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.

Aspira launches free webinar series to support businesses during Covid-19 crisis

 

8 April 2020: Aspira, the leading Irish consulting and enterprise IT services company, has today launched a series of free live webinars to support businesses in light of the current Covid-19 public health situation. You can sign up for the webinars at www.aspira.ie/events

The webinars will run for five weeks, with a new one every Wednesday from 8th April to 6th May. Each Wednesday Webinar will last for an hour and will focus on developing and improving skills to help business leaders and their teams work effectively in the ‘new normal’.

The series will cover topics such as kickstarting projects across virtual teams and getting the most out of project management software such as Microsoft Teams. The first webinar, which took place today, looked at leading and managing project teams from a distance, run by Aspira Global Head of Project Training Norma Lynch.

Speaking on the webinars, Aspira’s CEO Pat Lucey said: “Many businesses are currently faced with uncertainty and new working environments. At Aspira, we wanted to share some positivity and useful insights during this difficult time. Running this webinar series gives us the opportunity to share our team’s expertise in the areas of project management and remote working software and supports.”

Aspira is a specialist Project Management and Technology consultancy, focusing on Enterprise IT Solutions, with offices in Dublin, Cork and the Netherlands. Offering Managed IT, Software Development, Testing and Training services internationally, Aspira has been named as one of Deloitte’s Fast 50 for the past six years and was twice listed in the Financial Times Top Thousand companies in Europe.

 

Full list of upcoming Wednesday Webinar Series

Date: Wednesday 15th April

Time: 11.00am – 12.00pm (12.00 – 13.00 CET)

Topic: Working remotely made easier with MS Teams – Stephen McCluskey

Register here: https://aspira.ie/events/working-with-ms-teams/

 

Date: Wednesday 22nd April

Time: 11.00am – 12.00pm (12.00 – 13.00 CET)

Topic: Getting to grips with MS Project – Damien Kearns

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

 

Date: Wednesday 29th April

Time: 11.00am – 12.00pm (12.00 – 13.00 CET)

Topic: Leveraging Agile in a Virtual Environment – Thomas McGrath

Register here: https://aspira.ie/events/leveraging-agile-in-a-virtual-environment/

 

Date: Wednesday 6th May

Time: 11.00am – 12.00pm (12.00 – 13.00 CET)

Topic: Kickstarting a Project in a Virtual Team – Gillian Whelan

Register here: https://aspira.ie/events/kick-starting-a-project-in-a-virtual-team/

 

For further information, or to arrange an interview with Pat Lucey please contact

Ciara Flaherty, Springboard PR & Marketing,

ciara@springboardpr.ie

086 061 1012, + 353 21 496 9000

 

Leading & Managing your Project Team from a Distance

Globally we have embarked on a grand experiment with remote work and technology. Teams have been dispersed, plans have changed and managers are striving to adapt to the ‘new normal’.

Businesses must continue but how we do business must change.  Greeting, meeting, seating, communicating, deciding, and executing have all changed. Managers need to reimagine how they are going to manage and lead from a distance.

This can be challenging because there are no visible cues to the team’s level of engagement or energy. The established routines, that were comfortable and steady, have now vanished.  New norms need to be established in order to lead and manage from a distance.  All communication and collaboration has to be more deliberate and disciplined:

  • Team goals must be crystal-clear and progress made visible.
  • Team members must be encouraged to speak up from a distance and feel comfortable doing so.
  • We must all consider how we frame our remote communications to avoid misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

The rules of the game have changed, and managers have to adapt.

Learn how, at our free webinar this Wednesday from 11-12pm.

Register here:  https://aspira.ie/events/leading-and-managing-your-project-team-from-a-distance/

This webinar is part of a Weekly Wednesday Webinar series from Aspira to support businesses during the Covid-19 crisis. The webinars will run each Wednesday at 11am, starting 8th April.

