Monday, December 31, 2007

New Tea Factory Development Drive in Sri Lanka

Fifteen new factory units are to be established by the Tea Shakthi Fund (TSF) under its development plan for next year.

The fund also expects to earn a profit of Rs. 112 million next year from factory operations. It is expected to earn Rs. 1,316 million from 5,300 metric tonnes of made tea, to make a profit of Rs. 25 million from fertiliser and Rs. 0.57 million from local tea sales.

According to the Ministry of Plantation Industries Secretary J. Abeywickrama, the TSF has made a positive progress in 2007 by making a profit of Rs. 48 million on factory operations and made an overall profit of Rs. 63.4 million.

TSF is an organisation financed and owned by tea smallholders with the objective of harnessing the full potential of a large community of enterprising small tea cultivators. It operates in a network made of a 1,200-strong tea smallholders’ societies covering a tea growing population of 1.5 million.

Ref: Daily News - http://www.dailynews.lk/2007/12/31/news11.asp

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Holidays

Today is the last working day before the Christmas and New Year Holidays. We start work again on 2nd January, so its a fairly long holiday period of 11 days in a raw. Hoping to do a lot of travelling here, around Melbourne and a week in Sydney as well. Sasani's parents are here for the vacation, so it's going to be a good vacation. It's about a week since they arrived here and whilst I was working this week, Sasani has been taking them in and around Melbourne. From tomorrow, I will be joining the party.

I wish everyone a happy new year! Have a good break to revitalise yourself to face 2008 even stronger!

Cheers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Prof. Munasinghe first Sri Lankan to win Nobel honours

Every year since 1901 the Nobel Prize has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace.

The Nobel Prize is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award.

Professor Munasinghe is the first Sri Lankan to receive this coveted award, and shares the Prize along with other members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
As Vice Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professor Mohan Munasinghe shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with other IPCC colleagues and Al Gore, for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

The IPCC is a UN "Think Tank" consisting of the world's leading experts on climate change. It was created by the World Metorological Organisation (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) over 20 years ago. Professor Munasinghe has contributed to all four of the authoritative assessments on climate change produced by the IPCC in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007.

In its recently released report, the IPCC states that global warming is unequivocal and very likely caused by human activities that have steadily increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) since the industrial revolution. Among the alarming outcomes are increased global average temperatures (around 3°C by 2100), sea level rise (about 0.4 metres by 2100), more severe droughts and floods, and increases in extreme weather events like cyclones and storms. Ironically, while greenhouse gas emissions from rich countries have contributed most to global warming, the poor countries will be hardest hit, and poor groups will be the most vulnerable. Thus, climate change will significantly worsen existing problems like poverty, hunger and disease.

More generally, unchecked climate changes will alter and threaten the living conditions of the over 6 billion inhabitants of the planet, who are all stakeholders.

Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the dedicated scientists in the IPCC have created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the dire consequences still more apparent.

Professor Munasinghe has been in the forefront of the IPCC efforts recognized by the Nobel Prize award, to integrate climate change policies into development strategy, and thereby make development more sustainable. He proposed the Sustainomic Framework at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, to practically achieve this goal, based on the sustainable development triangle (with social, economic and environmental dimensions). The methodology has been widely applied worldwide to jointly address climate change and sustainable development, the two pre-eminent issues of the 21st century.

Professor Munasinghe is also Chairman of the Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND), which has contributed to the work of the IPCC. MIND is a non-profit body which provides scholarships to Sri Lankan students and conducts research and training work worldwide on climate change and sustainable development. By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC Team and Al Gore, the Nobel Prize Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world's future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of humankind. Prompt action by world leaders and all concerned stakeholders is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond human control. Professor Munasinghe has served his motherland in a number of capacities as a scientist and researcher.

Ref : http://www.news.lk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4215&Itemid=44

Thursday, December 6, 2007

First Year Anniversary of Blogging

Today marks the first year anniversary for my blog. It’s been an interesting thing to do really, even though I had extended periods of not blogging due to other priorities. However, I have managed to keep it going at a pretty consistent rate. I have enjoyed it and hope to continue as well.

This is my 83rd post, so I have posted at an average rate of about 3 posts for 2 weeks. (83/52 weeks)

Looking back, the areas I have written fall into many areas, but IT and Career related ones seems to be the majority.

Number of posts under each category

Business Analysis (7)
Business Consulting (7)
IT Industry (26)
Life (40)
Project Management (6)
Sports (9)

I started to track the web traffic to the blog in May 2007, so that's only the latter 6 months of the first year of the blog. During that period, I’ve had following stats:

3,561 Visits
2,579 Absolute Unique Visitors
5,315 Pageviews
1.49 Average Pageviews
00:01:28 Time on Site
75.20% Bounce Rate
72.51% New Visits

Readers have arrived here through following ways:

Referring Sites 48.33%
Search Engines 40.41%
Direct Traffic 11.26%

I have had most visitors from the US! (Not Australia or Sri Lanka). The first 5 countries from where most users have come are:

United States, Sri Lanka, Australia, UK and India.


Business Analysis/Consulting and other IT related posts have been by far the most favourites.


Hope the readers would continue to come during the next year too!


Thanks for coming here!

Sri Lanka’s Test Win Against England : A tribute to Sanath and Murali




Sri Lanka’s Test Win Against England is a true tribute to Sanath and Murali.

Its nice to see Sanath retiring on a winning note, whilst having fully contributed to the win. His last test innings is a snapshot of what he portrayed in the cricket scene for almost 20 years, the aggressive positiveness. His six fours in a single over reminds how he devastated so many bowlers and teams over the years, in both one day and test formats. We are lucky to see him for a little while in one-day matches. Whilst his test performances including the 300+ score against India would be never forgotten, his role in revolutionising the one-day game (together with Kalu) in 1996 is a major milestone in the history of cricket.

Murali, undoubtedly the best ever bowler in cricket passed the world record for highest number of test wickets by any bowler in this winning match, at his hometown, Kandy, Sri Lanka. His achievement is a gift not only for his great talent, but also for his courage, fighting against the baseless forces that wanted him out of the scene. However, on and off the field, he won his battles as a true hero with no other bowler coming even close to his performances and records.
Murali is the ultimate legend of the game of cricket.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

50 Great e-Businesses and the minds behind them



I have just completed reading the book “50 Great e-Businesses and the minds behind them” by Emily Ross and Angus Holland. The book uses informative case studies to explore the great idea, how the business started, the business models and what made them different from the crowd.

This book features 50 stories of successful Internet businesses and the people behind them, including successful Australian e-businesses such as Wotif.com, CarSales.com.au, Seek, RealEstate.com.au, Crickey and AussieBum.

It also investigates big names like Facebook, MySpace, Skype, YouTube, Google, Paypal, eBay and Amazon. It hasn’t forgotten blogging sites such as PerezHilton, Treehugger, Blogger and Twitter and also includes some interesting success stories like Pandora, Digg and Flickr.

It’s amazing to read some of the stories where the inventor even in his wildest dreams didn’t imagine that his idea would be this successful, for instance eBay, Facebook etc. However, the uniqueness and the greatness of the idea meant that users started to flood into their sites within a very short period of time. However, on the other end of the spectrum, sites like RealEstate.com.au have gone through serious tough times before it really started to tick. In the case of sites like RealEstate.com.au, Seek and NYCGarages, the challenge has been engaging the tech-phobic industry with this new idea of e-business.

I am happy to categorise this book as one of the best books I have ever read.


Another book by the same authors is “100 great businesses and the minds behind them”.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Australia Set to Say 'Sorry' to the Aboriginals

New Australian Government led by Kevin Rudd is set to say 'Sorry' to the native Australians, aboriginals.

Even though its just a matter of saying a single word, this has been debated for a long time. Out going Prime Minister Howard was in the opinion that there is no reason for the current generation to say 'Sorry' for wrong doings by their previous generations. At that stage, it looked like his entire party was behind him, however, soon after the election defeat, several cats jumped out of the bag. Several leaders openly said that its required to say 'Sorry'.

However, the new PM or his party was never in doubt.

As I gather, this is not going to do a major 'tangible' difference, however, its a welcome gesture, a gesture that closes the gap between aboriginals and non-aboriginals.

Following web report from news.com.au gives the current background on this new initiative from the new government:

APOLOGISING to Aboriginal people for past injustices would not open the door to compensation claims, Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd said today.

Mr Rudd has promised to apologise on behalf of the Government to indigenous people, including the stolen generations who were taken from their families.

