Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Get Marriage Certificate Done in Delhi - Adventure!!

Thought of standing in line in a government office strikes terror on everyone's mind, especially people from private organization who have seen excellence and improvements in processes at every stage. Simple tasks like filling forms and getting things approved takes days and months of efforts in these office - things can be made as difficult as possible - you could not dare imagine the boundaries of silliness and lethargic attitude of certain people in these places (our assumption, which is true). 

We got married last year but due to due to some reasons we could not get the marriage certificate in time. Most of our friends advised us to get this act done without delay and have our names in each other's passports under spouse category. Question was "how" with the daring thought of facing BABUs in dilapidated government offices. One good thing happened with us was that we were in Delhi, where things happened with appointments and online applications. 

First thing I did was to collect whatever information I could get from one of my colleagues who recetly got this done in Delhi itself. That gave little confidence of success :). There is a website that gives some description of the items required and also provide link for appointments - and frankly said, this really helped a lot - except one way trip back to my home for missing certificate from their office :) but finally we got the deed done without much problems. Here is the thing:

For Delhi guys (present address), visit - or (Only Internet Explorer - it doesn't work on MOZILLA - don't know about other explorers). Enter your district - say for Dwarka, it is SOUTH WEST and move forward. Next page will ask you about Applicant's Name, Gender, Address (enter the address for which you have the residential proof - your present address of Delhi in Dwarka), Select your locality from a drop down (say Dwarka Phase 1) - finally select "Registration of Marriage Certificate" and Click to Apply Online. 

Next Page will ask you to select a date of registration, but usually on these dates you would end up meeting BABUs or BABLIs (if any) ;).  Enter your details like Name, Father's Name, Date of Birth, Present Address (you should have this proof), Permanent Address (it has nothing to do with the certificate), Marital status and date of marriage. You can have the same address for your wife if your wife has some residential proof for that place, else you can also write residential address for which certificate is present with her.Post this, you can submit the application. Usually for Dwarka, it would be Kapashera District Court (near Kapashera Bus stand at Gurgaon Delhi Border). Post submission online, you would be required to take the print out of the filled Application Form. It would also have the details of where you would need to appear - Kapashera in my case. Problem is that if you check on websites for the SDM offices, it would show Najafgarh for Dwarka - which is not correct - typical government sites I must say :(

Now the list of items required as documents:

1.    Documentary evidence of date of birth of both parties (10th/Matriculation Certificate/Passport/ Birth Certificate for anyone born after 1989) Minimum age of both parties should be 21 years at the time of registration under the Special Marriage Act  - we showed 10th Mark sheet/Pan card
2.    Residential Proof of both husband or wife whose area SDM has been approached for the certificate - We submitted UID registration receipt - the BABU accepted it but the marriage officer rejected it saying it was just a receipt, we also had gazetted officer certificate since my dad is in defense. It seems they don't accept SBI Passbook - but the signing authority seems to be OK with it - anyway I had 3-4 options including Rent Agreement (with police verification copy in it)

3.    Affidavit by both the parties stating place and date of marriage, date of birth, marital status at the time of marriage and nationality - This was made by us near District Office (Court) by small one room office guys sitting outside court at Rs 60 per affidavit
4.    Two passport size photographs of both the parties and one marriage photograph - This should be all attested by some A class Gazetted officer
5.    Marriage invitation card, if available. - This is not mandatory but if attached, it would be good - we presented our card from girl side
6.    If marriage was solemnized in a religious place, a certificate from the priest is required who solemnized the marriage - We got gazetted officer signature marriage certificate stating all details - for Sikh Marriages usually they give the certificate then and there in Gurudwara, post marriage. For Hindu marriages, temples do not provide any certificate - we didn't produce any certificate
7.    Rs. 100/- in case of Hindu Marriage Act and Rs.150/- in case of Special Marriage Act to be deposited with the cashier of District and the receipt should be attached with the application form - We took this receipt - don't forget to get the slip for Rs 100 - the BABU would also provide you the date on which you need to appear for the final Certificate signature

8.    Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the prohibited degree of relationship as per Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act as the case may be. - This was part of affidavit and need not be provided separately
9.    Attested copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower - NA for us
10.    In case one of the parties belong to other than Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions, a conversion certificate from the priest who solemnized the marriage(in case of Hindu Marriage Act).- NA for us

Once we went to the DO of Kapashera, we tried finding out the place where marriage certificates are done. Greeted by a 20 yrs old girl in a 10*10 Sq Ft room with 4 tables and 4 people - could not make out which one is peon as even he was sitting on one desk. He needs to be treated like an officer indeed ;) That girl asked us to fill up one Witness form with Witness details (Pan Card copy) and Residential proof (please get this along with other documents - we had gazetted signature residential certificate - but you might take bank passbook, voter card, driver license, etc) for the witness (just one is required - preferably Father or Mother - more credible). Post that the girl checked all the documents and asked us to paste the passport photos of both of us on a plain paper along with the Marriage picture (where our faces were visible) - all should be attested beforehand. Usually on the first day, only husband/wife can go and submit all documents, but I would suggest to take Witness also along with you to fill up Witness forms and PAN Card submission (copy).

All the certificates you bring should be already attested by gazetted officer. If not attested, then you might have to stand in line in other counter where other officer sits, who will do this signature for you seeing all your originals with a fee (not sure about this as we never had to visit him/her) - bottom line - everything will be done if you have originals with you. As your ID proof, you can take your and wife's pan card (attested).

