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High Demand for Mobile App Development

Recently mobile app analytics firm, Flurry, released a report finding the average person in the US spends 9% more time on mobile apps than browsing the web. “In June [2011] users spent an average of 81 minutes daily on mobile apps, compared to 74 minutes on the web,” and users aren’t just playing games and social networking, they are getting directions, reading the news, watching TV and movies, shopping, banking and, even, working. So it’s no surprise mobile apps are now a must have for just about every company out there. Without mobile access to a company’s information and product, they are not reaching a huge percentage of their customers.

So, it’s no wonder that more and more companies are dedicating significant time, budget and resources to hiring IT professionals with specific skill sets in iOS, Android and Windows mobile development. A 2011 report from tech job board giant, Dice, stated that jobs in the mobile app development space are among their fastest growing hiring requests. Despite this growing need, however, less than one-in-five (17%) of technology professionals have published a mobile app, with only a quarter doing mobile app development full time.

Hudson IT has seen this explosive demand across the nation and has been faced with the challenge of finding the few tech engineers who have made the transition into the mobile app elite. Yet, Hudson has found that just publishing your own app isn’t always enough. Employers also want to make sure that engineers understand the entire mobile app development life cycle. Companies are building out entire teams to plan, build, test and deploy these apps, just as with any other software. The most valuable mobile developers will be the ones who worked as part of a larger team building successful applications. This is the biggest challenge we have as recruiters, finding talent in the mobile space with a record of working in a team environment.

For the IT professionals out there who are interested in adding this skill, it can be a game changer. Not only does it broaden their existing skill set and give them access to more jobs, it also pays as well. According to Dice, a third of developers who have published an iOS app that have made a dollar or more are making significantly higher incomes over all.

So how do you get one of these many great jobs? Go ahead and start developing, even if it is on your own, because employers want to see that you have done it before. Good Web developers with strong backgrounds in Objective C (for iOS) and Java and C++ (for Android and Windows) tend to have an easy transition into the mobile development world. Having a published app is obviously a big selling point, but having a strong background making applications alone can make you significantly more marketable.

Have you made the leap into mobile app development? How are you building your experience. Let us know in the comments.


Project Management Event Filled With Risk

PMI Chicagoland Knowledge Sharing Event Hosted by Hudson IT Chicago

Last week, Hudson IT Chicago hosted a PMI Chicagoland Knowledge Sharing event facilitated by Scott Stribrny of Group Atlantic Inc. on the topic of risk. It was an insightful and robust dialogue between an industry expert and a room full of talented project managers. The event's success was due in large part to Cynthia Andersen, PMI Chicagoland's Knowledge Sharing Chair.

After the event, Cynthia and I had a chance to catch up and learn more about her career, PMI Chicagoland, the Knowledge Sharing events and what PMI Chicagoland members can look forward to in 2012.

Congratulations on a successful event.Looks like we had a great turnout tonight

Absolutely! By my count, there were 40 PMI Chicagoland members in attendance to hear Scott’s best practices and insight on the subject of risk. This chapter has   a lot of experience to share with one another and I am always impressed with the conversations at these events. Plus, they all receive two PDU’s for attending.

Everyone here tonight seems to have an interesting career path, what has been your course thus far?

Well, I progressed from programmer/analyst to a technical lead to a project manager at HSBC. As a result of my career progression, I developed a passion for helping others learn more about project management ideas, methods and techniques which led to volunteering with PMI Chicagoland.

I can imagine you touched many parts of the business and played a major role in the company's growth?

I held a number of staff and leadership roles from technical lead, where I wrote code, implemented projects, improved business processes and compliance, to IT project manager, where I was the liaison between developers, testers and end users on multiple projects. Managing and leading teams presented its challenges and having a support system like PMI Chicagoland helped me capture ideas from my peers.

What can you tell us about the PMI Chicagoland chapter?

We are PMI's fifth largest and most active chapter with more than 4,000 members and a dedicated volunteer staff. This strong membership is driven by a mutual desire to learn and share our knowledge and experience.

What can PMI Chicagoland members look forward to in the coming months and early 2012?

I am constantly looking after the best interests of the PMI Chicagoland membership, by bringing together a group of individuals interested in discussing PM ideas and sharing issues and knowledge with their peers. In November, our topic will circle around the cloud and project management. So, stay tuned!

It was a pleasure to listen to Scott Stribrny share his risk management insight with the group. Can you share a little more on his background?

You're right, he did a tremendous job engaging with the group and helping to spark the exchange of ideas. Scott is president of Group Atlantic, Inc., here in Chicago, and a Senior Consultant with Cutter Consortium's Enterprise Risk Management & Governance practice. He is an advisor to Global 100 CEOs, CFOs, and program and project managers all over the world; counseling them on the effectiveness, rewards, and risks of their high-tech programs and policies. His current management interests include change management, new paradigms for organizational design, and technology-based competitive strategy.