Asked if that might lead to compensation claims, Mr Rudd told Southern Cross Broadcasting: "Not at all".

"I believe that the only appropriate thing that we've got to get right is the exact language of the apology," he said.

"The purpose of saying sorry is to build a bridge, establish respect so we can move on with the practical business of closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous life expectancy and other challenges facing indigenous communities."

Mr Rudd has not yet said whether the apology would include the word "sorry".

He has promised to consult indigenous groups on the precise wording.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kevin Rudd to be Australia's next PM

(From News.com.au)

KEVIN Rudd’s Labor has swept aside 11 years of Coalition rule, destroying John Howard’s hopes for a record fifth term and consigning him to a humiliating exit from public life. Voters turned to Mr Rudd’s pitch of fresh leadership and new ideas over Mr Howard’s record of economic management and unprecedented years of growth under his government.

"I will be a prime minister for all Australians. It's time for a new page to be written in our nation's history."

He restated education, health, climate change and water, broadband infrastructure and a fair balance at work as his key tasks.


By 10.15pm John Howard had called the Labor leader to concede defeat as his own seat of Bennelong remained on a knife-edge.

The Prime Minister said he took full responsibility for the defeat and admitted he could well lose the seat of Bennelong he has held since first being elected to Parliament in 1974.

By 9.30pm Greens leader Bob Brown welcomed Mr Rudd as the new prime minister of Australia.

The Coalition campaign was dogged in its final days by scandal in the marginal New South Wales seat of Lindsay, with the Prime Minister left haplessly condemning an electoral stunt from his party involving fake Muslim pamphlets.

In his last pleas Mr Howard told the people if they changed government they would change the country. Voters seem to have taken him on his word, punishing him at the polls after unpopular reforms including Work Choices and six straight interest rate rises since winning the 2004 election with the promise of keeping them low.

Ref : http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22813391-2,00.html

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Down Under Scenic Pics


Hopetoun Falls in Beech forest, Otway natural reserve park in Victoria.



The Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell, Victoria. Down the Great Ocean Road.
These are limestone rock formations formed over millions of years, and has become a major tourist attraction.

The Cup Day

Today is the Cup Day...the Melbourne Cup day. A significant event in the Australian sporting calendar every year. Horse racing has a special place in Australia and the Melbourne cup is the most important one among a many a horsing events. Its known as the "race that stops the nation" where everything halts for a couple of minutes. The public holiday in Victoria for the cup is the best thing for me though :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

No E-mails Day?

Saw a couple of articles here in Australia and also on web about 'No e-mail days'.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7049275.stm

Intel joins many other companies that has announced a weekly no-emails day for some engineers.

If you read the above article, you would see how some research work proved that too much emails are lessening workplace productivity.

However, I think this depends on the area of work for each employee. In the context of IT industry, technical resources need not use extensive amounts of emails, but there are other areas of work where emails are hard to avoid. It depends on circumstances as well, sometimes, emails serve the purpose of official approval/documentation, which would be much quicker than producing a document.

If a phone call or just a casual face-to-face chat is quicker and good enough, no reason to waist time on an email.

Another side of this is to have only the relevant people on email recipients lists. Copying irrelevant people just wastes valuable time of those people.

So, it's all about judging and choosing the best communication method for the purpose.

These days, I am having a really busy time at work and receive about 100 emails a day and send over 50 on most days! In hindsight, its near impossible do without sending and receiving that much....this is after using the phone and direct communication as much as possible...it's just the way it is...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wishes for a good friend!

One of my batchmates, Wyomi Ranasinghe has been selected as one of the
finalists in the Fashion Designer of the Year competition in Sri Lanka.
She has designed dresses for casual wear, evening wear, sari wear and
office wear and she is talented enough to have been chosen as a finalist
amongst so many contestants.

If you are in Sri Lanka, and if its possible for all of you, do please vote for her using the coupon that is available in the "Spectrum" section of the Sunday Observer. The article appearing on 13th October edition of Sunday Observer can be found at:

http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2007/09/23/spe09.asp

Sasani and I would like to wish all the best to Wyomi!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

By the way, I am on the Facebook now...

By the way, I am on the Facebook now...I just wanted to see what’s all this fuss about Facebook! So, I joined myself to get the experience first-hand. I was kind of tired of these networks as there were too many things coming up and no single network where most people are joined. LinkedIn, Hi5 and something like WAYN are the other groups I have been invited to and I was in two of those and didn't really find them that great. Facebook seems to be a better place because there are so many people on it making it a proper social network, and the networking functionalities and features it provides seems to be better and practical. However, time is the tester that will determine whether Facebook can maintain the hype or whether it will just go off just like the previous ones.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Colombo Identified as the 7th in the Emerging Outsourcing Destinations List

BANGALORE: A study by industry publication Global Services and investment advisory firm Tholons put the Indian cities of Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune at the top of a list of 15 emerging outsourcing destinations for global companies.

Kolkata at number five and Chandigarh at number nine were the other two Indian locations on the list, which contained three Chinese and two Vietnamese cities as well.

The three hot cities for outsourcing from China were Shanghai at number eight, Beijing at 10 and Shenzhen at 13. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi were put at number six and number 12.
Cebu in the Philippines came in at number four, the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo at seven, Cairo at 11, Buenos Aires at 14 and Sao Paulo at 15, the study's sponsors said in a statement released in Bangalore.

The list is based on criteria such as scale and quality of workforce, financial infrastructure, risk environment and quality of life.

But it does not include established outsourcing locations such as Bangalore, the New Delhi capital region, Manila, Mumbai and Dublin that have had a decade's headstart.

Costs are surging in the prime cities in India, which has earned a reputation as the world's back office, as property values and rentals rise and wages increase at an annual pace of more than 15 percent amid a shortage of skilled employees.

Indian outsourcing firms are also feeling the pinch from an appreciating rupee, which dents dollar-billed earnings, forcing them to cut costs by expanding to less expensive locations.
"With the demand-supply gap widening, newer tier II cities will play a critical role in re-engineered globalisation models," said Tholons chairman Avinash Vashistha.

"Destinations will need to provide greater level of cost effectiveness and operational efficiency."
India's outsourcing companies have thrived by winning work from companies in the US and Europe that sought to tap the country's low costs and large employee pool by handing over jobs ranging from answering customers' calls to risk management and financial analysis.
Pure-play outsourcing firms account for about 10 percent of the 50 billion dollars in revenue logged in the year ended March by the entire information technology industry, which also includes software giants such as Tata Consultancy and Infosys.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sounds Greek!

The other day, I met someone and he was kind of smiling when he heard that my first name is Yasas. He is Australian he had worked in Greece for awhile, so knew a little bit of Greek. And, to my surprise, he said to me that the word Yasas is a way of greeting people in Greek. It didn't take even a week after that, I met another person and the initial few words from him gave me the accent hint that English is not his first language. When he asked me my name, I said 'Yasas'. And this guy actually was shocked to here that and looked at me and slowly said, 'No, you are kidding me!'. I said no, it’s my real first name, and by this time I knew what was going on. Actually, he is a Greek, an original one, a migrant I suppose. He explained to me that 'Yasas' is a popular way of greeting people (Like Good Bye) in Greek and its a way of wishing well, good health etc. I explained to him that I am Sri Lankan and my name is a Sinhalese name, which means Being Popular or Being famous for doing good things or something to that effect. It's amazing how totally different languages have the same words but not so surprisingly they mean different things. I am also surprised that it took so long for me to find out this.

If you are interested, I wrote a detailed post about my name sometime back. Here is the link.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sri Lankan Ayurvedic doctor finds cure for AIDS ??

I really don’t know the truth of this story, but there is a news going around through email chains etc. regarding a cure found by a Sri Lankan Ayurvedic doctor for AIDS. Ayurveda is the Sri Lankan native method of treating patients.

The following link is from a local newspaper which has reported this story in detail.

http://www.lakbimanet.com/lakbimanews/lakbimanews_07_08_26/special/spe9.htm

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Damro

We wanted to buy some furniture last weekend and we did an internet search and found a couple of big places at the same location and it was the Northland Home Centre in Preston. When we went to the place, we found more shops than expected and there were at least 10 big furniture shops. And guess what? There was a Damro shop as well! For those who don't know Damro, it is a renowned Sri Lankan furniture brand, considered as the biggest furniture manufacturer in South Asia and its furniture are exported all around the world and they have branches in many countries. The quality of the stuff was as good as the rest of the shops (other famous brands available here) or even better. They seem to be having a lot of sales and crowds kept coming into the store. Felt good to see a Sri Lankan brand (other than tea and garments!) doing that well in an overseas country.

