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Saturday, May 31, 2014

SOX IT Compliance - Do we have enough IT Automation?

Do we have enough IT automation to avoid corporate frauds?
Following are certain IT SOX compliance areas which deserve to be prioritized for IT automation within each organization.

What is SOX?

Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) Compliance monitors controls for key enterprise-wide processes that have a direct impact on an enterprise's financial reporting. SOX Compliance documents, standardizes, tests and reports on these key controls in IT and the business to meet annual legislative requirements.The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (often shortened to SOX) is legislation enacted in response to the high-profile Enron and WorldCom financial scandals to protect shareholders and the general public from accounting errors and fraudulent practices in the enterprise. These scandals, which cost investors billions of dollars when the share prices of the affected companies collapsed, shook public confidence in the nation's securities markets.

The rules and enforcement policies outlined by the SOX Act amend or supplement existing legislation dealing with security regulations. The basic outline is as follows:

     1. Establishment of a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, where public companies must now be registered.

     2. Strict auditor regulation and control by means of auditing committees and inspecting accounting firms.

     3. Heightened corporate responsibility for any fraudulent actions taken.

     4. Stricter disclosure within company financial statements, and ethical guidelines to which senior financial officers must adhere.

     5. Authorities available to the Commission and the Federal Court, as well as required broker and dealer qualifications.

What are Key Financial Controls?
§  Financial Controls are those controls that primarily:
Act as “checks and balances” to ensure that the information on a company’s financial statements is correct.
Relate to the preparation of reliable external financial statements as published in SEC filings (10Q’s, 10K’s, annual reports) or earnings releases.
§  Key Financial Controls (KFCs) are the Financial Controls deemed most essential to a process.

§  SOX compliance only requires documentation and testing of KFCs.

The controls are generally 'programmed' into application systems with the objective of ensuring integrity of transactional and master data related to financial reporting that is initiated, recorded, stored and reported on in the application system or between multiple systems by executing automated functions related to completeness, accuracy and validity of the data.
Application controls are classified into two types:
§  Combo controls: control activity includes both a manual portion and IT system dependent portion
§  Automated Controls: control activity is 100% IT system dependent (i.e. has no human involvement)
     General examples of application controls are:
§  Embedded controls: controls programmed into a system e.g. calculations, edit checks, automatic holds etc
§  Reports: system generated reports e.g. application custom reports or standard reports and business object reports
§  Interfaces: data transfer between systems
§  Workflow: system generated workflow specific to a business process e.g. transaction approval routing.

What is User Access Controls (UAC)?
User access controls protect organizations information resources and the integrity of financial data entered, authorized, stored, processed and reported on, in applications used for financial transactions and reporting.

What is Segregation of Duties?
Segregation of Duties (SOD) is a key internal control that, at the most basic level, attempts to ensure that a user’s access to two or more phases of a transaction or operation does not create risk.
Within any flow of transactions, the same person should not be responsible for conflicting tasks, because this creates RISK. By dividing responsibilities, no one person has the ability to perpetrate fraud or cause errors in the financial statements.
What is Restricted Access (RA)?
Many processes and controls are fully or partially automated. It is impossible to think about the division of responsibility without examining the power that is given through user access to applications. “Who has access to what” is a critical part of examining opportunities to commit fraud or cause errors in the financial statements.Through the proper restriction of access to applications by roles and job functions, an organization can help minimize these risks. 

Tatkal Passport for Minor

This is based on my experience of November 2011 - Minor's TATKAL Passport @ Pune Passport Office.

 If you thought getting a tatkal passport is a BIG deal then you are wrong. You can easily get your tatkal passport on your own, that is, without engaging any travel agent.

Here are my suggestions for getting Tatkal Passport for Minor:

Documents Required :

(a) Birth Certificate of the Minor - Ensure that the name is correctly spelled on the birth certificate.

