Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Training & Development

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

Be the Hero Through a Technology Crisis

Sometimes, things go horribly, horribly wrong. We’re not talking “running out of Nutella” wrong or “my keyboard only types É instead of ?” kind of wrong. This post is about the type of crisis where a bug or error causes so much panic within the organization that productivity freezes, clients can’t be served and people start describing it the worse disaster in the company’s history.

When crisis strikes, you can either freeze and contribute nothing or work with the team to bring everything back on track as quickly as possible. Depending on your position, it may be up to you to lead that team through the crisis. Are you up for the task? If not, have a look at this quick video with some tips for getting through the turmoil (we recommend looking now, rather than waiting until disaster strikes). Take these ideas and understand your own strengths and weaknesses, then develop a plan to ensure you’re ready to step up and be the hero.

Summary: Enhancing Canada’s Critical Infrastructure Resilience to Insider Risk

Enhancing Canada’s Critical Infrastructure Resilience to Insider RiskEarlier this year, the Canadian Government released a document to provide Canadian critical infrastructure organizations information on how to mitigate insider risk. It defines insider risk as “anyone with knowledge or access to an organization’s infrastructure (both physical and computer networks) who maliciously, or by chance, misuses their trusted access to harm the organization’s employees, customers, assets, reputation or interests. As defined by Carnegie Mellon’s CERT Insider Threat Centre (CERT Inside Threat Center, 2016), an insider risk is a person that works from within an organization to subvert the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information contained within the walls of that entity.”

Given security risks are relevant for all technology professionals in all industries, it is a good document to read through and understand. If you can’t look at it immediately, here is a summary of the eight recommended security actions, divided into three themes:

Theme 1: Establish a Holistic Approach to Security

  1. Establish a Culture of Security
    1. Establish Senior Management Engagement and Accountability
    2. Identify a Senior Official Responsible for Managing Insider Risks
    3. Build a Whole-of-Organization Commitment to Security and Emphasize Leadership at All Levels
  2. Develop Clear Security Policies and Procedures
    1. Define Clear Expectations and Outcomes (ex. account access management, password control and integrity, access rights, etc.)
    2. Identify Risk Levels of Positions in the Organization
    3. Align Employee Access with Position Risk Levels
  3. Reduce Risks from Partners and Third Party Providers
    1. Understand Key Assets and Systems
    2. Know Your Partners
    3. Know Your Risks

Theme 2: Know and Empower Your People

  1. Implement a Personnel Screening Life-Cycle
    1. Conduct Pre-employment Screening
    2. Implement Ongoing Employee Security Screening
    3. Incorporate Departure and Internal Movement Procedures
    4. Establish Transparent Security Policies
  2. Provide Training, Raise Awareness, and Conduct Exercises
    1. Provide Regular Training to Decrease the Risk of Unintended Security Infractions
    2. Raise Awareness of Potential Warning Signs (ex. alcohol abuse, changes in financial situation, absenteeism, etc.)
    3. Foster a Culture of Vigilance and Empower Employees

Theme 3: Identify and Protect what is Critical

  1. Identify Critical Assets and Protect Them
    1. Identify and Rank Key Assets and Systems
    2. Secure Key Assets and Systems
    3. Leverage Signage and Visible Deterrents to Access
    4. Apply the Principle of Least Privilege
    5. Separate Duties
  2. Monitor, Respond to, and Mitigate Unusual Behaviour
    1. Track Remote Access and Monitor Device Endpoints
    2. Establish Effective Incident Reporting, Tracking, and Response Measures
    3. Raise Awareness of best practices regarding the use of Social Networking Sites
  3. Protect Your Data
    1. Establish and Test Business Continuity Plans and Procedures
    2. Implement Procedures to Limit Information Exit Points

Requirements Management for Dummies

Project teams come in all shapes and sizes and budget sometimes constrains how many professionals can be hired. It is not uncommon for people to wear many hats especially in small organizations. This means the project may lack a dedicated, experienced Business Analyst with skillsets that include Requirements Management. Instead, the task could land on you!

Once you’ve been through a few projects, you begin to understand the Requirements Management process but do you understand all of the little details? This infographic from Business Analyst Learnings outlines the steps to managing requirements in an IT project and if you click-through to the original page, it presents even more details. Is there any advice you can add to this, based on your own business analysis experiences?

