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IT Transformation Plan – State of Ohio
Author: Doug Drescher, Director – Public Sector
Decades of decentralized IT management and spending has created imbalanced IT assets and service offerings in the State of Ohio. State agencies have been heavily invested in maintaining and supporting their own agency infrastructures. Each year more and more resources are dedicated to supporting highly distributed, non-standards based infrastructures with fewer resources directed toward programs to support the agencies’ business missions and the citizens they serve. The current federated, decentralized IT environment is not sustainable.
In January 2012, the State of Ohio began implementing a four-part IT strategy to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve Agency business processes. This IT Strategy builds on information put forth in the December 2010 Statement of Direction and focuses on four strategic components—improving IT planning, reducing infrastructure complexity, increasing the use of enterprise applications/solutions, and employing business intelligence tools. Where the Statement of Direction set the course, the IT Strategy plots the course.
As Ohio shores up the governance and planning aspects, Ohio’s long-term IT requirements demand a much broader focus—a complete transformation in the delivery of technology and solutions throughout the state. A transformation that enables technology personnel within a particular agency to concentrate on providing proprietary business application needs and enables an enterprise IT organization to concentrate on providing core IT infrastructure services and enterprise application solutions to all Executive Branch agencies.
The IT Transformation Plan defines the roadmap to more efficiently develop and manage IT assets for Ohio as well as move to a shared service model for IT service delivery. The plan outlines the transformation necessary to move from the highly distributed, autonomous, non-standards based approach to a more consolidated, centralized, and standards-based approach for the delivery of enterprise IT services.
Through this IT Transformation initiative, Ohio will be moving to a shared solutions model for the delivery, support, maintenance, and modernization of Ohio’s IT infrastructure, enterprise and infrastructure applications, and enterprise IT governance across all Executive Branch agencies.
Ohio’s approach is essentially a “backward consolidation”—an attempt to undo the IT sprawl generated over the years. The planning phase of this initiative sets the vision for the future by discussing “forward consolidations” that will prevent future sprawl.
The most common approach to transformation is IT infrastructure consolidation and standardization followed by applications. This is largely because of the complexity in trying to identify the normalized business processes required to consolidate applications. Furthermore, having a robust and well managed infrastructure available to house the consolidated applications eliminates one potential source of performance and availability problems for the consolidated applications.
The enterprise IT shared solutions organization will be staffed through the transfer, loan, and/or hiring of IT professionals currently distributed within various agencies. Some of the strategic business objectives for IT Transformation are:
• Achieve resource savings through economies of scale/elimination of duplicative activities.
• Standardize technology use, procurement, and contracting.
• Effective use of IT professionals.
• Align enterprise applications with business goals.
Based on various Ohio studies and a thorough review of financial information, the following top four categories are targeted for cost reduction through IT Transformation. Consulting and Contract Services (project 20-30% savings of $35mm to $53mm), Hardware and Software Maintenance (project 15-25% savings, $10mm to $17mm), Telecommunications Labor (project 20-30% savings, $9mm to $14mm), Hardware and Software Cost Avoidance (project 15-25% savings, $6mm to $11mm).
A transformation initiative of this size and complexity must have dedicated senior leadership participation and championing to ensure its successful execution. An IT Transformation Office and an Executive Governance Committee have been created to lead this transformation initiative. These groups are comprised of the State CIO and strong agency IT leaders leveraging agency subject matter expertise.
Through implementation and after the IT Transformation is complete, the State of Ohio is expecting to realize the two main benefits. The first being, optimized workforce and reduced labor cost. The second is improved skill utilization and greater career opportunities for IT infrastructure workforce.
The interest associated with IT Transformation Planning and its projected benefits do not stop with State of Ohio government. City and County government in Ohio are also funding strategic planning initiatives as we speak to better understand and identify the benefits associated with a shared solutions model.
State of Ohio has targeted June 30, 2013 to have its plan formulated. As this year progresses, we will need to keep a close eye on its progress and implementation.
Portions of the information printed for this article has been provided by the State of Ohio Information Technology Transformation Plan dated January 2013.
Understanding the Financial Services Industry Mobile Ecosystem
How does it all play together? What New Technology Alliances are beneficial for M-Payments and M-Banking? How does QSI respond?
Author: Kim Murgas
Banks and financial institutions are most effective when they can utilize technology and outsourcing services to give customers full accessibility to their accounts, but reduce their direct interaction with customers. To this end, we are seeing banking technology vendors continuously generate innovative ideas and solutions. During the past decades, we have seen the evolution of Checks and their Clearing Systems, Automated Teller Machines (ATM), Point of Sale (POS) devices, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems, and the list continues.
The evolution of mobile technology has allowed banks to embed mobile in their front-end solutions offering flexibility, ease of use, and accessibility to their banked customers and account holders. Through Mobile Banking (m-Banking) services, users can review their balance, transfer money between accounts, and perform some sort of utility payments along with many other services that enables interaction between the account owner and the bank’s back office systems.
