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Best Practices for Ensuring Project Implementation Success

“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.” Joy Gumz
And the Project Manager is that Engine Driver who has to keep this engine running smoothly while ensuring whole train is on track ! 
Project Manager while implementing a client project is responsible for client facing interaction and the complete client project life-cycle from requirements gathering through planning, implementation and installation into production. The role is multi-faceted, requiring a mixture of problem solving, communication, presentation, and management skills.
Project Implementation success depends largely upon vision. In a very real sense, the project manager is the fulcrum upon which the various components of a given project are balanced, so an individual in this position must be able to see the big picture, recognize priorities and hone his or her ability to communicate effectively.
To keep your projects running smoothly and on schedule, look to the best practices by implementing these five secrets to project management success:
 
1 – Develop a Rapport With Key Stakeholders
The first step to implementation management success begins with developing positive relationships and open communication among everyone who is contributing to the project. Project managers work with many highly skilled and talented professionals, and these individuals expect to be recognized for their expertise—both by the project leader and their fellow team members.
A good implementation manager will engage his or her entire team throughout each phase of the project, creating an environment that encourages cooperation and the sharing of ideas to arrive at the best possible solutions. Successful projects rely on teamwork and mutual respect among collaborators, and this is best achieved when he is regarded as a positive and supportive figure who fosters communicative and open working relationships.
 
2 – Face the client – Manage the team
To avoid confusions, ensure accurate requirement gathering and to keep all the cookies in same tray, it is important that client’s central point of contact is one person, designated project manager !
On any team, it is important for all members to understand their roles and responsibilities, and for the him to allow them to carry out their duties with minimal interference. If he attempts to control every aspect of the process, team members may feel as if their leader doesn’t trust them or doesn’t value their contributions. This can be detrimental to project management success. You don’t want to “micromanage” or get involved in the work of team members unnecessarily.
 
3 – Do Your Homework
While a project manager is not expected to have a comprehensive understanding of every specialty within the organization, the more you know, the better you’ll be able to lead. Project management success requires research and a working knowledge of industry best practices. Also, you can’t effectively lead your team members if you don’t have a clear understanding of what they do. Prior to the start of a project, learn everything you can about your team and what each person will be contributing to the project.
 
4 – Define Process And Follow The Defined Process
Implementation is carried out by defining processes as per the project scope and then follow the defined process ensuring the whole crew following the same guidelines. This avoids conflicts, defines work boundaries and let the team sail through smoothly. Also, in today’s technologically advanced project management environment, it’s critical to have an understanding of the different software and web-based applications available. Your solution should streamline your processes, save steps and help collaborators avoid duplication of effort. 
Implementation Manager is also responsible to make life easy for every stakeholder by defining the Acceptance Criteria at the initiation phase to ensure smooth project delivery and to secure a happy client at the end.  
 
5 – Enhance Your Expertise Through Continuing Education
The key to ongoing project management success is to ensure your knowledge and skills are as comprehensive and current as possible. The best way to achieve that is through professional education. By undertaking training that is relevant to your work, you’ll bring greater value to the organization, will explore and implement industry best practices and not to mention, while decorating your résumé of-course.

