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Monday, August 30, 2010

Quarter 1 - A retrospective

3 months passed by as a B Schooler. Days were flying; still can't believe one quarter out of ten is over. Sometimes I feel happy there are nine more to go; sometimes I frown, only one is over; nine more to go :)

It is a memorable time and will be for at least for awhile. I met and made new friends, some of same age group, some old some of same wavelength some out range league :) Studied and applied (really? ;) ) applied three subjects, which I felt were interesting at least in the beginning and I am sure will benefit me some time in life.

I learn t to read an annual report, understood some Games All Accountants Play (GAPP :p ), understood something about pricing, OPEC & cartels, some gyaan on Strategy, price wars and so on. Among the three subjects, I enjoyed Strategy, though I didn't participate much in the class discussion. The interesting part was when the Professor finally agreed that strategy is 50% luck!

After years, did some academic projects, debated a lot during them, and spend some night-outs. So far 6 exams, 5 assignments, 3 subjects and a quiz over. So far interesting.... :)

Was part of organizing an event, attended another B School event and going to contest for an election!

Quarter 2 starts on September 10. A tough mathematics subject awaiting... :(

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

4 Principles for Effective Requirements Lifecycle Management

IBM Innovate 2010 happened in Bangalore on August 17 & 18. I attended an interesting session on "Ensuring Project Success: Four Principles for Effective Requirements Life cycle Management" by the IBM Rational Expert Dr. Keith Collyer. A small excerpt from the talk:

ps: The excerpt is based on my understanding of the session. It may or may not be what the speaker intended to.

Since this was an IBM Rational Product/Development Conference, his thrust in the beginning itself was on the use of tools for effective requirements management, which I also agree to an extend. The software and the systems are becoming more complex than ever day by day. So is the time frame of projects. Effective requirements management is as important as the effective development or testing or project management. The four principles that Dr Keith stressed on were:

1. Recognize the needs of all stakeholders
2. Use structure to manage complexity
3. Encourage collaboration across the life cycle
4. Promote the use of a consistent process

How can we identify what all are the needs of the entire stakeholder community? - Usually a very lengthy, complex essay format explaining the requirements in a short will not help to identify the requirements properly. An exercise in clear and concise descriptive writing is the key.

Whether we are working on the problem or the solution we have to analyze the gist of:

The best ways to identify the answers is to explore & use the various approaches. Requirements understanding is not merely technical, but its more about understanding people. We have to understand the problem as much as we do the solution.

Recognizing the stakeholders need starts with understanding, whether we are working on the problem ( state what stake holder's want to be able to do - capabilities)  or the solution (state what the system must do - function) . The three things to be aware of are:

1. Defining the problem  - What are we trying to do? (WHY?)
2. Defining the solution   - What our solution will/can be for this? (WHAT?)
3. Designing the solution -  How are going to do it? (HOW?)

A proper structure for requirements helps us to:

1. Understand context
2. Assess completeness
3. Identify repetitiveness / conflict
4. Navigate / Search requirements

Creating templates is the next level which can include document structure, boiler plate text, requirements template & project templates.

Another useful way of improving the identification/usefulness/navigation of requirements is using attributes. Some of the examples are identifiers, types, priority, status, performance etc

The underlying idea behind the principle of using structure to manage complexity is to use abstraction levels. Define the problem at different levels - we should first discuss in the stakeholder's language rather than developer's language. The general rule of thumb is to provide as much information as needed - but not more & avoid design at early stages. We have to ask, why you want to do this until we reach the root of the problem.

How can we move from one level into another - decompose the requirements according to the level. The decomposition can be into for example, high level requirement, system requirement, design requirement, components requirement and so on. Efficient use of UML diagrams and use cases can be used in complement. Next is the allocation of various sub system of requirements to high level system requirements. This will help us to understand the questions we asked, why are we building this -> where is it implemented? -> how do I test this component? This traceability is important to show the answers to the management/governing body.

The next principle, encourage collaboration across life cycle is essentially requirements management across the enterprise :  Starting with the Board - setting the vision to the Developers - Using the lowest level requirements & tools. The next important thing is requirements definition & management should be integrated into the product life cycle.

