How a Global Puzzle Competition is Changing Software Application Development and QA Testing

Teams of people including students, interns, software application developers, QA testers and more from around the world competed recently in the third annual CS50 Puzzle Day, sponsored by Harvard University. CS50 is a Harvard-developed academic course that explores the theory of computer science, its purpose and intent and while the competition was originally created for students, it now attracts a global following of those interested in improving collaboration and analytical thinking for software application development and QA testing.

Software Application Development and a Global Game of Mastermind

At midnight on Friday, March 9, 2018, more than three thousand people from around the world broke into teams to tackle eight different puzzles created by Harvard University professor, David Malan[1]. Malan is the man who developed CS50 as a way of making computer science understandable to everyone, regardless of their prior knowledge of how computers operate. The unintended outcome of his breakthrough course was how the puzzle games are helping software application development teams think differently and collaborate more effectively

The teams had until the stroke of midnight on Monday, March 12 to complete the eight puzzles. Among those teams were three from Optimus Information’s location in Noida, India, made up of interns and experienced software application developers and QA testers.

opt-cs50-1-300x169 How a Global Puzzle Competition is Changing Software Application Development and QA TestingThe Optimus teams quickly realized that computer programming skills were not required. What was required of them was the ability to think logically, using their intelligence.

Anil Kumar Saini led one of the teams. He said they spent the first day – a full 24 hours – working on the puzzle questions at the office and then continued to work from their homes throughout the weekend, staying in contact with each other the entire time.

“We had no idea what to expect”, he said, “so, we watched videos online to prepare. While the first levels were simple, they became progressively more difficult and we realized that none of us could solve these problems working in silos.”

Building Collaborative Skills

Saini decided his team needed to reach out for assistance, so he contacted fellow Optimus employee, Swapnil Kumar and his team. Both teams began to collaborate on the problems before them.

What was interesting was that neither Saini nor Kumar really knew each other at Optimus. Kumar says he and Anil worked in separate areas of the company and never interacted, day to day.

opt-cs50-2-300x225 How a Global Puzzle Competition is Changing Software Application Development and QA Testing“But the puzzle competition meant that we had to collaborate with each other. The benefit was that we were able to tap into each team’s diverse ways of looking at the same problem. The result meant we expanded our thinking beyond our normal, work-related problem solving. And Anil and I have now become good friends, as a result.”

Anil Saini added that the competition had the effect of leveling the playing field among the team members. “It didn’t matter if some of us were experienced software application development or QA testing team members and others were interns; it provided equal opportunity for all and everyone contributed to getting the right answers. It was a true collaborative experience.”

A Lasting Impact

Their collaboration worked so well that the Optimus teams finished with every puzzle solved correctly; one of their teams even cracked the coveted top thirty. More than this, though, is how the experience has affected the team members when they now engage in their projects at work.

Mayank Varshney was one of the Optimus participants in the quiz. He saw an immediate impact on his role in QA testing.

“Participating in this team approach has altered how we think analytically, now. In my work, I test the functionalities of our software and now I’m looking at different approaches where Optimus can deliver even greater quality to our clients. This is a direct result of my experience in the competition.”
CS50-Puzzle-day-Winners How a Global Puzzle Competition is Changing Software Application Development and QA Testing
This was exactly what Optimus had hoped would happen when the company encouraged its employees and interns in Noida to take part. The participants pushed each other to think outside the box and seek different methods to solve the problems posed by the eight puzzles.

They did just that and the impact of utilizing different ways of tackling a problem has changed the way these Optimus employees are now functioning in their own roles within the company.

Optimus Information is built on its employees and its success reflects the depth of talent the company harnesses on a daily basis to create value for its clients.

Contact us today and we’ll tell you more about how collaborative thinking can generate breakthrough solutions that will propel your business forward.


Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

The most recent installment of the Optimus Breakfast Series took place yesterday morning, Oct. 5th, 2017. This event hosted an engaging discussion on when and how to outsource software projects effectively. If you missed it, stay tuned to the Optimus blog for the complete video recording!

For those that attended, there were excellent networking opportunities with attendees from some of Vancouver’s top brands:

Screen-Shot-2017-10-06-at-11.46.36-AM-copy-1030x618 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing Recap


Moderated by Pankaj Agarwal – Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information

Ralph Turfus – Technology Entrepreneur

Ally Bharmal – Partner, Fasken Martineau

Tejinder Basi – Former Partner, Deloitte; Director, Blockchain Society of BC

We would like to extend a big thank you to those who joined us! If you missed it, join our mailing list in the right pane of this page to get notified about our upcoming events.