Scott is a busy project management expert, we are lucky he agreed to help facilitate this event tonight. I think the group learned a lot tonight and can take the ideas back to the office to improve practices a bit.

Well, thanks for taking a couple minutes to speak with me and congratulations on a great event.

Thank you for hosting all of us and providing food and drink.

It was our pleasure. Thank you.


Project Management in Plain English

A Simple Process for Project Management

Sometimes we don’t think one person can make a difference, but sometimes that is all it takes. If you think about the ground breaking potential one man with a shovel can make, we can see the earth moving capabilities that one person can have. If you think someone should be doing something about it, remember you are someone!

The trick is the age old adage that the hardest door to open is your own; first thing in the morning. It is the motivational tactics that get you going that will help you work through any issue. Once you have your own juices flowing, it is the cheerleading, coaching mentality that get the rest of the team moving. Once you have a team with forward momentum and defined target, you can set out to conquer the world. A project is just the beginning.

Six Steps to Success

The foundation that I use is the “plain English synopsis”: Who, What, Why, When, Where and How. If you are looking for a template to form your project plan, put these into a project plan and start digging.

  1. Who is it for? Who is the sponsor? Who is the stakeholder? Who can do it? Who will be affected?
  2. What do they “want” vs. What do they “need”?
  3. Why do they need it?
  4. Where is it going to get done?
  5. When do they need it completed?
  6. How do we get it done?

1. Who is it for?

Identify the stakeholders: Who wants something? Who will it affect? Who will pay? Who can do it? Who needs to be communicated with about it? Who will be affected and have we communicated with all of them or better yet had a conversation with them about it?

2. What do they need?

This is the tricky part and plays off of the why do they need it. It should be scalable, but you need to identify what they are trying to do - Develop a checklist of questions and get the answers; then find out “what they need”  – this could make a huge difference in the cost of the project.  I worked with a CIO that stated all he really needed was a little red pick-up truck and they bought him a rocket ship. This defeated the purpose entirely as he just needed to go across the street to the hardware store and he couldn’t even do that without going around the world; he did not have any astronauts; could not afford to hire one and who was going to pay for all of that fuel anyway.

3. Why do they need it?

Identify what it is they really need, not what they think they want. You can grow it from the foundation of what they need to achieve what they need to do. Did you hear that when the space program began, there was a need to be able to write in space – the US spentd millions trying to produce a pen that would write in space without gravity; while the Russians gave their teams pencils.

If people know why and are able to make informed decisions, you get better results then if you just have them fill in templates and they have no background information. Do you want a secretarial pool or a PMO? Set the expectations so you can procure the proper resources (define the scope).

Project management is making informed decisions based upon the knowledge you have uncovered, identified and documented with sign off. Program management is a group of projects and can sometimes be defined as doing a project and developing processes that can be used to supplement “all” of the offices or organizations being rolled out. Problem management, is what I refer to as elbow management – forcing something through and getting out the fire fighting equipment. The team needs to define which way to go – the WHY will help identify what is needed.

4. When do they need it?

This is one third of project management: Cost, Time, Quality. If they need it yesterday, it will make a big difference in all of the other questions. Perhaps they only need part of it yesterday? Maybe you need to bring in a really big team and get it done tomorrow, but this is where the true Project Manager stands out in getting the definitions truly defined and the expectation setting accurate. Get a timeline in place and remember Fire Fighting equipment can be expensive!

5. Where is it needed?

Does everyone need it? A special few? Global implementations? And how does this equate in the entire picture? Where do we find the resources? Where is the bluerint, the design, the architecture,  the expectations, the SOW or the RFP. Let’s architect something. Which brings us to step number 6.

6. How do we get it done?

Once again – all at once, a little at a time, or do they only need a piece of the product for now with another project to upgrade later. Once you have the plan you can start making these decisions. Most people don’t take a job to fail. The failing is in the expectation setting. Teams start a project excited, open and flexible. Once you have trained them and stated the rules they get confused, concerned and frustrated if there is a moving target.  Motivated people with no handbook for delivery is the beginning of chaos and confusion.

Learn and grow together though definitions and expectation setting

A good project manager is a person that can build and mentor the team to define the dimensions of the whole and keep moving forward to build the foundation. The rest is easy as long as you keep talking to each other and measure success. Remember your tool kit: Who, What, Why, When, Where and How. Define and set the expectations; Draw the picture; Implement the project; Measure and celebrate success. It is awfully hard for someone to meet your standards if even you are not sure what they are.