Each Webinar will last for an hour max and will focus on developing and improving skills to help business leaders and their teams work effectively in the ‘new normal’.

You can sign up for any (or all) of these webinars here: www.aspira.ie/events

Author:  Norma Lynch, Head of Training, Aspira.

Our CEO Pat Lucey shares his perspective on remote working and facing the challenges ahead

 

I am lucky enough to have a job I really enjoy. As CEO of Aspira I get to meet with many different customers in a variety of sectors. I get to travel to different locations to work directly with colleagues. I get asked to speak at conventions and conferences all over the world.  And then Covid-19 happens and suddenly I’m doing none of those things.

I realise that I am one of the fortunate people who has not been struck down by the virus and who still has a job. I have good internet allowing me to work remotely and have commandeered the room formerly used as the kids’ playroom.  So in the greater scheme of things I am aware that my struggles with remote working are at the very minor end of the scale. I would categorize them under three headings:

People

My primary concern as CEO is the health and safety of our team.  Because most of our roles can be done remotely, we made the decision early on to test our remote working capability, to ensure everyone could connect and work remotely, and then to execute that plan proactively.  Because some of our clients provide essential services, we must also be ready to support those clients should they need on-site emergency work.  We quickly put in place practices and policies to prioritise the safety of our team and the people we deal with, and we are monitoring this on a daily basis.  We needed to setup regular communication with each employee to understand if they had any specific issues or concerns and to ensure we kept communication lines open.  My monthly email to all staff became a weekly email to reflect the fast-pace of change going on around us and let people know how the company is responding to that change.  We set up a weekly “pointless meeting” open to all staff at lunchtime on Fridays, with no agenda, and where no ‘work talk’ is allowed – the idea is to let people stay connected through regular informal chit-chat.

Business Continuity

The next step was to do some contingency planning – for each key role, we needed to line up a backup person and a backup to that backup, and get those people trained up in the event that anyone should become unavailable to work.  Our strategy has been that all our IT systems are based in the cloud, so that makes us very portable and not tied to our physical buildings.  We diverted our office phones and ensured everybody could access their business phone via their laptop.  We also had to look at our international operations and see how local authorities were responding to the pandemic, as each country is taking a subtly different approach.

Looking forward – surviving and sustaining 

We are lucky in that Aspira delivers services across a broad range of industry sectors.  Some of those have taken a big hit – for example our clients in the airline sector are obviously heavily impacted and that quickly feeds through to us.  Clients in the banking, food production and medical device sectors are under extreme pressure and if anything, demand has increased.  But overall we expect a significant hit on companies and economies over the next six months so we must be innovative in transforming our services and developing new services that will be of value to clients.

Through all this time the key thing is to communicate, communicate, communicate – to employees, to suppliers, to clients.  Lack of communication causes anxiety and fear – by communicating honestly and regularly, people will know where they stand and what they can expect.

Here’s to collectively standing together and embracing whatever positives may come from our ‘new normal’.

Author:  Pat Lucey, CEO, Aspira.

How to run a project team meeting online

 

More than ever within the unsettled and remote world we find ourselves living in today, face-to-face meetings are fast becoming the exception rather than the norm.

At Aspira, we have embraced “project team meetings” or “virtual meetings” as I’ll refer to them, as a means to maintain the status quo with our clients as well as with each other. As with everything in life, there are pros & cons to the methods of our interactions.

  • Virtual meetings offer the ability to invite more people; potentially happier people, since attending meetings remotely is usually more convenient than doing so in person; and there is no travel time, which breeds efficiency and helps the environment.
  • Of course, these virtual meetings also pose challenges: distracting noises; side-tracked participants who multitask or tune out; and technology glitches.

