Digital Transformation – it’s all about People

Digital Transformation – it’s all about People

In 2019, Digital Transformation was spoken about by many organizations seeking to change at a rapid pace.  In 2020, there has been little time for talk – people have just had to get it done.  So maybe it’s worth stepping back to reflect on what Digital Transformation is and what it entails for People?

People need to comprehend what is meant by Digital Transformation

The word ‘Digital’ in Digital Transformation may lead you to think that it is all about transforming the Technology. Well it is not that simple. While Technology is a key ingredient in Digital Transformation, People are most central.  Rather than simply digitalising a paper process, ‘Transformation’ requires a fundamental rethink on how core business products and services can be accessed, enabled, leveraged and imagined through the power of digital solutions.

People need to change & commit

Digital Transformation is difficult because it requires people to change at a fundamental level.  People find change difficult – it’s uncomfortable and there is uncertainty about whether it will work. This change is doubly difficult when it comes to changing the core of your business by leveraging sometimes unproven technology.

The ‘commit’ is the biggest challenge with Digital Transformation. It requires a sustained (long term) commitment across the entire organization. It is not something that will be achieved in 3-months or 6 months and then “return to normal”.  It is making a commitment to change what you do and how you will do it – forever.

Some companies behave like a child who is keen to get a new pet but does not have the commitment to care for and exercise that pet every day for the rest of their lives.  Embarking on a Digital Transformation is like deciding to build a zoo – you will have to keep feeding and exercising those beasts.

People need to ‘lose’ Control

Digital Transformation requires people to share control where we have many rather than one leader delivering. Transforming the core business needs business owners to take the lead, owning the innovation but delivering the results needs a strong cooperation with delivery experts such as an agile Project Managers.  An Agile PM will help a company shape innovative ideas into deliverable plans and onwards to great outcomes.  In, short you need the facilitators as much as the innovators.

 

In summary, these approaches I call the 4Cs People-focused Digital Transformation Model: Comprehend, Change, Commit, share Control – reinforces the fact you are fundamentally changing your company to have the capability, resilience and enthusiasm to continually innovate and wow your customers.

Done well, Digital Transformation goes viral amongst your people, ensuring the success of your company into the future.  Everything digital, at the speed of a click!

For all your Digital Transformation and Agile Project needs contact Aspira.

Author: Peter Ryan, MD Aspira Europe

 

How to Protect your Mental Health while Working from Home

How to protect your mental health while working from home

Winter, cosy nights in with the fire burning, hot chocolate on tap, the Late Late Toy show on in the background and nonstop Christmas, parties all these lovely images that could almost be a Hallmark card but this winter will be very different!

Like so many others, mental health issues has been a huge part of my life and they are now slowly becoming a normal talking point of our everyday conversations. With working from home becoming the “new normal”, one thing covid has taught us in the past few months is how important social interactions with one another really are. So how do we look after our mental health I hear you ask? Well, I’m going to give you a few tips on what I’ve been doing and what I hope might help you too!

 

Keep a routine – Trying to find the right balance between work and personal time is very important when working from home and this helps when you have a routine. Try follow your normal routine as if you are getting up for work, Try get up at the same time, eat breakfast and even try change out of those pjs (even if it’s just into some tracksuit bottoms and a new pair of fluffy socks). Most importantly when the work day ends, stop working. Click out of your working environment and into your home life!

Talk to others – Even a 5-10 minute quick video chat with a colleague can be so important to people. Whether it’s to get help with a project or just to have some interaction to break up your day. Human contact has never been so important and you never know how important that call could be to the other person. As much as I contest sometimes myself, even switching on the camera every now and again isn’t all that bad!

Activity and exercise – I know, I know it’s winter and it’s cold and sometimes miserable out there but getting some physical activity is so important. We spend sometimes 8+ hours sitting down over a laptop, we have to get out and do something to stretch those muscles. Whether it be a quick walk or bike around the block (don’t forget to keep within your 5km), a home work out or baking your ninth banana bread! Keeping you and your brain active are so important.

