Many of the best IT project managers on the planet share certain traits. Usually, this is expressed as a set of habits, all of them honed to help increase their odds of success in their roles.
By working to make these habits part of your reality, you can thrive in most IT project manager roles. Here are the ones that should be on every current or aspiring project manager’s radar.
Dedication to the Process
Today, nearly every project is governed by a methodology. These provide clear steps to make sure a project is a success, ensuring that critical points are not overlooked and that everything is addressed in an ideal order or at the proper time.
Leading project managers understand that following the process is important; so much so that the majority make it a habit. Now, this does not mean that an approach cannot be adapted based on the project at hand. Instead, it is the automatic urge to use that process as a framework, and a desire only to deviate when the situation actually demands it.
Acting with Integrity at All Times
For the best IT project managers, integrity is a core part of their personality. They never hesitate to be honest when working with their team and strive to be fair at all times.
Without integrity, even the most skilled project team may struggle. A lack of trust can be incredibly damaging to a group’s dynamic, leading to increased levels of conflict, more misunderstanding, and even rising error numbers – all of which can lead to a project’s failure.
If integrity is not a habit, becoming a leading project manager will be incredibly challenging, so it is wise to make it a focus early in one’s career.
Preparation is a Priority
If a project is going to be a success, it needs a strong foundation. Preparation is the key to creating a winning environment, ensuring risk is properly examined, contingency plans are at the ready, and all necessary information is gathered before any work begins.
Neglecting the preparation phase of a project increases the odds of failure. While this does not mean you have to focus entirely on the minutia before getting started, it does mean having all of your proverbial ducks in a row as early in the process as possible.
By embracing the habits above, you can increase your odds of becoming one of the best IT project managers around. Not only can this help you build a strong and lucrative career, but it is also intrinsically rewarding, as your success rate could skyrocket.
Looking for a New Project Manager Role? Contact The Armada Group!
If you would like to learn more about what it takes to thrive as a project manager or are seeking out new opportunities, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our project management expertise can benefit you.
Many tech professionals struggle to quiet their minds when their head hits the pillow at the end of a long day. Often, people have to fight against invasive thoughts regarding whether they finished their to-do list, if an upcoming presentation will go off without a hitch, or whether a project will finish on time.
These racing thoughts can leave some wide awake, even if they’re exhausted. And, if they keep a person from being able to get enough shuteye, they may have issues staying conscious during the day, let along focused.
Luckily, there are things tech pros can do to quiet their busy minds, letting them get better quality sleep. If you struggle to get enough shuteye, here’s what you can do.
Avoid Activities in Bed
Ideally, your bed should be associated with sleep only. That means you need to avoid participating in a range of activities once you lay down.
For example, avoid the urge to watch tv or talk on the phone. Don’t jump on your smartphone for anything, including checking emails, reviewing your social media accounts, or even just cruising through the news.
Your bed needs to be a place for rest and relaxation, and that means avoiding unnecessary stimulation once your head hits the pillow.
Establish a Daily Wake Up Time
One of the biggest things you can do to ensure you can fall asleep with ease is getting up at the same time every day. This helps train your body clock to a specific waking time, making sure you’ll feel sleepy at the right time too.
Only Go to Bed When You’re Sleepy
There’s a big difference between being physically tired or without energy and actually being sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy yet, you’ll likely have issues drifting off into dreamland.
Trying to force yourself to go to sleep is often counterproductive, particularly if you get frustrated when it doesn’t happen. Instead of forcing the issue, wait until you are actually sleepy to lay down.
Don’t Toss and Turn
If you can’t fall asleep, then you shouldn’t just lay there, tossing and turning while hoping that sleep overtakes you. Instead, get out of bed and participate in an activity that doesn’t increase your overall level of alertness, like reading or listening to music while enjoying a non-caffeinated beverage.
Address Your Worries
In some cases, anxiety about the upcoming day can keep you up. If this happens to you, it’s wise to take a proactive approach to managing worry.
For example, you can take about 20 minutes in the early evening to write down all of your concerns. Then, for each worry, write down a “next step” that will help you find a solution. This process can reduce your stress levels by planning for how to take action in the future, ensuring you don’t feel overwhelmed when it’s time to get some rest.