(b) Residential/ Address proof of the parent(father or mother or both) - You have to prove that you are staying at the current address since a year (or more). If you are not staying at the current address for more than a year then you need to give address proof of the previous residences (where you have stayed during the last one year). You can provide (any two) :
(1) Electricity Bills ( for example : Electricity Bills of Oct 2010 and Nov 2011 )
(2) A letter from your company confirming your residential address
(3) Your bank account statement of last one year (displaying your address)

(c) Passport of Parents (either or both). If you dont have one then first apply for it and then mention the file number of your passport application in your Minor's passport application. Having a passport is not a must but if you have it or apply for it then it will speed up the processing.

(d) Annexure H : This is a declaration from the parents on a plain paper. You can get the format from the passport website. No need to get it notarized.

(e) For TATKAL : You either need Annexure 'F' or you need the following 3 document proofs out of the 14 documents listed on the passport website and Annexure 'I' which should be notarized. In my case, I provided the following :
(1) PAN card
(2) Driving License
(3) Index II (property deal registration proof)
(4) Annexure 'I' - This should be in the format provided at the passport website. It is a declaration by the applicant and should be notarized. It should have photographs of the applicant and parents.


(a) Include your marriage certificate.
(b) If mother's name on the passport is the maiden name (that is, the name before marriage) but the minor's birth certificate has her new name then in the passport application for the minor you will still need to give the same name as on her passport (dont use her new name anywhere in the application for minor's passport).
(c) Register online at least two days ahead of the day when you want to submit the application.
(d) Reach the passport office at 9 AM or 9.30 AM coz there is a queue, even if you have registered online the time of appointment doesnt matter (it is first come first serve).
(e) All xerox copies should be self attested.

Also, refer minor passport annexure h on

Intention is that you don't have to visit a travel agent to get Tatkal Passport for Minor. You can do it on your own.

Useful Tips to Buy a Used Car in USA

What are the key considerations to buy a used car in USA ?

(read : What all things do you need to consider when you are new to USA and you need to buy a used car)

Following is some gyan which I acquired when I was going through the drill :

- We should prefer Honda, Toyota, Nissan.

- Mileage should preferably be less than 100K.

- Clean Title(Obviously).

- KBB value matters.

- You got to take it to a mechanic to ensure everything is okay at a high level.

- You need to pay certain % amount to DMV based on the buying price, so if you buy the car for 8K USD then you should think of showing it as 3K USD so that you can save some money. Remember to talk to the seller on this point before you sign the deal.

- Seller doesn't need to be present in person at DMV for the transfer or ownership. Seller just needs to sign the document and give it to the buyer. The buyer needs to go to DMV with required document.

- You should buy and activate your car insurance on the day on which you take ownership of the car in your name.

- You don't need a driver's license to buy a car insurance. However, if you don't have a license then the insurance premium will be on the higher side.

- If you are ready to buy start hunting on craigslist

- Also ensure to run a carfax report to check that the title is clean.

These were the points on top of my head, please add your suggestions.

Hope this helps.

Parents Visa for USA - Useful Tips

Based on my experience of Jan 2013

Step 1: Submit Online Application (DS-160) at

(before you submit the application ensure that you all the documents ready)

Step 2: Collect Documents

(a) Sponser Documents

  1. Letter to U.S Consulate General
  2. Affidavit of Support, Form I-134
  3. Letter to Parents to visit USA
  4. Copy of my L1B approval (Form I-797)
  5. Copy of Visa along with I-94
  6. Letter of employment
  7. Offer Letter USA
  8. Copies of last three salary / payment slips
  9. Bank Account verification letter
  10. Bank Statement
  11. Copy of Passport
  12. W2-Forms or Form 16
  13. Birth Certificate or 10th Mark sheet

(b) Parents Documents

  1. Passport
  2. Interview Letter (You will get it once you schedule the appointment)
  3. Confirmation Letter (You will get it once you submit the application)
  4. Photographs for visa
  5. Pension Documents
  6. Bank Statement or Passbook
  7. Property Documents 
  8. FD documents (bank and post)
  9. Family photographs 
  10. PAN Card 
  11. Marriage Certificate

Step 3: Pay fees and schedule appointment online at

Step 4: Appear for interview and get the visa stamped.

