Winners of the National Project Awards 2018 announced

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 National Project Awards, which were announced on Thursday, 29 November. The National Project Awards are organised by the Ireland Chapter of PMI voluntary committee. This year, our CEO, Pat Lucey had the honour of delivering the welcome address to attendees as President of the Ireland Chapter of PMI. Pat will continue his two-year presidency next year, 2019.

The winners are as follows:

• Project Professional of the Year 2018 (sponsored by PwC) — Declan Rundle, AIB
• PMO of the Year 2018 (sponsored by Datalex)— ESB IT Services
• Public Sector Project of the Year 2018 (sponsored by IPA) — Revenue Commissioners, Customer Engagement Strategy
• Private Sector Project of the Year 2018 (sponsored by Aspira) — AIB, GDPR Programme
• Social Good – Community 2018 (sponsored by the Ireland Chapter of PMI) — Tour de Munster, Charity Cycle
• Social Good – Corporate 2018 (sponsored by AIB) — Cork Airport, Charity of the Year programme
• Distinguished Contribution to Project Management 2018 (sponsored by CORA Systems) — Ed Naughton, Institute of Project Management

Speaking about the winners, Pat Lucey said: “The National Project Awards celebrate the very best of project management, at a time when demand for project managers has never been higher, due to a turbulent global economy exacerbated in Ireland by Brexit.

“By 2027, the Project Management Institute expects that employers around the world will need nearly 88 million project managers. The quality and range of this year’s entries showcase why project management is so vital to delivering successful projects across all sectors in Irish commercial life.”

Mr Lucey added: “We would like to thank our judging panel who diligently reviewed each entry and selected those who, in their view, exemplify project management excellence in Ireland. A special thank you also to our valued sponsors for their continued support.”

The National Project Awards recognise and honour individuals, project teams and organisations that have excelled within the project management discipline. The black-tie event took place at Spencer Dock, Dublin 1 and was compered by Newstalk Business Editor Vincent Wall.

The National Project Awards 2018 is proudly supported by principal sponsor PwC, along with AIB, Aspira, CORA Systems, Datalex, Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and the Ireland Chapter of PMI.

WISHING THE NATIONAL PROJECT AWARDS FINALISTS GOOD LUCK

The Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI) is due to announce the winners of the 2018 National Project Awards, sponsored by PwC, tomorrow, Thursday, 29 November.

The National Project Awards recognise and honour individuals, project teams and organisations that have excelled within the project management discipline. The black-tie event will take place at Spencer Dock, Dublin 1.

CEO of Aspira, Pat Lucey has had the honour of being elected the President of the Ireland Chapter of PMI for 2018. Pat has worked extensively throughout the year with his committee to further promote the work of Irish project managers and drive excellence within the discipline both in Ireland and globally. The National Project Awards celebrate the very best of project management and aim to promote best practices in project management.

Aspira are also delighted to sponsor the Ireland Chapter of PMI Awards, Private Sector of the Year category.

We would like to wish finalists across all categories the best of luck on the evening.

Top Tips to Create an Agile Team

Technology is moving at a fast pace, disrupting organisations and the ways in which have have worked for decades. When paired with other organisational challenges that encountered in daily working life, it is increasingly more difficult to drive your organisation to change to meet these needs and challenges as they arise. One way in which we can prepare for change and equip our team s with the skills they need to thrive and adapt are with agile training.

An Agile team can evolve and react more rapidly, meaning that challenges are more easily overcome and projects are delivered more successfully on an ongoing basis. Head of Training Norma Lynch shares her top three tips to create agile working teams:

1. Focus on results

Placing emphasis on the outcome and not the process drives your team to work smarter, rather than adhering to processes that may not work for the project for the sake of procedure. It also empowers your team to make their own decisions and work more efficiently to achieve their objectives.

