3 Tips to Streamline IT Project Management

Project management requires a set of broadly applicable skills and tools, regardless of your field or discipline. The things that make a project manager effective won’t vary too much from industry to industry, but every space has its own idiosyncrasies.

IT project management can sometimes seem like its own beast entirely. Because IT requires heavily specialized skills and knowledge, and is often the foundation of much of your other work, project management in the IT field can be exceptionally intimidating. Compared to something concrete like construction, technology and code is always changing and can feel difficult to master. By following these tips and tactics, however, you can position yourself to successfully manage any IT project.

1. Know your project methodology

Your project management method may have a name, and you don’t even know it. Four words you may commonly hear when discussing the most popular types of project management methods are Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, and Kanban.

Waterfall is the most traditional type of project management, focused on rigid timetables and deliverables. It’s disciplined and well-documented, but incorporates change poorly.

Agile projects are rapid and iterative. They deliver working versions of products early on, and continuously improve. However, documentation may be neglected, and a lack of disciplined end goals may result in a different result than you originally envisioned.

Scrum methodology is a subset of Agile focused on planned-length development “sprints,” followed by review and a revision of planning as necessary. A Scrum project deals with change exceptionally well, but runs the risk of feature creep and can have ill-defined timelines and budgets.

Kanban comes from a Japanese word meaning “visual sign” or “card,” because it’s generally represented by sticky notes on a board. It’s a visual representation of a project, and works well when incorporating an Agile workflow. Kanban is flexible and easy to understand, but can be overly complicated if a team isn’t disciplined. It also lacks the timeline visualization of a Gantt chart.

Make sure your project is using a workflow method that fits not only the project, but also your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t get stuck in “this is how we’ve always done it” mode.

2. Set an effective project timetable

Remember that every project, no matter the industry, follows the five key phases of project management:

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Performance/Monitoring
  5. Closure

What this looks like can depend on your chosen methodology. A Scrum project, for instance, might have a single Phase 1, and then repeated cycles of Phases 2, 3, and 4 until finally reaching Phase 5.

Remember that workflows like Scrum and Kanban may lack traditional timetables; there’s no guarantee how many iterations a project might need until it reaches deliverable status. Make sure this is clearly communicated to decision-makers and stakeholders so you’re all on the same page ahead of time.

As project manager, your job is to ensure that all cross-departmental coordination is ready before you need it. Don’t ask your artists and designers to enter a project that’s halfway finished and expect them to immediately get up to speed, for instance. Keep them looped in from the beginning.

3. Don’t micromanage your developers

Micromanagement can be effective at times. Coding isn’t one of them. Even if your personal background is in coding, your job right now is to be a commander. Focus on the big picture and how your project interacts with other departments, not whether your developer should use a different line of code in this routine. You hired your employees for a reason. Trust them.

This doesn’t mean you should just let your developers do their own thing, of course. Code is tricky on the best of days, and integrating it from different developers can be a project on its own. Make sure to set requirements and tasks clearly from the beginning to minimize your headaches when it comes time to compile and run the program.

Similarly, make sure your check-in meetings aren’t too frequent. When you have meetings, make sure they’re necessary and constructive to your end goals. You’ll find plenty of other tips for IT project management online, as well as a bevy of useful IT project management tools. Collaborative work management platforms like Smartsheet can solve many of your process and project management issues by making it easier to collaborate and share information with your workers and stakeholders.

 

Euro 2016 digital campaigns: So far, so uninspiring

Another tiring maelstrom of tournament advertising is upon us.

Sport transfixes in a way that pretty much no other (broadcastable) activity does, and therefore brands know that Euro 2016 offers value for money.

TV, footballers and creative that travels/translates well is the advertising order of the day, with honourable mention for the role of Twitter and Facebook.

Let’s look at some early acitivty…

The slightly uninspiring

Lipton

Would Sir Alex Ferguson have appeared in an advert for iced tea? Those were different days.

Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s presumptive manager at time of writing, appeared for Lipton in April 2016 and the ad is set to be revamped for EURO 2016.

This ad truly represents the template for an international campaign based on a one-take celebrity appearance.