Career Goals are the Keys To Choosing an IT Certification

At a PMI Chicagoland meeting I recently attended, I met a person who was asking which certifications she should get to make her more marketable in today's economy. I believe you should decide what you want to be when you "grow up" and then determine what are the "keys" to what you really want to be doing.

Many (Almost Too Many) IT Certification Choices

There are so many certifications, it is hard to know which ones are important. Project Management Professional (PMP®); Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® ; Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® ; Program Management Professional (PgMP)® ; Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® ; Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®); Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE®); Cisco Certified Network Engineer (CCNE®) With so many to choose from, which one is right for me and how many do I need? The Project Management Institute web site, states, "You need to choose the credential that best fits your knowledge and experience, as well as your future career plans." I maintain these certifications are all keys and you need to decide which door(s) you would like to open.

Do Some Soul Searching

 "Focus" is a driving force to lead you where you want to go. One of the tricks I learned is that if you want something, paste pictures of it everywhere you are going to be so that your mind will focus in on it.  It will help you to achieve your goal. If you want to take a trip to Italy would you prepare by learning Spanish?  Your choices might not seem this simple, but if you stop to think and focus on your career goals you will see the key to your success.   

Be Wary of Distractions

When you make a map of where you want to go, You may encounter a few detours. One team I worked on called these distractions "shiny things" - things that are distracters and take you off track. Sometimes detours are good, as you learn new things, it will make you a more interesting person; it may become your new path. Just make sure you set up guidelines; how long will you allow yourself to stray.  

I live in Chicago area, and it always amazes me when someone comes to visit and we go downtown.  The awe they find helps me see new things as I watch them experience the city. There are things to do here that I may never have had an interest in doing.  When taking visitors around and experiencing the city in their eyes I have a learning experience. That doesn't mean I need to sign up for a class and get a certified in everything that interests me or them.  It does make me a more informed, more interesting person.

It is good to be diversified, but don't get too far off the track and don't make yourself highly skilled and marketable in a field in which you really have no interest.  Because if you advertise that you have these certifications, and highlight them in your job search, that is the job you will be offered.

A Critical Choice

Let's say that you hate working on computers, but you find out that the market is looking for IT professionals who are ITIL certified. If you take the class, to be more marketable, you will end up being qualified to work on computers.  Which is what you don't like doing!  The better approach is to decide what it is you want to be doing and then find out if there are any certifications that would qualify you for that position.  If you want to be managing ITIL technicians, maybe you do need your ITIL certificate, but would a Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification be a wiser choice?  Even if you take the ITIL class to broaden your knowledge do you want to highlight the certification on your resume? Your resume needs to articulate who you are and what you want to do. It does no good to use key words and sell yourself as one thing and then hope to get an interview/job offer to do something completely different. Talk about sending a mixed message.

Consider the Investment

It is never hard to make a payment if you have invested in something you want. Arm yourself with training and certifications that prepare you for what you want to do. A certification does not give you the experience to do the job.  It is a key to help you unlock the door to your career. Training can be costly and take a lot of time and energy. It is wiser to spend the time and money on something you enjoy doing or learning about rather than a job requirement for something you have no plan of ever doing.

So, what's your plan?

As  PMI's website so aptly says on their web page, "You need to choose the credential that best fits your knowledge and experience, as well as your future career plans." These are the certifications you should identify and go out and get. Then list them on your resume, post them on your walls and live them to the best of your ability. Focus, confidence, knowledge and passion. Build your hopes and dreams on these and you will be successful - but you need to write your own definition and ultimately your own story. The final destination is yours, these are just a few keys to assist you in your endeavors along the way. Choose wisely.


The IT Skills Shift to Vendor Management

IT Vendor Management - Tech EnforcementAn interesting skills shift is happening as many IT services are moved to the Cloud. Professionals used to managing systems or software installed internally have had to become experts at managing 3rd party vendors. This shift was mentioned in our recent Hudson IT Cloud Whitepaper

"Cloud computing will not run without people. IT professionals will still need to supply core business functions. The techno-functional person will be most in demand when businesses move into the cloud. Most companies will run some technology elements inside the cloud and others will run outside the cloud. Such models will require strong service management between internal and external teams. For example, organizations will still need to network systems and integrate architectures. Network engineers will still have to solve routing and management challenges. All of these elements of an IT function will not evaporate into the cloud." has taken it a step further with their recent tongue-in-cheek video that calls this "Tech Enforcement". The video suggests that vendor management may be an IT career path unto itself. Take a look:

Within large, well-funded organizations this may become the case. It may also become just another skill you'll need to succeed as an IT pro within any organization. So, the next time you consider another IT skills certification, consider instead asking your boss to let you manage one of the company's 3rd party or outsourced relationships. It is experience that will serve you well in the near future.

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