Highlights from the Morning

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Optimus Breakfast Series: Testing in an Interconnected World – Video

How to Test Applications as They Become Increasingly Universal

In case you couldn’t make it to Testing in an Interconnected World on June 13th, 2017, you can watch the entire panel discussion here. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow our events page to register for the next event.


Steve Whitfield – Technical Director, Mobile Apps at lululemon athletica

Stu Ashman – QA Director at Mio Global

Larry Ng – Director of Quality at Visier

Moderated by Pankaj Agarwal – Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information


Testing in an Interconnected World: Event Recap

How to test applications as they become increasingly universal

In case you missed it, the latest instalment of the Optimus Breakfast Series went off Tuesday morning, June 13th, 2017. The event brought together three of the top software testing executives from Vancouver’s leading companies to talk software testing and the complexities they face in our new interconnected world.

This was a sold-out event that drew over 60 attendees from 35 different organizations!


Moderated by Pankaj Agarwal – Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information

Steve Whitfield – Technical Director, Mobile Apps at lululemon athletica

Stu Ashman – QA Director at Mio Global

Larry Ng – Director of Quality at Visier

We would like to extend a big thank you to those who joined us! If you missed it, join our mailing list in the right pane of this page to get notified about our upcoming events.

Stay tuned for the complete video recording to be posted on the Optimus blog.

Fun fact: Larry Ng will also be speaking at VanQ, our QA and Testing Meetup, on Thursday, June 29th. He’ll be speaking on Endpoint Testing with Gatling. Check out the details and register here.

Highlights from the Morning

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Announcing Transform 2016 – A data analytics breakfast event

Optimus is excited to bring you Transform 2016 on Oct. 20th 2016!

Transform 2016 will bring three executives from leading Vancouver organizations to talk about how they are using data analytics to grow and transform their business.

Learn how they used analytics to uncover the story their data is telling, the problems that it uncovered and how they transformed them into opportunities. We’ll also ask about the tools they’ve used, what worked, what didn’t work, and how they chose them.

Are you truly using Data Analytics to stimulate growth and find real opportunities? Find out Oct. 20th.

What to Expect

This breakfast event will include a presentation from Microsoft and a panel discussion with 3 executives from Vancouver’s leading data-driven companies. The presentation will cover how Microsoft views Data Analytics and their vision for the future.

Panel questions will be driven by the you, the audience, so you’ll have the chance to discuss what really matters to you and solve problems you are currently facing.

To register, visit the Transform 2016 page



Andrew Boudreau Data Platform Technical Specialist at Microsoft

At Microsoft, their ambition is to democratize data insights for all of their customers, by providing the building blocks and tools to empower organizations large & small. They enable organizations to build, innovate and transform quickly, so they realize business impact and results faster. They believe an organization’s data is a key strategic asset which, when combined with the cloud and the potential of intelligence capabilities, provides the opportunity to automate, innovate and increase the speed of business. Andrew Boudreau will discuss how Power BI enables anyone to visualize and analyze data with greater speed, efficiency, and understanding, leading to new and dramatic insights, allowing them to become agile in their business processes.


Klaus Salchner VP of Engineering at BuildDirect Technologies

Klaus Salchner is currently the VP of Engineering at BuildDirect where he manages a team responsible for the consumer side, supply chain side and 2D and 3D modeling side of BuildDirect’s platform. Before BuildDirect, Klaus held VP roles at Sage, Elastic Path and Absolute Software. He is a seasoned executive which has more than twenty-five years of experience running product development organizations around the globe. He has managed multi-million dollar budgets and his experience includes both the Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure platform as well as the Java/J2EE, .NET, Node JS, Python and PHP platforms.

Rizwan Somji VP of Technology at Cymax Group 

Rizwan Somji is currently the vice president of technology at Cymax Stores and has over 15 years of experience leading high performance, agile and globally-diverse technology teams. As the former co-founder and VP of engineering for ResponseTek Networks, Somji brings a track record of building highly scalable, hosted SaaS applications. Rizwan is also actively involved in supporting local organizations and charities, currently serving on the Board of Advisors for GradusOne and an active mentor at UBC’s tri-mentor program.

More panelists to be announced!

More Information and Registration

Learn more about Transform 2016 on the event page here.

Mobile Breakfast Series April 2016 Recap

On April 28th, 2016, we were overwhelmed by the response to Vancouver’s Mobile Breakfast Series! Optimus Information brought this event to Vancouver with Chetan Sharma Consulting and was met with a completely packed house.

The event brought together four executives from leading brands to discuss IoT, where it’s heading and how their different organizations are approaching it.