Infographic: How to Management Requirements Effectively

Here’s Why Python is the Programming Language to Learn in 2019

In the 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, Python was deemed the 4th most popular programming language, 2nd most loved, 1st most wanted, and made the list of the top 20 paying technologies. If you’re an experienced developer or technology professional, you don’t need to be sold on Python, you already know its benefits and have decided if/where it fits into your skillset. If you’re new to the development field and are starting to plan your career, then take a few minutes to watch this video from Programming with Mosh. It gives an overview of Python and the many applications it can have to nearly any type of business.

Help Your Clients Run Better Meetings with This Infographic

How many of the meetings you recently attended were 100% productive and 0% waste of time? If you answered all of them, you’re either a dirty liar or the most fortunate IT contractor in the world.

Meetings are a necessary evil when working on technology projects. Afterall, teams must get together to collaborate, exchange ideas and update on progress. Surely you can make those meetings more productive, though. According to this infographic created by CBTS, ineffective meetings cost the U.S. economy up to $283 billion each year, with ineffective communication being one of the major culprits. The infographic goes on to describe technologies that hurt communication in meetings and suggests tech that will help make the most of your meetings.

If you’re looking to bring suggestions to your client so they can be more respectful of everyone’s time and increase efficiency, this infographic is a great start.

Learn to master meetings with the right technology

IT and Computer Science — What’s the Difference (and which is right for you?)

Although sometimes used interchangeably, IT and Computer Science are two different career paths, specifically when starting your education. As this infographic put together by Rasmussen College points out, IT is “the application of computer programs to solve business processes. An employee in this industry will likely interact with others — whether in person or via phone or email — while helping solve technological problems.” On the other hand, they define Computer Science as “the processes of creating usable computer programs and applications and the theories behind those processes. An employee in this industry will likely be doing a lot of independent work applying complex algorithms and writing code.

If you’re already an experienced technology professional, these labels are nothing more than just that, labels. When you and your clients have a clear understanding of your job description and your specialty, the title is near irrelevant. If you know a teenager or aspiring technology professional looking to define their path; however, then this infographic is worth sharing. It explains the opportunities and experience required for each field, helping to get one step closer in a difficult decision.

IT and Computer Science -- What's the Difference (and which is right for you?)

Why Software Projects Fail (and what you can do about it)

Why Software Projects Fail (and what you can do about it)IT professionals, project managers and software developers accept that failure is a natural part of innovation. In fact, a survey published a couple years ago by Geneca found that 75% of software projects will fail. That’s a high number!

While accepting failure is a natural part of a successful IT organization’s culture, leaders also have to be aware that some failure is preventable and comes with high costs. This is one reason they hire IT contractors — experts in their field that should minimize the risk on a project. As great as that is for your ability to hike your rate a bit, it also puts more pressure on you.

Thomas Smale, founder of FE International, recently published an article for Entrepreneur that discusses 6 common reasons a software project fails. Have a look to see if there are any ideas you can bring back to your client next time you’re called in to help make a project successful:

  1. Insufficient time to complete the project
    This is usually caused by companies having unrealistic and arbitrary deadlines because they’re in a rush to get the project completed. It is suggested to do enough planning upfront that will give developers all of the scope and parameters to work most efficiently.
  2. Inadequate planning
    Speaking of planning, that’s the second overall reason projects fail according to Smale. Lack of time, staff, resources and budget all can cause things to go wrong. He recommends senior management stay involved from start to finish so if inevitable change happens during the project, sign-off is quick, informed, and easy.
  3. Unclear project requirements
    Again, planning becomes a keyword, but this time, enough upfront conversation among all users so developers have a clear understanding about what they need to do.
  4. Too many people assigned to the project
    Logically, more help should speed things up, but Smale cautions that it can result in failure. On top of higher costs, there are more opportunities for misunderstandings, unclear communications, or inconsistent code.
  5. Lack of testing
    As time starts to slip (usually due to lack of planning), testing can be the first casualty, resulting in broken features, crashes or security breaches. It is instead suggested to test each component as it is completed throughout the entire development lifecycle.
  6. Failure to find a good project manager
    If you’re Project Manager, you have probably have experience entering into a broken project. This may be due to an incompetent consultant or because the company assigned the task to an internal person without the experience. It’s important to recognize the early signs of poor project management so it can be rectified before the project goes completely sideways.

As you read through the 6 points above, it should come as no surprise to you that failure to plan is a root cause of many software project disasters. Therefore, understanding a client’s plan (or if they have one at all) is always encouraged before a project begins and a quality question to ask your recruiter. What kind of software project failures have you seen?