How to sell PRINCE2 training to your Organization

If you are looking to go on a PRINCE2 course and need to convince your boss why it’s in his/her interests to pay for you, then read on.
Does your organization run projects? It would be a strange organization if it didn’t, so I’m assuming the answer is yes. Are all your projects delivered on time, within budget and according to expectation? I am assuming the answer is no. That’s because most projects are either late, over budget, or don’t deliver what stakeholders expect from them. How much would your organization save, not just in terms of money, but in terms of resource time if your projects were more successful? The answer is quite a bit or a lot.
The fact of the matter is that more and more organizations are undertaking projects more regularly. However, the skills required to direct and manage such projects are very specific and are not normally ones which people are equipped with either at school or at university.
Furthermore, project management as a profession has gained in reputation in recent years, as the London 2012 Olympics came to town, and as TV series such as the BBC’s The Apprentice popularized project management. The oft-repeated mistakes by the contestants in the latter shows that project management skills are certainly in need of improvement in many cases. That’s where PRINCE2 comes in.
Here’s 10 reasons why attending a PRINCE2 course will help your organization:
1. Your boss can focus on the return on investment
If your boss is providing the money to fund your project, perhaps the most important decision he or she will need to take is to decide whether your project is worth investing in.
It might be that there’s a dozen other projects all competing for the same funds and resources. Your boss will need to understand therefore the benefits versus the costs, timescales and risks. The benefits would need to outweigh the other things for your project to be worthwhile. Built into the heart of PRINCE2 – in fact it’s one of its principles – is a belief that project decisions need to have an understanding of these things.
In other words there is a focus on the project benefits which helps to ensure the project gives value for money.
2. PRINCE2 can be used on any project
No matter how big or how small your project is, no matter what type of project it is, you can still use PRINCE2. That’s right – it can be used on all types and sizes of projects. The terminology used in PRINCE2 is very generic – there’s no industry-specific terminology.
3. PRINCE2 will save your boss’s time
Nobody likes to attend meetings, especially the boring progress-type meetings. Your boss is probably already extremely busy and when your next project starts, he or she is probably dreading the extra meetings required.
Well, the good news for your boss is that PRINCE2 recommends not having regular meetings between the project manager and project sponsor because the information about progress can be conveyed in reports. Applying PRINCE2 therefore will save your boss time.
4. It’s popular for a reason – it works
PRINCE2 is the world’s most popular project management framework. More people are certified in PRINCE2 than any other project management certification.
It’s widely practiced especially in the UK, but increasingly internationally. That’s in both the public and private sectors. Many international brands use PRINCE2 to help them manage their projects. The United Nations, Tesco, DHL, Rolls Royce, Barclays, BP, Skandia and Sun Microsystems are just a few examples.
There’s a good reason why these organizations use it – it’s a proven and effective method which works. It can work for your organization too.
5. You’ll gain from the experience of others
PRINCE2 is based upon modern best practices in project management. In other words, it was developed by some very experienced project managers, so you will benefit from their enormous experience. There’s no need for your organization to create its own project management method. Just apply PRINCE2 and tailor it to suit your organization’s needs accordingly.
6. You’ll learn a common vocabulary
If you study PRINCE2 with others from your organization, you’ll learn a common vocabulary which you can use on all your projects. This can help to make your project communications more efficient.
7. Continuous improvement
There’s an inbuilt mechanism in PRINCE2 to continuously improve your organization’s project management practices. It’s one of PRINCE2’s most important features. Over time, if you use PRINCE2 you will learn to make fewer mistakes and your projects will become more efficient. This will help save your organization time and money.
8. You can use PRINCE2 alongside other methods
If you work in the IT industry, the chances are that you will have heard of Agile. These are development methods recently designed to assist teams of software developers deliver software more efficiently. If your organization uses agile methods, they will work alongside PRINCE2. In fact the latest version of PRINCE2 was designed to work alongside such agile methods and fills many of the holes which exist with agile methods.
9. Clearly defined structure
PRINCE2 is very clear about which project management role is responsible and accountable and for what. You mean there’s a bunch of roles defined in PRINCE2, not just project manager? That’s right, there’s team manager role as well as project manager. There’s a support role and more senior roles too.
A great thing about PRINCE2 is that it specifically describes which role is responsible for taking which decisions and when. This can be of enormous benefit to your projects because it helps everyone understand who is responsible.
10. Clearly defined decision points
Every project has a beginning, a middle and an end. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone involved knows what decisions need to be taken and when? Well, if you go on a PRINCE2 course, this is one of the things that you’ll learn about. This means that when you plan your project you can plan the key dates when your boss will need to be involved in taking decisions.
So that concludes our 10 good reasons why attending a PRINCE2 course will help your organization.
Conclusion
In summary then, we’ve shown you in this article how PRINCE2 can be of benefit to your organization. The relatively small cost involved in you attending a PRINCE2 training course will be far outweighed by the benefits once you start to apply PRINCE2 on your projects.
So, don’t delay any longer. Book that meeting with your boss and explain to him how you think PRINCE2 is going to help him and your organization better manage its projects.

Innovation the key to long-term industry success.

Over the past months, the global oil and gas sector has experienced a number of widespread challenges. However, it’s at times like these that innovation becomes even more critical. Here, Denise Smiles, OMS’s CEO, discusses the pivotal role innovation and R&D plays within the company, as well as its importance to driving long-term economic success for the oil and gas industry.
In a recent article published by The Oil & Gas Journal, Erik Milito, API Upstream and Industry Operations Group Director at the American Petroleum Institute, wrote about the importance of innovation within the oil and gas industry. As well as associating continued progress to have “made the difference in allowing the industry to produce the oil and gas we rely on in our daily lives”, Milito presented innovation within the sector as a real-world case study of “how the nation can continue to make its general economy grow”.
Furthermore, he explains that R&D has “enabled companies to operate more closely together”, highlighting the offshore energy sector as “a perfect example of how innovation and standards development have combined to enhance the safety in operations”.
I thought the piece was interesting on a couple of levels. As well as being a glowing review of the sector’s continued progress, the article reflects a number of key values shared within our business. At OMS, we pride ourselves in leading the way when it comes to innovation, R&D processes and technological development – both for the oil and gas industry, as well as wider sectors. Working with clients worldwide, we specialise in providing precision measurement products and services to minimise project risk, reduce timescales, streamline processes, improve programme results and help reduce project capex.
Over the next two or three generations, the biggest driver for the oil and gas sector won’t be a fluctuating price point, but instead the question of efficiency and process improvement. Globally, there is only a finite amount of oil remaining and it is our duty to make sure that we are maximising the capability of the industry to extract as much of it as possible, in as efficient, sustainable and risk-free way as possible.
Innovation is therefore key – it has been central to the industry’s past success and will be to its future

5 Biggest Risks Faced By Oil And Gas Companies

Whenever an investor approaches a new industry, it is good to know what the risks are that a company in that sector must face to be successful. General risks apply to every stock, such as management risk, but there are also more concentrated risks that affect that specific industry. In this article, we’ll look at the biggest risks that oil and gas companies face.
 
Political Risk
The primary way that politics can affect oil is in the regulatory sense, but it’s not necessarily the only way. Typically, an oil and gas company is covered by a range of regulations that limit where, when and how extraction is done. This interpretation of laws and regulations can also differ from state to state. That said, political risk generally increases when oil and gas companies are working on deposits abroad.
Oil and gas companies tend to prefer countries with stable political systems and a history of granting and enforcing long-term leases. However, some companies simply go where the oil and gas is, even if a particular country doesn’t quite match their preferences. Numerous issues may arise from this, including sudden nationalization and/or shifting political winds that change the regulatory environment. Depending on what country the oil is being extracted from, the deal a company starts with is not always the deal it ends up with, as the government may change its mind after the capital is invested, in order to take more profit for itself.
Political risk can be obvious, such as developing in countries with an unstable dictatorship and a history of sudden nationalization – or more subtle – as found in nations that adjust foreign ownership rules to guarantee that domestic corporations gain an interest. An important approach that a company takes in mitigating this risk is careful analysis and building sustainable relationships with its international oil and gas partners, if it hopes to remain in there for the long run.
 