Damro Australia: http://www.damro.com.au

Monday, August 27, 2007

On a personal note,

I am back after a vacation in Sri Lanka! Well, it’s more than a month since we came back, but couldn’t blog about it due to being too busy. Vacation was great and wonderful, so happy to be able to spend some time with family and friends after some time. We visited so many places. I did a rough count, by the end of the tour, we had visited 21 homes! And so many people visited us and met some people at outside places like restaurants.

Our vacation was not only a break from everything but a logical break in between two phases. Sasani had to transfer her PhD studies to Swinburne University in Melbourne, so we had planned to move to Melbourne from Adelaide after the vacation. Parallel to this, as I hinted before, I was looking for a move as well and upon relocation, I started to work for Accenture in Melbourne as a Consultant. I am happy to be able to move to a role of Consultant and in a company of the calibre of Accenture. Accenture is a Fortune500 company, has branches in 49 countries with a staff of over 150,000 people, serves the best companies in the world, is one of the strongest brand names in the world and is one of the best companies in the world to work for. I am in the process of settling in such a huge organization. This definitely is a hard earned milestone in my career. My project is for Telstra, the leader in Telecommunications in Australia. This is my second experience with a client of that calibre as I have served British Telecom before in the UK. I am located onsite at a Telstra site in Melbourne.

Sasani is settling in well with her studies, her studies are in Optical Fibres, an exiting and high potential area in the domain of telecommunications. Her father is the owner of a successful telecom company in Sri Lanka (Entel) and it’s kind of interesting and fateful that both of us are ultimately in the same industry.

We just settled in at a permanent place in Melbourne, so were busy with all the arrangement and move and stuff. It was just hectic over the past couple of weeks. However, now we are kind of all set and good to live the normal life. It will take a couple of days to fix the broadband internet, but after that, its just good as it can be!

I just passed my birthday as well!!

Oh by the way, I have been continuously helping out people (even while I was on vacation!) on their career related matters and seems to be that that there are many people accepting my open and free offer. Nice to hear from people from different countries as well (No, I won’t disclose more info, as safeguarding their privacy is very important for me!).

For the regular readers, thanks for continuously coming here, even though I didn’t write that much, but from here onwards, hopefully, I will try to write more often. Well, at lease one post a week wouldn’t be that bad…..but it’s just a hope.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sri Lankan Denims - Heading on Yahoo News!

AVISSAWELLA, Sri Lanka (AFP) - The denims look tattered and frayed, but shoppers in Europe and the United States are prepared to pay good money for "distressed" jeans and Sri Lanka is cashing in.

In the industrial town of Avissawella east of the capital Colombo, it takes workers around 13 minutes to cut and sew basic five-pocket denims.They then spend another four days torturing the pants by dying, bleaching, and sandpapering them to get a "distressed" look. "Each garment is dyed or dipped around 16 and sometimes as many as 30 times to achieve the proper torn, tattered look," explains Indrajith Kumarasiri, chief executive of Sri Lanka's Brandix Denim.

"We earn more money by making denims look dirty and torn, the classic clean look doesn't bring us much," Kumarasiri told AFP during a visit to the 10-million dollar plant, which can make over three million pairs of jeans a year.

Basic denim jeans cost around six dollars to make, but the shabbier "premium" ones cost twice as much. "In many ways, premium denims are replacing the little black dress as the wear-anywhere fashion staple," he said.

Overseas buyers such as Levis, Gap and Pierre Cardin are now regular buyers of premium jeans from Sri Lanka where they can be made for as little as 12 dollars a pair, and often sell for over 100 dollars. Buyers have been gradually shifting production out of Europe to low-cost countries such as Sri Lanka, explains Ajith Dias, chairman of the Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association Forum. "Retaining the business and growing the order book is tough with India and China competing with us on price and quicker lead times," Dias said.

Sri Lanka's three-billion dollar garment industry accounts for more than half its annual seven billion dollars of export earnings, and it provides jobs for nearly one million people. Nearly all the garments are shipped to the United States and the European Union. But Dias said casual wear, including jeans, are they key to Sri Lanka's success in the price-sensitive global apparel market, and now account for 16 percent of total garment export earnings. "We have invested millions to install high-tech plants, develop a sound raw material base and design garments, to ensure we remain competitive, by doing everything from fabric to retail hangers," Dias said.

Brandix, Sri Lanka's biggest exporter with annual sales in excess of 320 million dollars, and MAS Holdings, are also expanding overseas.

In an attempt to get an advantage over the competition, Sri Lanka is trying to position itself as an ethical manufacturer in the hope of getting greater access to the US and European markets at lower duty rates. "We have high labour standards. We don't employ child labour, we provide rural employment and we empower women. There are no anti-dumping cases against us on trading practices," said Suresh Mirchandani, chief executive of Favourite Garments.
While eco-friendly and ethically-made clothes are becoming increasingly fashionable, their manufacture provides challenges for Sri Lanka.

Big-name brands are now adding organic-cotton clothes to their collection. "The joke is that one day we'll have a shirt we can eat," said Prasanna Hettiarachchi, general manager of MAS Holdings.

He said Levis recently launched eco-jeans using organic cotton, natural dyes, a coconut shell button on the waist band and a price tag made of recycled paper printed with environmentally friendly soy ink. The price tag is a cool 250 dollars.

"We are also working on an eco garment," said Brandix Denim's Kumarasiri.
And when asked what made a perfect pair of jeans, he had a quick answer.
"Same as always. It comes down to how your behind looks when you wear them," grins Kumarasiri.

"No matter how good the wash, the detail or the label, if it doesn't look good on your behind, it won't sell."

Source : http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070812/wl_sthasia_afp/srilankaeconomygarments_070812080616

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New world's tallest man

KIEV, Ukraine - A Ukrainian man is the tallest person in the world at 8 feet 5 inches, overshadowing a Chinese man who previously held the title, Guinness World Records said Wednesday.
Leonid Stadnik, a 37-year-old former veterinarian, is 8 inches taller than the former titleholder, China's Bao Xishun, who measured 7 feet 9 inches, Guinness World Records spokeswoman Amarilis Espinoza said in London.
Stadnik's growth spurt started at age 14 after a brain operation apparently stimulated his pituitary gland, which produces the human growth hormone.
He lives with his mother, Halyna, in northwestern Ukraine, taking care of the family's house and garden.
According to Guiness, the tallest man in medical history was Illinois native Robert Pershing Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11 inches and died in 1940 at the age of 22.

Source : Yahoo (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070808/ap_on_re_eu/ukraine_tallest_man_2)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Best Global Brands 2007

Visit here to see the Best Global Brands of 2007.

http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/07/top_brands/index_01.htm

This is an annual survey done by the BusinessWeek.

Some of the IT/Computer related brands in the list are given below.

Microsoft-2
IBM - 3
Intel - 5
Cisco - 18
Google - 24
Dell - 25
Oracle - 29
SAP - 34
Apple - 39
Accenture 49
Yahoo - 55

Best Corporate Career Websites

Top Employer Web Benchmark has conducted a survey to find the Best Corporate Career Websites. First 5 are as follows.

1. Deutsche Bank 2. Microsoft 3. BCG 4. Merrill Lynch 5. Accenture

Source and Full List at : Link

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Community Portal For The Business Analysts


I am thrilled to note that a community based comprehensive portal specifically for Business Analysts is now in operation! Its’ name is Modern Analyst.Com (http://www.modernanalyst.com).

Business Analysis profession has come a long way as a unique profession within the IT space and most of us who are involved in it have tried to create recognition for it whilst improving growth opportunities. Various associations for BAs, a few books, articles and a couple of sites have contributed greatly for this purpose and I am sure Modern Analyst.Com has a great deal to do and the capability potential seems huge. The important thing is to get support from all those concerned whilst promoting it within the profession and IT industry at large. I will help it in whatever ways possible. I am glad that I’ve got a personal invitation from them for that and also thankful for adding me/my blog for the resource directory.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

An Open Offer!

Having a little break this morning, so spending some time with the computer, this is something I wanted to avoid during the vacation though!

I have received many emails after reading the interview done by Debbie. Most of them were kind of wishing me well! I just want to thank all of you who read it, commented , made specific blogs on the matter and wrote to me. All this makes me happy and stronger.