Main issue comes with residential certificate - as nothing is written on the website of Delhi Government also as to what should be ideal one - only VOTER ID CARD is written - which 90% of guys don't have. BABU might say - you have been living in Delhi for so long and how come you don't have Voter's ID - as if he carries all proofs - :P Anyway - ignore his remarks with cool mind! "Beg" is what you can do - or ask him for the certificates alternatives - he will give some or other ideas - if your wife is smart, she would be able to handle him/her ;). If you take longer time between your marriage date and getting certificate, these guys create more problems.

Once the girl was over with her checking - and bringing some odd points for rejection - for which we argued till she succumbed and transferred the application to the other lady (45 yrs old) across her table with one computer and printer with loads of hard copy files. Even she raised some issues on residential certificate but we produced all in time on the same day before 1pm (we entered at 10:30am). Post her checks she transferred the file to the BABU officer - who again raised one point on residential certificate but that was taken care by his own alternative of UID receipt (its 15 min job to get this receipt in Delhi and we already had this done a week back in Dwarka). Finally Rs 100 was taken from us (Hindu Marriage) and date was given for some Tuesday or Friday (only these 2 days marriage officer comes for signature) after 8-10 days. We were asked to come on this date with one Witness who has Pan card. These guys would call you a day in advance if anything is still missing to bring it along with you on the d day - try to have all attested.

Final day of signature, everything was moving very fast. That 40yrs old lady greeted us with a smiled as if nothing had happened. She took our application and asked us to enter our names and addresses (both of us and witness) in a register with Peon (came to know later that he was peon ;P). She produced a print out of the form and asked us to check the names and details and sign the form (we didn't have wife name change - if you require this you can raise a request here). We did this and finally the BABU checked it and got 2 print outs (original of Marriage Certificate) :D. 

Now only thing was signature of the marriage office - who sits in a conference room. All the guys who wanted to get the certificates would sit in that big room (open - not secluded for bribes). We could see everyone sitting in that room around a big round table. Marriage officer came after some time and the BABU started calling each one's name as per the list present with him - we were at No. 3. Marriage officer asked our names and date on which marriage was done, checked all certificates in 2-3 minutes time and then signed the certificate. Post that we thanked him and got the hologram pasted on the 2 certificates (they give one extra in case you lose one) :P

That was the moment of happiness and completion of tedious process (may be not so tedious after completion). Now next - having the entry of spouse name on our passports - which is supposed to be one day process it seems - still waiting for the right moment to get this done.. lazy guys sleeping again for last minute work... zzzzzzzzzzzzz..... ;)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Performance Metrics for Business Analyst

Call it Associate Consultant, Business Analyst (BA), System Analyst, Process Consultant or anything else – job description of all these guys remain same. From the beginning of a software development life cycle, how a business analyst (BA) plays its role is known to almost everyone in an IT industry – from requirement gathering, gap analysis (as is – to be ), working on RFP/ RFI/ RFQ to attending even last mile processes of timely UAT and production sign offs.

As per performance metrics given to all during appraisal, items just meet the criteria of meeting expectations for a BA. But how do we actually access BA on a set of standard quantitative measures?

Some of the points could be found are mentioned below:

-    Was the Stakeholder Map prepared to understand each owner or system that would be affected due to the new development or change in existing system? List of Single points of contact

-    How many business touch points were contacted – Strategic (top management for company level strategy aligning with the project), Tactical or Day-to-day operations team who are real users?

-    # of high level requirements – as per business processes and policies – per time spent

-    % of use cases prepared as per the high level requirements

-    % of non functional requirements missed

-    % of requirements got changed post sign off due to missing elements or external influence or system defects

-    % of changes in versions of Requirement Document/permissible changes pre/post sign offs?

-    % correctness of requirements as per satisfaction of Technical as well as business teams?

-    % of requirements conflicted with other requirements – measures consistency

-    % of requirements open for discussion post sign off – measures ambiguity

-    % of requirements that could be fully tested end to end – to check the verifiability

-    % of requirements measured on business priority with client to know which are important/not

-    % of requirements eliminated during consulting phase as they were of least importance and more resource consumables/total requirements? – adds productivity to the BA output

-    % of requirements changed due to changes by strategic management of the team – top management through an interview session?

-    % of use cases modified or deleted during business interactions or new requirements?

-    % of requirements debated with what is in scope and what not?

-    # of times scope changed

-    % deviation in the project timeline due to changes in requirements?

-    # of times delay in the customer sign off on UI, UAT, requirements, etc

-    # of sessions taken for how long/overall project timeline to make team understand the requirements due to ambiguity in requirements or on open points which is not clear to the technical leads/solution team

-    Performance Rating point given by customers on touch points or meetings conducted by BA – formally or informally for overall performance – on a scale

-    Performance Rating given by the team members on a scale

Judging on such quantitative measures would obviously improve the performance of a business analyst.Any comment on the enhancement of list is also welcome as the list of not that long! :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The City of Nawabs - Though None Seen - A Tour

It was early morning 5'o clock when I called my driver to know the status of my cab to New Delhi station. Got up early, packed my bags in just 30minutes and was off for a 2 day trip to Lucknow for official training exercise for a telecom client. After our successful development on this project, it was now time for the the real users to get trained on technology.