Turkish Airlines

The ‘Meet Europe’s Best’ campaign includes TV commercials, plane liveries, ticket giveaways and a microsite. Turkish Airlines will also show matches on some of its planes and have sites in host cities.

Focusing on the digital side of the campaign, the strategy is fairly bulletproof – use a ticket giveaway as an incentive to boost social media exposure and data capture (via competition entries on the microsite).

Though as an official sponsor the brand will surely see massive uplift and run a successful campaign, some of the execution is slightly poor.

Look at the microsite below – the tweeted entries to the competition (via the hashtag #europesbest) are embedded poorly, with no media on display (users have to click to view).

This makes the page – designed to ally supporter passion with brand image – completely boring.

The microsite also hosts the short TV spots, which are no doubt running as bookends. I’ve embedded one below and, as you’ll no doubt agree, they are in-keeping with the average commercial bookend (so bad they’re almost good).

Employee Engagement

Few organizations truly understand employee engagement or have failed to see improvement in employee engagement in their company.  Other organizations have increased engagement but find their employees are drained and depleted.  Why is that?

In Brady G. Wilson’s newest book, “Beyond Engagement: A Brain-Based Approach that Blends the Engagement Managers Want with the Energy Employees Need,” is constructed with busy leaders in mind.  Readers can grasp the essence of the ten ideas simply by reading the ‘What’– what’s the brain science?, ‘How’ — how does this show up at work?, and ‘Why’ — why does it matter? sections at the beginning of each chapter.

What’s the brain science?  Our brain does not allot us the resources to do something until we believe we can do it.

Where does this show up at work?  Engagement initiatives don’t stall because people don’t care or because people aren’t good.  They stall because people are low on self-efficacy: they lack the agency to move things forward.

Why does this matter?  You want energized employees and you want that energy to be sustainable.  But your employees and managers face obstacles, setbacks, moving targets, and roadblocks on a daily basis.  When they lack agency, these challenges seem insurmountable.  Low agency dries up courage, stymies ingenuity, paralyzes risk-taking, short-circuits execution and shuts down innovation.

“I am not a neuroscientist. I am an energy architect,” adds Wilson.  “For more than two decades, I’ve grappled with and found ways to address the issues that short-circuit employee engagement.  My purpose in Beyond Engagement is not to enlighten you with scientific facts, but rather, equip you with an understanding of the amazing results of managing energy.”

Source: Brady G. Wilson: Beyond Engagement: A Brain-Based Approach That Blends the Engagement Managers Want with the Energy Employees Need

Business Data Security Guidelines

A business data security policy and related procedures should include protection controls and measures that cover the following issues:

  1. Comprehensive due diligence of all critical staff, including external parties (outsourcing, external suppliers, sub-contractors, etc.).
  1. Authentication of all customers.
  1. Non repudiation and accountability for all on-line transactions.
  1. Segregation of duties.
  1. Authorization controls.
  1. Business data, transactions, records and information integrity.
  1. Transactions audit trails.
  1. Information confidentiality.
  1. Appropriate disclosures for organizational services.
  1. Data privacy.
  1. Business continuity and contingency planning.
  1. Security and other crises incident response planning.
  1. Access controls: encryption, passwords, password control devices, tokens, user authentication devices, anti-hacking tools/techniques, digital signals origin identification, anti-tapping tools/techniques.
  1. Data confidentiality.    
  1. Data integrity.
  1. Anti-virus and e-crime detection software.
  1. Time stamping.
  1. Biometrics.
  1. Digital signatures.
  1. Smart cards

How to bring out the best in your team

When it comes to business, it’s important for workplaces to encourage teams to grow and develop, no matter how big they are. There’s no denying that sometimes things can get boring when they aren’t changed after a long period of time, which isn’t good for any company.

By utilising the strengths of employees through a number of different methods, businesses can ensure that they are getting the best possible work out of them. Different means can offer results such as capturing people’s unique abilities and allowing themselves to understand what makes them crucial for the company. This has an overall positive effect on the business.

How you go about bringing out the best in your team depends on your business, but there are a lot of options available. These can range from strengths training sessions to team building activities or even just unique schemes that are devised to get the best out of employees.

