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 is 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

Requirement Gathering – Overcoming Obstacles Along The Way

One of the crucial first stages of any project is the seeking out and to collect all-important business requirements. Establishing an entire set of needs at the beginning allows for superior planning, shorter delivery cycles, authentic estimates of project costs, along with
increased client satisfaction and the better adoption of the end product or service.

One of the main duties that a business analyst will perform is to successfully bridge the gap between the technical and business requirements. They are expected to fully comprehend the requirements of the company within the given context, then adjust these needs with the objectives and goals of the organisation. It is also essential that these results be communicated to either a development team, stakeholders or perhaps both.

In order to accomplish this successfully, the project requirements must be clearly and concisely written, in a way that is entirely comprehensible to both groups of people. It is expected that the business analyst, project manager or whoever is responsible for the analysis will have to deal with conflicting views and opinions from the stakeholders; there will frequently be challenges along the way to working out the exact plan and obtain a crystal clear picture of exact requirements.

1. Not defining the success criteria clearly
It is entirely natural for stakeholders to be aware that there are issues which need to be addressed, but not to fully comprehend what they require as a solution. One key element to help them to reach this point and address the issue is to break the project down into bitesize pieces. There are numerous collaboration modelling tools, which allow this – providing the clients with a high-level overview of the vision.
What is key, is to try to fully ascertain what they like, you can ask them to give you examples of products they prefer, and to elaborate on why they like them. Making the requirements fully quantifiable and conclusive.

 

2. Stakeholders may have a conflicting interest or priority
When introducing a new process, system or product, it is essential that it adheres to the requirements of multiple groups of stakeholders, these could be senior management, investors or even end users of the product. It is possible, and almost probable that these groups of people will have conflicting priorities or views on this. We have found one of the best ways to tackle this challenge, is to always have an assigned authority within the business. This is somebody who can take charge of the negotiations, and also who has the final say in making the decision. Without this person, it is often exceptionally challenging to resolve this type of conflict.
This part of gathering requirement is crucial, it ensures that any proposed terms are not out of scope, nor do they promote any individual agenda – as opposed to the overall company vision at the heart of the project.
3. Stakeholders who are over forceful or do not speak up
If you are dealing with this issue, rest assured – it is likely that it is nothing at all to do with your project. These issues are frequently experienced to be political issues within a business. People might even be afraid to get pinned down by expressing their views or solutions. Sometimes, the project may be of particular importance, and as such this will be driving everyone to want to be involved and have a say. Participation from stakeholders, along with active communication is a recipe for success when we look at the requirement gathering processes. Having these key people provide you with honest, open information will first mean you having to establish rapport and trust. Being well prepared for these meetings, listening whilst you are in them and learning from them will imply professionalism, interest and will also enable you to understand their challenges, which will enable to you focus on solving their issues.

4. Stakeholders may have a change of heart
From time to time, this can happen. It could be that the initial project requirements have not been entirely understood, or communicated, or perhaps, over the course of the project – they have evolved. Realistically, the only way you can approach this objective or challenge is to remain flexible and try to embrace the change. Any amendments will need to be correctly prioritised and there will most likely be new budgetary and timings which would need to be relayed and confirmed with the client before any modifications can take place.

5. Stakeholders insisting on a specific solution
This challenge will often surface when the stakeholders are limited with their technical knowledge in specific areas, if they had a particular technology in a past project work well for them, or perhaps, they are just unable to articulate in a concise manner what requirement they are needing to address. An ideal way to deal with this is to aim to divert their focus back to the definition of what the system should do. One way to do this would be to ask a question such as “if you were to have that system in place, which one of our problems would that specifically solve?”. Essentially it will be the technical team who work out how the system will do what it needs to, not the stakeholder.

For more information on Aspira’s Business Analysis services check out our website or contact us on info@aspira.ie

Project Management and the Self Destructing Project Update!

Social media is everywhere.

Of the 7.3 billion people on the planet, 31% or 2.3 billion people actively use social media to communicate, to share and to build a sense of community. In a parallel universe, some of the key drivers of Project Management are to communicate, to inform and to develop high performing teams. Given how popular and powerful social media has become, what will this mean for the way we manage projects?