Lucknow bound train was on time and it was good few hours journey for me with my laptop and movies. It was around afternoon that train reached Lucknow station (2 hours delay due to stoppage at one station - some malfunctioning of Goods train engine) :( - drained me. As usual, a bunch of autowalas approached me, seeing me carry an airbag, asking me to take their auto. As others ignored them in the wake of the very idea of getting cheated, I did the same and proceeded towards counter of pre-paid autos. Surprisingly the line was meant for the autowalas who would catch their passengers and bring them to this place, stand in line and get the amount billed for whatever amount they want. Rs 10/- as bribe (euphemistically called fee) is to be given to the counter inspector to issue a ticket to the autowala who would then take the passenger to his/her destination.

I thought of giving a decent first-timer try by standing in line but all in vain as the counter inspector was looking for autowala than standing passenger in front of him. Anyway I could manage to get one simple looking autowala, preferred someone who didn't look crooked - just for mental satisfaction that he would not cheat on price - not much at least ;) Anyway I was charged Rs 20/- extra for the distance on paper. Since things were to be reimbursed, I didn't care much and offered the amount to the autowala (at least I was getting a bill).

Lucknow was much crowded than Delhi or Gurgaon - may be because of less open space and more congestion on road. After 20 minutes, found my Hotel, paid the guy and checked in to rest for a while. Since the trip was accompanied by two more friends from office (though not together in journey), it was bit assured that I would, at least, not get bored in this new area. Yes, my first trip to a place which I passed only while going in trains that qualified to be one of the 'via' stations.

Evening plan, after office visit, was to get to some market and have Tunde Kababs, which is supposedly and believably (after I had them) one of the favorites of people there - and also of tourists who visited this place. We took a rick (human) and got to a market (forgot the name), walked around 2 Kms in search of the place called Tunde Kabab (TK). As we expected on our way, street was full of hawkers, shops and hanging light boards. We had to walk inside congested one way (but used a 2 way) streets to reach our beloved food joint - the first TK that was started long back. We ran for an empty table that was free fortunately and asked for 'thought to be special' menu - but to our dismay we could not find anything that started with chicken/mutton (guess and confirmed that they served only Beef). Had to come out of that shop to ask for another TK shop that served the other variant as well, that we could eat. Another struggle for auto at night to reach that place (Aminabad) where we hogged on to those Kababs. No word to describe the pain of that long walk and also the heaven that was brought to us in shape of circular, soft, melting, delicious, lip and finger smacking, mouth watering to the core dish! - as shown in picture here :):) Had 4-5 of them with the Mughlai Parathas (crispy and little sweet) that reminded me of Alcausar's Kakori Kababs near Assam Bhavan in Delhi (hope the spelling is right) and Street Food of India in Ambiance Mall, Gurgaon (near PVR). Lucknow one is actually much better and looked fresh with its unique ambiance :)

Time to roam around in the market after that, did some shopping for some Chikan Kurtas (this is what they call the clothing material) - friends got some suits, had couple of Kulfis (Ice creams) and walked a bit with Pan (not Pan Card but with Beetle Leaf). It was already crossing 11pm and if you thought it was Delhi, it was not. Had tough time finding an auto to our place - changed two and paid more than double to finally arrive at our 'unknown-to-people' hotel, or may be we were poor on our navigational skills.

Next day, with fresh morning light we had our breakfast and reached office in time to start our first national tour on campaign training. We already had our slides checked as marketing managers from various circles (telecom circles) were expected to come there. Revised things one by one to build little confidence and entered the waters with open minds. Tried finishing everything in time to our best - all that we could. In the mean time we also managed to get one Aunty's number, who used to sell Kababs as hobby (or may be as business). We planned to visit her house and collect some frozen pieces for our return journey that was about to start in couple of hours.

Back to our rooms after collecting those 10 pieces per head for Rs 200 - packed our bags (already half packed - because they were never unpacked completely), we booked a taxi and went to Lucknow station together - one of us was not lucky to get a train - but was very lucky to get approved for home bound Delhi flight ;P. Anyway jealously aside!! Though the reputation of Indian railways had not been good, it was good that our train was on time. We boarded and found side upper and lower seats, waited for some time to settle things down before we had our eyes filled with water - not that we were leaving but because of that (very) spicy biryani we packed for dinner from platform. Given a choice - I would surely go for something non spicy, but in a closed compartment of running train ,at night, even this choice was not meant to be exercised :(

Lucknow memories still remains as it is even after 2 months. I would not be making justice to the city and its journey if I call it hectic and tiresome, would only end with that it was worth experimenting and would love to visit this place again for some more exploration - of course with family this time! :) Have some other trips lined up soon - Lucknow is not for summers I guess :)

PS: This post is not for hardcore veggies! ;)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Night Life!!