On the other hand, other mobile technology vendors have started to offer services for mobile users and introduced Mobile Payments (m-Payments). The contributors in this new era included Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and payment gateway providers. Both the financial and mobile ecosystems played a major and significant role in the development and offering of new services. M-Payment solutions offer different services to subscribers such as utility payments (i.e. electricity, mobile bills, water services, etc.), mobile top-up, airtime transfer and many other services. For its basic functionality, m-Payments depend on using the cards systems: credit, debit, loyalty, business and others, whereas m-Banking depends on the majority of its transactions on the customers’ bank accounts. M-Payments also use the m-Wallet in other areas.
Despite the fact that banks are not in the forefront in providing mobile services especially in the context of m-Payments, banks still have the opportunity to conquer this market and make use of bank’s infrastructure. The question that might rise here would be: is there an ongoing dispute and debate between banks and other service providers to win the market? The answer is absolutely NO.
Currently, the business model encourages partnership and collaboration rather than competition between companies that may offer joined services. In this view, we could see partnership among different ecosystems, at the same time, providing a unique and unified new ecosystem that consists of financial ecosystem (banks), mobile ecosystem (MNOs) and utility service providers.
Money Transfer Future: Domestic and Internationally
Mentioned above are different services provided by both m-Payments and m-Banking systems. One major function that has a wide impact in the global financial system is money transfer, which varies in amount and flows to and from different directions and performed at different levels in terms of technology education.
This is a clear example showing what the new ecosystem can provide. Partnership between financial institutions represented by the banks and the m-Payments providers such as MNOs will expand the capabilities of this ecosystem and add large amounts of money that travels from one continent to another.
Moreover, software and technology vendors are offering and promoting the concept of the card-less ATM where bank accounts or m-Wallets (both managed by banks) are linked to a mobile number that is managed by MNOs, enabling a wider range of money transfer beneficiaries to receive money, despite being unbanked customers and customers who don’t hold ATM cards. This is a significant feature and an added value to all stakeholders in the money transfer cycle.
The Technology Question
This new partnership will enable the different technologies in the market to provide its services for both classic and newly started ones, such as money transfer. The new ecosystem will benefit from old and new technologies supported by the mobile manufacturers and the MNOs. These technologies can be: Short Message Service (SMS), Unstructured Supplementary Services Delivery (USSD), Mobile Application, Mobile Web and the recently released technology in the market; Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.
Each of these technologies has its advantages and disadvantages. However, it is worth mentioning that the majority of stakeholders prefer investing in mobile applications and NFC due to their capabilities in providing accessibility and usability for customers.
Some of the Technology Challenges
Newly launched services will lack the trust and confidence in the market until there is a success story and some real proof of credibility. This is especially important because cardholders are apprehensive to provide card information without a guarantee that their information is secure. But who said that we shouldn’t trust mobile transactions to perform money transfer or utility payments using our own mobile devices? I would say it is more secure as most of these mobile applications are secured with digital certificates and use different mechanisms of data encryption. In addition, most m-Payment solutions should comply with PCI standard to secure the transactions.
Banks and service providers should address all issues that might fall under the fraud category. Central banks and regulators are publishing rules and regulations to govern and manage fraud transactions. It is not difficult for service providers to adhere to such rules, follow regulations, and accordingly protect their consumers and their revenues from fraud. Also, it is beneficial to use shared services in which huge databases are in place, monitoring tools are implemented and the rules followed by these shared services are enhanced and maintained frequently.
With Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulations and laws imposed worldwide, the identity of individuals involved in the money transfer process becomes a major issue that service providers have to address and provide solutions for in order to eliminate this potential risk. Collaboration between MNOs, Payment Gateways and Banks (issuing and acquiring) provides a larger scale of databases and information about the people involved in this process.
How does QSI respond?
In order to provide quality services and eliminate the risk, partnership and collaboration are the keys to success; the future will tell the success stories. QSI responds with its Mobile Service Offering. Specifically, QSI can help its Financial Services Clients plan, build and maintain their mobile banking strategies and technology and infrastructure solutions. Understanding how this ecosystem works and the priorities and challenges faced by these complex technology solutions is key. QSI has the thought leadership to help these organizations plan and support these solutions and partnerships.
Posted By: QSI
Published: March 25, 2013
Author: Steph Andrews
This month we are kicking off another year of giving back to our community! We are organizing campaigns for Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Buckeye Ranch and Pelotonia. QSI has had a long-standing commitment to giving back to the community in which we thrive. Our recent nomination for a Business First Corporate Caring Award sheds some light on our non-profit involvement.
In today’s trying economic times it seems only fitting that we do our best to give back. What do you do to say thank you to Columbus? Too often people associate non-profit involvement with check writing and fundraising. Although that is a substantial part of non-profit success, there are other ways to give back without having to dig into what may be limited funds as it is.
When considering community involvement, think of “the three T’s”: time, talent and treasure. Treasure is the obvious, previously mentioned, fundraising and financial participation. Time and talent aren’t as widely promoted but are just as vital! Most non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers, they cannot achieve their mission without them! So take your time or even your talents to help an organization help others in Columbus.
It is also important to recognize that not everyone is passionate about the same causes. When designing a corporate charities program consider supporting a couple of organizations rather than just one. To get good results from all employees, try diversifying the events and programs you organize. Get a good mix such as volunteer shifts, fundraising opportunities and fun activities so people can pick their participation.