By following the tips above, tech pros can quiet their busy minds, making it easier to get some well-deserved shuteye.
If you would like to learn more or are seeking a new job opportunity, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our experienced staff members and to learn more about our services today.
One reason selecting The Armada Group as your recruiting firm helps you find great employees fast is because of the dedicated recruiters on our team. The environment at The Armada Group encourages our recruiters to work hard on your behalf.
As our recruiter Jesse Oehler says, "I love the people I work with, from the CEO Jeff to my fellow recruiters who are in the trenches with me every day. We all have a similar drive to succeed, a passion for helping people, a competitive fire and a true 'work hard, play hard' mentality."
It helps that the work is so rewarding. Jesse says, "I really enjoy talking every day with so many intelligent, accomplished people. I’m calling people with a job to offer them, so almost every conversation I have is warm and pleasant, even if it is with someone who will ultimately not be a good match for the position. I have been able to build a network of outstanding individuals to work with."
Having great networks lets our recruiters find you great employees you wouldn't be able to find on your own. Because the placements we make benefit both the candidate and the company, it's doubly rewarding for our recruiters. Jesse particularly remembers placing a candidate who called her afterwards to let her know that she loved the new job and that it had improved her quality of life.
The company also let Jesse know about the candidate's – the new employee's – success on the job. "It is rewarding to know that I was truly able to make a great match for that particular requisition," Jesse says.
The recruiters at The Armada Group strive to make great matches for all the organizations we work for. Jesse's had the opportunity to work with top-notch firms including with Apple, Cisco, Fujitsu, HP and PayPal.
"These organizations are made up of awesome, responsive and engaging individuals and teams that value and demand both quality and excellence, not only from their staffing partners, but from the consultants that work with them as well," Jesse says. The companies help the recruiters make great matches by giving them timely and detailed feedback.
Our recruiters develop the skills that help them make great matches over time. The Armada Group’s recruiters receive incentives to work together and build long-term careers here. Through their own successful careers, our recruiters learn how to identify candidates who'll enjoy successful careers at our clients' companies. Contact us to learn how working with us can build your team.
When budgets are tight, you can't get more work done by getting more people to do the work. Instead, you have to figure out how to get the people you already have to get more work done. Fortunately, boosting productivity doesn't mean you have to become a slave driver, or that your employees need to give up their personal lives. Use these five tips to increase their productivity, instead.
Reduce wasted time.
This doesn't mean eliminating coffee breaks and water cooler chitchat. Instead, eliminate non-productive work activities like routine departmental weekly meetings where nothing is ever decided. Meet with smaller subsets of your team in more-focused meetings that address specific issues. Also, stop CC-ing everyone on emails that aren't relevant to them. Not only is the time they spend reading those missives wasted, the "you've got mail" sound interrupts concentration and distracts employees from the work they were trying to do.
Keep the noise down.
Cubicle farms may be unavoidable these days, but the lack of privacy and lack of quiet make it hard to think. Encourage your team to find places where they can concentrate free of distraction, in order to solve the tough problems. If company policy allows BYOD or work-from-home, untether your staff from their cubicles.
Eliminate procedural overhead.
Filling out forms in triplicate and collecting multiple managerial signatures may be great for documentation and compliance purposes, but admin procedures often get in the way of getting work done. You may need other departments’ to buy-in to making changes in processes, but eliminating unnecessary steps can free up significant time your team could spend doing something other than paperwork.
Assign work to the right people.
Work gets done much more quickly when the person doing the task is both qualified and motivated to get it done. Nobody is going to like every assignment they have to do, but if you can give work to people who like that kind of work, and have the skills and connections to get it done, you'll find it gets done faster.
Take advantage of technology.
Save time spent traveling to off-site meetings by using videoconferencing and collaboration software to eliminate the travel time. Take advantage of other software, too; there are plenty of free, open-source products that can let your team automate many routine software development tasks. Spending a little time building scripts and scheduling jobs can free up a lot of time for other important tasks.
With the influx of tech jobs and the shortage of qualified software engineers, many recent graduates have discovered that finding a position in Silicon Valley is remarkably easy. But while the talent gap isn’t going anywhere, tech companies are beginning to demand more and more of their engineers, resulting in remarkably high expectations for those new to the tech industry. These are a few of the ways standards are changing for Silicon Valley engineers.
