What is SharePoint?

 

 

SharePoint is a web-based, collaborative platform that enables Businesses to improve their Business processes, increase productivity and improve teamwork between their staff. It integrates with Microsoft Office applications to provide a document management and storage system; SharePoint is highly configurable and its use varies from one business to another. Businesses generally use SharePoint to create websites. These are then used as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device, from a desktop PC, to smart phones and tablets.

SharePoint is available as a hosted service provided by Microsoft or on Premise, where the server technologies required to support SharePoint are hosted on the client’s infrastructure and maintained by the client, or a hybrid of on premise and hosted.

There are currently 3 editions of SharePoint; Foundation which is free and provides simple collaboration using team sites, blogs and apps, Standard adds to this with Intranets, portals, extranets, search, and My Site social networking and Enterprise which adds business intelligence and office integration services. To see the full list of differences between the editions, please follow this link SharePoint editions. With the release of SharePoint 2016 Foundation is no longer available. In addition to these offerings of SharePoint we also now have SharePoint Online, which is a cloud hosted service as part of Office 365, however it can be purchased as SharePoint hosted only without the Office 365 offerings should you wish. This version of SharePoint is hosted and maintained by Microsoft.

 

  • Sites in SharePoint are where you store your data. SharePoint provides several Site templates out of the box that can be used instantly, two such templates are Team sites and Publishing sites. Both have different uses and different capabilities. Team sites can be used by your teams and departments, this site template provides the ability to upload documents to a library with or without version control, monitoring of documents with check in/out, metadata and tagging facilities. Content can be targeted to specific business users with audiences. In addition, you have pre-built workflows that can be utilised straight away. Publishing Sites allow you to control when and how content is deployed to the site using content management processes. Publishing sites are used to create public websites, intranets and communication portals.

 

  • SharePoint communities enable the sharing of knowledge using Wiki’s and Wiki pages bringing people together to share and learn. Information can be shared across your enterprise. SharePoint also allows you to tag content, you can understand the content and it’s use from its tags. Users can subscribe to tags to get to the right information faster.

 

  • With SharePoint, your content is all stored in one place. Typically, organisations store data in folders in file shares, with the result, documents get lost, users then end up recreating the same document. You can manage documents, web content and records on a single platform with SharePoint. SharePoint allows document versions to be managed, apply retention policies to documents to archive or expire your document or run audit reports. Metadata can be added to a document library to better describe the content and to find it using SharePoint search. With SharePoint’s office integration, your existing working environment remains the same.

 

  • SharePoint search provides one platform to access all your information in SharePoint in addition SharePoint can also search file shares across your enterprise and Exchange mailboxes using E-Discovery and then export the results for an audit or legal case. SharePoint enhances the presentation of the results which is a combination of refinement, people and relevance. On the results page of a search you will have metadata and tags to refine your results on the left side, with the most relevant results in the middle of the page and people suggestions on the right. Tags can also be used in search queries to locate documents or people.

 

  • Visualization of data in SharePoint is accomplished using reports, charts, worksheets, dashboards, scorecard’s and KPIs. Performance Point services, Reporting Services and Power Pivot enables reporting, analysis and creation of Charts, dashboards, scorecards, KPI’s. Visio services enables rendering of diagrams and charts in the browser. Excel Services enables you to manage Excel Workbooks as interactive reports.

 

  • SharePoint compsites enable you to create business solutions by connecting and configuring the basic building blocks of functionality, this includes combining data, documents and business process in a productive useful way. SharePoint compsites enable your Power Users to build complex business processes without the need for code. SharePoint compsites can be a simple as a document approval workflow, to a BCS (Business Connectivity Services) profile page displaying external data in SharePoint with create, read, update, delete operations.

 

Aspira currently offer SharePoint Consulting, Customization, Business System Solutions and Support. Our team of experts have accomplished numerous of SharePoint projects across multiple sectors such as Banking and Finance, Construction, Healthcare and Medical devices. If you are interested in any aspects of our SharePoint offering. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation on your SharePoint project.

Author:  Paul Cuthbert, SharePoint Developer, Aspira.

Top 10 traits I most admire in a Manager

 

I have worked for a variety of managers to date and have met many more along the way!  As a result, I have experienced many traits I admire and some traits I dislike.  These are the Top ten traits that I most like in a people manager.