Additional Details/ References:

Santa Clara DMV Behind the Wheel Test - Useful Tips

Before you arrive for your “behind the wheel test” make sure you get your basics right:

1. Make sure you have good driving experience in California/ USA. At least, 500 miles of experience should be good.

2. Since you have scheduled an appointment for behind the wheel test you must have already got your learner's license few days back. Make sure you read the rules book again before you show up for the test. This is recommended so that the key rules will be fresh in your mind. For example, what needs to be done if school bus comes, what needs to be done if emergency vehicle shows up, what needs to be done if it rains etc.

3. For behind the wheels test you should use a car with which you are familiar. This will give you confidence.

4. While giving the test, just focus on driving and following the rules. Don't worry about what the examiner is thinking or doing or writing.

5. In the test, while driving, if you feel you have made a mistake then don't worry about it and dont allow it to block your mind. Focus on your driving and continue to follow the rules.

6. Before you show up for the test, make sure you know what are the major mistakes and what are the minor mistakes.

7. Try to practice on the actual test routes two days ahead of the actual exam date. This will make you familiar of the route, surroundings etc.

 Reference for santa clara behind the wheel test route:

Note: The above reference is for Santa Clara behind the wheel test route, similarly there is a different San jose DMV behind the wheel test route that you may want to google in case you are going to San Jose DMV

How To Acquire 60 PDUs To Maintain PMP Certification

Important Update: PMP exam is changing in 2016

Maintaining PMP certification requires acquiring 60 PDUs in a 3 year cycle. All you have to do is plan your 3 year cycle so that at a later time you don't have to worry about PDUs for pennies or PDUs for dollars.

Here are few tips on "How to acquire the 60 PDUs to maintain your PMP certification" in a 3 year cycle. 

1. Category F - Work as a Practitioner

If you continue to work as a Project Manager for the 3 years of your PMP cycle you can again 5 PDUs per year for working as a Project Management Practitioner in Category F. That is total 15 PDUs in 3 years. Yes, you read it right, you get 5 PDUs per year just for doing your job(active project management).

2. Category E - Volunteer Service

Volunteer for training or mentoring a group of people in project management concepts. This can very well be achieved at your workplace. Make sure you maintain a track record of the training sessions conducted for producing proof of evidence when required. 8 hours of training per year will get you 8 PDUs per year, that is 24 PDUs in 3 years.

3. Category B : Continuing Education

Attend training or workshops on project and program management concepts. This can be classroom learning or online learning. Most of the corporate organization conduct such training programs on a regular basis so you wont need to pay from your pocket. 8 hours of training per year will get you 8 PDUs per year, that is, 24 PDUs in 3 years.

 If you follow the above, you will have 15+24+24 = 63 PDUs at the end of 3 years without spending a penny. All you need is 60 PDUs in 3 years, so you have 3 PDUs that you can carry over to the next cycle.

USA Visa Basics(L1A, L1B and H1B)

Before you start reading, if you have any basic questions like how many types of USA work visas are available? or Which work visa category is for which purpose? then please read this post USA Work Visa Types - All You Need To Know About USA Work Visas

Once you have clarify on the work visa types, please go ahead and read few basic rules on US work visas (USA Visa L1A, L1B and H1B): 

Normal rules for continuous stay in USA would be: 

On  L1B visa:  5 years maximum
On L1A visa: 7 years maximum
On H1b visa: 6 years maximum

If you were on L1B and you moved into L1A then L1B+L1A put together up to a maximum of 7 years.

If it was on L1B converted into H1B then it is put together L1 +H1B:  maximum 6 years.

If you were on L1A initially and then went into L1B for some reasons, then the total stay would be restricted to L1A+L1B = 5 years.

The above rules are applicable notwithstanding  the fact, even if you get an I-94 which has dates exceeding the above periods. For example, if you receive a fresh 3  years I-94, when you are entering US  at the end of your 4th year stay on L1B, because you entered through a Blanket petition, you would not be able to stay for the entire three years, but will need to leave the US when you complete the fifth year on L1B.

B)   if in between you have spent some time outside of US on a transfer/break/leave/vacation etc. then  such a period is recaptured to make it to five years. However, the total stay cannot exceed the above period in each category.

