Project Calendars and Gantt Charts: What’s the difference and when to use them?

Project Calendars and Gantt Charts: What's the difference and when to use them?Project Managers use a number of tools to keep projects moving and deliver a solution to the client on time and on budget, with scheduling tools being one of the most important. While there are a variety of options, Wrike states that the two most common are traditional project calendars and Gantt charts. An article by Kat Boogaard says that the tools are similar and neither is necessarily better than the other; however, there are three distinct differences: appearance, usability, and function.

The difference in appearance is obvious — a project calendar looks like a traditional calendar where Gantt charts provide a visual representation of the project timeline. Naturally, then, usability follows as the next distinction since Gantt charts are less intuitive. Using a Gantt chart can create extra work in getting a team up-to-speed, especially when some are unfamiliar with the format. Function is the more complex difference, as Boogaard explains that each can have its own purpose. Here is what she recommends:

Use a Project Calendar When:

  • You only need an overview of key ideas: It’s easy to clearly notate things like go-live dates, meeting dates and crucial milestones.
  • You want something simple to share with other stakeholders: For example, the board of directors may just need to know a few select dates or the client might only have time to a quick glance for the crucial facts.
  • You need to schedule a meeting: Meetings are a necessary evil in projects but rarely displayed easily on a Gantt chart.

Use a Gantt Chart When:

  • You need to understand dependencies between tasks: It’s important to know what tasks will impact others for you to plan a realistic schedule.
  • You need to identify your project’s Critical Path: A traditional calendar simply can’t trace the longest line of dependent tasks. Gantt charts make it easier to know where you have wiggle room.
  • You need to manage multiple projects at once: Say good by to multiple calendars and layer different projects to get an understanding of how they overlap.

Again, the author highlights that neither of these tools are superior than the other, they just need to be used at the appropriate times. In fact, Boogaard suggests that they often complement one another and recommends using both. If you’re a Project Manager, which do you prefer to use? Or, when you’re working on any project, which do you prefer your PM shows to you?

It’s 2019. Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

There’s little such thing as privacy in this world. If you use the Internet and access any major technology platform, your data is almost definitely being captured in some form or another. How often do you think about what kind of information is out there and who has access to it?

Unless you’re extremely diligent, you can guarantee that at least one of the major players — Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Amazon or Microsoft — has some data on you. And this infographic from Security Baron tells you what they might have.

Even though the infographic isn’t even a year old yet, it already contains some outdated information (Google+ doesn’t exist anymore). Still, it remains an eye-opener and accurate on most fronts.

The Data Big Tech Companies Have On You - SecurityBaron.com - Infographic
By SecurityBaron.com

“Having a Great Week Does Not Start on Monday… It Starts Sunday Night!”

Sunday night. A night full of great weekend memories (or regret) and next week blues. Everyone’s heart drops at the reminder that in 12 hours they will be in their car, on the bus or on the train commuting to their office. Even if you are going to your dream job, it’s human nature to feel a bit reluctant to be a slave to the office hours.

Things might be stacked against you but if you are able to channel your productivity, there are 5 simple things you can — and should do — every Sunday night to make sure that you start your week on the right foot. Just watch this video from The Art of Improvement.

Quick Poll Results: What Soft Skills Will IT Contractors Improve?

Personal and professional development should be on everybody’s mind. Self-improvement is the best way to fast-track your career, gain fantastic references, and start applying to high-paying contracts without having to build as many years of experience. According to an article published by LinkedIn earlier this year, listing the most in-demand skills, there are over 50,000 professional skills in the world. It’s impossible to know where to start!

That same article summarized the top 5 soft skills that companies look for. In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked our readers, of those top skills, which ones do they plan to improve over the course of the next year. It’s promising to see that 80% plan to work on some sort of skill and, given the tech world’s fast-pace environment, no surprise that adapability is the top goal.

Quick Poll Results: Which of the following in-demand soft skills do you plan on improving in the next year?

Hiring Trend Stats… What the “Other Side” is Thinking

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

Eagle collects, compiles and analyzes labour market statistics on an ongoing basis. Keeping our finger on the pulse of market movements and trends is a full-time job. In these Talent Development Centre posts, we often share general data points on market demand and indicators that we feel would be directly pertinent to our contractor partners… after all, building value through education is the driving purpose of this blog site! I thought I’d take a bit of a detour on this post, sharing some ideas/statistics that we’ve collected that would typically be of value to the companies that hire contractors for their operations and projects. Sometimes there’s value to be found in reviewing what your customers are thinking about or are concerned with.

