Friday, December 30, 2011

How to Land a New Job in 2012

Whether it's rewriting your cover letter, reviewing the way you approach interviews, or rethinking what kind of job will make you happy, here are some tips for landing a new job in the new year. You'll hear from authors, career experts, career coaches, and even entrepreneurs.

Position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Create a professional blog and write insightful posts about industry trends and advice. Comment on other top blogs to increase your visibility within those communities. Join and participate in niche communities, such as LinkedIn groups related to your expertise and skills. Share relevant articles (and your own content) on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Not only will this help to develop your online presence, but you'll inadvertently network with people who might lead you to your next job opportunity.

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and employers.

Let a job find you. If you are a job seeker, you need to shift your focus. Instead of spending all of your time identifying jobs and applying, you should also think about how to help people who want to hire you, find you. Ramp up your networking efforts. A Jobvite study showed 89 percent of U.S. companies will use social networks for recruiting in 2012 and 73 percent of social hires are via LinkedIn. In its job-seeker survey, Jobvite found 78 percent of job seekers who credited their current job to social networking named Facebook as the key factor in landing their position and 42 percent mentioned Twitter. Ignore any of these key social networks at your own risk.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers.

Write a new cover letter. If you're still using a generic cover letter that simply summarizes your resume, you're missing out on one of the most effective ways to get an employer's attention. In 2012, throw out that old letter and start writing new ones for each job for which you apply. In this job market, you can't afford to squander an entire application page repeating what's on your resume. Instead, use your cover letter to provide information about how you're fit for the job; information that isn't available on your resume, such as personal traits, work habits, and why you're excited about the position. For instance, if you're applying for an accounting job that requires top-notch organizational skills, and you're so neurotically organized that you color-code your bills every month, most hiring managers would love to know that about you. And that's not something you'd ever put in your resume, but the cover letter is a perfect place for it.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues.

Bring questions to a job interview. When an interviewer asks you if you have any questions, make sure you do. And make sure they're good ones. Having smart questions will show an interviewer that you are discerning about the company for which you work, that you have prepared for the interview, and that you're familiar with the company. Spend some time looking at company reviews online and reading the latest news about the company and about the industry overall. Possible question topics include: corporate culture, organizational structure, day-to-day responsibilities of the position, the company's standing in the industry, and the company's five-year plan.

Luke Roney is content manager for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace.

Follow up after an interview. If you are genuinely interested in the job after the interview, make a habit of sending a follow-up note of appreciation. While a thank-you note doesn't guarantee you'll get the job, it certainly won't hurt you. Not only is it a gesture of common courtesy, it's a perfect place for you to reiterate your interest and show the hiring manager why you are the right person for the job. It also gives you the chance to add a detail about your background that you may have not had the opportunity to explain in the interview or to just simply reinforce the connection. Sending a follow-up note via email is acceptable and quick, however, a hand-written note will set you apart from the competition.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs.

Create your own business. When you look at the history of business over the last 100 years, you will find that many of today's most successful companies started in the 1930s—the same decade as the Great Depression. The fact is, innovation and business growth comes out of downed economies because entrepreneurs are problem solvers (and there are certainly enough problems to be solved in times such as these). We are in the age of the entrepreneur. The new economy has forever changed the social norms of yesteryear, so 2012 is as good a time as any to join the entrepreneurial revolution. So break free of the resume life, start something small that can grow organically with hard work and undying passion, and make it in this world on your own.

Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council and co-founder of Gen Y Capital Partners.

Article by Ben Baden for Money Careers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What is cloud computing and is it right for me?

The term “cloud computing” is everywhere these days. It’s not a new phenomenon, but rather it is continuing to evolve.

The simplest, nontechnical definition of cloud computing is using an Internet browser to access software applications over the Internet. People who use Facebook, LinkedIn, or free email services are using a form of cloud computing.

The recent surge in popularity in cloud computing is driven by the fact that businesses do not need to make a large capital investment in servers or licensing fees. In other words, the future of computing becomes subscription-based, and not ownership-based.
Like any type of business evaluation, the simplicity of subscribing to computer services has both advantages and disadvantages. Cloud computing for contractors can range from easy to complicated, depending on numerous variables.