Rest and recovery – Good quality rest can really impact on your physical health as well as your mental. One thing I’m trying to do is a “digital detox”, after spending all day on your laptop I’m trying not to strolling through Facebook, Instagram and my new personal favourite TikTok for hours.

Me time The most important thing you can do for your mental health is to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge you can’t always control everything that is happening around you and you are trying your best and that is good enough!!

 

I hope my little tips help you out in some way or another and fingers crossed we will all be back to “normal” soon.

Author: Ciara Murphy, Technical Recruiter, Aspira

Aspira announces opening of two overseas offices

Irish company Aspira opens two overseas offices as it announces 30 high-level jobs

10 November 2020: Aspira, the Irish-owned consulting and technology specialists, today announced the opening of its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters in Malaysia and the expansion of its mainland European operations with the opening of its second office in The Netherlands. The company also announced the creation of 30 new high-level jobs. The new offices are being opened in response to increased growth in Asia-Pacific and the Benelux region, with Aspira prioritising having an on-the-ground presence to further build local relationships.

 

Commenting on the planned expansion, Aspira Group CEO, Pat Lucey said: “As businesses transform to cope with the pandemic, we are helping our clients to not just survive but to thrive through technology. We have seen a three-fold increase in demand for digital transformation services as companies enhance their e-commerce capabilities and supply chain networks as a direct result of the impact of Covid-19.

 

We can no longer jump on a long-haul flight to work alongside our global clients, so we are augmenting our ability to support clients remotely by having a physical presence in diverse parts of the world. To build these relationships and maximise our support to clients, we need to be on the ground in addition to meeting them virtually.”

 

The award-winning company has experienced accelerated growth, on average doubling in size every three years, driven by a number of new project wins. Aspira CEO and co-founder, Pat Lucey has been selected as a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the year International category for 2020. The 30 new jobs will be based primarily at the new office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with 12 positions in Aspira’s Dutch offices in Amsterdam and The Hague. The roles will be rolled out over the next 15 months and will include project management, software development and e-commerce systems positions.

 

Mr Lucey added: “We forecast overall sales to double again over the next three years, with international sales growing at an even faster pace. The new roles we are announcing today will strengthen our delivery capability and our management team at a time when we are expanding rapidly to international markets.”

 

The company opened its mainland Europe headquarters in Amsterdam in February 2019. The new Dutch office will be situated in the heart of The Hague business district at The World Trade Centre.

 

Speaking about the announcement, Aspira Managing Director Europe Peter Ryan said, “Aspira has always been on the leading edge of technology, enabling digital transformation and helping large scale businesses to unleash the power of ecommerce technology solutions. There has been a really positive response by companies in The Netherlands to our unique blend of technology and consulting services. To meet this increased demand, we are excited to grow our Dutch team, who will be based primarily here in our new office in The Hague.”

 

Aileen Cussen, Senior Development Advisor, Enterprise Ireland commented: “Enterprise Ireland has been working with Aspira since it was a start-up over ten years ago, supporting the company’s ambitious growth plans. Today’s announcement is a major milestone for Aspira’s international expansion, and we have supported this ambition though market development plans for these territories. By identifying key markets with a growing demand for Aspira’s combined service offering, the company is well positioned to accelerate its position in global markets over the next phase of its growth and Enterprise Ireland in Ireland, Malaysia and the Netherlands will be supporting Aspira along this journey.”

How to Protect Your Digital Identity

How to Protect Your Digital Identity

My PayPal account is disabled, my Amazon account is suspended, there has been suspicious activity on my IP address so my router will be barred… I am either flat broke (and I know I’m not) and can’t pay my bills or there is a problem with the provider, so I must click on this link to see what I need to do to sort it out…

Within the last 10 days I did get each one of these notices, 2 were emails and 1 was actually a phone call to my unlisted landline!  (yes, I still have a landline).