With that said, here are 5 research findings that reflect your customers’ intentions/beliefs/experiences:

1. The Challenges in Finding Tech Talent

The CompTIA IT Industry Outlook for 2019 showed that 50% of Canadian companies (and 53% of US companies) are finding it either more difficult or significantly more difficult to hire the Tech- People they need.

  • They are hiring to support company expansion (58%), for new skills (52%), and as replacements for departures (43%)
  • Top hiring challenges include: Finding workers with the skill/experience in emerging areas, Finding workers with the needed soft-skills, intense competition for tech talent, rising salary/rate expectations, and having a limited pool of available workers in their “local” region.

2. Discouraged from Using More Contract Workers

Per an Okta Digital Enterprise Report, the Top 5 reasons that discourage a company from using more contract workers include:

  • Security Concerns — over 40% of companies report having significant concerns that contractors increase the threat profile for their companies.
  • Efficiency Concerns — they are not set up to manage contractors effectively and doubt whether they can make proper use of contingent labour
  • Regulatory Concerns — both south of the border and here, in Canada, increasing government legislation/involvement are raising risk factors for businesses. It is increasingly challenging to stay on top of legal requirements and stay on-side of CRA expectations
  • Collaboration Concerns — related to efficiency concerns, about a third of companies surveyed aren’t convinced that they know how to manage contingent workers to the degree needed to ensure a successful engagement
  • Budget Concerns — IT departments are continually under pressure to “do more with less”. Over 30% sited this constraint as a limitation to using more contract workers despite having a robust project list

3. Sought-After Soft Skills

A survey completed by CareerBuilder in March of this year identifies the 3 most sought-after soft skills that they look for when completing their hiring – Team-Oriented Mindset, Attention to Detail, and Customer Service Orientation. Companies are taking on highly-complex undertakings such as “Digital Transformation”, Cloud, and ERP projects and these impact entire organizations, crossing boundaries between IT and other business units. As hard skills in brand-new areas are still relatively thin, soft skills have never been more important. In a LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report companies claim that, when looking at bad hires, they are 4X more likely to be a result of people lacking soft skills vs hard skills.

4. Remote Work Allowed by Industry

LinkedIn’s recent survey shows that Software and IT, Finance, and Corporate Services are most likely to allow/encourage remote working environments. Healthcare and Manufacturing were least likely. The companies surveyed believe that work flexibility (remote work) provide the following benefits (top 5):

  • Improves work-life balance
  • Encourages retention
  • Attracts candidates
  • Increases productivity
  • Expands the available talent pool.

5. Digital Transformation Projects Abound

Constellation Research completed a survey late last year to gauge companies’ readiness to implement their digital transformation plans. They found that an astounding 94% of respondents need to hire additional human capital to implement Digital Transformation solutions.

Chart by Constellation Research: Does your organizationhave the workforce talent it needs to implement successful digital transformation solutions

Themes in these 5 questions include such things as companies’ sensitivity to security/risk, applicants’ needs to demonstrate strong soft skills when applying, companies’ various internal and external challenges finding (and landing) the talent that they need, and the pervasiveness of digital transformation (however DT might be defined by companies surveyed). Perhaps these data points will provide you with some insights as to other non-skills-related experience that you may want to include in your discussions during interviews. The data points shared were common for the vast number of respondents and they are likely to be on the minds of your next interviewer as well!

Regional Job Market Update for Ottawa, Ontario (August 2019)

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Ottawa Job MarketWhile the Canadian economy shed over 24,000 jobs in July and the national unemployment rate edged up to 5.7% from 5.5%, the disappointment was not reflected in the Ottawa market (and let’s be sure to add context — these are still historically low rates of unemployment.)

The employment story in Ottawa for the same month was one of continued robustness, with the region adding 12,300 jobs in July, dropping the unemployment rate sharply from 5.6% in July to 4.8%. The local tech market along with the Federal Government continue to drive the market as both seek to fill positions in what is rapidly becoming one of the tightest technology talent markets in Canada. In fact, Shopify recently introduced an innovative program to attract “lapsed” developers, former developers who have taken more than two years off and are out of the market. The program will train them back up on the job — surely a sign of the times in an effort to attract talent.

With a pending Fall election, there is no doubt an expected slowdown in hiring, specifically net new IT projects with the Feds. That said, however, this summer has been one of the busiest experienced with numerous large RFP’s on the street and the Feds still forecasting to create 10,000 new jobs over the next 5 years.

