Aspira, the specialist Project Management and Enterprise IT Solutions services organisation, has appointed Jim Blair as Director of Software Development. The appointment follows recent growth at the company and a number of significant client wins.
Jim brings over 30 years’ experience in product and software development to the company. From designing core elements of Mac OS at Apple to leading new product development at multiple Irish start-up companies, Jim has led the engineering of many world-class solutions. Jim will contribute to the growth of the software development teams at Aspira, working closely with clients to achieve seamless design, creation and implementation of software products that contribute to these organisations’ digital transformation.
Speaking on his new role at Aspira, Jim Blair said: “I’m delighted to take on this new role as Director of Software Development. We have a vastly experienced software development function at Aspira, and I look forward to working with my software developers and the complementary groups within Aspira to enhance the bespoke customer software service we provide to our clients.”
Aspira CEO, Pat Lucey, commented on the announcement: “We’re delighted to appoint Jim as Director of Software Development. Jim brings a wealth of experience that is critical for the development of world-class devices and software. Jim will be a fantastic asset to the team, contributing his strategic vision for the growth of the software development teams to the benefit of our valued clients.”
Aspira is a specialist consultancy, focusing on Enterprise IT Solutions, with offices in Dublin and Cork. Offering Project Management and Business Analyst Training services internationally, Aspira is approved by the Project Management Institute®, the International Institute of Business Analysis® and Scrum.org.
Please visit us at: www.aspira.ie or contact us on 021-2352550 or 01-5175777.
In Part 1 of my blog, I spoke about the importance of Empathy – and making the effort to see things from the other person’s point of view. Today I want to share two other ways I have learned to improve my level of EQ, or Emotional Intelligence:
Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation
To have self-awareness is the ability to recognize your own emotions, recognize the effect that emotions have on you physiologically, and recognize the effects they have both on your behaviours and how others will behave towards you.
Socrates (the philosopher, not the footballer) said “Know thyself” in order to understand the workings of the world. When dealing with people you have to be aware of how your own reactions and emotions can affect others and their view of us.
You need to be aware of our emotions in real time – as they happen. You will often have little control over when you experience emotions, especially negative ones such as nervousness, loss of motivation or anger. However, you can regulate how you process the emotion and for how long you will feel that emotion.
I genuinely can feel a lot of anger very quickly, which has not always worked well for me at times in the past. Unless you’ve just won an Oscar, it is generally not advisable to communicate when in an overly-emotional state. Whether you feel angry, upset or fearful, you can do lasting damage to relationships if you communicate when you’re not in control.
So when you feel a negative emotion kicking in, recognise it and know it will pass. Don’t let the emotion control your behaviour – instead you manage the emotion. Consider what the behaviour was that triggered the issue, then identify what impact that behaviour has had on you to give rise to how you feel. Armed with these three pieces of knowledge – Behaviour, Impact, Feeling, also known as BIF – you now have the tools to give constructive and effective feedback. Give a BIF.
By communicating to the other person what their behaviour was, how it had an impact, and how that has made you feel; you have proactively managed the situation. Rather than sitting there seething in anger, or wallowing in self-pity, you have analysed the situation and have channelled your emotions to provide constructive feedback to tackle the problem at source. As as a result, you have self-regulated your emotions and are in control of the situation.
In my role as a Senior Project Consultant with Aspira, I am sometimes required to take on Recovery Projects – projects that have gone wrong, and where I come in as a Recovery PM to get things back on track. In this scenario, relationships can be fraught as people will feel nervous and vulnerable. This makes it absolutely critical that I maintain self-control and give calm, objective feedback to the project team members throughout. By acting in a firm yet professional manner, the team can see that there’s a ‘new sheriff in town’ and will raise their own level of performance.
To conclude, one of the key strengths I look for in a great Project Manager is emotional intelligence, and the ability to see there can be 50 shades of black and white…
It can be tempting to interpret things as simply black or white, good or bad, wrong or right. But the reality is that there are always different degrees of black or white, and while it can be difficult to discern them, it is important to tune your mindset to figure out how to identify which of the many shades of grey may be in front of you.
