Friday, Mar 16 2018

Has Agile Hit its Peak?

Written by

Agile 

 

Agile was once lauded as the ideal approach to software development. It allowed teams to create software at a rapid pace while also keeping projects aligned to their core objectives. But, as Agile joined the mainstream, many began considering it the answer for every project, even if it wasn’t always an appropriate approach.

 

While Agile can be an excellent methodology for certain objectives, it may not be ideal for your team or project. Before you default to an Agile approach, here are a few times when you should consider using an alternative methodology.

 

Your Using Agile to Appear Up-to-Date

A lot of companies adopt the Agile methodology largely based on appearances, wanting to be able to declare to the world that they are an Agile organization. Others choose it because they haven’t used a new methodology for quite some time and they fear that they will be viewed negatively for not using the approach.

 

However, choosing Agile just because it is the method where everyone recognizes its name isn’t a good reason for bringing it in. Just because a business isn’t using Agile doesn’t mean that their current approach isn’t practical, so don’t abandon something that is working just because of the name.

 

 

Your Costs Would Rise

In some highly regulated industries, trying to force an Agile approach to development can actually cost you more money in the long run. Often, if regulatory bodies dictate how certain things must be done (even if they allow for the use of some Agile concepts), it’s best to stick with what is effective, especially if significant documentation and mindset changes could stall your tech teams.

 

Not every industry is as suited for Agile as others, so it’s okay to bypass this approach if it doesn’t quite fit in your highly regulated environment.

 

A Two-Week Delivery Schedule Doesn’t Make Sense

Agile uses a segmented development approach in the form of two- to three-week sprints. At the end of each spring, there is supposed to be working code and a demonstrable result. However, not every project can be divided into pieces that align with such a schedule and, if it doesn’t break down properly, but you try to force it by compressing your timeline, you could be pushing your IT staff beyond the limits of what is possible in that timeframe.

 

Some projects simply don’t break down into Agile-ready chunks and, when that’s the case, trying to make it align with the methodology just doesn’t make sense.

 

Ultimately, Agile can be a great software development methodology, but only if it makes sense for your project and is appropriate for your industry. If it doesn’t align, then don’t try to force Agile into your workplace. Otherwise, it could cost you more than you expect.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a skilled IT pro to join your team, the experienced staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to learn more about our services, including how they can benefit your business, today.

 

 

Project Management

 

IT projects are often complex, requiring a significant amount of time to complete and a diverse set of employees to ensure all needed skill sets are present. To coordinate the associated activities, having a robust project management strategy is a necessity.

 

Like any other area, there are a number of trends that are poised to change the face of project management in 2018. With that in mind, here are a few that you are likely to notice as the year goes forward.

 

The EPMO Model

Organizations have begun to favor the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) methodology over the traditional project managing office (PMO) model. EPMOs typically reflect a more strategic approach, aligning the project, portfolio, and program activities to larger company goals. This allows companies to reach a higher level of success, particularly when it comes to creating end results that meet the original objectives. Plus, fewer projects fail using the associated methodologies, which is a benefit that can’t be ignored.

 

Increased Use of Software and Tools

Web-based project management software and tools have become more affordable over recent years, allowing more companies to access them. This provides smaller organizations with the technology they need to better manage their projects, including by reducing waste, efficiently allocating resources, and keeping them aligned with their goals.

 

 

Analytics Play a Bigger Role

Business analytics continues to become more accessible as well, allowing companies to leverage the power of their data in more meaningful ways. Teams can identify trends in advance, spot potential risks earlier in the process, and even examine complex approaches with greater ease, giving them valuable information that can increase the chances that the project will be successful.

 

This also helps in the development of future projects as lessons learned today can be captured with greater ease, allowing the associated information to guide decisions during the next project.

 

More Remote Workers

Technology has also made remote work and telecommuting options easier to manage, allowing your full-time staff to experience greater flexibility or you to access top talent in areas outside of your immediate vicinity.

 

Since work-life balance has become a priority for many professionals, particularly Millennials and the incoming Generation Z, this can be an attractive offering that gives you an advantage over competitors who choose to forgo the option, increasing the odds that you will be viewed as an employer of choice.

 

Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

Companies and employees are placing a higher value on emotional intelligence in the workplace, and this will likely affect hiring decisions today and into the future, particularly with project managers. The nature of the work requires coordinating with a wide range of professionals, all with different priorities and personalities. Emotional intelligence makes the task easier, making it a valuable skill for anyone leading a diverse group of workers.

 

If you are looking to hire a project manager or would like to learn more about current trends, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our skilled team members and see how our expertise can work for you.

 

 

Unethical

 

IT professionals are often trusted with a significant amount of power in any organization. They have access to critical systems and data, some of which is not directly related to their positions.

