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FYI Solutions Blog

Feb 26, 2015

The Value of a Consultant Outreach Program

Author: Barbara Schiffman

At FYI Solutions, we value our consultants. We know the best practice is to stay in touch with the consultants who are on assignment.  Too often, consultants are placed on assignments, never to hear from their placement firm until the engagement is ending.  It is just as important to manage the relationships with our consultants as it is with our clients. FYI Solutions has a formal program in place, called Consultant Outreach, to ensure that our consultants know they are part of the FYI team.

Once on board, each of our consultants is assigned to a recruiter, and there is a dedicated Account Executive for the client at which they have been placed.  This is common practice with placement providers. We have learned to ensure success for our consultants and our clients to take it one step further.  On a regular basis, usually every 6-8 weeks, a face-to-face meeting is held with each of the consultants. The goals of the Consultant Outreach Program are as follows:

  • Become an advocate for the consultant: By meeting with the consultants on a regular basis, we get to know more about their skills, career interests, etc.  By getting to know what makes them tick, we can align them with new opportunities on a timelier basis and provide opportunities for them to expand their skills.
  • Ensure that the FYI Consultants feel connected to FYI; a consultant will move from one client to another as engagements are completed and new ones begin. The constant is their connection to FYI.
  • Share information about FYI:  Provide information to the consultant so they know what FYI’s near-term and longer-term focuses are.
  • Identify/resolve any questions or issues the consultant may have, before they reach the client. The goal here is client and/or consultant retention. No one likes surprises.  By being in touch with our consultants on a regular basis, we can identify any issues that may be brewing, and take action before they become problems. We will also be aware of positive situations at the client, like commendations from the client that have been announced to their teams.

And finally, our best source of new talent comes from those who we know and respect.    To encourage referrals, FYI has a published Referral Bonus program for staffing as well as permanent placements. This can be found on our website, FYISolutions.com.

FYI is fully aware that our consultants are an integral part of the FYI team and the most critical aspect of our success.  The Consultant Outreach program enables FYI to demonstrate that on a regular basis to our consultants.

FYI is an IT Consultancy, based in NJ, which has been providing staffing, permanent placement services, and solutions to our clients for over 30 years.  For more information about FYI Solutions and the available opportunities, contact us.

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Feb 13, 2015

If it’s 2015, WHY does Your Company treat the Hiring Process like it’s still 2008?

Author: Gregg Ruoti

2015-02-13_12.30.31Today I have to think back to the late 1990’s when so many clients’ hiring practices were not in sync with the reality of the market.  This was the Internet Bubble and having a front row seat to this cacophony of hiring while living and working in Silicon Valley afforded me some great lessons and unfortunately, costly lessons for our clients.

The fact was that for every good candidate they were interviewing, there were several other competitors pursuing the same people and offering outlandish packages of compensation including closing costs on homes, the ability to share your cubicle with your dog, giant slides in the lobby, sign-on bonuses and most importantly, the chance at being a newly minted multi-millionaire.  Candidates drank the Kool-Aid that hob-knobbing around with Larry Ellison, the Venture Capitalists on Sand Hill Road or being invited to be a member of the Bohemian Club or the Trilateral Commission was just around the corner.  For candidates, this was a buyers’ market if there ever was one.  Some of it was real.  Heck, my neighbor was the #7 employee of Brocade Communications.  Employee #0 was the keg at all his parties (yes, it actually had an Employee #0 printed on a lanyard around the beer tap).

Compared to that time, post September 2008 was the polar opposite in almost every aspect.  There were multiple candidates for the same positions; candidates took harsh pay cuts to realign their compensation with their new reality; they would be available for weeks to months to interview at the prospective company’s leisure.  “You need me to come back for a 6th interview?  Sure, no problem!”

NEWSFLASH:  It is not 2008 anymore.  And while we’re being honest with ourselves, this is not the [remarkable] late 90s either.   But there are several similarities to that time that is causing companies, especially big companies, to lose their first choice in candidates at an increasing rate.