Take some time to think about what facets of Columbus you love most or that help your company thrive. Then see if there are ways you can make those facets grow or improve. For example, we have an amazing restaurant and food scene here, find an organization that aids local businesses or helps feed those that aren’t as lucky to experience the richness of Columbus food culture. When it comes down to it Columbus non-profits and its community can use any of your “three T’s” to make it the best in the Midwest. The Columbus community has helped your business thrive, help Columbus do the same!
What Does Your Email Writing Style Say About You?
Posted By: QSI
Published: March 13, 2013
Source: The New Rules of Business Writing
Do you really need to make a project out of something like a simple e-mail? Yes. Because everything you write reflects you. If you scribble a quick e-mail in all lowercase with no punctuation and no thought to how it sounds, well -- we hate to break it to you -- that’s what people are going to think you are like: sloppy, disorganized, and unthinking. If you have the time to read the e-mail, then you have the time to draft a well thought out response.
Even if you are only scribbling notes to a colleague, you never know who is going to see them. E-mails are often kicked upstairs, and as some politicians and business leaders have learned the hard way, e-mails are indelible -- you can’t shred them or control their spread.
In the “reply all” age of e-mails these days it’s imperative that responses are of actual value to its readers. No one wants to click through e-mails that just say “agree” or “thank you”. As polite as it may be to thank others for their thoughts or agree with them, make sure your response is worth reading by formulating a complete sentence to send back to them actually expressing your gratitude.
Do not succumb to the delusion that unpremeditated or sloppy writing is a good approach. Before firing off an e-mail think about what you want to say then put it into words. In the hustle and bustle of the workplace it’s hard to imagine the impact one e-mail could make until you are dealing with the aftermath.
The Benefits of Being a Consultant
Posted By: QSI
Published: February 26, 2013
Author: Jeri Levy and John Yeager, Directors, Talent Management
They say that variety is the spice of life and such is the life of a consultant! While consulting is not easy there are certainly many wonderful benefits to be had.
Variety: One of the most obvious is the vast variety of assignments and experiences, which are typically across a broad base of business industries. Typical consulting engagements may range from six months to 12 months, allowing the consultant the opportunity for continual learning and growth.
Ongoing technical knowledge gain: Because clients are seeking individuals who continually add value, consultants are more or less forced to remain at the top of the food chain in terms of technical knowledge and expertise. As a consultant you are the product of the company. The company needs to invest into you, which increases your marketability. If you are not marketable, the company is not marketable. No matter how important your role is within a non-consulting company, IT is still looked at as an expense. The benefit is that the consultant is gaining ongoing training and certifications within new areas, technical platforms, and methods with costs typically absorbed by their consulting firm.
Viewed as a SME in your discipline: A consultant is typically engaged because the employer simply does not have the in-house expertise to complete the task at hand; thus, the consultant is seen as a true SME in their technical discipline. The consultant is relied upon to offer one or more solutions in a timely manner and execute them with proficiency and accuracy. Additionally, sometimes there are conflicting technical opinions or political considerations within a company; an outside consultant can provide an objective perspective on the situation and provide valuable, unbiased advice.
Job stability: Yes! Regardless of what may be occurring within economic conditions, good consultants are always in demand. It may seem counter intuitive; however, when times are good, companies have deeper pockets with which to invest more dollars into upgrades, conversions, migrations, etc. When times are not so great, and there are impacts to FTE employees, work still needs to be completed and oftentimes consultants are called upon to complete such work. Further, if you align yourself with a well-established consulting company, you will have stability. You know that the company has been around for a long time and has made it through tough economic times and prospered through good economies. Knowing what type of client base is very important as well. Make sure you are with a company that works with a multitude of companies across several industries. That way you can put the stability question to rest and look forward to all the opportunities a consulting company will offer you.
Your IT New Year's Resolution
Posted By: QSI
Published: January 28, 2013
Author: John Hrusovsky, Partner
As the new year starts, you want to make sure it starts off on the right track. How about a New Year’s Resolution? We all make personal New Year’s Resolutions, how about a New Year’s work resolution? A resolution that will ensure that your IT organizational goals and objectives align with the enterprise’s business goals and objectives.
One of the most challenging aspects of IT is alignment with the business. It is very important to ensure the business and IT are in alignment. If that is not the case, operational efficiencies will not be met. The development of an IT Plan is the best way to start a new year. Once the plan is developed and implemented, you can modify and enhance it on an annual basis. This will allow you to start the year off in the most effective manner with IT and the Business on the same page.
How do you do this? It is very simple. Develop an IT Plan that lays out the priorities of the IT organization in conjunction with the business.
There are many types of IT Plans:
- An IT Strategic Plan: an IT Strategic Plan covers all aspects of the IT organization from projects to operational tasks.
- An IT Re-Organizational Plan: an IT Re-Organizational Plan covers all aspects of the organizational makeup of the IT organization. Is the IT organization aligned to meet the business requirements?
- An IT Unified Communications Plan: an IT Unified Communications Plan examines all aspects of an organization’s communication channels and develops a strategy to align them in a more effective manner.
- An IT Governance Plan: an IT Governance Plan covers the governance model of the IT organization, how it secures its priorities from the business.
