Leveraging and managing the potential of your new remote workforce

Leveraging and managing the potential of your new remote workforce

Event Details

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

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

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

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

During my tenure at BASF in Germany, I had the good fortune to work with many different technical people from all over the world and the interplay, exchange  and collaboration has always stayed with me. When I reflect on the great unifying experiences of culture and sports like the Eurovision, Soccer World Cups, Rugby World Cups, and contrast them with the struggles of all nations in today’s crisis, it occurs to me that we now must approach project resourcing very differently. In short, ‘resourcing sans frontiers’.

The travel bug bites many of us and we experience other cultures and enjoy leisure adventures to the point where we are familiar with communicating freely with many different nationalities socially and at work. We are all working remotely, where possible and as you will hear in our Webinar, we are also trying to facilitate people who need to be physically in an office, factory or outdoors. Now as we recruit for new roles, in the new normal, it’s a critical requirement that candidates can be productive, secure and are both willing and able to work from home. Does that limit us?

I think not!  I see a world of resourcing sans frontiers. Now, if we need a highly skilled worker with specialist domain experience, or niche industry skills, they can deliver that service from anywhere. Our talent pool has opened up considerably, but so has everyone else’s. We need the tools, strategies and networks to compete in the new global markets, and unlock the potential of this new remote workforce. At Aspira we have developed a toolkit that includes; recruitment assessment, technical tests, online validation, QA controls, and interview techniques that enable us to provide an effective virtual selection process on behalf of our clients and our own internal needs. We will present case studies in our webinar about some of the remote resourcing assignments that we have worked on recently.

It is both a pleasure and a privilege to engage with professionals in IT & Project Management throughout Europe, the Middles East & Africa.  We have the same passion and enthusiasm to re-start, our economies and societies again. This is true also with our clients, who enjoy working with our offices in Cork, Dublin, Amsterdam, UK, or the UAE, but are aware of the benefits in recruiting skilled resources from the multiple locations in EMEA. Knowledge of the EMEA countries, culture, food or industry, makes for better conversations, quicker connections and valuable cultural contribution evaluations for our candidates and clients. We have great tools to make connections, and our own application tracking systems (ATS) enables quick and easy processing of applications, tracking screening and security. We continue working with candidates and clients through project kick starts to delivery deadlines.

We tend to seek the positive aspects of life, and some of us loathe the disruption that change brings, but we recognise that we can rise to meet this challenge.…Part of that change means that our borders and barriers to successful project delivery, have changed also. Resourcing sans Frontiers… is all about adapting to change.

Register for our webinar here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author:  Thomas McGrath, Senior Project Manager, Aspira.

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

Your PMO in a time of Crisis. Your lifebuoy in choppy seas.

For many of us we are experiencing the greatest levels of uncertainty we have ever known in both our personal and professional lives. Looking for ways to survive and adapt to this new normal, we are being forced to re-evaluate what matters most. Some are risking physical health by leaving the relative safety of their homes each day to report for duty on the front lines, while others cope with the challenge to our mental health, as we ‘cocoon’ or self-isolate at home.  We are all dealing with the economic and financial fallout.

We have seen the majority of our businesses in lockdown, be they local or global, and this has had a huge impact on the way we work and deliver projects. But now that initial shock has likely worn off, and the emergency Business Continuity Plans have been implemented, it is time to look to more medium and long term planning.

In a time of crisis your organisation needs to hold the line, share resources and build efficiencies. We are in this together. That well-worn trope has never been more relevant. We see that there is a clear need for change but this change needs to be managed in a planned and controlled manner. A lack of planning and prioritising of initiatives now, may lead to wasted effort and missed opportunities.

The PMI® define the PMO as ‘a management structure that standardises the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques’. But it is more than that. It is a key resource that can help guide the business through these uncertain times. The PMO is well placed to help manage this change and it has a key role to play, supporting the business to focus their efforts on responding effectively to this crisis. How the business responds now; is key.

On Wed 20th May, Aspira’s weekly webinar series will investigate the role of the PMO now. We discuss whether the PMO is an asset or an overhead for your organisation.  Register here.

This webinar will explore how the PMO can:

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

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

Value Stream Mapping within Project Management

Value Stream Mapping within Project Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfreeze your Resources, Unlock your Projects

Delivery in the ‘New Normal’

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

This webinar will explore:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please register for our Webinar here

Auther:  Russell Moore, Account Manager, Aspira.