As such, meeting facilitators really need to be organised to overcome these challenges and keep people engaged. Here are some tips for overcoming these hurdles and keeping virtual meetings running smoothly based on my own learnings more recently…

  1. Early Login. Make it a habit to dial-in a few minutes early when facilitating the meeting, so you can be ready and welcome your colleagues as they arrive …it’s also professional in my opinion for the facilitator to be present before everyone else, as it would be for a face-to-face meeting…or maybe that’s just me!
  2. Ground Rules / Distractions. Participants should agree on the ground rules, especially if the group meets regularly. For example: Everyone must attend, be on time, stick to a timeline, read the agenda, stay on task. Remind participants to use their mute button, if necessary. Distractions can really ruin a call whether it’s a vibrating mobile phone or a kango hammer outside your window!
  3. The Invitees. It’s difficult to hold a virtual meeting with a very large number of participants, due sometimes to the capabilities of the technology and everyone’s ability to contribute to the conversation. If a participant has nothing to gain or contribute you should really consider why they are involved in the first place?
  4. Socialise. Don’t miss a chance to connect with your colleagues (before starting the meeting or at the end) now more than ever. We are all under stresses due to the current unprecedented situation that is COVID-19, so simply connecting on a personal level can do more than you might realise for some people. I find the pre-meeting chit-chat helps me stay connected and sharing our observations, funny stories or woes can also be very therapeutic!
  5. Face-time. I feel way more engaged when I can see you! Encourage participants to show their faces online (if only when speaking) and by association get them out of their PJ’s and into their casuals!
  6. Objective & Agenda. Always prepare a clear meeting objective and associated agenda. If appropriate, distribute the agenda and other materials to attendees in advance, and explain if/why they need to review them prior to meeting. Be as conscious about people’s time for virtual meetings as you would for face-to face meetings.
  7. Encourage Participation. Asking directly for input really helps team members feel engaged. Seek out those who may not be as vocal but avoid putting them on the spot.
  8. Avoid Back-to-Back Meetings. It is important that you give yourself sometime between meetings…a chance to catch breath, consider the outcomes and actions and to reset your mind for the next virtual meeting. Meeting burn-out is as probable for virtual meetings as it is for face-to-face meetings.
  9. Try to be engaging. This does not mean attempting a stand-up comedy routine, but simply try to make it interesting with lively interaction and even to be conscious of your tone…again, the use of your video will help here as suggested earlier.
  10. Check out action items are in progress. It’s vital in virtual meeting forums that we get clear and actionable outcomes for participants. Remind those who participated the main points of the meeting and the follow-up actions, owners and due dates agreed etc. Everyone needs to know that commitments are being tracked to completion.

The biggest challenge of virtual meetings is to keep people interested and engaged. The suggestions listed are not all encompassing…employ what works for your own team situation and dynamic and adapt as you proceed. Take feedback from your colleagues and make it everyone’s meeting. On look back, many of the suggestions outlined apply to traditional face-to-face meetings also, so the adoption of a virtual working world should not be so difficult, in theory!

Work smart, Stay safe.

Author:  Thomas McGrath, Senior Project Manager, Aspira

How Secure is your Cloud?

 

How Secure is your Cloud?

Cloud-based solutions are increasing in demand globally. These solutions span from secure data storage to entire business processes. The allure of transferring IT from being a cost centre to a business engine have organisations flocking to avail of cloud potential.

Leveraging cloud capabilities allows system and infrastructure tasks to be completed in hours rather than weeks. This in turn allows staff to focus on more important aspects such as innovation and driving the business forward.

However, reduced costs and an abundance of features don’t come without drawbacks. Security has always been the primary concern. Since the introduction of cloud services, that concern is elevated.

So how secure is the cloud?

To answer this, let’s look at what the cloud offers in terms of security.

Users are most familiar with the security credentials around gaining access. Cloud vendors secure user data using other means; some of these include:

  • Advanced firewalls: These verify content integrity and can map known security threats vs. the standard firewall which only examines source and destination data.
  • Intrusion detection: Several layers of detection provided by cloud services can stop intruders should they pass the initial defence.
  • Encryption: All data is encrypted in the cloud. Should encrypted data be stolen, access will be denied without the encryption key.
  • Event logs: Cloud security analysts use these logs to help predict and prevent security breaches.
  • Physical security: Data centres are certified, meaning they provide 24-hour monitoring, advanced personal access and onsite security guards.