C) if in between you have spent physically more than one year outside of US,  then the you can start the clock fresh again. Meaning, you would be entitled to a fresh stay as per (A) above.  Please note if you have made any B1 short trips to US during this time, you would need to spend additional time outside, to cover up this period to make to a physical one year to meet the legal requirement.

 D) Please note if you would reach the 5th year of L1B sometime soon,   you should check up  for a change of status to H1b at least a year ahead of time

Note: The above visa information holds good for visa type conversions l1a and l1b, l1b to l1a, l1a to h1b.

Read these blogs of interest:

How much money would an IT Professional Save in USA?

In 2016: H-1B and L-1 Visa Processing Fees Increases by $4000 and $4500 respectively

Other blog posts of interest:

How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break
5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations

Bonus: If you are interested in getting better at setting goals you may want to read this recommended book for setting high goals...

Friday, May 30, 2014

What are the ways one can make money besides earning a salary?

Part time work options:

- Use your hobby to write your blogs and publish your blog to monetize
(For example share tips and experiences on gardening, cooking, places to visit, trekking etc)

- If you have a blog or a website, you have also start affiliate marketing for other major websites like, hostgator, flipkart etc

- Use your hobby to create short videos and publish these videos on to monetize, you may start your own channel as well

- Freelancing/ part time jobs based on your skills, be careful while selecting the websites

- Conduct Tuitions/ Trainings based on  your skills - In person or e-tuitions

- Write small stories, novels, books and publish electronically on amazon

- Take up Data entry jobs online, be careful while selecting the websites

- If you can draw and paint then you can create and sell your drawing/ paintings

Investment options:

- If you have some money to invest then buying and selling property is a very good option

- Invest in mutual funds

- Invest in bonds/ shares/ derivatives

- Invest in fixed deposits, small saving schemes

Small Business:

Look for options to start a franchise, these days there are numerous local, national and international options available. You can choose based on  your interest and financial readiness.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

New generation Hindi Movie Formula

As they say Success has a formula, once you know the formula you just need to repeat that formula. While past year greats like Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra have all been targeted for making "lost and found" formula movies, here is a look at the new generation movies and their formula/ framework.

Here are few examples, just look at the similarities:

Rakesh Roshan Movies:

Prior Interval : Central character is not powerful and is taking the heat.

Interval : Now something needs to happen to make this character different/ powerful.

Post Interval : Becomes powerful.

Examples: Kishen Kanhaiya, Khoon Bhari Maang, Koyela, Kaho na pyar hai, Koi Mil Gaya, Krishh, Garam in June(I mean Karan Arjun).

Rajkumar Hirani Movies:

Munna Bhai MBBS, Lage raho Munnabhai, 3 idiots

Start with a dramatic scene, followed by a title song.

Story revolves around one central character who is trying to do something different to help people:

Munnabhai MBBS - Dutt trying to heal people with humanity
Lage Raho Munnabhai - Dutt trying to solve peoples problem with Gandhigiri
3 Idiots - Amir Khan helping friends to chase their dreams.

One hit dialogue repeatedly used - Jaadu ki jhappi, Gandhiri, All is well.

Subplots with emotions :
Jimmy Shergil is seriously ill - eventually dies,
Jimmy Shergil is taxi driver who wants to commit suicide,
Sharman Joshi - suicide attempt.

A movie called ...3 friends ...made twice with different names
( I mean, Dil Chahta hai, Zindagi na milegi dobara)

3 characters.

1 is hero : Amir in Dil Chahta hai, Hrithik in JNMD - Main heroine isi ko milegi.

1 is going to add light moment : Saif Ali in Dil Chahta hai, Ahay Deol in JNMD - Confused with Love, marriage.

1 is serious : Akshay in Dil Chahta hai, Farhan in JNMD - Emotional Character

Hero aur Serious character ki aapas mey nahi bangegi (for some reason)

Amir V/s Akshay.

Hrithik V/s Farhan

Light hearted character will be the middle man (Saif, Abhay)

Most of the time they will talk about friendship/ abstract things(sher o shayari).

In one movie they roam around in Goa and in the other one...they have budget so they will promote Spain Tourism.

