Monday, 17 July 2017

5 Reasons You Need Project Management Skills

Everyone irrespective of field of study or level in career needs a basic knowledge of Project Management and I would tell you why in a minute.

Note the caption. I'm not saying you should be PMP certified. No that is not the point. Its about acquiring skills, not acquiring certification. They are two different things, as we would discuss in another article.

For me, I spend months working on projects(as a Software Engineer) until a year ago in 2016, i decided to take on a formal study of Project Managment and of course, I got PMP certified.

So the question is: Why would an accountant need Project Management Skills? Why would an engineer need PM? Why can we say every professional needs this skills? Here are 5 reasons

My Home Office Where I Study Project Management
My Office at Home Where I Study Project Managment

1. Its Part of Everyday Life
Picture two scenarios: 
Scenario 1: You need to go for shopping. The you pick up your debit card and then drive to your favorite shop. You spend some time going through the items and picking the items you think you need.  After about 1hour, you are done. You pay and then drive back home with the items

Scenario 2: You need to go for shopping. You decide how much you want to spend on this shopping. You look for the shopping list of the last shopping you did. Then you visit our kitchen, room, sitting room wardrobe etc to check what needs to be bought/replaced. Then you sit down and draft a list of what you need to buy in line with the amount you have decided to spend. The you present a copy of this list to your spouse(if you are married) and hear from him, and adjust your list. Maybe talk to your kid(s) if any to know what they would like mum/dad to buy for them and adjust your list. Then following this list you go to the shop and buy the necessary things in the list. After shopping you drive back home.

Which of the two scenarios mentioned above frankly describes you? I can guess! The first one 😀😀😀.
This is just one of the dozens of aspects of everyday life where the someone with PM skills towers over someone without. Lets move on.

2. It Helps You Manage Your Finances
One area distinguishing skill of someone with PM skills is the use of a budget for each period of time. Maybe monthly, maybe weekly or even daily. May of us don't. For me i have to put so much effort to maintain a budget myself. I can tell you, this requires some commitment, but its worth the effort. 

Benefits include: 
  • You'll be able to know how much you earn compared to how much you spend.
  • It will enable you to save. Don't ever believe the flawed notion that you can't save because your earnings are not enough!
  • You will be able to predict on when you could do certain funds-intensive projects(buy a car, real-estate, travel abroad, surprise your spouse or even quit the job and move on to something better!).

The concept of budgeting  is treated under the Cost Management Knowledge Area of Project Managment Body of Knowledge(PMBOK).

3. Helps You Make Good Use of Your Time
Have you heard people make comments like: "I don't have time". This statement I could say is one of  most incorrect and ironical statement that commonly used. Come to think of it. Everyday, you are handed 24hours free. So the question is how productive is this 24hours? How many of this hours do you put work? Always about a quarter of it(6 hours!). What of the remaining 18 hours. Take some time to digest this fact. PM skill would enlighten you an how valuable an asset time is and how you can utilize it in the most efficient way.
This concept is discussed under Time Management Knowledge Area. 

4. Helps You Relate Well With People(Manage People)
Do you need to be a Manage to be able to exhibit people-skills? The answer is no. But unfortunately, some persons who become manager in organizations don't even know that the most important asset to manage is people. Some get so much absorbed into managing funds and other assets and eventually fail in their role as manager as they don't have much skills in managing people. 
So when you see projects fail or abandoned, or even when plans don't work out, the problem oftentimes maybe lack of people management skills. Do you know that you can manage both persons above you as well as persons under you? This is so interesting because you could use this skills to get things done, get what you want from persons on authority and so on. Ability to manage people takes the power from these persons and put then in your palms.

5. Gives You an Edge in Your Workplace
Yes, this applies to every workplace. You actually earn respect of colleagues. For companies that are organized or have some measure of standards, you would also earn recognition in the exceptional way you handle matters, and even promotion and other benefits. Yes, I could tell you from my own experience that Project Managment Skills is indispensable to everyone.

Final Notes - How to Acquire PM Skills
If you are like me, that is if you could schedule some time to learn every day and understand, and be committed to the schedule, then you could get a Project Management textbook and read the relevant topic. Topics like Time Managment, Cost Management and Stakeholder management.
I have prepared some easy learning materials here.
Outside that you could also enroll for a few weeks customized classes on project management. The key to success is that as you learn, you apply what you learn, and you'll come to appreciate the power of Project Management in your professional life.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Banker's Nightmare - Cryptocurrency

Similar Topics

The time is now! The waves of change in the way we manage our funds has come sooner than expected. Be sure that in the next 8 years, approximately by 2025, the use of digital currencies would be widely known and accepted.

