Archive | February 2017

An update from the 2016 Graduates

Hello everyone. I’m Meg Roberts and welcome to the third instalment of the Project Management Graduate Blog. This instalment was due to be written by Angela Vane, however she has found another role within Computacenter and we all wish her the best of luck!

The last blog was brought to you by Oliver Lamont when we were nearing the end of our rotations. We have now finished them, and we are Project Co-ordinators! It is scary how quickly the time has gone, but now we are in the role we can see how priceless the connections we made during our rotations really are.

I know the assessment centres are coming up for next year’s project management graduates so I thought I’d take the time to give you a few hints and tips about what the day has in store.

There are two group exercises in the morning, both of these aren’t really to catch you out. It’s important within this role to work well as a team and show that you are able to listen to the ideas and opinions of others. However, it is key you can articulate your own ideas and push for them if you really believe your idea is the best to achieve the end goal.
On my assessment day, the other candidates and I really helped each other and this made us all calmer and I believe improved our chances. When Computacenter tell you these days aren’t a competition, they’re right – the company are only looking for the best candidates for the role. You aren’t in direct competition for a set amount of roles; so work together!

Also there will be a one-on-one interview. This is to get to know you better and to learn how you have dealt with situations in the past. Single interviews will always be nerve-racking but remember you aren’t on a time limit so if you need to pause, do so! One of my best feedback comments from the day was that I personalised my answers with examples not only from previous employment but also day-to-day situations with friends and family. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Project management is all about people skills, therefore demonstrate that you have them. While some candidates are being interviewed, the rest of the group will have the time to ask current and previous graduates, and experienced Project Managers, questions. This isn’t scored, or put against your chances of being offered the role. So use the time to ask the real questions!

Finally, you will have your presentation. The best piece of advice I can offer you is to choose a topic you feel comfortable with and know like the back of your hand. It will make you feel more relaxed, and more prepared to answer any questions. Preparation is key for this part of the day so use your time wisely, and practice. The questions aren’t designed to catch you out – they are just to see how prepared you are, and if you know about the topic you’re presenting.

It seems like a lifetime ago since we had our own assessment days, as time goes so quickly. Overall just thoroughly prepare for the day, and try to enjoy it as weird as that sounds! Oliver and Shivani were both on my assessment day, so remember you never know who is going to be offered the role so ensure you work together.

Good luck to you all!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I have really enjoyed my time at Computacenter so far and I know this is a company has many opportunities for us all. I look forward to what the future brings with Computacenter! The next instalment of the Project Management Graduate Blog will be bought to you by Shivani Mistry.

 

Time now for collaboration and action harnessing the best of UK tech

The much anticipated and long awaited Government Transformation Strategy (GTS) was published last week by Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, The strategy provides a clear and solid framework for the future direction of public services transformation, looking ahead to 2020 and beyond.

The priorities identified in the Strategy are all sensible and highly relevant. They include back-office redesign, a focus on securing and retaining the right people and skills, better use of data, cross-department collaboration, developing Government-as-a-Platform and internal government transformation, giving civil servants the right work tools.

So far so good. The ambition, vision and aims are all spot on.  It is also clear that the market has been listened to and the more ‘collaborative’ style of engagement with all is welcome.

However, as the GTS document notes, that is not to take-away but build on the very significant progress towards digital government and public services transformation over the last five years.

What next? Here’s our take on two areas in the Strategy that GDS and departments should prioritise:

Right people and right skills: the GTS aims to tackle deep change, transforming the way Government operates, from the front end to the back office.  To do this, it needs to urgently develop a plan for ensuring greater investment & focus on developing the right commercial skills and understanding to enable a genuine partnership with industry and in doing so create a level playing field.  The likely impact of IR35 needs to be urgently understood and gaps addressed.

Transparency & strong engagement: as a centre of digital expertise, GDS needs to take a leadership role and support departments to develop early market engagement mechanisms into their business planning as well as give civil servants the skills to have a robust and effective dialogue with suppliers based on transparency and trust.

Home grown British tech companies, large and small, are the engine of our economy.  The Industrial strategy launched earlier this month makes an explicit commitment by Government to using public procurement to drive innovation and deliver more diverse supply chains. The benefits are clear – allowing Government to harness industry expertise and knowledge to become a more demanding customer as well as help commissioners and policy makers experiment and innovate more successfully with technology.

Computacenter are proud to be working with the UK Government and challenger new entrants like us have an important role in the delivery of the Strategy and in ensuring UK remains a global leader in its approach to public service delivery.  We will support the implementation of this strategy both directly as a supplier to the public sector and through our leadership roles with industry body’s techUK and CBI.

Let’s now work together, on the detail and the plan, to deliver the transformation we all want.

Click here to find out more about Computacenter’s Public Sector work.

Business success in the digital age – Are you, will you be “brave enough”?

Darwin is frequently quoted in the midst of furious discussions about change. Whether it’s the mention of “the survival of the fittest or the most adaptable” (and not forgetting many question whether either statement was made by Darwin), change consistently invokes one human emotion with the power to nullify every others – “fear”.