2. Feedback

Collecting and curating feedback throughout a project ensures that you have a constant flow of communication. This helps your team to identify issues at an early stage, enabling your teams to react and change paths if required, reducing time spent and increasing team optimisation.

3. Training

If your team are lacking the basic knowledge they need to work in an agile environment, this will cause problems for projects. It’s absolutely vital that team members have knowledge of the framework and that training is provided on an ongoing basis to allow teams to develop their various skillsets within that, particularly team leads and those in senior and management roles.

At Aspira, we work to create bespoke training packages to meet all of your training requirements. From once-off group training to ongoing coaching options, we cover a variety of topics, from general project management introduction to advanced examination preparation courses. We work with manufacturers, pharmaceutical, telecoms, transport, services, and technology companies to deliver PM, business analysis, Scrum Master, Lean Six Sigma training and more.

Contact Norma to see how we can meet your training requirements for 2019 here: norma.lynch@aspira.ie

We provide training both in Ireland and onsite internationally if required.

From Russia to Ireland with Love

 

 

Diversity in Dublin

At Aspira, we have a very diverse international team, which we believe is key to our ability to innovate and deliver the best possible solutions for our clients. We work with global companies and work alongside colleagues of many different nationalities.

Tanya Gainutdinova is from Russia and is a technical resource specialist who started working in our Dublin office this year. Tanya shares her some insights into life at Aspira, and compares and contrasts Dublin with her hometown of Kazan, Russia.

If you’re considering a career with us, see all available positions on our https://www.aspira.ie/work-with-aspira/

I am living in my new home in Dublin for one year now, working for Aspira, and because I enjoy sharing new perspectives and learning new ways of working myself, I thought it might be interesting to share my perspective of living and working in Dublin compared to my home town of Kazan.

Old and New

Dublin has a similar feel to my hometown in Russia – both were founded over one thousand years ago and have many historical buildings to be admired. But there are also lots of new high-tech locations such as Aspira’s Dublin office, which is in a great location in the Silicon Docklands.

Working at Aspira:

It’s been interesting to learn how business processes in Irish companies differs to Russia. My experience is that the atmosphere in Irish companies is very positive, with colleagues always willing and ready to give a helping hand. Our management team are always open to new ideas and encourage us to make suggestions.

One thing I see that the Irish and Russians have in common is the sense of humour, and wiliness not to take ourselves too seriously – having fun and a laugh with the ‘boss’ in is welcomed and typical for both countries (as long as you are getting your work done!).

Universal Interests – Food and Football

In Russia, my region is famous for its Tatar Cuisine – hearty pies, delicious baked goods and very sweet desserts are very popular.

I’ve enjoyed trying some Irish favourites and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of lamb compared to the mutton we have at home. I have now learned what ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ means! The variety of cheeses is astonishing in Ireland – Dairy products and seafood are really standout here.

Kazan hosted some matches during the recent World Cup and we all like keeping up to date with the football results. My team in Russia is Rubin Kazan although my Cork-based Aspira colleagues tell me there’s only one football team to follow:

It is great working and living in an international environment. Kazan and Dublin are very different, but we have much in common. Diversity and collaboration in the workplace helps to achieve synergy and I’m delighted to be part of the team at Aspira.

Author: Tanya Gainutdinova, Technical Resource Specialist, Aspira

 

Aspira Internship

 

Tadhg had heard great things about Aspira before starting his internship, but never could have imagined just how nurturing an environment it would prove to be.

 

What are you studying in college?
I’m studying Computer Science in University College Cork. It’s a four year course, with work placement taking place in third year.

What drew you to Aspira when you were seeking an internship?
I had heard of Aspira through the UCC careers service, and after researching about them online I thought it would be a fantastic place to work. They have a history of hiring UCC students for graduate and intern positions, and I saw that they had some really interesting clients, so it was a no brainer really!

