Monday, April 24, 2006

A Rendezvous with Training

In the last one year since I started working I had the opportunity or should I use the phrase a forced opportunity to attend a dozen training programs. The company I work in organized quite a few of them and other ones which I attended where out of my own pocket. Two weeks back I attended a two day workshop on COBIT 4.0. COBIT stands for Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology. It is mainly used in streamlining the IT controls within an organization and is being widely used in the industry especially in US for the Sarbanes Oxley Compliance. Well this article would definitely not get into the nitty-gritties of the COBIT but would throw some lights on the commonly seen uncommon scenes across all training programs.

Whether the participants are highly attentive and have spent a huge sum to attend the program, they shall and will yawn within the first 10-15 min of the start of the program. Coming to the classification of the participants, there are close to five types which I have come across. There may be more over which the people may have their varied opinions.
The first group “FRONT BENCHERS” represents themselves as the active, enthusiastic, intelligent and highly inquisitive group. The sole motive of this group is to
1. Raise questions every few minutes
2. Ask about the things which are going to come next in the session beforehand itself
3. Sit in the session and act as if they already know everything about the training program already and its only that they have come for some kind of time pass
4. Test the trainer’s abilities in delivering the content and
5. Ensure that they keep on discussing amongst themselves all the time

On the extreme end there is a group “DREAMWORLD” which is totally cut off from the training program itself and is in their own world altogether. This is a set of people who came to the training program because they were forced to do so. They have absolutely no interest in what is happening in the session and are busy in gossiping about the hotel, the food which was served, the HI-TEA which is going to come next and duration of every session. These people will normally sit together that too at the last seats only. Occasionally (refers to once in the entire session) one person would get up and ask a question which will not have any relevance to the topic under discussion. As Ram puts it for these people (You do not disturb me, I will not disturb you) is correctly applicable for these people.

Then we have a set of people “HARDWORKERS” who are totally new to the topic of the training and are trying hard not to doze off and learn something out of the program. They are hardworking, dedicated and question once in a while. They usually neither challenge the participants nor do they try to be too smart with the trainer. But the people in this set are really serious and once they understand the session or the training program well, they can give nightmares to the original trainers.

Afterwards, there is another set of people “QUINTESSENTIALS”. These people do not belong to any of these categories but are more oriented towards asking lot of questions which are highly relevant to the topic under discussion. These people actually take notes seriously, give presentations if required, complete the exercises given on time and religiously follow every part of the training. These people believe in getting the best out of the training. This set of people usually does not doze off and are always fresh and charged up during the entire course of the session. Usually this will be the lowest percentage set amongst the entire batch.

In the end there is this last set of people “DOCUMENTATION Group”. This is the most unique set among the above mentioned ones. These people irrespective of the session are most interested in the course material of the session, the handouts, the pamphlets, feedback forms and the courseware in the form of printouts. To be on the dot, these people are interested in what we call as the HARDCOPY part of the session. These people usually get restless if the notes are not provided or the printouts are in bad shape or the glasses kept on the table are not clean. They also are the time keepers of the session and keep on showing symbols whenever possible to ensure that schedule does not slip. All in all, this set is one who does a typical admin person’s job in a training session.

Well this was a brief description of the kind of people one can find in a training session. If you have any other option, do let me know. Hope you enjoy reading the stuff.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Infosys in SEC XBRL Project

Securities and Exchange Commission of United States has come out with a new way of financial statements reporting for the organization listed on the US stock exchanges. Now these days almost all websites have the facility of viewing the Annual Report in a very friendly format instead of downloading very large sized PDFs. Keeping in mind the latest trends in the XML, SEC has decided to do a pilot exercise which involves some of the best firms globally to submit their financial statements in what is called as the XBRL format.

There are close to 17 firms who have reportedly joined SEC in this exercise. It has big names like Microsoft and all together with an Indian name of Infosys. It is expected that these companies will help the agency in a big way to explore how new Internet based reporting technologies can improve the financial reporting process for investors, financial intermediaries, SEC, and the companies themselves.

This is another set of initiatives taken by the SEC Head Christopher Cox on the lines of ensuring a good corporate boards and governance. The firm who have been selected are leaders in the areas of this technology and hence will provide an ideal way to use this technology.

The pilot programme will simultaneously enable the companies to determine the benefits of using interactive data, provide feedback to SEC, and enable investors and analysts to assess new techniques for analyzing interactive data reports submitted to the agency in the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format.

Among the corporates that have joined the programme are 3M, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, The Dow Chemical Company, Microsoft Corporation, Mobile Reach International, Pfizer, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, South Financial Group, United Technologies Corporation, Xerox Corporation and XM Satellite Radio Holdings.

Meanwhile something about SBRL. XBRL is a language for the electronic communication of business and financial data which is revolutionising business reporting around the world. It provides major benefits in the preparation, analysis and communication of business information. It offers cost savings, greater efficiency and improved accuracy and reliability to all those involved in supplying or using financial data.

XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is one of a family of "XML" languages which is becoming a standard means of communicating information between businesses and on the internet.

XBRL is being developed by an international non-profit consortium of approximately 450 major companies, organisations and government agencies. It is an open standard, free of licence fees. It is already being put to practical use in a number of countries and implementations of XBRL are growing rapidly around the world.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

SBI Strike Ends

The week long and the first strike in the history of SBI has been called off just a few minutes ago. The bank union informed about the decision after sealing a pact with the government.

All India SBI Employees Federation Secretary PK Patnaik informed the press that the parties involved in the discussion have reached a cut off in terms of the demands.

According to Patnaik, SBI employees will now get pension equivalent to 50 per cent of their last drawn salary up to a ceiling of Rs 21,800. Beyond that pension would be given as 40 per cent of last drawn salary.

Previously, the cut-off point for 50 per cent of last drawn salary as pension was Rs 8,500 and above that pension was given as 40 per cent of last drawn salary. The staff will be back on their seats from Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the SBI management has informed the government that it has reached an agreement with the union representing the striking bank employees.

The talks were held in capital today and Finance Minister himself got involved him in the helms of the affair and ensured that the deadlock breaks. Appreciations for the finance minister in ensuring that the people in the country are not affected any more. After failure of talks on Saturday it was decided by the SBI Union to get together with other bank unions on Tuesday and do a massive strike.

Finance minister also said that the current payscales of the SBI employees were laid down in the year of 1992. So it is the right time to revise them.

As per the existing cut-off point, SBI employees get pension of 50 per cent of their last drawn salary up to a ceiling of Rs 8,500, which is Rs 4,250 per month. Under the new cut-off point, 50 per cent pension would paid on last drawn salary up to a ceiling of Rs 21,040, which would work out to Rs 10,520.

This is one of the land mark achievements for the Finance Minister in terms of his negotiation skills. Three state governments had withdrawn their accounts with SBI after the strike looked like never ending. Many corporate houses and the nation on a whole suffered a lot because of the strike. Definitely, if something happens for the first time in the history of 200 years of the bank, it does make an impact.