More Skills, More Experience
Experience doesn’t always mean years on the job, but hiring managers in the tech industry are now expecting engineers to have a stronger grasp on a wider variety of tools. Whether that means you’ve used a suite of different coding languages to create fully-functional sites, or you’ve designed a feature-rich app, you have to have something concrete in your portfolio to get your foot in the door. With so many technologies at their disposal, tech companies like to see candidates with strong skills in a variety of areas. Create a well-rounded portfolio during your early years as an engineer to give yourself a jump start during your job search.
Creative Thinking & Other Soft Skills
Your technical capabilities, however, are no longer the be-all and end-all. You also have to work well in a team and have the ability to effectively communicate your ideas. Many of the more discerning companies are also looking for engineers who possess the ability to think creatively and find elegant, non-traditional solutions to common problems. If you possess these skills, you’ll be a more competitive candidate in the Silicon Valley tech industry. These skills, however, are often innate rather than learned, and can be difficult to replicate if they don’t come to you naturally.
In recent years, software engineers have gravitated towards social, consumer-based platforms like Facebook and Google. These industries often search for candidates with the ability to problem solve from an end user’s perspective. They need developers who can implement features and programs that would benefit and appeal to the consumer. This ingenuity can be hard to find in those who are more technical by nature, so the well-balanced engineer will find that their chances are actually better than those who are purely tech-savvy.
Meeting the new standards of Silicon Valley’s tech industry is a tall order for even the most qualified engineers. As the culture trends towards more social interfaces, they demand more socially minded engineers who can place themselves in the positions of their target audience. If you can partner creativity, collaborative effort, and the necessary know-how, you have the potential to meet and exceed these new expectations.
In the past decade, we have seen dramatic changes in the technology available to businesses. From communication tools to advanced security features, these new elements are exceptionally valuable to modern businesses. But sifting through the wealth of available IT tools often seems like an impossible task. With so many options available, how can you choose the right tools for your company? To help you flesh out your IT arsenal, we’ve narrowed it down to five key elements that will keep your organization on track to success.
1. Incident Ticket Systems
Automated issue tracking can be a vital part of your business’s success. Its automatic bug log will help your IT staff quickly diagnose and address problems that may occur. Without a good ticketing system, important problems may get lost or overlooked in the flood of minor issues, or there may be some confusion on who each individual problem is assigned to. A good incident ticket system will help streamline this process and avoid major issues.
2. Project Management
A strong project management system should be integrated with your ticketing system, allowing managers and IT specialists to assign and complete tickets quickly and efficiently. Project management will help track assignments, establish standard responses to common problems, and allow for managers to oversee each project handled by your IT department.
No matter what industry you work in, analytics tools are a vital part of making informed business decisions. You might track how customers behave on your website, your turnaround time on IT problems, or which kinds of clients bring in the most revenue. This can help you redirect your marketing efforts or restructure the way you resolve problems. By effectively analyzing data, you can make successful decisions for your company.
4. Remote Monitoring
With remote monitoring, your IT specialists have the power to access endpoint devices and address errors or bugs. This powerful cloud-based tool can save you both time and money, as well as allowing your IT staff to solve problems more efficiently. A remote monitoring system can be integrated with your system analytics, so your staff can monitor trends and catch hard-to-find errors.
In many ways, security can often be the most important element of a successful IT system. With the frequency of cyberattacks on the rise, it’s important that you invest in a good security system to protect the confidentiality of your business, your employees, and your customers. These tools are extremely flexible, so you can choose a security setup that suits your unique business.
These five IT elements can not only streamline your operations, but protect you from catastrophic system errors and data breaches. By implementing each of these tools, your company will have everything it needs to succeed in our increasingly technological world.
As technology continues to advance rapidly, the machines we use are getting smarter. Machine learning is the technology of constructing “learning” algorithms that drive a broad range of smart technologies — and the new generation of this discipline, called deep learning, has the potential to power more advanced artificial intelligence capable of everything from sophisticated speech and image recognition, to self-driving cars.
What is deep learning?