 

Employees in any department may participate in some questionable activities, and IT workers are no exception. While some occasional lighthearted actions can be beneficial to morale, when certain lines are crossed, a serious problem exists.

 

To help you identify these issues and address unruly IT employee behavior, here are some common areas of concern and how to handle them.

 

Practical Jokes

IT employees are uniquely positioned when it comes to practical jokes. They can do anything from changing a person’s password to adjusting computer wallpaper, often remotely.

 

While some of these actions may seem harmless, they can easily become bothersome. For example, another employee’s work may be disrupted by a practical joke, hurting productivity. In more severe scenarios, such as changing a worker’s desktop background to something inappropriate, a staff member may become offended, or worse.

 

To prevent these activities, you need strong policies in place that define how credentials can be used as well as any consequences that are associated with these breaches of trust. Using alerts that inform the manager when specific actions are taken can also be effective deterrents, as all activities are automatically broadcast to their supervisor.

 

 

Accessing Confidential Information

Most IT professionals have administrator credentials that allow them to access a range of systems. While this is necessary for the work, it can cause problems when they abuse the privilege, using their credentials to access confidential or sensitive information not related to their positions.

 

Further, they often have the ability to delete or alter logs, giving them a chance to cover their tracks.

 

Setting up alerts can help spot this kind of activity, as well as a robust ticketing system that can help determine which actions are legitimate and which may be illicit in nature.

 

Non-Work-Related Activities

Since IT often controls what can be accessed over the internet and which activities are logged, the potential for abuse is significant. A worker could give themselves the ability to access entertainment related sites that would otherwise be blocked, giving them the opportunity to slack off while they are on the clock.

 

While taking a moment to relax isn’t inherently a problem, if they begin spending more than a reasonable amount of time on non-work-related activities, productivity is going to decline. Further, if they access inappropriate content using company resources, you could have a bigger problem.

 

To help lower the risk associated with such actions, it’s imperative that all employees be subject to the same restrictions based on actionable policies and that any attempts to circumvent certain blocks be appropriately logged and alerted. This helps deter IT professionals from taking advantage of their position, lessening the likelihood that someone will do so.

 

Ultimately, most IT employees are standup workers and wouldn’t abuse their power. However, it is crucial that the proper policies and monitoring mechanisms are in place to ensure that such activities don’t take place.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are looking to hire a new IT worker, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our services can work for you.

 

 

Monday, Jan 15 2018

Can Net Neutrality Be Saved?

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Net Neutrality

 

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the policies associated with net neutrality – rules governing how internet service providers (ISPs) must handle web traffic – many people and companies feared how the change would affect their online experience. While ISPs now have more options regarding how traffic is managed, the tenants of net neutrality aren’t necessarily gone forever. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Are Changes Coming?

The repeal of net neutrality means that one significant change has already occurred, as the rules by which ISPs have to adhere have fundamentally been altered. But, the exact nature of how internet service will change isn’t immediately known, as it will take time for any supplier to adjust their operating procedures should they decide to take advantage of the shift.

 

For example, an ISP could begin favoring traffic associated with their own content now (which was prohibited under the net neutrality regulations), but the mechanisms that would need to be updated to do so aren’t necessarily in place yet, depending on the ISP involved.

 

Additionally, there are some legal challenges to the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality, which will take time to resolve, and new legislation is also in the works that, if passed, could restore some of the tenants of net neutrality, possibly before any ISP has an opportunity to change how they operate.

 

 

Will Every ISP Abandon Net Neutrality?

Not every internet provider is going to take full advantage of the rule changes associated with the repeal of net neutrality. Some companies may shift their offerings based on some of the additional freedoms, but others might not.

 

Large ISPs, like Comcast, have dropped hints that they might offer “fast lanes,” arrangements where companies can gain better access to the network in exchange for a fee, but essentially every provider has stated that they do not intend to block lawful traffic or throttle traffic to specific sites. And, if an ISP makes this commitment in their terms of service, failing to live up to their promises could result in legal action, enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). However, that doesn’t mean that users might not experience some speed differences, with sites that have paid for a fast lane loading more quickly than their counterparts who chose not to, or cannot afford, the required fee.

 

But not every ISP plans on making changes. In fact, some smaller, regional providers have openly stated that they intend to follow the rules of net neutrality, even if they aren’t legally obligated to do so. Additionally, new legislation has been proposed that would restore some of the tenants, though it is too early to say if these will pass.

 

Ultimately, it is too early to tell for certain if the concepts behind net neutrality will disappear, and some actions, like new legislation or successful legal challenges, could leave much of the original rules intact. However, even if the changes do go forward in entirety, not every ISP is going to alter how they operate, allowing individuals and businesses to switch their services to another provider if their current ISP no longer meets their needs.

 

If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with a member of our knowledgeable staff today.

 

 

Senior DevOps

 

If your developing a career in DevOps, the idea of being a Senior DevOps Engineer may be particularly enticing. Like any upper-level position, you’ll need to possess the proper skill set and also make an effort to separate yourself from your peers.

 

To help you begin on your way to becoming a Senior DevOps Engineer, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Technical Skills

First and foremost, you’ll need to be especially proficient in a range of scripting languages, including options like Bash, PowerShell, and Python. You may also need to be familiar with working on multiple computing platforms, such as Linux and Windows.

 

When web services are a component of your development efforts, being experienced in RESTful services is beneficial. And, to meet project objectives, you may need a thorough understanding of continuous integration and delivery, as well as knowledge of configuration management concept.

 

Since cloud services and tools can play a vital role in DevOps, being familiar with CM tools and frameworks like Chef and SALT can help you get ahead. Expertise in test automation is also highly desirable and can help you stand out from your peers.

 

Soft Skills

Like most IT positions, Senior DevOps Engineers also need a range of soft skills to excel. Most importantly, you’ll need strong written and verbal communications skills, including the ability to make complex information more accessible to stakeholders who may be less tech-savvy.

 

Planning and organizational skills are incredibly useful as they make it easier to keep projects on track and ensure you are handling your tasks based on any applicable deadlines. Being able to work as part of a team is also crucial.

 

Senior DevOps Engineers may also need to guide junior team members, so leadership skills can help you move up the ladder to the next level position.

 

Securing a Promotion

While there is no guaranteed way to obtain a promotion, certain efforts increase your likelihood of success. For example, volunteering for leadership roles can help you develop your skills and assert yourself as someone who can direct and manage the work of others. Taking on new challenges shows your interested in expanding your knowledge base and growing in the field while participating in professional development activities also demonstrate you are working to keep your skills sharp and relevant.

 

You also need to meet the fundamental requirements of your current position, such as meeting your deadlines and maintaining high-quality standards. Additionally, you need to be open to feedback and work diligently to follow any advice that can allow you to become a top employee.

 

Securing a promotion is generally about more than just being technically proficient, so aim to become a well-rounded employee who is willing to go the extra mile and support larger team goals to ensure the company has everything they need to succeed.

 

If you’re looking for a new DevOps position, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the most innovative employers in the area. Contact us to see how our services can help you get ahead in your career.

 

 

Knowledge Transfer

 

Knowledge transfer is a powerful tool in the business world. It makes a process by which one employee is able to share their skills by helping another person become self-sufficient in that area by providing casual training. While the term is most often referenced during mergers and acquisitions, it is actually a great option for strengthening IT teams by broadening each worker’s knowledge base.

 

Being able to transfer your knowledge to another team member can be seen as a beneficial skill and is a way to set yourself apart from other candidates in the eyes of the hiring manager. To help you show you have what it takes, here are some ways to prove you are a master of knowledge transfer.

 

Express Your Willingness

Job seekers who are enthusiastic about sharing what they’ve learned or know are often skilled at helping others “up” their level of competency. During your interview, let the hiring manager know you are willing to go the extra mile and not just complete the desired tasks, but teach others. This allows the interviewer to see you as a potential solution for skill gaps, as well as a team player.

 

Provide Examples

One of the easiest ways to prove you are a master of knowledge transfer is to provide examples of times you used the skill to the benefit of another employer or team. This can include times when you acted as a mentor, led a project that relied on a specific competency that not everyone possessed, or simply training other workers after becoming adept at a new system.

 

Essentially, any time you functioned as a teacher while serving in a role could be worth discussing, especially if your knowledge transfer skills ensured a project’s success or furthered a key business objective. This is especially true if your efforts allowed the company to forgo hiring a new employee who possessed the targeted competency based on your ability to share your knowledge with others. With unemployment among tech professionals remaining incredibly low, any internal talent that can help develop ways to offset skill gaps or team shortcomings will likely be seen as a valuable candidate and potential hire.

 

Detail Your Approach

Another great way to convey your ability to shine in the area of knowledge transfer is to discuss how you approach the process of getting someone else up to speed. By providing a detailed account of how you handled the task, you can increase the hiring manager’s confidence in your abilities while demonstrating your mastery.

 

To do this effectively, consider each time you were responsible for a knowledge transfer and outline the steps you took to accomplish the goal of sharing your skills with others. Then, you can talk about your abilities with greater ease.

 

If you are a master of knowledge transfer and are looking for a new position, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our knowledge can work for you.