TD Bank recently released a study that looks at the evolving inequality in the labour market as it relates specifically to technology and cities in Canada. We have asserted for some time that while the national unemployment rate is a healthy 5.2% to 5.9 % range, the “technology” unemployment rate is likely less than half that national rate at around 2.0% to 2.5%. The reality on the ground, however, is in major cities it is in fact closer to 0 per cent! The study shows that the 5 major centres in Canada of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa make up over 70% of the entire digital services employment in Canada, backing up the near 0% technology unemployment rate. With these kind of market forces in play, in cities like Ottawa, we can verify undoubtedly the scarcity of resources. It’s no surprise that Canada experienced the fastest clip in wage growth in a decade of 4.5%, up sharply again from 3.8% in June.

Recent global economic indicators have brought talk of a possible recession in the months and years ahead, as the long recovery cycle comes to an inevitable cooling off; however, it’s tough to fathom given the local technology market we see in Ottawa today.

In demand roles around the Ottawa tech job market this summer include Architects, IT Business Analysts, System Analysts, Programmers and Project Managers.

How Can Technology Help Us Sleep Better

It’s 2 AM and you’re awake although it’s way past your planned bedtime and you need to be up for work in less than six hours. So, why aren’t you sleeping? The reason is probably that you’re on your smartphone or laptop scrolling down on your social media pages or binge-watching a TV show and you can’t stop. If that, in fact, is the case, you shouldn’t worry. It’s happening to a lot of us really. Just in the last several years, around 60% of young people have admitted to having inadequate sleep.

The first notion that you can get from this is that technology is bad for your sleep, but this is not entirely true. Not all technology affects our sleeping patterns in a negative way. Some studies have actually shown that you can use technology to your own advantage, and that tech can be effectively used to help you sleep better. Here’s how.

Snoring

Around 30% of people in the world frequently experience snoring. While this doesn’t affect them much, it does affect other folks in the household, especially spouses whom they are sharing the bed with.

Since snoring usually occurs when we sleep on our backs, gadgets like Philips SmartSleep Snoring device detect this and encourage the user to change position. Other devices of this kind include the Hüpnos Snoring Mask and the Urgonight EEG Headband.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is also quite common and can be caused by weight, enlarged tonsils, smoking, drinking, and some other factors. Around 20% of people worldwide suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

Programs like SlumberBUMP try to accustom people to sleep on their sides, which solves this problem to a degree. BiPAP machine is very effective at treating patients with sleep apnea, and you also might want to try Theravent EPAP technology.

Insomnia

Insomnia, which is a medical term for having trouble falling asleep, can have many causes, the most common being physical or emotional discomfort, stress, extreme temperatures, light, and depression. Almost every third person complains about having insomnia.

Some medication can help you fall asleep faster, but there is also all kinds of technology that can work to your advantage. Sleepio is a system that detects your sleeping issues and optimizes your sleep routines. If the source of your insomnia is light, try the biological Good Night LED Bulbs that were originally developed for NASA astronauts.

Narcolepsy

While some people can’t get enough sleep, others get too much of it. Narcolepsy is a disorder of excessive sleep, and while it’s not common, it still affects one in every 2,000 Americans. There are different light gadgets that you can use to alleviate the symptoms of narcolepsy, like LED Skylights, Verilux HappyLight Deluxe, and Day-Light Sky.

Nightmares

We all have bad dreams from time to time, and occasionally we get those awful nightmares that scare us so much that we are afraid to fall back to sleep again. Nightmares can be caused by stress, anxiety, trauma, or other factors. While we cannot really control what we dream about, we can still use tech to avoid nightmares from happening.

One thing called the ReScript Treatment seems to be the most effective. It helps patients have greater control over their visual imagery by implementing the creative use of virtual reality. It’s sort of a training program that teaches you how to change what you see in your sleep to a more pleasing image.

Check out a visual of some solutions below and visit the original page for the complete infographic.

Solve Your Sleep Problems with Technology

Make Your Resume Pass a Recruiter’s 5-Second Scan

As though you are someone just passing them on the street, recruiters give you the quick up-and-down or pass by you all together. Like a bright shirt, there are tips and tricks to prompt recruiters to stop and give your resume a sufficient review.

Check out this video and make sure that your resume is wearing that bright shirt so it stands out from the crowd and demands to be noticed.

IT Industry News for July 2019

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on August 13th, 2019

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000-foot look at events in the ICT industry for July 2019. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of July in previous years …

Five years ago, in July 2014, there was plenty of M&A activity but no real blockbuster deals.  BlackBerry bought encryption company Secusmart GmbH; Oracle bought cloud services Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databasecompany TOA Technologies; Twitter bought a startup Madbits, a company that focusing on the media space; Yahoo also bought a startup Flurry in the mobile apps space; Teradata bought a couple of smaller “big data” companies, Hadapt and Revelytix; Apple bought a couple of smaller “books & podcast” companies Booklamp and Concept.io; Qualcomm bought education company EmpoweredU; and finally Nokia continue to rebuild after selling its devices and handsets business to Microsoft, this time buying Panasonic’s 3G and LTE base station operations division.