How your business can be its very best

There are various training sessions on the market which help employees to see their true strengths, and how they can then use them to their advantage through their engagement in the workplace. These sessions will hopefully help to improve their performance, motivation, and confidence, which is nothing but beneficial for their job role.

See also: What do blogs bring to business?

Many established businesses have taken this method on as a viable option, with fantastic results. For example, Tesco made use of such training to work with their store directors and managers so that they could identify and develop their personal strengths. This led to improved leadership confidence, more positive energy, stronger employee performance and better clarity.

A similar approach is also used by some NHS trusts as a way to motivate and engage their workforce. Managers have noted seeing clear increases in productivity at work, a clear indicator that said training is effective. In an organisation such as the NHS, this is nothing but positive.

Team building activities

If you are thinking of giving your employees a break from their usual tasks, team building activities could be a great way of going about this. Not only do they help strengthen the bond between workers, but they are also a chance for employees to have a change from their usual routine.  As well as being fun and rewarding, it allows workers to recharge their batteries.

The phrase ‘team building activities’ may evoke images of childish party games for some people, but this doesn’t have to be the case; there’s a wide array of options available.

If you want to keep things fairly work related, you could host a conference. Even if it’s over something related to your business, you employees will still be socialising and strengthing their relationships

In the majority of cases, though, team building activities are at their most effective if they’re a non-work-related activity.

You could host a more formal indoor event such as a dinner, for example. It may not seem like a team building activity as such, but it offers your employees the chance to socialise in a setting that isn’t the workplace, strengthening the bonds of your team.

Less formal events, such as a few drinks at a pub or a meal somewhere may prove to be even more successful as a team building activity. It’s likely that there won’t be any work-related stress, and the more relaxed environment is bound to encourage your employees to socialise with each other, too.

If you really want to stick to the ‘team building activity’ stereotype, team games or outdoor events can improve workplace relationships and encourage teamwork, but only for certain people. Some may find these sorts of activities demeaning or alienating.

No matter what, they are all guaranteed to bring out the best in your team; it’s just up to you as an employer to suss out what activity would benefit your workers the most.

The RSA can testify to team building activities working well, having taken advantage of such a method. It used the Crystal Labyrinth and its range of games to focus on the areas of skill, physical, mental and mystery; this didn’t disappoint, and the variation of games meant that everyone involved was engaged and able to display their individual talents.

A little encouragement goes a long way

Bringing in certain schemes in the workplace can improve your team in a number of ways. This can involve learning new things, getting to know new people, building up morale and confidence, generating ideas, as well simply getting time away from their desk. All of this can prove valuable to the business overall.

An example of such schemes working to great effect would be Google’s infamous ’20 per cent time’; this is when the bosses give their employees a certain percentage of time alongside their regular workload to work on something that they think could benefit the company. This has proven successful as it has led to the development of Google News, Gmail, and AdSense.

This case in point shows how important it is for workers to be given a certain amount of freedom, even if they are in employment somewhere as demanding as Google. Noone can deny the success of the likes of Gmail and how much revenue it must bring to the company, which is a great way of showing the victories that can come from allowing the time to bring out the best in your team.

Teamwork is the foundation of a successful business

In all, giving your team time to get inspired can give your business a boost. Nobody is going to be 100 per cent motivated for a long period of time, but that doesn’t mean there’s harm in trying to keep it as high as possible at all times.

Whether it’s through strengths training sessions, team building activities or a different approach, there’s no denying how bringing out the best in your team can be beneficial for your business.

How Recruitment Consultants are an Advantage for Firms?

Recruitment Consultancies are getting very popular these days. Many more companies are depending on the proficiency of a Recruitment Consultancy for closing the vacant positions in their firms. Not only the companies but the candidates are also relying on Leading Recruitment Consultant for finding a suitable job.

Who are Recruitment Consultants?

Recruitment Consultants work as a mediator between a Firm that has vacancies to hire a person and an individual who is searching for a suitable job. A Recruitment Consultant’s main task is to employ the most appropriate person for that vacancy that the Firm has asked to fill.
http://careerist.in/site/home.aspx

How does Recruitment Consultancies work?

