Revealed! The Secret Language of Software Developers

 

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

 

Do unlikely alliances breed success?

 

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”.

Sold!

 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.

To Conclude:

 “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.

Then try crisps with chocolate…yum!

Author:  Karen O’Sullivan, Project Manager, Aspira.

 

What Drives the Different Approaches to Project Planning?

The Project Management Institute Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide ) and the Agile industry organisation define two very different ways of managing projects.  This blog will focus on comparing their suggested project planning approaches.  We focus on this comparison because there’s a misconception that the PMI approach is outdated and cumbersome, or conversely, that Agile guidelines dispense with planning, in a dangerous way.  We will explore how their project planning guidelines compare, and what drives them to define planning, if at all?

PMBOK® Guide  is compiled and managed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) industry association.  The 5th edition of the PMBOK® Guide encompasses a total of 47 defined processes that are matrixed into 5 Process Groups and 10 Knowledge Areas.  Planning is the largest of the defined 5 Process Groups, and alone, Planning contains 24 distinct planning processes.  See the PMBOK® Guide 47 defined processes in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1 – Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide ) Process Matrix
Agile, on the other hand, dictates “Working software over comprehensive documentation”, so are these Project Planning approaches tailored for their environments, or is there a trend behind there adoption rates?

So, we look to answer these two questions,
1. What project environment is well supported by the breadth and approach that PMBOK® Guide Project Planning defines?
2. When is the PMBOK® Guide framework not as suitable as other Planning approaches?

PMBOK® Guide  Approach

The PMBOK® Guide Planning Process Group activities stretch from the broad statement of project scope, to detailed estimates and schedules for the tasks required to deliver that scope.  The outcome of Planning Process Group is a baselined schedule containing every project task.

PMBOK® Guide  5th Edition supports overlapping Process Groups, so that it is common for the implementation of a project to start prior to the completion and base lining of a project schedule, but PMBOK® Guide advises that the project baseline is completed substantially before the core implementation has begun.

Because PMBOK® Guide stipulates that project planning should precede the implementation phase (albeit with minor overlapping allowed) the underlying assumption is that features are largely fixed and that change requests should be infrequent, because the “value” appraisal for the project output is well understood.  The PMBOK® Guide planned project may be complex, with regards to numbers of tasks, but the stakeholders and the project customers have a shared appreciation of the value the project is delivering on.  If customers of PMBOK® Guide projects didn’t have well understood project outcome valuations, customers would be unlikely to commit to large complex projects thousands of fixed requirements and features.   Once a PMBOK® Guide project plan is produced, the project plan facilitates many of the project internal challenges such as project stakeholder management and project resource management.  It is typically easier to convey the benefits of a large project when the details for the project cost, project schedule, and project outcomes, can be comprehensively conveyed.  Examples where PMBOK® Guide Planning suits complex projects would be skyscrapers, luxury cruise liners, or housing estates with thousands of homes, and all of these require thousands of requirements and tasks that can be articulated across the whole project scope, in minute detail.

Software Projects

Software projects, in particular, have complexity because there are almost unlimited ways to architect and design a given solution.  In many complex software projects, it is not uncommon for the solution developer to be unaware of the detailed designs that will eventually be deployed, due to the volume of custom design required to produce a solution.
In addition to the design challenges that developers have for a given solution, it is also very common for the complexity to mask customer usability issues.  Complexity makes it difficult for a customer to envision the quality of an intended project, and it is frequently only after the customer has been given the opportunity to test an application in an authentic environment, can they offer valuable and relevant feedback.  It is very cumbersome and commercially challenging for developers to create facsimiles of solutions in authentic environments, without actually going to the trouble of building the actual solution!  When software projects are delivered in short iterative releases, customer value can be quickly assessed and rectified, if necessary.