Finally, adding Yashraj romances to the list

Just take a guy and a girl (actually male and female), let them fall in love and then have different permutations combinations. For example,

A) X loves Y marries Z. Then their children also have a love triangle of some sort which is difficult to remember.

B) X Loves Y, Y doesn't Love X. Y marries Z. Daughter of Y loves and marries X. Lol :)

C) X Loves Y, Y Loves X, Z Loves Y and goes insane to Kill X.

D) X and Y love each other. Sacrifice their lives for each other, get separated and finally meet in the end.

E) X and Y fall in love and marry after difficulties.

F) X and Y Love each other. X marries Z and Y marries A then X and Y try to workaround their marriage.

A) Kabhi Kabhi (B) Lamhe (C) Darr (D) Veer Jara (E) DDLJ (F) Silsila

Then there are others like Karan Johar and Kunal Kohli who follow the same combination of X and Y.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

PMP: Tips for PMP aspirants, Know the basics before you start preparing for the exam

Important Update: PMP exam is changing in 2016

Are you a PMP aspirant?
Do you want to know how and where to start?

Here are few points which might be helpful...

1.       Know about the exam before you start preparing. Best source of information is, download the latest handbook.

2.       Read the handbook to know the eligibility criteria, exam pattern, fees, application process and ongoing requirements.

3.       Understand the application process in detail. Evaluate yourself and make sure that your application fits in the eligibility criteria and is ready for the audit process.

4.       Take guidance from someone who has passed the exam recently and is ready to help.

5.       Try to leverage free resources available on the Internet and get a hang of sample questions and past experiences of folks who have appeared in the exam. Read blogs, articles and free books.

6.       Join any course/ training only when you have done the steps 1 to 5 mentioned above.

7.       Remember this exam will test your real life experience of project management by posting challenging questions on real life scenarios and situations, more or less like a driving license behind the wheel exam.

8.       At last, be prepared to put lot of hard work and extended study hours along with your job/ work. Training and exam fees should also be taken into account.

Some References:

Books: PMBOK, PMP Exam Prep - Rita Mulcahy

39 Questions For Effective Project Management

Other than making sure that the scope is defined and high level risks are identified, documented and communicated; ask these execution level questions before you commence an IT Software Development Project:

Effort Estimation
What is the basis of effort estimation?
Do we have enough information to estimate the efforts?
How will we communicate?
How many mailer aliases do we need?
How many meetings do we need? - Meeting frequency
What is the best timings for global meetings? - Meeting timings
Who will record and publish the Minutes of meeting?
Who is going to attend which meeting? - Role and responsibility driven
What is the format and frequency for Senior management status update ?- E-mail and/or meetings
What is the format and frequency for Client/ Customer status updates ?– Format and frequency. Email and/or meetings.
Do we need One on one meetings? If yes then at what levels?
Do we have the required access to tools/ applications?
Have we identified all IT Stakeholders?
Have we identified all Business Stakeholders?
Have we identified all End Customer Stakeholders?
Who are the key stakeholders? - the decision makers
Team composition
Have we identified all the skill sets required?
What are the special skills needed?
What experience level is required for all skill sets identified above?
What is the best Onsite offshore team composition – rotation?
Do we have visa ready candidates available to travel?
Coverage and budget
Is weekend coverage required?
Do we need to provide Onsite coverage from offshore?
is Extended support coverage required post Go-Live?
Is this accounted for/ budgeted?
Awards, Rewards and Appreciation
How do we recognize and appreciate the talent?
How to we keep the team motivated?
Do we have Organizational awards, project level awards?
Knowledge Center
Do we have the required domain knowledge?
Do we have the required technical knowledge and skills?
Is training required?
How much documentation is available?
Where will the documentation be stored?
Do we have the list of required hardware and software available?
Do we need approvals for any specific software needs?
Is the client going to provide the software/ hardware required?
Which tools will be used to for project management, defect management and support ticket management?
Implicit Requirements
Have we identified the implicit requirements like Performance of the application, Internationalization, SOX compliance, Alignment to UE standards , integration with the boundary systems etc?
Impact of Global Initiatives
Is there any initiative or program at the global level which impacts our delivery timelines? or efforts?

Read Another Article 
How Much Do Indian Professionals Save In USA?