Geological Risk 
Many of the easy-to-get oil and gas is already tapped out, or in the process of being tapped out. Exploration has moved on to areas that involve drilling in less friendly environments – like on a platform in the middle of an undulating ocean. There is a wide variety of unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques that have helped squeeze out resources in areas where it would have otherwise been impossible.
Geological risk refers to both the difficulty of extraction and the possibility that the accessible reserves in any deposit will be smaller than estimated. Oil and gas geologists work hard to minimize geological risk by testing frequently, so it is rare that estimates are way off. In fact, they use the terms “proven,” “probable” and “possible” before reserve estimates, to express their level of confidence in the findings.
 
Price Risk
Beyond the geological risk, the price of oil and gas is the primary factor in deciding whether a reserve is economically feasible. Basically, the higher the geological barriers to easy extraction, the more price risk a given project faces. This is because unconventional extraction usually costs more than a vertical drill down to a deposit. This doesn’t mean that oil and gas companies automatically mothball a project that becomes unprofitable due to a price dip. Often, these projects can’t be quickly shut down and then restarted. Instead, O&G companies attempt to forecast the likely prices over the term of the project in order to decide whether to begin. Once a project has begun, price risk is a constant companion.
 
Supply and Demand Risks
Supply and demand shocks are a very real risk for oil and gas companies. As mentioned, operations take a lot of capital and time to get going, and they are not easy to mothball when prices go south, or ramp up when they go north. The uneven nature of production is part of what makes the price of oil and gas so volatile. Other economic factors also play into this, as financial crises and macroeconomic factors can dry up capital or otherwise affect the industry independently of the usual price risks.
 
Cost Risks
All of these preceding risks feed into the biggest of them all – operational costs. The more onerous the regulation and the more difficult the drill, the more expensive a project becomes. Couple this with uncertain prices due to worldwide production beyond any one company’s control, and you have some real cost concerns. This is not the end, however, as many oil and gas companies struggle to find and retain the qualified workers that they need during boom times, so payroll can quickly rise to add another cost to the overall picture. These costs, in turn, have made oil and gas a very capital-intensive industry, with fewer and fewer players all the time.
 
The Bottom Line
Oil and gas investing isn’t going anywhere. Despite the risks, there is still a very real demand for energy, and oil and gas fills part of that demand. Investors can still find rewards in oil and gas, but it helps to know the potential risks that go along with those potential rewards.

6 Manufacturing Trends for 2016

E-Commerce for Manufacturing
The Internet’s large-scale global penetration has spawned an increasingly large number of technology and web-savvy consumers, creating a huge opportunity for both industrial manufacturers and their end customers. Over the past decade, the application of e-commerce in manufacturing and industrial distribution, has evolved from basic communication and transaction channel between buyer and seller, to an end-to-end collaboration medium between all stakeholders. This collaboration is driven by companies looking to increase sales by offering online product recommendations and promotions, as well as end-customers seeking the rich and personalized online experience that many retail websites offer.
E-commerce is a way for manufacturers to experiment with new products without risking a significant investment. Instead of setting up brick-and-mortar stores, or keeping inventory on hand, you can start offering this new product on your new store.
Manufacturing Business Technology recently wrote the 5 e-commerce trends for 2016 for manufacturers to look at that include:
  • Manufacturers will seek to increase their share of aftermarket parts sales.
  • Manufacturers will seek custom (or specifically tailored) e-commerce solutions.
  • Manufacturers will integrate e-commerce systems with IoT (Internet of Things) initiatives.
  • Equipment manufacturers will require dealers to adopt modern parts management systems, and to integrate those systems with their own.
  • Manufacturers will sell more parts directly to consumers, even if it’s still through their dealer channel.
A recent report by Frost & Sullivan, “The Future of Parts and Service Retailing in the Automotive Aftermarket” , predicts that by 2025, 10 to 15 percent of all global parts sales will be made online. This trend will be seen in the Equipment Manufacturing sector as well, especially in international markets.
The hindrance for manufacturers in the past was having a system in place to handle opening up to multi-channel or even omnichannel sales. However, with the various supply chain systems manufacturers use, such as ERP, WMS, and TMS, the systems must all provide options to integrate together with such e-commerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, and others in order to take hold in 2016.
 
Advanced Analytics Continue to Get a Bigger Plate at the Manufacturing Dinner Table
Advanced analytics will be further involved in everyday manufacturing operations. The workplace will become more efficient and safer due to the digitalization of assets, known as digital manufacturing, which allows for digital design and even distributed manufacturing.
Manufacturers will be able to improve their inventory due to the information presented by both supply chain and operations data.
Logistics and Transportation Managers at manufacturers will have reports at their fingertips on how to continue to reduce transportation costs, a heavy portion of the expense budget, by leaning on data to continually improve.
Manufacturers are turning to advanced analytics to predict when a machine on the production floor is going to fail so they can perform preventative maintenance before a failure causes expensive unscheduled downtime.
These few areas of the application of advanced analytics are some of the applications by manufacturers. This article from Toolbox.com’s 4 other broad uses of advanced analytics for manufacturers:
Improving Quality
Databases and data storage improvements, complemented by easy-to-use, analytical software are the biggest changes when it comes improving the quality of a company’s products, says Studio B analyst David Gillman, author of the article.
Forecasting Demand
Understanding the changes in demand for their products enables manufacturers to better determine how to allocate their resources, according to Gillman. Predictive analytics help manufacturers forecast future sales based on past sales. “Good predictive analytics modelers find additional factors that influenced sales in the past and apply those factors into forecasted sales models,” he notes.
Maximizing Equipment Value
Manufacturing engineers spend a lot of their time ensuring their companies get the most value out of the equipment in their factories. Predictive analytics help them do this by automating much of the analysis processes so even people without high-level skills can perform various analyses, according to Gillman.
Increasing Equipment Uptime
Predictive analytics can also help manufacturing companies ensure that their production equipment keeps running by comparing past machine failures to sensor data from the machines to identify patterns before breakdowns occurs, Gillman says.
Having that information allows a manufacturer to perform the necessary maintenance on a machine in nonemergency conditions without having to shut down production.
 