Next, let’s look at some of the security risks. Cloud services clearly offer many security measures to ensure your cloud is kept safe. To ensure your cloud security is complete, staff must be made aware of these security measures. As secure as the cloud is, negligent users can leave the door wide open.

Security breaches are rarely caused by inefficient cloud security but by the end user. Several factors are contributed to user security and can be reduced with employee training that focuses on:

  • Authentication: Weak credentials are the primary security vulnerability – no more password123. Utilizing security services such as multi-factor authentication will go a long way to reduce this vulnerability.
  • Awareness: Employees should be trained in security awareness; this should include how businesses are breached and how to respond to common attack approaches.
  • Phishing: A very common attack technique which can attempt to compromise a user’s credentials to gain access to business systems.

In conclusion, cloud security provides advanced security features–usually better than an on-premise solution. It is up to businesses to follow the cloud provider’s security guidelines and to correctly deploy their data into the cloud. Incorrect or negligent use could jeopardize even the most secure environments, which is why employee training is the first step to securing your cloud environment.

Aspira are Microsoft Gold Certified Partners offer secure access to the Azure Cloud services and the Office 365 and Teams environment. Contact info@aspira.ie with your questions on the cloud.

 

Author:  Allan Locke, Senior Systems Administrator, Aspira

Four things to never say on a conference call

 

In a globally-connected environment, one of the ways in which we often communicate is via conference call. While there are many advantages to this technology, it can also be the setting for what some might see as less-than-ideal phone etiquette.

With that in mind, here are four things to never say when you’re on such a call – whether with colleagues or customers!

  • I was on mute – can you repeat that”

This usually happens when you are asked a question but you haven’t been paying full attention.  Being on mute means others cannot hear you – but you can still hear them!  Saying this is an admission you were ‘multi-tasking’ and not paying attention.

  • “I know you cannot see this diagram and this spreadsheet, so I will describe them…”

If you need to discuss a spreadsheet or presentation over an audio conference, make sure you share the said file with participants in advance of the call, by email, if need be. Aspira can also advise you on conference call software that will allow real-time screen and file sharing so you can work together more efficiently.

  • “I need to move the next call to 3am on your local public holiday”.

Be sensitive to the location and timezone of your participants – try to restrict calls to a time that is reasonable and be aware of local public holidays.

  • “I’ll just put you on hold as I’ve another call coming in”

Remember  – when you put people on hold they will hear pips, or tones, or even music.  Don’t subject the rest of the conference call attendees to these unwanted noises while you take another call.  If the incoming call is important, drop off the conference bridge and then join back in later.

 Aspira has delivered Consulting and Technology solutions into 24 countries – we know what it’s like to conference!  Talk to us if you have technology project needs at www.aspira.ie.

Bringing sexy back to Project Management

 

I was recently lined up to do a live radio interview on a national broadcaster business show. As he was introducing my interview segment, the show host said, “And next we’ll talk to Pat Lucey, the man who’ll explain what makes Project Management sexy”.

And for the next couple of minutes as the ad-break ran, my mind was in a whirl.  Is Project Management a sexy career?  If so why?  What can I talk about…

Thankfully, when the interview started the discussion went down other avenues, as I talked about Aspira’s consulting and technology business; how we help organisations deliver their technology projects so that they can reap the benefits of digital transformation, and have confidence that their Aspira colleagues will ensure their projects get delivered.

Afterwards I reflected… what is the sexiest career?  I have to admit that for me the answer is to be an astronaut!  Since I was a small kid, I fantasised about that career and when Norah Patten – Ireland’s prospective first astronaut – spoke at the Ireland Project Management Conference in 2018, I was a total fan-boy.

