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.

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.

 

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.

4 Reasons to work for 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 among 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
You 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 company wide 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. 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://aspira.ie/work-with-aspira/

Author:  Russell Moore, HR & Resourcing Manager, Aspira

Connecting the dots

Connecting the dots: How I ended up at Aspira

One of my earliest memories is seeing the above picture of the Taj Mahal in a Ladybird book and being amazed. I stared and stared, wondering what this exotic building was and how a place like this could exist? This book showed pictures of the Wonders of the World and it completely captivated me. Fast forward to me as a seventeen-year-old, I sat in an office with my career guidance counsellor as he asked, “What would you like to do with your life?” I shrugged and said, “No idea”. He suggested “What about this IT thing?” and there I was: an IT thing guy!

Having spent my school years looking at maps, geography books, atlases and globes, imagining all the adventures to be had in the world… How was I going to be an IT thing guy? In my early twenties I got my first taste of foreign lands. On this trip bumped into and made friends with an Irish guy (Luca) who would return to this story twenty years later.

My IT career had taken off and I somehow fell into contracting in software testing. Truth be told I never really enjoyed my job, but I quickly learned I could use it to achieve my goals, not career goals but life goals. I worked and travelled, worked and travelled again… my life was truly a roller-coaster, from the lows of work to the highs of travel. Work was tolerable because it allowed me to live out many of the dreams that were started in that Ladybird book all those years ago.

Throughout this period of my life mentioned, I had become the ‘go-to’ guy for solving IT problems amongst my friends. I could spend hours or even days fixing something I knew nothing about. Eventually I would fix it, and it felt good, I couldn’t really understand why I got such a great feeling from this achievement, but I liked it – I fixed something that wasn’t working! How on earth can I do this for a job? Where do I start? Or am I too far down the line to make a career change?

Step back in the man I met almost exactly 20 years previously – Luca, who was now a director with Aspira. At this stage Luca knew me well and knew I liked resolving IT-related issues, so he asked me “Do you want a job?” I said “Yes”, then suddenly I was in a job doing what I discovered I loved: fixing things! I had finally become the IT thing guy – how could that counsellor have known? I’ve since hung up my backpack and swapped it for a family, I couldn’t be happier, and I never have to work another day in my life. It’s funny when you step back and look at life’s big picture… there are dots to be connected all over the place.

P.S. I made it. In more ways than one.

If you have an IT-related issue that needs solving, please reach out to Aspira today at info@aspira.ie.

Author:  Kevin O’Donovan, IT Engineer, Aspira.

The move towards Intelligent Business Applications

Pivoting to Success

Since Aspira was founded in 2007, it has had a Software Development team who design and deliver software solutions. Initially, the company was product-focussed, and then pivoted to be a services company – delivering a software development service amongst others.

Aspira’s software development offerings are great for clients who wish to have a new application developed or who require someone to manage the maintenance and development of their legacy products.

However, in many cases we find that a client specifically does not want software developers to build a whole new system for them.  Such clients prefer to avoid the pain of dealing with a new product, new supplier, longer-term product roadmap, future compatibility and maintenance issues that always arise with bespoke software.

What a majority of clients want is an ‘out of the box’ solution – where they will incur no development costs and where the long-term support is straightforward.

A Solution from the Inside

In response to this demand, Aspira set up the “Business Applications” team.  The task of this team is to not write software, instead they must build up deep expertise with many of the ‘out of the box’ software solutions out there. They must become trained and certified implementers of these systems. This foundation creates the ability to deploy, configure and customise solutions so that it will work effectively within the client environment, which ultimately addresses the client’s need(s).

The Aspira Business Applications team carry out these steps precisely – utilising technology such as CRM, SharePoint, PowerBI, Project Server etc. The team can rapidly deploy an industry-hardened solution in a way that retains a client’s satisfaction.

Integrating the Past with the Future

In some incidents, we pull in the Software Development team too.  Often, there can be a small amount of legacy applications or home-grown applications, to which clients need the new ‘out of the box’ system to connect.

Being equipped with a development capability – the Business Applications team can apply this to their advantage. It is here where our developers can not only build the interfaces but also configure the system to function with the legacy systems if required. Rather than a zero-code solution, it becomes a low-code solution.

Aspira is a company that focuses on delivering the people and technology to solve problems – the new Business Applications team is a fantastic addition to that capability.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact info@aspira.ie

How to manage your organisation’s digital security in the age of the cloud

Internet based technology and cloud is now central in everything we do, shaping growth, disrupting industry landscapes and providing the catalyst for transformation. Digital Transformation can be considered as the next industrial revolution. We now have a digital landscape where there are no defined borders and data is the new commodity to be bought, sold or stolen. The Internet is there to connect, not protect so it is inevitable that, as data is now king, securing it is a huge challenge.