What is a fact is that each one of these was a phishing scam.  Now, I have worked in IT for almost 30 years so you would expect I would be sceptical and wise to these attempts, and I am, but there are many people who are not;  like my 70+ year old next door neighbour that calls me every-time she gets a phishing email and is visibly upset thinking something is actually wrong.

With COVID-19 and a large part of the population working from home, isolation, reliance on home broadband (as opposed to the it being the IT departments problem) and a general sense of nervousness means a lot of people are more open to falling for these scams.  These criminals are psychological experts at placing doubt in your mind, so don’t let them!

But then again, I have anti-virus, a firewall and encryption so I am OK.  Wrong again!  In our now totally connected world, while all of these security measures do offer a level of protection, they are not a silver bullet – a panacea for all security needs.

The fact is quite a lot of security breaches are as a result of an issue between the keyboard and the back of your chair…..  that is You!  Your digital identity is what these criminals ultimately want.  And they will have ingenious ways to try to get it.  However, you can take some basic and simple steps to secure your identity, these include:

  1. Be vigilant. No provider of a service ever asks you to verify anything by email.  You can do two things to set your mind at ease when you receive a phishing mail.  The first is look closely at the sender address to see if it is genuine.  For example, double click it (depending on your mail client) and you might see something like amazonsupport@yahoo.com – you can be pretty sure Amazon don’t use yahoo mail.  Otherwise you could telephone them, or login to your account (not by clicking the mail link you were sent, but by accessing it how you normally would) and verify everything is OK.
  2. Whatever system you are using, Google, Office 365 etc – all of these providers offer “Multi-Factor Authentication”. This is where, in addition to your password, you are required to verify your login with a pin code or automated call to your mobile.  If you have not enabled this service, do it!  This means if a criminal does get your password, they still cannot access your system – as they don’t have your phone.
  3. In addition to Anti-Virus on your device, install specialised anti-malware. Anti-malware service providers provide real-time protection scanning thousands of websites looking for malicious activity, so if you click on a link that may be taking you to a site that could damage or encrypt (with crypto-virus) your machine you will be prevented by the anti-malware.
  4. If you get an email from a colleague looking for account information, a banking transfer etc – unless you expect the mail, don’t do it! Call that person and verify the request.
  5. If you get a phone call asking for information, hang-up and call the provider on their listed number for support. Never give information to someone on the basis of an unsolicited call.
  6. Finally, make sure you have a backup of your data. Google Cloud, OneDrive, whatever is your preference, set it up and set it running.

These are basic steps; they should seem obvious and I hope for most reading this they are.  But for the non-techies out there that do get “hacked” every day, these simple steps should help prevent it happening to you!

Author:  Jason Boyle, Operations Director, Aspira.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER!

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER!

The more birthdays I have, the more I believe that nobody ever REALLY grows up!  Do I feel any different now than I did 10/20/30 years ago – not really (except 30 years ago I would have looked at someone my age and thought they were ancient!), so maybe I have grown up a little…, but I still have the same personality, strengths, weaknesses and stubbornness.  I just act like a grown up sometimes now, as in, I know how to behave in different situation, with different people.

What does growing up mean? To have responsibilities – yes, to act maturely – when needed, but I still love to prank people and as a ‘mature, responsible adult’ laugh at things that I probably shouldn’t find funny. Regardless of whether you’re 18 or 80, splash in the puddles, laugh at silly jokes, play hopscotch, enjoy your ice cream – HAVE FUN. My octogenarian parents have so much fun playing card games, board games, football and pranking their great-grandchildren, they say it’s what keeps them young – I want to be like them when I grow up!

‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing’ George Bernard Shaw

Growing up is like parenting, it doesn’t matter how many books you read on the subject, it still comes as a shock when you realise you are officially a ‘grown up’.  It’s what you’ve wished for all your adolescent life and you suddenly realise nothing much has changed after all, except maybe you’ve gained a few wrinkles! We do however all want different things out of life, and this determines the decisions we make. We are all learning how to be adults and will continue to do so all our lives!

