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Archive: July - 2014 (2)

  • The Future of Infrastructure in an Agile World: DevOps and Release Engineering

    Article by Max Schnepper, Practice Manager in Workbridge Orange County.

    Systems Engineering is literally the only profession I’ve ever heard of where the term “Lazy” was used as term of endearment, “a lazy sys admin is a good sys admin.” If you hadn’t heard this phrase, what they’re getting at is doing something right the first time so that you don’t have to deal with it again, usually through scripting, automation and making everything scalable.

    DevOps: It’s nothing that new. You or your favorite admin could have been doing this for quite a while. Whether or not you’ve ever heard of it, DevOps has been given an actual title, a more formalized structure/methodology and has been growing exponentially. As Software-as-a-Serive (SaaS) companies continue moving towards more collaborative development environments utilizing Agile/Scrum methodologies from the more traditional Waterfall methodology, so too does the way the software teams collaborate with Operations teams.

    Even in more traditional brick and mortar markets such as Orange County where financial, Real Estate, and Insurance type companies rule the market, DevOps and Build/Release has recently picked up substantially. Want to know why? Whether you’re a start-up looking to release your product onto Beta, concerned about scalability when your company hits critical mass, or you’re a highly profitable fortune 500 company trying to keep up with your updates on heavy production servers, you should be hiring a DevOps engineer. The future of technology is collaboration and scalability, and that’s the goal of DevOps.

    If you want to learn more about DevOps, I encourage you to research resources like Chef Cookbooks, perusing Github, follow twitter handles like ScriptRock and see what is out there. Take a look at what’s going on in your local market with networking groups and events specifically geared towards DevOps. As an emerging market, there’s only room to grow!

  • Five Ways to Keep Top Contractors Engaged

     

    By: James Vallone and Ben Sanborn

         You know how hard it was to find a top contractor, right? Well, now that you have him or her onboard, what are you doing to ensure they stay engaged and retained? Contractors today have a plethora of offers to choose from. Since most work on a temporary basis, they are continually evaluating offers and lining up their next job – even while they work for you. If they have a bad experience with your company, you risk losing them and you risk the potential loss of referrals of other great contractors. (Yes, contractors refer non-competing contractors to companies they know are reliable and great to work for! They also warn others to stay away from bad experiences.) You are not only vying for a contractor’s expertise, but for their loyalty. So, how do you keep contractors engaged and happy?

         The best way to do so is to understand what contractors value in their work experience. Most contractors are independent, pride themselves on providing great customer service, love the thrill of fresh challenges, value open communication, want to feel as if they are part of your team, and appreciate clear direction about what your project objectives are and how they can meet them. There are ways to ensure that you create a positive experience for contractors. Here are the top five:

    1. Onboard quickly and completely. Just because they may not be in the office every day, doesn’t mean they don’t need to know where the bathroom is! Provide a full orientation. Give them a building tour and introduce them to key people they will work with or need to know. Discuss hours, break times, access to the building, and parking. Make sure they have the right technology and equipment to do the job, know how to access systems, and how to communicate with your Helpdesk. If they are not working for an agency, be sure they understand how and when to submit their timesheets and who to contact if they have an issue. You want to make a good first impression. If you don’t, contractors will assume you do not fully value them or will end up feeling less than confident about how to fit in and meet your needs.
    2. Treat them like a team member. Too often, contractors are left out of the game. While they work for you, treat them like a true member of your team. Be inclusive. This is particularly important if your contractor works offsite. Invite them to company events, celebrations, happy hours. Keep them abreast of internal news and updates. Clue them in about company politics and any pertinent historical info that would be useful to know. You want to make them feel welcome and included. That said, be mindful that some contractors do not want to be down in the weeds more than they have to be. If a contractor doesn’t jump to attend happy hours, be respectful and don’t take it as a negative sign. Many contractors became contractors to avoid the hassle and extra-curricular activities that being an employee entails.
    3. Dedicate time for one-on-one meetings. Include your contractor in team meetings, but don’t overlook the value of having regular one-on-ones. Weekly check-ins or even just an informal coffee or lunch on a regular basis can help you keep tabs on how satisfied the contractor is with your company and if they are running into any hindrances that they don’t want to discuss in front of the entire team. Contractors want to be included as a team member; keep in mind that that they are not employees though. As an outsider, they can provide you invaluable insight into your culture, team dynamics, process workflows, and input on how you can improve your contractor/company work arrangements. Contractors bring third-party eyes to your internal processes. Don’t be afraid to tap into their perspective.
    4. Honestly discuss performance. Contractors want to make you happy. They want to leverage their expertise to ensure you get what you need. Unless you provide performance feedback, it’s hard for them to know if they’re hitting the mark. Rather than holding a typical boss-to-employee type performance review, open up a dialogue about performance in general.  The best contractors are service-minded and will ask you for feedback so that they can make things easier or more effective for you. Return the favor and ask them as well. Discuss how things are going, what feedback you’re hearing from stakeholders, and any adjustments that need to be made to stay on track.
    5. Pave the way for future success. It’s not your job to help a contractor line up more work, but if you are pleased with their performance, by all means refer them to other groups within the company. You can be sure they won’t forget your kindness. If for any reason a contract is expected to end before the agreed-upon time, give them a heads up. If there is potential for converting to a perm hire, discuss it with them and offer them the option. You want to keep a positive relationship going so that you have the opportunity to work with them again in the future and to garner referrals from them. One thing companies often overlook is the business development aspect contractors naturally bring. Contractors that have great experiences with client companies become evangelists and often refer other clients to each other. They want you to succeed and are more than happy to help bring you business.

    These tips will help you go a long way to creating a positive experience for contractors so you can keep them engaged, retained, and returning to work for you again. By taking a look at what contractors value, you can address their needs and ensure that the project is completed in a mutually satisfying manner.

    To learn more about how Jobspring Partners can help with your IT staffing needs, please feel free to contact an IT staffing consultant at any of our locations through out North America.

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