Throughout my life, I’ve always been looking to improve and develop, both in my personal and professional life. One area I have found where I can always improve is the area of EQ – Emotional Quotient -, which is based on the idea of IQ but looks at emotional maturity rather than raw brainpower.
Generally, I like to dissect where I can do better and one area I have found for improvement is how I relate to people and deal with situations. Sometimes it’s easy to react too quickly to a situation, only to overreact and regret that response later.
So, with that in mind, I’ve highlighted three areas of Emotional Intelligence where I try to put extra focus when dealing with difficult situations or people:
In truth, we experience life and work from our own frame of reference, and if a view is expressed which conflicts with our picture of the world, we can treat that view as simply wrong. This is a mistake, as by treating it as wrong, we make no effort to understand another’s person reasoning for disagreeing with us and we do not try to tune into their frame of reference.
Empathy is being able to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference. In other words, it’s the ability to put yourself in the other person’s position and look at the issue from their point of view.
It’s about trying to look at a situation using their perspective with a view to understanding their reasoning. I now try to take some time to understand the why of a person’s stance and try to place myself in their shoes. I find that 99% of the time they have valid reasoning for their stance and it just takes some time and effort for me to understand it. Sometimes that understanding helps me to change my opinion. There are also times when understanding their viewpoint helps me to change their mind by explaining my argument in a way that will resonate with them.
Tune in to Part 2 of my blog next week when I share what I’ve learned about self-awareness and self-regulation, and how you can channel negative emotions into a constructive force.
Do you remember Sesame Street and the song ‘Who are the people in your neighbourhood’? Have you ever stopped to consider just how many different people we meet each day – from family and friends, to complete strangers, including some people we might prefer to avoid! Have you considered how much we rely on them, without even realising it?
Firstly, there’s friends and family; we look out for each other, rejoice in each other’s success as if it were our own, and we support each other in times of need. You don’t get to choose your family, but you can choose your friends – these are the people we grow up with and, in the words from the Friends theme song “I’ll be there for you ’cause you’re there for me too”.
We regularly meet the friendly postman who hands over bills with a smile on his face, or the local shopkeeper, who knows you by name and is always ready to discuss today’s weather. We are slightly obsessed by the weather; it’s always too hot, too cold, too wet or too windy – but it’s never boring, and a great topic of conversation! We have a mutual interest when we meet our children’s teacher, so here the weather topic is dropped, and we discuss the current school extension funding efforts, or the approaching school holidays. The periodic visit to the hairdresser or barber is always accompanied by a discussion on vacation plans, or reviews of a recent holiday trip.
We also rely heavily on those people we meet in times of mini crisis. It might be when an electrical fault causes you to stumble through the house in the dark, searching for your phone to speed dial your trusty electrician. Or it might be when that dripping tap in your bathroom turns into Niagara Falls, and you need your plumber to appear and save the day (and your house). It might be when your car splutters to a halt with a very strange noise coming from the engine, and you rely on your long-suffering mechanic’s magic touch to resuscitate the vehicle, so you can ignore all rattles for another twelve months!
Five days each week we meet work colleagues; catch up on the evening before, figure out how to share the workload for the day ahead, and make plans for the upcoming weekend. In many ways, companies are much like families. Sometimes a ‘family member’ needs a little extra help to get that project completed by the due date, maybe the project has gone completely off track and needs some expert help in Disaster Recovery.
Sometimes the company may need to take on a completely new project, but simply not have the manpower. This is where you reach out to the ‘extended family’. Aspira work closely with many companies to provide that helping hand when needed, asking our Project Managers, Business Analysts or IT Support consultants to fit right in with their ‘long-lost cousins’. They help out by hitting the ground running and providing support throughout the whole project and beyond.
As with all families, if you need that extra helping hand, pick up the phone. We’ll be there for you. www.aspira.ie
Last night I went to see the English hypnotist and mentalist Derren Brown perform an amazing show, where he performed uncanny acts of mind-reading and influencing through the power of suggestion.
As Derren asked his audience to promise not to reveal the contents of the show, I will stick with that promise – no spoilers – but I did think afterwards about the importance of influencing skills for Project Managers.