The Role of Robotics
We have written quite extensively about the role of robotics in manufacturing as well as the impact on supply chain and logistics. The Role of Robotics in the list of manufacturing trends in 2016 cannot be understated or ignored. In fact, just today, in the MIT Technology Review, China is looking to retool their own manufacturing industry by heavily investing in robotics, stating:
China is laying the groundwork for a robot revolution by planning to automate the work currently done by millions of low-paid workers.
The government’s plan will be crucial to a broader effort to reform China’s economy while also meeting the ambitious production goals laid out in its latest economic blueprint, which aims to double per capita income by 2020 from 2016 levels with at least 6.5 percent annual growth. The success of this effort could, in turn, affect the vitality of the global economy.
Robotics have been in the manufacturing industry since the 1950s. Early industrial robots had limited “intelligence”, autonomy and operational degrees of freedom. They were mostly designed to perform one or two sets of repetitive tasks in a highly controlled environment. However, industrial robots are increasingly becoming more “intelligent” and versatile. In the future, they are expected to be capable of working without human intervention and take over most of the manufacturing processes.
According to the International Federation of Robotics:
In 2014, robot sales increased by 29% to 229,261 units, by far the highest level ever recorded for one year. Sales of industrial robots to all industries increased compared to 2013. The automotive parts suppliers and the electrical/electronics industry were the main drivers of the growth. China has considerably expanded its leading position as the biggest market with a share of 25% of the total supply in 2014.
Since 2010, the demand for industrial robots has accelerated considerably due to the ongoing trend toward automation and the continued innovative technical improvements of industrial robots. Between 2010 and 2014, the average robot sales increase was at 17% per year (CAGR). The number of robot installations had never increased so heavily before. Between 2005 and 2008, the average annual number of robots sold was about 115,000 units. Between 2010 and 2014, the number rose to about 171,000 units. This is an increase of about 48% and a clear sign of the significant rise in demand for industrial robots worldwide.
The IFR predicts double-digit growth in industrial robots worldwide between this year and the end of 2018, citing the following reasons why we are seeing such adoption of robotics:
Industry 4.0, linking the real-life factory with virtual reality, will play an increasingly important role in global manufacturing.
Human-robot collaboration will have a breakthrough in this period.
Simplification of the use of robots will open up huge potentials in all industries including small and medium-sized companies.
Global competition requires continued modernization of production facilities.
Energy-efficiency and using new materials, e.g. carbon-composites, require continued retooling of production.
Growing consumer markets require expansion of production capacities.
Decline in products? life cycle and an increase in the variety of products require flexible automation.
There is an increasing demand, particularly from manufacturers of electronics products such as smart phones, tablets etc., for  easy to use robots with limited applications and short life cycle that have a  low price, e.g. for simple assembly tasks which do not require high precision.
Continuous quality improvement requires sophisticated high tech robot systems.
Robots improve the quality of work by taking over dangerous, tedious and dirty jobs that are not possible or safe for humans to perform.
Between 2015 and 2018, it is estimated that about 1.3 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world.
 
The Industry Image of Dirty Factories Going Away
The use of Advanced Technologies such as application development, the internet of things, the increased use of robotics and also 3D Printing will take away the old perception that manufacturing is a dirty place to work where only boring, route, tedious jobs are available.
With an estimated skills gap in manufacturing estimated to be 2 million unfulfilled jobs by 2025, manufacturing companies will promote the use of such advanced technologies to bridge the skills gap and attract millennials and procure the talent that typically goes to Silicon Valley.
This is never more so true than the hilarious current commercial video series by General Electric about a young man recently out of college who says he got a job at GE, a long time American manufacturing company, as a software developer. Watch the YouTube video below of one of the commercials, and you’ll get the point about the historical image of manufacturing when the young man’s parents gift him a hammer upon hearing the news of his new job:
Further companies will partner with both local community colleges and large university to bridge the skills gap by developing STEM partnerships.
 
Security for Internal Peace of Mind and Customers’ Peace of Mind
As manufacturing moves further and further into the Internet of Things and increases the use of e-commerce as a sales channel, in order to prevent hacking of intellectual property and keep customers’ personal data secure, manufacturers will look to increase their investment in security for their networks. According to a recent report by Booz Allen about manufacturing trends in 2016 as it relates to security:
When a cyber-attack does occur, companies will also have to demonstrate a propensity for responding in a timely manner. Security must be enhanced during the design, production, sourcing, and distribution phases, and even after the purchase is made.
As we noted in the post, “Penetration Testing: Reasons Manufacturers and Businesses Need to Take This Key Network Security Step Now:”
The growth of the Industrial Internet of Things has increased the number of opportunities for hackers to try and steal some trade secrets and intellectual property through a coordinated series of attacks.
This very real threat to your business is why you should consider a rethink your security standards and look at how to start a penetration test.
Good penetration testing involves testing a company’s network to make sure that there are no threats that can break through the company or organization’s security. But, it also involves testing non-technical security threats, like social engineering.
 