- An IT Operational Efficiency Plan: an IT Operational Efficiency Plan examines all the operational aspects of the IT organization. Is there overlap of effort, is there economics of scale, etc…
- An IT Mobile Plan: an IT Mobile Plan examines the utilization of mobile (phone and tablet) technology across the organization. It is aligned, is it consistent, is it supportable?
- An IT PMO Plan: an IT PMO Plan develops an overall PMO architecture for the IT organization. Are they conducting all of their IT projects in a consistent manner, are the project management processes efficient?
- An IT Cloud Migration Plan: an IT Cloud Migration Plan examines how the organization should utilize the cloud as they provide services to the business.
Regardless of the type of plan you develop, they all follow the same steps:
- Assess your current environment
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses
- Develop a list of recommendations and objectives for improvement
- Develop the roadmap to accomplish the recommendations and objectives
- Develop a mechanism to monitor progress related to the plan
What are the benefits of going through the process?
The benefits include:
- Beginning the new year on the right track with the organizations' goals and objectives in alignment
- Developing a strategy to inspire and mobilize your workforce
- Helping your organization create focus and unity
- Reducing non-value activities that do not align with the objectives of IT
As an example, as their new year’s resolution, a major University recently developed an IT Re-Organizational Plan that created more alignment with the administrative, academic and research aspects of the university. The IT organization analyzed all aspects of their organization and developed a more effective organizational structure. The plan is now in the implementation phase and has energized the leadership team of the IT organization.
QSI can help you develop your plan. Our Strategic Planning Service Offering covers all aspects of the IT planning process. We have experienced IT Strategist’s that have helped organizations successfully go through from start to finish the IT Planning development process. Please contact John Hrusovsky at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our capabilities and start off the new year on the right track.
Cyber Security - Are We Doing Enough?
Posted By: QSI
Published: Oct 15, 2012
Author: Douglas Drescher, Director Public Sector
United States intelligence officials are increasingly convinced that Iran was the origin of a wave of network attacks that crippled computers across the Saudi oil industry and breached financial institutions in the United States. The episodes contributed to a warning last week from Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, that the United States was at risk of a “Cyber Pearl Harbor.”
After Panetta’s remarks, U.S. officials described an emerging shadow war of attacks and counter attacks in cyberspace between the United States and Iran. Speculation about impending cyber warfare has followed recent revelations about a stealth virus and new U.S. cyber offensive tools. The virus, Flame, a suspected U.S. government invention, was reported in May to have long been harvesting information from computers in various Middle Eastern countries. Days after the account surfaced, The Washington Post reported that a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency program aims to test unmanned cyber attacks that strike without human beings at the keyboard. The Pentagon has said only that it has the ability to conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend the nation.
The Middle Eastern attacks involved “techniques that could have been used against us just as effectively,” said Dave Aitel, President of cyber security firm Immunity Inc., and a former National Security Agency computer scientist. He was referring to Flame and a U.S.-Israeli campaign called Stuxnet that undermined Iran’s nuclear program by overriding a computer system operating plant centrifuges.
Microsoft suffered some collateral damage from Flame. The designers of the virus exploited a previously unknown flaw in the company’s digital certificates to disguise malicious code as a Microsoft product. The software firm subsequently issued an update to block other hackers from abusing the fraudulent certificates.
Kaspersky Labs, the security firm that discovered Flame, describes the bug as “the largest cyber weapon to date,” referring to its 20 megabytes. The tool can scoop up massive amounts of valuable information such as screen shots of online chats, audio recordings from internal microphones, and storage files. According to Kaspersky, viruses are becoming more advanced every day. “If previous viruses were like bicycles,” Kaspersky told the Chicago Tribune, “then the Stuxnet worm that damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges at the Natanz plant in Iran two years ago would be a plane and the latest programs, dubbed Flame and Gauss, would be space shuttles.”
Jeffrey Carr, a cyber security consultant and author of Inside Cyber Warfare, makes a distinction between cyber weapons that are intended to destroy systems such as Stuxnet, and cyber espionage tools such as Flame that compromise systems. He sees clear dangers to using either without restrictions set in advance of deployment. One unintended consequence of cyber weaponry could be the accidental disruption of a civilian hospital system overseas. International cyber spying, he said, could inadvertently encroach on the human rights of foreigners and Americans abroad.
Even worse is the fact that Congress and other branches of the government cannot reach an agreement on a baseline for cyber security. A major hurdle, which is likely to be around for some time, is that communications networks are the same for military operations and civilian transactions, with the latter being protected from unreasonable searches.
The feeling is that many Americans would not be happy with the concept of having their internet activity being watched. We have not yet given our government guidance about what we want it to do.
Understanding the Project Portfolio Priorities
Posted By: QSI
Published: Oct 01, 2012
Author: Joe Astolfi, Director - Process Service Line Lead/Agile Service Offering Lead
Many years ago, I was one of a handful of Project Managers in a dynamic and growing organization. We had many projects in flight at the same time and all of the Project Managers managed multiple projects. Is this sounding familiar? Well, one day, a fellow Project Manager approach me and asked if he could borrow one of my key team members for a few days to address a very important issue with his project. Upon analyzing the work for my own project, I determined that I could lend this person to the other project without impact to my project. I have always tried to help out others when asked, and this seemed like the right thing to do. I did this without too much thought, as it seemed like a small, rather insignificant request.