  1. Give credit in public – acknowledge your staff’s contribution and don’t pretend you do all the work!
  2. Promote people with potential – you should look out for the high performers and help them become the leaders of the future.
  3. Be honest about people’s performance – give constructive feedback – both negative and positive and don’t make false promises about salary increases that will never happen.
  4. Create a co-operative and collaborative environment where peers help each other rather – avoid “warring tribes” syndrome.
  5. Don’t ask your people to do something that you’re unwilling to do yourself.
  6. Be respectful towards individuals.  People respond positively when treated with dignity and respect.
  7. Take the time to build team spirit.  Hold team meetings and build in time for team members to meet each other face-to-face.  This will dramatically improve their working relationship.
  8. Be supportive when your people make mistakes.  It’s easy to be nice when everything is going well, but great managers give support to their team members when things are going wrong.
  9. Trust your team to do their job – give clear direction and review progress, but don’t disempower your staff by micromanaging their hourly activities.
  10. Build relationships – work is about more than getting the task done, it’s also about building relationships with colleagues and stakeholders.  Great managers make an effort to connect on a personal level with their team members, helping to understand what makes them tick. And if they like Bruce Springsteen then that is a great start!

How many of these traits do you already exhibit?  At Aspira we do our best to demonstrate these traits, as I believe it is a key factor in any successful company.

I find this quote really good to guide my thinking and behaviours “People do not leave a company, they leave a manager”

Author: Mary Dwyer, Operations Manager, Aspira.

Project Resourcing and Staff Utilisation: A view from the bench, and the benefits of our virtual bench to our clients.

Using my regular football analogies in this blog, it occurred to me how the dynamics of staff utilisation in medium to large consultancies can have many similarities with the challenges of managing junior soccer teams. We featured our sponsorships of Cork City and Castleknock Celtic previously and my experience of managing under age teams has often helped me in my professional capacity as HR & Resourcing Manager at Aspira. I am under no illusions that Cork face much wider considerations and challenges but bear with me.

”Don’t you dare leave me on the bench!…..”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Aspira most of our staff work on in-house and external clients projects. They are specialist PMs, Business Analysts, Software Developers & Testers, System Admin and tech support professionals. As a consulting organisation, it is important that these staff are kept busy for their own personal job satisfaction as well as for the obvious commercial reasons. We hire staff who enjoy working with clients, have a sense of pride in meeting their expectations and feel comfortable with our policy of knowledge and skill transfer throughout project delivery. But there will be down time, and time on the bench….

All Aspira staff have a training plan and we ensure that time is set aside to complete training courses, upgrade certifications, and also work on Aspira internal projects. This utilisation strategy needs to align with our clients’ needs. They value our resources, and generally retain them for at least 3-9 months or longer in some cases. Our software projects tend to have more control from our side so we can plan downtime better. One of our .NET teams will be coming off a major project over the Summer and our plans are already in place to update and appraise their training and certification needs before they are snapped up again on their next client assignment.

This coming and going of staff in our Dublin and Cork Offices is something we are very used to. I know that many of us are always wary of being thrust onto tender work when coming off a project, but our Subject Matter Experts are the very reason that we have won so many public sector tenders. They understand what clients are trying to achieve on their projects, and are able to articulate very clear and comprehensive approaches to tender responses and proposed deliverables. As they are our own staff, we can stand over their delivery and make our prices attractive to client organisations. We believe that this level of engagement with our consultants give them a greater sense of belonging to Aspira, and more aware of our overall objectives.

So this brings me back to my football team. All parents want their child to play, but there are 16 on the squad which means 5 on the bench. I don’t expect any of those 5 to be happy to be on the bench, and I need them to be motivated and ready to play when I need them. I also need to make sure that the 11 on the pitch are set up in the correct formation, give us the best chance to win the game, whilst all are playing in their favoured positions. As with any company project or in the ongoing running of a client’s business, not everything will go to plan in a football match. The opposition are stronger, break us down on the right or left wing, have a greater threat at corners or present any other risk to our hopes of winning the game. So I make changes to counter that. We may switch to a 4-4-2 formation, replace a more skilful player with a more physical player, or use a different more direct approach that requires your tallest player up front. In that brief 80 minute period, the team that adapt better to the pitch, use their resources the best, have the highest work rate, play to a plan, and take their chances…..will win. I want everyone to play, and everyone to feel part of the objectives of the Club and our team. There are only 11 players on the pitch at any one time, but all 16 will feel rewarded in their combined efforts. Our players roll on and roll off the pitch, in the same way that our consultants help our clients deliver their projects.