Shahid AhmedManaging Partner – Emerging Technology and IoT at PwC

Gonzalo Tudela, CEO and Co-founder at Vandrico Solutions

Rob Tiffany, Global Technology Lead for IoT at Microsoft

Rob ChandhokPresident and COO at Helium

Chetan SharmaCEO, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

We would like to extend a big thank you to those that joined us! For those that couldn’t make it, we have captured a few highlights for you:

IoT is not just about technology

One also should look at the business impact of IoT. For example, IoT stands to impact the pricing model of some industries.

  • Sensors accurately measuring risks means that actuaries in insurance companies can more accurately price insurance products. This is a big change for the insurance industry.
  • Rolls Royce aircraft engines charge their customers based on hours flown. The hourly cost is dictated by data collected from various sensors in the engine. They are now also collecting the maintenance history of various components.

Fog layer/fog computing

The fog layer means processing transactions locally rather than transferring to the cloud. For example, instead of transferring all the raw data from the device to cloud, only relevant or processed data is transferred.

Encryption doesn’t equal security

People confuse security with encryption. Security has many more aspects in addition to encryption. For example, for a sensor that only sends data when a door is opened or a motion is detected, simply the presence of data being transmitted can be a breach of security.

IoT + Cloud

This is a leading technology trend with two camps. One camp includes companies like Microsoft that offer complete solutions from the device to the backend and analytics. The other camp includes companies specializing in specific parts of this value chain, such a sensor manufacturer or a platform for processing big data.

Pictures from the event:

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VanQ April 2016: Automated and Manual Testing for Web & App Accessibility

Each month, Optimus Information hosts VanQ, Vancouver’s testing and quality assurance meetup group. To attend the next event, join VanQ here

Date: April 28, 2016

Topic: Methods in Automated and Manual Testing for Web & App Accessibility. This presentation will:

  1. Provide a background on web accessibility standards and legislation
  2. Discuss software tools to automate the discovery and remediation of accessibility issues
  3. Present methods for manual testing for desktop and mobile devices

Speaker: Janos Sitar

Janos joined Central 1 in September 2015 as a Web Accessibility Specialist. Currently, Janos is leading projects such as improving the user experience of desktop and mobile products with assistive technologies and conducting interviews of Central 1 members with accessibility issues so they can achieve greater independence of their finances. He is Central 1’s accessibility evangelist and will proudly share his comprehensive understanding of the benefits of accessible design practices to anyone interested to learn more.

Janos was introduced to web development via an online film journal while completing a Masters degree in Film Studies. His interest in form, function, audience response and the web, leveraged by his years of experience conducting usability studies and writing reports for organizations like Telus, BC Hydro, and Logitech, makes him a natural fit for conducting user experience studies of websites and software.

Optimus Breakfast Event – Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing Video

Missed our last event? View the video below to watch the entire presentation, panel discussion and audience questions.

On Tuesday, November 17 , 2015, Optimus Information hosted our second Breakfast Series event of the year. Hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver, this early morning event brought together over 60 local technology professionals to form a captivating discussion on the Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing.

Pankaj Agarwal, Founder and Managing Partner of Optimus Information, led a discussion on software outsourcing with the following panelists:

Ralph Turfus,  Entrepreneur, Investor and ex-CEO, Class Software
Peter Lukomskyj, VP, Products, Elastic Path Software
Benjamin Terrill, VP of Customer Success, Mobify

Optimus Breakfast Event – Software Outsourcing: The Do’s and Don’ts

Join us on November 17th, 2015 to learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing from a panel of technology executives. This breakfast event will bring together local high-level IT professionals and provide attendees valuable insights on working with an outsourcing partner. After breakfast and a chance to network with your peers, Pankaj Agarwal, Founder and Managing Partner of Optimus Information, will lead a discussion on software outsourcing with the following panelists:

Ralph Turfus,  Entrepreneur, Investor and ex-CEO, Class Software
Tobias Dunn-Kahn, VP of Engineering, xMatters
Benjamin Terrill, VP of Customer Success, Mobify

If you would like to attend, please email for availability.

 optimus-breakfast-series Optimus Breakfast Event - Software Outsourcing: The Do’s and Don’ts

Software Outsourcing: The Do’s and Don’ts

Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Location: English Bay Room – Hyatt Regency (655 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC)
Audience: CTOs, VPs – Engineering, VPs – Technology


7:30am – 8:30am Registration, Breakfast and Networking
8:30am – 9:30am Panel Discussion and Q&A
9:30am – 10:00am Networking

Event Overview:

Outsourcing Software Development and Testing continues to be a fast growing trend among enterprises large and small. Since 2000, the global market value of IT outsourcing services has steadily grown from $45B to over $100B. The primary motivations for outsourcing include focusing on core strengths, improved resource scalability, access to better technology, talent and innovation and reduction in overall costs.