What expectations did you have before you began your internship?
I had heard from past Interns that at Aspira, you’re given a lot of responsibilities right from the beginning of your placement. A lot is expected from you, in terms of being an active employee and engaging with your co-workers. Aspira has a friendly and social environment that I was really excited to be a part of. I was also excited to put my skills to the test and see how well equipped I was to work in the industry.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?
I was given immense responsibility right off the bat, which I thought was fantastic. I was given charge of a project which involved finishing the development of a Web Application by myself. At first, it seemed like an incredibly daunting task, but my Manager Mary and all of my co-workers were always there in support if I ever had a question. The project involved eliciting requirements from the Client, and working with a programming language I had never used before. However, I never felt like I was in over my head with such a supportive group behind me!

Did the scope of your work change as the internship progressed?
As my internship went on, I had the opportunity to work on several other development projects, along with other areas of Aspira also. I got to work in teams with many different employees, attending meetings and tackling problems in a fast paced environment. I also got to work off site, working directly with clients in a business analysis role for a time!

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

Typically, the day would begin by emptying the dishwasher if it was your turn and putting on a pot of coffee! After greeting everyone in the office, I would settle down to work on whatever project I was currently tasked with. During the first few weeks while working on the Web Application, I would have daily meetings with my Manager, discussing what I had completed, what I was currently working on, and whatever issues I was encountering or foresaw. I would also be in contact with the Client, tailoring the application to their needs and working on any issues or bugs that had arisen.

What key things have you learned during this internship?
Good communication skills from speaking with clients and managers, along with enhancing my development skills, and realising that there is something new to be learned every day.

Has this internship made you feel as though you’re on the right career path?
Certainly! I found the work incredibly fulfilling. Finishing a project always brought immense pride and camaraderie. At times during my studies, I had doubts if I was pursuing the right career, but after working at Aspira I’m positive I chose the right path.

Do you feel more prepared for working life following your internship?
Absolutely. From knowing what will be expected of me, to knowing simple skills like teamwork and communication, and even having a proper work-life balance. I feel like I now have my head screwed on and I’m going into Industry prepared next year.

Why should someone take up an internship at this company?
Aspira is a fantastic place to intern at because you’ll learn an immense amount, all the while being in a friendly and social environment. They give you plenty of responsibilities, and match it with great support. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to spend 6 months there and to have learned so much.

4 Reasons to consider a Career at Aspira

 

1. You’ll never stop learning
At Aspira, training and development provision is one of our key services. We are renowned globally for excellence in Project Management and Business Analysis Training. We constantly reiterate the need for companies to train up their staff, develop new skillsets amongst their teams and empower their employees through learning. We are no exception to that rule. At Aspira, we have a company-wide focus on personal development and career enhancement through on site, internal and formal training programmes. All Aspira staff benefit from this approach.

2. Work with a connected community
will benefit from the support of your colleagues – a team of experts across a range of areas such as Development, Cloud Deployment, Senior Project Management and Business Analysis. Our collaborative approach to work is further bolstered by the opportunity to work in multi-experienced teams to help deliver exceptional projects for our clients.

We have a very present management team who are always nearby to point you in the right direction and offer their advice and support. Aspira staff also have a hands-on approach to companywide matters, having their say in a number of broader business aspects. The only limits at Aspira are the ones you set for yourself!

3. Flexibility and rewards
Our diversity means that we work with a new way of thinking. Our teams enjoy flexible working to allow for personal circumstances and family. Working for aspira also means flexibility in the clients you work with. We work with some of the best organisations in the country across both the private and public sector, in the country. The work is always exciting and never boring!

Our staff are also offered a number of other benefits such as pension, healthcare, training allowance, and paid holidays. Not to mention that our team is considered by many to be a family of sorts.

4. Diversity
Aspira is a diverse, international company. We have people from over 15 different nationalities building their careers with Aspira and we work with global leaders around the world. We offer opportunities to work globally and work on international assignments, so if you’re looking for a new challenge, Aspira might just be the place for you.

