8 Project Managers

 

To be a successful IT project manager, you need the right combination of skills. Unlike some other tech-oriented professions, the competencies required for these roles are fairly diverse, covering aspects of finance, human resources, leadership, and more. If your goal is to move into the field of IT project management, here are 10 skills you need to have under your belt.

Communication

Most project managers will spend a notable amount of time working with a range of professionals including the members of the project team, various stakeholders, and even the final customer. Since not everyone with which you will interact has the same technical background, it is imperative to be able to communicate with every effectively regardless of the level of understanding. This means breaking down technical concepts into relatable terms is critical to the success of many projects, making this skill particularly valuable.

Scope Management

The success of many projects actually hinges on the scope. Failing to define the scope leaves the goals unclear while also leaving you open to scope creep. Being adept at gathering critical information and establishing the project’s target increases your odds of success.

Team Selection

If you’re given the chance to choose your team, then learning key human resources skills like candidate screening and skill assessment ensure you have the right professionals for the job at hand. Without these competencies, you may find yourself battling skill gaps instead of making forward progress, which can spell doom for any IT project.

Time Management

Project managers are often tasked with creating comprehensive schedules to meet strict deadlines. Understanding how to allocate time properly and delegate tasks can keep things on target, creating a foundation for the team’s success.

Risk Assessment

All projects face a level of risk. Being able to see potential vulnerabilities or roadblocks gives you the opportunity to mitigate any potential ill-effects should they arise, leaving you prepared to manage the worst even while planning for the best possible outcome.

Budget Management

Many project managers are given an initial budget and are expected to manage the funds appropriately as things move forward. Understanding key concepts like cost estimation, expense control, and budgeting are critical to your success. You’ll also need to learn how to make adjustments should unexpected costs threaten to bankrupt the project.

Procurement

For projects that require outside materials or third-party support, it is important to know the fundamentals of the procurement process. Everything from bid requests and analysis, supplier identification, and vendor contracts play a role in this area, and managing the tasks well can make budgeting a simpler task to handle.

Quality Assurance

Unless your project’s final output meets quality expectations, it is unlikely to be deemed a success. Understanding how to monitor progress for quality control is key to ensuring all standards or requirements are being met effectively. It also ensures you’ll have the opportunity to intervene should things begin to go off track early on, making changes easier to manage.

Adaptability

With so many variables, most large-scale IT project will hit a snag at some point in the process. Being prepared to adjust on the fly often means understanding that nothing is set in stone, and maintaining that perspective can make the entire venture easier to manage.

Technology

As an IT project manager, being familiar with the technologies covered in the project as well as any project management systems in place are both critical to overall success. Without this core knowledge, you may find yourself spending more time asking questions than making progress.

 

If you’re an IT professional interested in a project management role, the team at The Armada Group can help you explore options in your area. Contact us to discuss your career goals today.

 

3 Millennials

 

While certain aspects of project management have remained largely unchanged, Millennial workers are beginning to influence how the duties associated with these positions are managed. Thanks to their increased interest in technology and differing attitudes towards traditional work structures, the project manager of the future will use a varied approach when compared to some of the current norms. To help you see what the future holds, here are some of the ways Millennials are changing the role.

Digital Communication and Collaboration

Millennial workers aren’t fans of the traditional paradigm, shirking meetings in favor of well-rounded technology-based solutions for exchanging data and covering critical information. Applications designed to facilitate communication and collaboration are plentiful, allowing teams to share files, trade messages, and coordinate actions from almost any location at any time. Not only is this a relatively new way to keep project management teams connected, but it also supports the shift towards employing a remote workforce, allowing project managers to access the best and brightest talent regardless of location.

 

The ability to communicate in real-time can also support a stronger team dynamic. Instead of having to reach out to others in the group physically, they can accomplish the same level of communication from their workstation. This means decisions can be made more quickly than when groups have to be gathered for meetings, allowing the team to get more done in less time.

Flexible Scheduling and Worksites

While project management often requires adhering to strict timelines, that doesn’t mean everyone has to stick with a traditional 8 to 5 schedule to get things done. Facilitated by advanced communication and collaboration applications, Millennials enjoy being able to exercise a level of freedom while they accomplish their tasks without ever being fully inaccessible.

 

This approach makes work/life balance a priority but doesn’t mean these teams aren’t willing to put in the necessary hours to stay on target. Instead, they are more inclined to take work home, choosing comfortable off hours to tidy up anything that isn’t accomplished on a traditional schedule. Plus, since their personal lives are easier to manage, they are often more productive when they do focus on the task at hand.

New Perspectives

Since Millennial workers don’t view traditional hierarchies in the same way as other generations, many are more inclined to provide input instead of simply being led forward. This can increase innovation and creativity as more members of the group feel confident expressing their ideas. By leveraging their diverse perspectives, businesses are positioned to find solutions that may otherwise be missed.