This concept of short customer feedback iterations is one of the key drivers of “Customer Development” .  Customer Development suggests that software vendors should plan incremental deliveries to customers, and use feedback from the deployments to tailor subsequent deliveries, with short turn-around time periods.  This approach ensures that the subsequent solutions are built on top of software that has been tailored for customer value.

The Agile software development process is specifically geared to supporting incremental customer deliveries.  Scrum, which is one of the most popular Agile frameworks (there are over 40 different Agile frameworks!), defines an iteration as a “Sprint”.  Common Sprint iteration cycles are two to three weeks.  Scrum also defines an explicit process for planning each Sprint, and planning the higher-level scope for a chain of Sprints.  From experience, the success of each Sprint is proportional to the planning effort put into each Sprint plan, so although the Agile principle of “Working software over comprehensive documentation” puts emphasis on getting working software, the principle doesn’t imply that planning can be omitted.

Summary

We have seen that very large projects, requiring thousands of detailed tasks, are ably planned from beginning-to-end because there exists alignment between Stakeholders and customers on the outcome value.  The alignment lessens the need to reconfirm value, through the likes of an iteration feedback loop.  Planning projects in full detail and scope, from beginning-to-end, facilitates many internal project challenges, such as project stakeholder management and project resource management.

We’ve also seen there are projects that require more frequent alignment checks to ensure the vendor development is meeting customer value expectations. We have seen that complex software projects are examples of projects like these. The frequent checks are facilitated by iteration feedback, ensuring that customer value is maintained.  Iteration feedback also lessens the likelihood that end-of-project customer reviews will highlight value issues with early project features.  The cyclic feedback catches issues early, which leads to reduced project maintenance costs.  Modern Customer Development movement is built on the belief that short iteration feedback delivers substantial commercial benefits for both customers and developers.  This philosophy is gaining popularity amongst software product development teams because of the focus on delivering projects through flexible, quick-turnaround feedback cycles that continually reprioritise customer value.

My 30 years of product and project development has shown me that there are many ways to plan complex projects, but regardless of the project management framework chosen, all project require professional planning.

 

Author: Jim Blair, Aspira, Senior Consultant/Trainer.

 

The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

 

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

Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute appoints new President

 

 

01 December 2017: The Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI) has appointed Pat Lucey as President at the association’s Annual General Meeting last night (Thursday).

 

The Cork-based businessman succeeds out-going Ireland Chapter of PMI President, Niall Murphy, in the two-year voluntary role.

 

Pat has been on the Board of the Chapter since 2011, with responsibility for membership and sponsorship. CEO of consulting and enterprise IT services company, Aspira, Pat has more than 20 years’ experience in managing large-scale enterprise projects. He has also provided project management consultancy internationally to Fortune 500 companies and public bodies.

 

Speaking about his new role, Pat said: “I am honoured to be elected President of the Ireland Chapter of PMI. Thank you to Niall for his commitment and dedication to the Chapter over recent years. He has built a strong foundation that has seen our membership grow by 26% in the past 12 months. I now hope to build upon his legacy.

 

“We are also lucky to have a group of committed volunteers, without whom the Chapter would simply not exist. I look forward to working with them, and our new Board, to further strengthen project management within Ireland.

 

“There is no doubt that the role of project management will inevitably become more valuable in the coming years, ensuring the effective management and delivery of new projects coming into Ireland as a result of Brexit. The Chapter knows the importance of supporting these professionals in the times ahead. We are always focused on development opportunities and industry insight.”

 

New Principal Officers also appointed at the AGM include Jackie Glynn as Vice President and Clive Carroll as Membership Officer.

 

There are currently over 50,000 employed in project management across Ireland, in sectors such as IT, public sector, construction, pharmaceuticals, professional services, financial services and manufacturing.

 

For more information on the Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute see www.pmi-ireland.org.

What is GDPR?