The important thing to consider has nothing to do with technology. Instead, the starting point in the evaluation begins with how a firm conducts business operations. Companies can embrace cloud computing by understanding the five major components surrounding cloud-based technology. Those are:

1. Operational/functional standards
Every contractor has both standard business needs and unique operational functions. For example, we all need standard business functions such as email, invoicing, check writing and general ledger activity. That’s the simple part.

But we all have more customized operations that might include quoting, timekeeping or unique reporting standards such as “board foot,” “gallons per minute” or “percent of completion.” One additional function for contractors to think about is mobility and how cloud computing will impact secure access to data in the field.

In other words, data is no longer in the office. It is sitting somewhere out in the “cloud.” How a contractor accesses, manages and utilizes that data will become the key in deciding when and how to use cloud computing in the business.

The important issue to understand before moving to the cloud is whether those established functions might change or even be eliminated. Moving to the cloud without conducting enough due diligence may result in a loss of control within the organization.

2. Cost
Most cloud computing solutions have a monthly subscription fee. That’s a huge advantage, because contractors no longer face large capital expenditures for hardware, software or licensing fees.

However, there may be hidden costs that are not obvious. Those costs could range from something as simple as data retrieval to something more significant like purchasing additional bandwidth to handle increased Internet traffic. Most information technology professionals agree that cloud computing will not be cheaper in the long run.

3. Security
A company’s most valuable business asset is its data. All of that data – such as invoices, drawings, spreadsheets, proposals, customer lists or email correspondence – is a critical, ongoing concern.
Admittedly, there are security risks when the infrastructure and data are managed in-house. But once that data is moved into the cloud, companies expose themselves to different forms of security risk.

Companies need to consider an entirely different approach to data security. If a firm deals with government agencies or HIPAA customers, this will add an even greater level of concern.
Knowing who has the keys to the kingdom is an important consideration when evaluating cloud solutions. It requires careful attention to make sure data does not end up in the wrong hands or subjected to a higher risk of hacker attacks or virus infections.

4. Service
When managers think of customer service, they might compare cloud-based solutions to “self-service” environments. That means service may be lower than the company needs.

Even as cloud solutions improve in speed and reliability, customer service will always be needed. It would be unrealistic to believe that cloud-based computing will eliminate end-user incidents or questions. Help desk issues will more than likely still exist after a shift to the cloud.

Understanding the level of service provided by vendors will be important. An IT adviser can help determine whether customer-service levels will be satisfactory.

5. Timeline
Time can change everything. There will be changes in cloud computing. Hopefully, risks will be mitigated and service levels will improve. But no one knows for sure how this trend will unfold.
The act of moving data and operations to the cloud does not need to be rushed, especially if investments have been made already in servers and licensing.

The best way to think about cloud computing is in the same way as a purchase of a large piece of business equipment. That usually begins with evaluating viable equipment, the features and benefits different vendors offer and what best suits operations.

Fortunately, there are qualified IT professionals who can help guide companies in the selection of a technology vendor that can match their operational needs. Technology is a tool that serves the contractor.

About the author:
David Murray is CEO of Convergence Networks. Contact him at 503-906-1539 or at

Avoid Conflict with Your Project Sponsor

Advance your career by engaging — and not enraging — project sponsors. 

Project sponsors provide financial and political support — but they might not always know the day-to-day details of how an initiative is faring.

A key role of project managers is to monitor constraints. More often than not, they know better than anyone what’s best for the project.

To minimize conflict (and the negative effects on their career), project managers should define their roles and responsibilities at the outset. It must be clear who is responsible for making what decisions.

“Projects resemble an hourglass,” says David West, senior technical director at WSP Group, an engineering consultancy in London, England, and author of Project Sponsorship: An Essential Guide for Those Sponsoring Projects Within Their Organizations.

“The bottom half of the hourglass is the project team of consultants, designers and contractors who will deliver the project,” he explains.

“The top half of the hourglass is the organization investing in the project and all the parts of the organization that will be affected by or influence the project. At the neck of the hourglass, back to back, stand the project sponsor and project manager, the sponsor managing the top half and the project manager running the bottom half.”