How remote working boosts morale & efficiency

Every cloud has a silver lining… and the Covid-19 crisis has just injected a huge shot in the arm to acceptance of remote working.  Before lockdown we had heard about the Gig Economy, which promotes remote working as a key element.   That has now been accelerated hugely and instead of talking about remote working becoming a norm in the future, we are now living in a world where remote working is the norm.

What does this change mean?   Should we embrace it as a benefit, or see it as a necessary evil we are forced to accept?   As someone that enjoys change, let me share my positive thoughts on how remote working really does work:

Trust

It all starts with Trust. We will not embrace any change without Trust.  Do managers and team members trust each other enough to move away from outmoded supervisory methods?  Do managers have the ability to move away from equating ‘presenteeism’ with productivity?  Will team members maintain their work ethic if their manager no longer has the ability to drop by the desk to check what they are doing?  Critically, leaders and team members must listen to each other and refine together their plan to make it do-able. Do-ability is key, so here they should look at it from both a soft side (person/teaming approach) and from a technical side (e.g. provide the tools necessary to work well from home).

Efficiency – I like to call it Gross Domestic* Product!

66% of professionals think they would be more efficient while working remotely than in a traditional solely office-based way.

So what are some of the factors that increase Efficiency?

  • Reduced commuting time.
  • Reduced travel cost.
  • Higher flexibility in hours worked, as when employees see companies being flexible they reciprocate and become more flexible with their time.
  • Less distractions and interruptions, so the employee can switch off from random interruptions more easily by agreeing to go ‘offline’ to get an important task complete.
  • Lower office rent & energy costs, as companies that embrace remote working can have a smaller office footprint.
  • More efficient use of the planet’s resources.

*Pun Intended

Morale – I like to call it Gross Domestic* Happiness!

50% of the global workforce already works remotely; part or full-time. While Covid-19 has seen that number rise dramatically, it has been driven by the fact that the option to work flexibly (including a mix of remote/home and work locations) is more important to millennials than salary.

So what are some of the factors that increase Morale?

  • Productivity/Efficiency is higher, due to the elimination of wasted time.
  • Remove the stress of the commute.
  • Ability to have bespoke/more comfortable working environment.
  • More family friendly; we can pop out of our home office to see our loved ones more easily.
  • Globally dispersed teams or teams in large organisations feel more equalised and close when all/many work remotely. The New York Times reported that employees who spend three to four days working off-site feel the most engaged with their teams.
  • The personal touch. Seeing your colleagues in their home environment can show their personal side more and reduce formal barriers.

In summary, remote working boosts morale & efficiency when both managers and team members embrace the change positively, construct the plan together, put in place the necessary soft and hard (technical) necessities, realise the perceived or real power/accountability shift and be brave so that when things do not work perfectly, the lessons can be learned rather than going backwards to old practices.

So go forth and take the leap together. Move away from the traditional 100% office-based working and instead provide the option for yourself and your team to work remotely where it makes sense for both…. then, see your morale, efficiency and productivity rise.

Please check out our new webinar series here

Author:  Peter Ryan, Managing Director, Aspira, The Netherlands.

“Kick Starting a Project in a Virtual Team”

“Kick Starting a Project in a Virtual Team”

The start of a project will set the tone for its entire duration. Starting up a new project today means starting with a virtual team, working remotely.  To do this successfully will require extra thought, effort, and the ability to leverage technology in order to produce the same results as when working with your team locally.

Here are some suggestions to effectively kick-start a project in a virtual team:

  • Conduct the Remote Project Kick-Start; Use video conferencing to run a formal Kick Start meeting which allows the team to get to know each other and understand the purpose of the project. This enables them to reach a shared understanding of the goals, the scope, the success factors, the key stakeholders, and to brainstorm how best to deliver the project.

 

  • Build a Strong Relationship with the Customer from Day 1; Building a strong relationship with a new customer is challenging in the absence of the non-verbal cues that face-to-face meetings provide. You simply must plan in extra time and effort to get to know your customer

 

In addition to video-conferencing, there are many virtual collaboration tools which enable real time joint-review of key project requirements, milestones, risks and issues. Agree deadlines with your customer and be obsessive about sticking to them. Each commitment you meet means another element of trust is established.  Establish a communication plan that eliminates some of the challenges of remote work. Before deciding on which tools to use, talk with your customer to make sure they are comfortable with your choices.