Like any other outsourcing, there are successes and failures and lessons to be learnt. At the Software Outsourcing Breakfast Event we will speak with technology executives who will share their experiences and discuss the reasons, risks and rewards for outsourcing. Discussion topics will include outsourcing cost factors, data security and confidentially, vendor experience and expertise, process and communication, and more.

Panelist Bios:

Ralph Turfus,  Entrepreneur, Investor and ex-CEO, Class Software

Ralph Turfus has spent four decades in the ICT sector, and is currently board chair of Fund II company Endurance Wind Power, and Fund I company Redlen Technologies. Previously, Ralph was the founder and CEO of Class Software, a leading developer of software for municipal governments, purchased in 2004 by San Diego-based The Active Network in a private equity-financed transaction. An engineer with an MBA, Ralph’s passion is for developing the marketing and sales capabilities of entrepreneurial technologists. He is a hands-on angel investor and executive mentor, and is active in organizations that promote the region’s technology industry. In recognition of his industry contributions, he was named the BC Technology Industry Association’s “Person of the Year” for 2006.

Tobias Dunn-Kahn, VP of Engineering, xMatters

Tobias joined xMatters in 2005. Using his background in distributed computing, scalability, and optimization on the Java Platform, he has risen to VP of Engineering. Tobias graduated with honors from the University of Victoria with a B.A. in Combined Computer Science and Mathematics.

Benjamin Terrill, VP of Customer Success, Mobify

With 15 years of experience in software companies and digital agencies, Ben has created award-winning campaigns for global brands such as Nike and Electronic Arts. In his four years at Mobify, Ben has built our professional services and customer success teams from the ground up. His teams strives to deliver excellence to all of our customers, including household names such as Ann Taylor, Crocs, British Telecom and Eddie Bauer.

Pankaj Agarwal, Founder and Managing Partner, Optimus Information (Moderator)

Pankaj Agarwal is the Managing Partner of Optimus Information Inc. He is an active investor in Canadian, US and Indian startups and private technology companies serving on the boards of a number of companies. Pankaj has over two decades of experience working in the technology outsourcing industry. Before founding Optimus, he was a co-founder and CEO of Momentum Technologies Inc. until they were purchased by the European IT consulting company Sopra Group where he served on the Executive Committee.

Vancouver Tech Companies Pitch for Talent at Tech Fest

techfest2 Vancouver Tech Companies Pitch for Talent at Tech FestLast night on Thursday, May 14, 2015 TechVibes hosted its annual Vancouver Tech Fest technology recruiting event. This is not your typical job fair held during the day in a stuffy convention centre. This year, Tech Fest was hosted at the Commodore Ballroom, a concert venue that is becoming a popular spot for hosting other technology events. With a club like atmosphere, there was a very playful and relaxed mood, which was reflective of what the featured companies have to offer job seekers here in Vancouver.

techfest3 Vancouver Tech Companies Pitch for Talent at Tech FestFree for job seekers, registration included access to a variety of Vancouver’s tech companies including Hootsuite, Central1, EventbaseMobify and Boeing Canada. Each company was allotted a 2-minute elevator pitch on why they are the best company to work for. Job seekers also had access to talk one-on-one with recruiters and representatives, each company having a handful of representatives. There was no shortage of incentives to come by and talk to a company, each with a unique feature at their booth to draw in candidates. From mini foosball tables, a cotton candy machine, to photo booths and free swag there was something for everyone. And for those job seekers that wanted to have an extra edge on the competition, a VIP ticket for $15.00 got them in an hour earlier to chat with employers with a free drink. There was also no shortage of food to keep the crowd around and happy – again with something for everyone the spread included mini doughnuts, fish tacos, beef sliders and pulled-pork biscuits to name a few!

techfest1 Vancouver Tech Companies Pitch for Talent at Tech FestThe clear message and overall theme from the employer pitches was an emphasis on culture, unique benefits, community involvement, flexibility, team atmosphere and de-emphasis on compensation packages. Despite taking unique approaches to their pitches, each company wanted to show job seekers that they would be a part of something bigger than just a job.

With nearly 900 attendees throughout the night and 17 companies, Tech Fest showed us just how booming the tech industry is here in Vancouver with no shortage of opportunities. Not only are there eager tech candidates and job seekers, but also the variety in which is available for them to choose from is vast. Want to work in banking or real estate? There’s a job for you! Want to work in the event industry? There’s a job for you! How about security or the aero industry? Or just want to work for a hot name like Hootsuite or Microsoft? We have that too!

Tech Fest was a great chance for Optimus to meet with some of Vancouver’s talented tech professionals and find out what really matters to them. We are actively hiring and to find out more about current opportunities at Optimus Information, or to apply for a position, contact us here.