Before the cloud, we could rest assured that our data was protected sitting in a data centre behind our firewall.  Our security challenges were simple – how do I secure my network and prevent intrusions.  We secured internal user access to resources locally, and we had a known security perimeter.

Today, with the internet and the cloud, the user can choose applications at random, store data anywhere, applications are increasingly external, and IT departments have limited visibility to provide protection.

So how do we enable the benefits of cloud while still being assured that our data is protected in a world where even organisations with enormous security budgets and elite security analysts are struggling to address modern threats?

To start, you need to change your perspective and work from the assumption that your security will be compromised. Plan for the eventuality by adopting an approach that focuses on protection, detection and response.  Adopt a security posture that is:

  • Comprehensive in terms of understanding your environment and weaknesses;
  • Well-informed in terms of what the modern security challenges are;
  • Prescriptive in terms of what steps to take to protect your environment and respond to security events.

To begin to develop your security posture, it will help if you separate your environment into:

  • The devices you use, how and where they are used, from data centre to end user;
  • The applications you use, where there are located and how they are accessed;
  • The data that is updated and manipulated by applications:
  • The users who access the data, through the applications, that is stored on the devices.

Then develop your plans and strategies for each layer.  Make sure you address your specific needs keeping in mind any internal, regulatory or legal requirements that affect your business directly.  And remember, when developing your plans always keeping in mind, what do you do if you are compromised.

Author: Jason Boyle, Operations Director, Aspira

6 ways Resourcing can solve hiring needs

In recent months, the talent pool in Ireland has become more 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@aspira.ie or visit the website www.aspira.ie

Author: Russell Moore, HR & Resourcing Manager, Aspira

Embracing the digital transformation

 

At Aspira, we are constantly seeking new ways to make a positive impact on our surroundings and one of these decisions came in 2017, when the company committed to solely purchasing and using electric cars.

This decision seemed like a natural progression for Aspira, as we recognised the positive impact electric cars have on the environment. As a project management firm, in recent years, we have also noticed a digital transformation occurring within the industry. Technology has heavily influenced how project management is now practiced – and the same can be said for motor vehicles. In this blog we look at how these changes mirror each other.

The digital transformation of the motor vehicle

Initially, motor vehicles were not equipped with features such as indicators – a feature that we now take for granted and heavily rely on to drive in an efficient manner. In addition, manual windows/manual unlocking have now transitioned into electric windows and immobiliser unlocking. Nowadays, your car acts as an entertainment centre – with features such as sat-navigation, Wi-Fi and even technology to parallel park or even drive.

There has even been a digital transformation in the way vehicles are produced. With Henry Ford’s invention of the production line concept, bringing the vehicle a long a belt to employees, digital advances have replaced these employee roles. Instead of supporting traditional methods, new types of innovation and creation, such as robotic arms, create industrial advantages:

  • Time efficiency – Robotic arms are tasked to do specific tasks. There are no interruptions as there is no need for human speech – once the robotic arm is programmed, it operates effectively
  • Safety – Less chance of an injury occurring – no human errors occurring during process, once it is programmed correctly
  • Financial savings – Although, a high initial cost may be required, there is no on-going wages – although minor servicing costs may be incurred

The digital transformation of project management

In a similar manner, project management has undergone a digital makeover. Technology has enhanced our ability to be more efficient and we now rely on mobile apps and social media to instantly connect with our team members and communicate key messages to one another. This reduces waiting time and speeds up the delivery of projects. We can also share documents with one another from different locations. No more waiting for faxes and documents to arrive by post!

Technology allows teams to operate in various locations, adhere to project deadlines and stay on budget.

At Aspira, we celebrate the advancement of technology to support the practice of project management and understand its importance to contribute to a better work environment. Our decision to purchase electric cars which rely on technology to positively impact our surroundings echoes our sentiments.

Article by Dean Murphy, Marketing Intern, Aspira.

Guest blog: A sneak peek into choosing an Independent Consultants Life

We invited Niamh Kelly to write this guest opinion piece about her personal experiences as an independent consultant.

A job for life… career stability… security… these mantras are often bandied about as the holy grail of #careergoals. I disagree with all of these largely because they don’t exist. Job security, predictable income, Ts & Cs and the ability to plan far into the future based on holding on to a job is a mirage which is long gone. Teachers, lawyers & the current nurses strike are hard proof examples.