Speak the sponsor’s language, suggests Kiron D. Bondale, PMP, director of the corporate project management office at Agricorp in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

“Sponsors may not be project management specialists, so it behooves the project manager to effectively explain the rationale behind certain recommendations,” he says.
Talk in plain terms about time and money so the sponsor can make informed decisions based on the business case.
“If you need a decision made, you literally need to send a meeting invite that says, ‘Decision required: A, B or C — here are the implications of each,’” says Ken Hanley, author of Guerrilla Project Management and principal at KTH Program and Project Management Inc., a program and project management consultancy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Sponsors and project managers may not see eye-to-eye on certain decisions. Be prepared to argue your case with the sponsor on the issues within your domain, such as the delivery of the project.

“If the sponsor’s decision will send the project or business over a cliff, it is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that the sponsor and other decision-makers are aware of the risks they are taking and to try to provide them with sufficient analysis supporting the concerns raised,” Mr. Bondale adds.

Gaining support from others involved in the project doesn’t hurt, either.

“If there are peer-level stakeholders to the sponsor whom the sponsor respects and who support your view, you could engage their support in trying to sway the sponsor,” Mr. Bondale says.

When you do speak up to a project sponsor, you must do so tactfully. You don’t want to undermine them, but you must state your case. Have any potentially damaging conversations in private.

“Nobody likes being told they’re wrong in front of others,” Mr. West says. “If the project manager thinks the project sponsor is making an error, he or she should first try to understand what is causing this error.”

Although project managers have a responsibility to voice concerns, some sponsors might not want to consider another view. In the event of disagreements, be sure to document the issues with comprehensive written records.

“If the sponsor refuses to change their mind, it’s a good idea to document the decision and the alternatives — including yours — and get the sponsor to sign off on it,” Mr. Bondale says. “If the worst happens as a result of the decision, at least you have some evidence that alternatives were considered and the sponsor chose to continue down his preferred path.”

At the end of the day, you are the project lead. With a little tact and a lot of support, you can avoid doing any damage to your relationship with your sponsor — or your career.
Article shared from PMI:

How to effectively use a RACI matrix

In some instances, there can be confusion between project staff in relation to their duties and responsibilities. Therefore, before the start of a project, it is essential that each person involved in the project be given a clear idea about his or her role. RACI matrix is a tool, which has been used to delegate the roles and the responsibilities in order to avoid such confusion throughout the lifetime of a project.

RACI is an acronym used for representing the terms Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. In certain instances, there may be additional terms being incorporated and the acronym may change to RASCI (‘S’ stands for ‘support’), RACIO (‘O’ stands for ‘Out of the Loop’) and RACI-VS (‘V’ stands for ‘verify’ and ‘S’ stands for ‘signatory’).

In any event, many managers use RACI matrix in its basic form in order to achieve smooth functioning of their projects. However, before going into the matrix, one should clarify the terminology involved in RACI.

Responsible – It refers to the person who works to achieve the task. They will get the work done or make decisions related to its achievement. For a given task, there should only be only one person ‘responsible’.

Accountable – The person accountable would be the person who makes sure the task would be completed according to the requirements. For a given task, there should only be one person ‘accountable’.

Consulted – There can be several people in this category for a given task and these people will give information for successful completion of the task. The communication with such individuals would be ‘two way’.

Informed – These are the people whom should be kept informed regarding the progress of the task and usually the communication with such individuals would be ‘one way’.

When it is time to assign the roles and begin the project, it is vital to recognize the tasks at hand in achieving the intended outcomes of the project. At the same time, the project staff should also be recognized. Following this, in order to create the RACI matrix, a table should be prepared with the recognized tasks tabulated according to their ordeDrr of completion one after the other in the first column of the table. Next columns will belong to the project staff and one column will represent one person. Now, for each task, indicate who will be Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed by indicating the relevant letter for each task. However, it should be remembered that, for a single raw or for a single task there should only be one ‘responsible’ person and one ‘accountable’ person.

Finally, in order to create an effective and agreeable RACI matrix to all stakeholders, one should discuss it with the project staff during its creation before going ahead with its implementation.

