Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Training & Development

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to training and development.

Google Docs CAN Be Helpful… If You Know What You’re Doing

Unless you live under a rock, have an extreme aversion to everything Google or despise cloud technology, you’re already aware of Google Docs. It’s the word processor component of the Google office suite that allows you to create, edit and store documents in the cloud. It doesn’t have the advanced and intelligent technology of MS Word to take its place but it can be a lifesaver in a variety of situations.

If you’re shaking your head right now and in complete denial that Google Docs has a place in your world, then it’s possible you just don’t understand it enough. From basic documents to styles to research, Docs has extensive capabilities and this infographic from WhoIsHostingThis will tell you all about them…

Google Docs Masterclass: The Infographic - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com

An Agile Cheat Sheet for Anyone

Cheat sheets are awesome! Those just getting into a particular field love them for quick notes and tips to get through projects. Experienced IT professionals love a good cheat sheet to pass along to those they train or for a simple reminder of some basics they don’t use every day.

The TDC has no shortage of cheat sheets. From Learning to Code to navigating LinkedIn and links to many other technology cheat sheets, when we find one, we share it. That’s why when this Agile cheat sheet came across our desk, we knew we had to get it out there. If you’re in an Agile environment, have any intention of working in one, or just want a few tips to organize your projects, then have a look at this great infographic from James Cannings of MMT Digital.

Professional Development Ideas for Independent Contractors

Of the many benefits that come with working for yourself as an IT contractor, having to worry about your own professional development is not one of them. Employees regularly get to rely on their employer to coordinate the training plans and classes that help them advance their career. Independent contractors are not so lucky.

Planning training and development is yet another IT contractor responsibility, above and beyond completing projects and serving clients. There are so many options and it can be hard just knowing where to start. Here are a few common areas for professional development and some suggestions on where to start.

Types of Professional Development

The term “Professional Development” is very broad and comes in all shapes and sizes. If you know you have to advance yourself somehow, then consider your current progress in any of these areas and prioritize what to do next:

  • Skills (New and Existing): When most of us think about training, we think about the core skills we use in our job. For example, a Developer may look into enhancing their knowledge in their preferred programming language or learning a new one. Start by understanding your industry and the trends of common skills your clients will be demanding, then decide what skills you need to build.
  • Certifications: If there’s any way to stand out to a client (and sometimes just qualify for a contract position) it’s to earn a relevant certification in your field. Though it may require you to sit through some courses on information you already know, certifications are important for IT contractors and will make you more competitive.
  • Soft Skills: Unless you’re swimming in certifications and have the best skills of anyone else in the market, you must have top-notch soft skills to compete. This includes time management, organization, email etiquette, meeting etiquette, emotional intelligence or conflict resolution, and a recent contractor quick poll revealed that most of your co-workers want you to have outstanding communication skills.
  • Industry Knowledge: As noted above, knowing what’s happening in your industry and the most in-demand requirements is crucial. In addition to knowing what skills to improve, you’ll also be able to plan for trends like upcoming opportunities with specific clients and job shortages in certain regions.

How Can IT Contractors Find Training Opportunities?

  • Enroll in a Class: The most obvious way to learn something new is to register for a class or workshop. This can be through your industry association, an online course or a local school. Completing a course provides you with something tangible for your resume; however, it’s also time consuming and can cost money.
  • Read: Read everything. Newspapers articles, magazines and books published by industry-leaders in your field are guaranteed to provide you with additional knowledge that will help you move forward. Also, don’t discount the social media posts by people you follow — there’s always something new to learn if you just look for it.
  • Network: Networking events — both online and offline — give you the opportunity to pick the brains of other professionals in your field. You’ll learn about best practices, trends and about more unique learning opportunities.
  • Ask Questions: Go a step beyond just networking and ask everyone questions. Your clients, recruiters, team members… everyone you come across can teach you something. A simple question such as “Why do you do it this way” or “What do you think of this” can open up a discussion and ultimately expand your mind to improve your work.

In conclusion, training and development is more than just enhancing your core skills and it does not have to be an expensive nor time consuming endeavor. While enrolling in classes will offer you the most tangible benefits, when you keep an open-mind and embrace all opportunities to learn, you will improve as a professional and ultimately enjoy more success.

Here’s a Look Inside Microsoft’s Hardware Lab

Whether you’re a PC or Mac person, nobody can dispute that Microsoft is a leader in creating both software and hardware. It’s a fascinating organization, well-known for dominating the operating system market with Windows and word processing with the entire Office suite. With so much success in software, why do they bother creating hardware? When they are, what processes do they go through and how do they ensure they’re always pushing the envelop in innovation?

This video from The Verge goes inside Microsoft’s hardware lab to answer those questions and learn more about how it developed the Surface Book. Stick to the end, and get a sneak peak into some of their upcoming technologies that might change the world.