We pro-actively manage a bench of skilled Project Managers, Business Analysts, Test & Test Managers, Software Developers and IT Support staff who can react promptly to our client’s project demands. Whilst this may not be as urgent or immediate as replacing my injured right back with a suitable substitute, it can be a huge benefit to our client to have a highly skilled PM come onto a project at short notice, and have an immediate impact on a project rescue or simply in standing in for a sick member of staff. The same goes for our SW development team. Clients may not have the headcount clearance to have 10 developers full time, which is where Aspira can help.

Aspira also have a proven resourcing methodology that allows our clients to issue staffing requirements to us, for diverse technical skill sets that our skilled HR team can source from our associate database or through referral. Our excellent screening processes, and inhouse technical expertise and prior knowledge of our clients work culture allow us to shorten response and lead times to fit the need.

 

 

 

In many ways, our children, players, parents and the wider community are the customers of Castleknock Celtic, and this is how I see my role as a mentor. In the same way, our clients staffing needs and projects demands are the priority of our Resourcing team. Please call or email me if you require our assistance in sourcing your staff solutions over the coming months.

 Author: Russell Moore, HR & Resourcing Manager, Aspira.

A Problem Shared Is A Problem Halved?

 

We’ve all heard the saying ‘A Problem Shared Is a Problem Halved’, but when it comes to Project Management is this really the case?

 

As a Project Manager, and a Mentor to other Project Managers, I often jokingly remark that my job can be that of a ‘PM Counsellor’. I meet with my clients for an hour at a time and, swapping a reclining couch for a Gantt Chart or Risk Log, discuss their most recent project woes, challenges and achievements. More often than not, whilst working together in this manner, we unearth potential solutions where there may initially have appeared to be none.

 

Over time, working with clients of varying levels of seniority and experience across many different industries, one observation has cropped up again and again. Sometimes simply the exercise of articulating a problem to an impartial third party can be just what is needed to gain perspective on a particular situation or challenge. In my own experience I’ve found that by providing a non-judgemental, supportive environment to the Project Managers I meet, they often answer their own questions in the process. Having neutral, unbiased support where there’s no judgement on the proverbial ‘stupid question’ can make it a lot easier to come to a satisfactory solution to the challenges that face every project.

 

When I reflect on my own career progression as a Project Manager I realise now that I may not always have leveraged the vast wealth of knowledge and experience of the people around me. There were occasions when I could have found a simple answer to a question, if only I had just asked someone on my team who I trust. So for those of you who are new to Project Management, or more experienced people who maybe too slow to ask for help, here are some tips to help you on your way:

 

  • Use your Team! Delivering a project is a collaborative effort and your project team are in it with you. Each member of the project team will have different areas of expertise and experience so don’t underestimate the knowledge which is readily available to you.
  • Talk to other Project Managers in your organisation – chances are they’ve faced similar challenges before and have the scars to prove it. I’ve yet to meet a PM who doesn’t love to be the Superman or Wonder Woman of project management solutions, and they will be happy to share their experiences.
  • Find someone independent to your project that you trust to give an unbiased opinion. When faced with a difficult decision, maybe treat them to a coffee and talk through the challenge with them. Often you’ll know what the best course of action might be, but saying it out loud, could be just what you need to gain a better perspective on the situation.
  • Get a Mentor – in addition to giving advice based on their own experience, a mentor will help you develop your strengths as a Project Manager and can introduce you to a network of people who may help your career progression in general.
  • Join a Project Management Community – forums like the PMI Chapter in your area or the various Online Groups that sites like LinkedIn provide, are excellent opportunities to meet your peers in both social and professional environments.

 

As the now iconic British Telecom ads of the early 1990s endorsed, “It’s good to talk”. Make this your motto as you navigate your career in Project Management.

For more information on Aspira’s Project Management Mentoring & Coaching Services please contact info@aspira.ie

 

Author:  Emma Daly, Project Services Director, Aspira.