 

  • Use Interactive Technology to build Project Collateral

The outputs of any successful project kick-start include a scope and schedule baseline within the approved budget. Collaborative technology such as MS Teams and Whiteboard helps the team create the scope statement, Work Breakdown Structure, estimates, project schedule and Risk log.  A collaborative and efficient mechanism to create key project kick-start collateral will enable success later on.  

 In summary, the success of a good project is determined by a productive kick-start. Setting the right tone from the get-go can make or break your project. The absence of face-to-face interactions does not mean we abandon or do less kick-starting, in fact it requires us to do more and to do them better.

This webinar will help you understand the value of kick-starting a project in a virtual team and how to actually:

  • Create a Project Charter
  • Identify Key Stakeholders
  • Create a WBS
  • Estimate using PERT
  • Create a Realistic Schedule
  • Develop a RAID Log

 

To sign up for the webinar this Wednesday, visit www.aspira/events

 

Author:  Gillian Whelan, Senior Consultant and Trainer

Can we be Agile without Architecture?

Yes, I know.

There is huge demand for Agile as many industries are seeking to gain the Agile advantage.  There are lots of ‘Agile’ consultants making money by introducing companies to Agile frameworks. The sales pitch can be overly simplistic and optimistic: simply learn Agile theories; put in place the roles of Scrum master and Product Owner; work in sprints and basically there will no problem at all – life will be nice and easy…

Except it isn’t so easy. 

The consultants may move on but they often leave behind a customer who realizes that something is wrong.  While the technical team may be keen on Agile, the Business team can often feel frustrated that they are losing their grip.  They worry about losing control and being unable to predict the delivery and quality of the new features being developed.

Documentation may never have been a top priority, but some Agile implementations neglect to use any documentation causing a potential increase in auditing issues.

To avoid these negative Agile scenarios, there must be a focus on the Architecture of the Enterprise.

Instead of allowing different departments to work in isolation and create their ‘own’ apps, there needs to be a well-thought out, agreed and consistent approach to the architecture.  This will avoid problems arising where scrum teams behave autonomously across a scattered landscape of apps and interfaces which I call ‘the Spaghetti Architecture’.

In this scenario the company will sooner or later realize that IT costs are increasing instead of  the expected decrease in costs as a result of the introduction of Agile.

So does this mean we shouldn’t adopt Agile?

Of course not!  I am very supportive of Agile when done right.  In my earlier career I worked for many years in large organisations  with the classic waterfall methodology and the, sometimes very bureaucratic, Prince-2 Project Management philosophy.  There are limitations to these  approaches and Agile can make life so much better.  We do not want to return to waterfall days.

Aspira offers Agile consultancy based on our experience of what works.

In order to reap the benefits of Agile, it must be done properly.  I strongly recommend to our customers that they focus as much on the Architecture as they do on the new Agile ways of working.

The general Business and IT department should work closely on the enterprise architecture in parallel with the design of IT solutions. In my experience, this is when you will see the real benefits of Agile – and those benefits can be huge.

For companies which are developing software, put some serious thought in at an early stage of the project. 

  • First, understand the company’s architecture principles,
  • Create a conceptual design that aligns with those principles.
  • Ensure the company’s delivery model will guarantee the generation of a proper Architecture design.

This combination of Architecture and Agile ensures you will create a sustainable and ‘smart’ solution.  No more spaghetti architecture!

In our experience, by taking this approach your IT costs will decrease and your business satisfaction will levels will significantly improve.

Bringing Agile and your Architecture together delivers a real competitive advantage. Apply industry Agile theories that are accepted in the industry and are best suited to YOUR business.   

My last piece of advice – when implementing Agile, take your time!  Only invite Agile consultants who have a proven track record and who will invest the time to help people to get used to a new way of working.  This is what Aspira do all the time and we are there when you need help.

Author:  Jos van Eck, Digital Transformation Consultant, Aspira Europe.

 

“Leveraging Agile in a Virtual Environment”

 

“Leveraging Agile in a Virtual Environment”

Disruption is a constant in today’s world, and never more so than during the Covid-19 pandemic.  The challenges we face keep evolving as we seek to adapt our way of working & thinking.   Our weekly webinar will focus on how to leverage an Agile approach within our new virtual work environment.