About the author:
Dr. Pandula Siribaddana, graduated as an MBBS doctor from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo and currently working as a Lecturer in Medical Education in the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine in the same university. My interests are mainly on IT in Medical Education.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best Practices in Project Management - or Better Practices

Best practices in project management are tried and tested processes collected from experiences and lessons learned. They've been repeated and improved to produce consistent outcomes. They are documented as examples, baselines and measures.
Project managers who favor best practices and processes believe it's unnecessary to "reinvent the wheel." They believe using best practices in projects has many advantages:
Project managers have access to tools, techniques, metrics and templates to use on their projects at any time.
  1. Best practices provide consistency of expectation, activities and communication for the team.
  2. They're generally driven by values and results, and can improve customer confidence.
  3. Construction, infrastructure and power projects have best practices as industry norms to standardize quality, safety and other requirements.
Not everyone agrees with using best practices, however. Some argue against the blanket use of best practices because, frankly -- times change.

Best practices for projects from 10 to 20 years ago are outdated as technology and real time communications continue to evolve, for instance. More customers are aware of project management, resulting in changed expectations. And definitions of acceptability, constraints and assumptions may differ from the environment where these best practices originated.

I agree that we shouldn't reinvent the wheel. However, I do stress that the wheel should fit properly in order to fulfill its purpose.

Best practices are excellent if there is cooperation and consistency in an organization from top to bottom. Rigidly imposed processes that are unwanted and misunderstood cause problems and restrict new thinking.

Project managers should use best practices but they should build, fine-tune and improve them to fit an organization. Should best practices become better practices or best-fit practices so they become molded, enhanced and understood by the organization and the people who will benefit from them?

Article by Saira Karim for Voices on Project Management

The Advantages of becoming a Macro Manager

Richard Highsmith writes for PM Hut,

“When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: ‘Only stand out of my light.’ Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light.” - John W. Gardner

Shine the light on creativity. Let the creative process work. Clearly define the goals and objectives. Give your employees support and freedom to reach those goals and then get out of their light. In this environment, team members will feel empowered to create new ideas and find creative solutions to old problems. Potential roadblocks will be anticipated and alternative routes quickly planned. Allowing a free-flow approach to work produces powerful enterprise - not busy work.

A wise leader allows originality and creativity to flourish by focusing on goals and objectives - not the niggling details. Set the parameters and allow people to flex their innovation muscles. Remember, creativity comes willingly from team members who feel appreciated and valued. Inspire your team by being an openly supportive Macro Manager.

Read full article at:

About the author:
Richard Highsmith,, is President of Quality Team Building. He has twenty-five years experience training and coaching. He has built and sold two successful businesses. To learn more about becoming a team leader visit our website at or call Rick toll-free at 1-888-484-8326 X101.

What is Business Value

The term “business value” is bandied around a lot these days when talking about the benefits of Agile software delivery. Agilists argue that more business value can be achieved through Agile than through traditional methods such as Waterfall.

But, what exactly are they talking about when they say “business value”?

I would define business value as something which is of potential short, medium or long term benefit to the business by means of increasing customer happiness and/or ROI. It doesn’t necessarily pertain to revenue or profit, at least in the short term. Sometimes you’re just trying to build a user base of people who love your product before you think about monetizing it.

I would say you are more likely to deliver functionality that provides business value by working in an Agile way. One reason for this is that the time between someone having a marketable idea and that idea becoming part of functioning software is far shorter in an Agile project than a Waterfall project. In fact, in a Waterfall project marketable ideas do not really have the opportunity to come to the surface at all because all requirements and design are defined up front, and even if you push a change through the change request process it still could be months before the idea gets built and put in front of users.

In an Agile project users will get their hands on the product very early so will be able to provide lots of input into the product’s evolution, and this input can turn into software updates very quickly. Thus the chances of ending up with a product that no one uses are far lower.

In short, by building things incrementally and iteratively it is quicker and easier to identify emerging business value.

About the author:
Neil Killick is a highly skilled I.T. professional with 17 years of varied experience in England and Australia. His background is in Java/Web development, but his more recent experience has encompassed being a ScrumMaster, Iteration Manager, Senior Agile BA and Product Owner, as well as a Team Leader, Coach and Mentor in Agile or transitioning environments.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cloud, mobile, in-memory computing: Has SAP lost the plot?

SAP has not lost the plot. They are re-positioning.