BYOD Rocks! How the Joshua Tree influenced Mobile Device Management

The legendary U2 album “The Joshua Tree” celebrated its 30th Year in March this Year, twenty years before the formation of Aspira!   The Windmill Lane recording studio was used in the production of the album, which is around the corner from the new Aspira Docklands building in Dublin.   It is interesting to see the influence that this seminal work has had, both consciously and subconsciously…

 

Mobile devices in the workplace have rocked the World of many IT leaders.  It’s as if U2 played from the office rooftop ordering all the end users you support to buy as many devices as possible from the Streets With No Name and connect them to corporate services.

 

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) was born and employees Followed in the masse like there was No Line On The Horizon. However, it’s not all Bad.  There’s no point in Running To Stand Still or pretending it isn’t happening or saying “we don’t allow our employees do that.”

 

The truth is, it’s Out Of Control, they’re doing it already and will continue to inject noncompliant devices into your network With or Without Your permission. ONE recent Gartner survey suggested that currently, most employees are eligible to use their own equipment with employee data on board.

 

This is the Elevation of An Electrical Storm: how will you support workforce Desire to use personal apps and devices while allowing them to be productive in a secure environment that protects corporate data?   Here are eight tracks to try out:

 

  • Craft Policies, It’s Even Better Than The Real Thing.
  • Evaluate devices connecting to your network – don’t leave yourself wondering if I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
  • Authenticate devices and apply user acceptance signoff.
  • Security, corporate data protection, and compliance are shared responsibilities. There is no chance of reducing risk without cooperation. A self-service portal can help users understand why they may be out of compliance – Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  • Communicate the privacy policy to users and make it clear what data you can and cannot collect from their mobile devices
  • Isolate personal data from corporate data – North and South of the River.
  • Manage data usage on subsidized plans
  • Monitor devices continuously for compliance to policies

 

Surrender:

BYOD is an emerging best practice for giving employees the freedom to work on their own devices while relieving IT’s significant financial and management burdens. However, BYOD will never deliver on these promises of streamlined management and cost savings without a well-written policy and a robust management platform.

 

Stranger In A Strange Land:

Your business isn’t limited to your own systems. Thanks to access to cloud services we can communicate with customers, share files, collaborate, video conference and more. While these cloud services increase capabilities with good value for money, its important not to forget that every connection that reaches out from your network may open the door for someone to reach in.

 

It’s a Beautiful Day!

Aspira is celebrating its 10th anniversary in May this Year and will be announcing the opening of Aspira Docklands building beside Windmill Lane.  It’s The Sweetest Thing!

 

Author:  Luca Santos, Aspira IT Operations

From Eritrea to Aspira with Love!

Sami Habtemariam was 18 when he was forced to leave his home country. He was halfway through his second year studying computer science and had hoped to pursue a career in technology, when in 2008 he decided the time had come to join the hundreds of thousands of Eritreans fleeing their homes seeking safety abroad.

His mother had already arrived in Ireland in 2003, followed by his two sisters. It took Habtemariam two years of travel via Sudan and Uganda before he was able to join his family in their new home in Cork city.

Determined to go back to his studies, Habtemariam enrolled in a computer science course at Cork’s College of Commerce four months after arriving in Ireland.

“The toughest thing was definitely the Cork accent. Even though I had studied English for 12 years before coming here, nothing prepared me for understanding the speed of the Cork accent. When I tried to speak in English I had to think in my own language first and translate. I couldn’t understand what the teachers were saying. Spoken and written English are two very different things.”

He was very grateful when an Irish classmate made the effort to show him around Cork. “When I first started my classes I felt like the new one and didn’t feel comfortable. But there was this guy next to me who was supportive and asked where I was from.

“He gave me hope. He told me about Cork and in his spare time he took me out to see the city. He is the best person ever and we’re still good friends.”

I’d go to Belfast at midnight on a Thursday to be in time for class on Friday morning

He also struggled to adjust to the Irish climate. “Where I grew up we would have four months of rain, but then it would be completely dry for the next eight months. In Ireland, I don’t think the phrase ‘completely dry’ even exists!”

 Job and Postgrad

Once he completed his computer course, he was able to transfer to second year at Cork Institute of Technology, where he completed a degree in software development and networking. After graduation he was offered a spot on a graduate programme connected to the consulting company Aspira IT and began working part time while studying a postgraduate diploma in business and management two days a week at Queen’s University Belfast.