So, could Project Management compete on the sexiness scale of careers.  Over to my Google search page to seek the definition of sexiness.  Once I got past some inappropriate options, I found a nice definition – to be sexy something must be exciting, appealing and attractive.  So let’s apply the test:

What could be more exciting than turning ideas into reality?  It is the Project Manager that takes a notion, a vision, a dream, and finds a way to make that dream come true.  Overcoming obstacles, thwarting opponents, and delivering the treasure at the end – the Project Manager is a modern day Prince/Princess Charming.  10/10 for excitement.

Is Project Management an appealing career?  One measure is just how much in demand are Project Managers today.  Aspira provide Project Management consultants to our clients internationally and we can say without fear of contradiction that the market is crying out for good Project Managers.  In some market regions, the demand is 7:1 – in other words for every Project Manager there are seven roles vying for his/her attention.  10/10 for appealing.

Are Project Managers attractive?  In order to be a Project Manager you must be an optimist – you must see the power of the possible, and you must have deep faith in the character of people.  These are really positive and attractive qualities in any individual.  Throw in the fact that all Project Managers are really handsome and good looking people, and you have to award 10/10 for attractiveness.

So there we have it.  After a deeply scientific analysis, I have proven that Project Management is indeed a very sexy career choice.  In fact I bet there are some astronauts who are now looking to switch to join us PM types…

Article by Pat Lucey, CEO of Aspira. For more information on how Aspira can help you with all your project management needs or to find out more about a career in project management, contact info@aspira.ie.

How Santa demonstrates the need for Effective Change Control

How Santa demonstrates the need for Effective Change Control

Most parents know the feeling. Your darling child has decided what they want from Santa. In many cases, they want the latest almost-impossible-to-get toy (I still have the scars from Buzz Lightyear supply unavailability!).

But Santa’s elves are magical and so they eventually source/steal/build the required gift, and all is ready for Christmas. Until your beloved child announces at the last minute that they’ve changed their mind and now want something completely different – but equally elusive – from Santa. And now disaster beckons…

Welcome to the world of the Project Manager where you have just been hit by ineffective change control!

So, here’s how Project Managers prevent this from happening – three simple steps to Change Control your Santa list.

  1. Set a date to approve the content/scope/list

Requirements will change as more information is consumed so we have to agree a milestone where the list is signed off. The natural milestone here is when the letter to Santa is posted. Because of the volume of requests, it is advisable to get that letter in early.

  1. Agree a process to accept changes to the list

Let your child know that due to global supply chain issues and new regulatory restrictions covering elf work practices, it may be desirable to make some amendments to the Santa list.

These amendments can be sent by email, from the parent’s email account.  This gives some flexibility for change as Santa operates an Agile process.  However, Santa may not be able to accommodate all requests as he is only able to grant your child a late request if another child has changed their mind in the ‘opposite’ direction. So, no guarantees.

  1. Explain that Santa knows best.

Sometimes Santa may decide to give a child a ‘free upgrade’.  So instead of bringing the present the child asked for, he’ll bring an even better present. What a great surprise!

And because Santa knows each child so well, he’ll know exactly what kind of surprise they deserve.

So, this Christmas, put the Change Control process in place and enjoy the sweet scent of satisfied stakeholders upon delivery on Christmas morning.

Article by Pat Lucey, Aspira CEO.

 The team at Aspira would like to wish all our clients, partners and friends a merry Christmas and we look forward to working with you in 2020. For more information on how we can work together, email info@aspira.ie

21st century challenges for insurance companies in Ireland

 

The digital era presents a number of challenges for insurance companies, not least in IT and data management. This blog explores some of the most pertinent IT challenges facing Irish insurance companies.