I noticed the trend toward moving away from a Job for Life in the early noughties fresh out of university and jumped on board as an early adopter of skill survival but it has taken many years and a huge recession for the penny to drop for many others. Some unfortunately are still in denial.

The term job-hopping is used in a negative way to describe people who move from company to company. There is a huge problem with subscribing to this mind-set for you, the employee, as you will get stuck, you will operate from fear and you will make decisions based on external opinions instead of listening to your gut and trusting yourself. As an independent consultant, I job-hop for a living although I prefer the term client-hop and once you move past all of this external noise you will find that it is easier to design your life and carve out your career in a way that works for you. This is a day, a week, several months in my life.

When the last recession hit in 2008, by 2009, I experienced my first redundancy, it was devastating but an extremely well disguised gift. There were some huge life lessons I learned quickly and brutally:

1. Life gets in the way and even if you do everything right, the worst can still happen. It’s not you it’s them.

2. Always be prepared financially for the rug to get pulled from under you.

3. Be prepared to mobilise quickly in all types of economies – hone your skills, diversify if necessary and be flexible to change. If you are not flexible you will break like a stubborn tree in a hurricane.

Another redundancy came a few years after that in my favourite company to date with our Dublin HQ closure and that was almost more brutal than the first as I was emotionally invested in the company and my team. The grief was different this time; I mourned what was lost but I was not afraid of surviving the future. I knew I had what it took, I‘d done it before and this time I had even more skills, more experience and higher resilience. I felt secure in knowing that I had cleverly branched out into the technology sector which was thriving and changing the working landscape. Instinctively, I did not put roots down in my next permanent position, I saw an opportunity to expand my skillset even further in Tech Project Management and start-up environments and sought out a way to step outside my comfort zone deliberately. I took on difficult tasks whether I liked them or not as a way to stretch my professional legs. I don’t like spreadsheets but I became highly Excel competent, not a fan of public speaking but workshopped more ideas, improvements and knowledge sharing than I can count and while I’m no Mathematician if you put a € in front of anything I can negotiate, manage and track it to the nearest cent even with a moderately bad hangover. I can plan, strategise and forecast with the best of them although I always liked doing that so it doesn’t count.

As I was outgrowing my last permanent job the feeling of being stuck was gnawing at me but I had now become a little too comfortable and wasn’t feeling under pressure to make any swift decisions. The universe had other plans, it threw up an opportunity for me to buy a very unique and special home which was meant for me, I already owned a property and initially I didn’t think it would be possible. I somehow made it happen within nine days and when I came up for air on day 10, incredulous that I pulled this off, I suddenly realised the scale of financial responsibility I now had to bear which hadn’t even entered my thoughts two weeks previously. This could have been overwhelming but I went along with it.

Several months later, I left the permanent job after being there for a few years, it was time, and I took the leap and branched out as an Independent Consultant and so far it has been a great move for me. I work when I decide or when the right contract lands and I take time to travel in between. I am also a landlord and while I employ a company to manage the property, I often find myself managing them. I am designing my life. In the last two years, I have visited eight countries on four different continents and have three more pencilled in later this year. Consulting gives me flexibility I would not get in a permanent role and I have upskilled with every contract and stretched myself professionally in a way that I was hindered from doing in permanent employment. Best of all, I have increased my income exponentially which allows me the freedom to travel, pick good contracts and live my best life. I rely heavily on my network to connect me with good clients and you have to be prepared to walk in somewhere on day one and instantly take the reins to keep the show on the road. You also need to have the ability to propose frameworks for improvements and change. I have recently coupled up with Aspira through an old network contact of mine who I worked with several years ago. I sent him a speculative email on a sunny afternoon last summer and we met for a coffee within days to chat and see if we could do some business together and now we are. While I remain independent, working with our latest client running a huge internal hardware and software migration for 700 users has been fantastic and I now have the support of the Aspira family behind me to help me with any challenges I may come up against. They are a valuable support system for me and also act as knowledge pool that I can tap into at any time to help me to help our client, it’s a win/win/win.

So what about company loyalty, I hear you wonder, she hasn’t mentioned that at all, isn’t that important? I know that loyalty and longevity are two completely different animals. I still have huge loyalty to the Senior Management teams and Founders of the two companies I mention above. I continue to be friends with and mentored by these individuals, many years on, and I believe that many of us will work together again in the future – lads if you’re reading this you know who you are. I have huge respect and admiration for these people and have learned so much from how they handled the challenges as well as the successes. I have remained longer in other companies where we didn’t quite fit but I had a purpose, I delivered it and moved on. Relationships and positive networking are hugely important if you are taking this path, as the old saying goes, it’s all about who you know – but then to stay doing this and make a good living from it you have to be good at what you do.