‘Man’s flight through life is sustained by the power of his/her knowledge.’ – U.S. Air Force

Always remember that knowledge has no boundaries or age limit. Aspira is an advocate of Lifelong Learning (Lifelong learning is a form of self-initiated education that is focused on personal development. It is best described as being voluntary with the purpose of achieving personal fulfilment.) and encourages all employees to grow and develop within the Company through various courses that may be of interest to them, and beneficial to their future career.  Aspira also offers many different training programmes which can be tailored to an individual company’s needs, including Project Management, Business Analysis, Agile Training and Lean Six Sigma, these are all delivered virtually with engaging and interactive assignments to tackle before, during and after each session. Contact training@aspira.ie for further information.

So, what is holding you back?  Experience as much as you can, to be the best you can be. Keep an open mind because when you stop learning, that is when you stop growing. Live your life to the fullest.

‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’ – Betty Friedan.

For all your training needs please contact Aspira.

Author: Noreen Quinn, HR Business Partner, Aspira.

To Agile or not too Agile, is that the question?!

To Agile or not too Agile, is that the question?!

Agile certainly has its benefits, but it’s not always the answer. Taking a Hybrid approach may be worth considering as it can lend itself better to a given environment.

Initially it is worth considering the key reason’s organisations are adopting agile such as Faster time to market; Developing products; Risk reduction; Increased Quality & Efficiency; Improved Customer Satisfaction. Ultimately, the outcome is the key driver and the approach is simply what best enables the realisation of these outcomes.

An enterprise wide adoption to agile can be painful, time consuming and costly, so a Hybrid Approach which takes the best elements of Agile with minimal disruption might be a more prudent approach. A daily stand-up meeting is one such element of Agile that most environments could easily & seamlessly adopt to enhance a project teams’ focus during specific periods of a more traditional project delivery. Using an agile approach for one aspect of a project while using a more traditional (waterfall) structure for the overall project can certainly provide the best of both worlds in the right environment…for example, applying a traditional waterfall approach to your planning stage (where more structure and definition is required) and then using agile during the development phase generate more frequent outputs and/or increased customer collaboration and satisfaction.

Using agile, or elements of agile, doesn’t make sense for every project; culture and environment play a big part in determining the right approach to take. Environments with long standing rigid processes and policies are less likely to embrace agile, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible if considering a Hybrid Approach. The key is to be clear about what agile is and also what it is not, in that environment. One all too common misperception is that you don’t need a plan or to document requirements with an agile approach, therefore saving time and avoiding difficult conversations with users and stakeholders. Not True!

 Consider the merits of a hybrid approach

A hybrid approach can often be an effective way of working through challenging situations where your user (aka Product Owner) is not certain of the finer detail of the end product they need, but they know they need something to meet a certain objective at a certain time. As such, you can always utilise an agile approach with a wider traditional product construct which allows for iteration and exploration to get to the product required while still holding firm to a specific delivery date. Combining elements of certainty while allowing for cycles of iteration is a good balance of tradition and modern, as it provides increased levels of collaboration while meeting an agreed date for delivery.

Key points to keep in mind…

  • Agile is a set of elements, not a complete solution in of itself
  • Adopting agile doesn’t have to mean wholesale adoption and training your entire organisation in support
  • Using agile doesn’t mean you can’t use other methods or a blended approach
  • Is the adoption of agile right for your project or organisation…weight up the pro’s & con’s
  • Don’t treat agile as something mystical…its mostly just common sense but takes know how to adequately adopt

Resist choosing your approach and trying to force that approach into an environment that’s not suited…rather look at all approaches and tailor to your needs and environment such that the probability of success is that much greater.

For all your Agile needs, please contact Aspira.

Author: Thomas McGrath, Advisory & Resourcing, Aspira.