Want to work with us? See all current career opportunities on our website here https://www.aspira.ie/work-with-aspira/

Author:  Russell Moore, HR & Resourcing Manager, Aspira

‘Are we there yet? Secrets to sustainable business success’

Aspira teach people the importance of carrying out a Lessons Learned exercise at the end of each project, to make sure you learn from your lessons when starting the next project. Tune into talk radio on any given day and you’ll hear the Irish economy is bouncing back into full on recovery. We’re on the up and up again, but how exactly has that recovery come about… and have we really learned any lessons from the recent past?

The construction sector is visibly improving with planning permission notices for new housing littering the countryside. New road development projects and the rejuvenation of our city docklands area is on the horizon – multiple cranes can once again be seen on our skyline and ‘breakfast roll man’ is making a comeback, albeit with muesli and a skinny Latte instead of the full Irish breakfast.

Can we have any confidence that things will be different this time?

We hope that part of our recovery is based upon more mindful spending on the part of the consumer, more reasonable pay on the part of the employers and more prudent savings on everyone’s part.

But it’s not enough to expect consumers to self-regulate. We also need stronger banking regulations and enforcement of compliance. Recent headlines and court cases have exposed some nefarious practices in the world of high finance. We need a change of mind-set so that ‘wheeling and dealing’ practices are not seen as clever or admirable – instead we need to return to valuing good old fashioned principles such as honesty and integrity.

There are some warning signs that the recovery of the economy may soon start simmering over. We see that the property bubble is expanding again as demand far exceeds supply, with house prices back up to pre-crash levels. It makes alarm bells ring out when we hear mortgage providers advertising their “cash back” options – the kind of options guaranteed to encourage reckless borrowing.

The other major source of uncertainty is Brexit. What exactly will it mean for the economies of Europe? I don’t know. Perhaps I should refer to the architects of the Brexit deal – but it turns out that they have no clue either how it will affect either the UK economy or the wider EU economy. The only thing we know for sure is that it will be harmful, and that uncertainty will continue. And it is uncertainty that makes markets jittery and could precipitate another crash.

But rather than focus on the negative, let’s remind ourselves that current economic indicators say that the economy is right back where we were in 2008, we are back to effectively full employment and we anticipate unprecedented levels of employment growth, with jobs in the technology sector leading the way. Aspira has been named as one of Europe’s Fastest Growing Technology companies by the Financial Times for the second year in a row, so there is every reason to be hopeful for continued success. Remember – a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, but an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Check us out at www.aspira.ie

Author: Paula Good, Accounts Dept., Aspira

 

6 ways resourcing can solve your hiring needs

In recent months, the talent pool in Ireland has become competitive. Many multinational companies have set up their European headquarters in Ireland. We regularly speak to client companies about the benefits of hiring for specific skills gaps during specific projects, on a long-term, or short-term basis, through a trusted partner like Aspira.

We put together project delivery teams with a blended mix of our expert permanent staff and our experienced associate consultants. Many of our associate consultants are active in the contract market, and have a long-term association with us.
The companies we work with all have similar challenges:
• It is very difficult to find permanent people for niche IT Role.
• Experienced and qualified Project Managers and Business Analysts are hard to find.
• The talent pool in Ireland is extremely competitive, making it more difficult to source staff.
Despite these issues, we find that companies are reluctant to use day rate consultants, considered to be ‘too expensive’, ‘not a long-term solution’, ‘don’t understand the company culture’ and so on. However, sometimes you face a business project that needs urgent delivery and this is where an experienced Aspira consultant might just be the answer.

The benefits of hiring a daily-rate Aspira consultant include:
1. You only pay them for days worked.
2. If hired through Aspira, all the payroll costs are handled which is less work for the finance department.
3. No additional hidden costs because a daily rate is all inclusive.
4. Costly employee benefits such as training or bonuses are not charged to the client company
5. Less of a notice period in case projects are cancelled.
6. If you hire an Aspira team member, you can expect results and delivery in a shorter time. They are experienced at quickly evaluating client challenges and ensuring minimum delays through long learning curves.

