Wednesday, August 27, 2008

'Why do you think the monsoon cripples Mumbai, year after year?'

Contributed by ~ Niilesh A Raje

What happens when the heaven wants to kiss the earth, it brings tears in her eyes in the form of rains with the flashes of blue and red known as lightening. What a way to describe the rains that lashes the city of Mumbai submerging large parts of the city and bringing it to a standstill.

Mumbai, the city of opportunities, the city of success stories, the city of dream and dream merchants. A city where everything is possible. Fast money, fast life and faster cars. Lately the monsoon which cripples this city has left every Mumbaikar totally despondent and dejected. The collapsing infrastructure and flooding has continued to remain as a major crisis for Mumbai city in the last three consecutive years which sniffs at the city's inability to deal with the monsoon's rage.

Mumbai's pretensions for being a global financial center is literally washed away by the heavy downpour that lashed the city this week end. It is an accepted fact today that a day's rain can disable the city's lifeline - the suburban train services gets crippled, arterial roads gets flooded, airport is being shut down and power supply getting disrupted in many part of the suburbs.

Meteorological officials say that the flooding occurs due to the rains coinciding with the high tide. The fact is our system is designed to take rainfall intensity upto 40mm. In most cases when the monsoon cripples the city it is above 60mm an hour at various places. Even after total upgradation of the storm water drain system, our system can handle only 50mm rainfall intensity as per communication from our Municipal Commissioner.

Even if the government has learnt its lesson after more than 400 lives were lost in the 26/7 deluge there is an urgent need to upgrade the existing system. This should be treated as imperative to get its act together for an enterprising city like Mumbai.

Monsoon which cripples Mumbai has only exposed the ineptness of the civic administration. End result is a blame game in which each one passes the buck and the citizen is left holding the can. The agony of the people of Mumbai is aptly summed up in one Mumbaikar's outburst: In Mumbai everything goes down the drain except water!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail : A Business Analyst Viewpoint

Contributed by ~ Niilesh A Raje

There is a popular adage often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management, “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” The quote may sound like music to your ears but planning for business analysis work is a key area which tries to zero in on the importance of planning in a software development project. Sadly, it is a step that is often overlooked.

The absence of proper planning can detrimentally affect timely meeting of the on-going project deliverables. To avoid such a failure it is vital that a project manager ensure that the requirement planning activity is given due importance, so that everything is under complete control.

So, how can a project manager ensure that a business analyst (BA) is given the power of execution to get the things delivered with the required level of quality and within the defined time frames. Let’s examine some of the key pointers essential to effective business analysis planning.

The Planning Stage

The planning stage gives a high level understanding of the intended software product. It gives the project team a pulse of the current systems and processes, while evaluating the existing deficiencies and identifying the key objectives that need to be addressed in the proposed software development activity.

The planning stage also helps the stakeholders identify the risks that may be associated with the project. Over time, the business requirements keep growing in an attempt to enhance the existing functionality. The objective of the planning stage is to make it absolutely clear - working in partnership with the client and the development teams - what full range of functions and content will be addressed.

The Kick-off Meeting

The kick-off meeting is the opening play of the project. It is an ideal occasion for the project team and the client to introduce them selves and set the project expectations and milestones. A perfect platform for the Business Analyst to come into the picture. The meeting should identify the team roles across the entire spectrum of project related activities, in order to ensure that these activities get completed smoothly.

Requirements Tools and Templates

The business analyst analyses, documents, manages and presents the project requirements for review and approval to the client in a comprehensible manner. As part of the planning process, and early in the project, the BA should communicate to the customer the standard templates and requirement management tools they will adhere to, in order to document the requirements specifications.

For projects large in size and complexity, it is important to make use of requirements management tools to manage version change, track requirement status, communicate with stakeholders and reuse the requirements wherever possible. Define Points of Contact and Escalation Hierarchy should there be any queries or concerns regarding any aspect of the planned project activity, it is important to define a clear process to identify the key points of contact in the project engagement with proper escalation mechanism.

The steering committee is responsible for advice on strategic direction, overseeing planning and implementation, resolving open issues, achieving the project deliverables and milestones, and for preparing a weekly project status report giving updated and accurate information as the project progresses.

The Requirements Sign-off: A Project Milestone

It is imperative that every project participant understand what the Requirements Sign-off means, and its associated impact on the project. Clients should not dismiss sign-off as meaningless, but rather consider it as an important project milestone.

Requirements sign-off means a formal agreement with the project stakeholders, stating that the contents of the requirements document, as drafted, are complete to the final projections and that there are no open issues left to be addressed.

Obtaining a requirements sign-off is typically the final task within the framework of Requirements Communication, which is an expression of the output of requirements gathering to all those concerned with the project.

A holistic approach is absolutely essential and indispensable for the success of the project. It takes effort to leverage and climb the ladder of success. The journey is indeed rewarding and also a voyage of discovery.

Growing Pains In Love

Contributed by ~ Niilesh A Raje

Word love reminds me of a beautiful poem, "Love is like a butterfly, it goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes". Love is like a butterfly, was also a 1974 album by Dolly Parton. What intrigue me is the fact what is there in love or a relationship that makes today's youth tickle in their college days. Is love just a nature's way of giving that singular experience which is being plurally felt, witnessing a delicate merger of two souls.

The transition from school life to college life itself brings changes in many aspects of one's life. The change could relate to one having a new set of friends, being a victim of ragging or having a brush with that special girl in your class who warms up your heart only to witness the beginning of a relationship and a new spark of love. So, what makes love conduct like a butterfly? Well, the reasons might be many which includes handling one's possessiveness, one's ego or one's jealousy. There might be more but one can be assured of the above three.

By not returning back the calls or responding to the SMS an individual displays an inflated feeling of pride by proving their superiority over their loved ones which is nothing but displaying one's exalted ego. Sometimes, it's an individual's excessive desire to possess the loved one's which results in exhibiting an act of possessiveness. In relationship at times one of the partner's achievements in personal, professional or career life are making such a sparkling difference on their roads to achievements that one of the partner becomes a green-eyed monster giving them a feeling of jealousy towards their loved one's as they feel that there might be a good chance of the better half going out of their reach and meeting some one else on their roads to achievement.

Whatever might be the reason the fact remains that instead of narrowing down the split in the relationship it starts widening up and a crack starts developing up in such relationships and it is that crack which makes love conduct like a butterfly. Each of the partner then decides to go their way and part their ways. It takes time for an person to come out of the woods of a broken heart but it's only with passage of time one comes out of those woods leaving them totally despondent and dejected. A message for today's youth would go well if one remembers the quote rightly said by George Bernard Shaw, "First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity".