Do you know what “ASAP” really means?

 

How many times have you been asked by your boss to deliver something ASAP, and your first reaction was to drop everything and start working on it right away? Only to learn later that not only the job wasn’t urgent at all, but also it was delayed, postponed, forgotten or simply cancelled?

Years ago, a Director asked me for a logo saying she needed it ASAP. Let me paint you a quick picture:

  • The logo was not for any critical project. Did I know that? No.
  • The logo was for her intranet channel. Yeap, I’m serious.
  • It was after 5.30 pm.
  • Well, she was a Director of something, which meant she was important!

My reaction was to drop everything I was doing and deliver it now. Quickly, I talked with one of my designers and asked him to do it, he looked at me annoyed (it was after 5.30 pm!) and said, “but she said it’s ASAP”, and I was like, “and? It’s ASAP!”.

When I was learning English as a second language (I am Brazilian), ASAP was one of the first things I learned, and I knew it meant “as soon as possible”, but clearly I was missing something.

He went on to explain that ASAP did not mean urgent, replied to the Director and told her “let me know if tomorrow afternoon is ok to deliver”, she then replied saying “that’s brilliant, thank you so much”.

I was mesmerized.

So simple! The trick is to gamble a bit, giving yourself the deadline you need to deliver the task requested — don’t be greedy though, aim for a reasonable timeframe that is still comfortable for you. Remember to keep your tone positive: you want to help, and you will get it done as soon as you can. I can guarantee that if it’s genuinely an ASAP request, the other person will be super happy.

A few years later, I went to work at a place where “everything was a priority”. Before any attempt to improve or implement new processes, I needed first to understand why my team weren’t able to follow a workflow plan, why they were all feeling overworked and that nothing was under control.

Among some other things, I realised that they were drowning in ASAP requests coming from different stakeholders. They would get paralysed by ASAP requests thinking that they were urgent, dropping everything whenever they heard the word “ASAP”, delaying (without knowing) tasks that were actually important. Even a simple Urgent-Important Matrix didn’t work at the time, since “everything was a priority”.

I have to be honest and say that it took me a while to identify ASAP requests disguised as urgent ones were one of the root problems. Then, one day it finally hit me, maybe they too don’t know what ASAP really means.

Wait, what? Mind blowing.

It didn’t cross my mind that my team (all English speakers) could have been having the same problem I had a few years earlier! I thought that this misunderstanding issue was particular to people who didn’t have English as a first language.

When I told my team that ASAP does not mean urgent and they should just return to whoever asked them for something inquiring what the deadline was, it was a game-changer. Ten out ten times the deadline was for “the end of the week”, “next week”, “just when you get a chance” and so on. I know, right?

Why do people disguise something as urgent when it’s not? I don’t want to dwell on the reasons, but most of the time, they just don’t want to commit to a timeline; just in case they can get whatever they need sooner.

My advice is: take advantage of the situation to protect your time and your work. Send a message to the world that you are the one calling the shots.

Guest Author: 

Mayra Boppre is a Program Manager with 10+ years of experience leading multi-disciplined teams, establishing processes and systems in fast-paced, complex organisations. Mayra specialises in the creative field and brings her expertise and curiosity to help companies achieve goals and objectives. Mayra is PMI certified and holds an MBA in Marketing.

This article was originally posted in Medium  

Migrating a Node App to the Cloud

Migrating a Node App to the Cloud

I have a Machine Learning (ML) application running on my Laptop and I was looking for ways to improve my application accessibility and performance. My primary investigation was focused on migrating my ML application to the cloud. This blog describes my cloud migration journey, where I’ll highlight some of the main lessons I learned through the ML migration process. I was hoping that by migrating my ML application to the cloud, I’d have expanded performance upgrade options that couldn’t be duplicated with my local machine implementation.

The core of my project was a machine learning algorithm written in Python. My application data, on which the machine learning model was trained, was held in a local SQL Database. The application layer was implemented as code in NodeJS server that executed the ML algorithm, written within Python files, and displayed the Machine Learning results in HTML.

For my choice of cloud platforms I considered AWS, Google and Azure, and ultimately settled on Azure because Azure credit that’s offered through Microsoft’s Visual Studio Enterprise Subscription. It meant that I could port my Machine Learning application onto the cloud for no incremental cost!

There were two main tasks involved in porting my Machine Learning application to the Azure cloud:

(1) I had to migrate my ML training database to a Azure cloud DB

(2) Port my NodeJS functionality into a NodeJS environment within the Azure App Service

Microsoft’s developer guides made the experience of (1) porting the Database and (2) porting the NodeJS straightforward. However, I ran into my first significant porting challenge when I realised that the Azure cloud services doesn’t allow the equivalent of the NodeJS Child Process function to execute. I had to find an alternative means of running my Machine Learning python algorithm code!

Fortunately, Azure comes to the rescue through their offering of the Azure “Machine Learning Service”. Using Azure’s Machine Learning Service, I was able to create a Machine Learning Workspace (ML Workspace). The ML Workspace environment enables dataset importation, training ML models on imported datasets and deployment of models. The Azure ML Workspace models are created using Python, so I was able to repurpose my existing Python scripts, effectively eliminating the NodeJS Child Process invocation. Azure supports access to the model outcomes through a RESTful API. The REST API enabled me to query my model for new predictions.

The full support for Machine Learning applications on Azure meant I was then able to re-create my Machine Learning Model, deploy it, and utilise it for predicting new outcomes. I can scale my Azure services, if needed, as my datasets grow. I now have a much more flexible Machine Learning application, all with the help of Azure!

For all your Software Development needs please contact Aspira here.

Author: Alan Lehane, Aspira Software Developer

 

The benefits of project management – when done well

The benefits of project management – when done well

Remember the oft used swan metaphor? Swans glide gracefully by on our waterways, yet the onlooker is oblivious to the furious paddling under the surface that provides the momentum to propel them forward. As project managers, we are all too aware of the ‘furious paddling’ that propels us to successful project delivery, even with a sound methodology to guide us.

When a project is at the initiation stage, do we spare a thought for the consequence of not achieving any project benefits? We do not think that our project will unfold like the plot of some horror movie. Instead we focus on what action we will take to prevent failure.

Despite the challenges, we persevere. We refer to our standards and frameworks for guidance.  We share our knowledge and seek to learn lessons from our peers. To us the benefits of good project management seem obvious, but they can be difficult to define for someone unconvinced or new to the discipline. When asked “why do we need good project management?”, how would you respond?

The PMI’s white paper on The Value of Project Management, discusses why project management matters, and in a case study demonstrate how it has become an integral part of business. Their findings included:

  • Implementation of project management discipline enables organisations to obtain measurable results and change behaviours.
  • Adhering to project management methods and strategies reduced risks, cut costs and improved success rates
  • A review of the project outcomes showed that it delivered improved customer satisfaction by creating a more user-friendly process.
  • Good project management discipline stopped the organisation from spending money on projects that fail.
  • In conclusion, strong and disciplined project management practices will drive an organisation forward.

https://www.pmi.org/business-solutions/white-papers/value-project-management

So, why should your organisation implement a framework and follow a discipline? In simple terms, when you achieve good results, when you are successful, you want to repeat that success. Reasonably, we assume that what worked for us in our last project might also work well in our next project. And we all want consistent results. Consistency in performance and behaviour fosters a shared understanding. It facilitates the identification of efficiencies in business activities. When we all know what we are doing, why we are doing it, how we are doing it, it becomes easier to deliver. This shared understanding is often the antecedent to project governance, reducing the risk of failing, reducing the cost of failed projects, thus making our organisations more competitive in their chosen markets. Almost like dominoes, the realisation of one benefit, offers the opportunity of realising the next.

Ultimately, we pass on those benefits to our customers. The benefits of project management – when done well – align to the project benefits as defined in the business case that in turn align with the goals of the organisation and deliver real value to the customer. They are a measurable return on investment for the organisation.

So, if you want to learn more about the benefits of good project management let Aspira, whose mission is “to take the chaos out of project management”, help you on your path to enlightenment.  Contact us here.

Author:  Niamh Lynagh, Project Manager, Aspira.

Selenium for Automated Test Development

 

Selenium for Automated Test Development

Test automation is a hugely important part of modern agile software development. In this blog, we are going to focus on just one part of the challenge of testing in software development – building comprehensive software testing for user interfaces (UI).

User interfaces present a challenge for test development because of the complexity of user interaction with the software product. Most application user interfaces have users making choices, for instance, “where to save a file?”, “what to print?”, or “what file(s) to open?”, and these choices grow application pathways that require validation by manual or automated testing. Agile software development typically puts further demands on the software testing because of the requirement to have testing completed within the short agile iteration timeboxes. It is not uncommon for Agile Scrum teams to require their full testing validation to be complete within a two-week Scrum sprint cycle. These time constraints put more pressure on the testing approach and most importantly, the decision for which testing tools to rely on.

This blog illustrates some of our observations during our trial adoption of the automated testing tool Selenium, in our journey to providing automated testing for our Agile software development.

Challenge 1:

Our first challenge in the adoption of automated testing for our software development was to build a system that enabled us to write and run automated tests. Building these tools and test capabilities from scratch is normally way too expensive for software teams, and there is a myriad of automated software testing frameworks available to make the adoption much simpler. We investigated some common choices but settled on building our automation using the Selenium framework. Many of our developers had experience with Selenium automation testing development, and that made the choice of Selenium easy for our team.

 Challenge 2:

Our second challenge for our software testing approach was to ensure that our testing couldaccommodate complex application user interface components, like user prompts and  user dialogs, because all user paths must be validated thoroughly with test cases. Our challenge was to find a test automation tool that made testing of user prompts much easier, and we hoped Selenium would make our automation test development more effective for these UI requirements.

Without a tool like Selenium, we either had to physically monitor our test software, to ensure our test cases didn’t get blocked by a UI prompts, or we had to write extensive test code to deal with the UI prompts automatically, requiring a lot of test case development time. We were relying on Selenium to address these challenges, enabling us to quickly and easily build automated tests, without the need for manual intervention or a large test development cost, for quality product assurance.

About Selenium:

Selenium is an opensource framework for test automation. Selenium is commonly used for test automation for web-based applications. Selenium has built in methods that allow selection of buttons or prompts. Selenium specifically enables web development test coverage because it provides good solutions for supporting UI prompts and buttons. Selenium is equally effective supporting the testing of dropdown menus, checkboxes and various other UI components. Selenium has definitely made our automation testing more effective, and that has led to better quality software, and a better user experience.

In addition, Selenium’s browser support and OS support further enhances the scope and coverage of automation testing build on Selenium, so the investment in test development goes much further than just the initial platform the tests were built on. This reduces the time for creation and maintenance of an automation testing system.

In summary, Selenium is designed to dramatically improve the effectiveness of automation testing for complex web-based apps. In the next blog we’ll look at the benefits of Selenium for code at the infrastructure or data level, because Selenium is not just a user interface automation support tool.

For more information, please contact our Software Development Team at contact@aspira.ie

Author:  James Harrison, Software Developer, Aspira.

Covid 19 is eating Strategy for Breakfast

 

Covid 19 is eating Strategy for Breakfast

 

As 2020 began, we never realised that this global pandemic would be on the menu, invading both our lives and livelihood. As we try to process the implications of living and working under the shadow of Covid 19, we are all trying to rethink and reframe how we do business whilst at the same time safeguarding our lives. We are going through unprecedented change.

What is required is rapid innovation and time is of the essence. In the absence of a crystal ball, we have to consider all the possible scenarios and lead through strategic ambiguity. Success depends on moving the organisation forward precisely at times when the path ahead is hazy. We need to take pragmatic action in order to survive in this period of strategic uncertainty. We need to lead through change.

Communication is critical and leaders need to be visible and maintain frequent dialogue. It must be open and honest to maintain credibility. Even though leaders don’t have all the answers, communication is important to put everyone’s mind at ease and provide hope for the future. We need to communicate through change.

Please join us for our webinar, which explores how to navigate your way through the crisis and ensure your survival. We leverage change management principles and explore:

  • The five Stages of Disruption Denial
  • The Burning Platform
  • Successful Innovation
  • Decisive Action
  • Leading the new Strategic Direction

Please register here for this webinar.

Author:  Norma Lynch, Training Manager, Aspira.

The Importance of collaborative delivery

 

 

The Importance of collaborative delivery

Doing a good job makes humans feel good. Helping others makes us feel good. We take great satisfaction in being able to solve problems for people. A 2011 study on altruism confirmed the theory that we feel good by helping others, not because we are trying to avoid negative circumstances, but because behaviours like fairness, cooperation, and reciprocity are intrinsically rewarding (2011, Jamil Zaki and Jason Mitchell).  This ‘dopamine high’ is what we tap into when we encourage collaboration amongst teams – the belief that they will all feel a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at a job well done, when the desired results are achieved.

Great collaboration is key to the success of any organisation when delivering projects or change.  Fostering and cultivating positive working relationships between business stakeholders and product delivery teams is vital because the pace of change is faster than ever. In many organisations, these two ‘factions’ often suffer from having a poor working relationship, to the detriment of a project and its objectives. It can be ‘us’ versus ‘them’ and may seem as though they have opposing goals. Resolving this conflict and breaking down those barriers to identify common and shared objectives will ensure both teams align to a common goal and work collaboratively to achieve it. The whole team will then share a great sense of accomplishment when an outcome is achieved, and they will use that experience to propel them forward to the next goal.

Creating and cultivating these team and people dynamics is gold to any organisation. It requires considerable expertise in developing rapport across multiple cross-functional stakeholders.

This ‘Collaborative Delivery’ is valued at Aspira and we are proud that many of our experienced talent can bring this skill to our clients, thereby helping them to deliver successful projects through growing effective relationships and creating collaborative environments and approaches to project teams.

The next time you are considering a project, think about the human side and build the people first. Get the mix right, give them the tools they need and the ongoing reinforcement, resources and learning to continually improve every aspect of themselves and the project. If it’s done well, perhaps they can all then share in the collective ‘high’ when it is successfully delivered.

We at Aspira are here to help, For more information on how Aspira can help you with all your project management needs, contact us on info@aspira.ie or call +353 21 235 2550.

Author:  Maria King, Project Manager, Aspira.

DevOps Demystified

 

 

DevOps Demystified

The technology world in which we live is driven by a frenzy of competitive fast-paced product and solutions development.  With insatiable customer appetites, product and services companies can struggle to define the solutions that will keep drawing customers inwards and can also struggle with the technical challenges when attempting to building products and services at such an accelerated pace.   They are led to believe that DevOps is the key to enable them to meet these challenges.

Most people involved in technology are familiar with the term “DevOps” but the world seems to be divided into the few who are intimately familiar with it in all its gory detail, and the many who have just a vague idea about it all.

Aspira will explore the definition of DevOps and delve into the proposition that DevOps can really deliver such lofty aspirations.  One of the approaches that helps us to keep pace with is DevOps.

First, the name –  “Dev” stands for automation and agile development frameworks and “Ops” stands for the analytics from customer product/service operations of the systems.

Second – the linkage with Agile development – which is the norm in today’s fast-paced products/solutions world.  To build products and services at this pace, it’s not enough to use Agile processes – developers also need to build automated built/test/deploy workflows.

Agile development pushes companies down this path…forcing them to implement automation everywhere.  Agile frameworks like Scrum won’t succeed without extensive automation.  Being Agile also requires some form of timely customer feedback, and fortunately for product teams all over the world, we’re immersed in the world of data analytics!

The automation needed to build rapid products/services, and the analytics to get rapid customer feedback into product/service improvements combined is the scope of DevOps.

Join us in Aspira’s Webinar on Demystifying Dev-Ops where we explore this exciting concept that is driving huge grow of specialist expertise in the software world.  We will run through this definition in more detail, and then look at a recent world-class example of an integrated DevOps solution offering from Microsoft – Azure DevOps

You can sign up for the webinar at www.aspira.ie/events

Author: Jim Blair, Aspira Director of Software Services.

Leveraging and Managing The Potential of Your New Remote Workforce

 

Leveraging and Managing The Potential of Your New Remote Workforce

Event Details

A positive planning session, highlighting the opportunities and benefits of exploring the hidden talents of your current and future remote workforce.

This webinar will discuss how our newly remote workforce and our future hires can have a significant positive influence on your P&L statement:

  • Assessment advice on the maturity of your existing workforce and how they will adapt to remote working in the future
  • Planning a safe and healthy environment for your office’s future prosperity
  • Selection and recruitment strategies for growth
  • Leveraging new geographies, “project resources, sans frontiers”

 

Paints on a board

 

If paradise now arises in hell, it’s because in the suspension of the usual order and the failure of most systems, we are free to live and act another way.” ~ Rebecca Solnit

During my tenure at BASF in Germany, I had the good fortune to work with many different technical people from all over the world and the interplay, exchange  and collaboration has always stayed with me.

When I reflect on the great unifying experiences of culture and sports like the Eurovision, Soccer World Cups, Rugby World Cups, and contrast them with the struggles of all nations in today’s crisis, it occurs to me that we now must approach project resourcing very differently.

In short, ‘resourcing sans frontiers’.

 

The travel bug bites many of us and we experience other cultures and enjoy leisure adventures to the point where we are familiar with communicating freely with many different nationalities socially and at work.

We are all working remotely, where possible and as you will hear in our Webinar, we are also trying to facilitate people who need to be physically in an office, factory or outdoors.

Now as we recruit for new roles, in the new normal, it’s a critical requirement that candidates can be productive, secure and are both willing and able to work from home. Does that limit us?

I think not!

 

I see a world of resourcing sans frontiers.

Now, if we need a highly skilled worker with specialist domain experience, or niche industry skills, they can deliver that service from anywhere.

Our talent pool has opened up considerably, but so has everyone else’s. We need the tools, strategies and networks to compete in the new global markets, and unlock the potential of this new remote workforce.

At Aspira we have developed a toolkit that includes; recruitment assessment, technical tests, online validation, QA controls, and interview techniques that enable us to provide an effective virtual selection process on behalf of our clients and our own internal needs.

We will present case studies in our webinar about some of the remote resourcing assignments that we have worked on recently.

 

It is both a pleasure and a privilege to engage with professionals in IT & Project Management throughout Europe, the Middles East & Africa.  We have the same passion and enthusiasm to re-start, our economies and societies again.

This is true also with our clients, who enjoy working with our offices in Cork, Dublin, Amsterdam, UK, or the UAE, but are aware of the benefits in recruiting skilled resources from the multiple locations in EMEA.

Knowledge of the EMEA countries, culture, food or industry, makes for better conversations, quicker connections and valuable cultural contribution evaluations for our candidates and clients.

We have great tools to make connections, and our own application tracking systems (ATS) enables quick and easy processing of applications, tracking screening and security. We continue working with candidates and clients through project kick starts to delivery deadlines.

 

We tend to seek the positive aspects of life, and some of us loathe the disruption that change brings, but we recognise that we can rise to meet this challenge.…

Part of that change means that our borders and barriers to successful project delivery, have changed also. Resourcing sans Frontiers… is all about adapting to change.

Register for our webinar here.

Author:   Russell Moore, Head of Resourcing Advisory at Aspira.

Agile Project management- the practicalities & benefits of gaining Agile Certification

Agile Project Management

 

Agile Project Management- The Practicalities & Benefits of Gaining Agile Certification

 

I am a long-time practitioner of the predictive approach to managing projects, and in the past few years have been exposed to more Agile approaches.  I wish I had done so much earlier in my career such are the benefits.

The Agile approach has huge relevance in today’s project delivery environment and delivers a lot of advantages.  These include closer business collaboration, more frequent product releases and the ability to embrace change for strategic customer benefit.  All together these benefits provide a greater level of flexibility to meet & deliver on customer expectations.

To supplement my experience in the adaptive approach I chose to pursue the PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner Certification (PMI-ACP) to further recognise my experience as an Agile practitioner. The PMI-ACP serves as a formal recognition of my understanding and skills of Agile principles and techniques. It allows my employers, peers, and stakeholders to know the credibility of my agile capabilities and denotes both knowledge and experience, as both are needed to obtain this certification.

It is seen as a complement to one’s experience and is an industry-recognised ‘stamp of approval’.

With the growing adoption of Agile by organisations to align with the demands of markets & competitors, there is an ever-increasing demand for PMI-ACP certification and Disciplined Agile (DA) practises.  The PMI-ACP certification covers Kanban, Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Test-Driven Development (TDD) and Lean.  All of these have enhanced my levels of flexibility and capability in my day to day working environment.

To obtain PMI-ACP certification, I had to first complete an application via the PMI.org website. This was a straightforward process where I detailed my experience and education as there are criteria that must be met to obtain this cert. Once my application was approved, I was able to schedule my PMI-ACP exam for a day and time that suited me. The exam itself contains 120 questions with multiple choice answers and gave me 3 hours to answer all the questions.  The required mark to pass the exam is in the region of 70-75% though the PMI never share the exact number.

With my PMI-ACP certification, I have increased my value as an agile team member, through increased agile adoption, increased productivity and competitive advantages for my client organisations. The certification within the agile environment can potentially develop into multiple role options to pursue such as Agile PM, Agile Coach, Scrum Master or Product Owner.

To maintain my Agile certificate, I need to earn at least 30 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every 3 years.  This I fully intend to do as having the agile traits definitely makes me a more rounded and better-prepared project manager. Regardless of my project, client or environment, having that appreciation & understanding of Agile serves to enhance my capabilities.

Aspira are a PMI Registered Education Provider and Aspira’s CEO Pat Lucey will be delivering a virtual classroom PMI-ACP training course on 9th,12th,16th,19th,23rd,26th June.  Places are limited so to register for the course please contact training@aspira.ie  with a request about Agile Certification.  For more information click here.

Author:  Thomas McGrath, Senior Project Manager, Aspira.

The PMO: An asset or an overhead in a time of crisis?

Storm hitting a boat - Aspira.ie

Your PMO In a Time of Crisis. Your Lifebuoy In Choppy Seas.

For many of us we are experiencing the greatest levels of uncertainty we have ever known in both our personal and professional lives.

Looking for ways to survive and adapt to this new normal, we are being forced to re-evaluate what matters most. Some are risking physical health by leaving the relative safety of their homes each day to report for duty on the front lines, while others cope with the challenge to our mental health, as we ‘cocoon’ or self-isolate at home.

We are all dealing with the economic and financial fallout.

 

We have seen the majority of our businesses in lockdown, be they local or global, and this has had a huge impact on the way we work and deliver projects.

But now that initial shock has likely worn off, and the emergency Business Continuity Plans have been implemented, it is time to look to more medium and long term planning.

 

In a time of crisis your organisation needs to hold the line, share resources and build efficiencies. We are in this together.

That well-worn trope has never been more relevant. We see that there is a clear need for change but this change needs to be managed in a planned and controlled manner.

A lack of planning and prioritising of initiatives now may lead to wasted effort and missed opportunities.

 

The PMI® define the PMO as;

“A management structure that standardises the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques.”

But it is more than that. It is a key resource that can help guide the business through these uncertain times.

The PMO is well placed to help manage this change and it has a key role to play, supporting the business to focus their efforts on responding effectively to this crisis.

How the business responds now, is key.

 

On Wed 20th May, Aspira’s weekly webinar series will investigate the role of the PMO now.

We discuss whether the PMO is an asset or an overhead for your organisation.  Register here.

This webinar will explore how the PMO can:

  • Manage ongoing project activity enabling the business to focus elsewhere
  • Adapt to the changed environment by modifying processes and introducing new technologies
  • Help re-ignite strategic initiatives to keep the business moving forward

 

Article by Emma Daly, Business Operations Manager at Aspira. We at Aspira are here to help, For more information on how Aspira can help you with all your project management needs, contact us on info@aspira.ie or call +353 21 235 2550.

Value Stream Mapping within Project Management

Value Stream Mapping within Project Management

Is Value Stream Mapping (VSM) a tool that can be used within Project Management?

Working both as a Project Manager and a Lean Sigma Black Belt I have seen the advantages of using Value Stream Mapping within the management of projects.

Traditionally Value Stream Mapping is used within manufacturing to improve products for the customer, mapping all the actions required to deliver the product to the customer, visualising the waste, and highlighting where improvements can be made.

In Project Management the processes can be treated as a virtual product and also mapped throughout. The waste to be identified is any excess process time. There may be an area within the project which has a current process with a duration that is on the critical path. As a Project Manager you may believe that the process could be shortened but you need to have confirmation – often your stakeholders are telling you the process can’t be improved!

Utilising the theory of Value Stream Mapping the process can be seen as a product with a value stream, and mapping the process will realise where potential time savings can be made.

Value Stream Mapping differs from tools such as process mapping or layout diagrams because it includes information flow as well as material flow – this enables you to get a complete view of the process.

A value stream mapping activity engages the team members, and is helpful in providing a unified view for the Project Manager, stakeholders and team members. Some examples of where it could be used is the procurement stage of the project, user acceptance testing of a system and Software development.

I would recommend a publication by the Lean Enterprise Institute “Learning to See” (Mike Rother & John Shook) as a starting point if you are interested in using this tool, it gives a great example of Value Stream Mapping from start to finish.