I don’t think Project Managers will ever need to be able to influence people to choose a particular card from a pack, but they will need to get people to select their project when making a priority call, or get people to put in some extra work over the weekend, or encourage people to get their action items closed out in time.
So what tips can we learn from Mr Brown? I learned three tips last night:
The power of story telling. While delivering his show, Derren doesn’t say “and for my next trick…”, instead he tells us a story about himself, his childhood, his personal experience. He then draws from that experience an underlying lesson – a deeper truth.
It’s a compelling performance. His story captivates us, we are drawn in and we engage with what he is telling us. A Project Manager could benefit so much by using that technique to influence stakeholders. You win hearts and minds not by saying “this project will reduce the cost of goods sold for this medicine by 2%” but instead by showing how the efficiencies that can be delivered by this project will reduce the cost of medicine, making it accessible to thousands of more people in the world whose lives will be transformed. A very different message.
Use of metaphor and analogy. Derren uses language very effectively to tie together concepts and generate emotional responses from us. By deeply connecting emotions and anchoring those emotions with his influencing messages, he is able to effectively connect with people’s emotions.
This approach is exactly how advertising companies operate, and it can be just as effective too for you dealing with your project stakeholders. If you need to win the minds of your management team to invest in new technology or processes, get them to recall how it felt last year when the technology let them down, and they had to work long hours and miss vacation just to compensate. Then show how this new technology will solve the problem. I feel supportive already!
The importance of body language. He reads people like a book. A very open book. Not many of us can do it to his level of skill, but if you do take the time to focus on people’s body language, you will often become aware of how they really feel.
You will sense when they don’t agree, giving you an opportunity to re-phrase your argument. You will sense when they don’t understand, letting you try to approach it from a new angle. Or you might sense that you have had enough and simply want to walk away, in which case you should simply stop, regroup and ask for a follow up meeting.
Aspira Project Management training courses will help you identify and engage your project stakeholders – check us out at www.aspira.ie
You don’t need to be a mentalist to be a Project Manager – but it sure can help.
It’s 5.00pm on a Tuesday evening and I get called into my boss, Pat Lucey’s office. Not good. I’m already thinking I need to be gone out of the office by 5.30pm at the latest to collect my kids at 5.45pm. Nobody gets out of Pat’s office quickly.
Pat has a request for me to write a blog for the Aspira website. I start sobbing (internally). Not alone is writing not my forte, but he wants me to develop an outline for it in the next 15 minutes (louder sobs). He asks me what I want to write about and the first thing that comes into my head is ‘Deadlines’.
As a professional with young kids and a demanding job I have realized recently that my life is either being ruled or ruined by deadlines. The two definitions of a deadline are “the latest time or date by which something should be completed” and “a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot”. I think that they might both apply to my life.
In a typical week I need to complete the school run by a deadline, get to work by a deadline, meet lots of deadlines during the week, pick up kids at various deadlines and deliver them to their many after-school activities. Then start again the next day. This is a very familiar routine to many of you. On weekends the deadlines change to revolve around sports games. If a deadline is missed there can be carnage. If a deadline is hit then it’s just taken for granted and it’s on to the next one… So, do we ever stop to ask if all those deadlines are useful?
Let me lay out my position from the start: I think that overall, deadlines are useful – they give me structure to my day/week /year and help me prioritise which tasks need to be done now, and which can be deferred. For people who tend to procrastinate, deadlines can ensure that important things don’t fall between the cracks – they ensure something will get done.
But on the flip side they can take over your life and you can be left with no free time if you are constantly running from one deadline to the next. There are Four Tips I can offer that help me manage my deadlines:
Set achievable deadlines, don’t let optimism take over when setting a completion date for a task. If the deadline will only be achieved if everything goes perfectly to plan, well guess what – you will be in trouble because nothing ever goes perfectly. Plan some contingency.
Don’t overcommit, don’t try to be a hero and take on too many overlapping tasks. Finally, let’s stop and think before you set ourselves another deadline. Think through an average day and you will see many of the deadlines we set are self-imposed deadlines. Remember that help is usually available if you need it!
Don’t overstress if you miss an occasional deadline – remember that we are here for a ‘good time, not a long time’ so don’t beat yourself up as it’s never the end of the world if a deadline is missed. In fact, if you do miss one, use it as an excuse to remind everyone what an unusual event that is because you are such a dependable person! .