Starting a new job in times of Covid-19

Starting a new job in times of Covid-19

The day after my interview, I was called with great news that I had received an offer. I was excited and nervous because that same evening, our prime minister announced that the country was going into a lockdown. Starting a new job remotely sounded like something surreal.

Beginning a new job is always an exciting but nervous experience, you always look forward to walking through the office on your first day not really knowing what to expect. Getting introduced to everyone, the handshakes, the meetings, the on boarding, the face to face contact, it all adds up to such an exciting day. Starting a new job during the middle of a pandemic was a little different. Although it may be a different experience, you can’t forget how lucky and fortunate you are to acquire a new job. The working from home aspect was new to a lot of people but it was exceptionally new to anyone who would be beginning a new position within a company, having not met any of your colleagues in person.

You learn quite quickly to utilise all the online assets that are available to you. You get to know your colleagues through online meetings, calls, emails etc. You learn to find out as much information and obtain as much detail as you can during meetings and calls. You discover how to really manage your time to increase productivity, and although there is nothing that really compares to face to face contact and being in person with someone, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of working from home.

What I soon noticed was that it had its benefits, I felt closer to my international colleagues because video calling was the new norm. There are no boundaries in our new normal, and this is something I hear daily when speaking to candidates. Candidates living in Ireland and working in the Netherlands.

As more and more people begin a new job working from home, here are some tips to help you through the process:

Have a space

  • Having a space dedicated to where you work can help you feel more relaxed and organised when starting a new position. It’s important to create a workspace environment at home where you can separate your work life from your personal life. Creating a small space in your house that is used for work, will help you to separate your workspace from your living space as much as you can when working from home.

Start a routine

  • Similar to creating a workspace, it’s important to start a routine when working from home. It can be easy to slip into bad habits so creating a routine from the start will help you to settle into working from home. As your workspace becomes part of your home, it can feel like there is a blur between personal life and work life, it’s important to establish boundaries between the two to keep a healthy work-life balance.

 Ask for support

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. With any new experience, we will all have questions. Don’t be afraid to ask anything you need to help you settle in better. Set up regular meetings/check-ins with your manager to ask any questions you may need and to keep up to date. Organise meetings with other staff members to learn more about different aspects of the company and ask questions where you may be unsure. This is a great way of learning more about the company and your colleagues.

Take the time to connect with your colleagues

  • Settling into a new job can be difficult, a good way to get settled in and feel comfortable is to meet with your colleagues and get to know them on a personal level. Although this may be a little more challenging working from home, it is definitely a good idea to get in touch and reach out to colleagues for a catch up/chat. Ask if there are currently any social video calls/meetings happening within the company throughout the week that you could join.

Enjoy the process

  • While a new position at any time comes with its challenges, don’t forget to enjoy the process of starting your new job. As a new employee you are not expected to know everything straight away and hit the ground running, so take this time to learn more about the company and your colleagues, do your research and become familiar with how the company works.

It’s an exciting time to start a new job, we are adapting, becoming more flexible, and beginning to think outside the box.

Check out all our open roles here.

Author:  Bruna Clemens, Client Services Manager, Aspira Europe NL.

The role of an Agile Coach

The role of an Agile Coach is a role that has come to the fore increasingly over the past number of years, as organisations look for guidance on adopting scrum and in expanding it at an enterprise level. The role is one which is more to do with the organisation than an official role in the scrum process.

It is important to firstly state that the role of coaching is assumed by the Scrum Master, as they are the ones responsible for the scrum process itself. The scrum master is responsible for ensuring the team, product owner and stakeholders understand and adhere to the process. The Scrum Master is both an educator and evangelist for the process.

The adoption of scrum in an organisation usually takes one of two approaches.

  • The Big bang method – where the organisation decides that they, entirely, are going to adopt scrum in an overnight fashion. The scary one, but can be very effective with the right leadership.
  • The organic method – where a team or, a small number of teams, adopt the process. This is observed and further growth stems from here. This is the more traditional approach, not as scary. More a suck it and see approach, although it does have its downside with pace of adoption.