Not the one you are thinking... 2 months back we started a project which is in its final stage now.. just before it goes live we are trying to deploy all the related (stuffs) to its final level. SIF Import, server bounce, SRF replacement, compilation etc etc... and yeah my head bounced too!! ;)

Capacity of 300 on my floor but number of occupied seats at 4:30am is just 5%.. people still typing something on their laptops and computers.. some playing games.. some watching movies... and our team - No time for even a break.. ! :(

I do hear one guy snoring though... just now started... what a life he has! :) As long as we are bachelors it looks an adventure in itself ... couple of hours back I was outside roaming with my colleague... Gurgaon never looked city that sleeps... especially on roads... minimum of 2-3 kms we must have walked in our compund to just have fresh air (away from our screens)... cool breeze touching our face gives better feeling at this time when winter in delhi is getting over.. had cup of coffee... chikki (ghachak in delhi), polo (mint with O), four seasons juice, grapes (black ones) - packed for breakfast but eating at night... :)

When we reached Gurgaon office at 9pm we had empty stomachs ... taxi dropped us in front of our office's mall... but everything was close.. had to come back to office and order kadhai paneer, naan, kulche, dal makhni... nice food... ;) enough for whole night to survive after no lunch.. and fruits in breafast... really require some dietician to keep check on our health ... YUMmmyyyy though!!

Ayway after all this tiring exercise one thing that brings happiness is that we learn with every moment.. at this stage we do require this type of momentum to keep running.. after all we are working for a telecom company to help them automate their campaign systems... $$ addition to their revenue... :)

On lighter side, I did open facebook and checked all status messages.. usually it never opens in our office.. but at this place (where we have come for production deployent), it OPENS! :D updated my status too...

Few more hours to go ... say by 10am... we will be close to 80-90% of our target... some sanity testing is also required ... need to get hands dirty with it... ;) ... Hope to see some light after 2 months in tunnel.. and hope its not Sidhu's light... as he says it is light of a running train approaching towards you at high speed.. :)

Just Enjoying my Night Life! Another session awaits tomorrow too... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Changing Perspective of a Busines Analyst

My very first interaction with a Business Analyst was in my first IT company. I was working on a small reporting project where night long efforts were usual to just make reports look better in all aspects - even with its thick/thin line formatting. Permutation and Combination of excel and word expertise were used to its extremes for such beautifications. It was a tedious task - not that it was tough, but because it was repetitive enough to make us mad :)

Since that time, I always had it in mind that Business Analysts get tough time pleasing clients on even minor details. Without knowing their exact qualifcation and job responsibilities, I abhorred the very idea of becoming one of them. While pursuing higher studies, the idea remained same - a Business Analyst, working for an IT company will have no say on his personal interest on technology or domain, but to abide by all adhoc orders coming from top management. He may be good in transport domain, but since business demands him to be in Insurance, he will have to be there, sacrificing his own interest.

With this whole idea of thoughts, I entered corporate world again - but to my dismay and curiosity - as a Business Analyst. I was just afraid of losing hold on my choice of domain amongst many industry verticals. But by holy grace, I entered enterprise services - which was a Horizontal - spanning across all verticals - even Telecom!! :) I tried making it clear even during my recruitment interview that where my interest lies, with fingers crossed, as people hardly get to pick on any industry.

Once our training started, many of us who were from Markteing, opted for CRM - Siebel, SAP and SalesForce. Fortunately or Unfortunately - I got Siebel. Did some quick search and found that it was the best in Market. As expected - it made siebel guys very happy - as we were really worried about getting into some technical financial domain. While undergoing training we also looked upon seniors who alreaqdy had some domain. Luckily we came to know about a Telecom project in our company that was on Siebel. Wow!! :)

Since location was not a constraint, my first option was always domain - which some of us, including me, communicated well in advance to our interviewing manager who wanted to know our desired domain. Few minutes later, we had a smiling face - and guess what I got..  tring tring!! (No Knock Knock). :)

We packed our bags and took a flight (with some extra luggage) to Delhi. All time what we heard about this client was its weird working environment - which seriously that aroused our curiosity as well.  We were about to work at onsite (indian) with bare minimum facilities - though we were given home pick up and drop free of cost. But hey, many people dont even get to see such implementation projects even in their career of decades. First opportunity for me to work on my desired domain and that too in a market which is still beaming with ample opportunities and innovations. What else would I require?

First few months just passed by learning about client and what has already been executed for them - bad, good, best, worst.. almost all. Acclimatizing ourselves to such evironment in the beginning was little difficult as this was not what we thought when we joined. Anyway - learning comes in many ways and this was one!

As a business analyst, what is expected out of us is not only gather requirement and comunicate to technical people. It encompasses a whole lot of other stuffs which includes - in minor details -

- Analyzing finer details of requirements and maintain its integrity in documents (said and unsaid),
- Making use cases for other resources to under (pictorically) and
- Discussing functional and slightly technical scenarios - negative as well as positive,
- Understanding overall solutions design with architects team,
- Reviewing high level desigs,
- Understanding test case scenarios for user and system testing,
- Perfomance Scenario Analysis,
- Keeping ourseles updated with latest information about market and competitor (helps in consulting),
- Communicating client about each milestone while development,
- Building rapport with all stake holders,
- Being innovative by sharing knowledge in one form or other,
- Updating ourselves with technicals of products we work on and also alternate new solutions in market,
- Tracking issues and reporting,
- Helping in pre sales activities,
- More than any thing else - bringing SIMPLICITY in everything - already IT is so complicated ;)

and there we stop... may be not!!

If everything gets over and you still have time, try somenew new - for example - we started building our own micro website for our location projects and loaded it with our learnings, award and fun trip pictures, visit details by senior management, case studies, white papers, team structure, tips, blogs, section with latest news on Telecom, etc... in other development centers, there was white paper contest.. wherein best paper would be given award and recognition...  this, indeed, gives our projects and people a good visibility among our top management.