Will I remain independent forever? Who knows, but right now I am incrementally maximising my skills & income level and pushing myself to achieve what I envision for myself, in the shortest amount of time – patience has never been my virtue. If I create a good solid design now then I should be able to withstand whatever the economy throws up at me in the future and it’s exciting and comforting for me to know that Aspira are part of this journey.

Author: Niamh Kelly

Why you need a Disaster Recovery plan

Aspira - Disaster Recovery

Aspira- Disaster Recovery

Why you need a Disaster Recovery plan?

Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing in this world can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.
When we consider the reliance of a business on IT systems, we can also say with certainty that, along with death and taxes, should a major IT systems outage occur, it can have a detrimental impact on your business, reputation and your customers perception. A mitigation against the potential impact of an outage is to develop and maintain a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan.

Why develop a disaster recovery plan?

When you consider emerging phenomena such as Spyware, Phishing and Ransomware then no business that has any reliance on IT can be considered safe. Disaster recovery planning is not just for large and enterprise scale businesses, it’s for all businesses.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, Ransomware damages reached $5 billion in 2017 and IBM reported that 70% of businesses paid to get their data back from ransomware attackers in 2016. In the case of traditional risks, research has shown that the most common causes of IT outages are Power, Human Failure and Natural Disaster with the direct costs annually running to 2.5BN dollars (IDC). It is fair to say preventative and remedial security measures such as an effective Disaster Recovery plan have now become essential.

What is disaster recovery planning?

DR planning is putting in place the measures and actions to be taken in the event of an IT systems failure to recovery those systems to an acceptable state in an acceptable timeframe. It is a component part of a company’s security profile, as well as being an essential element of a comprehensive Business Continuity Management (BCM). However, a DR plan should not be confused with BCM, which is much broader and considers not only IT but environmental as well has human impacts on a business’s ability to operate.

Disaster Recovery Challenges

When we look at what is involved in implementing a DR plan, a lot of companies struggle with two main challenges – Budget and Expertise.
No one wants to spend money on something you hope will never be used, and a lot of companies don’t have, or want to have, the expertise to plan the detail on delivering and maintain what could be a complex IT operation…….. that no one wants to ever use!

Defining a Disaster Recovery Budget

Cloud services now make the possibility of an Enterprise level DR solution at an main street price a reality for a lot of IT environments. Cloud solutions now mean that for relatively low costs (when compared to investing in hardware and onsite services) any company can have robust DR solution that provides levels of availability that would have previously been beyond reach in terms of cost.
Identifying Disaster Recovery Experts

On the challenge of expertise: Companies can now extend a Cloud service to becoming a Managed Cloud Service for Disaster Recovery. Outsourcing the setup, operation and maintenance of your entire DR requirement to an expert partner but doing it at a completely affordable price point.

What Disaster Recovery Plan do I need?

There are two concepts that you can use to determine what level of DR Plan you might need. You should look at the business processes that run your business, then look at the IT systems that these processes depend on (end to end), and define:

1. RPO: The Recovery Point Objective for the systems driving your business. Basically, if you must restore or recover and entire system – how old can the data be? This may seem obvious, but it is very important to realise that if you have a backup at 2am in the morning, what is on your backup is all your data up to 2am. If the server fails at 4pm the following afternoon and you must recover from backup, what you get back is all the data to 2am that morning. i.e. all information from then to 4pm is lost. In this example, 2am is the recovery point.
2. RTO: The Recovery Time Objective for your systems, is how long can you be without a system before your business (or the process affected) starts to become seriously impacted. For example, if you have an online ordering system and it becomes unavailable, how long can you sustain business without the system being online?
While RTO & RPO are linked, they can have different goals. i.e. you might need a system back online within 2 hours to enable business transactions, but the data can be a day old, or recovered offline as it is not urgent. Conversely, you might have an RTO of 24 hours, but the data must be no older than 15min!

Kickstarting your Disaster Recovery Plan

All businesses should now be, if not already, considering how a DR plan can form part of a security and business continuity process to safeguard operations, integrity and reputation. Managed Cloud services bring the capability of Enterprise DR solutions to all business’s. Once you have defined your reliance on IT, through a simple process of defining Recovery Point and Time Objectives, you can begin to formulate a plan to protect your IT and your business.

For more information on Disaster Recovery, or to speak to one of our expert team, contact us today.

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