“I’d go to Belfast at midnight on a Thursday to be in time for class on Friday morning. I’d take the Aircoach from Cork to Dublin, wait for about two hours at the train station and then take the 6.45am train to Belfast. Then I’d take the bus to Queen’s 

“The Intertrade Fusion programme gave me the chance to work with experienced people, and the guys on the team were good enough to give me help and point me in the right direction.”

Despite the long hours between work on Little Island in Cork and classes in Belfast, the year-long project really boosted his confidence both professionally and personally. After 12 months on the programme, he was offered a full-time job with Aspira, where he now works as a web developer and software developer. As far as he is aware, he is one of only two Eritreans in Ireland working in software development.

Privilege of citizenship

Around the same time he began his new job, he travelled to Dublin to attend a ceremony where he was sworn in as an Irish citizen.

“Naturalisation is a great honour for me. I feel it gives me benefits but also responsibilities. I have the responsibility to serve this country as a national and transfer knowledge to others.

“I thank God every single day for the privilege of citizenship here. It is an incredible thing to live in a place where the rule of law not only protects our rights but ensures that anything is possible.”

“In Eritrea you couldn’t even move from one county to another without permission. But in Ireland you can go everywhere, day or night. I can now move freely around Europe as a citizen and have equal rights as a citizen.”

I have heard about racism in Ireland but it’s never happened to me

He has never experienced racism during his seven years in Ireland and says his friends, colleagues and neighbours have always been friendly and considerate.

“I have heard about racism in Ireland but it’s never happened to me. Maybe I’m lucky, but I can honestly say that I always find people welcoming. My classmates and my teachers were always very supportive.”

In December 2016, Habtemariam was finally reunited with his wife Winta, whom he has known since childhood. She was accepted to come to Ireland as a refugee after travelling from Eritrea to Ethiopia. “If you want to bring family here you have to have an income and be able to support the person. I couldn’t apply for her at the beginning and had to wait until I had a job. I don’t have that stress anymore. She’s here with me now, so no more worries.”

Cancer system

Around the same time as his wife’s arrival, he learned that he was to receive an award for his involvement in developing a system used to analyse the incidence and prevalence of cancer in Ireland. In January he travelled to Carton House hotel in Kildare to receive his award alongside the chief executive of Aspira.

He is now taking evening classes after work to continue his training in software development.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe how far I have come since moving here

“I like taking classes and I like learning. In technology you have to keep learning. It’s moving fast, so you have to go faster.”

“I have been in Ireland for seven years now, and in that time I have completed my education, entered the workforce in a high-tech role and managed to deliver an award-winning project. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how far I have come since moving here.”

He misses his family back home but reiterates how grateful he is to his friends, teachers and colleagues for their guidance and friendship over the past seven years.

“My message to other people arriving in Ireland with an uncertain path ahead of them is to seek out education opportunities, to work hard and you will be given the chance to achieve success.”

Sami Habtemeriam, Software Developer, Aspira

IT Estate by Design

The reality of business means that companies often either begin with less-than-optimal solution and system architectures as they face financial pressures, inherit end-of-life or entirely customised systems through business acquisitions and mergers, or, as often happens, the goals and business model changes as the company grows and the architecture that once enabled is now constraining.

Greenfield sites (such as start-ups and young enterprises) can save considerable time, effort and cost over the long run by investing in Aspira’s Systems Architecture Design Service and implementing the right architecture from the ground up. Brownfield sites (such as businesses with an architectural estate already built) can also benefit by availing of Aspira’s Systems Architecture Design Service when the time comes to implement new or upgrade existing systems, or to plan a parallel architecture and data migration.

“Delivering advanced architectural excellence requires a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals.”

Tangible benefits include a reduction in hardware redundancy, the retirement of appropriate hardware, identification of opportunities to move to cloud or virtual hosting as well as selection of the best fit COTS applications or PAAS (Platform as a service) solutions – all leading to a tighter and more streamlined IT stack.

When it comes to application architecture, the business architecture and the data architecture of an enterprise must be factored in before the application architecture can be successfully completed. Aspira works with clients to develop a target application architecture that realises the business architecture and the architecture vision.