Epic: The Best Way for IT Contractors to be Competitive in the Health Industry

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Should you become Epic certified? Given the increased demand in Canada and limited number of Canadian IT contractors with the certification — absolutely!

We are seeing a growing number of Epic implementations pop-up across healthcare facilities and academic medical centers with an increased demand for Epic consultants, especially ones that are Epic certified. But what exactly is Epic and why has it quickly become one of the largest providers of health information technology?

Epic Systems has a reputation as a technological leader allowing hospitals and health systems to access, organize, store, and share electronic medical records. The support functions of Epic’s applications are related to patient care, including registration and scheduling, clinical systems for doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, and other care providers, systems for lab technologists, pharmacists, and radiologists, and billing systems for insurers.

TechTarget says Epic Systems’ products and services integrate across a variety of settings and functions. Here are some of the company’s prominent products and services:

  • EpicCare, the core EHR product, is tailored for physicians and organizations and focuses on clinical care, decision support and streamlined processes.
  • MyChartprovides patient engagement features, including family health information.
  • Healthy Planetuses data interoperability to boost population health management efforts.
  • Revenue cycle managementsoftware helps handle patient claims and billing.
  • Tapestryaddresses managed care activities.
  • Mobile interfaces – including Haiku for smartphones, Canto for tablets and Limerick for the Apple Watch – aid patient care via mobile devices.

Epic states that 190 million people across the world use its technology. Meanwhile, Forbes has estimated that at least 40% of the U.S. population has medical data stored on an Epic electronic health record (EHR), and Epic’s clients include some of the biggest names in healthcare.

KLAS Research concluded in 2017 that Epic had the largest EHR market share in acute care hospitals at 25.8%. Epic’s top competitor, Cerner Corp., took 24.6% of the market, revealing the close tug of war between the two companies for customers.

There has been a lot of interest lately in the IT consulting industry around becoming an Epic consultant. The demand for these consultants is at an all-time high and Epic Systems’ success has proven that the demand will only increase.

One thing that all Epic consultants should consider is becoming Epic certified.

Epic certifications are highly valued by many organizations and can be the key to a successful career in the healthcare IT field. Epic Certified consultants are currently in high demand.

It is very difficult to become Epic certified, but extremely valuable once you receive it. A certification is awarded when Epic Systems has deemed you proficient within a given module.  If you are not directly employed by Epic then you will need sponsorship from a hospital going through an Epic implementation. Epic does not allow individuals to apply for ad hoc certification. The only other method of receiving Epic certification is to be hired directly by Epic Systems.

There are numerous different modules in which one can become certified, such as:

  • ASAP – Emergency Room
  • Beacon – Medical Oncology
  • Cadence – Scheduling and Tracking Patient Appointments
  • EpicCare Ambulatory/Inpatient: Clinical Documentation, Order Entry, E-Prescribing
  • Kaleidoscope – Ophthalmology
  • Cupid – Cardiology
  • OpTime/Anesthesia – Scheduling and Documentation for Surgical Procedures
  • Stork – Obstetrics
  • Prelude/ADT – Patient Registration System
  • Radiant – Radiology
  • Willow (Inpatient and/or Outpatient) – Pharmacy

Epic requires those who are working on an implementation to be certified. If sponsorship through the system you currently work for is not an option, you can try to get hired by an outside health system to become Epic certified. After completion of the training and a hands on mock implementation process you must pass a proficiency test in order to receive the certification. Note that the only location in which one can receive Epic certification is at Epic Systems headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.

One thing to keep in mind when looking to get certified is that the process takes varying amounts of time, depending on which module you are receiving certification for. As a result, certification timelines can be somewhat unpredictable.

We are now seeing implementation in Canada and a strong demand for Epic consultants in Ontario. In July 2017, Epic rolled out its first end-to-end implementation in Canada at Mackenzie Health, an Ontario-based health care provider that serves over 500,000 patients. Other Canadian facilities use parts of Epic’s family of software. For example, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario uses Epic for its patient portal. However, Mackenzie represents the first time a Canadian health care provider has installed the full gamut of Epic tools, covering everything from lab work to cardiology to scheduling.

If you’ve been looking for the “next big thing” to learn in order to remain competitive, Epic is it. It may take some extra work, but it will lead you to be one of the first and few to earn this certification in Canada, immediately making you more marketable to recruiters nation-wide.

Quick Poll Results: When should kids learn to code?

We may not have direct influence over the education and school curriculums taught in each of our provinces, but as an industry, we definitely have an opinion. Last month’s contractor quick poll asked IT professionals when they believe kids should start learning how to code. While the age ranges differ, the results below are clear. All technology experts agree that programming must be taught in school and the vast majority believe kids should already have an understanding of it before they reach high school.