Recognize your achievement of meeting deadlines (even if nobody else does) and reward yourself for consistently delivering on time. Whether it is delivering kids to their classes on time or delivering a major project for Aspira on time – they are both about meeting your commitments and keeping your stakeholders happy!
Last weekend legendary cyclist, Sean Kelly, & I undertook a most enjoyable spin around The Burren & Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare on a beautiful Spring day. The fact that there were over 2,000 others on the cycle shouldn’t detract from what became a serious grudge race between Kelly & myself (that Kelly was not aware he was in a race with me is irrelevant ? )
In the interest of suspense, I won’t reveal who won until the end of this piece!
Afterwards, Kelly took part in an informal Q&A session. One question raised was what separated a social cyclist, club racer & top pro. Apart from the predictable key areas of ability & dedication, an interesting point made was about project management – both race management and lifestyle management. It is not enough to be a strong finisher if you are left behind caught by a break half way through a race. There isn’t much good in being a hard trainer if you didn’t know how to rest & recover.
Sport is rightly viewed as an emotion driven, primal activity, but successful sports managers remove some of the emotion & replace it with good project management practices.
So if we are to take some key traits of a Project Manager in the world of Sport, who can we look to for examples of best practice and who could benefit from fine-tuning their PM skills? Let’s look at three key areas of Project Management:
Collaboration – How to develop a great team and keep it productive;
Best Practice – Joe Schmidt (Ireland Rugby).
Joe has created an environment with at least two players vying for every position, everyone ‘on message’, and arguably the strongest coaching team around him in world rugby. This is critical chain project management at its best.
Needs to Improve – José Mourinho (Manchester United).
While there’s no “I” in TEAM, there are five “I”’s in “Individual Brilliance” – it seems to be a case of ‘all about me’ with José it. Recently throwing his players to the wolves after a poor performance. His highly successful predecessor, Alex Ferguson, always defended his players – taking action behind closed doors when necessary.
Communication – Great communication is a must to keep all stakeholders on-side, on schedule & focused;
Best Practice – David Brailsford (SKY Cycling).
Despite the bad smell now emanating from the SKY camp, Brailsford captured the cycling public’s interest for many years with a compelling story & consistent message of ‘marginal gains’. From nowhere, SKY became the No 1 team in world cycling & gave a new hope to the sport.
Needs to Improve – Jim Gavin (Dublin GAA).
Perhaps on his way to becoming the most successful ever Gaelic Football manager, Gavin remains enigmatic, having communicated none of his team’s ethos, dreams & goals to the Dublin GAA public, an important stakeholder.
Leadership – Setting the tone for the project with integrity, providing a clear vision for the team –
Best Practice – Brian Cody (Kilkenny Hurling).
Cody works long hours to prepare precise plans for all his management team & players. Consistently combative, sometimes cranky, but fiercely loyal to his organisation and never crossing the line by taking shortcuts to success. Treats everyone equally & shows respect for all opponents.
Needs to Improve – Eddie Jones (England Rugby)
Jones was glib, condescending & argumentative while enjoying a record-breaking winning streak, but took a major wobble in team selections, public utterances & body language when the pressure was on following three consecutive defeats. In danger of ‘losing the dressing-room’, Jones would do well to remember that a calm, even-handed leader in good times & bad will earn the respect of his/her team.
Our Project Management course will give you the knowledge and skills required to be a successful project manager including the ‘hard’ skills of managing and planning the scope, schedule and budget and also the ‘soft’ skills of engaging and communicating with your stakeholders and ultimately managing their expectations and meeting the customer requirements. Details are at: https://aspira.ie/training/
Footnote: In a disappointing end to my duel with Sean Kelly, he opted to complete the 125km route when the courses diverged, whereas I stuck to the much more difficult 80k route. I look forward to crossing swords with him again in the future, meanwhile Mr. Kelly remains oblivious to the whole episode!
Author: Philip McGillycuddy, Client Services Manager, Aspira.