Manufacturers Look towards Logistics Efficiency to Stay Competitive
Manufacturers will also continue to invest in logistics efficiency to keep up with competitors. This requires a more efficient factory floor space and time to ensure that manufacturers can expedite the delivery of their products. They will also work to provide updates and fixes to products almost immediately. To accomplish these fixes, companies will rely on customer feedback provided by product sensors and on social media and a sound reverse logistics strategy to handle returns seamlessly.
Manufacturers of all sizes, not just larger ones, will look to invest in logistics efficiency to not only include warehouse efficiency but as well as more investment in web-based tools such as a transportation management system to more efficiently process shipments and have more visibility and control in the supply chain.
These are just a few of the myriad of trends that are starting manufacturing right in the face for 2016 and beyond.

Reasons to get an ITIL Certification

ITIL is the most widely accepted foundation framework, a set of practices, used by companies to manage IT services. It provides the structure to manage and deliver different services so that users have a consistent experience. The ITIL practices help achieve good quality service and also helps overcome difficulties that may crop up in the development of IT systems.  Many international companies like the Microsoft, IBM, Caterpillar and Boeing among others, have benefited from the successful implementation of ITIL in their IT service management.
Through the use of the ITIL Service Lifecycle, the framework helps organizations transform and adapt to the changing economic climate and the market place. This helps with implementation of further improvements to practices that are oriented at achieving high levels of business performance.
A good knowledge of the ITIL basics is therefore going to help the entire team working with ITIL. The need is so much so that more organizations are providing on-site training on implementing the ITIL framework and in some cases also sponsor employees’ ITIL certification journey.
 
The ITIL Certification Path
There are four levels to the ITIL certification:
  • ITIL Foundation – offers a basic look at the fundamentals of ITIL and gives those new to the concept, the information they need to understand everything the ITIL entails
  • ITIL Intermediate – details the five primary ITIL framework phases
  • ITIL Expert – gives more advanced students a look into the finer details of the ITIL structure
  • ITIL Master – shows that the certified person is able to take the ITIL phases and implement them into a real-world framework

 

Organizational Benefits
With ITIL, organizations are assured of the following benefits, resulting in heavy demand for certificed ITIL professionals:
  • Increased productivity
  • Greater customer satisfaction through a professional approach to
  • Right use of skills and experience
  • Improved Return over Investment (ROI) in IT
  • Reduced service cost by better and efficient utilization of resources
  • Prevents redundancy of the work conducted
  • Provides better third party services by improvising on the uses of available skills and expertise
  • Identifies weak areas and further offers solutions to strengthen it
  • With an increasing number of IT professionals getting an ITIL certification, organizations are able to save on training and L&D costs
  • Increased staff retention
  • Greater visibility of IT costs and assets
  • Why You Should Consider Certification
ITIL is a globally recognized set of best practices that finds implementation in the IT Services Management, in many organizations. And as is, there isn’t a dearth of ITIL qualified professionals in the IT arena. This adds on as a benefit for organizations as increased availability in ITIL qualified professionals translates to cost reduction on training and successful implementation of the framework.
Thus, getting certified in the different levels of ITIL gives you the edge over the rest of the competitors seeking the same role as you are, or rather as Neil Wilson, an ITIL expert states: it’s a foot in the door, and it gets you on the shortlist!
 
Benefits of being ITIL Certified
#1: Better Pay
As with other certifications, a certification facilitates a pay-rise and promotion to higher tier roles and positions. Payscale.com’s report on ITIL-skilled professionals in the US states that certified ITIL program managers earn an average salary of $119,248 a year, which makes ITIL experts among the highest-paid professionals in the IT industry. As per the report, certified IT architects can earn anywhere between $86,062 and $131,247.
#2: Skills Honed
Three main features of ITIL contribute to the growing demand and popularity of this framework across international organizations. They are:
a stable foundation or IT environment that the set of practices help achieve
keeping up with changing technological demands by constantly evolving and
yet being able to provide the reliability through maximizing the value of  new technological strategies.
With that said, it is evident that IT departments will need implementation of this framework at a greater scale. Furthermore, ITIL framework is simply a set of techniques and procedures that have been proven successful and effective than others. Gaining knowledge in the framework, will make the professional makes work easier and helps you accomplish tasks in cheaper, faster and easier ways; and also produce better results. This in turn makes employees as strong assets to organizations and professionals to be sought-after in the job market.
#3: Familiarity with ITSM’s Common Language
While getting onto the certification training, professionals tend to get familiarized with the terms, phrases and methods of conveying information that are common norms among IT professionals. This acts as a strong differentiator that identifies certified professionals from the non-certified. Using the right terms not only means that you can communicate the right idea to your team, but also saves up a lot of time and on wrongly directed functions/processes.
While on the preparation journey to the ITIL certification examinations, candidates will also find that access to preparatory materials is quite easy – there is a wealth of online study guides, practice books, and mobile apps that can help you with every level of the certification process. This eases their path to being certified.
#4: Growing Demand for ITIL Certified Professionals
ITIL is closely tied to the ISO/IEC 20000 standards, suggesting the framework’s popularity isn’t going to drop any time soon. Also, with a little over 800 organizations being ISO/IEC 20000 certified, demand for ITIL professionals continues to remain very high.
Professionals with the certification stand a good chance as being recognized as potential employees to roles that demand ITIL knowledge. The demand is especially high in the field of incident management, process management, service management, release management and ITSM related project management roles. Underlining the certification’s importance, ITIL has also been ranked among the top 15 highest-paying certifications for 2015 by a number of researchers on the web.
#5: Paves the Road to Better Roles and Organizations
With the number of acclaimed organizations implementing ITIL being large, the certification gives that edge to candidates to be chosen for the best jobs in the job market in ITSM arena. Also, certified candidates can make their choice of organizations and roles, rather than waste precious years of their career on roles that are a poor fit to their profiles. It is to be noted in relation to the previous statement that certified professionals no longer have to wait for recruiters to short-list them for a prospective role, but instead choose their desired role and organization.
#6: Global Implementation
As a certified ITIL, if you decide you want to move abroad, you won’t have to change jobs. There are over 10,000 companies and organizations world-wide that have adopted the ITIL framework. If you prefer to stay in the country, you can check to see if the companies you want to work for have adopted the framework. Even companies that would traditionally not be pegged as ITIL-implementers, such as Disney, utilize the framework.
In concrete terms, what this translates to is – no shortage of job opportunities for a certified ITIL professional!
The benefits that come with this demanded certification are thus plenty and with the growing demand of the framework itself, the certification is setting that essential requirement factor among employers and recruiters, to primarily filter-out certified professionals who get translated as candidates of assured potential. Being certified in the different levels of the ITIL certification, helps professionals in all levels of the IT sphere – from help desk workers to IT Directors. Hence, being certified helps fast-tracking your progress in the IT career-ladder. With a couple of years laden in professional experience and a couple of ITIL certifications in hand, one is bound for higher altitudes in their IT career.