During Aspira’s System Architecture Design Service, we can:
• Develop baseline business, data and application architecture descriptions
• Perform gap analysis
• Define Roadmap components
• Review Application Interoperability
• Apply your or create new Application Principles
• Create or apply your System Governance Model
• Confirm readiness and risk for business transformation
• Formulate Implementation and Migration Strategy
• Identify the Transition Architecture (if required)
• Guide you on Service Level Agreements
• Update your Architecture Vision/Roadmap

Aspira understands that companies today need system architecture that has a low cost of ownership, a fast return on investment, is flexible, modular and with a focus on configuration and not customization (to keep costs down). Not only this but the systems themselves must do more than meet current needs – it must be scaled for growth, performance, changing business requirements and meet company KPIs.

Delivering advanced architectural excellence requires a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Aspira’s team of architects have experience across a diverse range of industry sectors including healthcare, human resources, insurance and telecoms. Your entire stack can be optimally designed and delivered using Microsoft and other technologies, depending on your needs.

Whether you have your development teams in-house or outsourced, whether your stack is in your own data centre or you are using SAAS or simply are starting out from scratch, click here and talk to us today about how we can transform or create your IT estate.]

Lean in and become a ScrumMaster

Most software development teams are either agile or leaning towards agile. Scrum has revolutionised IT and has trended significantly in recent years and qualified ScrumMasters are the new software development accessory.

In today’s highly competitive environment there are increasing demands for rapid release of software iterations with a focus on quality at affordable costs. By embracing the Scrum Agile methodology and mastering the skills of the ScrumMaster you will see both the passion of scrum teams and their increased productivity unleashed within your organisation.

The ScrumMaster is relentlessly focused on leading the development team to success and ensuring their path to delivery of their goals is clear.

Aspira’s world class training will take you to the heart of what being not just a good, but a great ScrumMaster really means. So lean in to our two day ScrumMaster training course and you will learn to:

• Understand the principles of Agile and how to implement the Scrum Agile Method

• Learn how to estimate and create a realistic plan so that project commitments will be      delivered

• Increase your team’s productivity, and balance their workload

• Build up your capability to deliver early prototypes and projects

• Learn how to manage change when implementing Scrum in your organization

Aspira are approved education providers by the Project Management Institute, the International Institute of Business Analysis and Scrum Alliance. This means our Training has been audited by the PMI® and the IIBA® and meets their strict quality requirements. Click here to talk about your Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification.

Professional ScrumMaster courses – Earlybird price is €750 and includes exam fee

• Cork on 13th & 14th September 2016
• Dublin on 25th & 26th October 2016

Building a Solid Foundation for your New SharePoint Farm

Building a Solid Foundation for your New SharePoint Farm
SharePoint can be a powerful tool for any business. With on premises, Office 365 and hybrid options available, now is a great time to look into implementing this in your organisation. However, if you don’t start off on the right foot you can wind up in the all too common position of spending time and money on a system that your employees fail to see the value in. Here are 5 points to help avoid this:

Take the Time to Plan
The root cause of any failed or underwhelming SharePoint implementation generally stems from one place; a failure to take the necessary time to plan. This mistake is usually a result of budget limitations and time constraints. The focus is too often on getting SharePoint implemented as quickly and cheaply as possible. However, this approach will usually result in poor user adoption. This point is crucial as it greatly reduces the complexity of the following steps.

Don’t Deploy and Walk Away
With how easy a basic SharePoint install is now, there can be a temptation to take the out of the box setup and leave it at that. This is never a good idea. The business needs will change over time and require SharePoint to change with it. Even with a small, well planned solution, SharePoint will still require care and attention when given to the end user to ensure they can get the best of the features provided.

Start Small
SharePoint can be an extremely useful tool in many different ways. It can be used to help collaboration between team members, provide workflows for common tasks and processes, manage and control content and provide powerful Business Intelligence and Project Management tools. All of this can be customised to suit exactly what a business needs. However, all of these advantages can quickly cause headaches when not properly managed. Your focus in the beginning should be a solution that is small, simple and allows team members to see the benefit or the system. Don’t try to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them right away, expand after team members have a basic understanding and feel comfortable with it.