The Connections Between Gaming and IT Contracting

Since the original Atari hit living rooms more than 40 years ago, gaming has been a way-of-life for millions of people around the world. While at one-point video games were known as time-wasters for youth and burn-outs, modern games have transformed far beyond the 8-world adventure that was Super Mario Bros. Today, people of all ages from all backgrounds game and there are proven benefits for young people as they develop and adults as they build careers.

The Critical Skills Youth Can Build from Video Games

The Connections Between Gaming and IT ContractingA recent Globe & Mail article highlights a study by a University of British Columbia economist, Nicole Fortin, that found a correlation between video games and higher math scores among teenagers. Fortin saw that video games are not only a strong predictor of future careers in finance, computer science or STEM (areas forecast to dominate the job market), but they also benefit students with attention deficit issues. In a separate Psychology Today article, Peter Gray, ph.D, agreed there are career and personal benefits to young people playing video games — cognitively, creatively, motivationally, emotionally and socially.

The rising popularity in video games has also given way for the eSports trend. In the same way that schools and recreational groups have competitive sports teams, many implemented eSports teams for kids to compete in video games, and it’s a huge thing! According to Teched Up Teacher, nearly 500 colleges in the United States support eSports at the club level and, even in Montreal, a high school launched a specialized eSports program streamed specifically for aspiring pro-gamers.

Students benefit from eSports for all the same reasons they gain a brighter future participating in sports and other extracurricular activities. The game skills themselves are just a small piece, as they also build team, social, emotional, and time management skills. Even those not playing the game participate by managing social media, casting games, and overseeing the team’s Twitch account.

How Video Games Can Help Your IT Career Today

The benefits of gaming extend beyond building skills of our future leaders. In fact, plenty of research and experiences point to IT professionals’ careers advancing as a result of this hobby. Dev.to published an article this past January with compelling arguments for a number of skills that can be improved through gaming. The nature of the most popular games requires one to communicate with people around the world, work together, and solve problems as a team, all while under pressure. This results in improved soft skills like communication, leadership, alertness, decision-making, stress management, and strategy.

So, bragging about your gaming hobby might just be something that progressive recruiters will find attractive. A study at Missouri University of Science and Technology looked specifically at World of Warcraft gamers and discovered they share improved traits of extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Furthermore, gamers are more likely to have computer-mediated communication skills and technology-readiness skills. Essentially, the study found that the more achievements you have unlocked in a game, the more technology savvy you are in real life.

There continues to be different views on whether or not gaming truly does improve the skills of an IT professional or if being a gamer is a sign of a skilled worker. Just read through this extensive Quora discussion, which is filled with mixed opinions. Some IT hiring managers say they specifically look for gaming in an applicant’s profile, where other very skilled developers believe it to be a complete waste of time.

Are you a gamer? If so, do you believe it helps in your career and builds the skills needed to serve your clients? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments below.

Be More Successful by Knowing These Business Communication Styles

Solid communication skills are imperative for any professional to succeed and are required through the entire process of being an independent contractor — searching for jobs, sending emails, working with different people, explaining complex ideas — you get the idea. We need solid communication abilities if we want to succeed at anything.

Everybody gets their ideas across differently and interprets messages based on how they think. According to this infographic by Nextiva, there are four different communication styles — Analytical, Functional, Personal and Intuitive — and there are optimal ways to communicate with each. Take a few minutes to better understand your style, as well as those of the people you deal with on a regular basis, including clients, colleagues, recruiters and family.

Be More Successful by Knowing These Business Communication Styles

Should You Pay for a Coding Bootcamp?

Perhaps more than any other trade, the IT space provides some of the most fast-paced change and biggest challenges in keeping up with the latest technologies and skills. Independent IT contractors have even bigger challenges because taking time to learn those skills means they cannot be making money, adding to the cost of professional development.

Coding bootcamps are a popular method of building new skills and, according to Switchup, have been appearing in major Canadian cities since 2013, backed by mega-companies such as Shopify, Salesforce and Cisco Systems. Coding bootcamps are certainly a popular option for skills development, but are they the right option for you?

This infographic from CodingNomads breaks down the decision into 8 questions. Bootcamps are far from free, nor are they always efficient, so if you’re considering one, follow the map and remember to answer the questions honestly.

Should You Pay for a Coding Bootcamp?