 

If you are interested in seeking a project manager for your team or are want to take on a new challenge in a project management role, The Armada Group can locate your ideal fit. Contact us to discuss your needs today and see how our services can help you take the next step.

 

Wednesday, May 17 2017

Why Your Team Wants to Work From Home

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Work From Home

 

The idea of working from home appeals to workers in almost every field, with tech professionals leading the way. Having the opportunity to work remotely either full-time or a few days a week is one of the most valued job perks an employer can provide, even beating traditional offerings like health benefits. That means, if you want to attract top talent, giving telecommuting options is a surefire way to get some attention.

 

But what about remote work do tech pros find so appealing? Here are some of the top reasons why your team wants to work from home.

Increased Productivity

Many companies fear telecommuting leads employees to be less productive, but the opposite is actually more likely. Working from home significantly limits interruptions throughout the day and ultimately makes it easier to stay on task.

 

Instead of running between meetings that run long, dealing with co-workers dropping by, or focusing through the distractions caused by other activities in the workplace, remote workers have control over their home environment. This gives them a chance to work more effectively, especially on tasks that require high amounts of concentration and attention to detail.

 

The benefits of increased productivity can be even more notable if your company uses open office designs in the workplace. While 70 percent of employees work in this paradigm, almost no one likes the design. There’s a lack of privacy or sense of personal space, and it is easy to become irritated by extraneous noises coming from all across the floor. In that regard, working from home is an appreciated reprieve from an otherwise stressful environment, letting them focus on their job instead of what is happening around them.

More Comfort

Telecommuting gives employees the ability to be more comfortable within their workspace. Most offices provided limited options when it comes to body positioning, leaving workers in the same seated position for an entire shift.

 

When working from home, people can get up and move whenever they need to without having to worry about distracting their coworkers. They can put their feet up, shift around, change chairs, or pace around the room whenever the mood strikes. It removes the certain expectations regarding how you are expected to physically be while working, allowing them to do what it takes to stay comfortable while getting work done.

No Commute

While your employees might work for eight or more hours a day, their functional workday may start much sooner. Many employees spend an average of 25 minutes each way commuting, an action that is rarely stress-free.

 

If they have the chance to work from home, their commute is completely eliminated. This means they don’t have to start their day by battling traffic, only to end it by doing the same. Your employees also have more time to manage other tasks, as they essentially get almost an hour back that isn’t spent sitting in a car, train, or another form of transportation just to get to work.

 

Almost any tech employee would appreciate the chance to telecommute, and the advantages of the arrangement can lead to mutual benefit. If you are interested in finding new IT professionals to join your team, including by working from home, The Armada Group can help you find the right candidates. Contact us today for more information about our employer services.

 

Deep Work

Today’s workplace is plagued by constantly updating email inboxes, intrusive messenger notifications, and a plethora of other alerts designed to pull your attention in a new direction. Add to that the assault from personal accounts and devices, and the cavalcade may seem never ending. While the commonplace nature of these interruptions make them seem like part of the daily grind, they can actually prevent you from engaging in “deep work,” or any activity that requires significant focus over a long period.

 

The constant bombardment means you aren’t able to concentrate on the task at hand, and that could ultimately cost you a promotion. Here’s why.

Shallow vs. Deep

The majority of the work people complete on a daily basis is shallow in nature. These are the routine activities that don’t require a lot of thought to complete properly, making the occasional (or frequent) distraction manageable. Typically, these are the duties we all must complete to ensure we don’t end up on a job hunt earlier than anticipated.

 

Deep work requires concentration and focus. It can be cognitively demanding, and often needs a significant time commitment to complete. To make the most of deep work, we need to remove these interruptions from our lives. Otherwise, our thought processes are interrupted, and we have to reset after every distraction.

How to Make Deep Work Possible

To participate in the kind of thinking required to complete deep work to your highest standard, you must set yourself up for success. This means taking a few proactive steps to limit interruptions and prevent unnecessary distractions before they occur.

 

One easy step is to schedule the time you need to dedicate to deep work tasks. Mark the time out on your calendar and consider it an active appointment with yourself. This prevents others from trying to schedule a meeting with you during that time, and can also show others you are busy.

 

Next, eliminate distractions that are under your control. This can include shutting down smartphones, closing out email and messaging applications, and setting your phone to “do not disturb.” Then, don’t check any of those items until your time for deep work has passed, or the task is complete.

 

In some cases, you may need to speak with your co-workers, managers or employees regarding protocols for deep work time. This ensures those around you support your need to concentrate and will only interrupt under circumstances that require your immediate attention. If your office supports an open floor plan, you may even need to secure a quiet space, such as a small conference room, to help get the heads-down time you need to succeed.

Why It Matters

In the end, deep work is often related to projects that will lead to the most advancement and organizational success. These are tasks that will get you noticed, and you need to make sure you have the chance to shine. That way, when the time is right, you can use those experiences to help you reach the next promotional opportunity along your career path.

 

If you are interested in exploring new promotional opportunities today, the experts at The Armada Group can help you on your journey. Contact us and see what options are available in your field today.

 

Pay Transparency

 

Today’s highly competitive hiring atmosphere is taking an issue that was once only discussed in hushed tones behind closed doors and thrusting it into the proverbial spotlight: Pay. Low unemployment amongst tech professionals and a high level of competition to access and retain top talent has led many organizations to re-examine their policies regarding salaries and compensation, even to the point of increased transparency.

 

But can increased pay transparency improve tech retention? Many say yes, and here’s why.

Improved Trust

It’s no surprise that increased trust between leadership and their employees improve retention, but issues of pay are not traditionally discussed. This leaves many workers wondering if they are being paid fairly when compared to their professional counterparts, and a lack of communication in the area can make these basic concerns become serious problems.

 

By being open to conversations about pay, and even starting them on a regular basis, employees are more likely to feel valued. Additionally, by removing the stigma associated with talking about salary, companies can increase the amount of trust employees have in their practices.

Stronger Strategy

Companies that aim to be transparent about pay often have strong strategies in place regarding pay standards and the evaluation of compensation over time. That means these businesses are evaluating the current market to see what competitors are offering employees with similar skills and are prepared to adjust accordingly. This reverses the tradition of only having salary discussions at key points within the employee’s career, such as when they are initially hired and at annual reviews.

 

Since salary is given a prominent place within larger retention discussions, companies are prepared to be proactive when the need arises. Instead of having top talent begin looking elsewhere for higher compensation, the business can step in when a disparity is noticed. When an organization takes a position of maintaining an open dialogue, it is easier to demonstrate that workers are being paid well for their skills, and to make corrections when it becomes obvious the company is missing the mark.

 

While this requires market analysis to be completed with a high level of frequency, the effort means greater retention. And that ultimately reflects well on the bottom line.

Pay Isn’t a Secret

While most employees aren’t openly discussing compensation with their co-workers on a daily basis, there is still a conversation taking place. Internet-based employment resources have taken pay out of the shadows and somewhat into the light. Now, when an employee wonders whether they are fairly compensated, a little research on their part can yield results quickly. This means that workers aren’t mystified when it comes to what their skills can get them.

 

Since information on salary is so widely available, failing to be transparent means your company doesn’t have the opportunity to participate in the conversation that is happening elsewhere. And, when it appears a business is holding something back, it rarely reflects well on them.

 

If you would like more information about pay transparency or are interested in finding candidates by offering competitive compensation, The Armada Group has the industry information you need to make both possible. Contact us to discuss your goals today and see how our services can help take the issue of pay out of the darkness and into the light.

 

 Data Science

 

Most companies are going battle with the talent gap, especially when it comes to highly desirable skills like data science. Generally, businesses don’t have nearly enough of these IT professionals on staff to fully leverage the data they have been collecting, and it can see as though it is only getting harder to find them. However, just finding a person with the right mix of skills and experience isn’t the only important point when staffing your data science team.

 

To help you create the strongest team possible, here are some additional things to consider whenever you look to hire.

Teamwork is Critical

In most cases, data scientists aren’t working alone. It is often the cumulative work of a team that brings about the best results, and that makes teamwork an essential part of the environment. So, before you hire an individual, imagine how they will fit in with a group of similarly skilled individuals and if they will increase the level of cohesion or disrupt it. Then, proceed accordingly based on that vision.

Allow Them to Focus

If you are hiring data scientists that will also have other IT duties, you may find them struggling to manage the data side of their job. IT professionals are often pulled in a variety of directions, especially if any part of their work mirrors that of a help desk.

 

Tech pros who directly support internal workers when they run into trouble can find it difficult to get the time required to focus on tasks as complex as data analysis. To get the most out of their data science skills, consider removing any extraneous duties from their plate. This could involve outsourcing tasks that can be managed by a third party or shifting the duties to other employees whose work can better stand the interruptions.

Invest in Systems

Your data science team can only be as strong as the systems they use allow them to be. If they are having to perform tasks by hand that could otherwise be automated when using a more sophisticated solution, they may be wasting valuable time that could be used for more productivity. Instead of setting them up to wrestle with their software, make the investment in something that facilitates their needs. Anything that makes a data scientist’s life easier at work will give them a chance to truly show off the skills for which they were hired.

Be Prepared to Listen and Learn

If you already have a member or two on your data science team, then it is important to seek their input regarding what the team needs. Even highly skilled professionals working in the field have their strengths and weaknesses or are stuck with time-consuming tasks that keep them from performing other duties.

 

By hearing which specific skills they feel will make the team operate more efficiently, you can make sure and focus recruiting in those areas. Then, not only are you creating a stronger team but a happier one as well.

 

If you are interested in finding a data scientist to join your ranks, the recruitment professionals at The Armada Group have the right skills to facilitate those goals. Contact us to get the process started today.