Imagine my surprise when my manager did not see my willingness to help as a positive action! She questioned my decision based on the priority of our projects within the overall project portfolio. Her reasoning was that I did not know the importance of my project against the other project, so I did not have the information to lend my team member to the other project. "Focus on your own project and ensure YOUR project gets done", she stated. "You do not understand the priorities of these projects against one another, so you should not make these types of decisions. You are graded on the success of YOUR project, not his."
That incident got me thinking and asking questions. Why didn't I know the priority of projects against one another? How can we all know and understand the ranking of projects against one another so we can collectively make the right decisions? What other benefits can we obtain by ensuring that everyone in our organization understands the priority of all projects in the portfolio? How can we be effective if we don't understand the organization's priorities?
As a result of that specific incident, I began to always ask about priorities. When I became a PMO leader, I ensured with our business partners that all our projects were ordered by priority. I then made this information available to every person in our IT department, and we talked about it regularly in our team meetings. Every person knew the importance of their project in relation to the other projects, and they could make decisions based on those priority relationships. Decisions about staffing and other resources could be made at the right levels (within the projects) with the portfolio rankings as a guide.
I am still surprised to find that when I talk with individuals, they have no idea about the priorities of the projects they are working on. Even more surprising is that many organizations still do not order or prioritize their project portfolio and communicate it to everyone in the organization. Without question, individuals who are assigned to more than one initiative will be faced with a decision about which item to work on today (or at this moment). How would they make that decision effectively without knowing which of their projects was most important for the organization? In many cases, the decision is usually based on which Project Manager is the squeaky wheel (or yells the loudest).
I encourage you to try this: ask about the priority of the projects you are working on. Find out how they rank against one another. If your manager doesn't know, ask their manager, and keep doing so until you get the answer. If there is no prioritization, suggest it to your leaders. If you are a leader, develop a plan to prioritize your project portfolio with your leaders. Without a doubt, it can be difficult to get all stakeholders aligned. However, once you have a prioritized and ordered project portfolio understood by all, you will have set the stage to ensure everyone is aligned to the priorities of the organization. The prioritized project portfolio is a key component in an efficient, effective, agile organization.
Posted By: QSI
Published: Sep 19, 2012
Coming Soon - Regional Data Center Services to Support Local Governments
Authors: Jeri Levy & John Yeager, Directors, Talent Management
Congratulations! You have been requested for an interview…you are now on your way to reaching your end goal. Now, time to prepare yourself for the journey that lies ahead.
You will need to set aside a solid amount of time to prepare and plan; in the current competitive job market, it is a simple equation of supply vs. demand, so you need to game up to ensure you will blow the competition away!
First things first: you will want to conduct research on the organization with which you will interview, as well as the individual or individuals you will speak with. The very best way to set yourself apart from your competition right out of the gate is to know your landscape and audience. Utilize as many tools or options as you have to garner this information (company website, LinkedIn, personal acquaintances, etc.). The more you know about the company and your prospective interviewer, the better!
Next, try to determine what “type” of interview you will be participating in: Individual manager, panel interview, technical interview, behavioral, etc.? Know that there are inherent differences between the various types. For example, the behavioral interview is based upon the logic that past behavior will predict future behavior. You could be asked a series of situational-based questions to determine how you could “potentially” react if you were to join the organization. Panel interviews; however, are often conducted to determine how well someone would handle stress, if multiple questions or scenarios were thrown at them. If you know in advance that you will be a part of a technical interview, then do your homework to ensure you are prepared. Proactively take an online technical prep test for your particular skillset/competence.
Physical considerations to consider: ensure that you maintain eye contact. This is often the first signal as to whether the candidate is comfortable in his or her own skin and passionate about what they do. Maintain a positive attitude at all times. The #1 deal breaker in many recruiters’ opinions is speaking negatively about a current or past employer. It’s also an easy trap to fall into with leading questions about why you left an organization…don’t fall for it! There are ways to articulate any previous negative situation and adding a positive spin, versus espousing negative banter. For example, if you were being underutilized in your last role, there is a good way to point that out and turn it into a positive, while still maintaining that you have more to offer.
Further, be confident but not cocky in your skills; there is a fine but distinct difference.
Suit up! Take the extra time to ensure you are well dressed, as well as appropriately dressed, given the type of organization that you will be interviewing with. If you are uncertain, it is important to err on the side of conservative. It is always better to overdress than underdress for any work related situation especially an interview. You want the employer to focus on your skills and capabilities rather than something distracting that you may be wearing. The bottom line is, if you have a contact or recruiting liaison, ask them what is most appropriate.
Arrival: Plan on arriving 10 – 15 minutes early. Make sure you know where you are going and have explicit directions; candidates who want to go the extra mile should even consider making the drive the day prior, to ensure directions and drive time are accurate. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get through a potential security screen.