 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on the 25th May 2018. It is now vital that businesses review how they handle and manage personal data that they collect.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) outlines the rights and responsibilities that a business has when collecting, using and protecting personal data. For any business that collects personal data it puts focus on the need for transparency, security and accountability by data controllers. The regulation also gives more power to an EU citizen by:

  • Providing a “right to be forgotten”.
  • Allowing easier access to any data of theirs a business may have.
  • Requiring explicit permission whenever the business processes their data.
  • Requiring a business to inform them of any data breach within 24 hours.

The recommendation is to take a “Privacy by Design” and “Privacy by Default” approach to data to reduce potential problems with this regulation in the future.

Privacy by Design

This term is used to describe an approach to designing a system that takes privacy into account at every point of the process. It is not about protecting the data as much as it is about designing the system in such a way that the data doesn’t need protection.

Privacy by Default

This term is used to describe the idea of using the strictest privacy settings by default for a user. This will be more noticeable in areas such as social media and marketing email lists, where a business is storing or publishing additional data that is not needed to sign up to the service.

How Does this Impact your Business?

Preparing your Business

The first step is to review their data for any Personal Identifiable Information (PII) they may be storing.

Personal Identifiable Information

This term refers to data that could be used to identify, locate or contact an EU citizen. This can range from date and place of birth to financial or medical information.

It is vital that a business takes inventory of any PII within their business. This review should take into account questions such as:

  • How did you obtain the data?
  • Was the user notified that this data would be stored?
  • Is there any clearly defined reason for this data to still be stored?
  • How long do you plan to store the data?
  • Is there a retention policy on this data to ensure it removed when the retention period expires?
  • Who has access to the data?
  • Do third parties outside your business have access to this data?

Reviewing these questions with a GDPR consultant will give you an overview of the issues to be resolved.

Planning for the Future

Your business may need to have tighter controls on some data in order to avoid potential data protection issues going forward. These may include:

  • Appointing a data protection officer
  • Setting out clear processes for accessing personal data
  • Strict policies for deleting, sharing and transferring data
  • A process in place to handle data breaches

It is vital that these processes and policies are clearly defined from the outset.

Managing GDPR Going Forward

Monitoring and reporting will be integral to dealing with these changes within your business. For companies currently using SharePoint and reporting tools such as Power BI or SQL Server Reporting Services, these can be leveraged to provide your business with:

  • Effective tracking and reporting of data breaches
  • Approval workflows to manage data access requests
  • Team sites to store documentation on data policies

Microsoft have provided an Activity Hub as a starting point for this here. Consulting with a SharePoint architect who is well versed in GDPR can provide additional changes to better fit your companies needs.

GDPR is a big change for any business dealing with personal data. It is vital that you take a proactive approach to dealing with it. Investing time and effort now into the processes and policies you implement will ensure they are robust and maintainable going forward.

Author: Ian Jones, Software Developer, Aspira

 

‘Coasts full of jobs, seas full of fish’ – Navigating the challenges of Stakeholder Management


 

The single thing that makes a project complex is when it involves stakeholders with conflicting requirements.   Project Managers can struggle to understand everyone’s requirements and then navigate a course through those requirements to deliver satisfied stakeholders.

For Aspira’s September (Thursday 21st)  Lunch & Learn offering, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Susan Steele, Chair and CEO of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA).   “The marine is a shared resource.” says Dr. Steele, “The SFPA act as guardians to make sure that it is protected and fairly shared. Our vision is ‘coasts full of jobs and seas full of fish’.

A passionate communicator and multi-tasker beyond compare, learn how Dr. Steele approaches the challenge of dealing with different stakeholder requirements, finding a way to make those requirements align, with the goal of achieving a win/win for the stakeholders and for the project.

Susan holds an MBA, MED as well as a PhD. She has seven children. She is an avid sea swimmer, swimming every day in the sea. She is also a runner having completed over 70 marathons, ultramarathons up to 200km in length and ironmen distance triathlons. Susan holds a private pilot’s license. To register, please complete the form below.