We could take out some time to contribute to the center of excellence (CoEs) by initializing some ideas to create tools, create component based frameworks on existing projects to help similar new project gain momentum during start - to save time, can provide feedback on processes to help improve some, and many more....

Life of a business analyst is half technical and more than half is functional, a perfect BA will not think twice about venturing into technical areas. 3-4 years of experience in this role surely gives us a landscape to look out for consulting profiles in product/domain and as we say even that is not enough to be said "knowledgeable"... !

For me, perspective of BA has changed a bit from just being a "data formater" to much more than I actually imagined.. and finally I am enjoying my work! :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Telecom - Who Cares What Runs It...

Had it been year 1800, people would have laughed if we spoke about passing whispers from one corner of the world to other in not even a second's lapse. Indeed, the time was not so advanced and talking about such stuffs would only end up you in some asylum for the best treatment, which would have been directly proportional to the amount of investment you could have managed. Yes, I am talking about mobile communications.

You make a call from your mobile, hear the ring in 3-5 seconds, finish your conversation and hang up, send an SMS and it gets delivered in a jiffy, send codes to receive alerts on cricket, soccer, astrology, jokes, discounts and what not! And if this is not enough, you also get to know about complete usage by the end of the month with sufficient time to pay the bills. Life has become so simple, huh!?Think Again!

But before I proceed, which may mean CRAP for some, a small warning - "this blog doesn't concern those who do not want to go down the path of technology innovations". But I will try my best to keep it simple for those who have even a penchant for slightest learning about Telecom that starts with systems and networks. 

When you make a call, it is picked up by the tower (BTS) in your network/cell (your local areas are divided into smaller portions called cells) and thus sent to the controlling system (BCS), whose main purpose it to send it to some switch (MSC) that signals the other telephone via some intelligent networks (IN). Areas are divided into cells and every cell has a tower to provide signal to your phone. As you change from one cell to other, the signal strength reduces, but hey your phone is no fool. It sincerely tries to monitor the signal between towers and as the first tower fades and second tower increases its strength, it switches for better clarity and your location on your phone changes consequently.  

And what you can do with your connection and what not is defined by the form you filled, what plans you took and what services you ordered by calling the call center executive. All this data is stored at a place called CRM (Customer Relationship Management) that does the work from taking details from filled in form to starting the activation of your service and then monitoring your activities. All your bills (for post paid) are calculated in systems (Mediation & BRM) that convert them to rupees by the end of month and in a format which a customer understands. But for a customer, it is just the call center agents and the service provider shops that matter as they are the only touch points. Nowadays we do have web services also where you can change your settings or plans. Good for the companies as they save some cost in doing simple activities which even a customer can do sitting at home in his computer. Making a customer your employee to do self service do save a lot of money, especially when you see the numbers in millions.

Above all this is the integration between the systems. Endeavor to make all of them automatic is imminent so they could talk to each other without human intervention  and it is done by various companies. Some are good at CRM, some are at Networks and some at just Billing and Rating calls. To make a connection between these systems you require a middle ware that talks different languages to respective systems. A minor miscalculation may end up taking a toll on the whole system. Very tiring job and hectic to maintain, and thats why we have these solutions architects who work day and night to design and then maintain the systems so transition could be flawless.

Now if we see SMSs, they are done directly through the networks with minimal human intervention, thus supposed to be the cheapest of all. But still companies charge Rs 1.5 for an STD SMS to increase their revenue which is already dwindling due to the low rates for voice calls. Similarly a case for alerts which are cheap but comes at a price like Rs 30 per month You take three packs like them and you end up generating more revenue than an average pre-paid user. That is why post paid is sought after plan which Telecom companies want to roll out at large scale. 

Various other questions that surpass our intellect - say, who sits to make our phone paper bills interesting to read and understand, who does the checking if our number is genuine or not when you make calls, who keeps a tab on whether you are on roaming or not and what rates to apply, who does the bill monitoring and credit analysis, who does the address verification and how long do they wait to disconnect your services after you default on your payments, how do retailers get their commissions. Answers vary and lie with different systems and over all understanding of individual systems is a must, but we are not going in detail.

A latest development that we see nowadays is MNP (Mobile Number Portability), where you can keep the same number but change the service provider. But are the systems ready to do such transitions without error? Lots of checking and testing is to be performed while implementation and all providers must keep their schedules running for best results. With the advent of 3G and LTE (4G we call it), there is bound to be more questions coming. Markets may also ask for services wherein they want to have their calls paid by their dad, or my SMS to not billed by their company. Some simple questions with complex answers!!

From service providers' side, what should be on priority - network optimization to handle 12 million incremental customers every month, quality of call, portability, adoption to new networks because old systems do not support video calls, government norms for producing pre-paid bills which is difficult to maintain or new players' tariff wars, etc... Can't expect everything in one go from them, but as we say there is no shortcut to success, even players can not excuse themselves from  these budding problems. To start with, just ask yourself a simple question: why our sim cards have cut on one of their corners :)? Try finding this and you will have answers to many more questions... 

In the end, to the guys who understood what i wrote - Happy Telecom! and to others who didn't, title of this post still remains unaltered ;)

Friday, July 2, 2010

2020 - Casting Away

Steve Jobs started with Apple and took it to the heights where we all see it now with all its touch phenomenon. Emulating the same, many companies tried to reach its level but pioneer had carved out its niche space already. Amazing, Awesome, Astonishing, Scintillating and many other adjectives took places in our lingo when we first sat Apple iPhone. A Legend in itself with ample traces to track its existence.