You need to ask yourself questions like:
  • What will happen when digital currencies completely replaces physical ones?
  • How can you prepare for this change
  • How can you take advantage of this prior knowledge 

Take note of this three classes of people:
  1. Category #1: People who have been uninformed of the changes in the particular fields that affect them are often taken unawares and end up as losers as they get to know when it becomes  too late.
  2. Category #2: The second group is persons who have a prior knowledge but could not take actions until its too late.
  3. Category #3: This class of people are persons that have the prior knowledge and took decisive steps to either benefit from the change or to mitigate any negative impact to this change.

So which group will you like to belong? The answer is yours. My role as a Tech Pro is to enlighten you on what the technologies is all about and that is what I have been doing. I have talked about cryptocurrency on an number of article as in the links below:

A Typical Example(In Africa - 2000-2015)
Lets take a typical example, still from the banking industry. In the 15-year period between 2000 and 2015, the banking industry underwent a complete migration from analog operation to digital/automated operation. This period saw the introduction of Automatic Teller Machines, used of POS terminals, use of Internet Banking, proliferation of Mobile Banking Applications among others. What was the effect of all of this to the personnel requirement of the bank? It means that since many of the tasks are now automated, then two things follows:

1. Many of the employees of banks would be thrown out of their jobs
2. Employees with skills related to digital banking becomes indispensable
3. Need for new employees who have  requisite skills to manage the new digital-revolution.

A New Change(In Africa - 2010-2025)
An new digital-revolution is staring us in the face. That is the move from physical currencies to digital currencies and move from a centralized financial system to a decentralized financial system. It is only in this way we can achieve concepts such as 'Cashless Policy', 'Zero Cash' and 'Anti-Money-Laundry' and so on in the fullest sense. Without used of a decentralized system, to achieve these objectives would be difficult. This is the same way the problem of Ghost Workers was solved by biometric verification technology. So you can't stand in the way of technology. 

The fact is: if you want to remain relevant, you get to first be informed. Learn what the digital currency technology is all about and how you leverage on its benefits.  As a cryptocurrency analyst, I would always be there to enlighten the public. That is what I owe everyone. The rest is for you.

Message to All Bankers
The time is now to understand the technologies. Get it on your finger tips. Learn about some existing cryptocurrencies. Learn which one is genuine and buy some. Watch the values increase overtime as its acceptance level improves. Let me know what areas you need more explanation. You may need to invest a little on one or more, name them Bitcoin, Ethereal, ZCoin etc.

Final Notes
In the next few years, the change would continue. This is not time to fold our hands and relax. Take steps to ensure you are not taken unawares. So get some materials, read, get enlightened. Maybe you can invest a little in a well-known cryptocurrency and see how things turn out. More importantly, try to understand the underlying technology behind it.
Thanks for reading though and be sure to check frequently for more on The Tech Pro.

Related topics I think you may like:

Friday, 14 July 2017

Smart TV Explained! Do you really need a Smart TV?

Good to see you again and today we'll be discussing the subject of Smart TV. I choose this topic because there's been growth in the demand for Smart TV in recent time and the corresponding affordability of these gadgets.
As the Tech Pro I choose to buy an LG Smart TV a few years ago and have since used it as an electronic gadget for home use and I think you need to get informed in case you already have one or planning to get one.

So the questions are
1. How does Smart TVs work
2. Do I really need a smart tv

Let's now examine the features that makes a TV Smart.

LG Smart TV
LG Smart TV

Supported by and Operating System
The key feature of a Smart TV is an Operating System just like a Personal Computer Operating System. No, not firmware, we talk about a complete operating system that could be replaced at any time. An example of such OS is the WebOS developed by LG Electronics to be used for LG devices including LG Smart TVs.

Network Connectivity
A Smart TV has a network connectivity feature allowing it to join a network just like computers do. A smart tv provide some or all of the following connectivity features
(1) BlueTooth Network Connection
(2) Wireless Network
(3) Wired Network Connection outside the regular coax cable connection(Either Fiber and/or Ethernet)
This means that you can create a home network where your TV belongs in and be able to connect to other devices at home including your PC, phones, tablets etc. That is what I do, so I could watch videos from my laptop without having to move files across.
Another cool feature of network connectivity is remote control application. This allows you to install a remote control app on your phone and then use your phone to control your tv from anywhere(I personally enjoy doing this!)
Then connectivity allows you to connect to the internet from your TV, read and post to Facebook, play Youtube videos, read your emails, surf the web and many more.

Support Application
A smart TV supports application installation. Although you could not install all your favorite applications into the box, you could have interesting apps including games you could download and set up in your TV. For me, I already installed over 20 apps including Flying Pig, Math Game and many more.