Training
Poor training for a new system results in poor user adoption for that system. That is a fact. If the first experience a user has is one of confusion and there’s no clear reference to reduce this confusion, they will resent the system. They may be able to use the system, but not to its full potential. There are three main points to prevent this:
1. Organise small training sessions of no more than 15 people per session. Keep the sessions under two hours.
2. Create short videos for the main features of the site and share these with users.
3. Provide a digital manual and share this with the users.
This may seem like overkill but it allows users a choice of how they learn about the system, letting them choose the one they prefer and ultimately being more willing to accept the system.

SharePoint Team Leads
Having an enthusiastic member in each team to act as a power user in your SharePoint solution is a useful way to ensure your transition to SharePoint runs smoothly. Giving these users one to one training and having them act almost as administrators for the system will prevent frequent repeated questions to the IT department as well provide a certain amount of visibility into the system. With these users included in the process people will be more understanding if you run into issues implementing the system. Without this your users can quickly change from supportive to disinterested in the solution.
SharePoint is the ultimate example of getting back what you put in. Rushed setups will leave users with a negative image that you will struggle to recover from. But, through clear planning, a willingness to listen to your users and communicate with them effectively you can provide a very effective tool for your organisation.

For more information on SharePoint solutions and other services Aspira provide, you can contact a member on the team on: info@aspira.ie

Security advantages and disadvantages of Private and Public Clouds

Cloud computing is a disruptive technology. It can be instantly deployed, scaled, metered and made easily available. According to estimates, by 2018, the global cloud equipment market will reach $79.1 billion. Already a massive market, in 2015 end users spent more than $180 billion on cloud services.

So what exactly is Cloud Computing?

It’s where a third party service provider can deliver your software and hardware requirements through the internet and you in turn then pay for the services depending on usage of the products. Today, a staggering 93% of organisations are running applications on cloud and 82% of them have saved money by moving to the cloud
In using the cloud, organisations can avail of the ‘online service’ or store and also use it to access data. The space where the data and applications are stored is known as ‘Cloud’. Before the availability of cloud, organisations would have owned servers, datacenters and other infrastructure elements required to operate the platform. Now many use the cloud.

There are two distinct types of cloud:

Private Cloud
Private cloud is a cloud which is owned by a specific organisation. The biggest advantage of using a private cloud is data security. According to recent surveys, approximately 66% of organisations are using public clouds.
Some of the security advantages of using private cloud are as follows:
• Data is protected behind firewalls.
• The datacenter can be completely isolated from the rest of the world.
• You can customize the access to data for individual employees.
• You don’t live on whims and fancies of your cloud vendor.

• Employees have physical access to sensitive data.
• Vulnerability to attack is less but not nil. In the case of a security attack, you are all alone to defend yourselves.
• Nature can spoil almost anything without notice.
• There are multiple external factors such as possible power failure, extreme weather conditions etc. that can impact your access to this data

Public Cloud
This is the kind of a service that can be offered to anyone. Google Drive and Amazon Web Services are examples of public cloud that are delivered via the internet. The computing processor and storage offered are owned by service providers or the third party cloud infrastructure providers. According to recent surveys, 88% of organisations use public clouds.
Security advantages of Public Cloud
• Your data is protected by an enterprise class firewall and multiple levels of physical security.
• There is no risk from disgruntled employees as long as passwords are changed regularly.
• The Security Expertise of your vendor may be beneficial while protecting your data from attacks.
• Security from Hardware failures.

Security Disadvantages of Public Cloud

• Your data travels all over the internet and is vulnerable to multiple types of attacks.
• You are at the mercy of just a user id and password – that’s all that is required to access your data from anywhere in the world.
• Your site may be physically accessed by other tenants.
• You are totally dependent on the whims of the cloud vendor.

Conclusion

Having evaluated your business needs and your desired level of security, you will decide on the right type of cloud computing for your organisation. However, you need not necessarily have to choose only one option. Perhaps you can take advantage of the best of both worlds. Hybrid cloud combines private cloud with public cloud and takes advantage of what each has to offer.

 

For more information regarding Aspira’s cloud solutions contact us on: info@aspira.ie

Open Source Vs in-house software

Today, Open Source Software (OSS) plays a dominant role in the IT world. It provides better security, higher quality of code and usually lower costs than proprietary commercial software. According to a survey by CNET*, 98% of Enterprises are using some element of Open Source Software. Gartner further estimates that in 2015, 85% of all proprietary commercial software packages included open source technology. Another recent survey of over 300 organisations by Accenture reveals that more than 50% of the respondents are committed to open source technology while around 28% of the organisations are experimenting with OSS. It is evident that organisations are finding more reasons for using open source technology than just saving the cost of licensing.