  • 1999/2015 – The amount of time a good candidate is on the market has compressed substantially.   A talented engineer or architect is snatched up in 10 business days OR LESS.   We see this play out with consultants EVERY DAY.  It’s frustrating and disappointing for clients that now have to start the process over again or go with a lesser qualified candidate.
  •  1999/2015 – The reality is if you like a candidate, so do 3 or 4 other suitors.  And guess what?  They don’t care about you or your hiring process.  Your competitors are moving forward and are content to leave you empty-handed.  They have their own projects to worry about, not yours.
  •  1999/2015 – Unless you’re Google or Apple, don’t expect any candidate to wait for your “mired in bureaucracy” hiring process or for you to make a decision.  In 1999 candidates were out for themselves, and frankly some became quite arrogant.  When the 2008 debacle arrived IT professionals were quickly humbled, and from their own perspective, taken advantage of by hiring companies.   Do you remember the scores of multi-year, loyal employees laid-off by a VERY large Bank only to be rehired back into the exact same roles at lower rates as contractors sans benefits?  That environment changed how they view employers for the perceivable future.  Similarly post 2008 college graduates watched how companies do not hesitate to layoff scores of loyal employees and contractors (some of these were their own parents), and thus have no expectations about staying longer than 2 or 3 years at a firm.  They have not been “trained” to give loyalty to companies nor expect any loyalty in kind from the corporate world. There is a shortage of talented IT people.  IT professionals know it and they give little to no thought about walking away from the hiring process.

Your process is no longer nimble enough to get the best people.  The change has to come from within your company.  What is YOUR company going to do about it?

FYI solutions has been a leader in IT staffing for over 30 years. Candidates interested in finding out more about our open positions should contact us.

 

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Feb 06, 2015

Analytics, The Heart Of Your Organization

Author:  Marianela Peraza

The month of love is upon us and what do we here at FYI Solutions love more than flowers and chocolate?   Analytics!   We love the power that it affords our customers to make faster, smarter and ultimately better business decisions.

The power of analytics is very similar to the power of love.  Was Celine Dion referencing analytics when she sang these lyrics?

“We’re heading for something
Somewhere I’ve never been
Sometimes I am frightened
But I’m ready to learn
Of the power of love”

The term analytics is so big, sometimes frightening, but we all have to be ready to learn and harness the power that it offers our business decisions.  Taking on an analytics project could feel as risky as putting your heart on the line. What if you invested 3-6 months of your life and it just didn’t work out how you had hoped?  Well, people do it every day. Why you ask?  Because the reward outweighs the risk, that’s why.  Ask yourself: are you ready for the commitment?  How mature are you?  Find out where you are in your analytics journey to determine what you need to do first.  Take a look at the attached chart that will help you determine how well your organization currently uses business analytics to improve performance and it will give you an idea of how much more is possible. Analytics Quotient.

Once you know where you are, it is important to choose the right partner.  As in any relationship, choosing someone that is committed to your business, understands the big picture and becomes your trusted advisor, will ultimately contribute to your success.  Like Cyrano de Bergerac, FYI Solutions will be behind the scenes guiding the success of all of your Analytics initiatives. 

When you are in a relationship with a customer, it is as important to have quality and well-structured data as it is to know what you are going to do with that data.  Know your data like you know your partner.

For example, I enjoy running; if you had that data, are you going to get me a great pair of running shoes for Valentine’s Day?  Or are you going to buy me the same old flowers? If you had smart analytics, you would go for the running shoes.  Just as people expect their significant others to understand and anticipate their needs, consumers also expect a more personalized approach as to how you service them.  As analytics grows, this will set you apart from your competition and instill brand loyalty.

Treat your data like you treat a relationship that you want to thrive: care for it, position it for success, but most importantly, understand it. We at FYI solutions are experts at making your data love you back through our Business Analytics staffing and solutions services.  Our capabilities empower organizations to assess risk, increase business agility, identify new opportunities, predict outcomes, and uncover new patterns of customer behavior.  We have a proven track record of implementing the full spectrum of integrated Business Analytics Solutions.  Contact us for more information.

<3

Marianela Peraza

data_cv

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Jan 27, 2015

Lessons learned from the Subarctic Survival Situation

Author: Dan Scovill

(By Human Synergistics International -http://www.subarcticsurvival.com)

Recently the FYI Solutions internal team undertook a very interesting learning experience in the form of the Subarctic Survival Simulation.  This was a simulation that highlighted the dynamics of team work and building a group consensus.  The general scenario is as follows: you and your group are crash landed in a swamp filled subarctic location in Canada, the pilot is dead, and you have 15 survival items.  What are you and your group going to do to survive?  I won’t go into many of the details, as I believe this is a scenario you and your team should try and I wouldn’t want to ruin it.