Lunch & Learn Registration

 

Top 10 traits I most admire in a Manager

 

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

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

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

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

Author: Mary Dwyer, Operations Manager, Aspira.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

10 reasons employees should bring their dogs to work

10 reasons employees should bring their dogs to work

Dogs are everyone’s best friend. Our four-legged friends work alongside us every day, but it seems this is forgotten. Police dogs catch criminals while service dogs assist their owners to live independently. Dogs have many roles working alongside their humans. But, the most important job of all, dogs are companions, best friends and family members. They make people’s lives better with their unconditional love. You can celebrate that on Take Your Dog To Work Day on June 23.

In a modern world, with many hours spent at work, dogs get left at home while employees earn a living. Pet Sitters International started Take Your Dog To Work Day in 1996 to encourage employers to allow dogs at work.

 

Here are 10 ways dogs make the perfect resource partners.

Boosts employee morale

Dogs are dependable, reliable, optimistic and have an unquestioning willingness to do what you ask. They alert staff to problems and are always happy to see you. Dogs in the workplace improves staff productivity because their best friend by their side.

Increases teamwork

Dogs invite interaction and help form strong bonds among staff. They are great for breaking the ice. People are more likely to talk to each other when someone has a dog. Employees can find common ground over dogs. This can cut down office gossip because they are too busy discussing dog stories.

Promotes good health

The added bonus of dogs in the workplace is that it forces employees to take breaks. Staff have to walk them for a good 10-minutes a few times a day. This promotes a healthy work life balance during the day.

More employee flexibility

Many people cannot wait to leave work to get home to their pooch. Their pet has been locked up, alone all day and need their human’s time at the end of the day. Dogs are part of employees’ families, so allowing them in the workplace removes the need for staff to rush off. Employees will be more flexible with their time if their best friend is by their side rather than waiting for them to get home. What a great way to increase productivity.

Financial benefits

Bringing their dogs to work has huge financial benefits for employees and costs the company very little. No longer will employees have to pay for dog walking services or doggy day care if their dog is at work every day.

Attract the best people

People think of their dogs as part of the family.  Potential employees may prefer a company that allows dogs at work over a company with a no dog policy.

Improve the company image

Dogs in the workplace improve a company’s image. Clients will see the company as forward-thinking and progressive. Being able to interact with pets when they visit, will boost your clients’ sense of wellbeing. It helps them relax and enjoying visiting your workplace.

Relieves stress

Dogs are natural stress relievers. They are sensitive to your needs. When you need to blow off steam, they are ready to play. They will snuggle close when you feel down and need a quiet moment. A dog friendly workplace relieves employee stress and encourages harmony, which, in turn, increases productivity each day.

Reduce staff turnover

Staff turnover is a huge problem for employers. It costs time and money to get new hires up to speed. Workplaces with a ‘bring your dog to work’ policy encourages people to stay rather than risk not being able to bring their dog to work somewhere else. This is a great perk to keep staff loyal to organisations.

Pets reduce employee sick days

Dog owners do not want to leave their pets at home while they go to work. Employees can call in sick or leave work early to attend to their pet’s needs. Allowing pets in the workplace eliminates this problem.

At Aspira we understand the problems of resourcing your projects. We can help boost your business to achieve your vision. Contact Aspira to found out how – www.aspira.ie.

 

Land Speed Record – How to Survive

The official land-speeds record (measured over a mile) is 1,227.985km/h or 763.35mi/h. The record was set by Andy Green in ThrustSSC (a turbofan jet powered car) on the 15th of October 1997, in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada USA.

When taking on a challenge like breaking the land speed record there are many key considerations; firstly and most importantly the drivers safety. Secondly developing a vehicle that has the ability to move fast enough to break the land speed record.