Operational Resilience

No company can totally guarantee the security of its IT systems. We cannot assume that insurers are immune to the service disruptions that have beset other industries. Both conduct and prudential regulators are sniffing around operational resilience. We will need better IT, more sophisticated governance of incidents when they occur, and multiple ways of keeping in touch with customers.

Public challenges to insurers’ use of data

Data systems salesmen routinely exaggerate the benefits of big data, particularly in industries they don’t really understand. In contrast, our regulators understate the benefits and overstate the risks. There is of course a trade-off between improved products and services and access to customers’ data. It is all too easy to expect the benefits of big data – tailored services, quick delivery, greater choice – while objecting to the data processing that makes all this possible. Insurers need to think for themselves about the ethical standards that should be expected in the industry, and then explain the consequences to regulators and customers alike.

Squeezing the middle of the value chain

The trend of obtaining services from a Managing General Agent when seeking Guaranteed Issue insurance and platforms in savings, both point in the same direction. Market participants are looking for capital light approaches to insurance. Taken to its logical end, this trend leads to a wide variety of intermediaries with direct access to customers and a much smaller number of very large international capital providers, closer in nature to reinsurers. There is little room for the traditional carrier in this model. It also definitively breaks the link between consumer protection and prudential regulation.

Dominance of large data providers

Uber has not destroyed taxis, and Airbnb has not destroyed hotels. Instead they have exposed huge levels of demand, which was not previously met. There is great potential for digitalisation to tap currently unmet needs for protection as well as to provide access to policyholders.

But who will do this? Large American data providers are unlikely to want to become insurers, if only because the returns, in such a highly regulated industry, are not attractive to them. But they can extract returns by controlling distribution from just outside the regulatory perimeter. They will also be able to offer other services linked to insurance in a way that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) makes very difficult for insurers to do. By the time regulators notice what is happening, they could be in a very strong position indeed.

The disappearing retail customer

Digitisation allows customers to fragment their insurance cover and choose only the bits they are really interested in. For instance, instead of comprehensive motor cover you have a pay as you drive approach (until the arrival of driverless cars ushers out personal motor insurance all together). Instead of contents insurance, customers can protect only those items they really care about or would find difficult to replace. The trends point to a world where personal insurance is a relatively low value item, increasingly replaced by a broader offering of catastrophe insurance.

Over-regulation

Last but not least, and returning to Brexit, the UK is in competition with other jurisdictions, to provide a good location in which to do insurance. Beyond a certain point, higher standards do not attract business. If conduct regulation gets in the way of easy contact with customers, they will move outside the regulatory boundaries. If prudential regulation demands too much capital, risks will be placed overseas.

Article written by Stephen Hegarty, National Sales Manager at Aspira. To find out more about how Aspira works with insurance companies, contact info@aspira.ie.

 

Getting the Fundamentals of Project Management Right

“How do I get the fundamentals of project management right?” is an interesting question clients often pose. In our experience, to get the fundamentals right, businesses need to address three things – people, processes and technology.

 People 

All project stakeholders need to have an understanding of what the fundamentals of project management are, and specifically the role and responsibilities they each have in delivering projects. A project manager will need an in-depth technical knowledge of the 10 PMBOK knowledge areas, Integration, Scope, Schedule, Cost, Quality, Resource, Communications, Risk, Procurement, and Stakeholder Management, whilst also having strong leadership skills, and a good knowledge of, and expertise in the industry and organisation of the performing project. Training, formal classroom based, and on-going on the job training, is required to address the need for technical project management skills.

A project sponsor or steering group member will need to make sure that only the right projects – those most closely aligned with strategic objectives – get the green light to proceed. They need to ensure that the benefits a project is expected to deliver are understood by the project manager and team from the start, and drive the project manager and team onwards always in the pursuit of harvesting as many benefits as possible. They also play a key role in governing a project, with primary focus on the four corner stones of all projects; Scope, Schedule, Cost and Quality. Perhaps most importantly for a project manager and project team, the sponsor must also offer, and be available to support, the project team when required.