As the adoption of scrum expands the need for a consistent experience for the teams, product owners and stakeholders becomes a vital ingredient in the successful transition of an organisation to an Agile organisation. It is here that the need for a specific role in owning this adoption is needed and this is usually formed in an Agile Coach.

Some areas that the role covers are:

  • Understanding why an organisation is choosing Agile and Scrum as their preferred methods of delivering projects and ensuring the organisation keep these drivers at the forefront of their implementation.
  • Senior leadership/executive level understanding of what scrum means and how to work with it is paramount to its success. The coach should ensure this level of management are getting and understanding the information they need to run their organisation.
  • Instilling an agile way of thinking in an organisation. Traditional expectations, fundamental ones, for project delivery still need to be met , they just look different in an Agile approach.
  • Identification and development of a scrum master community ensuring a consistent understanding and implementation of scrum across the teams in the organisation

The adoption of agile and scrum is a fundamental change in the way an organisation delivers its projects. Change is never easy and although scrum is a very easy methodology to understand, it can be a very difficult one to implement. Having an Agile Coach as the focal point for this transition can be vital to its success.

Choosing the right person to help in that transition is a crucial decision. An Agile Coach should have a wealth of experience as a Scrum Master, as the roles are very similar in content if not coverage.

Understanding why an organisation wants to be agile is one of its biggest drivers it needs to understand. Bringing an Agile Coach in at the start can save a lot of money and heartache, with regard to ensuring the right drivers are in play from the start.

Often there is only one chance to make a good impression of what scrum is within teams and in an organisation. An Agile Coach can ensure that this impression is a very good one from the start.

If you require an Agile Coach or Scrum Master, please contact Aspira today.

Author:  Aidan Muldoon, Scrum Master, Aspira.

5 Microsoft Project Tips

5 Microsoft Project Tips

  1. Organize Global Template

Did you work  hard customizing one of your project schedules to suit your business needs with custom tables, filters, calendars or fields – just to realise that your next schedule needs the exact same metrics? To avoid the pain and hassle of re-working and re-developing those metrics try this nifty trick the next time you’re stuck.

Open your old schedule with metrics and the new schedule both at once.

In the new schedule go to ‘File’ option and under the ‘Info’ tab you will see an option, ‘Organize Global Template’.

Set the first window to the old schedule (box 1 in image below), then select the metric category you want to copy over (box 2 in image below).

Finally , set the reporting metric you wish to copy from the old schedule (box 3 in image below).

  1. Timeline View

We often underestimate how powerful Microsoft Project is. The different views and reporting templates it provides by default can, in most cases, satisfy the majority of our business needs. One of the most powerful views (in my opinion) is the ‘Timeline View’.

This can be found: ‘View’ tab > ‘Split View’ > Timeline.

The real trick comes in with how creatively you can customize it. After clicking on the Timeline, head over to the ‘Format’ Tab and click on ‘Existing Tasks’ from the ‘Insert’ section.

Here you can select the summary tasks you need for a high-level view of your project. I think this gives a much better overview and more customization than your traditional Gantt Chart.

  1. Task Form View

This is by far the most powerful views that your stock Microsoft Project can offer without any plugins, especially when you’re dealing with schedules in excess of 2000 tasks.

This can be found: ‘View’ tab > ‘Split View’ > Details.

If ‘Task Form’ view isn’t the default setting, you can select it from the drop down beside the ‘Details’ box.

Again, as with any view, the trick comes with how you customize your view to suit business needs. By default Microsoft Project shows resources on the left pane and predecessors on the right pane.. This can be changed to suit your preferences by right-clicking the ‘Task Form’ view.

You can literally control the entire project from here, changing dependencies, changing type of connections (FS,SS,FF,SF), adding or removing lag, editing task name. Everything in a nutshell!

  1. Tasks

Ensure that task relationship dependencies are set up appropriately so that there are no orphan tasks for the scheduling calculation. Avoid start-to-finish relationships, if possible.