We have already been through so much of Apple that we do not need a blog like mine to know its story. Rather, I would post on the recently read set of ideas from Ericsson that i came across that might come into being by 2020 - The ideas that we are talking here not only change our perception towards technology but may also make us totally dependent on them in years to come.

In total 76 ideas are in pipeline with Ericsson and some of them may be even in the production stage right now when we are reading it. Selected ones are mentioned below:

Eco Passport - I assume that the kind of background my friends belong, all know about carbon credits. It is credit in cash that you get when you decrease the amount of carbon footprint in atmosphere through your activities. Eco Passport is your personal identification and communication platform that not only shows your Eco balance but also shows balances of restaurants, hotels, shops, etc through a small window like screen which you can place in front of you to check the values. It also comes with an Eco Controller which can be used to read the bar code for the Eco value of the product. Hope we see it coming on cars (CNG) too so government could give us some subsidy on its usage by removing taxes :)

Translation Passport - Many a time we feel the necessity of having someone with us to translate the language of foreign national when we are on international roaming. Ericsson has this idea to come up with a digital window like hand held product that would show the translation in the window when you look though it to some foreign language and identifies it accordingly. Good for Sales guys!

Spider Computer - For some it is difficult to carry heavy laptops and desktops. What if we get a torch like computer that runs on your will. You can make it stand on a table and it will project the screen and keyboard. Use this virtual keyboard and screen to do your activities, shut it off and then take it along.Handy Comp!

Sound Walls - These are virtual walls that you can create around you to not let the sound go out. This is useful in places which are crowded or when you are discussing your personal things in public and would not want others to hear. This would also be useful to cut off the extra sound coming from outside. In short, you can talk on mobile in a very crowded area with bare minimum sound from outside a designated radius to pass through as interference. Can you hear?!

Digital Mirror - Looking for a place or standing in line for 20min to check if the dress suits you? No worries! This device lets you check the dress on your body without even wearing it. Just stand in front of it and it will show you the reflection with that dress on. As far as colors are concerned, change it as you like and vary the sizes. Good for shops where change room quantities do not match the footfalls.

Visual Credit Card - Usually we give a damn about the money going out of our credit card, because we know we can pay it when time comes. But while spending we do not see the actual practical effect of it in our balance. Visual Credit Card will display the amount you have in your balance on your card, which when swiped in a shop will show you the reducing balance. When you transfer the money from one credit card to other, you can literally see the money counter decreasing in one and increasing in other. I would love to have a card like this with very little additional cost as long as it reminds me that I may become a Pauper King by the month end!

There are various others that are posted on the site which can lead to a new level of video conferencing and virtualization in coming years.

We may also have a flying theater to run movies in towns where we do not have the connectivity or we can just convert our walls to theater screens and windows to speakers. But this is my idea ;)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Negotiation - Should I ask 5Lakhs or 15Lakhs?

How should one negotiate with one's potential employer on his/her salary? - it has always been a point of contention for many who look out for change after being employed for 1.5-2yrs or more. It remains an area of expertise for some who could always end up getting more than anyone else in market due to just mere communication abilities. Conveying right points to HR and selling oneself is something which comes by experience and practice.

Questions that come in picture while changing jobs are - Why this change? How will you add value to us? What salary do you expect? etc... Rest of the questions may be answered with full confidence but salary is one area that is one time discussed. More you discuss on that, more you show your restlessness. Deeper you delve into Basics, HR and taxes with HR, deeper you drag your eligibility away to get selected - unless you are one key resource which the company is hell bent on taking.

There are some companies that look for their own standards while selecting candidates for a profile. Say for example - for a Marketing Manager position in a company, if John applied, he would be first asked about his previous salary. Imagine that salary to be Rs 10 Lakhs/annum with perks. Now if the new company has budget of 13 Lakhs + perks, he would be an ideal candidate. At the same time the company maintains a minimum level of say Rs 11 Lakhs, below which a Marketing Manager is not to be selected. So even if John had a previous salary of 5 Lakhs, but has the proven expertise, he would get minimum of 11 Lakhs without asking questions. This happens in most of the big companies.

But normally in small companies, cost is one thing which they are more inclined to cut first. They would always ask for previous salary if they are not confident about their salary structure. If John had said 3Lakhs, they would have given him 5Lakhs. If John had said 8Lakhs, they would have given him 10-12Lakhs. This type of Marking Up strategy is prevalent in many Indian companies (not sure about abroad), which is in one way good for organization and on other hand bad too. I have had friends, who deserved 50k per month but were getting 20k. Now when time of change came, they were offered positions for packages just 20-30% higher than what they used to get. The same company would have given 30% higher for same post on 30k also for other candidate. This breaks the transparency illusion which companies talk as they are not able to justify the difference. Most of the HR work is just done on basis of maths formulae rather than  pure ability.

There is another parameter that we hear is "Industry Standard". Company HRs mainly refer to this term during negotiation when you expect more from them from your previous salary. A tactics which works in cases where the candidate is new and has no knowledge about standards and how they get defined with experience. Have that calculations done with all your facts and figures by discussing it with your friends who are in similar profiles. What experiences they have, how many success stories they share, what potential they can bring to the table, how good are their communication or interpersonal skills, etc decides your new salary.