The final principle - promote the use of consistent process is essentially, automate the requirements process. The key is that we should be able to measure the requirement process. A typical benefit the traceability can be easily achieved using a tool. Also, many of the quality standards & processes like CMMI requires measurement. Effective requirements realizes quantifiable savings and with a tool you are able to measure it. Using a requirements tool, the whole flow is possible - document structure, attributes, filter to focus, view related information & view historical background information

Thus the benefits of effective requirements life cycle management are:

1. Greater Confidence (For all stakeholders)
2. Ability to manage change
3. Improved customer / supplier relations
4. Visibility of progress / status
5. Improved cost / benefit decisions

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Entrepreneurship Workshop by Prof. Sunil Handa

Yesterday I bunked a class of a top IIMB professor to attend a session by a top IIMA professor :p

However I was not disappointed. It was some of the first best sessions, I had till now @ IIMB. It was the Entrepreneurship workshop organized as part of the event Eximius, the Entrepreneurship Summit at IIM Bangalore.

How more motivating can a session be more than this! At the same time not with just only motivational gyaan! but also the hard facts and some cruel, real life things that can be expected from an entrepreneurial career.

Prof Sunil Handa started the session informally with an intriguing question "Why are you here? " After some intersteing answers from audience like "I have floated a company now; would like to get some tips on how to move forward", "to understand how it is like to be an entrepreneur from your experiences", "always wanted to attend a live session of the famous Sunil Handa" and so on... he started talking about our well know phrase:

"Oh Man!, again today I have to see the **** boss; I want to quit the job today!"
"I should not be working like a slave like this! I should do something different!!"

The thought provoking question he was continuously asking was "What is stopping you from doing these??"

The typical answers were:

1. Lack of competency & network
2. Social Obligations (barriers from kins)
3. Lack of investment power

He counter argued for each of these by mentioning his views which were truly thought provoking. Some of the excerpts:

Working in a company for 2-3 years will not help you to build a core competence or a influential network. Even if you are an MBA from IIM, you will just be placed as an employee, say as Marketing in charge for a product in a region for a country in the firm with many products, above which many groups & hierarchy. You will not gain much by working in the profile even for 5 years to start a firm; better you can start it straightaway. If you are adamant that you will start only after a couple of years of working, go for a challenging job; a self example he explained of taking up the CEO post after graduating from IIMA of a firm which was seized by bank because of bankruptcy.

I liked the way he kept on saying, "what are you? A Management Trainee! ; I am the chief executive; even if its a bankrupt company!!". The point he was trying to make was, even though he spent less than 2 years there, the experience he got was more than even if you work for 20 years! because you will have to deal with every aspect of the business; make the decisions & trade offs.

Some of the other aspects he discussed were on the number of partners, one should look for:

- If you are saying my partners are like minded; you will fail! What you require is those who complement each other. We need a visionary & an executor, a missionary!
- One person starting alone a company is not advisable since you will be just stretching yourself a lot. With regard to this, a person asked whether hiring all the best people out there and put to work will help? Professor's answer was NO: If that is the case World XI would have always won against any country; Coco cola would have been the best software company today; Infosys would have entered steel market today. The point he was trying to make is always not the investment alone matters; it is the core competency!
- 2-3 Partners is the optimum; More than that is like too many cooks spoiling the soup!

Next for the social obligations/barriers, his views were again thought provoking:

If you cannot convince your parents, kins; how are you planning to convince the customers, the employees, the Govt: .... You should learn the art of being cruel or professional or rude or adamant or whatever you call it! You should believe in your instincts. The couple of things I liked the most in regard to this discussion were:

1) Don't always try to please everybody. You will have to make some calls. Also don't sugar coat in your discussions thinking, "what the others will think about me!". Put what you want cut and straight. Also, learn to draw a line - make the other person understand couple of times, third time, literally kill him, if the person is not coming into your terms or find another way! to get what you intend to.

2) What your parents really mean, when they say "Son, business in not your cup of tea; why take risk". They say this because the way their minds are tuned because of their 9-6 jobs. However, you should understand that, they aren't really against business, they just want to see you as:
 (a) A happy person
 (b) Financial sound to some extend
 (c) A respected person & one who bring pride to them

So, as long as you can convince them that these are all possible by being an entrepreneur too, then what else you need!

With regard to the last point, that its tough for a middle class person to raise capital, he argued that, at the present condition, raising even 20 L is not a tough thing; If courage is there, anything is possible! He explained about his own journey and the Renuka Sugars' journey.

Some of the other aspects he touched were:

- Any market is infinite in a country like India. He touched the examples of sugar industry, the IV bottles & his company etc. It doesn't matters whether the industry is profitable or not; what matters is whether you are profitable or not in it.

Generally he advised, too much of calculations is not needed; some craziness and illogical thinking are required for entrepreneurs :)

Finally, he talked about women entrepreneurs, which he mentioned is even tougher. He advised either be solely concentrating on career or think something once the family is settled!