 

Technology lights the way for quantum computing

Researchers at Tyndall National Institute develop scalable, electrically driven photon sources to drive powerful quantum technologies

 
Quantum computing is heralded as the next revolution in terms of global computing. Google, Intel and IBM are just some of the big names investing millions currently in the field of quantum computing which will enable faster, more efficient computing required to power the requirements of our future computing needs.
Now a researcher and his team at Tyndall National Institute in Cork have made a ‘quantum leap’ by developing a technical step that could enable the use of quantum computers sooner than expected.
Conventional digital computing uses ‘on-off’ switches, but quantum computing looks to harness quantum state of matters — such as entangled photons of light or multiple states of atoms — to encode information. In theory, this can lead to much faster and more powerful computer processing, but the technology to underpin quantum computing is currently difficult to develop at scale.
Researchers at Tyndall have taken a step forward by making quantum dot light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that can produce entangled photons (whose actions are linked), theoretically enabling their use to encode information in quantum computing.
This is not the first time that LEDs have been made that can produce entangled photons, but the methods and materials described in the new paper have important implications for the future of quantum technologies, explains researcher Dr Emanuele Pelucchi, Head of Epitaxy and Physics of Nanostructures and a member of the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) at Tyndall National Institute in Cork.
“The new development here is that we have engineered a scalable array of electrically driven quantum dots using easily-sourced materials and conventional semiconductor fabrication technologies, and our method allows you to direct the position of these sources of entangled photons,” he says.
“Being able to control the positions of the quantum dots and to build them at scale are key factors to underpin more widespread use of quantum computing technologies as they develop.”
The Tyndall technology uses nanotechnology to electrify arrays of the pyramid-shaped quantum dots so they produce entangled photons. “We exploit intrinsic nanoscale properties of the whole “pyramidal” structure, in particular, an engineered self-assembled vertical quantum wire, which selectively injects current into the vicinity of a quantum dot,” explains Dr Pelucchi.
“The reported results are an important step towards the realisation of integrated quantum photonic circuits designed for quantum information processing tasks, where thousands or more sources would function in unison.”
“It is exciting to see how research at Tyndall continues to break new ground, particularly in relation to this development in quantum computing. The significant breakthrough by Dr Pelucchi advances our understanding of how to harness the opportunity and power of quantum computing and undoubtedly accelerates progress in this field internationally. Photonics innovations by the IPIC team at Tyndall are being commercialised across a number sectors and as a result, we are directly driving global innovation through our investment, talent and research in this area,” said Dr Kieran Drain, CEO at Tyndall National Institute.

How technology will transform banking in 2016: Blockchain, digital challengers and IoT

Banks will come under increased pressure from tech giants
It is no secret that a major concern for the big banks is having their lunch eaten by the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon. And we can expect these internet behemoths to build on their consumer relationships and make further inroads into payments next year.
Apple launched its Apple Pay mobile payments service this year, and others such as Samsung are set to move into the market with similar offerings too. While Barclays has its own wallet, Pingit, it will be interesting to see if other banks attempt to stake a claim in this market too, or leave it to the big tech firms.
“A concern that the banks have is the arrival of big ecosystems that will replace them, so Google, Facebook, Apple, etc,” says Alessandro Hatami, former digital payments and innovation director at UK bank Lloyds.
“These are customer-based. The customers are already users of these environments. If they start pushing financial services to their own customer bases, these ecosystems can potentially take customers away from the banks.” 
Philippe Gelis, CEO of P2P currency exchange Kantox adds: “These tech giants are unlikely to ever become banks, but they are best placed to build user friendly front-end tech solutions that answer to consumer demands for seamless payments and financial services.”
 