Information technology (IT) for all of the seemingly endless change over the past 30 years has been somewhat consistent. Technology, with every new product launch via an endless release of “features” often dictated the “potential” for human benefit. And the result, technology vendors & the IT industry told the story of the future for an eager business (and more recently social) consumer to consume.

There was a reduced need for the IT buyer or user to appraise to a granular degree how the technology delivered impact or benefit, it was almost assumed that “newer” was better resulting in an upgrade to the “next or latest version” becoming standard behaviour. The balance of power rested with the “technology industry” and the user / consumer was at times a passive recipient of endless technological advancement. But as we enter 2017 the power base is shifting (some may say has “shifted”).

The user or IT consumer is now the power broker with the ability to dismantle 30 years of elegantly crafted IT system and process via a move to hybrid systems (combining traditional with public) or fully public IT service delivery. ‎”Feature glut” no longer rules the day, replaced by the need for consumer realised benefits or “standard service offerings with the potential for agile evolution”. This wholesale reset of everything deemed normal in IT and business is here and here to stay. But a move away from the safe “the old way” requires courageous decision making.

But the winners, whether consumer or IT service provider may not be those to accept “safe” or “old normal” but instead those willing to “be brave” and challenge “the old or known way” to evolve to a sustainable service consumption or delivery template viable for the dynamic, digital age. The buzz words are endless with digitisation, hybrid cloud, IOT, mobility, just a few. However with “solution relevance” a key consumer buying criteria, “buzz word bingo” will no longer find an audience, instead replaced by “win win” consultative solution selling driven by the value of positive disruption and “measurable” benefits for the consumer.

“Being brave” may result in human destabilisation as the status quo is defended and protected and “risk” as existing service delivery approaches move away from safety but the benefits are not potential, they are very real and highly realisable. The gateway to a new age exposed by the digitisation drive is positively transforming IT, business and the user with all likely to embrace a sustainable, enhanced experience. But that change of experience starts with a level of bravely not everyone can muster. “Can you, will you, be brave enough”?

Until next time.

Colin W

Twitter: @colinwccuk

Chief Technologist: Networking, Security and Collaboration – Computacenter UK

 

Adoption is Key for Digital Workplace Success

I speak to many customers.  Each of them has their own unique challenges, and each of whom are at various points in what we would term their “Digital Workplace” journey.  Clearly we have those organisations whose businesses are being fundamentally disrupted by Digital.  And we have those for whom this disruption is yet to really manifest itself.

The point is, everybody seems to be doing something – and many organisations are doing quite similar things.  If I were asked for my top 3, businesses are seeking to:

  • reduce their legacy footprint;
  • exploit new collaboration and mobility solutions;
  • consolidate their platforms to a number of key vendors

The last one is interesting in many ways.  We’ve ridden a wave of customers looking at “best of breed” and I now see a trend back towards suites of functionality – where the functionality is good enough to meet their needs, but that being balanced against the integration benefits of using a sole provider.

In each of the objectives above Adoption remains a key, but often little understood concept that can make or break the initiative. We’ve seen a general shift towards a more user focused approach, however it continues to surprise me how little focus is placed upon ensuring the use (Adoption) of the solutions both immediately post deployment and critically through the life cycle of its use.

In order for an initiative to be successful, it needs to be used and valued by its users (think about all those mobile apps you have on your device that sounded great as a concept, but are little used!).  This is where the adoption cycle comes in.  When I speak to customers about Digital Workplace transformations, refer to the following five points:

  1. Ensuring the solutions fit the users
  2. Engaging users in the journey
  3. Balancing user ‘want’ to business ‘need’
  4. Measuring satisfaction
  5. Democratising feedback

Point 1 is easy to talk to, as I’ve covered it several times in terms of understanding users.  Solutions like Workstyle Analysis can and have helped many customers in this area.  This starts the user engagement process but it is important to continue this throughout the life cycle of the initiative to maintain the engagement and enthusiasm of your users for what is about to happen (think of any good teaser marketing campaign you’ve seen in the consumer world!).

However many fear that with such an approach you will create a ‘bow wave’ of user expectation, the proverbial shopping list of wants from users that cannot be rationalised to budgetary, timescale or other constraints that the business may face.  The interesting thing I’ve observed is that while this may be thought of as a disincentive for people to engage the process for fear of this consequence, actually tackling it head on and engaging the users simply builds more understanding and support.

The final two points are really important.  Clearly you should measure the output of your initiative.  This is 101 stuff.  However equally important I’ve found is in democratising that feedback and results, making it available not only to the project sponsors and decision makers, but to the users also.  In being transparent, you can unlock the next level of feedback and support in something of a virtuous cycle that allows you to build upon the benefits and extend their applicability, as well as collectively managing any challenges that may have occurred.

 

These are just my own perspectives on Adoption.  Such is the importance of the topic, and the range of debate it attracts, we’ve created a full Insight Guide featuring myself and a number of my colleagues from Computacenter, Intel and QA.  You can find this here