Even though the session was mesmerizing, I am not sure how far a middle class person can still take the huge risk, given a decent paying job out there.....

Some other posts on his talks/sessions:




ps: All the views/excerpts in this post are my interpretations/opinions only. It may vary for others!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pehel 2010

July 30 - Isn't the Pehel tomorrow? - Noway!
July 31 - Shall we postpone it to next quarter?   
               Or Shall we have it on August 7/14?
               Finally, Director - its confirmed; we have to conduct Pehel on August 7


Though all behind the scene works were about to be finished; we were not really sure of how prepared we are to conduct our first ever program in a week's time.

However, today I can write - it was a grand success!!! The way people chipped in when the need aroused was simply superb!

Started with some very nice fun games for kids and couples, pull in for the crowd was easier. I am sure all should have enjoyed the old balloon shooting, tattoo, caricature & the pyramid games.

The formal event started with the Director & Chair person's speech, and later from our always present Professor Singh. I am sure, many of us will be interested in his elective :) Later the DML awardees were given the certificates. It was nice to see some one receiving the same with their children on the stage.

The star events of the evening started after these with a traditional start - a Kannada solo song. Later the event really spiced up with dances & songs. Finally closing the event with a cultural parade showcasing the diversity of IIMpur... I forgot one thing, it was indeed a family event with performance even from the extended family members of PGSEM!!

This was one of the best Pehel in the near past. This was the unanimous opinion from the senior batches.

" we had a lot of fun and the event was one of the better ones we see at PGSEM...."
" Fantastic job guys... well planned - well executed!"

PGSEM 2010 rocks!!

It was indeed a wonderful experience for me too.

  • contributed to posters,invitation,buzz mails
  • spammed a lot!
  • talked to 'THE' Director of IIMB & Chairperson of PGSEM couple of times
  • did a little stage coordination
  • invited faculty & met the professors who selected me for PGSEM @ IIMB :D
  • participated in a cultural fashion parade :P
  • worked closely with some of the new friends, whom I am sure will be having long lasting relations

What more can one expect from the first event @ a B School!!!

Pehel 2010 in Pics...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Another hectic weekend; though still interesting :)

Got the Microeconomics mid term paper - good score ;) 4 more weeks in Quarter 1. Have to submit two projects in 3 weeks. In one group, we haven't yet come to a conclusion on which is the topic we are concentrating on :P (One looses temper explaining his/her view; other looses patience; another is trying to resolve the issue and i am keeping myself as a silent spectator :). ) For the second project, the Professor is still teaching the area on which we have to concentrate as part of the project, so can leave it for the time being! . For the third project each one of the group is banking on the remaining seven :P

And finally, the date for Pehel is fixed. The date was back & forth changing and finally it will happen on August 7th. So many problems & back offs :(.  We were in the campus printing the invites, putting it in the notice boards, inviting faculty & informing seniors till night. I am relieved some 6-8 guys are there who are ready to somewhat run behind things. And I am back now creating some spam :) and in parallel writing this post(Sunday 2:19AM)...Its really hard to keep every stakeholders in mind while  organizing an event :( I wish & pray the event becomes a grant success.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review : Financial Accounting A Managerial Perspective by R Narayanaswamy

Financial Accounting: A Managerial Perspective by R Narayanaswamy covers well the basics of accounting starting from the basic accounting equation. One attractive thing about this book is that it has lots of problems in every chapter :) If you have time and ready to do, you are with the right book. The book also have a good amount of business cases, though with no analysis.

One thing I liked the most was the tool that is provide in the student's resources (http://phindia.com/narayanaswamy/student_resources1.php) .

The book covers all the basics theoretically from basic accounting equation to cash flow statement analysis. A good read for getting acquainted with the subject!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Book Review : Microeconomics by Pindyck, Rubinfeld & Prem L. Mehta

Microeconomics by Robert S. Pindyck, Daniel L. Rubinfeld and Prem L. Mehta was the recommended text book for us.

I have to say wonderful book! Less mathematical treatment with emphasis on real life cases and just required mathematical treatment. I never expected this subject will be interesting - not sure was it because of the textbook or the professor :) The book covers at a intermediate / introductory level from the basic of microeconomics like supply & demand to game theory & asymmetrical information scenarios.

I really liked the example cases explained in the textbook. It covers most of the topics in introductory microeconomics. If you can get the solutions to the problems, this is the best book even for a self study :)

The students resources are not so impressive; However as I mentioned earlier, if you can get the solutions to the exercises; its good enough.