Deep learning, also called deep structured learning or hierarchical learning, is a type of machine learning that uses high-level data abstractions, nonlinear transformations, and layered cascades applied to learning representations of data, in order to help machines “learn” tasks through observations and examples.
Algorithms with deep learning applied are often inspired by communication patterns found in neuroscience — the study of the human nervous system. For example, a deep learning algorithm might be based on the relationship between a stimulus and a neural response, which registers as electrical activity in the brain. This type of machine learning attempts to create neural networks for machines that “think” in ways similar to humans.
Following are a few of the applications currently being developed with deep learning algorithms.
Automatic speech recognition
Technologies such as Apple’s Siri are built on machine learning algorithms that work to recognize speech, including words and sounds. Deep learning has led to the advancement of automatic speech recognition using the TIMIT data set — a limited-sample database using 630 speakers and eight major American English dialects, each with 10 different spoken sentences — to large vocabulary speech recognition through DNN models that rely on deep learning algorithms.
Deep learning differentiates from other forms of machine learning through the use of raw features at a learning level, rather than pre-constructed models. With deep learning, speech recognition can be highly accurate using the true “raw” form of speech — waveforms, or visual representations of sounds using curves.
Similar to speech recognition, a limited size data set called the MNIST database has been the popular model for powering image recognition applications. This database includes 60,000 training examples and 10,000 test examples, composed of handwritten digits. However, MNIST relies on shallow machine learning for image recognition — and deep learning allows for more large-scale image recognition at a higher accuracy rate.
One practical example of deep learning algorithms applied to image recognition can be found in the automotive industry. A car computer trained with deep learning may enable cars to process and interpret 360-degree camera views, allowing for heightened “awareness” in self-driving or assisted-driving vehicles.
Many in the tech industry view deep learning as a strong step toward realizing truer artificial intelligence. In 2013, Google hired three DNN researchers tasked with not only dealing with the search engine giant’s constantly growing stores of data, but also to improve Google’s existing machine learning products, such as semantic role labeling and search results.
Facebook has also created an artificial intelligence lab, largely dedicated to the development of deep learning techniques that will improve the user experience. Automatic image tagging was developed in Facebook’s AI lab — a technology that is still being refined for greater accuracy using deep learning.
As machine learning continues to increase in sophistication, more companies will look to hire IT professionals interested in developing deep learning algorithms and improved artificial intelligence applications. Machine learning is an exciting field with a wide range of possibilities ahead.
Making the right hiring decisions the first time is crucial to the success of your organization. If you hire someone who’s not suitable for the position, you’ll typically end up losing significant time and money — simply by having to start the hiring process all over again. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management finds that the average cost of a bad hire is five times the amount of the salary for that position.
This includes hiring the right IT and engineering contractors. Recruiting top IT talent is a major challenge, especially considering that there is no guaranteed recruiting roadmap you can use for every open position. However, you can increase your hiring success rate by knowing where to go in order to find the best candidates.
The following resources will help you source and retain top IT and engineering candidates, so you can hire the right person for the job.
Your job description
The job posting you provide for open positions is one of the biggest and most effective tools you have for successful recruiting. The job description is usually the first thing candidates will read about your company — so make sure it’s clear, concise, and candidate-focused, with an emphasis on how working for you will benefit the job seeker.
Once you have a great job description, make it easily accessible to a wide pool of candidates by posting it on:
- Your company’s website
- Popular job boards, such as Monster and CareerBuilder
- Niche IT job boards like TechCareers, Dice, 37Signals, and FlexJobs
Social media has become a very common tool for both employers and job seekers to connect, network, and find the best matches between professionals and careers. In addition to helping you get the word out about your open job positions, social platforms also give you the opportunity to communicate your employer brand, and attract the best talent to your open positions.
Build your social media presence on:
- LinkedIn: The largest business-oriented social network in the world offers a wide range of tools and features for employers, recruiters, and job candidates
- Facebook: Still a highly effective platform for making connections, Facebook gives you an opportunity to showcase your employer brand and interact closely with potential candidates
- Twitter: This fast-moving network can help you gain a broader reach and quickly spread the word about your job opportunities
The recruitment process is a complex and time-intensive undertaking. In fact, recruiting the best talent is a full-time job by itself. If you’re struggling to devote the necessary time and resources to recruiting top candidates, there are third parties whose sole function is to recruit, screen, and interview candidates according to the needs of your organization. These include:
- Staffing agencies and firms
- Recruiters (both contingent and retained)
- Executive search firms
- Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firms
Many of these third-party organizations specialize in sourcing IT talent, and have an existing pool of highly qualified candidates to choose from.