Author:  Mark Davenport, Project Manager, Aspira.  We at Aspira are here to help.  For more information on how Aspira can help with all your project management needs, contact us on info@aspira.ie or call +353 21 2352550.

Unfreeze your Resources, Unlock your Projects – Delivery in the ‘New Normal’

Unfreeze your Resources, Unlock your Projects

Delivery in the ‘New Normal’

On the 13th of May, Aspira’s weekly webinar series features an engaging discussion into Project Resourcing. We provide insights and agile approaches that can help ensure projects are successfully delivered in the current climate.

This webinar will explore:

  • What is happening in the marketplace currently and how we see it trending over the coming year.
  • How companies can take back control of their project(s) destiny via optimised Project Resourcing Techniques.
  • How high performing companies are adapting to be successful today!
  • Practical and realistic steps to help companies / projects proactively build Project Resource capacity.

As a preamble to this engaging event, Russell Moore – Co-Presenter of this Webinar – provides his personal story that aligns with the themes to come on the 13th of May. We hope you enjoy the read and will see you at the Webinar.

When I was younger, I lived in a blissfully free existence of mind, largely down to the successful way that my parents protected and nurtured us through the minefield of growing up and completing our secondary education. Undoubtably, traumatic economic, financial and external forces were challenging our family, maybe not as dramatic as where we find ourselves today, but certainly significant enough to cause my parents to have the same sleepless nights that we are all having now.

As I see my own children now have their happiness and well-being challenged, I realise that we all need basic principles and sound decision making to ensure that we have the tools required to cope in our professional and personal lives. At Aspira I am part of the management team; I recognize that colleagues and staff look to me and others to provide security and comfort when all around seems desperate and chaotic. There was something about my own father that provided that level of reassurance throughout most of life.

Life goes on, and we will recover, because as human beings we have an enormous amount of resilience and the ability to change, adapt and rebuild. Earthquakes in Indonesia, China or Haiti, WW2, 9/11 or the Spanish Flu Epidemic to name but a few. In the business world, we have to adapt the same fighting spirit and plan our way out of the chaos, and put a firm and concrete foundation for recovery in place. A major component of this is people, your staff, your resources, whatever we call ourselves, we are the building blocks for the creation of new beginnings.

When I left home to go to University, the initial attraction was the fact that my newfound freedom allowed for a much greater appetite for risk taking. This took on many different forms, ranging from missing important Lectures, standard student pranks, unscheduled road trips, poor relationship choices and a cavalier approach to sport and personal injury. It was around this time that my father told me that I will ultimately have to rely on the Four Cornerstones of Life, as and when he might not be around to guide and stabilise my personal and professional progression in adulthood.

At the time, I worked out that Finance, Family & Friends, Health and Education were forming a foundation for me to thrive and prosper as a person. I was lucky that I had a firm footing; corner stones that created a framework for me to complete my degree, in England, France & Germany. Even when I lost a foothold on one of my cornerstones, the other three would support me and enable me to rebuild the other. But of course, later in life the inevitable happens, and you lose two or three cornerstones at the same time………..

For some, that is what it feels like, right here, right now. The familiarity of your workplace, the financial comfort of your job, your friends and family are all taken away at the same time. There is a huge imbalance in your life, and we find ourselves clinging to one or two cornerstones. Your family and home have become a massively important support, and at the moment, the foundation for your finances and professional performance. At Aspira, as a company, we have quickly had to understand and accept how this has all come about, and become the new normal for us all. Like many companies, we have had to mobilise rapidly and adapt, reestablish our cornerstones and create a framework for a different kind of future.

As the storm settles, and we see a calmer, more positive environment forming around us, we find ourselves re-routing to a new exciting vision. The measures we have taken to re-invent our offerings to online delivery, the support of our staff through technology and remote communications, the engagement with our customers and suppliers, and the cross-training of our staff is starting to create opportunities to stabilize and grow our teams and revenues again. At Aspira, we have Advisory services that can help our customers assess their current resource portfolio including staff capability, capacity and approach.  From this we can provide recommendations in terms of sizing of teams, optimal competencies required, appropriate ways to address future demands of a Remote/Office based workforce, and so forth. We also have the tools and systems to assess, test, evaluate and ultimately, select your new project team members. We hope that you will continue to enjoy our Webinar series.

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Auther:  Russell Moore, Account Manager, Aspira.