For more information on resourcing and how it can benefit your organisation, contact our resourcing team at info@www.aspira.ie or visit the website www.aspira.ie

Author: Russell Moore, HR & Resourcing Manager, Aspira

 

Three Reasons your team needs Business Analysis Training

The importance of brilliant business analysis cannot be underestimated. Sloppy business requirements leads to bursting budgets and stagnant schedules as projects trip over clumsy requirements. Business analysis, when perfectly executed, results in a solid signed-off set of agreed business requirements, with no ambiguity and complete business buy-in.

A large majority of business owners aren’t aware of the full extent of what they want or need prior to being led through the Requirements Gathering phase. If the owner of the project doesn’t know what they want, how can the project deliver it? The answer lies in business analysis.

That is why business analysts are the lynchpin of every successful project. Our Business Analysis training will ensure your team will:

1. Get the requirements of your project right and learn techniques for solution assessment and validation. This means saving money on expensive changes further down the development road and keeping the schedule streamlined and on track. Investing in Business Analysis will bring demonstrable benefits to your organisation regardless of the industry.

2. Learn practical techniques to power up your communication skills. Business Analysts are essential intermediaries between the business and the technology departments of an organisation, thus they must be able to elicit requirements eloquently and assess solutions astutely.

3. Understand Business Analysis terminology, concepts and methodologies including the seven business knowledge areas. It will also teach you what you need to know in order to pass the Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP} exam including test-taking strategies.

Aspira’s Business Analysis training course will demonstrate to you not just how to be a great business analyst, but what it really takes to be an awesome one. Aspira is an approved education provider by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®).

Email training@www.aspira.ie to book the last few remaining places of our CBAP course on 11th, 12th, 18th & 19th September 2018.

3 Reasons Why your Organisation should use Sharepoint

There comes a point within an organisation where they require a centralised location for managing their data and content. SharePoint is the ideal solution for this. Used by 78% of Fortune 500 companies, SharePoint is a leading platform for document collaboration and more. Here are three ways SharePoint can benefit your organisation:

1. Easier Collaboration

Sharing files through email attachments while changes are being made is a common practice in many businesses. However, this can be difficult to keep track of and result in multiple different versions of a document. It also adds to the load on your mail server. With SharePoint, a link to the document can be provided to employees so they can view and make changes, ensuring that everyone has access to the latest version and no changes are missed. Using permissions within SharePoint also means that only the desired employees have access to the document.

2. Consolidated Data

Over time an organisation starts storing important data in random locations. Important data is captured on an excel and saved on an employee’s computer. Situations like this make it difficult to keep track of data. Using SharePoint features like versioning and metadata to store data will prevent any confusion around your data.

3. Customised Solutions

SharePoint has near limitless configuration options and is flexible enough to make it useful to an organisation in many ways. After migrating you can leverage SharePoint to improve many of your business processes using out of the box solutions, as well as being able to build customised solutions.
Quickly finding, reviewing, approving, sharing and storing data is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SharePoint. Consider Aspira SharePoint Training for your team to increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Contact training@www.aspira.ie for further information.

Operations Management to Project Management – Get Me Out of Here?

You have always worked in operations. You have always been effective. You have always had total control. But suddenly, you are parachuted into a brand new role and given a brand new shiny project with a looming deadline. You feel slightly uneasy, as the clock has started ticking on your project and you’re not sure where to begin.

You don’t know what exactly you have to do, you don’t know how possible it is to do it and you don’t know who the key players are. So you begin to ask a few questions. However, you are left none the wiser as everyone seems to want something different and no one has any previous experience of this type of project, so they are not sure what is involved.