You will find some guys so bad in studies and so good in communication that when they sit for interviews, they end up getting better packages than their peers who stood 1st or 2nd in class. It is like they were born for that 1 hr of interview and whole life they have been preparing for that ;). To get good hands on some of the questions and how the answers are given, I used a website that hosts most of the interview questions. Videos are posted so one could also see body languages ( Though salary part is missing, but can be an addition to the free treasure, if you go ahead with these amazing answers ;). A lot can be discussed over this topic but i leave some for your cerebellum activities :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chennai - Beyond Temperature & Humidity?

Very first thing a person thinks after hearing word "Chennai" is its climate, which has only three seasons - Hot, Hotter and Hottest!

Whatever people say, but for me, this city has seen a major portion of my life since my school days. Some of the things which I could associate with it would include my school completion, my under grad engineering days, my first job, meeting my fiancee, my daily evening walks on beach side, and many more...

Life was never easy then, especially beyond the boundaries of Kendriya Vidyalaya and Air Force (or be it any defense area per se). It is not just the language which people might feel is difficult to adjust to, but it is also some of the cultural changes and eating habits that makes a difference. Sudden rise in temperature and humidity just adds to your uneasiness, which goes without saying. Climate is deigned in Chennai in such a manner that people sweat a lot, not only that, it also sticks to your body and doesn't go easily. If you stand near the sea, you would feel heaven in Chennai but as soon as you go away from it, you would start feeling the layer of salt deposition on your skin. Feeling the pinch??

Marina Beach is counted as one of the longest and largest beaches in the world. Few years back, this could have also been one of the dirtiest beaches on earth. My recent visit changed my perception a bit as I could see some cleanliness around with nice places cropping up like parks, fountain, skating ground, shops with dustbins and cleaning vehicles. Within its cleanliness, people were enjoying the heat and the water touching their feet with jeans folded up to their knees. Touching the knee portion of the jeans wasn't a tough task for the waves, though how difficult you make it would all depend upon how much Doppler effect you studied in your school/college - just to gauge the speed and height.

Other place which you can go around is our famous Elliot's beach (aka Besant Nagar Beach, aka Lovers' Beach), which is one of the hang out places for young crowds ;). This place is mostly filled with people from North and also a resting ground for some of the hawkers (bhajjiwalas) and shops. Mumbai's Marine drive can always oust any beach side in the world but when you are in Chennai, this could be your preffered location to feel that thunder with bikes racing around, road side bajjis, CCDs and Idli Corner shops with tea stalls... Punjabi Dhaaba is one stop which is always seen with a line going outside its shop at night times. Ideal place is the stretch where you can sit and have good talk with your partner or friends. Family people come here for jogging in morning and evening and see sun rising from sea. Come at 5:30 in morning and catch a glimpse of red sun with cool breeze touching your face and cold water touching your feet. Amazing experience!! I did it twice in my ten years Chennai life time.

If you are a movie freak then you must not miss places like Sathyam theater (Near Spencer Plaza, Mount Road) and Inox (Chennai City Center, Marina Beach). Tickets start getting sold on Wednesdays early morning, 12 midnight on internet. Catch your tickets by this time else you would only crave for a good movie release. I would have suggested you to see most of the movies in Sathyam but Inox has also come up really well with its Mall type culture. If you go to Inox, you will be inside a Mall, which is new and modernly designed on some European architecture. It has places to eat, shop and watch movies - an entertaining place near the sea shore that would satiate your desires even after your shopping/eating is done. Sit beside the statue of Gandhi Ji and see kids playing in park or fountain. There is also an area where these kids pass their time and that is their skating ground, which is very close to the fountain. You should see their spirit and enthusiasm to learn skating. They fall everytime they take a turn , but get up again to be ahead of adjascent losers.

For me, these two days were full of fun and excitement as I visited this place after three years. Major thing that comforts me here is the language which I tend to understand to some level and can also converse in the same. I learnt about reading and writing Tamil in my college, at least it helps me in understanding which Tamil movie poster is displayed, which bus goes where as most of the buses will have only Tamil written destination boards (if not the final, at least the "via" portion of it). Communication with autowalas for the bargain part had also become easy those days; even this time I felt the same easiness in me. I would suggest any new person to first read and understand Tamil.

How can we leave Chennai without talking about south indian cuisine? First thing people ask whenever they meet each other is "Saaptiya?", which means "Had food?". Food is something which you can very well rely to be adjusting to. South indian cuisine has a wonderful flavor in it, which can be noticed with its aroma. Some which could be found on any menu here are Curd Rice, Sambar Rice, Idlis, Dosas, Utthapam, Tea, Vadas, Lemon Rice, Rasam, Sambar, Varieties of Poriyals, Appalam (papad), Pickles and More (Chhach - Curd Water), etc that will become friends of your food habits sooner than you expect :)

You should also visit theaters for movies of Vijay, Rajnikanth, Vikram and Kamalahasan. If you miss even a slightest thrill in your life, just purchase a ticket in black or book at 12 midnight on internet and sit in a theater for their movies - "first day, first show". You may miss out on language, but you would not miss on the excitement which is no less than a stadium cricket match of India Vs Pakistan ;). Story line is understood automatically, as least by the moving reels and common sense :P These actors are treated like Gods here and any word against them could lead to small massacre. No movie goes flop here if you have these actors in your movie. Gravity is one thing which you would find missing in their movies, esp i fight and song scenes :P