To make a successful attempt at breaking the record it is vital that there are clearly defined requirements gathered. The requirements include all the considerations for a successful attempt at the record. The requirements are broken down into functional and non-functional. Functional requirements should be gathered by subject matter experts to ensure the requirements gathered are accurate. High-level functional requirements when trying to achieve the land speed record in a motor propelled vehicle include; an engine powerful enough to beat the current land speed record, the vehicle must be aerodynamic to reduce drag (drag is friction caused by air), also required is a functional and practical cockpit to aid the driver in pursuit of the record and most importantly a vehicle that is safe for the driver.

Once the requirements are successfully gathered a plan can be initiated to roll out the development of the vehicle. The plan will include a testing phase and although each phase of the project serves a purpose, the testing phase is crucial to ensure the original requirements have been met. The test plan should be derived from the functional specifications (functional and non-functional requirements doc). When testing a vehicle designed to break the land-speed record, the tester is essentially responsible for ensuring the vehicle has hit all the requirements as specified in the functional doc, in other words; the engine has enough power to move the overall weight of the vehicle fast enough to break the record; that the vehicle’s shape will allow air to pass over and around it to reduce drag which will maximize efficiency on the engines power output; And most importantly that the driver is safe and that disaster recovery procedures are in place and more importantly they work.

Before an official land speed record attempt can take place, the test manager must ensure all the planned test cases have passed. Any failed tests must be addressed, resolved and retested before the testing phase can be signed off. The purpose of testing is to minimise the risk of overall project failure. Risk on projects vary in terms of impact, but when attempting to break the land-speed record the risk can potentially include fatalities. So there is a lot of pressure on the test manager to conduct the appropriate tests to ensure everything is working as it should. At the end of the day when it all boils down to it, it is the driver’s life at stake.

This is only a small taster of the spec of requirements and testing required for such a complex project but it highlights the inseparable relationship between, requirements gathering and testing. For example; if you build a go cart, any rational person would try it on the flat before taking it to St. Patrick’s hill in Cork City to compete in Redbull soapbox race. Although, there is always an exception (Evel Knievel, springs to mind), the risk taker in this case is the driver who has the burning desire or in this case a “Need for Speed”. Don’t get me wrong, we need risk takers. In business risk takers are generally the entrepreneurs and are crucial for economic development, for innovation and social/ cultural development, unfortunately that’s a topic for another day. So, I will close by saying; test test test before you go live, because that’s how to ensure the driver arrives alive.

 

At Aspira we have a dedicated testing team with many years’ experience across multiple sectors. If you require any further information on Aspira’s services contact us on: info@aspira.ie

Author:                Arron Keenan

Role at Aspira: “PMO Lead

Aspira formalises partnership with Castleknock Celtic.

Like many parents, once my children reached the age of 4, my role at weekends and evening started to change from in-house entertainment and supervision of the kids to team bus driver and kit man. I have no intention of portraying an image of sainthood, or to come across as a unique phenomenon in Irish society, but hopefully some of my observations will strike a chord with people. Whether you are starting out as a habitual parental supporter of the next Robbie Brady, Brid Stack or Johnnie Sexton, prowling touchlines menacingly, ready to run onto the pitch to protect your vulnerable offspring from physical attack, or an old hand…you might recognise some of following experiences.

Our CEO Pat Lucey is a legend in his own right in the field of project management. Having joined Aspira as HR & Resourcing Manager, I wasn’t ever able to live up to his expectations as a certified Prince 2 or PMP® Professional. But Pat always highlighted aspects of my business and personal life that represented a high degree of PM & organisational skills. People who know me long enough will know of my interest in sports management, be that skiing trips, bowling competitions, tobogganing, cricket matches, or the once famous Silicon Cup in Munich. All projects of various shapes and sizes, none quite as complex as the Silicon Cup Competition in Germany. (8 companies playing each other at 11-a-side soccer in a one day tournament).