Communication is considered to be the lifeblood of Project Management. The better the communication within a project, the better the outcome will be. Any tool that will help internal communication has to be seriously considered; particularly in today’s workplace where virtual project teams, spread all over the globe, are very common.

Some organisations already have begun to use enterprise-grade social media, although these business-focussed tools tend to be a little different to the tools that flourish in the wild. For example, Yammer is deployed as a business-focussed alternative to Facebook; various Instant Messaging tools such as Skype for Business take the place of WhatsApp and enterprise tools such as SocialCast are found in organisations as a replacement for microblogging tools such as Twitter.

The value of these social-media inspired tools is well known and this article does not intend to review those benefits in detail. Instead, I will reflect briefly on some key traits that will drive adoption of such tools within businesses and within project teams and I will highlight the important lessons we need to learn if we are to leverage the power of these tools to the potential.

Up until the 1980’s, staff sent and received their internal communications via paper using internal post – the Mail Room was the nerve centre of an organization. Then Email came in, and quickly became the dominant business communication channel. People of my generation started to use web-based email clients such as Hotmail back in the 90’s before they ever started work. Once those people entered the workforce, they were very comfortable with email, knew how to use it and indeed they expected it to be the primary communication choice in large organisations (apart from actual face to face communication – but that is a story for a different day!). The etiquette and rules of engagement when using email were understood by new employees before they even entered the workforce.

Fast forward to today’s new entrants into the workforce. These Millenials consider email to be from a bygone age. They are much more comfortable using more social media related tools. These are the people who will be managing large projects in five years time – and these people will expect to use the equivalent of Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram to communicate their thoughts and messages to the project team. Moreover, the project managers of tomorrow and will be using tools such ooVoo (Group video chat), Vine (6 second video loops) and anonymous confessional apps such as Whisper, and SnapChat – the self-destructing message intended for short-lived communications.

The important lesson for us incumbents in the world of Project Management is not to learn the latest hot tools that new entrants are using in their personal lives, but to understand that when these people start working in project teams, they will not only be comfortable with social media tools – they will expect and demand that those tools are used. They will view emails to be as old fashioned and cumbersome as we now think of ink and quills and blotting paper. They will treat cumbersome corporate collaboration tools as being a pale imitations of the tools they normally use.

Organisations must understand this change is coming and must design and integrate better enterprise-level social media tools which mimic the ease-of-use and the user experience of the tools used every day by the new generation. Some key traits that have been proven to influence enterprise social media tools are ease of adoption, performance expectancy, social influence and team trust. These elements must be designed into the new set of enterprise social media tools if they are to gain traction. Additionally, effort must be spent to ensure that business social media tools reflect the reality of how social media is used out in the real world.

It may not be long now before Vine-like video loops are used in getting project updates from virtual teams; we may see use of confessional anonymous platforms to reports project issues and how long before we see self-destructing messages are utilised to deliver sensitive news – a great solution to the “don’t shoot the messenger” problem in organizations. It cannot be long until you are live micro-blogging a big deployment in your organisation because that is the way team members expect to receive updates on events in general. If adopting these new social media technologies helps people to be more comfortable in communicating openly within project teams, this will be a huge plus for an organization and it will lead to more successful projects.

For more information on the integration of social media into project management practise please refer to the recently published Strategic Integration of Social Media into Project Management Practice or drop me a line at jerry.giltenane@Aspira.ie

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to

The famous Richard Branson quote that he penned in 2014 goes “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to”. The statement from the founder of Virgin Atlantic carries a lot of meaning, and it should undoubtedly be the driving force of every entrepreneur. Let’s take a closer look at these words from one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Branson’s statement has two parts. The first part talks about proper staff training and the second about retaining your staff members. As business people the question we need to ask ourselves is, is this truly possible in the real business world? Here’s how to use Richard Branson’s principles to get the best out of your business.

Nurturing Better Skills

The influence your staff has over the success of your business is enormous. By offering your staff the right training, your customers will benefit from high-quality service. And what more would any business want to achieve than customer satisfaction and a widening market? The success of your business begins with how you treat your staff members. Armed with the necessary skills, their productivity will undoubtedly be raised, and they will learn to work independently. This is advantageous to your business because it means you will have self-driven employees who are filled with the passion to deliver nothing short of the best results.

With The Right Treatment You Will Keep Your Staff

Once they’ve gained independence, it is possible that your staff will develop the urge to leave as they begin to feel that they can do so much more by themselves. They’re hungry to take on new challenges, and they certainly want to rank high in the staff hierarchy. What can you do at his stage? Most importantly remember that it is inevitable to lose employees when they feel they have increased their qualifications and experience and now have all it takes to take on new ventures by themselves. The answer of course lies in the way you treat your staff. If you manage your employees well, you will certainly retain many of them and this is so beneficial especially if you have taken them through training that’s geared towards bettering your business. It is very regrettable to train your staff appropriately and then after all, many of them walk away endowed with the skills you passed to them. Think about the competition they will cause when they are hired by a rival organization. Therefore, as entrepreneurs, valuing our staff is key to our success.

The Advantages of Professional Certification for Career Starters and For Maintaining Employability through Your Career

In the modern workplace, an interplay of several factors is essential to achieving success. Of course, you need the right qualifications to make your way into the system in the first place, and then you need to develop several skills in order to maintain productivity and be of true value to your organization.

The question of certification can be confusing. One might wonder just how important it is to get professional certification. Probably you’ve heard of people who are skilled and can do very well in a particular field but for some reasons, they are not certified? Therefore, you might ask yourself if you really do need professional certifications. The answer is yes. Professional certification speaks volumes of what an organization expects of you. It makes a clear statement about what your capabilities are to the employer and what potential impact you will have within the business. Professional certification also determines how much you will earn from a job and the value of certification cannot be underestimated. Being an accredited certified project manager as opposed to being a manager of projects will ensure you earn more and give you the opportunity to advance your career.

The concept of employability is critical for any worker. It refers to the ability to remain relevant in the workplace and retain high levels of marketability. Maintaining employability has to be the goal of any employee and it is only achievable if  you focus on keeping your skills current to allow you to adapt to the constantly changing workplace.. However, for someone who paid attention to employability, there will always be a source of hope lingering somewhere. What most people don’t understand is that it doesn’t take so much effort to be employable. It just needs adapting some habits like learning new things over a period of time and honing your skills. Taking a part time course is such a great addition and above all, updating your resume will help you a great deal.

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

The Secret (?) Life of a Business Analyst

Back when I worked in a telecoms company, there were various well defined roles – system engineers, software developers, testers, support engineers and project managers. We never used the term ‘Business Analyst’. Later, when working for Aspira and dealing with lots of different industries, it was a role that I heard mentioned a lot, although I noticed that different organisations seemed to define the role differently.

Some organisations seemed to consider a Business Analyst to be a System Tester – someone who would be familiar with system requirements and carry out detailed testing against those requirements. More often, organisations suggested the main responsibility of the Business Analyst (or BA) was to define and document the requirements and then hand them over to the system developers. A few organisations used the BA role exclusively to carry out Business Process Analysis, identifying the “as is” process and defining the “to be” process as part of managing change projects. Some organisations seemed confused about BAs versus Project Managers often using the same people to fill both roles. In order to figure out how to join this secretive Business Analyst club, we first need to understand how to define the role.

At its simplest, the Business Analyst role is to elicit and define requirements, whether that solution is a technical system or a business process. This means pulling people together to figure out what the desired solution needs to do, so the ability to run workshops and organize people is important – a trait the BA shares with Project Managers. Once the BA has completed the requirements definition it proves really useful to have the BA then review the Testing Strategy. This ensures that the Test Cases will give the solution a comprehensive verification and validation prior to the solution ‘going live’.

So it’s easy to see why different organisations emphasise different aspects of the Business Analyst Role – it is a very wide ranging role. What I find interesting is that it is a role that has historically been under-resourced. When Aspira are asked to take over a troubled project and recover it, one common theme we see is that the project’s requirements have not been clearly defined. No project can ever deliver against requirements if nobody knows what those requirements are. I know that sounds obvious, but I bet you can think of some projects you’ve worked on (or are working on!) where there was no proper set of requirements.

What do I mean by “proper” requirements? There are seven criteria that need to be met before I am happy with a set of requirements:

“Some organisations seemed confused about BAs versus Project Managers often using the same people to fill both roles.”

The Secret Seven

Comprehensive: Requirements must be detailed. If you were building a house, would you agree on a specification that just states “a bungalow”? No – you would want to specify the size, the aspect, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the build quality, etc. etc.

Complete: Requirements must be all-encompassing, covering all aspects of the solution. This means including both the functional requirements (e.g. the use-cases) and the non-functional requirements (e.g. the level of performance required, the level of data security required).

Coherent: The Requirements must be understandable and make sense. Some people go on an ego-trip when defining requirements and use loads of technical jargon that may not be understood. It is important that the people who will be using the requirements to design and build a solution can understand those requirements.

Testable: A good requirement has to be testable, otherwise it shouldn’t qualify as a requirement. We have to be precise enough in our terminology that when a tester goes to write a test case, there should be no ambiguity. The system either does or does not meet the requirement – there is no ‘in between’, and this should make our tester very happy! Ambiguity exists when a requirement can be interpreted to mean different things. Multi-Billion dollar international space exploration projects have failed because of people specifying distance in numbers but no units. The French team assumed it meant metres, the USA team assumed feet. When I moved to Cork and asked if it was possible for an engineer to deliver a piece of functionality, I was told “I will, yeah”, so that was great… I thought. I have since learned that “I will, yeah” is Cork ‘slang’ for “No”. So be careful to define your requirements clearly and with zero ambiguity so that they can be tested.

Realistic: While I may yearn for world peace and to end world hunger, it is unlikely that my next project will achieve such lofty targets, so it would make no sense to state them as requirements of the project. Any requirements specified must be realistic achievable, not a fantasy wish-list.

Achievable: Part of the Project Manager’s job is to balance the project constraints of scope, cost, time and quality. The Business Analyst role is to define the scope into a set of detailed requirements. But that should not be done in a vacuum – the BA must check what the expectation is for the project schedule and budget, and aim to define a set of requirements that can be delivered in line with those constraints.

Non-conflicting: It’s easy to spot conflicting requirements for a small project – if you are told to meet “a tall, small, dark stranger” you will immediately seek clarification on whether the stranger is tall or small. But if you have a list of hundreds of requirements, or if you are passing on those requirements to a bunch of different people to implement, it is quite possible nobody will spot the conflict and will build a solution that doesn’t work. So it is up to the Business Analyst to ensure that the requirements are all in alignment and do not contradict each other.

“A good requirement has to be testable, otherwise it shouldn’t qualify as a requirement.”

Internationally Recognised Standard

Over the past few years, the role of the Business Analyst has become much better defined and standardised. An international body, called the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) has defined the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®). This is analogous to the PMI®s PMBOK® for Project Managers – a collection of best practices that have evolved over time. The IIBA® have established a set of certifications for Business Analysts, which require the candidate BA to have completed 3 days of approved training, have a certain number of years’ experience, and pass a multiple choice exam. Once this is complete, the candidate becomes a Certified Business Analyst, internationally recognised.

There are fewer certified BAs than there are PMs at the moment, but the rate of growth for BAs is far higher as the industry recognition of the value of qualified Business Analysts has grown considerably.

Aspira has invested heavily in building a range of Business Analysis services, from consultancy to help our clients create better requirements, to provision of BAs, to provision of the 3-day certified BA training courses, we offer wide range of BA services.

For technical Project Managers, we have found that attending the 3-day BA course is very useful. It provides the PM with a far deeper appreciation of the BA role and how to elicit requirements, and even if the PM is not interested in becoming a certified BA, the training will deliver 24 PDUs to help the PM retain his/her PMP®  certification.

If you are interested in talking to us on how to de-mystify the BA role, or for advice on the most suitable BA training, please contact us at info@aspira.ie

Mission Complete!

 

The Project Management Professional (PMP) is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

The “Matric” re-loaded

Those of you of a certain vintage will remember the Matriculation exam – or ‘Matric’ for short. It was an exam that ran immediately after the Leaving Cert and gave people an additional doorway into university. Typically, people did a lot better as a result of the feedback.

In Aspira, we use a different version of the Matric to ensure there is a solid and effective system of feedback in place with our staff. It also provides an avenue to improve performance based on lessons learned.

Our ‘Matric’ technique is a relatively informal discussion between each staff member with his/her manager, typically twice a year. We have six questions that we use to set the agenda for that discussion. The questions ensure a wide-ranging dialogue that gives both staff member and manager the opportunity to address any issues.