  1. Project Comparison

If you have two different correct versions of a project schedule (yes it can happen!) which is well over 2000 tasks, it wouldn’t be a wise idea to scroll down 2000 tasks for each schedule. This is where the Project Comparison tool comes in real handy.

Go to ‘Report’ tab and click on ‘Compare Projects’ after opening both the files.

Once the comparison view is open you can easily see the differences across both the projects by using different filters. I wish I knew this handy tool before!

For all your Project Management needs, please contact Aspira.

Author:  Anuj Agarwal, Project Scheduler and Planner, Aspira.

Project Performance versus Information Management

Project Performance versus Information Management

Project Management has been consolidated as one of the main ways for organisations to successfully deliver their strategic business plans. Nowadays, there is no doubt about the benefits of project management. It significantly improves project results, shortens delivery times, optimises use of resources, reduces project costs, increases productivity and return of investment – just to point out a few benefits.

However, a high number of projects do not achieve success, i.e., do not meet their objectives. Surveys indicate the major cause of this disconnect between intention and results, is communication. Communication involves information management.

Information Management

Information is an important element within project management. On the one hand, projects make use of information in order to reduce uncertainty. On the other hand, they are also major producers of information, as they present an intense flow of information throughout their life-cycle.

All this information needs to be managed in favor of the project – however, most organisations are not prepared for the management of this information. It is estimated that  almost 80% of information and knowledge within an organisation is not shared. This inevitably leads to informational chaos which is then transposed to the project environment.

Differentiating information management within projects 

Due to their unique characteristics, projects require a clearly differentiated information management process. Such management should be focused on the procedures required to ensure that all project information is generated, collected, distributed, stored, retrieved and organised properly, as highlighted in the PMBOK ® Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge – PMI ®). Furthermore, decisions are always made within the project, and must be supported by accurate and timely information.

Based on my own empirical research within small, medium, and large organisations, it is possible to state that there is a straight correlation between clear communication and project performance. More research needs to be done, but it was clear that organisations with more mature communication processes in place, including information management processes, presented far better project results.

Combining human and automated resources to manage the information in projects can highly improve communications. Among those automated tools, SharePoint sites are popular and we would highly recommend them when managing information within projects.

However, using technology alone is not enough. Here are some tips to guide you however, the support of a project management specialist may also be of benefit to successful project delivery:

  • Engage the team around the use of a clear information management process.
  • Recognise that people learn and work in different ways.
  • Identify the information needs (why users need certain information and how they use it).
  • Use IT resources such SharePoint to better organise, store and facilitate information sharing.
  • Add value to information by focusing on the content and quality of the information.  Is it current, accurate and useful?
  • Clearly define a communications plan, specifying who needs which information, when and how.
  • Disseminate an information culture, including sharing knowledge around projects and throughout the organisation.

To conclude, it is understood that information management should be seen as a systemic action, seeking to understand and meet the information based needs of the project. Certainly, it will contribute to a reduction in costs and the increased success of projects. Consequently this will help companies to thrive in a globalised and highly competitive world where everything is interconnected and interdependent.

For all your Project Management needs, please contact Aspira

Katia Stark, Project Manager, Aspira.

Migrating Dynamics 365 to the Unified Interface

Migrating Dynamics 365 to the Unified Interface

With the increased focus on the Power Platform with Microsoft 365, the legacy version of Dynamics CRM must be moved to the “New look” Unified Interface. The deadline for this move is the 1st of December 2020, however you can start this transition right away.

After the deadline, any legacy applications will be transitioned automatically, so you should look to complete the transition as soon as possible.

What is the Unified Interface?

Unified Interface for model-driven apps provides a consistent and accessible user experience across devices. It is the latest look and feel of all model-driven apps and Dynamics 365 apps such as Dynamics 365 Sales and Dynamics 365 Customer Service.

When am I transitioning?