It started small, procuring kit and encouraging my son & daughter out of the beds on a Saturday morning to prepare for the local CCHC Camogie nursery or feted Fundamental Football Academy at Castleknock Celtic. This first incursion into Human Resource Management was mostly notable for finding the shin pads, track suits, gum shields, hurl, boots and other paraphernalia that was so casually discarded the previous week in various corners of the house. The initial approach was to do it all myself. The kids got used to this of course, and expected me to do it all for them. Luckily as a man with strong fingernails, I was able to get the football socks on my son eventually. The socks get smaller every week, the material contracts, and you need to build in contingency to pre-stretch them for 3 hours before the “leaving the house” phase. As we all know, 4 and 5 year olds do not understand time whatsoever. It is a fatal assumption to make that your daughter will understand what “we will be leaving at 9.30 latest” actually means. Time management is critical, because Daddy will always make out he knows where Ballymashindig’s home ground is, (just off the Navan Rd., just after the Church, behind the Spar.) Daddy will drive in the general direction of the Ground, ignoring the helpful map provided by the Mentor, and at the last minute revert to the low spec sat nav or phone app to try and bail himself out of the embarrassment of being late again. It is at this point that your key stakeholders will suddenly be able to tell the time, and realise that they might not get to play because of Daddy’s over confidence in his navigational skills of Dublin suburbs.

From a communications side, there are some very basic rules for your daughter that do not apply with your son. When watching camogie matches, don’t say anything whilst on the side-line. You are English, and know nothing about GAA, so please don’t embarrass yourself or me by trying to say something intelligent. Don’t make smart comments about needing a calculator to work out what 2 goals and 11 points v 3 goals and 6 points means. Don’t comment on the other players or talk to them. If engaging with the mentors and other parents, don’t disclose any information about your daughter’s personal life. I will be moody after the game, so accept it. If however at any time I need you, there will be an SLA in place that requires you to give me your undivided attention within 5 seconds. (Provision of drink, spare hurl, tie shoelaces etc etc). So, why is your son different? Women’s sport has been a massive part of my daughter’s life, and I am eternally grateful for all the hours spent together in various parts of the country and on a variety of surfaces. And my son has presented me with a number of key moments in my life on sporting fields that will stay with me forever. My current role as Mentor to a team at Castleknock Celtic is thanks to my children.

I was asked to help at the Academy at Castleknock, and have continued my association with the Club by managing teams at the 2003 age Group since 2007. Seeing all of the kids grow and develop onto the first and second teams over that time is a tremendous feeling. The D15 area is a real Sports community and I feel proud to have played a small part in that. Aspira have a CSR policy that really supports this type of activity. As parents ourselves, we all try and provide a working environment for Aspira staff and partners that allows people to watch, support and contribute to local sport. Cork City recognise this at a higher level, but it is the teams like Castleknock Celtic at grass roots that really appreciate companies like Aspira sponsoring them, or providing mentors or coaches. A simple aspect of this is flexible working hours to get to training on time.

When the opportunity to get our names on the shirts of CCFC 14A1 came along we didn’t need asking twice! As the season unfolds, we will be featuring the development of this new team on our website as part of our CSR updates. The team was formed to facilitate the next wave of development players at 2003 level. With two wins under our belt already, we are ahead of schedule. Let the project begin…..

Russell Moore, HR & Resourcing Manager, Aspira.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

1% Better Podcast with Pat Lucey

Check out Rob-of-the-Green’s 1% Better podcast, where his latest interview is with our CEO, Pat Lucey.

Rob’s podcasts come out every week where he helps people to reach their full potential by sharing a few personal, professional, and general life hacks (tools, techniques, tips and advice) that his guests apply directly into some part of your day/life.

On this week’s episode, Pat Lucey shares some of his own personal journey and explains what drives, motivates, inspires, and challenges him to be the best that he can be.

The goal is that these conversations will provide you with some inspiration coupled with simple tips that you can integrate into your busy life to make you 1% Better.

So – if you enjoy listening to podcasts while you commute, or while walking the dog, check out the latest one at:

Episode 9 – Pat Lucey (CEO of ASPIRA) on Business, Project Management and the Berlin Wall!