By challenging their answer, it ensures that the person takes ownership of their answer, or at least it provokes a discussion where sometimes the answer may change.

Questions

he discussion takes the format of these six questions, using the MATRIC mnemonic.

  • Meaningful?
    – Do you have a meaningful job that makes a real contribution to this organisation?
  • Awareness?
    – Are you aware of the behaviours that we expect from you?
  • Training?
    – Has relevant training been made available to you to help you improve?
  • Real-Time Feedback?
    – Are you getting regular, real-time feedback from your boss and your colleagues, both to identify things you did well and to highlight ways you could do things better?
  • Individual Respect?
    – In our work environment, are you treated with appropriate sensitivity to your own circumstances?
  • Career Plan?
    – Do you have an exciting and realistic career plan that you are doing something about?

The employee is asked to state ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each question. If there is any grey area, the rules are that it’s a ‘no’. The manager’s goal is to agree an action plan that can eventually lead to six ‘yes’ answers.

Challenge

My personal approach when leading one of these discussions is usually to just argue the opposite to whatever the staff member says. I do this just to avoid the ‘lazy’ approach of giving six ‘yes’ answers and having a 30-second dialogue.

By challenging their answer, it ensures that the person takes ownership of their answer, or at least it provokes a discussion where sometimes the answer may change.

The most common negative answer I get is: “No – I don’t have a career plan”. I always encourage people to think about what they’d like to do in five or ten years’ time. Not because I can make it happen tomorrow, but maybe I’ll be faced with a decision as to who I should assign to a finance project.

If I know one person wants to be a finance director and the other wants to become a quality specialist, it helps me choose the best person for the role.

The next most common ‘no’ is to the real-time feedback question. So we often get into a two-way feedback discussion, where I share my views and invite feedback on how I’ve been doing. I may not always like what I hear, but I appreciate people being willing to point out how I can do things better and highlight my blind spots.

The question that I never argue the opposite to is the individual respect question. I treat a ‘no’ here as a serious issue and want to understand what’s going on to address it immediately.

I see the MATRIC as being a vital tool we use to keep in touch. It is not a performance management tool – people don’t get a score from it, and it doesn’t affect their pay. It is one of the mechanisms we use to measure the temperature of the organisation, ensure we are behaving true to our culture and improve by acting on feedback.

Try it out – it works.

The Challenges of Managing Global Projects

Global projects are an increasing reality for those working in a Multinational environment. It is commonplace to work with people in far-flung corners of the world, across different time-zones, united by the goal to deliver the project on time. There are lots of advantages to global teams, eliminating the need for shift-work, giving access to niche expertise, and facilitating lower project cost through use of a blend of near-shore and far-shore locations.

It’s not all plain sailing once the global project kicks off. Everyday tasks are more challenging, trying to get everybody across different locations to reach consensus can be like herding cats – a challenging pursuit. A few months into the project and the initial positive outlook can be a distant memory, with cultural differences and mixed messages causing distrust and negativity within the team.

We at Aspira have the capability and experience to cope with these challenges and set up a global project team to be successful. Our experience of working on international projects with a team spread all over the globe helps us to assist and manoeuvre around obstacles in a proactive manner – we have learned how to gather up those cats.

“Building up trust between team members requires that you demonstrate consistency between what you say and what you do.”

Managing the Global Team

Trust is an important element for any high performing team. It takes time to build up, but can be easily lost. Poor communication and mixed signals can cause some parts of the project team to feel superfluous to requirements and exposed. Then defensive behaviours set in and the circle of trust gets broken. It’s downhill all the way after that.

As with some many things in life, the key to successful management of global projects is to have strong channels of communication. Communicate, communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. Building up trust between team members requires that you demonstrate consistency between what you say and what you do. That means communicating clearly and then living up to what you’ve said.

It also helps to be mindful towards the others working on your dispersed team – be aware of the different time zones in which the individuals operate. It will not always be possible to get that perfect time slot that suits everyone, but having consideration for the team is important so that the same people are not expected to climb out of bed to join conference calls each week – the pain should be shared. There are various online tools which are available to help you to quickly work out timings for cross-time zone meetings.

