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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For an introvert, the idea of interviewing for a new position can be a bit anxiety inducing. Not only does an interview require a significant amount of interaction, but it is typically with people whom you have never met before. But there are strategies that can help even the most introverted individual feel more comfortable as they head in for an IT job interview. To help you make the most of your time, here are some tips for improving the experience.
Schedule Based on Your Preferences
When contacted for an interview, it isn’t uncommon to be given a list of available times from which to choose. This gives you a chance to select a time that allows you to be at your best, making it an opportunity to increase your level of comfort.
For example, if you are a morning person, then try and schedule your appointment during that window. If you feel more capable in the afternoon or evening, then try for a later time. The intention is to schedule the interview during a time where you already feel more energetic and function at your best. Then you aren’t combatting the feeling of being drained in conjunction with the interview itself.
Plan for Extra Me Time
Once your interview is scheduled, make sure and plan some extra time for yourself before and after the interview. If you can find a quiet space before the interview begins, you can take a moment to collect your thoughts or practice self-calming techniques. Then, once the interview is over, you also have some time available to regroup and recharge before heading back to your other tasks for the day.
The idea is to build in a buffer that will help you perform at your best and then give you a chance to re-center before any additional interactions. It can keep the process more comfortable and limits the chance of being overwhelmed at any point in your day.
Prepare to Ask Questions
One of the easiest ways to give yourself a mini-break during an interview is to get the interviewer talking. While you are listening to the interviewer, tune into can points that may help entice the interviewer to speak. Then, once you are given a chance to ask additional questions at the end of the interview, make sure you have a few stashed away for the occasion.
Introverts typically aren’t fans of small talk. However, being able to manage introductions in a casual way can help build a rapport with the interviewer. Consider asking a friend to practice this process with you so you can become more comfortable with the process, allowing you take control over the initial few minutes and set the pace for the rest of the interview.
If you are looking for additional tips on making a great first impression during an interview or new opportunity in the IT field, the recruiters at The Armada Group can help you along the way. Contact us to see what is available in your area today.
Big Data has taken the world by storm and along the way, has increased the pressure on the technical specialists who focus on the area. The push to get results more quickly and to make the results more meaningful can leave many working in the field scrambling to keep up, and creates some major pain points for Big Data specialists to struggle against.
Not Seeing a Traditional Asset
While many businesses consider their data an asset, they don’t necessarily treat it as one. While a company may be able to tell you exactly how many packages of printer paper were ordered within a given time period, they can’t do the same with their less tangible assets.
The lack of tracking increases pressure on those working with the data, as they have to do more than use the data to produce results; they have to quantify it. Additionally, they often have to surmise how to value the content along the way, adding a duty many Big Data professionals aren’t sufficiently prepared to accomplish.
Improper Data Collection Strategies
Once a company has their hands on a data collection tool, it is tempting to use it to its fullest capacity. However, this can lead to mountains of unnecessary data. For example, if a business chooses to monitor the number of visitors actively viewing a particular product webpage and use an option that reports back once a minute, that is likely way more information than is necessary.
The number of data points being produced and stored likely exceeds the amount necessary to achieve useful metrics. Instead, it simply creates an excess of data that then needs to be managed.
Devaluing Their Skills
Often, it is hard to explain the different skill sets required for IT operations unless you actively work in the field. Additionally, cloud-based offerings for data analytics can leave many members of upper management to disregard the amount of skill it actually takes to provide meaningful results, especially within a large enterprise landscape.
Failing to recognize the need for a highly skilled individual or team to manage Big Data tasks can put unfair pressure on IT professionals who do not work within the Big Data landscape. Additionally, it leads some organizations to devalue the skills of true Big Data specialists. Typically, the quality of a company’s results are directly tied to the skill level of those performing the work, and not understanding the differences between IT skill sets can create pain points throughout the department.
All successful IT implementations require time and planning. Even if a business is able to secure a suitable analytics solution quickly, it takes time to ensure everything is properly managed to produce the desired results.
Similarly, if the use of Big Data is new to a company, they also need to acquire individuals with the necessary skills and experience to create value from the solution. Securing the tools is only the first step in Big Data analytics, and rushing through the early stages of implementation can lead to less favorable, if not entirely unusable, results.
If your business is looking for a skilled Big Data Specialist, The Armada Group has the industry expertise necessary to identify your next potential superstar employee. Contact us and let our experience in the IT job market guide you to the ideal candidates for your goals.
IT leaders often shoulder a high level of risk when it comes to implementing a big data and analytics solution; the risk of making the wrong choice. Often, adding new solutions are costly ventures, requiring significant financial and time investments to get everything online. And, if the chosen solution doesn’t produce the anticipated results, it can cause the entire project to be considered a waste.
Finding appropriate solutions can be challenging. It isn’t uncommon for current IT employees to have limited experience with the technologies, especially if they have been with your organization long term. And, even if they stay abreast of industry happenings, that doesn’t mean they possess enough knowledge to guarantee a result.
Often, decision makers look to mitigate this risk by reviewing the choices of similar companies operating in the same sector. Then, they focus their recommendations based on successes experienced elsewhere based on the presence of similar resources.
So, how does an IT leader get the information they need to move forward? By reviewing key information points in the Big Data market today.
In-House Expertise or Outside Consultation
The presence or lack of in-house expertise is going to be a driving force for information gathering. If you don’t have employees with experience in the Big Data and analytics field, then your choices need to be driven by that fact.
Often, this makes consulting a necessity. Whether you choose to work with a specific consultant who can recommend suitable solutions or prefer to work with industry-leading vendors directly, you may have to look outside your organization for the knowledge you require.
However, certain options, like SAS and Cognos, are considered tried-and-true solutions that have been part of the IT landscape for years. That means there is a higher chance that staff members have experience with the platforms, and may make it a wise choice based on that familiarity.
In most cases, your decision will come in one of two formats. First, you can choose to use technical resources in your own facilities and data centers to build your own analytics operations. This has the benefit of using hardware with which your IT team may already be familiar, though functional changes will be necessary to complete analytics operations.
However, those without on-site resources (or who prefer not to dedicate resources to the task) can choose cloud-based solutions. And you may even have access to some of the same solutions regardless of that choice.
For example, IBM’s Watson is available as an off-the-shelf solution for use in internal data centers as well as in a cloud-based variant. This makes the option accessible to businesses of almost any size.
You Aren’t Starting from Scratch
Big Data and analytics have become a well-developed sector. That means you and your business aren’t having to step in blindly. Instead, the information about potential solutions is often highly accessible, whether from internal staff or external consultants. Begin your process with research regarding your current in-house capabilities and then see what options best integrate into your current landscape.
If you are interested in bringing in Big Data experts as employees or consultants, The Armada Group can help locate the best candidate to meet your goals. Contact our experienced recruiters today, and we will work with you to find your ideal solution.
The process involved in the hiring of new employees is ever-evolving. Low employment and challenges to the traditional workday norms are having a significant impact on workplaces across the nation, making the job market feel unfamiliar to many. Whether you are planning to hire or be hired in 2017, take note of these trends that will shape opportunities in 2017.
Goodbye Traditional 9 to 5
Between the rise of the gig economy and declines in the number of mid-level positions, the traditional full-time work experience isn’t going as available as in previous years. Reliance on freelancers and contractors is growing, and many technical professional are using that as an opportunity to focus on skills, tasks, and projects that they truly enjoy.
Additionally, rising competition for top talent allows employees to leverage options like flexible scheduling and remote worker options. That means fewer people in the office during the “standard” work day, and a new paradigm to which everyone must be somewhat prepared to adjust.
Personal Networks and Job Referrals
One of the quickest routes to a new position is through the direct referral process. Social media geared towards professionals has made finding referrals a simpler process and can be seen as a blessing to employees and employers alike. High-quality employees are only going to provide referrals to those they feel will represent them in a positive light, so there is a strong likelihood the referred candidate will possess a similar work ethic or skill set. The route can also be more cost-effective than openly advertising positions, and referrals can often access individuals not actively on the job market.
Many companies are moving away from the practice of hiding information about available salaries and benefits. While the information isn’t always posted publicly on job announcement, more companies are relying on systems like chatbots to provide potential candidates with more details than what is shown in a job posting. This increased transparency allows job seekers to determine whether a position meets their minimum requirements prior to applying. And that means less time wasted on filling out applications for positions they would never accept, and less time spent considering candidates who will never accept the available salary.
Security is a Priority
Regardless of the primary function of an IT position, an understanding of security as it relates to their work is going to be a priority. Issues regarding data breaches regularly make front page news, so everyone within an organization will need to contribute to larger security goals. Whether that involves developing an additional skill set or increasing awareness regarding vulnerabilities, efforts in the area of security will almost always prove valuable.
Shorter Hiring Processes
The candidate experience is being given more consideration in previous years, and many companies intend to shorten their hiring processes as part of the larger initiative. This produces more favorable conditions for candidates interested in new opportunities as well as businesses filling vacancies.
One method for shortening the hiring process is working with a professional recruiter that specializes in the unique needs of the IT field. The Armada Group has over 20 years of experience in matching top talent with outstanding opportunities. Contact us today and see how our experience can work for you.