The Pros of Open Source Software

Quality of Code – Thousands of talented developers work relentlessly to refine and develop new features in open source software. This results in efficient and high quality code. In fact, a survey conducted in 2014 estimated that 80% of open source software users chose to use it due to better quality. As an example, Linux is widely chosen for it’s technological superiority and security.

Security – Unlike in the past, open source technology is scrutinised very closely by thousands of developers worldwide. Compared to proprietary software security breaches are rare.

Freedom, Flexibility & Innovation – You no longer will be dependent on your vendors’ lock-in, vision, timelines, prices, dictates etc. With OSS, you are flexible to innovate new products and applications out of your chosen software. You will have thousands of developers from across the world easily accessible to help you develop your product.

The Cons of Open Source Software

Open source software may look better than similar proprietary software, however, let’s not jump to the conclusion that OSS is always the best fit for your business. Like everything else there is two sides to the coin.

User Interface – The open source system may be technologically superior, however, not everyone will be happy to use it if it doesn’t provide user friendly interface. If end users are not comfortable with the software, their efficiency will go down and productivity will be hampered. This situation may result in a huge loss for the oOpen sourcerganisation.

Hardware compatibility – It is crucial to evaluate the compatibility of the OSS with your existing hardware. In certain cases, hardware requires specialized drivers from the same equipment manufacturer to work efficiently. Although there are open source drivers available for free, they may not work well with your specific hardware.

When you need instant and custom support – Open source software users take advantage of community support. When you face a challenge or come upon an issue there are always OSS community members ready to offer advice and share assistance. Even though this response is comforting, fast and supportive you still need to actually do everything on your own. In case of proprietary software, the vendor can provide customized support based on your requirements.

Conclusion

All in all Open Source software may on the surface seem like the better option for your business over commercial proprietary software. However, as an organisation you must have the resources in place to manage the open source efforts matching it to your specific business requirements. Not every organisation has the time or ability to do this. Consider your project needs and business parameters clearly before making a final decision on which option is best for your organisation.

For more information on Aspira’s in-house and open source software check out our website or contact us on info@aspira.ie

Creating Cross-Platform Software is a Challenge for Developers

User Interfaces affect User Experience

There are a number of challenges faced by software developers when creating software that needs to be presentable on both mobile devices and desktop or laptop computers.  There has been a massive shift towards people using their mobile devices to access a broad range of activities and services.  As consumers we will frequently access these services for entertainment and online shopping, while as professionals we rely on our mobile devices as almost an extension of the office – as a way to share information with colleagues or to engage with clients on a daily basis.

As both the number of users and the capabilities of mobile devices grow,  it is more important than ever that software developers will ensure their clients’ data is fully capable of being accessed on both the desktop and a mobile device – without any loss of functionality or appearance.  As easy as it may sound, it is not always a straightforward task.

CODE – Code Once Deploy Everywhere – has long been a mantra for developers, but it has become a lot more difficult.  Software may no longer works anyway and everywhere.  One of the major challenges faced by software developers who target both mobiles and desktop environments is how to construct an application which gives both the scalability and the functionality to retain an effective web presence. A development team now needs to cater for cross-platform functionality and accessibility. Today, as we develop software not only do we cater for devices and different operating systems, we also need to take into account their deployment targets; destination websites or applications; and possibly even different online stores and the processes involved in those stores.

User Interfaces affect User Experience

Furthermore most apps nowadays require social media integration in order for users to interact with the company/brand or share and  rate.  A few years ago, integration with Facebook and Twitter was enough.  Now you must consider LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and the list goes on.  Each social platform may require additional development work in order to integrate properly.  Even at the most basic level, it’s not enough to design a beautiful looking screen if it looks terrible on a small mobile device – it must be designed in a responsive manner that will look beautiful on a 4 inch screen or a 44 inch display.

Next time you notice with pleasure how nicely a web page or application works when using it from your mobile device,  spare a thought for the developer – he or she has had to work hard to deliver that positive experience!

For more information on developing software that is both mobile and desktop friendly contact us at: info@aspira.ie