The interview: You are here because the company at hand has determined that you can do the job, given the resume and background provided. Now you need to show them why they should select you over and above any other potential contenders. Your skill set and technical knowledge are very important; however, your attitude and personality will play a big part on whether you land the position. You need to clearly articulate the value you bring to the table and how, by having you on the team, it will make his/her job easier. Listen to what they are asking and make sure you answer the question directly. Be careful not to talk too much but do not make them pull the answers out of you. You need to “get a feel” for the person giving the interview and be able to adapt. It is better to offer succinct but relevant answers, to which you can add on the tagline, “does this give you enough information?” or “should I expand upon my experience in this area?”
How to CLOSE the interview: if you feel the interview went well and you are genuinely a good fit for the role, make sure you let them know this, because your competition is. Let the interviewer know that not only are you confident that you can do the job, but that you want the job and can add value immediately. Let them know that you are excited to join the team; passion is infectious and will carry you a long way.
Further, let your interviewer know that you would like to follow up, and be sure to ask what their preferred method of communication is: email? phone? etc. Also ask how often you should follow up. The goal is to appear interested; however, not desperate.
Finish your journey with a hand-written thank you note. In today’s digital-only age, many candidates simply follow up with an email communication; a hand-written note will truly set you apart from the pack!
Posted By: QSI
Published: Aug 14, 2012
Author: Douglas Drescher, Director Public Sector Lead
Earlier this month we saw the quiet introduction of new legislation to create four (4) regional data centers under the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) that would provide secure, efficient technology services to state and local governments in Ohio.
Rep. Kirk Schuring’s (R-Canton) introduced HB573 which follows a related proposal in HB534 (Schuring) that directs the Third Frontier Commission to award $50 million in grants to public-private partnerships for the creation of data centers and $25 million in grants to telecommunication companies for the creation of an integrated, highs-speed fiber optic network in Ohio.
Created in 2002, the Ohio Third Frontier is an unprecedented commitment to create new technology-based products, companies, industries and jobs. In May 2010, the Ohio Third Frontier was extended through 2015 indicating a widely held understanding by the populace that technology and innovation will lead to economic prosperity both today and for the future generations.
HB534 created the Data Center Development Grant Program to promote the establishment of data centers in Ohio, under which the Third Frontier Commission is required to award grants to partnerships between for-profit businesses and state institutions of higher education. HB573 would extend that goal with $20 million in bond funding to be repaid by subscription fees from public entities using data center services.
“The Department of Administrative Services shall offer to provide data center services to local governments located in the geographical region served by each data center,” the bill states, allocating $5 million to the northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest quadrants of Ohio. “Local governments” does not include school districts, charter schools and other local education agencies (LEA), currently served by 22 information technology centers (ITC) around the state under the Management Council for the Ohio Education Computer Network (MCOECN).
Schuring said HB573 supports the goals of HB534, which has full input from the efficiency-minded Kasich administration. “Ancillary to that is this bill, which understands that state government and local government are involved in information technology more than ever.” He said the technology operations of most government entities in the state are in-house, “not secure” and subject to licensing fees and large numbers of IT personnel statewide. Under HB573, governments would instead access public information in private sector data centers via cloud computing “for much less than what local governments are currently paying,” he said. “The state of Ohio wins in that we will have these data centers strategically placed throughout the state ... at no cost to the taxpayers of Ohio.”
What SBC Ameritech has to say; “House Bill 573 would serve to complicate what is already the most complex and comprehensive regulatory process in the history of telecommunications,” Mike Gilliam vice president of Long Distance Compliance Relief for SBC Ameritech, told the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee. “There is nothing this legislation would do that is not already being done more effectively by the PUCO or the FCC,” Gilliam said.
Schuring also said, “This is a concept that I got from my involvement with data centers and my discussions with Stu Davis,” the state’s chief information officer at DAS. “I think the bill is gaining momentum, and I think it will get due hearings when the Legislature returns.”
It appears the Ohio Shared Services train has left the station and this House Bill deserves our close attention.
What is Enterprise Collaboration?
Posted By: QSI
Published: Jun 26, 2012
The Cloud and Enterprise Application Development
Author: Greg Deckler, Service Offering Lead, Enterprise Collaboration
Some days, I am just a glutton for punishment. Take today for instance. I woke up this morning and determined that I would not only put together a definition but actually provide meaning to a term that has defied all such attempts for two decades. And that term, today, is “collaboration”. I say today because like many indefinable and near meaningless terms in IT, the actual term has morphed over the years, even though it is basically meant to refer to the same thing. Think “Software as a Service” morphing into “the Cloud.” Back in the day, what is now called “collaboration” was called “groupware” and in the intervening decades, it has been called several different things.
So what exactly is “collaboration,” and in this context I am referring to “enterprise collaboration,” in a perhaps futile attempt to distinguish collaboration within a business from such things as social collaboration or social media. Certainly there are definitions. Collaborative software is often defined as “computer software designed to help people involved in a common task achieve goals.” However, such definitions are vague and can mean just about anything from email to twittering and wiki’s. So, what does enterprise collaboration really mean and, more importantly, why should businesses and IT care about collaborative software and enterprise collaboration?
Businesses should care because these systems are the bridging technologies between the business processes that enterprises engage in to make a profit and the core IT services and systems such as directory services, file sharing, databases and email. This is important for businesses because the core competency of a business is its business processes. Enterprise collaboration systems help make those business processes more efficient and effective. And, as I explain in my book, Achieving Process Profitability, Building the IT Profit Center, IT departments should care because the single, universal and undeniable mission of IT is to make a business operate more efficiently, effectively and profitably.