The project team are responsible for the duties assigned to them by the project manager, for following the agreed upon project management processes, for producing quality deliverables within the constraints of the project, and for identifying risks and opportunities to improve project management processes.

Aspira offer industry recognised and accredited project management training to project managers, project team members and sponsors.

Processes

Processes for delivering projects, from concept through to delivery need to be defined, documented, understood and agreed upon by all key project stakeholders. Top-down management agreement and support of these processes is vital to ensure the successful embedding of any process. Once the end-to-end project delivery processes have been defined and agreed, a strong governance framework is required to ensure the processes are consistently being followed by project stakeholders. Often businesses struggle to identify what the right end-to-end project delivery processes and supporting governance framework is for them. The consulting team in Aspira can help in this regard. We work with clients to identify end-to-end project delivery processes and supporting governance frameworks that make sense for their business, and assist in the roll out of these processes.

Technology 

Technology is often the first thing that a business will look at as a solution to getting the fundamentals of project management right, and although technology advances have seen incredibly smart portfolio, program and project management tools enter the market, technology will only be fully effective and embraced in a business when the people and process gaps above have been addressed first. Technology advances have resulted in the introduction of tools that can now make decision making, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing projects much easier. With so many companies offering cutting edge technology to streamline and improve how projects are delivered, it can be challenging for a business to know what is the best fit for them. Aspira has worked with many clients to help them identify the technology solution that best suits their needs. We capture clients requirements, identify suitable technology and vendors, evaluate and provide recommendations on the technology solutions that best suit our customer’s needs.

Article by Gillian Whelan, Project Manager at Aspira. To find out more about how Aspira can improve your team’s project management, contact info@aspira.ie

The Rise of Contingent Workforce – Aspira

Companies are slowly but surely moving to the contingent workforce model – a provisional group of workers who work for an organization on a non-permanent basis. It is necessary for companies in today’s highly competitive environment to ensure that operating costs are as low as possible in order to maintain profitability. The contingent worker model offers great benefits as staff can dip in and out of the company as needed; whether it is an IT consultant, a business analyst, a project manager, a scheduling expert or other IT resource that is only needed on a temporary basis, bringing in a contingent worker to fill a gap reduces redundancy in the resource model. No company wants to pay to retain good staff if there is no work for them at that time. In this way you know you have the right resources available at the right time and leaving the company when their tasks have been completed.

Aspira is a solutions driven company and a leading supplier of experienced, skilled and intelligent IT and Project Management resources. We take a 360° view of all your needs and requirements to ensure that we offer the right candidates to you. Company culture, business process and the nuances of technical and business skills combined in the right individual are what make a successful contract resource. Our rigorous standards for selecting candidates will ensure a great match every time.

Aspira can provide our clients with the highest calibre:

• Programme and Project Managers
• PMO Specialists
• Business and Systems Analysts
• Project Risk Analysts
• Solution and Technical Architects (Software, Middleware and Infrastructure)
• Infrastructure & Networking Specialists
• Database Specialists
• Middleware and Application Developers covering multiple technologies….and many other profiles.

Aspira does more than simply offer individual resources. Our aim is to offer maximum value to our clients by building long standing and mutually beneficial relationships. In this way we can assist our clients in the most effective way by offering our wealth of experience and counsel when selecting candidates that are not only more than able to do the job but who can offer added value in many diverse areas of the project lifecycle. We want our candidates to be able to effectively communicate with all of the different audiences and stakeholders in your business and, while they are specialists in their field, we hope they add extra value on top with additional skills and experience which you can avail of.

Our comprehensive approach ensures that we help you define who you need (if necessary), what technical skills the required individuals must have as well as what soft skills are fundamental to guaranteeing their overall success. We work with our clients to keep track of the performance of our contract resources ensuring you get the best for your investment.

Click here and talk to us today to discuss your resource needs and let us empower you to find the perfect match for your project.