Agile is a mind-set that empowers employers and employees by creating high performing teams. The Agile way of working delivers many benefits, such as increased customer satisfaction, faster time to market, greater innovation and increased employee engagement. It was originally focused on software development, but has now been proven as a more general approach that applies to teams across diverse organisations.

Thankfully, we are blessed with the availability of great collaboration tools, allowing us to work anywhere & anytime. Being virtual is not only about video calls. It is more efficient to minimise the number of calls and make use of Kanban boards, chats and file sharing for example. Our own teams in Aspira have optimised our agile collaboration through Microsoft Teams along with Mentimeter to engage our audience during our ongoing Webinar Series and various other client presentations. That form of audience participation and interaction in itself comes about as a result of an Agile mind-set.

Traditionally, a team has a vision, a goal and some initiatives to achieve those goals over a fixed period of time. But this approach may not be responsive enough in these unprecedented and uncertain times, so instead it’s worth embracing an agile mind-set.  This helps us to formulate initiatives in a flexible, iterative way, thanks to continuous feedback and reflection.

Given the current changes & challenges across the traditional world of work towards remote working, we will look at how an Agile approach allows us to be productive & innovative.  We will explore how to embrace new know-how, and add innovative techniques and processes to your routine.

This webinar will help you understand:

  • What is Agile in A Virtual Environment / Working from Home?
  • What are the goals of Agile Working?
  • What are the benefits of Agile Working?
  • Overcoming the challenges of Agile Working

To sign up for the webinar, visit https://aspira.ie/events/

Author:  Thomas McGrath, Senior Project Manager, Advisory & Resource Management, Aspira.                   

 

The future is remote. But the future is here.

 

 

The future is remote. But the future is here.

6 weeks ago I was dusting off my laptop, fishing out my Leap card and squeezing on to a packed train to set off for the office after 9 months on maternity leave. Little did I know that 3 days later I would be setting up my ‘office’ amongst sing-a-long Elmo and other unforgivingly repetitive children’s toys. But necessity is the mother of invention and, as they say, the show must go on!

Even as an experienced project manager, albeit with the remnants of baby brain, it was time to start re-thinking my approach to managing projects. I quickly realised that I had taken for granted the convenience of face to face communications and co-located working.

However, I now find myself in the advantageous position of just starting a project in this ‘new world’, so have the luxury to be able to plan to manage my project in a completely remote environment from the outset.

My key tips for remotely managing a  project include:

Your team:

  • Assemble your project team – have a kick off meeting, using video conferencing if possible
  • Do a round table introduction to ensure everyone gets a chance to meet and people understand their role and the roles of others on the team
  • Ensure everyone is clear on the objective, scope and planned timelines of the project
  • Promote collaborative working amongst team members – remote working will suit some, but not all, and collaboration will go some way to mitigate against team members feeling isolated

Communications:

  • Set the ground rules at the beginning of the project on how & when project communications will take place
  • Make use of the technology available to you such as Microsoft Teams and use innovative approaches to facilitate communications
  • Make your project meetings sacrosanct – it’s often too easy for these to get bumped when projects are in a busy period or firefighting mode
  • Some Dos and Don’ts for effective project meetings:
    • Do make sure all meetings have an agenda and send this out in advance of the meeting
    • Don’t invite the world to all meetings – let potential attendees deicide whether their attendance is necessary based on the agenda
    • Stick to the agreed time, try to keep meetings short and concise
    • Document decision and actions, not minutes

Your role:

  • Be available to your team and lead by example
  • Trust your team members and provide timely, clear communication
  • Listen to what your team are saying and seek regular feedback from them

We have all found ourselves thrust into this new reality, but it is a reality to which we must quickly adapt.

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

Getting to Grips with MS Project

 

Getting to Grips with Microsoft Project

The most widely used tool to manage projects around the world is… the simple spreadsheet.  Most people are comfortable playing with a spreadsheet, using it to create a list of tasks and assigning names and dates against those tasks.  And a spreadsheet works great for a simple list of tasks.

But if you are managing a more complex project, with dependencies and multiple activities happening in parallel, with people in different locations or different companies trying to point fingers at each other in the event of a slip, then you need a better tool to manage your project schedule.