What age did you start learning to code? Do you believe it helped influence your career choice? Would your career be better-off had you learned more of it in school?

Quick Poll Results: At what age should kids learn to code?

10 Steps to a Successful Project Kick-Off

Much like a football kickoff, the project kickoff is the most important part of a project. The success of a football game stems from a productive kickoff. Similarly, as a project manager, the tone you set at the beginning of a project can make or break you.

But don’t worry because Wrike has you covered with 10 steps to a successful project. With these steps you can nail your kickoff and your team can start the project on a positive and motivated note.

10 Steps to a Kickass Project Kickoff: A Checklist for Project Managers (#Infographic)
Infographic brought to you by Wrike

Contractor Quick Poll: When Should Kids Learn to Code?

Earlier this week we shared results of a HackerRanker survey of 40,000 developers. Among many interesting findings, it pointed out that the majority of developers started coding before the age of 20 and many while they were just kids. Others, however, didn’t start to learn until they were over 30.

IT professionals of all kinds are in high-demand and to ensure the top skills are available in Canada, it’s important we encourage training for such skills at any age. That means that a young child with an interest in technology should have access to expand their knowledge, and an adult looking to start a new career should have an easy avenue to learn more.

More than 2 years ago, David O’Brien, a Vice-President at Eagle, wrote a post here stating that Coding is the New Cursive.  He argued that it is now just as important, if not more important, for students to learn coding skills in school as it is for them to learn cursive writing. Would you agree and, if so, what age do you believe kids should start learning to code?

5 Reasons IT Contractors Should Learn Another Language

5 Reasons IT Contractors Should Learn Another LanguageCanada is a multilingual country. Aside from English and French as its two official languages, the extremely diverse culture means there are over 200 languages spoken in workplaces throughout all 13 provinces and territories. In fact, while a 2015 Workopolis study found that 60% of Canadians believe knowing multiple languages is essential, they were split between whether or not English and French are vital to the mix. Why, specifically should you care about learning a second (or third) language if you haven’t already? Here are just five reasons…

  1. There are More Job Opportunities
    The same Workopolis article that summarized the study above noted that 11% of their jobs published at the time required fluency in both English and French. At Eagle, we also regularly see this requirement, especially in areas like Ottawa/Gatineau — the National Capital Region where most Federal Government jobs require knowledge of both official languages — and Montreal, possibly the Canadian city with the largest English/French mixture (on top of the city’s multi-cultural mosaic).
  2. Your Resume is More Appealing to Recruiters
    Even without a specific job available, recruiters still hold resumes that state bilingualism a little closer. That’s because they’re well-aware that they have clients who value the skill and the many benefits that come with it (see below for more of those benefits). If you want to jump to the top of a recruiter’s list, add fluency in multiple languages to your skills (and be able to back it up).
  3. It’s a Differentiator
    Not just when comparing resumes, but when comparing multiple candidates throughout the entire job search process, being bilingual is often a distinct differentiator against your competitors. There will be situations when you come to the end of a client interview and the hiring manager must decide between you an equally qualified IT contractor. Knowing that extra language may push you to the top and get you the job.
  4. You Will Build Better Relationships
    The Canadian IT industry has a reputation of being diverse as professionals come from around the world to work here. There is no way that you will learn every language that all of your co-workers know; however, just having empathy for the complexities of languages and communication barriers will work wonders in how you interact and build relationships with your peers. In addition to building stronger teams, you will also form better relationships than your competitors with recruiters and clients.
  5. You Become an Overall Better Worker
    You may not know it, but in general, people who know multiple languages perform better at work. As we touched on in the previous point, having the empathy and understanding of another language naturally allows you to view different perspectives, even your perception of time.  In addition, studies have shown that people who are multilingual are better equipped to process information and are better at multitasking.

If you’re reading and understanding this post, then it’s clear you already know English. Do you know any other languages? If so, do you believe it has helped your career thus far or has potential to open more doors in the future? Please share your experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear everything from the benefits, the challenges and the techniques you’ve used to improve your language skills.

The Myths and Realities about Scrum

There are numerous misconceptions about our industry, including these common independent contractor myths and realities in Canada outlined by Eagle’s co-founder, Kevin Dee, in a 2015 blog post. With so many misunderstandings by people who are not involved in IT project work, we should at least be striving to ensure that everybody within the industry is on the same page and have their information straight.

This is what Mishkin Berteig of Berteig Consulting set out to do when he created a series of videos debunking the many Scrum myths he has come across as a Certified Scrum Trainer and Scrum Expert. Below is the first video in that series which explains why, contrary to what some may believe, the SrumMaster is not a Project Manager.