I received few emails asking advice on successful IT careers, a couple of them specifically wanted to know about BA and related areas. I receive such emails on an ad-hoc basis but this interview thing seems to have made a little difference. I just want to note here that I am always open to help anyone who wants help and career guidance. I will try to provide answers to the best of my ability and as always will be very honest and forthright. Wherever I am not the suitable person to guide, I will say so. Also, I want to say here that, unfortunately I can't help much with finding jobs! I receive such emails attached with CVs and I feel bad because I can't do anything about those. I am specifically writing it here because after writing this, I don't want to see a load of emails asking me to find jobs for them! However, I can give some tips on how to do a successful job search.

So, if you think I can be a help for you, pls drop your emails at vishuabey@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Quick Update

As planned we arrived in Sri Lanka on Friday. The flight was good except for the long transit in Singapore; however, we had a little outing there as well. Singapore is a nice place but I am a bit tired of seeing it on all most all my transits.

We are having a wonderful time here with our friends and family. This weekend we hope to go to see some relatives in the southern part of the country.

Sri Lanka is a really nice tropical country and one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. So, for those who haven’t visited this special place on the globe, I suggest to consider it as your next vacation destination!

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Unique Series of Blog Interviews

Debbie Timmins’ blog is a pretty special place as she has been doing this interesting ‘Interview with an IT Professional’ series. Debbie is an ACS member, doing a great job within the Young IT space and is currently the Advisor to the ACS national Young IT Board and is a former Vice Director of the same.


Through this series she has been trying to bring out inspirational stories of successful IT professionals so that it helps others who have joined or who wish to join the IT industry.


Among the many interviews done by her, the one with Sonja Bernhardt, Director & CEO of an award winning technology company and the one with Sheryle Moon, CEO of Australian Information Industry Association are especially encouraging ones for women in our industry. The interview with the PC Authority Magazine Editor Ed Dawson brought out some insights of an area which most of us were not aware of. ACS Young IT director Yohan Ramasundara, ACS SA Branch Execs Rob Farley and Peter Griffith were some of the others who featured on this series.


The latest one in this series is none other than me! If you are not bored of me yet, have a read at this.


I thank Debbie for interviewing me and wish her all the best in continuing this very popular unique blog interview series in the future, which has taken the blog culture to a new level.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

IT Vs ICT Vs BT

I was involved in an interesting discussion at Mike Schaffner's blog on the best name to call our industry, which is now mainly called as the IT industry. The discussion was around whether it should be called as IT (Information Technology), ICT (Information and Communications Technology) or BT (Business Technology).
The comments I made at this discussion showcase my opinion on this matter, so I’m directly publishing them here.

"There are some valid arguments to call it as BT. But, I think what we really provide is the technologies to process and communicate information. There is layer above that which really operates the business and they are responsible for business operations whereas we are responsible of managing the technology for information that lies behind that. So, we are really more toward I than B. So, IT is more suitable.
Everyone today understands that IT is the lifeblood of any business. SO, we really don’t have to fuss about renaming it to get any added recognition.
Posted by: Yasas Yasas Jun 10, 2007 10:25:14 PM

The key valid argument to call this industry as BT is due to the fact that it provides the soft technologies to run businesses. But what about hardware such as machineries? They are also technologies, I would call them as hard technologies (if you don’t mind) and they also provide support for the business. So, then there could be an argument to call them as Business Technologies (BT) as well.

Then in the next comment, I explained further about the recognition for our work within the business environment.

I personally think we have got the due recognition or at least we are in the midst of getting that recognition.

As a BA/Consultant, I continuously talk to business and business system users and I clearly see an increase in confidence in us than it was ever before. They see us as ultimate helpers of business even though most of them have had some bad experience with regard to IT, unfortunately. Yes, they know the business operations better than us, but can they operate without us providing them with best technology solutions? Definitely Not.
Refer to the 'Productivity Growth' section of the following text on Aussie IT industry by Australian Information Industry Association.
Quote from http://www.aiia.com.au/i-cms.isp?page=909


"According to a government report released in March 2006, the ICT industry contributed to some 85% of productivity growth in the manufacturing sector and up to 78% in the services sector in the last two decades."

So, we are getting the recognition, may be it’s not up to the level that we would like it to be, but it’s on the increase. One thing that’s important for technology is to keep the momentum going on this increase in recognition is to be Business focused and run by business rather than IT. Business driven projects are much more successful than IT driven projects.

While we are having this discussion on IT and BT, there is another discussion on IT Vs. ICT. The ACS, of which I am also an active member, promotes ICT as oppose to IT. We introduce ourselves, as "The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is the recognised association for Information & Communications Technology (ICT) professionals". This is why in my previous comment I explained what we do as 'technologies to process and communicate information'. Communication plays a major part in IT, therefore in the bigger scheme of things, it should be included in the naming. Without that C component, IT won't work. Today we are taking steps to promote this component of IT as never before and this identification shows the change of scope and focus in our industry because a national organization which initially started for Computers, then moved to IT, and now to ICT. At this stage, given all my reasonings, I don’t think we should move towards BT.
http://www.acs.org.au/tb/ntsig.htm
http://www.acs.org.au/tb/
Posted by: Yasas Yasas Jun 11, 2007 9:56:47 PM



The British Computer Society (BCS) still hasn’t identified the Communications component that significantly within the industry. However, most countries today have identified this component, but as an industry, it hasn’t come to a unified naming standard.

In my opinion, it’s not mandatory to have such a universal agreement on the name as long as the concepts are accepted and the industry focus is aligned accordingly.
If you are interested, you can visit the following location to see the whole discussion and the necessary references.
http://mikeschaffner.typepad.com/michael_schaffner/2007/06/whats_in_a_name.html

Friday, June 8, 2007

Father of Sri Lankan ICT industry Passes Away

Sri Lanka’s ICT industry suffered a great loss when its most valued member Prof. V.K. Samaranayake passed away on Tuesday in Stockholm while attending a review of the Swedish government’s ICT development assistance programme.

Prof. Samaranayake (68) was the Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka from 2004. He was also the Emeritus Professor of Computer Science of the University of Colombo. He was the founder Director, University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) of the University of Colombo.

As a past student of the University of Colombo, I am saddened by this news. He never really did a lecture for us (if I remember correctly) but UCSC and the whole Computer Science study stream at the university was his brainchild.

Over the past few months, he was attacked heavily by the media and also by the blogosphere. There was even a dedicated blog to sling mud at this great Sri Lankan, who brought ICT to Sri Lanka in a difficult era. There may be mistakes and wrong doings here and there, but the service he has done to the country is too enormous to blame him in such a bad fashion and is against basic human qualities.

He continuously served the University of Colombo for 43 years since his first appointment in 1961 following his graduation from the same University. He was the founder of the Department of Statistics and Computer Science (DSCS) and of the Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) of the University of Colombo.

The Government of Sri Lanka has honoured Prof. Samaranayake for his contribution towards IT by the award of Vidya Prasadini in 1997 and the national honour Vidya Jyothi in 1998. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has presented its President's Award for International Cooperation to Prof. Samaranayake in 1996 in recognition of his contribution. He has been recognised at international level as well, which obviously brought respect to Sri Lanka.

At its convocation held in January 2005, the University of Colombo conferred on Prof. Samaranayake the Degree of Doctor of Science for his outstanding contribution to the University. Incidentally, this was the convocation that my batch received the degree certificates.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Top Ten Dead (Dying) IT Skills

Whilst going through this month's Computer World Magazine, I found this interesting article. They have done a study and have come-up with a list of dead or dying IT Skills that were considered very important at one time. The list is given below.

COBOL
Non relational DBMS
Non/IP networks
cc:Mail
Cold Fusion
C Programming
PowerBuilder
Certified Netware Engineers
PC Network Administrators
OS/2

The key message is, if someone is working hard now on one of these technologies, it's worthwhile to question whether it's the right investment.

I am not surprised at this list. However, I was under the impression that C Programming is still popular in some domains like Reserach/Science. I didn't think that PowerBuilder, Netware Engineers and PC Network administrators are getting obsolete as well.

It's amazing how fast things change in this industry. Some of these technologies have had a very high demand at one time but today no one wants them. This is a good eye opener to everyone who is involved in IT because if we don't up-skill ourselves and learn new things, we are going to be redundant in the near future.

The link to the full article is given below and I suggest reading it if you are doing something related to IT. It really shows how the IT landscape changes overtime.

https://webmail.adelaide.edu.au/horde/util/go.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.computerworld.com%2Faction%2Farticle.do%3Fcommand%3DviewArticleBasic%26articleId%3D9020942&Horde=eebc64d93ab451953fcfeaa6c2860349"

Monday, June 4, 2007

Risk Management

I forgot to blog last week about a training I participated at work. The relevant staff went on a training on Risk Management essentials, which was based on the AS/NZS 4360 Standard. I later went through the Standard doc in detail together with its' guidelines spec.