Warwick Ashford writes in

SAP is betting on an innovation agenda to sustain its seven consecutive quarters of growth, but with all the attention on cloud, mobile and in-memory computing, is the business software maker in danger of moving too far from its core ERP business?

Innovation, was certainly a dominant theme at of SAP’s customer and partner event Sapphire in Madrid, but Jim Hagemann Snabe,  co-chief executive at SAP was at pains to emphasise that SAP is innovating at the core as well as in mobile, cloud and in-memory computing.
Snabe announced that innovation around the core ERP business suite is ramping up from a six-monthly cycle to once every quarter, saying there is momentum at the core with lots more innovation to come.
“SAP believes a company needs to understand and grow from its core, and our core and 39 years’ experience is in the ERP business suite,” he said.
Snabe said the core remains important as a base for all the innovation at SAP. “We will not abandon the core; by revitalising the core and ensuring consistency, we are able to innovate faster at the edge with mobile and cloud,” he said.
Driving the point home, Snabe said while SAP was innovating at the core as a basis for all other innovation, some competitors were tearing everything down and offering something new.
Read full article:
More about Warwick Ashford:
Warwick Ashford is chief reporter at Computer Weekly. He joined the CW team in June 2007 and is focused on IT security, business continuity, IT law and issues relating to regulation, compliance and governance. Before joining CW, he spent four years working in various roles including technology editor for ITWeb, an IT news publisher based in Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition to news and feature writing for ITWeb’s print publications, he was involved in liaising with sponsors of specialist news areas on the ITWeb site and developing new sponsorship opportunities. He came to IT journalism after three years as a course developer and technical writer for an IT training organisation and eight years working in radio news as a writer and presenter at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Monday, October 31, 2011

The SAAS development life-cycle

Cloud service development requires a different approach than the traditional software development lifecycle as the cloud provider becomes a critical success factor of the overall project. In a traditional software development setting, more emphasis is put on the functional aspects because it is deployed on an on-premise infrastructure with implicit security, compliance, control, operational transparency and perceived service level requirements. Another important factor is the cost of operations. It often takes back seat, especially in cost centers, due to the sunk cost and horizontal charge models. The main objective of this paper is to focus on the lifecycle aspects of SaaS service development and outline the motivation, inputs and deliverables of each activity for all the phases of the lifecycle. Cloud services can be built for internal consumption as well as for selling to external customers. The focus of this article is the cloud services built for external consumption as these require rigorous architecture practices to incorporate the service tenets necessary for a successful services business model. Even though the SaaS (Software as a Service) Development Lifecycle outlined here is scoped at external facing services, the process can easily be adopted to internal private cloud based applications that target internal users. It is clear that even enterprise IT departments have to start looking at themselves as Service Providers and act accordingly.

The SaaS Development Lifecycle (SaaSDLC) is an adaptation of the traditional iterative software development process with additional important phases added. These additional phases – Evaluation, Subscribing and Operations are less prominent and implicit for on-premise deployments. However, the activities during these phases become critical success factors for a SaaS development and deployment due to an externalized multi-tenant hosting environment. While the initial SaaS projects require more emphasis on the cloud provider evaluation, subscription acquisition and operationalizing the services, the subsequent SaaS efforts can leverage the know-how acquired previously thereby allowing the project teams to short circuit Evaluation and Subscribing phases. The IT Professional needs to be extra diligent in cloud platform provider evaluation, designing the deployment environment and setting up operational processes that integrate cloud providers processes and frameworks into the existing management and monitoring environment.

Read the full article at:

About the authors:

Hanu Kommalapati is a Senior Technical Director at Microsoft Corporation where he is the technical lead for Windows Azure and Cloud Computing for the U.S. subsidiary of Microsoft's Platform Evangelism organization. In this capacity he works spreading the word about Cloud Computing to Microsoft  customers, partners and community.
In the past he has held positions as Principal Platform Strategy Advisor and as an Architect for Microsoft. Previously he also held positions as a Principal Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

William H. Zack Is a Microsoft Principal Architect Evangelist who specializes in architecting, implementing and supporting both applications and computing infrastructures based on Microsoft Internet, Intranet, Client/Server and Cloud technologies. Over the past three year years Bill has been evangelizing Windows Azure and working with customers and partners to help them design, build and move applications to the Windows Azure Cloud Platform.