While recruiting is a nuanced and time-intensive process, there are many ways you can leverage your own contacts in order to locate top IT and engineering candidates. Within your HR department, some of the available resources can include:
- Resume databases
- Internal databases of past candidates and contractors you’ve worked with previously
- Referrals from existing employees
You can also reach out through personal connections using resources such as online user groups and alumni groups, business schools and technical institutes, or professional networking contacts. Finally, look for talented candidates by getting involved with IT forums or programming competitions on sites like HackerRank, InterviewStreet, and GitHub.
Just as technology is constantly evolving, so is the complex IT job market. Knowing the latest hiring, salary, and industry trends can help IT professionals navigate the tech job industry, and be prepared to advance their careers with upcoming opportunities.
The recently released 2015 Modis Salary Guide for Tech Professionals reveals very promising news for tech professionals in the near future, with a look at the overall tech job market as well as the hottest IT careers over the next few years. Here’s what IT pros can look forward to for in-demand jobs with great salaries.
The IT jobs market at a glance
Overall, tech job continue to show rapid growth across multiple sectors. The report from Modis projects that while other industries will experience 10.8 percent employment growth by 2022, IT jobs are expected to show 18 percent growth in the same time period.
In the United States, 685,000 new tech jobs are projected to be added by 2022.
Most in-demand IT jobs
The IT job market is generally growing across all areas, but some sectors are hotter than others. Here are the tech careers that will be the most in demand — and some of the highest paid — over the next few years:
Analysts: Systems analysts jobs are expected to grow 25 percent by 2022. An example of the projected salary in this sector is Business Data Analyst II (mid-level), with a salary range of $55,376 to $86,535, and an average salary of $70,453.
Health IT: The value of the health IT sector is expected to reach $56.7 billion by 2017. Some of the most in-demand jobs for this sector include:
- Revenue cycle analyst (salary range $36,892 - $71,829; average salary $51,930)
- Clinical systems analyst (salary range $64,927 - $101,154; average salary $82,454)
- Clinical informaticist (salary range $42,282 - $74,147; average salary $55,728)
Database development, administration, and business intelligence: With big data becoming a must for many businesses, database and analyst related jobs are projected to show a 15 percent growth by 2022. Positions in high demand include:
- Data scientist (salary range $79,285 - $138,281; average salary $109,260)
- Database administrator (salary range $81,497 - $129,993; average salary $107,130)
- Business intelligence specialist (salary range $88,930 - $137,534; average salary $110,197)
Programming and software engineering: These positions are constantly in demand, and developer jobs are expected to show 22 percent growth by 2022. Some of the top positions for this sector include:
- Applications engineer, entry level (salary range $45,069 - $80,665; average salary $59,355)
- Applications engineer, advanced (salary range $86,819 - $156,118; average salary $122,627)
- Programmer III, mid-level (salary range $71,616 - $111,422; average salary $90,528)
- Software engineer II, mid-level (salary range $62,811 - $96,472; average salary $78,410)
- .NET developer (salary range $55,689 - $95,556; average salary $75,995)
Project management: This area has a growth forecast of 15 percent by 2022. Anticipated salaries for project managers include:
- IT project manager I, entry (salary range $51,173 - $101,266; average salary $76,282)
- IT project manager III, senior (salary range $81,603 - $129,987; average salary $107,203)
Security: Another area that is always in demand, the growth forecast for security and security analyst jobs is robust at 37 percent by 2022. Some of the most sought-after IT security jobs will include:
- Security administrator (salary range $50,812 - $108,106; average salary $74,917)
- Systems security analyst (salary range $62,102 - $111,026; average salary $84,941)
- Data security manager (salary range $91,305 - $157,778; average salary $115,415)
Web development: High-end web developer positions are projected to grow 20 percent by 2022. The most popular positions in this sector include:
- Web application developer (salary range $52,462 - $84,613; average salary $66,212)
- Interface design director (average salary $129,421 - $179,701; average salary $155,669)
Devices that can create real objects from “thin air” may seem like a wishful vision of the future — or an episode of Star Trek — but this type of technology is already here. And while 3D printing can’t actually make objects materialize, the near magic of the process holds nearly endless possibilities, now and for the future.