The key message that I brought out of it was the fact that Risk Management should not be an additional process/burden imposed on the teams but should be a part of the organizational culture where attempts should be made over time to make it a second nature. For those who are interested in an overview summary, the following link is good.

http://www.unovision.co.uk/index.php?id=81

In case you are interested in more details, I can provide following links. However, due to copyright issues (probably), the standard docs are not available online freely.

http://www.saiglobal.com/shop/script/Details.asp?DocN=AS0733759041AT
http://www.treasury.act.gov.au/actia/Guide.doc
http://www.riskmanagement.com.au/
http://www.noweco.com/risk/riske09.htm

Friday, June 1, 2007

A World Free of Drugs & Alcohol?

My eye caught the following yahoo photo news.

Sri Lankan students carry a giant dummy of a cigarette as they stage a street drama on the eve of Anti-Tobacco Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, May 30, 2007.
In the background is the Colombo Town Hall building. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

This reminded me of my time when I campaigned against drugs and alcohol. As a group formed by ADIC (Alcohol and Drug Information Center) we did many campaigns in Colombo as well as in regional locations. The name of our group was 'Organisation of Youth Against Drugs and Alcohol' (OYADA) and I was the Vice President. It really gave me a unique experience and also a high self-satisfaction for doing a service to the community. Directly talking to people on alcohol related issues and educational campaigns were experiences for a life time. One of the best events was when we did an educational campaign on a long distance train. We walked through each compartment giving speeches and acting out dramas to educate people on the bad side of alcohol.

A giant Tobacco Company used to sponsor a popular Sri Lankan arts exhibition every year. It was just like having cigarette and arrack ads in sports grounds, trying to give a feeling that drugs go with arts without a problem. Many school children took part in this exhibition, so they tried to impose ideas into their heads by presenting themselves as helpers of art. We staged a campaign against this right there at the exhibition! (It was in either end 1999 or early 2000) We covered the whole fence of the exhibition centre (Kala Bavana) with posters expressing our displeasure of drug dealers being involved in art. We filled their comments books with our ideas! It was hilarious.

The following is a photo taken at a campaign at Galle (A town in Southern Sri Lanka). A voyage ship traveled all around the world promoting a popular cigar brand and it was scheduled to come to Colombo port, but due to high opposition from pressure groups, they changed the destination to Galle port. We didn’t want to confront with them, so we went a week ahead of them and tried to educate people, especially school children. The photo was taken when we addressed people at the central bus stand (was later completely washed-off by the 2004 tsunami) and it was well received.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Air-Car Ready for Mass Production

The world's first commercial compressed air-powered vehicle is rolling towards the production line. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre, will be built by India's largest automaker, Tata Motors.

The Air Car uses compressed air to push its engines pistons. It is anticipated that approximately 6000 Air Cars will be cruising the streets of India by 2008. If the manufacturers have no surprises up their exhaust pipes the car will be practical and reasonably priced. The CityCat model will clock out at 68 mph with a driving range of 125 miles.

Refueling is simple and will only take a few minutes. That is, if you live nearby a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately $2.00. If a driver doesn't have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car's built-in compressor to refill the tank in about 4 hours.

The compressed air technology is basically just a way of storing electrical energy without the need for costly, heavy, and occasionally toxic batteries. So, in a sense, this is an electric car. It just doesn't have an electric motor.

Unfortunately, the streets of North America may never see the Air Car, though; it's light-weight, glued-together fiberglass construction might not do so well in crash tests. However, that does not mean the Air car is confined to the sub-continent. Nègre has signed deals to bring its design to 12 more countries, including Germany, Israel and South Africa.

Ref : http://green.yahoo.com/index.php?q=node/315

Therese Rein

Therese Rein is the wife of the Australian Opposition leader Kevin Rudd and she made headlines over the past few days about her business engagements. Rudd is new to the position of the opposition leader; he replaced the pretty unpopular Kim Beazley. That itself was a good example to most politicians who try to hang around while party men and general public oppose to their existence. Rudd is increasing his popularity day by day and polls show that he has a far better chance of wining the federal elections to be held this year ahead of the fairly popular current prime minister, John Howard, who has been in office for three consecutive terms.

Rudd's industrial relations and employments contractual related policies are pretty radical but the way his wife has handled a related issue within her company has been contradictory to his policies which created quite a discussion. The real thing that came out of it was the fact that her recruitment company has dealings with the government and in case her husband becomes the prime minister, would it be fair for her to have business dealings with the government. Many saw that as a conflict of interest.

Apparently, her business is very successful not only within Australia but also internationally, but it didn't take even a week for her to come out with her husband and announce that she is going to sell the company as both of them believed it's not right to do business with the government given the scenario.

I think this is a great example for most politicians and their family members who try to keep undue business dealings using political powers and connections. I saw some arguments questioning whether it's fair for a successful businesswoman to give it up because of her husband. I guess they query about independence and women's freedom stuff! However I think it was the right decision and is a great example for politicians all around the world.

It's a cancer that world has to get over, for example in the US, Bush's family has significant business interests including oil. If the so-called best democracy in the world is like that, no need to quote other examples I guess.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Business Analysis Career Path

The Business Analysis Career Path has been an ongoing discussion within IT circles for quite a while. If you browse through the blogs in the ‘Business Analysis’ category here, you should find more information on Business Analysis and how it fits into the overall IT organization and project structures. Assuming that all the readers have some background understanding, I am discussing some of the career path related matters here.

To start a career in BA, a person needs to have either business background in the specific industry domain or a broad IT knowledge. Given that this basic foundation exists, someone can step in to the BA world! This starting step would be something like Systems Analyst or Associate/Junior Systems Analyst. After the systems analysis skills are fully achieved, the person can move to be a Business Analyst. Progressively, this could start from something like Associate/Junior BA and then move to be a BA and when at a highly skilled autonomous level, a Senior/Lead BA.

Around this area, it becomes quite a discussion where a person can/should go. In a way, it’s a business decision based on what can be taken out of such individuals based on the skills they posses and also a personal decision what each individual want to do in their careers and also what they want to achieve in their respective lives. I personally see two branches from here onwards and upwards and also notice that most organizations have adopted these two progression paths.

One is to grow within the same line but take on more challenging opportunities. Becoming a Business Consultant would be the next best position to move in this path. The second branch is to move to Project/General Management. The knowledge gained on scoping projects, managing projects, change management and extensive business knowledge will be highly helpful for a successful career if someone decides to take on this path. If someone decides not to move onto management, Business Consultancy would offer a great amount of opportunities and exciting challenges as it’s a career path of its own and as most people would say, the sky is the only limit! It’s a highly autonomous position where you get to lead people, manage client expectations, propose solutions and involve in negotiations etc. As a consultant, avoiding management wouldn’t be possible, but still you would be a leader who understands what’s being done which makes it easier to stay on top of things and lead others to success.

Last but not least, this is a very interesting, challenging area within the IT industry which offers so many opportunities even though we find fewer people interested in it comparatively. If I have been able to create some interest and awareness, I can be happy......

Saturday, May 19, 2007

National Sport Vs Most Popular Sport

Sometimes I wonder why these two are different in most countries. Some countries haven’t declared an official national sport but some have, and there are many instances where its different from the most popular sport.

To give a few examples,,Field Hockey is the national game in both India and Pakistan but obviously Cricket is the most popular by far. In Sri Lanka, Volleyball is the National Sport but Cricket is the popular one. Sri Lankan Volleyball team to my knowledge is not strong in international standards but Cricket team is. I really don’t know whether Sri Lanka even competes at international level in Volleyball!

Another interesting country is Australia. It seems like there is no declared official national game but there are some indications that Cricket is the national sport.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_sport
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:National_sport

Australian Cricket team is by far the strongest team in the world but it is the most popular game in the country? My personal gut feeling is that it is not. Above links do have some good discussion about this. Well, people love cricket, they follow it, but they are not crazy for it as they are for Australian Rules football, popularly known as Footy. Summer is Cricket and winter is Footy, but I really didn’t see high craziness for Cricket during last summer where Aussies devastated England during the Ashes. Footy is very much a part of the life, people are just crazy over it, its not international, just between clubs, but every match is packed with spectators. On Friday, after work, there are busses from the city to the Footy. The whole weekend starting from Friday night is Footy, Footy and Footy only. Daily TV news has about 15 minutes of Footy news and it allocated about 45 seconds for world cup Cricket! Even when Aussies won a WC match that was the situation. For a change, the world cup win made the first news, but if someone measured the time, it probably was given lesser time than Footy! More details on Footy can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_rules_football

Sunday, May 13, 2007

PRINCE2 in Detail

PRINCE2 methodology is huge (Manual itself is over 400pgs A4 size book), but I tried to summerise it to 3 pages. I will publish it here for the benefit of the readers but hope to publish elsewhere for the benefit of a larger audience.