Maths was always my favorite subject and is at the core of STEM subjects (Science Technology, Engineering, Maths). I was fascinated by how people used maths to solve real, practical problems. Like the Egyptians building their pyramids, like carpenters using Pythagoras’ theorem to construct a right angle, like Marconi inventing radio – but more on that later. In the present day it is used all around us – cryptography uses prime numbers to keep our passwords safe, social media sites use complex algorithms to figure out which video to show you next so you’ll stay glued to your screen, Spotify analyses the number of beats per minute of the music you like in order to suggest other songs you might like.
On the window of my office there is also a Mathematical formula written: eiπ = -1 , which is Euler’s equation. It’s there because it’s my favourite – it’s where Mr. Euler brings a cast of super-star numbers together and then there is a big surprise ending. The first super-star is Pi, which has a value of 3.14… and it goes on forever after the decimal point. The second super-star is e, the exponential number which has value 2.718…. and it also goes on forever. The third star is i, (or iota, the Greek letter for i). It doesn’t have a decimal value as it is an imaginary number – it is the number than when multiplied by itself gives the answer -1.
Euler takes these three superstar numbers and combines them in a formula, and the answer is … wait for it… minus one. So, by multiplying these never-ending number and imaginary numbers, you get -1. That is just so surprising! And it helps calculate satellite trajectories.
Maths makes for a really cool exploring tool. Marconi was interested in Maths and Physics, and studied the new science of electromagnetism. While most people were trying to figure out how to generate power, Marconi was interested in the fact that the mathematical models of electromagnetic waves suggested that in theory they could be transmitted over large distances. Marconi went on to build a transmitter and receiver that proved the mathematical models were correct – and so came the telegraph, radio, television, Wi-Fi. It was only because the maths predicted it, that Marconi had the stubbornness to try it.
The same phenomenon happened in the past few years – back in the 1960’s a mathematical model suggested the existence of a new elementary particle, called the Higgs Boson (aka the God particle). Because Maths showed it should exist, scientists spent the next 50 years searching for it, until in July 2012 they found it, measured in and weighed it.
Maths is also a really useful tool when embarking on a new project or business venture. ‘Do the numbers stack up?’ is a frequent question. When setting up Aspira back in 2007, my co-founder and I made a list of all the costs we could think of, how much money we had available, and the likelihood of generating some sales. By putting this into a spreadsheet, it told us how long we could survive even if we made no sales (the answer was six months) and it also told us how much sales we needed to win in order to break even. The mathematical model we built gave us the confidence to embark on the journey to set up Aspira.
Mathematicians are like explorers, on a voyage of discovery, looking off into the distance and predicting things that are far away. But those predictions are what cause people to choose their target and set sail for new horizons.
In case you missed it, the PMBOK5 is changing to the PMBOK6 on the 25th March 2018. The following are the main changes:
There is new information on project and development lifecycles, phases and phase gates.
Additional key project documents are also introduced including the Business Case and the Benefits Management Plan.
Both the internal and external environments are explored in detail.
The role of the project manager is discussed in terms of The PMI Talent Triangle. The talent triangle focuses on three skill sets, namely technical project management, leadership and strategic business management.
Each of the knowledge areas highlights key concepts, trends and emerging practices, tailoring considerations and considerations for agile/adaptive environments. The latter reflects the increasing adoption of agile techniques in Project Management.
Two knowledge areas have been renamed – Project Time Management is now Project Schedule Management and Project Human Resource Management is now Project Resource Management (not just human but all resources on the project).
There are now 49 processes – 1 removed, 3 added and 1 moved.
Tools and techniques can be categorised into Data Gathering, Data Analysis, Data Representation, Decision Making, Communication and Interpersonal & Team Skills
The word Control has been replaced with the word Monitor in some instances where people are involved.
No changes in Project Scope Management & Project Cost Management
Project Integration Management – Manage Project Knowledge has been added which is concerned with both tacit and explicit knowledge for two purposes including using existing knowledge and creating new knowledge.
Project Schedule Management – Estimate Activity Resources has been moved to Project Resource Management
Project Quality Management – Perform Quality Assurance has been renamed to Manage Quality and many of the tools and techniques have been streamlined.