How does 3D printing work? The answer isn’t straightforward, because there are several different types of 3D printing used to make myriad different objects. Here’s a look at the technologies behind 3D printing, and what’s already being done with these incredible devices.
A brief history of 3D printing
The process of 3D printing is an “additive” technology — a 3D printer creates objects by building up a great number of very thin layers to ultimately produce a whole. The first commercial 3D printer was invented in 1984 by Charles Hull. This early technology, which is still in use today, is based on the technique of stereolithography and uses UV laser beams to harden very thin layers of liquid photopolymer inside a vat. Once the object has been completely created, the excess liquid is drained and the object is cured.
This process, called vat polymerization, was carried over into other types of 3D printing technologies. Another common method is DLP projection, which solidifies object layers by cross-section instead of layers using a projector. A third type of liquid 3D printing, called material jetting or polyjet matrix, prints without a vat using an inkjet-style, multi-nozzle head to emit liquid photopolymer, and the layers are solidified with UV light.
More types of 3D printing
With similar characteristics to material jetting, the material extrusion category of 3D printer uses a computer-controlled print head to deposit semi-liquid material (usually heated thermoplastic), which is then hardened in layers. The most commonly used name for this type of 3D printing is fused deposition modeling (FDM), but there is an exact technology called FDM which is patented and trademarked by the inventor. Other names for material extrusion printing include thermoplastic extrusion, plastic jet printing (PJP), fused filament method (FFM), and fused filament fabrication (FFF).
While most 3D extrusion printers use the same type of material as traditional injection molding, some printers of this type have been designed to print objects using a wide range of materials — from edible printing like cheese and chocolate, to printers that can produce objects in concrete or synthetic stone.
The final broad category of 3D printers uses powdered material, which is selectively stuck together in layers with a type of glue called a binder. There are several different subcategories of 3D printers using powdered build material, including:
- Binder jetting: Also known as “inkjet powder printing,” this process emits the binder from an inkjet-style print head to adhere successive layers of powder. Gypsum-based composite is the most common powder used, and many of these systems can print with up to five colors at resolutions of up to 600 x 540 dpi.
- 3D sandcasting: In this process, a binder jetting printer is used to print a mold by spraying binder selectively onto sand. Molten liquid metal is poured into the sandcast, and the sand is simply broken away when the metal cools.
- Binder jetting metal printing: Similar to the gypsum-based powder process, these 3D printers create objects using metal powder, usually bronze or stainless steel. Each layer is dried with heating lamps, and the printed object is infused with additional powder in a kiln. The resulting object is 99.9 percent pure metal.
- Selective layer sintering (SLS): Combining layers of powder with laser hardening, this 3D printing technique can create objects from a broad range of powdered materials — including polystyrene, nylon, wax, ceramics, glass, aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and several alloy metals. When used to produce metal objects, the process is called direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).
Who uses 3D printing?
Currently, 3D printing is most commonly used in commercial applications. There is a broad range of commercial 3D printers available from several different companies, with costs ranging from ten to twenty thousand, to several hundred thousand dollars.
For the most part, commercial 3D printing is used to create prototypes and pre-production molds, but some companies are using these devices to individually create products for sale — a process known as direct digital manufacturing (DDM). Some of the products created with DDM include jewelry, fashion bags, designer sunglasses, furniture, lightning, and custom motorcycles. The dental industry has made highly practical use of 3D printing, with technology capable of producing custom crowns, bridges, and temporary teeth.
For individuals, there are a number of ways to use 3D printing. Online services like iMaterialize, Sculpteo, and Shapeways allow anyone to upload 3D computer models, and the designs are marketed online and printed when customers purchase them. There are also personal 3D printers available at varying levels of complexity, from full DIY kits to build a printer, to plug-and-play models that work with personal computers.
The future is bright with possibilities for 3D printing technology, in both personal and commercial use.