The challenge requires you to work as a team and come up with the best ranking of the survival items from most to least important.  But this requires a plan of action and the group must come to a consensus.  Your survival item team rankings are then compared to your individual rankings and the rankings of the experts.  This brought to light some very interesting observations:

  • On average teams scores were better than individual scores – this shows the value of working together and taking others opinions into account.
  • Teams came to a consensus, but sometimes it was a consensus that proved “fatal” for the survival party – this shows that consensus does not always mean success, if the group consensus is in the wrong direction.
  • Thinking outside the box and challenging group consensus could have proved useful and helped the teams be more creative – if you have an idea, speak up. You never know if it could be helpful.  It may also spark new ideas for other team members.
  • Some groups got caught up in the details, without taking the time to form an overall effective strategy – the details don’t matter if the overall strategy has not been effectively formulated.
  • Some team members did not have knowledge of survival. This made it critical for those team members to figure out the strengths of the other team members to ensure their survival – If you don’t know something, find out who does.  If you do know, make sure to communicate that with the team.

I would recommend this experiment highly.  It does a great job of showing how to improve team work and communication.  It is also a great way to get to know your team better!

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Jan 20, 2015

Navigating Your Analytics Journey

By: Joan Frick

Are you overwhelmed and frustrated with all the various Business Analytics software being used by the different business groups in your organization and/or on the market?  Is the data reported on differently depending on the business groups (untrusted data)?  Confused about how Big Data fits into your Analytics journey?  Here are a few tips to help you overcome these issues:

  • Identify a Project Sponsor
  • Set/Understand the vision of your organization (1-year, 3-year, 5-year & 10-year plans).  It is important that this is in place as it will help with the build out of the Business Analytics roadmap for your organization.  Continue to tweak your vision based on changes in the organization and current economic conditions.
  • Determine the ‘Current State’ of your organization’s People and Processes (including Systems)
  • Identify what the ‘Future State’ would look like in achieving your organization’s vision
  • Document the gaps between ‘Current State’ and ‘Future State’
  • Build the roadmap in achieving ‘Future State’
  • Develop a plan to implement the roadmap by gaining quick wins with incremental deliverables
  • Evaluate Technology based on capabilities and the future roadmap that will allow your organization to scale and grow based on the vision

If you would like assistance with building your organization’s Analytics roadmap, contact us at FYI Solutions and let us help you with your Analytics journey.

FYI Solutions specializes in Business Analytics.  We have over 30 years of experience helping companies like yours make better decisions through data governance and business analytics.  For more information about FYI Solutions, contact us.

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Jan 13, 2015

Setting New Year’s Career Resolutions

Author: Janine Kramer

With the beginning of a New Year, we often try to make resolutions for ourselves; give up a bad habit, vow to try something new, be a better person, etc.  Why not make some New Year’s resolutions to help in your career growth?

In a recent research study by the University of Scranton (http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics), they found that although 45 percent of people make resolutions, just 8 percent of us are successful in achieving our resolutions. Twenty-five percent of New Year’s resolutions don’t last a week, and 36 percent of them are blown within one month.  Don’t give up though on setting your New Year’s resolutions!  The study found that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than those who don’t make any resolutions at all.

In a recent article I read on Recruiter.com, How to Set New Year’s Career Resolutions That You’ll Actually Keep, by Kazim Ladimeji, he highlights some great tips that can help you set those New Year’s career resolutions and achieve them.  Here they are below…check them out!

1. Set SMART Goals

The best way to set goals is by using the SMART method, which means making sure that your goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bounded. “Getting out of a dead-end job” is too vague a goal and can easily be brushed under the carpet. Instead, say something like “Be in a new, fulfilling, job/career within six months.” Research from Quirkology into New Year’s resolutions supports this approach, as it shows people (men in particular) were more likely to succeed in achieving their goals if they set SMART goals.

2. If Necessary, Break Your Resolution Down into Sub-Goals

Of course, a resolution like “getting out of a dead-end job” may require the achievement of several sub-goals , such as identifying suitable careers, identifying skill gaps, addressing skill gaps, and applying to new jobs. So, I’d recommend breaking down broader New Year’s resolutions into 2-4 easily memorized SMART goals to help give you momentum.

3. Tell Others about Your Resolution

The Quirkology study found that women in particular were more successful in achieving New Year’s resolutions when they told their friends and family and received ongoing encouragement. So, female job seekers especially might want to tell others about their New Year’s career resolutions to increase their chances of achieving them.

4. Reward Yourself for Achieving Goals

The Quirkology study also found that men in particular had more success in achieving goals when they focused on the potential rewards of reaching their goals. A carrot works better than a stick, and so I’d recommend that male job seekers in particular take time to identify the specific benefits that will come from achieving their resolutions — and any sub-goals, as mentioned in tip No. 2 — for motivational effect. I would go as far to add rewards for yourself to the plan, too, such as a big steak or a night out. Use whatever you consider a treat to incentivize you to hit those goals and sub-goals.