The most commonly used specialist project management tool in use is MS Project, with close to 80% of the market.  It is a powerful tool, allowing users to control large and complex projects.  It will easily allow you to see the critical path of a project and lets you immediately see the impact on the end date if any part of your project slips. In my Advisory role with Aspira, I help companies to setup Project Management Offices, and carry out capability assessments of organizations’ ability to deliver projects on time/budget.  I simply could not manage my team’s workload without using MS Project to keep track of each project and the resources assigned.

So why do some Project Managers prefer to use Excel to MS Project?  We find that there can be a ‘fear factor’.  I have met people who don’t use MS Project because they are intimidated by it, so instead they have developed really complex spreadsheets, with conditional formatting, pivot tables and macros, as an alternative.  It would have been far easier for them to learn to use MS project, as even a very basic user can immediately access a range of functionality that would take an excel guru years to develop.

In an effort to demystify MS Project, I will deliver a live webinar on Weds April 22nd, called ‘Getting to Grips with MS Project’.  It will cover topics such as:

  • Setting up your first project
  • Adding tasks and resources to a project
  • Updating your project plan
  • Creating calculated fields and custom fields
  • Reporting and creating visual reports

Register here for this webinar:  https://aspira.ie/events/getting-to-grips-with-ms-project/

I’ll also look at the roadmap for MS Project, and the exciting enterprise-level capabilities on offer from MS Project Online.   For those interested in a more detailed walk through MS Project, Aspira regularly deliver training courses and I’ll be sharing a special offer to attend our virtual classroom 2-day course on MS Project.

Author:  Damien Kearns,  Senior Consultant, Aspira

 

Working Remotely – Made easier with Microsoft Teams

Working Remotely – Made easier with Microsoft Teams

Each day, I think about all of the people that continue to work through the current risks with Covid-19, to ensure the sustained provision of healthcare and essential services.  These are the “invisible hero’s” whom we all depend on so much and whose efforts humble us.

My small contribution to the effort is to work from home.  This presents a series of challenges on a daily basis. There are many technology items that I previously took for granted – such as Power, Phone, Broadband and Wi-Fi – that I now appreciate as absolutely necessary to be able to work from home.

The next challenge comes in the form of the family battle for bandwidth.  With the whole family at home, including two teenagers, the bandwidth is quickly consumed. As I look at my schedule of meetings for the day, I need to negotiate with the kids to avoid their PlayStation Network and Netflix hogging our internet connection.

After completing my negotiations I can turn my focus to work, finally!

When I do, I am relieved that my company had the foresight to invest in the right tools to enable me to work remotely – it has certainly made my life much easier over the last few weeks. One of those tools – Microsoft Teams – enables remote working to be much easier than I recall on previous experiences.

What is MS Teams?

Teams is a collaboration workspace that brings together chat, meetings, calling, and Office 365 into all-in-one application. You can use Teams for informal 1:1 or group chats – directly on your phone if you’re on the go, or you can have an open conversation in a channel. Teams also has deep collaboration with Office 365 applications that are frequently used in the workplace.  All Teams are unique, and the MS Teams application can be customised to integrate with business processes, enabling your business teams to continue to perform highly, even when they are remote!

Teams enables people to share information in a transparent way to accelerate decision making.

If you would like to learn more, please listen to the webinar I recorded live where I explain how to use Teams and walk through a demo of some of the most useful functionality.

The Webinar can be accessed by clicking on this link:  https://aspira.ie/webinarseries/

As a Gold Certified Microsoft partner, we want to help you to realise the full benefits of the Office 365, so we have created a selection of Enablement Solutions that leverages our broad range of skills across Office 365 to enhance your productivity.

We would like to offer you a 12 month Office 365 subscription for the price of 6.  We will also assist you to be more productive with 5 Key Enablement Solutions composed of activities related to Teams and features found across Office 365 applications.

Full offer includes:

  • 12-month subscription for the price of 6 In conjunction with the Microsoft Office 365 E1 Trial License offer
  • 5 key Enablement Solutions at no charge

Subject to

  • Existing Office 365 tenant required
  • One-year minimum term
  • Annual billing

For further information on this offer, please contact me at bizapps@aspira.ie

Stay Safe.

Author:  Stephen McCluskey, Head of Business Applications, Aspira.