Recruitment Consultancies may be differ in their approach but the common criteria they work on is as follows:

The Recruitment Consultant is sent a job description from the firm or organisation that has a vacant position to be filled.
The consultancy shortlist the applicants from their database CVs.
Then they hold the interviews on individual level and then send the selected candidates’ profile to the firm.
The organisation selects the candidates from the CV selection and asks the agency to arrange and coordinate an interview.

How Recruitment Consultants are an Advantage?

Leading Recruitment Consultant can be a useful tool in finding a suitable candidate for the Firms. They often have deep knowledge of the firm and the individual. Following are some of the many advantages of the Recruitment Consultants.

Proficiency

Recruitment Consultants have proficiency in their work that is far wide than the Human Resources Departments if the Firms. Recruitment Consultants provide services with the qualified recruiters and employment specialists, and even at a lower cost. Employees of Recruitment Consultancies usually have a higher level of proficiency in job knowledge, employment trends and recruitment practices as they works on placement of employees continuously with different firms, and thus have knowledge of the market and new trends.

Cost

Recruitment Consultants usually works on lower costs in comparison with hiring proper staff to recruit the candidates. Employers thus, save money related to the payroll processing and benefits administration expenses.

Network

Consultants have a huge database for related jobs than the employers or the Firms do have. These consultancies use their network and tap potential employees for the vacancy at a pace speed.

Potential candidates not always stay active on internet and even not read the job pages and visit online job boards regularly. It is this enthusiastic approach that a Leading Recruitment Consultant can deliver that will make the difference in finding the best candidates.

why content strategy should be central to every marketer

Today’s information-hungry consumer is not happy to be spoon-fed advertising or ‘hard-sell’ articles.

Instead, they are looking for a more value-led approach to content.

At the same time, consumers are no-longer passive armchair spectators.

They are much more likely to be contributors and commentators on their own platforms and social media feeds.

In many ways, consumers are leading the debate – whether via social media, web, video, podcast or blog – which makes it even more important that the content that brands develop is smart, targeted and relevant.

So what is content marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, approximately nine out of 10 marketers today are using content marketing – regardless of company size or industry.

Content marketing can be used to influence business decisions (b2b) or consumers (b2c) but either way, the techniques are the same and they’re not new.

The father of content marketing is a little known (in his day) farmer called John Deere.

He launched The Furrow magazine back in 1895 in order to tell farmers how to be more profitable – and of course, sell his wares on the back of it.

It helped catapult the John Deere tractor into a global brand and was the very first example of content marketing. Over a century later, and The Furrow is still going strong, available in 12 languages in more than 40 countries.

 

For a formal definition, the Content Marketing Association says content marketing is, “the discipline of creating quality branded editorial content across all media channels and platforms to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands.”

Perhaps a less formal definition is to say that, unlike other lead generation strategies, content marketing gives something to readers, rather than asking them for something.

The reason The Furrow worked is because it carried content that was useful. If there was a selling message in the content, it wasn’t obvious and it wasn’t the primary point of the exercise.

Why is it different to social media marketing?

There is also a distinct difference between social media marketing and content marketing.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, in social media marketing, the center of gravity – the focus of the marketing activity – is located within the social networks themselves.

When marketers operate social media campaigns, they are operating inside of Facebook, inside of Twitter, etc. As they produce content, they place it inside of those networks.

In contrast, the center of gravity for content marketing is a brand website — whether it be a branded URL like AmericanExpress.com or a microsite for a brand’s specific product, like Amex’s Open Forum.

Everstar Consultancy New Website is launched

We are delighted to announce that our new website is launched. Our website redesign project is part of a larger project with the objective to both update the various information materials we have available to stakeholders, and to re-emphasise the impressive depth and breadth of expertise that we can offer to clients through consultancy work via Everstar Consultancy.

Planning work for the website redesign project started last year and has since taken shape using feedback received from external and internal stakeholder groups via an extensive survey carried out early this year.

We have been collaborating with design agency Consider Creative on this project who have helped us improve the navigation of website content, modernise our graphic design and upgrade our visibility on the Internet.