Digital challenger banks will ramp up competition on incumbent UK lenders
It may appear unlikely that one of the new challenger banks that have emerged this year will spell the end for the big UK banks, especially when considering the slow uptake of the account switching service launched in 2013.
But by building their offerings around digital services from the get-go, the likes of Starling, Mondo, Atom and – more recently – Tandem, offer an intriguing alternative that could reshape the banking landscape.
2016 will shed some light on whether these upstart challengers can steal a move on some of the incumbents as they continue to focus on improving legacy infrastructure.
 
Emergence of blockchain and bitcoin ‘unicorns’
Blockchain – the distributed ledger technology underpinning bitcoin cryptocurrencies – generated huge interest in 2015 and it is likely to continue in 2016 as adoption broadens.
Many banks are already investigating how they can utilise blockchain applications within their business, while IT vendors such as Microsoft are helping them create real use cases. At the same time, a growing ecosystem of startups are pushing the technology, which many believe has uses outside finance too.
According to Jeremy Millar, partner at Magister Advisors, M&A advisors to the technology industry, next year will see the emergence of at least five bitcoin and blockchain businesses with a valuation of more than $1 billion.
“These valuations will be built on the opportunity of selling products and services into the largest and most profitable industry in the world, not on subsidising consumer services to drive adoption or building audiences to monetise with advertising. 
“These new companies will have real lasting value; they’re not creatures from a fairy tale that will fade away when their valuations, which are based, appropriately enough, on leaps of the imagination, drop.”
 
Finance sector will reap benefits of the internet of things   
Financial services may not be the first sector which springs to mind when discussing the internet of things. But as this Deloitte report points out, the explosion of internet connected devices will provide better data for decision making.  
Auto insurance telematics and ‘smart’ commercial real estate building-management systems offer some of the more obvious examples. But using sensors monitoring the activity of agricultural or manufacturing industries could help inform investing or lending decisions.
Mike Laven, CEO of Currency Cloud, says this will provide opportunity for new players in the market.
“When IoT crosses with finance, we suddenly get an explosion of data. It starts to get interesting when it comes to figuring out how to use that to great effect – and more specifically how to monetise the use of that data is something new fintech entrepreneurs will be looking to figure out in the New Year.”
 
Banks will push wearables apps
While some banks had tested out wearbles apps on smartwatches before, the launch of the Apple Watch convinced more to get on board.
Nevertheless, applications remain limited. Balazs Vinnai, general manager, Digital Channels, Misys, says that it is not a lack of consumer interest that is holding banks back from further investments in this area. “Banks continue to face challenges with their digital strategies so it is no surprise only a small percentage currently support wearables.”
A recent report from the fintech firm claimed that while 96 percent of banking professionals polled believe that wearable tech will impact their industry, only 15 percent are currently rolling out their own. However, the majority expect to have done so within the next two to three years.
“It is critical for banks to consider new digital channels as part of an integrated strategy and evolve from first to second generation digital banking: switching digital from a supporting role, to the primary sales and communication channel for banks,” says Vinnai. “Reengineering processes around the customer is not easy, but banks must embrace digital banking to remain competitive and relevant.”

 

THE SECRET OF AN EFFECTIVE ELEARNING COURSE

Self-paced eLearning is in high demand on the worldwide market. According to studies, the market reached $46.9 billion in 2015 [Resource]. Millions of people around the world choose distant courses over traditional ones, but the problem is that not all the courses existing on the market are qualitative, well-designed and structured.
Frequently students waste money on the information they can easily find on the Internet.
 
The design and development of a qualitative and not least an effective eLearning course is a complex process that requires careful data gathering, audience analysis, planning and constant corrections of mistakes.
 
 
How to create such courses? The secret is unveiled!
 
Join the list of people to get our free project management (PMP or PRINCE2) training. Click here to register now.

 

Smooth Navigation
  • Designing the course remember about carefully placed navigation buttons (play, next, previous, pause, replay), informational icons and home page link.
  • Avoid any distracting elements whether that be irrelevant images, illogical learning paths or outbound links that lead the user away from the course. A learner nowadays is easily distracted that is why there shouldn’t be anything preventing them from studying.
  • Introduce understandable course logic.
  • Write clear headlines.
  • Provide guidelines not to let a user get stuck.
  • Explain specific terms.
  • Stick to the same design and navigation icons location through the course.
 
Well Designed Course
Provide each course slide with the title reflecting its main idea. One slide=one idea.
Once you’ve determined the main course objective follow it through the course (the course objective should be S.M.A.R.T).
The course should have a clear description of outlined course goals. Before taking the course a student should know what to expect and what benefits they get from the course completion. (More on the topic Instructional Design Explained – Interview with George Joeckel).
Estimated workload.
 
Audience Analysis
 Remember that not all students have equal opportunities.
Apply different learning styles, personalize the learning and center it on the student.
Create courses that allow practicing analytics skills and creativity.
 
Course Interactivity and Students’ Engagement
Plain text – the last thing your course needs to possess. Long texts are difficult for comprehension and should be avoided. By adding interactivity to the courses, you help learners to go through the learning, practice and put knowledge to use. (More on the topic Learning Snacks or 4 Keys to Engage Today’s Learner).
To make the course interactive and engaging:
  • Apply gamification mechanism (According to Ambient research, game-based learning is expected to grow from $1.5 billion in 2012 to $2.3 billion in 2017).
  • Use real-life scenarios and simulations to allow users to improve real life performances.
  • Apply storytelling technique. People memorize stories better than bare facts and by adding stories into an eLearning course you add meaning to the data you want your learners to take a mental note of.
  • Practice collaborative learning. Create social communities to let users learn from one another, share experiences and knowledge.
  • Diversify the course with visual elements. The fact that visual information is processed by our brain 60 000 times faster than ordinary text leads to all-round usage of visual content in eLearning design. Animation, photos, images, infographics, videos and other types of visual content can be widely used to create appealing and engaging eLearning courses.
  • Give rewards to increase students’ motivation.
  • Link course activities to their prior knowledge.
 