Today, there are many, many businesses that essentially run on Office applications such as Access, Excel and Word. These are the tools business users utilize day in and day out to perform their jobs. I only say “many, many” because I shy away from absolutes like “all”. But, these applications have historically only been tangentially related to core, back-end IT services through network file shares or as attachments in email.
Now, do network file shares and email make businesses operate more efficiently, effectively and profitably? Sure they do, but from the end user perspective, such things are nice to have. In the backs of their minds, they still figure that they could do their jobs without such luxuries. In short, core IT services do not provide new capabilities, just different ways of doing what end users already did. Core IT services provide convenience not capabilities. This is one of the main reasons IT departments struggle with the misguided perception of being a cost center.
Modern enterprise collaboration platforms like SharePoint enhance and extend the capabilities of these Office applications by providing full text searching, metadata tagging, document management features, data visualization and analysis, just to name a few. These enterprise systems leverage such things as directory services, databases and other core IT services, but the focus is on providing users new tools they can utilize and combine to support their business processes. In this way, these enterprise collaboration systems bridge classic IT services into something that end users find incredibly useful. More importantly, they add capabilities, not just provide a more convenient way of doing things.
So what is enterprise collaboration? In short, enterprise collaboration is the implementation of a general purpose software platform that provides new capabilities and tools that end users can utilize and combine in unique ways that facilitate their business processes, making those processes more efficient and effective, and culminates in a business being more profitable.
Posted By: QSI
Published: Jun 22, 2012
Author: John Dages, Director - Service Line Lead, Technology
Enterprise application development has witnessed a progressive migration from traditional client-based applications to the internet and web browser. The value of this change is clear: simplified installation, interoperability, rich user experience, and ease of continual deployment all come together to create a natural platform for enterprise applications.
While web development represents a fundamental shift in how we look at enterprise applications, we are on the cusp of realizing another leap forward: cloud computing.
Enterprise Development in the Cloud
Application development is an enormously valuable, if expensive, investment for businesses of all sizes. While the initial development costs frequently get the majority of the attention when considering a development project initiative, equal attention must be paid to infrastructure planning and product support. However, traditional approaches to on-premise application hosting presents a number of drawbacks, including:
• Requirement to procure hardware upfront to support the application under its maximum traffic load without offering an easy path for scaling to increasing future demand
• Server infrastructure requires continuous monitoring for updates, patches and availability
• The introduction of new server hardware requires careful planning to comply with business datacenter security and network policies
All of these factors are critical to a successful software project, but do not serve to innately drive business value. In the cloud computing model, a cloud services provider assumes the responsibility to maintain, secure, and update the server infrastructure and offer a simplified solution to scale capacity to the needs of the users. By pushing this dependency to a provider, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of these applications is reduced and essential IT resources can focus on delivering useful functionality to application users.
Driving Agility through the Cloud
While reducing TCO and lowering the IT support requirement are valuable enough to consider the cloud as a viable platform for enterprise applications, Quick Solutions’ work in the cloud space has introduced an entirely new spectrum of opportunity outside of cost and reduced management: agility.
Quick Solutions’ enterprise application development calls for an agile process of software development, valuing reduced feedback cycles, user integration and frequent and early deployments. In the traditional on-premise model, exposing applications to users may require a complex and long-running infrastructure planning cycle, diminishing the value of this agile process. With cloud computing, project teams can quickly produce working software for users and develop short-cycle prototypes and proofs of concept without incurring a high degree of cost while further saturating enterprise datacenters.
With cloud computing offering reduced application costs and promoting an easier roadmap for releasing software, our teams will continue to work with our clients to determine if the value of the cloud can be realized for all future application development projects.
Competition Heats Up in the Social Madness Contest!
Posted By: QSI
Published: Jun 21, 2012
We here at QSI are "going mad" over the Business First Social Madness Competition! The games began on June 1st and will run until September 11th. The goal? To find the Central Ohio businesses that are the most adept at raising their social media presence through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The winners will receive $7,500 to donate to a charity of their choice. Should we win, we have chosen to donate to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Ultimately, what we’re taking away from this contest is the opportunity to grow our business, engage our social audience, and make connections with our customers.
Contest aside, I think we all understand that having a social media strategy is a must for any business these days. If you haven't gotten on the bandwagon yet, you are few and far between, but what a lot of organizations don't understand is the importance of the content we are providing our virtual network. It is not only necessary to reach those that follow you on Twitter or that "Like" you on Facebook, but to reach their connections, and their connections, as well. This is the start of creating viral brand awareness.
In order to do this, it is important to focus on building relationships with your online community and not constantly bragging or boasting about yourself. Most organizations blast out information, without taking a step back and thinking, "Will this be relevant to my target audience?" or "Is this something that my followers will find interesting and useful?" These questions are critical in building your online presence.
That being said, we will not be providing you with any relevant or thought provoking material, but simply asking you to vote for us
under the Medium Companies, so that we can make it to the next round. Remember to share with your connections because, well you never know who might be interested in learning more about a Leading IT Consulting Firm!