And finally, try not to make too many New Year’s resolutions, as you can become overwhelmed and lose focus and motivation, increasingly the likelihood of failing to meet your objective. Also, because a third of people break their resolutions in the first month, set an immovable goal in the first and second month of the year, such as signing up for a relevant training course, attending a specific career seminar, or applying for a job.

So if your New Year’s Career resolution is to change the position you are in or company you are with, contact us at FYI Solutions and let us help you achieve that Goal!

 

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Dec 23, 2014

Twas the night before disclosure

Author: FYI Solutions Team

Twas the night before disclosure
and all through the firm
the departments were scurrying
to update their terms
the Auditors stood by, ready to validate with care
in hopes that the narratives are truthful to bear
with management’s expectations for totals to round
had just settled our goals for accuracy abound

Yet from FYI Solutions there had been such a clatter
a solution was there for this dire business matter
away with Excel sheets that we threw in the trash
we deployed this solution that would save us cash
no more cut, copy, paste that we did in our haste
our efforts now streamlined, no more time would we waste

The mood in the office had suddenly changed
with confidence in trusted narratives arranged
When what to our wondering eyes did appear,
a timely disclosure like music to our ears
in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and 1040K
the accuracy of narratives drew widespread hooray!
And we heard throughout the office as we all left that site
Happy Holidays to all and to all a Good Night!

Christmas blog star

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Dec 16, 2014

A Narrative Reporting Solution:  IBM Cognos Disclosure Management Less Time Checking, More Time Analyzing.

Author: Barbara Schiffman

For many mid-size companies, creating annual, quarterly, or monthly narrative reports is a time consuming, resource intensive and error-prone process. Organizations combine text, tables, charts, and financial data that are cut and pasted into the final narrative report.

In a recent CFO Research study, 90% of companies reported that they spend too much time with the manual assembly of reports, including cutting, copying, and pasting data. This manually intensive process yields the following:

  • A high risk of errors and re-work whenever data changes
  • A lack of governance the moment this manual process begins – there is no security or controls in place
  • A time-consuming exercise – high value employees to spend too much time collecting and compiling

World-class finance organizations focus relentlessly on driving process simplification and standardization in the face of increasing business and regulatory complexity.

IBM’s Cognos Disclosure Management (CDM) is a secure, enterprise-scalable, reporting, and process automation solution that gives users the ability to collect enterprise data and merge with focused narrative analysis in a controlled and auditable environment.

By connecting directly to the data source (such as Excel or TM1 databases), financial numbers are automatically updated, ensuring a single version of the truth and confidence in the narrative report. This automation solution enables users to merge enterprise data with focused narrative analysis in a controlled, auditable environment.

Key Features of CDM:

  • Enterprise disclosure management—Combine financial data from a variety of sources with in-depth narrative analysis for internal and external reporting across any department.
  • Financial management process automation—Replace time-consuming manual processes with intelligent process design and automation.
  • Security, control, and governance—Manage documents in a collaborative yet secure environment with visibility into the report generation process.
  • Multi-jurisdictional XBRL support—Enable multi-national organizations to use a single reporting/tagging solution.

less time checking more time analyzing

FYI Solutions and IBM are jointly hosting a webinar that will showcase the practical functionality of CDM from a turnkey perspective, showing how a narrative is created and updated when changes occur at the source. We believe this will be a very compelling demonstration that will resonate with organizations, showing first-hand the time savings and risk reduction benefits of this solution that translates to justifiable ROI. Webinar Details:

Date: January 14, 2015

Time: 12:00pm EST

Duration: 30 minutes

http://www.fyisolutions.com/?p=event_registration

Please join us for this very informative event!

FYI Solutions is an IBM Premier Partner in Business Analytics.  We have over 30 years of experience helping companies like yours make better decisions through data governance and business analytics.  For more information about CDM or FYI Solutions, contact us.

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Dec 09, 2014

Culture in the Work Place

Author: Sam Sodano

Culture is central to the way we view, experience, and engage with all aspects of our lives and the world around us. Thus, even our definitions of culture are shaped by the historical, political, social, and cultural contexts in which we live.  (Wikipedia)

As society changes around us and technology becomes an even larger part of our lives, the struggle to keep our values and priorities in order has become more apparent. This is true not only in our personal lives but also in our work environments.

The culture of an organization emerges from the core values usually handed down from the top levels of management.  People generally hire people who possess similar values and objectives.

As I interviewed at FYI, it was continually emphasized that although the search for talent and job knowledge was important, there was nothing more important than “fitting into the culture”.  As the process continued, the common theme was the mission statement that tied into the culture. The words integrity, honesty, attitude, commitment, and teamwork were spoken throughout the company.