Assessment and Feedback:
Extensive feedback features and reports, provided by most Learning Management Systems, give tons of information per analysis and clarify what goes wrong, why the course doesn’t bring an expected result and/or a student falls behind.
 
Correctly Chosen Education Tools: 
When you choose an authoring tool or a Learning Management System pay attention to the functionality they provide, modernity and user-friendliness of interface, mobile adaptability.

Join the list of people to get our free project management (PMP or PRINCE2) training. Click here to register now. 

Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment

Change management is in full-force across all industries, yet many leaders are unprepared to act upon and operationalize the requirements for change to avoid business disruption. For many organizations, preparedness begins at the top and this means that leadership – across all levels – must have absolute clarity in purpose and focus; there also must be alignment in strategic philosophy and resolution goals.
Unfortunately, many organizations are slow to change as the internal politics makes it difficult to reach consensus across all levels of leadership – even when the necessity for change is urgent. This is why many companies unknowingly lose momentum as they fail to change fast enough — allowing the marketplace and competitors to pass them by.  The result: valuable time is misspent, resources applied and money invested without the required outcomes to stay competitive, keep clients satisfied and employees engaged.
It is imperative that an organization’s leaders have clarity and are in alignment with their responses to the following questions (as a result of their change management efforts):
  • What does success look like operationally and financially – and how does this benefit our employees and customers?
  • What is our mission trying to solve for the industry we serve  and how can we improve our ability to accomplish more than in the past –  so that the organization can remain competitive, become more profitable and/or achieve market leadership?
  • What resources and relationships are mandatory to accomplish our goals, achieve sustainable success and be significant in our industry?

It’s easy for leaders to say that they need to improve and invest in doing things better (either because the marketplace is telling them to or because they need to be proactive before circumstances force their hand).  The reality is that without strategy, change is merely substitution – not evolution.  Simply put, you can have an idea, but without the right strategy and execution of the idea, very little if any progress will be made.  When leaders fall into this trap, they are being irresponsible and their credibility suffers, their intentions come into question, and doubt begins to loom about their capabilities and know-how.

 

So what does clarity and alignment really mean?
Here is one example:  When leadership can break down the silos across functional/departmental areas in order to stimulate and operationalize diversity of thought. Through the cross-pollination of ideas and ideals the organization can be more collaborative and inspire innovative teams to solve problems and identify opportunities together – regardless of hierarchy or rank.
The clarity this example illustrates is that of a teamwork mentality, and without it nothing else matters.  This level of clarity breeds the expectation from every employee that only those willing to be a team player belong in the organization and fit the culture that is being created.  You can challenge each other and put your ideals to the test together– but acting in isolation with no respect for the team is not acceptable.
If you think about your own organization through this example, is everyone clear about the organization’s workplace culture?  Do they have the mindset and attitude that is expected from each employee and its leaders in support of its mission?  Many organizations lack clarity because there is misalignment within leadership that makes it difficult to clearly define expectations for all involved. This is why operational silos exist — forcing change management upon organizations and its employees.
It’s impossible to have clarity and alignment when the leadership teams within a company represent disjointed, disparate parts – rather than a convergence of intelligence and know-how that is in sync and strongly interconnected.
Change management is a challenge when leaders across the organization are not willing to share their intellectual capital for the betterment of a healthier whole.  In order words, leaders hold-on to the intelligence that has defined their success – perhaps indicating a hidden agenda – rather than share their success and insights with others to strengthen the intellectual capital foothold of the organization – so that it can more effectively grow and compete.
It is impossible to create an environment of clarity and alignment when transparency is missing from its leadership.  How can an organization be innovative and more competitive in the marketplace when protecting hidden agendas takes precedence over building momentum for the collective good in support of the mission?
This has historically been the case in the physician-led healthcare industry where leadership must now shift from a cottage industry to big business. Below is an example that illustrates the intellectual capital requirements for a medical institution seeking to best serve the growing number of Hispanic patients — accelerated even more by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
It is shocking to most medical institution executives that I’ve talked with that this amount of intellectual capital already exists – but not when you consider that historically there has not existed any clarity around the importance and benefits of serving Hispanic patients. As such, there has not existed any alignment amongst leaders within each major functional/departmental area. This is why the healthcare industry is not in a position to lead change management efforts to best serve the demographic shift – during a time when the demand for it is at an all-time high.
The aforementioned example explains why many organizations have difficulty aligning their internal brand (the perceived workplace environment) with their external brand (what customers expect from their products and/or services).  When the realities of both are not in alignment, it makes it difficult to sustain any real momentum and a positive reputation that matters to employees and clients.
This is why leaders must have clarity in purpose and focus and an alignment of strategic philosophy and resolution goals for their change management objectives. There must be a common language that guides execution, monitors progress and allows for course correction along the way. There must be a culture where leaders are willing to share all of their intellectual capital and everyone throughout the organization values teamwork and the urgency of breaking down silos. Above all, there must be a well thought-out, clearly defined and communicated strategy behind any change management effort – that’s where you can begin to show real leadership clarity and alignment.