Given below is the central Prince Process diagram which shows the relationship between each process.




In today's managerial world, projects are considered as one of the best ways to carry out work effectively. In the past civil engineering work was executed as projects and then later on IT work took on the same approach. Today, attempts are made at converting every possible piece of work into a project in almost all industries spanning across both the private and public sectors.

To identify a piece of work as a project, it should have a clear start and an end and needs to be completed within a set time frame. General operational work such as clerical work and ongoing work do not make good projects.

In this light, there should be some sound and effective ways of managing these enormous numbers of projects. One of the most famous Project Management Methodologies in this regard is the PRINCE2 methodology.

PRINCE (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a structured method for effective project management. It is the de facto standard used in the UK and is widely recognised and used internationally. PRINCE2 is in the public domain offering best-practice guidance on project management. It is owned by and is a registered trademark of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), UK. The First version of PRINCE came in 1989, but was fairly Information Technology Projects specific. The second version, which is now called PRINCE2 came in 1996, and can be used in any project discipline such as IT, civil Engineering, Scientific, defense etc.

PRINCE2 has eight main processes which are explained below.

Starting Up a Project (SU) – Upon the receipt of the Project Mandate, SU process starts. Initial work such as appointment of a Project manager, appointment of an Executive to Chair the Project Board, Project Brief preparation and project approach are defined.

Planning (PL) – This runs through-out the life cycle of the project. Includes sub processes such as Designing a Plan, Estimating, Scheduling and Analysing Risks.

Initiating a Project (IP) – After the SU process, IP process is triggered. This plans Quality for the project whilst setting up the overall project plan and other controls. The important document that comes at the end of this stage is the Project Initiation Document, which will be used as a basis for the project throughout. Initial Business case, Initial Project Plan and initial risk log are parts of this document.

Directing a Project (DP) – This is the process that handles overall direction of the project whilst making key decisions.

Controlling a Stage (CS) – This is the stage where an ongoing stage is controlled. Reviewing stage status, Reviewing project issues and Taking Corrective Action are some of the sub processes of this.

Managing Product Delivery (MP) – This is the process which manages the delivery of actual products of the project. If it is an IT project, this might be a piece of software, in a building project, this can be the building of a bathroom for a new house.

Managing Stage Boundaries (SB) – In this process, next stage is planned based on experiences of the preceding stage whilst updating the project plan and risk log.

Closing a Project (CP) – This is the stage where project is brought to a controlled end.

PRINCE2 also has the following components.

Business Case – The business justification for the project. This is the key feature of PRINCE2. The entire project is driven by the Business Case. This provides the reasons for carrying out the project. Throughout the project life the Business Case is checked to confirm that the project is meeting the set objectives.

Organisation – The way in which the personnel involved in the project are structured. A PRINCE2 project environment has a project board which oversees the project whilst interfacing to external parties on project issues. The project manager takes care of the day-to-day project activities. Specific work packages will be carried out by different teams, and each team will be lead by a team manager who will report to the project manager.

Plans – Who, what and When to do certain project management activities.

Controls – The way in which the project manager and the project board should exercise control over the project. Project Board is another key concept of PRINCE2 for project governance. It includes three main parties Business, User and Supplier. The executive who represents the Business is the Chair of the board and the Project Board is not a democracy as decisions are not made by the majority but by the executive. This is to facilitate the best interest of the business and not of the users or the suppliers.

Management of Risk – Risk Management aspect of the project and is considered as vital to the success of the project.

Quality in a Project Environment – Deliverables within a PRINCE2 environment are called Products. This component takes care of accepted standard maintenance for each product.

Configuration Management – The way in which the project products are stored and maintained for easier identification. (Version Control)

Change Control – Change is inevitable in any organization. How do we manage it? That question is answered in this component.

PRINCE2 can be applied to any project discipline and can be used with many project management techniques. It is important to note that generally PRINCE2 is non-prescriptive meaning it says ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ to do things but does not say ‘how’ to do things. Product Based Planning, Change Control and Quality Reviews are three areas where PRINCE2 provides detailed techniques even though it’s generally non-prescriptive.

PRINCE2 is a scalable methodology. Each process comes with guidance on how it could be tailored to suit different situations. An important thing to keep in mind when working with any process is that the process should not be made a burden to the project team. If the project achieves its objectives but still has to do too much of documentation or red tape work due to the process guidance, that’s where people start to think about the processes as monsters. PRICE2 has been very careful about this reality and has provided full scalability options. Experienced PRINCE2 experts would decide how the process is going to be applied into a given real life project scenario.

Benefits of using PRINCE2 are successful delivery of projects, possibility of application to any project discipline, clearly defined roles, clearly defined responsibilities, process consistency, flexibility, scalability, cost savings through project success and effective communication channels.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Cultural Awareness Training

At office today, I participated in a 2 hour training on Aboriginal Cultural Awareness. It was good to listen to something outside of work and other than the controversial Gilly innings. Gilly innings is becoming a major topic all around the world and most are positive that ICC would do something about this, if not the credibility of the game is at stake.

Back to the topic of cultural awareness, which really was a new lesson for me and as found out, to most of the non-indigenous Australians. For most Australians, history is that "Captain Cook came to Australia and then British settlers came here and started colonies". But the trainer enlightened us that a lot happened whilst colonising. Aboriginals have gone through so much trouble due to British settling which brought a huge cultural gap.The trainer herself was indigenous, so she told us the real life experiences of her elders. The owners of the land have been treated in a very cruel way during the colonisation process. We are not talking about an unknown long history here, everything happened within less than 200 years! Elderly people who are alive today can remember the situation or have heard from their parents.

There are many natives who have mixed up well with the rest of the community but the majority hasn't. Their education and life quality is far below the others. Mixing up seems to be the major issue, and as I gathered, its mainly because the difference in cultures and value systems. The training session tried to teach us these values and life style of these people. Its nice to know who they are? what they are? why things happen in certain ways? etc.

Good thing today is, they are treated as equal and their ownership of land is acknowledged and government spends money on uplifting their lifestyle. At the beggining of every public speech (presentations, talks, discussions etc.), the presenter has to mention or have a slide to acknowledge that the land that the meeting is held belongs to the aboriginal people. Soon after I came to Australia, I was surprised to see a statement acknowledging aboriginal land ownership in every slide template! That's fantastic! But that not enough, they need to be helped to live in the way they want.

Today, they are considered as citizens of Australia and get all the rights, which had started in 1967, so you would expect the problem to end, but due to the large differences, that process is slow. As my colleagues told me, educational system has not taught them the aboriginal culture. I am not sure whether that happens now, but I think, awareness is important to minimise the gap and bring those people to the good living standards. If not, they don't have the bush they lived, but they also cant do a job for a living because of the lack of education. So, what would be the result? Those results can be seen on streets, natives just wonder around and frequently hear theft and other injustice incidents on news. Sydney riots a couple of years back is a another occasion where cultural difference and lack of awareness came to the fore.

I am happy that I learnt something new and am sharing it with others.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Prince2

I was busy and occupied over the last few days as I went through a training session for Prince2 Project Management Methodology, which was followed by its Foundation examination. I passed the examination too. Prince2 certification happen in two stages, first is the ‘Foundation’, next is the ‘Practitioner’. I am planning to do the next level soon.

Prince2 stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments, the initial version was Prince, which was fairly IT specific and the second version is more generalized for projects of all disciplines. It was developed for UK government projects, but later was adopted by the private sector as well. It’s owned by OGC, a govt. body in the UK, and the training & certification stuff are handled by the APM group. There are accredited training organizers, trainers and consultants in different parts of the world. There are quite a few in Australia as well. I did my work with the Ferguson Project Management Services (FPMS).

Passing the exam wasn’t easy. It required some hard work. However, the exposure I’ve had in different processes helped me a lot. I’ve always loved studies on different processes. These include ones on overall software development as well as more specific processes. A part of my current role is business process improvement. My first project was the Process Automation project at Virtusa, which probably had a big influence on me.