When you are looking for a company to work for, I believe that the culture has to be forefront in your selection process.  A person needs to find solace in the fact that their beliefs and ethics coincide with the culture of the company they choose as their “home”.

Technology will change, products will enhance, direction will vary, profits will increase, or decrease depending on the marketplace but the culture will stay the same as before.

That is a comforting thought.

FYI Solutions has been a leader in IT consulting for over 30 years.  For more information about FYI Solutions, please contact us.

 

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Nov 19, 2014

Make the Most of the New IBM Cognos Information Distribution License

Authors: Jeff Busch and Joe Rodriguez

As part of their Cognos licensing evolution, IBM has created a new license entitlement called Information Distribution. Information Distribution users inherit the capabilities of the former Remote Recipient users, but also gain some additional capabilities that add significant benefits for Cognos customers. In this blog we will explore some of these benefits as well as briefly describe the best method for implementing this new role.

One of the major challenges Cognos managers face is how to get the greatest benefit from their licensing and development investment. Maintaining license compliance, while providing the features that users need, requires constant monitoring of usage and coordination with the business. The old entitlements often required managers to purchase higher level licenses or add-ons to provide the access needed. Consumers could run pre-built reports but not Active Reports; this required an upgrade to an Enhanced Consumer license. Many users just need to run simple reports.  Remote Recipient licenses were cheaper and could receive scheduled report output and burst reports, but couldn’t access Cognos directly to run these reports for themselves when they needed them nor could they interact with an Active Report. Alternatively, a Recipient license could be used, although that entitlement did not include rights to receive or view Active Reports. In addition, keeping track of which Consumer, Recipient and Remote Recipient users actually made use of the access granted them, and thus being able to maintain only the number of licenses needed, is difficult at best albeit necessary to be in compliance with license entitlements. Also, some companies may have security restrictions preventing pre-run reports from being sent to users requiring Recipient or Consumer licenses when Remote Recipients could otherwise be used.

For all of these reasons and more, the new Information Distribution license is ideal. Information Distribution users can receive pre-run reports through email, including Active Reports and burst reports;  they can also access Cognos directly to view the saved content for themselves. Now you have extended delivery options. Further, you can setup an area in Cognos where light-duty users can go to download pre-run reports and Active Reports and you can send links to users instead of the actual report. Access to the reports using the links would utilize Cognos security measures already in place.

Another key feature of the Information Distribution user licenses is that they are PVU only. This means that they are not purchased on a user by user basis (i.e. named user), but are applied to a specific Cognos server based on the number of processor cores in the server. For those who are new to the concept of PVUs, a Processor Value Unit (PVU) is a unit of measure by which the Program can be licensed. The number of PVU entitlements required is based on the processor technology (defined within the PVU Table by Processor Vendor, Brand, Type and Model Number (click here to go to the IBM PVU calculator page). This is a benefit to the customer because they no longer need to keep track of individual users when those users simply consume pre-run content. The PVU-based licensing will require customers to take a second look at their environment infrastructure. If, for example, your environment has two redundant dispatchers with 12 CPU cores each you would need to purchase enough Information Distribution licenses for 24 cores. This is because both servers will by default be handling requests from all users. This may not appear to be cost effective for your organization. Fortunately, this is actually an easy challenge to solve.

Cognos has features built in that will allow you to add a new light-duty server to the environment and dedicate that server to Information Distribution user activity. Continuing our example above, you might choose to add a new dispatcher server with 2 cores. The server can be configured with a fewer number of cores because delivering saved content is much less processing intensive than actually running the reports. As long as the Information Distribution users’ activity is restricted to the new server, you will need to maintain only a two-core license (this equates to approximately 200 PVUs by IBM guidelines). This will also have the additional benefit of transferring some of the activity load off of the primary server. You could even designate the new server for all batch processing or other similar tasks taking even more of the processing load off of the primary server(s). If you are designing an entire environment from scratch, or are designing an upgrade to your existing environment, you may be able to decrease the hardware requirements of your primary servers and thus decrease the cost of those servers.

The ability to provide direct, secure access to a company’s report content without having to purchase more advanced licenses is a clear advantage of the new Information Distribution license. As an added benefit, administrators will not need to spend time keeping track of these new users’ usage to maintain compliance because the licenses are PVU based and the users will have a server dedicated to their needs. Explaining the details of implementing this strategy of dedicating a server to Information Distribution users is outside of the scope of this blog.

As an IBM Premier Business Partner for Business Analytics, FYI Solutions has expertise in implementing these solutions and is available to help you with your implementation.  Please contact us for more information.

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