Project Resource Management – Since this knowledge area now focuses on all resources, the process names in this area have been changed to reflect this. They include Plan Resource Management, Estimate Activity Resources (the one that was moved from schedule), Acquire Resources, Develop Team, Manage Team and Control Resources (the one that was added).
Project Communication Management – Control Communication has been renamed to Manage Communication.
Project Risk Management – Control Risk has been renamed to Monitor Risk. Implement Risk Responses has been added. A new risk response strategy has been introduced, namely Escalate.
Project Procurement Management – The content has been updated to reflect global practices. Administer Procurement has been renamed to Control Procurement. Close Procurement has been removed.
Project Stakeholder Management – Plan Stakeholder Management has been renamed to Plan Stakeholder Engagement and Control Stakeholder Engagement has been renamed to Monitor Stakeholder Engagement.
Woah – quite a lot! Don’t panic we have designed a one-day transition course from PMBOK5 to PMBPOK6 with exam questions. So, email us now on email@example.com or call Norma Lynch on 021-2352550 for more information and make sure you visit our training page at https://aspira.ie/training.
Organisations are facing significant events and uncertainties such as GDPR, Brexit, adoption of Artificial Intelligence and President Trump’s new America. These uncertainties give rise to a dilemma for established businesses. Should they adopt transformation programs within their organisations and risk cannibalising existing profits, or should they preserve what has made their organisation great?
Many organisations are opting for major transformation programmes in pursuit of competitive advantage. These programmes may require a shift in strategy, structures, systems, processes and culture while maintaining critical assets.
So if you are considering such a transformation, you need to ask yourself:
How widespread is the required scope of change – does it affect the entire organisation or is it concerned only with a particular division?
Who are the stakeholders that can have a positive or negative influence on the transformation? Who are the people you need to engage with?
Do employeessee the need for the transformation and understand the importance of the change? In times of change, our autopilot mode stops working – choices suddenly proliferate, decisions need to be made – and this creates uncertainty. Sometimes what looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. So you need to create clarity by communicating a compelling vision with a real sense of urgency.
Are you communicating for buy-in? Organisations need to appeal to employees emotional side, ‘find the feeling’ and make people feel something. People must feel they are capable of change and need to be encouraged to accept the challenges the transformation brings despite the complexity and risks.
How much time does the organisation have to achieve this transformation? A realistic schedule with clear deliverables and milestones will be required to shape the path and provide the plan for action. Achievement of these milestones will create short-term wins and build confidence and momentum for change within the team.
Sustaining competitive advantage has never been more challenging, and the stakes have never been higher. That means you have a tremendous opportunity. By making the right big-picture, strategic decisions, you can chart your company’s course amid great uncertainty.
Aspira consulting services can help you navigate this complex environment. Our clients’ testimonials demonstrate the value of strategic input in realising their vision.
I work with a bunch of extremely smart, extremely talented software developers. There’s no denying that seriously hard-core techies have a secret language they use to communicate. It doesn’t have to be in 1’s and 0’s, but it can still be unintelligible to those outside the caste. So we are going behind the scenes to reveal ten of the most commonly used phrases by developers – and what they really mean!
10: “That’s a nice-to-have feature”
The real meaning is: “Are you crazy!? We have to figure out how to make the software actually work first”
9: “I am not an expert in <insert technology name>”
The real meaning is: “I may well be an expert in this technology, but I will never admit to it because I like to be modest”
8: “The complexity was under-estimated”
The real meaning is: “Aha! Now I finally understand what we need to do!”
7: “I’d like to tweak the design”
The real meaning is: “Now that I finally understand what we need to do, it’s time to throw everything out and start again.”
6: The customer is using it wrong
The real meaning is: “You asked me to design a toaster and now you’ve told the customer it can bake the bread”.
5: You’re a manager – you wouldn’t understand.
The real meaning is: “The amount of energy necessary to translate the technical explanation into something you might understand is greater than the total energy in the universe!”
4: The tester isn’t testing it in field conditions.
The real meaning is: “That tester is good… s/he has figured out ways to break my software that I never even imagined!”
3: How long is a piece of string?