Puzzled you call your friend, who has delivered many successful projects and you tell him your predicament. He gives you three pieces of advice. Don’t promise the sun, moon and stars. Beware of men in raincoats looking for ‘just one more thing’. Finally, watch out for the canary in the coalmine! Utterly confused, you ask ‘is this project management – men in white coats, flying to the moon?’ So your friend begins to explain:

  • Don’t promise the sun, moon and stars

 

You need to manage expectations. To do this you need to identify and prioritise all your stakeholders now, communicate and engage with them often and ask what success looks like for them.

  • Beware of men in raincoats looking for ‘just one more thing’

 

You need to avoid scope creep. You need to ensure that the work of the project is clearly defined as well as the work that is not included. You need to keep your project from creeping into chaos by managing any requests for ‘just one more thing’ to the original agreed work with an impact assessment.

  • Watch out for the canary in the coalmine

 

You need to have triggers to alert you of any impending show stoppers that could potentially harm or derail your project.

Now you are totally confused. You may have been a great operations manager, but Project Management is a new world, with a new language and a different approach. And so, you sit down to write an email to training@www.aspira.ie  ‘Please help me to become a great Project Manager’.  Suddenly you are feeling better.

 

Author: Norma Lynch, Training Manager, Aspira https://www.linkedin.com/in/norma-lynch-b3922413/

BlockChain – What is it all about?

I decided to try to write an explanation for BlockChain – the technology behind Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. Not to describe how the technology works (which involves decentralized networks, consensus protocols, cryptography and game theory), but instead try to explain what it effectively does.  So far, so good.

I then spent all weekend trying to come up with a good analogy for what BlockChain does. So far, not so good!  It is really hard to find an accurate analogy for this technology.  I find myself accidentally describing Bitcoin, and then have to step back from it.

Part of the problem is that for most of us, trying to visualise BlockChain is something similar to cavemen trying to understand paper money. Just imagine how hard it was for people who only knew the barter system.

Back then, if I wanted to buy a cow, I’d need to exchange it for six sheep. And suddenly you are telling me that I should hand over my six sheep for these pieces of dried leaves – and you’re promising me that the guy who owns the cow will accept these pieces of paper and hand over his cow to me?  How do I know I can trust you?

Now let’s come back to the present day. We are all accustomed to using paper money to buy and sell goods and services – without really thinking about how the whole system actually works, but we struggle to imagine how BlockChain works.  Here goes:

Imagine for a moment there is a world computer that is openly accessible to anybody who has an internet connection, so everyone can create an account for free and use it as much as they like. Nobody owns this computer – no government or company or individual.  It cannot be tampered with by anyone and it keeps a perfect (immutable) audit of every transaction or keystroke or piece of data that goes into it.  It remembers each misspelling your make and backspace you use – it never forgets anything (and no, it does not remind me of my spouse!)

This what BlockChain gives you – a technology platform available to all but not owned by any. And if you want to invent your own micro-currency such as Bitcoin, BlockChain gives you the technology platform to create that currency.   It is owned by nobody and will remember everything – therefore it can be trusted.  And trust is the one thing that must exist if you are to have a working currency.

There is huge potential for new uses of BlockChain, such as creation of digital contracts – contracts that are guaranteed to be executed once the payment terms are hit – no more ‘the cheque is in the post’, no more need for escrow services, no more need for third parties getting involved.

If you want to invent something new, that you want to make open to every person on the planet, and you want to ensure that the true ownership of this new thing you create will always reside with its rightful owner – you should use BlockChain technology. The future potential is huge and is largely untapped – the reality is that this technology will produce completely novel unforeseen products.

Will there be unforeseen problems? Definitely!  Recent GDPR legislation includes the ‘right to be forgotten’.  How does that right tally with a technology that can never forget anything, ever?  It’s the irresistible force of GDPR vs the immovable object of BlockChain

And that was the best analogy I could come up with!

Please contact www.aspira.ie or 021-2352550 if you have any queries.