Some of you are probably aware of Prince2, and some may not be so. There are mainly 2 popular project management methodologies in use. One is the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) of Project Management Institute (PMI) and the other is Prince2. There are other things such as ITIL as well. Prince2 Vs PMI is a whole separate discussion and is one of the biggest rivalries in the IT industry and I hope to discuss most of it separately but will jot something about their popularity and usage.

Prince2 is very popular in the UK and is considered the de facto standard there. PMI has a more US based popularity, but it cannot be considered as the de facto in the US as other methods also have certain levels of acceptance. It’s important to note that some of the organizations have developed their own methodologies as well. Australia, as with many other things, is divided between the two methods. My personal gut feeling is both have a similar popularity here. Sri Lanka predominantly is guided by PMI, but not necessarily fully adopting the methodology, probably because the offshore industry is more aligned with the US than the UK or Australia. India is fairly similar but Prince2 has some existence as Indian offshore industry roots have gone through British ground as well.

Even though there is a discussed rivalry between the two, most experts believe that there is no need for a fight here, as both can co-exist, helping each other. Prince2 provides a methodology, is non-prescriptive and doesn’t specify all the techniques of doing things. PMI on the other hand is very detailed, provides techniques and is fair to say, is prescriptive, and most agree that it’s not a methodology but a set of techniques to guide you in detail. Given this background, they can co-exist. In a Prince2 environment, PMI techniques could be applied. However, there could be practicality issues, which should be captured separately.

Expect more on this in the near future!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blog Categories

Since number of blog entries have raised up, I thought it's more user friendly to arrange the entries under different categories. So, following are the categories I have at this stage together with the number of blogs under each category.

Business Analysis (6)
IT Industry (13)
Life (18)
Project Management (3)
Sports (7)

Aussies Win The World Cup. Sri Lanka, The Second Best

Aussies sealed their third consecutive world cup win this morning. Sri Lanka finished as the second best. Congratulations to both teams! It is a big achievement to come to the final, so Sri Lanka should be happy with the result. Even the creators of Cricket, England couldn't even get close to Semis, so, this is all good stuff! Aussies deserved to win today, but SL showed a great spirit in their innings even though they were behind the chase most of the time. Rain disturbed their rhythm in run chasing, but even without those rain disturbances, I think Aussies could have probably won it, but by a closer margin.

Regardless of this result, Sri Lankan team has done tremendously well in this tournament and will be given the same welcome back home on their arrival. Well done Guys!! Life has to go on,there is always a tomorrow, lets try to make it even better!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sri Lanka Enters Cricket World Cup Finals

It’s a public holiday here for the Anzac day, so having some free time to rest & sleep as we lost entire night’s sleep due to watching the Cricket World Cup Semi Finals between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Each moment of that hard commitment was worth it, as our team made all Sri Lankans proud by showing their class to win convincingly. Well done Sri Lanka! Keep it up! We can go all the way through to produce yet another dream similar to that of 1996!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

End of Super Eight Stage



This is the points table at the end of the Super Eight stage of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. I think right teams have been selected for the semi final spots and each of those four top teams deserve to be there. Its a different tournament from this point onwards!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why Business Analysis goes closely with Project Management

After I wrote the previous piece on SA and BA, something that came to my mind was, why don't I discuss about the BA and PM relationship!! These two are close roles and worth discussing the similarities.

It’s very common where the same person plays the role of PM and BA in the same project and it's a known fact that the BA path is a fairly quick path to the PM track if someone ever wants to. Not every BA likes this idea, as the PM role does not offer the full breadth of Business/IT experience that the BA role offers. There is a considerable difference between the management of it and being involved in really doing it. This again depends on the person and what they want to do in their life/career.

Why are they closely related? What are the overlaps and why is it easy for the same person to do both the jobs? These are the things I would like to discuss at a very high-level here.

Firstly, both are pretty non-technical, so in a heavy technical industry, playing roles that are more towards business/management, creates a relationship and easy access paths in between the two.

Secondly and most importantly I believe, is the involvement in Scope management. Scoping is a high responsibility of the BA, but the PM has a direct responsibility in it too, because at the end of the day, he has to manage the whole thing and work with whatever the agreed scope.

Business Analysis forms the base for the project as it gathers, analyses and documents the requirements. PM has to manage a project, which tries to deliver those requirements, so he needs to have a clear handle of those requirements. Basically, PM manages the deliverables defined by the BA. If forming requirements and scoping is done by the same person (a PM/BA), it would ease things a lot for a seamless overall management. If they are two persons, they have to work closely and the job areas are divided by a grey line and not clear-cut as black and white. In smaller projects, there is a good opportunity for a dual role-play.

On the other hand, if the PM does not have a good understanding of BA work, and how requirements analysis is done in order to form the basis for the project, he will lose control of the project at the earliest stage of the project, which will be quite hard to rectify. This justifies why experienced BAs are sought for PM roles (i.e.: because their BA understanding is going to be very valuable in a PM role.)

Another critical area is the Change Management process, which is very important for both roles equally, and responsibility is also generally shared. However, since it’s driven by the change of business requirements, the BA falls into the heart of the responsibility. Once the change is identified, documented and approved, the PM has to change the plans in order to cater for it, so the closeness of the two roles is obvious. Generally, both the PM and BA would be members of the change management group/committee/board setup for a large project together with the business representative(s), Client representative(s), QA/Testing rep(s) etc. whereas in smaller projects, change management would be more informal but still needs the agreement of all parties and the PM & BA will play critical roles.

I found the following article to be very interesting and the discussion is somewhat relevant here. http://www.allpm.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1517&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

And also http://www.allpm.com/ has chosen the same topic that we discuss here as the theme of the month for April.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_analyst - This one touches on the importance of having PM skills within a BA and the following quote shows the difference (or the similarity! depends on the way you look at it, I guess) between the two.
"Fundamentally, the PM manages project resources (people, money) and the BA manages the business stakeholders."
This statement on its own can be misleading without reading the whole thing or understanding the background. The PM is also involved in managing business stakeholders but business stakeholder management for the purposes of requirements/scope/system usage/system acceptance is the BA's responsibility.

Some of the soft skills that we highlight as crucial for a BA overlap with skills required for a good PM, to name a few, presentation, communication, interview and customer relationship building. However, things like diagrammatic modelling, requirement documentation (from the BA side) and human resource management, project plan (from the PM side) do not overlap in common situations.

The other side of this is the close association between Business Consultancy (BC) and Business Analysis. A senior BA plays a role of a consultant in some projects and organizations. This can be just a term difference, as some companies do not have consultants at all, therefore BAs do everything. Whereas, some opt to have consultants who will do BA work as well. Specially, consultation oriented companies do this more than the development centric ones. A Business Consultant definitely needs to be a good project manager, as in most instances he will be operating on his own, managing his work, client and the scope. So, senior BAs who do consultancy type of work would have the requirement of PM skills.

A practical proof of this is in job advertisements for either the BA or BC, as recruiters in most cases ask for PM expertise and in some cases for very senior level opportunities, even program management experience is sought.

It's really important to know project management concepts and principles as well as having some experience in them to do a sound BA job. On a personal note, this is the reason I went through a PM training a few months back and also am planning to do Prince2 Foundation exams in first week of May, and then become a practitioner of it hopefully by July this year.

Hope everyone would enjoy this long post (wonder whether it’s too long for a blog post!) and share their thoughts as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The difference between a Business Analyst and a Systems Analyst

I thought I should write something about this topic specifically even though I have discussed it in some of my articles slightly.

I always use the following example to explain who a Business Analyst is, or what the Business Analysis means. If the software engineers/developers and Business Users are two sides of a river, Business Analysts are the bridge that connects these two ends. So, BA needs to know both languages to some extent, and at least if he doesn't, should be capable of adapting to.

In this bridge, Systems Analyst would fit into the end that’s closer to the software developers. SA needs to know the SW language very well, and the tools to communicate to them seamlessly; one good example is UML diagrammatic modelling.

However, the difference is very tiny and it’s a grey line between the two job areas. This is why we find SAs doing BA works and vice-versa and also some organizations opt to designate them as Business Systems Analysts. Most organizations have BAs but they do the full range of work.

Even though I don't want to use jargon here, but to highlight one good example, a SA would do a Systems Use Case model whereas a BA would do a Business Use Case model. It’s like the two sides of the same coin. The difference is SA is more close to the IT implementation side of it.

