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Wednesday, Aug 21 2013

Managing Your California Tech Team

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It’s often safe to say that managing a tech team is somewhat different than managing salespeople or customer service staff. Clear and ongoing communication, however, remains a core principle of successful project completion. The following tactics will help you establish and maintain productive interaction.

Definitions & Deadlines

Whether members of your team pride themselves on promptness or are prone to procrastination, your project will languish in ambiguity and confusion if there’s just one main objective and deadline. Serve your team’s need for clarity by breaking down the project into smaller tasks with shorter deadlines, and make sure everyone knows who’s doing what. The various roles and their responsibilities should be clearly defined, and their important connection to completing the project should be understood.

Consider asking for volunteers for certain parts of the project, instead of just assigning duties – many IT specialists thrive on new opportunities that challenge them and expand their expertise.

Use Tech Tools to Communicate

You could create a flat outline of the project flow on a whiteboard somewhere, but the best way to keep the dialogue flowing is to use technology. There are many project management tools out there for your team, from free and basic cloud solutions to multi-layered and enterprise-level programs. You know best what you’ll need, but it should be something your team can quickly and easily use to share ideas, information, and project documents with an eye on the deadlines you’ve set.

Make a Habit of Meeting

Even if some of your tech team fall into the introvert category, don’t assume they want to stay hunched over their computer for the duration of the project. Bring them up for air and remind them they are a valuable team member by scheduling short, regular meetings with the entire group.

Avoid the negative rap of meetings by staying focused. Refer to your project outline, and utilize the chosen communication tool. Most importantly, really listen to your team when they talk about their progress, frustrations they’re experiencing, and their thoughts in general. Take notes, and be sure to make positive, meaningful comments.

Follow up, but Don’t Micromanage

Great leaders remove roadblocks to keep their group moving forward. Follow up individually with team members. Using your notes, remind them of what they said during meetings. Are there problems unrelated to their assignment that you can handle for them? Do they need more tools or training? Don’t hover, nitpick, or second-guess how they’re doing their work, or you’ll risk compromising any trust they have in you.

Managing people effectively can be challenging, especially when the project is particularly important. With carefully planned communication, regular and relevant interaction, and an atmosphere of trust and support, you can help your IT team not only complete a successful project, but develop a more productive work environment for the future.

If you are looking for IT employment agencies in Santa Cruz, contact the experts at The Armada Group today.

Wednesday, Jul 31 2013

How Employers Can Use Social Media

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Most employers are past the point of weighing the pros and cons of joining Facebook. These days, they know that utilizing social media is a smart and essential strategy for building and growing a business, making new contacts, and staying ahead of the competition. If you use the Internet and technology in your business and workplace—and who doesn't these days? —then social media platforms are one of your greatest allies.

It’s Not the Number of Fish—it’s the Quality of the Water

Many employers assume that social media strategy is all about simple mathematics. Do you have more “likes” than your competitors? How many followers do you have on Twitter? The truth is, numbers matter very little if there isn't true engagement from those liking and following you, and the most reliable way to ensure engagement is to give your social media contacts something worth their time and attention.

Are you providing potential customers with meaningful, ongoing content via Facebook or Twitter? Do you interact across social media platforms in ways that spark conversation? Are you actively listening to, learning from, and participating in online conversations? If you don't have at least one employee (or, if you have a large company, a team within your organization) tasked with keeping your social media presence fresh, interesting, and real, your online relationships will suffer.

It's Not Who You Know

Actually, it is. Social media platforms can dupe employers into believing that these sites are just free, virtual billboards that can be clogged up with advertising. Don't be fooled. Utilizing social media to its fullest potential requires even more care and expertise than traditional marketing.

A buckshot mentality is even less likely to work on a social media platform, because everyone is suspicious of a business that dominates social media space. To create a personable brand, offer a voice on social. Let your audience know there is a person behind the logo. Build a positive reputation by showing your passion and expertise for what you offer.

The best rule of thumb is to be the kind of business you would want to interact with online. From friends on Facebook to followers on Twitter to pinners on Pinterest, everybody is looking for some authenticity in this competitive market.

Don't Hire the Tailors Who Made the Emperor's New Clothes

One of the most valid and useful ways employers can benefit from social media is with more informed hiring and recruitment. It used to be that a resume and a couple of phone calls were all you had to go on to determine whether a candidate would be a good fit. These days, almost everyone has an online profile in at least one, if not many, online platforms. Do some research to find out if this person's claims are legitimate and if they would be a good fit for your organization? You can bet they're doing the same about you.

These suggestions just scratch the surface of how social media, if used properly and consistently, can strengthen your businesses. Jump in and get started. The results are worth it.

If you are looking to attract top IT talent in California, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today.

Tuesday, Jul 09 2013

App Development and the Cloud

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Integrating the cloud into building your app

As the cloud takes a more predominant position in everyday life, it’s replacing old standbys and traditional processes. This leaves many people curious, confused, or concerned. Application development is one area that seems hardly old enough to be set in its ways, and yet many developers are ignoring—or even actively avoiding—working with the cloud.

Even so, the collaborative opportunities of the cloud create an environment in which multiple minds can provide input, and processes can be streamlined to reduce repetitive tasks. There are some great cloud development tools available—read on for some different approaches to developing within the cloud.

Joint Effort

When it comes to working together, one of the best contenders is Cloud9 IDE. This development environment uses multiple languages and provides a collaborative function, ensuring that you can be anywhere in the world, working with others around the globe to write and edit code. You retain your personal environment, while the new app creation takes shape through shared effort. For a far-flung group or a close-knit community, Cloud9 IDE is a great choice for development.

Basic Introduction

For those looking to ease themselves into cloud tools, UmbrellaSDK introduces a cloud-based platform with an easy to learn and use setup. It uses HTML5 and JavaScript, so you can develop apps for both iOS and Android; additionally, the real-time output lets you immediately see the effects of your code, so you can quickly catch a typo or decide against a color. Test the “cloudy” waters with this introductory platform.

Fluent Linguist

If your focus isn’t constrained to a few languages, Codenvy might be your cloud development answer. It utilizes HTML, Ruby, Groovy, JavaScript, and lots more, and the entire platform is geared toward programming in Java. Chances are high that Codenvy supports your tools of choice; if you simply want to relocate to the cloud, this is an outstanding way to do it.

Renewed Flop

Google may have given up on Collide, but the platform is finding new homes throughout the development world. A host of software tools collaborate to bring you an equally collaborative experience, which runs on Java 7 JRE. The source code is out there for the taking, so if you’re feeling adventurous, let Collide take you up into the cloud.

Taking it to the skies

As with every aspect of app development, cloud platform choices depend upon the needs and whims of each developer. These four options are hardly all that’s out there; a little digging will unearth plenty more ways to send your project skyward. But for the befuddled, or just those looking for a little guidance, Cloud9 IDE, UmbrellaSDK, Codenvy, and Collide will all start you on your way to cloud-integrated success.

If you are looking for application developers in the Santa Cruz area, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today!

Friday, Jul 05 2013

Making Feedback Useful

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Methods for success

Customer satisfaction ranks as one of the most vital facets of a successful company, as it demonstrates more than anything else the effectiveness of a brand in retaining and pleasing its clientele. Where it becomes complicated is in the accurate measuring of—and response to—customer feedback, which is the ultimate barometer of your market’s satisfaction. Thankfully, a few keys for both before and after data collection can make the most of this essential info.

Get the right data

As with any survey-type collection, a proper sample makes the difference between an accurate measurement and a less than useful one. The right tools and methodologies create a base that lend credence to your results, which means you can follow the rest of these tips with the assurance that the data is reliable. Without this foundation, all the analysis you can tackle still won’t be able to accurately translate.

Focus on the forest, not the trees

When customer feedback is received, particularly negative responses, many companies’ first reaction is to contact the individual or release a statement to “fix” whatever went wrong. Where this errs, however, is that surveys and other common satisfaction measurements are best taken in aggregate; looking at just one or two negates the valuable overall impressions that these collections can provide.

Check your policies

A commonly forgotten step is to go beyond problems with a customer service representative and reevaluate the procedures and rules your workers are following. Sometimes customer satisfaction data is enlightening—multiple complaints can be more reflective of behind-the-scenes policies that need changing, not representatives’ behavior.

A joint report from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Booz & Company, “What Makes San Francisco Bay Area Companies Different?,” revealed that San Francisco Bay Area businesses are almost 3 times as likely to say their innovation strategies are tightly aligned with their overall corporate business strategies.  When asked if their corporate cultures supported their strategies, “46 percent of Bay Area companies strongly agreed compared with just 19 percent of all companies - more than double the general population.”

To compete in the highly innovative Bay Area, it’s important for businesses to have great products and forward-thinking business strategies; however, the most important components of innovation are shown to be culture and operational innovations.  To foster a culture of innovation and growth in your business, leaders must create scalable business models that will capitalize on the unique strengths of key players in innovation strategy, while allowing the company to quickly expand teams to support rapid time to market.

1 in 4 CEOs said they were either unable to pursue a market opportunity or had to cancel or delay a strategic initiative because of talent constraints.

Creating hiring plans that support your key players in innovation strategy, including senior developers, hiring managers, and project champions, is essential to competing in a highly innovative market where business models and strategies are consistently changing.  Businesses who utilize these scalable models in the workforce, such as On Demand talent consultants, outsourcing, and VMS, are more than just keeping up with the competition, but consistently staying ahead of the competition due to streamlined operations and stronger corporate culture.  When your key players understand that your business will support their innovation, ideas, and projects with highly-qualified resources, your company can improve idea flow and creativity within the organization.

Lisa Sullivan, COO of The Armada Group shares with us her secrets of how success women lead. In her list of secrets, Lisa reveals that successful women build exceptional teams by developing a plan to aquire, develop, and retain the right talent. To find out her 5 other secrets, watch her video blog!