The real meaning is: “You’ve asked me to estimate something but I have no idea what the context is – please give me a few assumption I can use to come up with a reasonable estimate”
2: The asynchronous SNR module has created a race condition so that the state machine’s stability renders the RCA status inaccurate and it will take a week to fix.”
The real meaning is: “There is a problem that will definitely take longer than a week to fix!”
1: That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
The real meaning is: “Yes, that is indeed a bug, but it would be really hard to fix, so maybe we can dress it up and call it a feature?”
Thankfully, if you choose the Aspira Software development team to take on some software development work for you, you will never* hear any of our developers use one of the above phrases, because they recognize that good communication is a critical part of any software development project.
*By never, we mean hardly ever, or at least not every day.
For all queries please contact 021-2352550 or 01-5175777 www.aspira.ie
The festive season is well and truly over and we find ourselves in the depths of January, which we all know is the season of regret, self-loathing, resolutions and discounted Christmas wares. Or as I like to call it, “The season of Ginuary”.
Last weekend, in an effort to pursue all of the above, I found myself browsing the shelves of an upmarket gift shop – you know the type; architectural display of overpriced designer wellingtons alongside “vintage” tinplate toys, alpaca-wool scarves and monogrammed hipflasks. Notions!
While there, I happened across “The Crap Secret Santa Gift Book”. The book describes itself as “A budget-friendly Secret Santa present …featuring advice on how to survive the office Christmas party, silly games to play in meetings and, on one page, a picture of a really evil swan. Perfect for that bloke in marketing whose name you’ve forgotten”.
At this stage, I’d like you to just go ahead and assume that I’m the type of super-organised individual who has the foresight to buy a Secret Santa Gift a full eleven months in advance of possibly needing it. The reality is that by next December, I will most likely have completely forgotten the very existence of this book. In fact, it’s likely that the next time I lay a hand on it will be in the midst of regret, self-loathing, resolutions and decluttering – aka Ginuary 2019. But hey! Let’s save that for another blog.
Now, I haven’t had time to actually read my new book yet, but among other things, it promises advice on how to survive the office Christmas party, which I assume will be a series of quirky instructional guides, such as:
Preventing imaginative use of the photocopier – Just say no!
Tips to console the weeping lady in the toilets – Crying tears of pure chardonnay, but too upset to explain why she’s crying
How to safely wake the sleeping man – Has his tie around his head, one trouser leg rolled up to the knee
Dealing with “Mistletoe Mike” – Mild mannered by day, Greek God of kissing by night
The Senior Manager and the Intern?? – How to pretend THAT never happened *it didn’t, I’m using artistic license
And it’s this last one that got me thinking. What is it about unexpected alliances and unforeseen collaborations that makes them so often successful? In some cases, their success is purely accidental, in others it’s down to the unpredictable or disproportionate nature of the pairing. But then there’s another category; the ones that are so blindingly obvious that you find yourself asking “Why didn’t someone think of that before?”
A prime example of this last category is Microsoft’s latest online solution for project portfolio management. The easiest way to describe it is to say that it’s like MS Project and SharePoint got together and had a baby. They called their new arrival Microsoft Project Online.
Delivered through Office 365, Project Online enables powerful project management capabilities for planning, prioritising and managing projects and project portfolios. It can be accessed from almost any device, anywhere, and has licence options (or plans) available to suit viewers, team members, project resources, administrators, project managers, resource managers and portfolio managers.
It’s got all the usual bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from MS Project, but also features intuitive collaboration along with easy time and task management and integrated tracking of issues and risk mitigation.
It’s easy to think of examples of strange bedfellows; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins, Riggs and Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon, Holmes and Watson, Yin and Yang, big fish/small fish/cardboard box. But what makes the odd couple of MS Project and SharePoint the epitome of success?
The simple answer is that it’s the Swiss Army Knife of Project Portfolio Management offering something for all target users.
For power users and decision makers it offers robust portfolio management and along with powerful consolidation and reporting capabilities and simplified strategic alignment.
Project managers and administrators have a familiar desktop client with enterprise resource management capabilities and seamless integration with collaboration tools.
Project teams access an intuitive interface which they quickly recognise and adopt.
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail”.
Don’t fear Microsoft Project Online…give it a go. Like me, you might be pleasantly surprised.