For women, Jayachandran Textiles, Sarvana Stores, Nalli Sarees, Chennai Silks are some of the exclusive places in T Nagar (Mambalam Station). You would find sarees ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 10,00,000 also here of umpteen varieties. BEWARE HUSBANDS, strict NO NO if you are planning to go with your saree philic wives!! If this is not enough, then save your credit cards as this place is also a hub for the jewellers of Platinum, Diamonds, Gold and Silver. Especially during days when golds are cheap, please avoid. Apart from these two things, you will also find shops for every damn thing for your house - fruits, vegetables, utensils, shoes, sandals, clothes, bags, suitcases - think for one and you would get is here.
Though it was tiring, this trip has slightly rejuvenated my desires to be a Tamilian, but for the time being I should be rather concentrating on my work and not hope for a posting in Chennai, which is one of the strong contenders now.

Sorry Humidity, people can be Chennai's friend only if you shift your place somewhere else!! Please Kunj Gavani (in English - Please give some thought) :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mumbai To Bangalore - New Job Awaited

11th March | Thursday | 1000 hrs | Mumbai | My Apartment...

The day had been smooth like a snow on snow. I was packing my bags and leisurely chatting with friends before "cya"ing Mumbai. Two of my college friends were boarding the same flight as mine for Bangalore. Yes! finally I am into a job :)

It was Jet Airways, booked 3 weeks before our journey to get the best fares. My taxi was for 12 noon, just two hours prior to the departure of my flight. Seventy percent of my bags were packed and some tit bits were left to be shoved in here and there.

I believe in doing things in last minute, especially packing , as it gives you a rush of adrenaline and adds to your excitement. While doing this, I received a call from Jet Airways that our flight had been canceled and in lieu of that there was another flight arranged for us, which was Jet Konnect. I assume everyone would know the difference here and would not blame me for not taking the exchange flight at same fare. The reason of cancellation was something related to technicality of the flight, though I confirmed later that this was very normal in Jet Airways flight when their flights don't fill in time.

As if I wanted more adrenaline in life, with that call my snowy smooth day turned into a LIVE chaos - half due to the cancellation of flight and half because I broke my toe while doing alternate booking and rushing for the filling and scanning forms. Yatra website or any other travel websites do not allow booking of flight within 6 hrs of schedule of flight. What was left with me was Tele Booking with my credit card. But there were some more adventures awaiting my presence.

Forms were sent to my mail, and what normally happens when you book 2-3 hrs prior to departure, declarations of credit card payment in standard form becomes mandatory with identity documents like pass port of pan card. All this was to be sent to the booking agent within half an hour of my new booking, else seats would stand canceled. In the mean time, it was also a work of coordination as other members should also agree to this flight. I was on two calls at a time, wishing I had more ears and hands to manage. I rushed to the nearest Sify center and got everything done in stipulated time. Flight was booked for the same time (2 pm), but this time it was Go Air Business. Yes, its Business!! Imagination has no bound but I must tell you that this business is just another economy with a curtain covering your back so others can't see you getting fooled. The only extra thing you get there is free meals and permission to "alight first" - with just Rs 1000/- more than economy fare.

Anyway, we reached our Mumbai International Airport (Domestic) and boarded our flight on time. As it was not Air India, "time = money" held true for them. Slight delay could cause them to shell out Lakhs from their pockets towards Airport Authority. This on-time flight made us reach Bangalore in just 1.5 hours. Reaching our Guest house was not a daunting task, as airport had ample taxis waiting for us. But one secret - never take a taxi without brand.You will know when you reach your destination. Always prefer Easy Cab, Fast track or Meru over them. A fare of 700 in these taxis could turn out to be 1000 in unbranded taxis. "Caveat Emptor" (Buyer Beware) applies there too!!

Finally we reached our guest house in evening 5:30 and checked in for our rooms. New people were pouring in every hour and soon all the rooms were filled. Our room had two beds, one almirah, french windows, modern style bathroom, telephone, tea maker, meticulously arranged sheets and curtains, TV and A/C. "Overall a nice room to start our day with" - was our thought.

But we forgot that we were in Bangalore and not Mumbai anymore. Things like auto fights and no night life would become a common thing to adapt to. Transition could be tough, but not impossible. After all we are MBAs!! :) We may not use Adidas but we do follow the same philosophy - Impossible is Nothing!

It was our time to rest and do formality on following day, like documents verification, opening bank accounts and filling some mandatory forms on PF, Gratuity and pensions. Just a day's work and weekend accosted us to roam around and meet old friends. We did use this opportunity to meet others and make good time kill by watching movies, browsing malls and web chit chatting. The schedule was like this - first day would be introduction to our company policies and facts on our HR aspects. Post that would follow three days of communication classes where we would run through some of the aspects like active listening, mail and Telephone etiquettes, role play, team building activities, body language, etc. Three more days are to be for the domain specific training on business front from various VPs, Practice Heads, SVP, HRs and Quality head. Thereafter our streams would be announced and that training would go for a month or 6 weeks, depending upon the technology acquaintance requirements.

Life seemed to be returning on track again. But to say the least, we are still in recession mode and become readily skeptic to any kind of stability. Good for some of us who would like to have their adrenaline pump ON ;) Happy New Job!