SA should be able to work closely with developers, helping them out with requirements, use the language that they are comfortable with, and involve in development oriented things such as screen designing, whereas a BA needs to work more closely with the business and try to talk in their language and also understand what the business requirements are, where the business should head and what should the systems offer to achieve those. In the event where there are no two groups such as SA and BA, whoever exists, either SA or BA or BSA, has to do all of the above or at least try to!

A logical career move for a developer (If someone ever wants to!) is to be a SA first and gradually move to be a BA. I personally had such a transition, at least designation-wise, but role-wise, I was mostly a BA.

If someone asks me, which one is the better one, I would say, that depends on the person! If you are a person who’s driven by being close to software development but like to have an overall picture, a SA role is for you because if you become a BA, you will be bored with not having any technical related thing to do. On the other hand, if you are someone who doesn't want to think of technical implementation side of it at all but concerned about business side predominantly, then a BA role is for you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good One to Read

I thought I should have a post in my blog to publish a great link, which takes you to a blog post, which is so inspirational to young IT professionals and new entrants into the field.
http://deb.foocode.net/?p=38

http://deb.foocode.net/ is the read worthy blog of Debbie Timmins, a well known figure in the SA IT and ACS communities, specially with young IT work.

Well done Debbie,,and keep it up!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Kangaroo Island Vacation





It was Easter vacation here, so we went to Kangaroo Islands, which is a beautiful popular island located south of Australia. The trip was fantastic, the tour was perfect as guide gave us all possible information and the place we stayed was also great. Sceneries of beaches and wildlife were so nice and natural. We saw Koalas, Seals, Kangaroos, Penguins and Wallabies, not in sanctuaries or captivities, but in exact places they naturally live in.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

We Won again

Now we have two consecutive wins in the Super Eight and fairly on track to a place in the Semis. Windies match was the one to watch! England match must have been great to watch for neutrals, but for most of us, it was very stressing as until the last ball, both teams had a chance in it. Its great to have won it finally, yes its by just 2 runs, but a win is a win, gives 2 points. However, since we have to face far bigger challenges than England in the next few matches against likes of Australia and New Zealand, the team needs to step-up a little further, specially batting, it's still not consistent enough. Even though Malinga managed to pull it close against South Africa, the reason for loss was batting.

Anyway, we have won, so well done Sri Lanka, and best of Luck for the rest!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

ACS MLB Board Meeting

I participated as the South Australian Representative of the ACS Member Lifecycle Board held in Sydney last Wednesday.

http://www.acs.org.au/index.cfm?action=show&conID=acsml

MLB provides direction on, and strategic co-ordination of, ACS activities that relate to gaining and retaining members. This is third year of MLB. Marketing is a key aspect of it, but things like professional development, standards , young IT and other ways of promoting the Society and the industry at large are tightly related.

I flew to Sydney in early morning and came back the same day late in the night, its a flight of about one and a half hours. Didn't get much time to see the city, but managed to see the Sydney Bridge and the Opera House and also went around the crowded Sydney streets during the limited time I had.

Mr Beans Holiday

We watched Mr Beans newest film, 'Mr Beans Holiday' and it was hilarious as he always is!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

We are in Super 8

SL team is now in Super 8 stage of the World Cup and our team did that in style winning all the group stage matches. India match was a great show of the team's capability to win this world cup. We watched the match over the Internet. Sky sports telecast was bought for 15US$ at http://www.cricketon.tv/. Telecast was pretty good, since the highspeed of the broadband Internet here, webcast was perfect. Major matches will be displayed on TVs here, but if they don't, and if that match is really good, we will continue to watch over the Internet. Only thing is, matches start at midnight here.

Bought a PDA


I bought a PDA!!!



Well, I think it’s a bit of out of character, because I don’t really spend that much on high tech stuff. For example, I have always used basic phones (Motorola quarter of a brick size one, Ericson T28, Nokia 3310, Motorola c100, Nokia 3220 and now Samsung X150).


However, as so many people are using PDAs to keep themselves organized, it will be a real value adder, so I made up my mind to do the investment. Maintaining tasks, contacts, appointments and making notes and meeting minutes are few of my objectives. The thing that would come really handy is the synchronisation with the PC.

Model is HP IPAQ Rx 1950. Some of the features of it are:
-Wireless: Wi-Fi keeps you connected on the go.
-Music: Mobilize digital music, videos, and photos.
-Software: All new Microsoft Windows Mobile Version 5.0 Software for Pocket PC, Premium Edition.
-Design: Thin and light.
-Expansion: Secure Digital (SDIO) slot for greater storage and expansion.
-Display: Brilliant, crisp viewing area on a 3.5 inch transflective TFT QVGA 64K color display.
-Processor: Powered by the Samsung SC32442 300 MHz Processor
-USB Sync with Computer
-Memory: 32MB SDRAM, 64MB ROM
-Graffiti area and Stylus writing is very smooth and gives a natural writing experience.

User reviews for this model sounded absolutely perfect, I just could not resist myself.


Now am experimenting the new world and really looking forward to using it meaningfully!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Working with Users

One of the best things I love about my job as a BA is the opportunity it gives me to talk to the users. In most cases, its to gather/understand requirements or to document existing business processes in order to improve them within a proposed new system and other cases are things like User Acceptance coordination.

This just gives a ground level experience how businesses operate. Often we find out funny, interesting, incredible, sharp, intelligent, meaningless,, (List just goes) things people do to get things done. Every individual is unique, so whatever the systems offer them, most operational staff members create their own ways of doing things, and when it comes to upgrading the system, these little bits are the ones that create most trouble, but should be given highest attention as they are the ones that's going to generate highest user satisfaction. Sometimes, we notice little applications (done using Excel, VB), may be even just standalone ones, which serve a single purpose for just one user, and no one else is aware of it, and that user has a nice explanation why that is needed even though the main system does not provide it.

At times, I feel, BA job needs a bit of psychology awareness, because we predominantly work with people trying to extract information out of them. When it comes to large system implementations, it involves great amount of organizational change and by nature most people are reluctant to change, as they fear of being removed from their comfort zones, so its a matter of making them aware of the benefits of change and also inject feelings of securedness and better working life. Its really difficult to do a BA job without getting full support from users/business staff, so its always important to maintain a good relationship whilst keeping them enthusiastic about the work being done and going to happen through the system changes. So, all this mostly runs on soft skills rather than hard skills (Whether these should be called as Soft Skills or something else is a separate discussion and is debatable). Soft Skills ,I think that come into picture are talking, listening, interviewing, a bit of humour, documenting, emails, organizing, smart outlook using, working on time etc. Personally, I don't believe at all that I am very good at all of these, but am trying to improve myself. This long list I guess proves that it actually needs a bit of psychology.

(Pls note that neither lists mentioned are complete nor it covers all aspects of Business Analysis,,,,this is just a note on my blog as I feel about one aspect of it and it is not a comprehensive paper/article :D )

Sri Lanka Wins Against Bangladesh

We registered yet another massive victory in the World Cup against Bangladesh. We have faced two matches yet, and won both by massive margins. Technically, our Super 8 spot is not sealed, but practically, there is no way we could be out of it now.

Sri Lanka are serious fighters to win the world cup this time. I think, there are only 3 teams who can seriously think of the cup,that's Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa.

Let's wish best for our great Sri Lankan team, to repeat the victory we recorded in 1996!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Long Weekend

March 12th is a public holiday, so, it's a long weekend. Had a good relaxing weekend.

Most of the Sunday was spent at ACS Executive Committee Planning Meeting for 2007, we met at Robin Hood Hotel in Norwood. The session was to discuss how we are going to plan SA activities during 2007 and to build up the Business Plan for the year, which would work closely with the Strategic Plans set for the future.

Earned Value Analysis

On 5th of March, ACS - PM SIG (Project Management Special Interest Group) had another session. This time, the topic was Earned Value Analysis. It was an interesting, fairly unfamiliar topic for most of us. The crux of it is to measure the earned monetary value during a project life cycle (Not at the end) and estimate the chances of doing financially well by the time you finish the project.

The presenter recommended following site for further reading, which explains the concepts in a simple manner.

www.goldpractices.com/practices/tev

Apart from this, a simple Google search could give more resources as well.

Personally, I think this more appropriate for small scale projects run by one or few people, for instance, Contractors, who offer services could very well use this to measure where they are during the project, and do an estimate on the future. Important thing about it is, it provides with a Lead indicator (indicates something regarding the future and not about the past as Lag indicators does). But for large scale projects, where financials are tightly bound to either time or milestones, I am not sure whether it will be that useful. However, its' general prediction is interesting to know though.