Our experience is that global teams will appreciate you simply asking the team at the start of a project what their time zone is and explaining you will do your best to ensure that any online conferences or calls with take this into consideration. You explain that there may be the odd occasion where calls need to occur at an inconvenient time for someone, somewhere. Variation in the times is key as everyone will feel like their individual time zone is being taken into consideration.

“We are all guilty of pinging off emails and forget sometimes that we have a phone.”

Religious and National Holidays

Not as easy it sounds. If you are a global manager, understanding your team’s background is crucial. Being aware of local custom and events is definitely an important part of successfully managing a global team. National holidays can easily be picked up off the internet, it is always a good idea to put these into any project calendar, and then ask the individuals to check the project calendar to ensure these are correct. As religion is always a personal subject, a private email or message is recommended to ensure inclusion without prejudice. We use www.timeanddate.com which has both time zones and holiday information collated in one place for easy access.

Collaborate Effectively

Checking in with team members and occasionally using the phone is a great way to encourage collaboration. We are all guilty of pinging off emails and forget sometimes that we have a phone. If you have a long list of questions, firing off emails might seem like a good idea, however we suggest that the occasional call , and sometimes a little bit of chit-chat goes a long way to getting the best out of the team. Speaking on the phone can often help to convey a complex message which might otherwise be misconstrued over email. It is good practice to encourage team members to do the same. Remote working can sometimes feel a little like you are disconnected with head office or others in the team so this small gesture can go a really long way.

Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Unless something absolutely impacts results, it’s important to try not to get too worried about people’s individual approaches to their work, or their unique work style. Everyone communicates differently and each person has their own style. There are many different ways to get the job done; one way isn’t always the only way and some of these variations might be because of cultural differences. At the end of the day, the project is about getting the right results, it’s about achieving goals.

Aspira announces Rebel Army sponsorship

Aspira, the Cork-based enterprise IT project specialists, is to become a principal sponsor for Cork City FC for the much-anticipated 2016 season.

Aspira provides end-to-end IT enterprise solutions, including supply and installation of IT hardware and software licensing and support, expert consultancy, design and implementation of bespoke IT solutions and project management.

The company has been an avid Cork City supporter since its establishment in 2007, and has watched the Leesiders go from strength to strength as its own business grew. The sponsorship deal will see the new Aspira logo adorn the back of the players’ jerseys.

Aspira is a wholly Irish-owned and has its headquarters in Little Island. The company experienced accelerated growth of 65% in 2015 and in February 2016 announced the creation of 50 new Irish jobs, as well as the acquisition of an IT services firm.


“We are delighted with this show of support from Aspira, a company that has always been steadfastly behind our team. ” Tim Murphy, Cork City FC CEO

Speaking about the new sponsorship deal, Aspira CEO Pat Lucey said: “Aspira has always been a huge supporter of Cork City and the club was a natural choice for us to sponsor. We see many parallels with our own company, particularly their resilience through the tough times and determination to succeed – which has paid off in recent years.”

He continued: “Like Aspira, Cork City also had a great 2015 and were serious contenders for the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title, narrowly missing out. We know they will give another stellar performance in 2016 and we will be proud to see our new logo on their backs as they ‘aspire’ to win the League this season.

Cork City FC CEO Tim Murphy added: “We are delighted with this show of support from Aspira, a company that has always been steadfastly behind our team. We have started the 2016 season on a strong footing with an impressive win over Dundalk to clinch the President’s Cup and we will continue to build on this success – and on our record in the Airtricity League for the past two seasons. With Aspira on our jerseys, we hope we can reach the top this year.”

Cork City kick-off their campaign this Friday against Bohemians at Turner’s Cross.

Aspira expands with acquisition of B-TEC Solutions

This month, Aspira announced the acquisition and merger with B-TEC Solutions, the IT services and support firm. This will expand both companies’ range of offerings and provide a complete, end-to-end enterprise IT solutions service. The merged entity will operate under the Aspira brand and will include supply and installation of IT hardware and software licensing and support. This is in addition to Aspira’s expert consultancy, design and implementation of bespoke IT solutions, project management and enterprise IT services support.

Pictured above are Luca Santos and Bobby Murphy of B-TEC Solutions with Pat Lucey and Colum Horgan of Aspira.