July 2015 saw no billion-dollar deals, but there was some activity with some big names out Microsoft logoshopping.  Microsoft made two acquisitions, paying $320 million for cloud security company Adallom and also picked up customer servicing software company FieldOne Systems. IBM picked up database as a service company Compose; Cisco paid $139 million for sales automation company MaintenanceNet; HP bought a cloud development platform Stackato; Blackberry bought AtHoc, a crisis communication tool; and DropBox bought messaging company Clementine.  Other acquisitions saw Cisco as a seller, with Technicolor paying $600 million for Cisco’s set top box division; Level 3 bought security firm Black Lotus; Amadeus bought travel software company Navitaire (a subsidiary of Accenture) for $830 million; eBay sold its enterprise unit for $925 million, having paid $2.4 billion for it four years ago.  In the continued blurring of the lines between technology companies and other industries, Capital One bank acquired design, development and marketing firm Monsoon.

In July 2016 Verizon made two multi-billion-dollar acquisitions.  The big name was Yahoo who they bought for $4.83 billion, but they also paid $2.4 billion for Fleetmatics who provide fleet and mobile workforce management services.  Oracle were also out spending big dollars, paying $9.3 billion for cloud-based ERP company, Netsuite. Now if those deals were not big enough, Softbank (like Verizon they have a large telco presence – formerly Vodafone) paid a whopping $32.2 billion for chip designer ARM Holdings. Also joining the July 2016 billion dollar club was security vendor Avast, who bought AVG for $1.3 billion. Other deals saw Salesforce pay $582 million for cloud based startup Quip; Google bought video company Anvato; Terradata bought training company Big Data Partnership; and Opentext bought analytics company Recommind.

July 2017 saw Cincinnati Bell buy Hawaiian Telcom Holdco for $650 million and OnX for Mitel Logo$201 million. Mitel paid $430 million for ShoreTel and bought Toshiba’s unified communications business. In Toronto, digital signage solution provider, Dot2Dot, acquired Pixel Point Digital. PNI Canada Acuireco Corp. purchased Sandvine Corp. for $562 million, with plans to merge Sandvine with Procera Networks.

Last year July 2018 was a busy M&A month with the biggest deal of the month, a somewhat unlikely $19 billion acquisition of CA Technologies by Broadcom.  Solution provider, Atos paid $3.45 billion for Syntel, creating a large North American presence.  Fortive paid $2 billion for physical resource management software company Accruent, and the last billion dollar deal of the month saw SS&C pay $1.45 billion for investment technology company Eze Software.  Other deals saw AT&T buy cybersecurity company Alienvault; Hitachi bought AWS integrator Rean; Intel bought specialty chip maker eAsic Corp; Accenture continued its acquisition spree with the purchase of AI company Kogentix; and Getronics re-entered the North American market with the purchase of Pomeroy.

Which brings us back to the present …

July is quite often a slower news month, and July 2019 was a little like that.  Having said Cisco logothat, there were some big deals announced.  Cisco’s $2.6 billion acquisition of Acacia Communications was the biggest deal. Apple splashed $1 billion to buy Intel’s smartphone modem business, and KKR bought Corel for $1 billion too.  There were a few more deals hit my radar with Google buying storage company Elastifile; 8X8 cloud communications company paying $100 million for Platform as a service company Wavecell; and finally Epam Systems bought educational content company Competentum.

There was another big cyber breach announced with Capital One sharing data on more than 100 million customers.  There was also a malware called “Agent Smith” that infected 25 million Android devices.  A report on how AI will impact on jobs seemed significant, but most of the respondents believe new roles will replace the lost jobs.

On the economic front the current US economic expansion is the longest on record, and there are still lots of positive indicators.  Canada lost jobs in June and continues to have struggles.  Around the world most indicators were positive, with a few notable exceptions … South Africa caught the eye with the highest jobless rate since 2003.

That’s what caught my eye over the last month, the full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website. Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the August 2019 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile

Contractor Quick Poll: How do you prefer to get your news?

The information available to us today is both a blessing and a curse. While we have the opportunity to be more informed than ever, it is impossible to consume all of the information that’s out there. Even more challenging, fact-checking and knowing what’s credible is an increasing problem. Even the smartest, most careful individuals get duped by bogus news and scams on occasion.

Conveniently, all of that information is being delivered over a variety of media. Each form has its own upsides and pitfalls carrying their share of high-value periodicals and “fake news”, but everybody can choose what is most convenient for them. So what is the most popular source of news and trends for IT contractors? That’s our question in this month’s Contractor Quick Poll.