Internal Storage
For my LG Smart TV, I think I have 2GB internal storage that allows me to record TV programs and then replay it when I want. This feature is know as Time Machine. This means that you could control realtime TV programs as though they are recorded videos playing from a storage device. This is so interesting for me! Added to that there are a number of ports including USBs and HDMI port that allows you to attach additional storage devices.

Voice Commands
This is one of the most revolutionary features of a Smart TV, make no mistake about it, this feature together with other features give the Smart TV some edge over the PC. With the voice command,  feature, you could 'discuss' with your TV, telling it what to do without having to use your remote control. When you are done watching you could just say: 'Power Off' and and it obeys you. Or you could say 'Next Channel', 'Volume up', 'Volume Down' etc

Having looked at these features, the next question is "Do you Need One?". Note that there is a steep curve in the price difference between a normal TV  and a smart TV. So you need to consider the various factors before you spend even you you have so much. Though if budget is not a constraint, I would recommend to buy but some of the few points below need to be considered:

(1) Do you use your TV  for basic TV functions e.g. watching news and playing videos. Then you may not necessarily need a smart TV for now

(2) Do you stay in an area where internet service is very poor or expensive, then it would be of no use since the features of a Smart TV could only be utilized with a very fast internet connection.

(3) Do you have kid that may possibly like to play with it? Trust me, a smart TV is not a gadget for kids to play with and this means you may have to wait a while until the kids grow up before getting one

(4) Are you a Tech Pro like me? If you are interested in technology and modern trends in related fields, then what are you waiting for?

Video Conferencing Feature
This is another handy feature that allows you to have a video chat with a fried abroad or a meeting with colleagues in different locations. 

Final Notes
A smart TV is an innovation that could really replace the conventional one in years to come. And I'll say that after considering the factors and find out you need it, by all means, buy! It would be one of the best gadgets you'll ever have in your home.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Blockchain Technology Explained (Part 2 - Distributed Database)

Hey, good to see you again. Let's complete our discussion on The Blockchain Technology. Recall that in Part 1-The Estate, we gave a simple analogy on how the concept of blockchain applies to real life using an estate of block of apartments. You can read it up: Blockchain Technology Explained(Part 1 - The Estate). The explanation was so simple so as to allow everyone to understand the concept.
What is Blockchain? Subset of the Internet
A blockchain is a network of nodes(also computing devices) that work together to manage data and transactions on those data. This is the same way the internet is made up of computers that share information.
Now, since blockchain is based on the Internet, we can see it as a more powerful and secure subset of the Internet. 

Unlike the internet which contains all manner of junk, the blockchain holds highly sensitive financial records(ledger) which have been described a incorruptible(we'll come to that in a moment).

How Does It Work
A unit of data in a blockchain is called block. So the blockchain is an inter-network of all the blocks. Transactions are carried out on by those nodes. Transactions can be requested by user just like you and me. Transactions are what the name is, just like 'bank transactions' which includes opening a new account, making a withdrawal, paying into the account and so on.

How Blockchain Works
Figure 1: How Blockchain Works - Part 2

The Life Cycle of a transaction in a Blockchain is show in Figure 1 from when a user requests for a transaction to when the transaction is complete. I would now explain clearly each step of the process.

1. Transaction is Requested
A  transaction may be transfer of bitcoin to another account(user wallet), new user joining the system, buying/selling transaction etc. So in step one, a transaction is requested by a user which could be you or me.

2. Request is Broadcast
 Since the database is a distributed database, all nodes in the network needs to get the transaction request (in centralized database, your a bank teller handles independent of other bankers/customers). Simply put, everyone in the network/blockchain gets the request.

3. All Nodes Confirms and Validates the Request
This is where the system supersedes conventional system in the aspect of security. Before the transaction is entered, all node has to confirm and verify it. Making sure its authentic. The distributed database system handles this. It takes "some time", but it has to be done to ensure the integrity and consistency of the system.

4. A Block is Created (This process is called Mining)
When all nodes have reached a consensus that the transaction is legitimate and can be accepted, then a block can be created. A number of confirmed transactions is combined and recorded together as a block (a block is a combination of two or more individual transactions)

5. Block is Recorded
The recording is actually done in this step. In the previous step, a block is created by combining the transactions. In this step, this new block in recorded permanently to the chain.

6. Transaction is Completed
Here the transaction is marked as completed and relevant notifications are sent out.

Benefits of the Distributed Database
Added to the benefits you might have envisaged by now, the distributed database system have other benefits, two of which are:
1. Allows transactions to be carried out without the delays and bureaucratic nature of having a middle-entity such as banks
2. Continuous verification - Every 10 minutes verification is carried out to confirm the validity of transactions
I would stop here for now and I would like to thank you for reading. Do reach me if you would need any more explanation. If his have been informative do leave a comment below to let me know.

Don't forget to read the following: