As an IT project manager, you understand the value of accurate cost estimates. Not only do they ensure you have the funds necessary to complete the work, they also serve as a strong framework regarding what is required along the way. So, what can an IT project manager do to improve their cost estimates? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Get a Grip on Risk
Risk assessments are a big part of project management; they let you identify and address potential problems in advance, helping to keep everything on target. Failing to manage the risks properly means you’re more likely to be faced with a challenge that could turn into a budget buster, rendering your initial estimate useless. However, by taking the time to assess these points in advance, you can adjust your estimate accordingly and plan to mitigate any unexpected costs.
We all want to do more with less, but overestimating the team’s capabilities and underestimating the costs based on the more optimistic scenario can come back to bite you. While you should work to identify potential cost savings for the project, make sure you are realistic about the expenses involved.
Create a Thorough Plan
Your estimate will only be accurate if you track all of the required tasks and materials needed to see the project through to completion. Failing to get a firm plan in place means certain details may be missed, rendering your initial estimate inaccurate.
You also need to identify any variables that may affect the associated expenses as the project moves along. This will ensure you adjust your estimate to reflect different scenarios based on how things play out.
Think in Multiples
One way to increase the accuracy of your estimates is to produce more than one. Multiple estimates can help you look at the situation from multiple perspectives, spotting potential risks associated with individual variables or unexpected events.
Once you have a few created, find commonalities that likely represent a suitable estimate. Then, examine the differences and identify the most probable scenarios before including a variant on your formal estimate.
Have a Plan B
If you’ve spotted potential trouble spots in the project, make sure you create a contingency plan to address these issues and keep everything on track. Then, create supplementary estimates based on these scenarios to ensure you can provide all stakeholders an accurate picture of how things will work if things don’t go exactly according to plan A.
By completing the steps above, you have the ability to improve the quality of your cost estimates, making it easier to stay on target and keep everyone involved happy. If you are looking for an IT project management position, the team at The Armada Group can connect you with leading employers in the area. Contact us today and see which open positions may be right for you.
If you ask a handful of coders to name their favorite programming language, you’ll likely get a variety of answers. And the same goes for those they prefer not to use. However, there is a short list of languages that many wish would simply disappear off the face of the planet.
These programming languages have fallen out of favor for numerous reasons, though the most common one is that more efficient options became available. With that in mind, here are five programming languages that are primed to disappear.
The only reason Objective-C is still on anyone’s radar is Swift’s sub-par ABI stability, which is an issue for iOS developers, though it is expected to be remedied with the release of Swift 5. Once the new and improved Swift becomes available, expect Objective-C to fall into obscurity.
While technically considered a technology, Visual Basic is a programming language most coders simply dread. Visual Basic was originally created to provide an alternative to BASIC, which gives an indication of the technology’s age. However, Microsoft is still holding firm on this language, so it may not disappear as fast as some people would like.
Many people are likely startled to see SQL on a list like this. Since data has become a staple in more businesses than ever, SQL certainly has a foothold in almost every industry. However, there are strong alternatives to SQL that may replace this common programming language. Pair that with its general undesirability in the minds of many coders, and it may suffer a swift demise once a reliable replacement gains ground.
If you’ve never heard of Assembly, you’re not alone. It’s a programming language that is known to be slow and tedious to use, and not nearly as capable as options like Python or C#. In most cases, programmers that encounter Assembly are likely dealing with legacy code, as very few new projects would ever consider it an ideal option.
All of the above-mentioned languages are poised to disappear one day, though it likely won’t be too soon. Dealing with legacy code often leaves two options: keep using what’s there or completely rewrite the program in something else. Since recreating a large-scale project in another language is a serious undertaking, especially when you consider the size of some SQL databases, many of these programming languages will likely suffer a slow death. However, it’s smart to keep your eyes open to these points, as dedicating too much time or energy on a less-desirable language isn’t smart for business or a person’s career.
If you’re looking for a person to join your programming team or are interested in a new coding position, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today and see how our services can get you ahead of the competition.
Most companies rely on network engineers to ensure that internal systems are operating properly on a daily basis. The work can vary depending on the employer, ranging from basic maintenance and the troubleshooting of disruptions to the structuring of new solutions. However, what companies hope to find when they hire someone in these positions tends to remain fairly constant. If you want to stand out as a network engineer, here’s what you need to rise to the top.
As with many IT professions, having a degree is vital for a successful career as a network engineer. Typically, businesses are going to focus on candidates that possess a minimum of a bachelor’s, so earning a degree at that level or higher creates a sound basis upon which to progress up the ladder.
When the option is available, it’s always best to select a degree that focuses on networking or a closely allied specialty. However, more general IT or computer science degrees can also do the job as long as you take courses that provide you with the necessary skills to work in a networking position. For example, classes that provide you with knowledge of network design, virtual servers and TCP/IP are vital. Other subject areas like cybersecurity are helpful, as well as those that allow you to develop soft skills like oral and written communication.
If you want to demonstrate that you are interested in reaching the upper echelons in your chosen field, then obtaining the right certifications can help you make the right impression on hiring managers right out of the gate. One of the most desirable options is the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) credential. Juniper’s JNCIE certification can also be valuable, depending on which platform the business favors.
Other IT-related knowledge areas can also help you further your career. For example, training in ITIL is often beneficial. Focused certifications in topics like network virtualization or certain cloud technologies can also set you apart from the pack.
While a strong education and supplemental certifications are vital when shaping a network engineering career, experience also plays a large role. In fact, a suitable apprenticeship can even replace some of the educational requirements some employers set forth. However, a combination of schooling and experience is often the best way to go.
Regretfully, there’s no fast route for acquiring experience. Typically, you’ll need to work your way up through the ranks, starting with an entry-level networking position and assuming more responsibilities as your skills progress.
By focusing on your education, certifications and gaining experience, you can position yourself for a great career as a network engineer. If you are interested in learning more or would like to explore opportunities in the area, the professionals at The Armada Group have the expertise to help you move your career forward. Contact us to discuss your goals with one of our recruiters today and see what options may be available to you.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning hold a lot of potential, providing technology that can change lives and business for the better. But, as any new technology emerges, certain professionals pay the penalty, often suffering job losses or pay decreases. While AI isn’t threatening every employee, certain positions are clearly at risk. Here is an overview of four jobs AI technology is threatening the most.
Thanks to the rise of chatbots, customer service professionals focused on tech support will likely see calls for the skills dwindle as these solutions become more sophisticated. Currently, these professionals are being specifically targeted by technology creators, especially for Tier 1 support issues.
In many cases, the majority of customer requests focus on simple matters that are resolved using repeatable processes. Chatbots can be designed to spot these problems and provide instruction based on tried-and-true troubleshooting methods not unlike the scripts many Tier 1 phone support workers use today. This means these standard issues won’t require human intervention, eliminating the need for some of these positions.
AI systems are already being designed with the ability to “think” creatively and improvise. While most of the public tests have involved competing against people by playing games such as Go, it isn’t hard to envision technologies being developed that are able to create and maintain software applications down the road. While this threat may be down the road, it is certainly viable, and something developers should keep an eye on.
Maintenance tasks and security measures are critical in tech and form a large part of the sysadmins role. AI technologies are already being created to offer automated solutions for much of the work associated with supporting uptime requirements, addressing performance issues, and improving security. While these solutions might not entirely eliminate the need for sysadmins, a possible reduction in the number required is certainly plausible if these AI systems can do everything their creators are hoping they can.
The manufacturing sector has experienced technologically-related disruptions to their workforce numbers before, and AI is likely to have a similar effect. Advanced robotics can replace assembly workers while providing the ability to run 24/7 without having to worry about shift changes. While these technologies won’t entirely remove the human component from the floor, professionals looking to stay in the field will need to increase their skills to remain relevant as more machines become part of the production cycle.
As outlined above, AI certainly has the ability to be a threat to many professions. However, it is important to note that these systems require support too. Skilled tech workers are the ones who program these solutions and perform maintenance on automated systems. That means a career in AI can be especially lucrative and an excellent method for staying relevant even as the technology becomes more sophisticated.
If you are interested in learning more about the impact of AI or are interested in finding a new IT position, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see what our services can offer you.
After accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination had reached the media, Uber came under fire for many of its practices and its poor corporate culture. Both the CEO and a board member have since resigned from the business, highlighting the level of turmoil experienced by the company.
Uber’s failure to create a culture that focused on supporting and caring for their workforce had serious consequences for the business, resulting in a situation that could have otherwise been avoided. Learning from their mistakes gives you an opportunity to avoid a similar debacle, ensuring your employees are working in an environment that promotes inclusiveness and safety. To help you benefit from the situation, here are some tips regarding what your company can learn from Uber’s culture mistakes.
Craft Strong, Clear Policies
Policies regarding issues relating to harassment and discrimination in the workplace are your first line of defense against improper behavior and guide the actions of leadership whenever an incident occurs. Uber failed to apply their policies universally, allowing certain members of upper management to operate with different standards than those assigned to the workforce. This creates a “them versus us” mentality, separating the workers from the leadership team and poisoning the culture.
All policies need to apply equally to employees, regardless of their level of status. This ensures everyone is suitably protected and provides clear guidance regarding associated disciplinary actions.
Document Complaint Tracking Procedures
Uber didn’t provide definitive guidelines regarding grievance tracking, and that led to inconsistent processes being used. Over time, critical information was lost, and follow-up opportunities were missed due to the lack of data.
Companies need to have thorough complaint tracking procedures, documented in such a way as to guide the actions of human resources professionals and members of management. This ensures vital information is recorded, including any course of action that is taken and their ensuing results. It also increases the likelihood of consistency throughout the organizations, making it easier to maintain standards as decisions are made, and plans are put into action.
Monitor Culture Shifts
A company’s culture develops over time, and it can change even with strong policies and appropriate measures on the part of the leadership team. Businesses need to monitor their climate for shifts, giving them the opportunity to intervene if things begin to move in an unfavorable direction.
Typically, this means communicating with employees regularly to assess the current state. By cultivating conversations between workers and management, it is easier to create a sense of community and take advantage of opportunities to make course corrections at the earliest sign of trouble.
Provide Appropriate Training
Conscious and unconscious biases can hurt company hiring, firing, and disciplinary standards. Those responsible for these decisions must be suitably trained to ensure certain opinions aren’t incidentally affecting outcomes in these areas. Additionally, making transparency a priority can alleviate concerns employees may have about the fairness of actions, helping them see why decisions are made instead of simply witnessing the outcomes.
If your company would like to work with a skilled staffing firm to ensure biases aren’t impacting hiring decisions, the professionals at The Armada Group have the training and expertise necessary to provide an appropriate solution. Contact us to discuss your hiring needs and see how our services can ensure bias doesn’t come into play.
The importance of the cloud in business is no secret. The majority of companies have shifted at least a portion of their systems to cloud-based solutions, and hybrid cloud environments remain popular. As organizations continue to use these hybrid infrastructures, the need for cloud systems administrators has increased dramatically. If you want to learn about what it takes to succeed in this growing field, here is an overview of some of the must-have skills for these positions.
Cloud administrators need to have a thorough understanding of traditional systems as well as virtual ones. While specific experience in private, public, or hybrid cloud-based environments is obviously helpful, so is prior experience with a variety of virtualization technologies. Additionally, server management and their associated OS’s are also important for the job, while storage technology is vital as well. Look to branch out your experience to include solutions like Avamar, Dell EqualLogic, EMC VNX, Extreme IO, Veeam, and VMAX to give yourself the biggest leg up in the field.
Languages and Tools
Well-rounded experience with a range of languages and tools can also help you make a positive impression when applying to cloud administration positions. Some of the more popular programming languages in the field include BASH, Perl, PowerShell, Python, and Ruby. That means having an understanding of at least a few of these can help you secure a job. Add to that knowledge of tools and automation technologies like Ansible, Chef, and Puppet, and you have created a powerful toolbox that many companies crave.
However, you also need certain mental tools to help you be successful. Experience with methodologies like DevOps and Scrum agile processes is often considered a must-have, as many businesses prefer these approaches to managing development.
In today’s day and age, it should be no surprise that an understanding of security measures is part of the equation. Many cloud administrators need to be able to secure cloud-based apps and data from a variety of threats. Data backup and disaster recovery methods differ slightly in cloud and hybrid environments, so understanding any applicable differences and being equipped to create comprehensive plans can help you stand out from the crowd. Application-level security methods should also be part of your wheelhouse to ensure you truly get the hiring managers attention.
Communication and Collaboration
Cloud systems administrators don’t exist in a bubble. Not only do they have to coordinate with third-party SaaS providers, but they must also work with diverse technical teams and non-technical stakeholders. This means you need to be able to communicate complex information in a way that less tech-savvy individuals can grasp and facilitate understanding between a range of IT professionals.
If you think you have the right skills to start or further your career in cloud systems administration, the recruiters at The Armada Group can connect you with leading companies looking for professionals just like you. Contact us today to explore new opportunities today.