The deadline for transitioning is the 1st of December, however Microsoft have allocated a date for transition for all tenants. You can see this here. Once you login you should be able to see a list of your Dynamics environments, along with the date that each one is scheduled for transition.

Can I change my date?

This date can be pushed back to allow for you to plan for the transition, however it must occur before or on the 1st of December.

What do I need to do to Transition?

Things to focus on for this transition are:

  1. Create a pilot app.
  2. Follow the steps in the MS Checklist here and White paper here.
  3. Perform the pilot transition.
  4. Have end users test to ensure functionality works as intended. This step will be the longest and will require reviewing any customisation. The more complex the environment, the more time should be taken for this step. After all these customisations are reviewed and working correctly you can…
  5. Create a production app and perform the full transition.

I do not have any internal resources managing my CRM, what can I do?

Microsoft have provided the checklist and white papers which should make it easy to follow the process, but there is also a community group here to provided crowd-sourced assistance on transition. You can also log cases with Microsoft or your partner, if you are having any issues with the move.

If you would like a more in person support structure, Aspira provide expertise for businesses looking to benefit from Dynamics 365. We can provide expert support in migrating to the Unified Interface.  Contact Aspira for further information.

Additional Information

Here are some links with more information on transitioning to the new Unified Interface:

Microsoft Blog – Announcing the timeline to move to the Unified Interface: https://community.dynamics.com/365/b/365teamblog/posts/announcing-the-timeline-to-move-to-unified-interface-2137660788

FAQ’s: Transition to the Unified Interface: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/maker/model-driven-apps/faqs-transition-unified-interface

Microsoft Blog – Moving forward with your transition to Unified Interface: https://community.dynamics.com/365/unified-interface/b/unified-interface-team-blog/posts/moving-forward-with-your-transition-to-unified-interface

Dynamics 365 Unified Interface Community – https://community.dynamics.com/365/unified-interface/

 

Author: Ian Jones, Software Developer, Aspira.

Technical Career Paths 

Technical Career Paths 

 

Technical Career Paths

A technical career in IT and Software Development…sounds boring, right? I don’t think so… 

In this blog I will talk about how a technical career in IT and Software Development can be the most exciting and fulfilling choice, and the limitless number of opportunities it can offer. 

 The starting point 

When you think of a Software Developer the first thing that springs to mind is a lonely “computer nerd”, who works all by himself (yes, you probably thought about a man …..) and understands all the mysteries of computers and programming. 

You couldn’t be further from the truth, and I talk from experience, having started my own career as a Software Developer over 20 years ago. 

To get started into this amazing career, it helps if you have a technical degree such as Computer Science or Engineering. After that, the world is your oyster! 

 Where do you go next? 

Technology is always changing, and so are the type of jobs and roles available, therefore it’s important to always upskill, stay abreast of new technologies, and equally critical is to understand where your strengths and preferences are. 

After a few years of hands-on technical work, you might want to expand your horizons, and the choices here are endless. 

  • If you really enjoy the technical stuff and learning about new technologies, you can choose to become a Technical Business Analyst, the person who knows what’s possible with today’s technology, and specifies to management and the engineers what needs to be done. 

Certifications are important, and CBAP is one of the most recognized. If you’re interested in a career as a Business Analyst and are thinking of taking the CBAP certification, look no further: https://aspira.ie/business-analysis/ 

Again, certifications are important, and if this is the direction you’d like to take, I’d highly recommend a PM course, anything from a 1 day introduction to the full PMP certificationhttps://aspira.ie/project-management-courses/ 

These are just two examples of the exciting new paths your technical career can follow, and there are many more (Scrum Master, Agile practitioner, Six-Sigma consultant, …). 

 Conclusion 

Don’t ever again think that a Technical Career is boring or limited, it is one of the best careers in the world, and it offers endless possibilities. So get started, upskill, follow your preferences, get certified, and enjoy!!! 

Author: Stefania Sartori, Technical Recruiter, Aspira.