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Answer by Quratulain Habib:

This answer's focus is how to start learning on the job instead of reading and attending classes (because you can already find those answers on Google and Yahoo)

To become a project manager one has to start thinking like one. So for instance, you can start by segmenting your usual operational work into project tasks e.g.:

  1. Is it time to renew software licenses? Volunteer to get the quotes from vendors. This will go straight into vendor management (PMI knowledge area)
  2. When attending those boring meetings, volunteer to take down the minutes. When jotting down the minutes for circulation, put everyone's action items in a grid with their delivery / due dates (voila! thats your status report right there)
  3. Need to give an effort estimate for the next project bid, why not volunteer to sit down with the project manager or team lead and do the Work Breakdown Structure with them? Multiple sessions of this and before you know it, you'll be involved in scoping, planning, scheduling and costing of this project bid.

These are just from the top of my head. What you need to remember is that anything and everything that other people groan about is probably a project management task :/ So buckle up, smile and think that you're on your way to a thankless (yet monetarily affluent) career.

PS. PMI doesn't require you to be a project manager or lead for the projects you end up using as experience as long as you were involved in any of the project stages doing work in one of their knowledge areas.

PPS. A project needs to be a minimum duration of 3 months so even if at the onset a project task doesn't appear to be part of a 'project', go ahead and do it. You'll be prepared for it when a 'project' does come along and your manager or supervisor will assign you to take care of it.

What do you recommend to a young person with a bachelor's degree in business information systems to become an IT project manager?

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Answer by Quratulain Habib:

So many answers and none of them mentioned TimeCamp? Amazing!!! Here's what I actually loved about it:

  • They have a free plan as long as you're not trying to create an invoice through them for clients (suggest you use Freshbooks for invoicing but not for timetracking)
  • Their application runs in the background and if its set on auto mode, it will pick up keywords from all your Browser tabs, apps, windows applications and record them for that project.
  • Later at the end of the day you can just go into their web based application and go through the list of tasks that haven't been segmented into your projects…you can just move them manually and see how you've spent time on each of your projects. 

Yeah.. here's the address: Automatic Time Tracking Software | TimeCamp

What are some good free sites/tools for timesheets?

Posted by & filed under Musings & Views.

I recently wrote an article for the website Project Management Planet on the topic, managing virtual software management projects. The article came via Elance, a freelance website that I use at times to outsource project work or to work on projects myself. The site owner was very interested in my experience as virtual project manager and needed me to write 1200 words on it. While writing is not my bread and butter, I complied mostly because I did want to share my experience on managing projects virtually and because I can get some Cat-C Professional Development Units (PDUs) from PMI since I needed to do some research to substantiate my article.

The link to the article and website is above, have a read and let me know what you think.


Posted by & filed under Musings & Views, Technology.

RBS, Santander, Lloyds TSB, Halifax, Barclays, HSBC

This post has been in writing ever since I came to UK, got my own bank account, set up a direct debit and used my card for online subscription payments. Mind you, it has been a very unnerving experience since even after 6 months here, I am surprised when:

  • a transaction occurs 2 to 3 days before the given date of a charge
  • there is no acknowledgement or receipt sent by the company that has charged you a fee (which they will days before it is set to renew)

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Causes, Projects, Social Responsibility, Technology.

Last year I worked on a rural development project in Pakistan for 30 handpumps and here is my story. 

The Problem
There is a small village (about 500 families) in district Haripur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where Afghan refugees had settled for about 20 years, once they left, the land soil had been utterly destroyed for conventional farming and the wells had also dried. As a result, parents weren’t sending their kids to the local school and sent them off to the closest river about to collect water for farming, washing etc.

The Solution
The village formed a committee (community organisation) and submitted to the local council for handpumps to be installed all over the village. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Technology.

Via Quora What is the best way to shop online in or from Pakistan?

I have done a lot of online purchases within Pakistan through credit cards. I was also a Product Manager for a company that used to route all these transactions on the internet in Pakistan. Hence let me explain both sides of the story.  Read more »

Posted by & filed under Technology.

For information junkies and those who love to enlighten, Quora is a wonderful place to be. It is a world of its own and so far there is no competition on the horizon for it. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn have their own niche uses. Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends, Twitter for sharing links and getting in touch with people directly and LinkedIn to keep tabs on who is doing what. Quora brings Twitter’s ability to connect directly with people to a forum where everyone gets to learn from one answer. Ever wanted to ask an Iraqi what the war meant to them? A detailed first person account is there. How about, asking J J Abrams on how he started making movies? He gives an answer when he has time from making movies of course!  Read more »

Posted by & filed under Musings & Views, Technology.

Google+ is another social experiment by Google, followed by their past projects of a similar nature Google Wave and Orkut. I have been a beta user for the past two weeks and I fear this is going to be another failure, if we consider Facebook to be the hallmark for success right now. Here’s my take on this. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Books, Musings & Views.

Coat of arms of Hogwarts, the fictional school...

Image via Wikipedia

I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. For me it is a wonderful escape into an alternate world that manages to coexist with mine. It offers mystery, adventure, laughs, some romance and most important of all instructions on life itself. While there are many insights and goodies throughout the series, some are truly thought provoking and downright brilliant. Mind you, these concepts have been elucidated time and again over the course of centuries by various philosophers. For me however, it is the ease, clarity and simplicity of how each is described that makes them standout and get me to write this post here.

1. The Unforgivable curses

In the Goblet of Fire, their new Defense against the dark arts teacher, shows his students the unforgivable curses. Each curse is a fantastic embodiment of our basic human rights i.e. to kill a person (the killing curse), to inflict pain (the cruciatus curse) and to control actions of another human being (the imperius curse). Read more »