As big data and analytics continue to become integral parts of business operations in a growing number of industries, companies understand that the data they collect can lead to significant advantages. However, many organizations recognize that internal data is only a small segment of the available information, making certain efforts feel incomplete since external data isn’t part of the analysis. However, integrating internal and external data is a complex undertaking, leaving most businesses to favor using their own information when performing complex analysis.
But why is it so challenging to overcome data inequality in the workplace? Here are just a few of the reasons that integrating internal and external sources is such a big undertaking.
At a fundamental level, internal data is essentially free to use; all of the information is already collected and stored, making it ready for use at any time. External data comes with a price tag, including an upfront cost and an ongoing investment. Add to that the fact that the data is typically subject to a range of restrictions regarding its use and the value added by the information may not compensate for the financial burden.
To make the matter more complex, not all business intelligence systems are capable of integrating external data. That means many companies would have to purchase in a secondary solution which can be a significant investment as well.
Even at the individual business level, internal data can be stored in a number of separate locations. This traditional silo-oriented or containerized approach automatically adds complexity to projects focused on data analytics. Now, add to that the numerous warehouses involved when external data is brought into the equation, and the level of systemic complexity only increases. Multiple systems must connect, even when different structures are in play, to create usable results and this burden can be especially heavy for business intelligence teams, ultimately leading them to favor internal data.
The majority of business have preferences regarding their software and system solutions. Often, the desire is to access external data through the mechanisms the company already has in place, which isn’t always possible. Even though certain data marketplaces have created APIs designed to make their information accessible across multiple platforms, not all business intelligence solutions or commonly used databases have opened their systems to support these connections. Until these systems become more open to integration, many organizations are going to find using external data is particularly challenging based on their current operating norms.
Over time, some of the barriers covered above may be lifted, making data inequality a thing of the past. However, you can start making headway today by bringing on the right business intelligence professionals and data analysts to join your team. If you would like to find the ideal candidates to make bridging the gap between internal and external data a reality, the professionals at The Armada Group can locate top job seekers in the field. Contact us to begin your search today.
As IT landscapes become more complex and advanced technologies integrate more fully into business systems, it’s no surprise the security remains a primary concern for most companies. Cyber threats are also gaining new levels of sophistication, leaving many organizations wondering if they should prioritize their security efforts based on these newly evolved pieces of malware. However, overthinking your security measures in hopes of stopping these higher-level threats can be harmful if you put the basics on the backburner to make it happen.
Most of the security threats businesses deal with on a daily basis aren’t actually new. In the majority of cases, tried and true techniques are far more likely to be used when cyber criminals wish to gain access to corporate systems or critical data. The fact that they are generally well-known can actually leave systems vulnerable when these threats aren’t given the attention they deserve, as can occur when businesses focus solely on the latest developments in viruses and malware.
To ensure your organization is handling security properly, here are some of the basics that should always take priority.
Comprehensive Password Requirements
While a password may seem old-school in terms of IT security, it is often one of the most fundamental lines of defense your company has to ensure the integrity of its systems and data. Additionally, passwords are one of the simplest solutions to implement and manage.
Make sure all employees have unique login IDs and have strict policies regarding the creation and maintenance of system passwords. For example, requiring a minimum of eight characters and making the use of lower- and upper-case letters, numbers, and symbols mandatory can help ensure a particular level of complexity. Then, implement systems that make regular password changes part of the standard to help limit the risks should old passwords be compromised.
Firewalls, Antivirus, and Anti-Malware
All businesses need to have strong firewalls in place, period. This ensures traffic coming into and out of the network is controlled, limiting the risk of intrusion and forming an active frontline defense. Antivirus and anti-malware programs are designed to catch and contain anything that manages to make its way into the system, making them just as critical. Failing to implement in either of these areas automatically leaves your network and connected systems vulnerable, so they should always be a priority.
Most major pieces of software will have updates released from time to time, including your antivirus and anti-malware applications. At times, people assume these updates are all functional, changing how the software operates in some way. While this can be true, many updates also include security patches designed to protect against new threats and close any discovered vulnerabilities. Failing to update on a regular basis means your applications are potentially operating with holes in their defenses, leaving you vulnerable. By ensuring updates are applied quickly after release, you can limit your chance of a known threat impacting your system.
While staying up to date on the newest threats can be helpful, covering the basics outlined above ensures your system has a strong security foundation in place. If your company is interested in hiring an IT security professional to get your systems into shape, The Armada Group can locate some of the best tech pros available today. Contact us to get the process started.
Many employees and managers alike feel that time spent in meetings is less productive than it could be. Often, these events take a significant amount of time and may not actually be as helpful in developing new breakthroughs within an organization. This is especially true if the people in attendance stay restricted to particular work groups or divisions, as it prevents information sharing from getting innovators involved from other areas.
However, there are methods available for creating a collaborative environment that supports communication between workgroups, allowing those with differing perspectives to participate when working towards common goals. Additionally, by implementing the correct tools, collaboration efforts can be directed with the simple click of a mouse.
Structured Meeting Agendas
One of the biggest issues that prevents meetings from being productive is the lack of a clear agenda. By structuring the event, participants are fully aware of what should be covered, as well as the overall goal. Meetings without structure can easily drift off target, leading to time being spent on issues that should not be of immediate concern. And, when this occurs, objectives are missed and valuable time can be wasted.
Companies that value collaboration treat meetings like assets. They understand that time spent on any cause throughout the workday is valuable and should be managed accordingly. That way, everyone gets what they need to move forward on organizational goals – without any time being wasted on topics that do not need to be covered.
Collaboration-oriented software solutions have made connecting easier than ever, as long as they are used in the right way. Giving employees options regarding how they reach out can help streamline the time spent in meetings, by providing alternatives to traditional in-person attendance, while also allowing organic innovation to occur more easily.
Solutions that integrate audio and video conferencing, mobile messaging, and traditional email can get everyone connected whenever the need arises. Additionally, quick links to online meeting platforms can be sent through a variety of mechanisms, ensuring everyone has the ability to attend without having to dig through old messages or track down original meeting invites.
Often, when critical members of a team cannot be in attendance, the ability to innovate through collaboration is limited. By making the ability to communicate highly accessible, members of work groups and larger teams can touch base regardless of whether they are in the office, at a remote location or even on the road. This ensures key personnel can always participate, providing their knowledge and perspective whenever required.
These technologies also allow impromptu gatherings to occur with greater ease, ensuring that when a good idea hits the floor employees can pursue the opportunity immediately instead of waiting until the next scheduled meeting. By allowing these conversations to take place naturally, innovative ideas are quickly shared, helping the group keep the creative juices flowing whenever inspiration strikes.
If you are looking for employees to help implement collaboration software solutions or to contribute to larger organizational discussions and innovations, The Armada Group can help you get the employees you need. Contact us today to see how a new employee can help you reach your next breakthrough.
Being promoted into your first leadership position is an exciting time, but it can also be a challenging one. Often, it comes with a series of nuances you have yet to experience. Add to that the desire to make a strong first impression, and it can be almost anxiety inducing.
While everything may not go perfectly regardless of your efforts, there are steps you can take to help you prepare for your first day as a leader in a company. To help you on your journey, here are some tips to make the beginning of this segment of your career as successful as possible.
An internal promotion into a leadership position means you are working with people who remember when you were a member of their ranks. Regardless of your skills or abilities, the change in the dynamic can lead to some awkward encounters. You may be unsure about your authority, and former coworkers might not know if the relationship has effectively shifted as you assume your new role. In some cases, you may even run into individuals who are blatantly resistant, guaranteeing some uncomfortable moments.
While you may not handle every one of these moments perfectly, understanding that they will occur helps ensure you aren’t caught off guard. Just remember, it can take time for a change to sink in and become the norm and make sure you handle every situation with a mixture of confidence and grace.
To Err is Human
When you start a new position, you are going to make the occasional mistake. And transitioning into a leadership role is no exception. Acknowledge that errors will be made and take ownership of them when they do. Then, treat them as learning opportunities and strive to avoid that mistake in the future.
Just because you have worked at the company for a while, that doesn’t mean you will automatically know everything there is to know about being a leader in the organization. Be prepared for some missteps, make necessary corrections, learn from the experience, and then move on to the next challenge.
Popularity and Leadership Don’t Always Go Hand-in-Hand
Sometimes you will have to make a choice, and it isn’t always going to make you popular even if it is the right move. Understand that not everyone will like your decision but, if it was made based on an appropriate amount of analysis and experience, don’t be afraid to stand by it.
It can take time for employees to trust new leaders. As you continue in the position, you may see the amount of resistance lessen, though it might never disappear. Just make sure to listen to legitimate concerns or potentially valuable input and then act accordingly. If it turns out you made a mistake, refer back to the point above.
If you are interested in more advice regarding working in a leadership position, The Armada Group has the expertise to help you on your way. Contact us today and see what our recruitment professionals have to offer.