Utilizing a Film Component to Marketing Strategies
Posted By: QSI
Published: Jun 20, 2012
Author: Jarad Hrusovsky, Marketing Intern
Marketing is a big proponent of any organization or business. A company that lacks a marketing plan or marketing personnel could see detriments to its productivity, ability to grow as an organization and meet expansion goals.
I became an intern at Quick Solutions during mid May of this year. Because I was on summer break, it has allowed me some time to involve myself with some form of internship while I was on break from college classes. As a film student at the University of Southern California, I am utilizing my previous coursework to see how film can be used within business marketing. In today’s marketplace film has actually become more and more present. With growing technology, companies are able to easily post videos to their websites, social media, etc.
I started my internship with the purpose and summer project of turning QSI’s new hire orientation into an all-encompassing high-level overview of QSI in video format. Work has been a steady flow of meetings with employees who will appear in the video as well as script reviews and script reworkings. The hope is for this short film to eliminate the new hire orientation meeting and aid in the flow of the new hire orientation process by increasing its productivity and information retainment for its viewers. Additionally, the marketing team would like to be able to use aspects or portions of the video as material to draw in future clients and employees. In all, the video will give a broad yet very informative look at QSI. It addresses who QSI is, where they started and where they have set their eyes on for the future of the company.
Growing Trends in the IT Industry
Posted By: QSI
Published: Jun 14, 2012
Author: John Hrusovsky, Partner – Strategic Planning, MSO, Client Management
So what are the latest trends in the IT Industry?
Multi-platforms, personalization and industry specifics are three of the latest trends and together, these trends continue to increase IT complexity. These three trends encompass a wide variety of issues. First, let’s discuss multi-platform. Gone are the days of the one on premise IT environment that serves the organization and its constituents. Now we have to integrate mobile, social, the cloud, information and the network into a multi-platform environment to serve all the constituents of the organization. Within this framework, our second trend emerges, personalization of the end user IT experience. Our constituents desire the IT capabilities to be delivered to them when they want them and how they want them and in what format they desire. This personalization also includes information needs and applications that serve their specific purpose. They demand personalization. Our third trend is industry specifics. It is not enough that IT capabilities need to meet multiple platforms and unique user requirements, the industries by which our business community operates continue to demand more and more specific capabilities, applications and information to meet the ever growing demand of their industry specific needs. These three trends will continue to increase the complexity in which the IT industry has to operate. With each new application and each new requirement and each new user desire, the environment becomes more complex.
How do we cope with this? The consistent theme of IT for years has been to align the business strategy of the organization with the IT strategy, to align the people and processes to the IT strategy and effectively apply the correct technology to meet the business needs. This theme is just as important and true today as it was twenty-five years ago. The IT industry must continue to strive to this goal. The three latest trends, multi-platform, personalization and industry specifics will continue to push the IT industry in order to meet the demands of its constituents.
Impacts of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Posted By: QSI
Published: Jun 07, 2012
Author: Aladin Gohar, Director, Education
On 21 July 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The legislation is the most ambitious and comprehensive reform targeted toward the U.S. financial markets since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
The near collapse of the U.S. financial system and the resulting worldwide recession have brought about volumes of new, far-reaching legislation that will bring about changes to banks, financial services firms and publicly held companies. The Dodd-Frank Act is giving new power to some existing governmental agencies and creating new regulators. It will dictate for some banks new, but yet to be determined, capital requirements and certain forms of activity that will no longer be acceptable. For consumers, it is raising the coverage ceiling of federal deposit insurance, as well as establishing new minimum underwriting standards for mortgages. For investors, it will require that broker-dealers exercise their fiduciary duty to the clients to whom they give investment advice.
As with any legislation that is as voluminous and complex as Dodd-Frank, there will be surprises and unintended consequences as organizations comply with the new mandates. Dodd-Frank is more than six times bigger in sheer page count than SOX.
When SOX was passed and signed into law in 2002, most thought that it was legislation that would be a concern of chief financial officers and auditors. However, it was quickly discovered that the CIO and other major components of the enterprise were impacted.
Immediate concerns are around specific product offerings. Generally complex instruments for institutional investors.
The three major bond-rating agencies — Standard & Poors, Moody's Investor Service and Fitch Ratings — asked their clients to suspend using their ratings in the documentation of new bond sales.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has more than $60 billion at risk in derivatives, may scale back offering new contracts because of collateral- posting requirements, said David Sokol, assigned by Buffett to lobby Congress over its financial regulation overhaul.
Historically, these firms have not focused on taking an architected approach for their business architectures (processes, organization, people and so on), the importance of information across their organization, and their subsequent solution architecture (the applications they implement). Traditionally, their IT investments have been directed by business units focused on their individual requirements.
In fact, many large financial institutions have also taken this same approach toward their investment in IT. Business, information and solutions represent three of the four enterprise architecture viewpoints. There is little doubt that all of these aspects will be impacted. Strategic decisions for IT will continue to be made during this period of uncertainty, and a new approach toward IT investment, one that includes the discipline of enterprise architecture, will be essential.
With the potential for having to divest businesses based on regulatory judgments, institutions should also consider broadening a component-based strategy for technology (service-oriented architecture) and use of business process management tools to easily decouple units from the enterprise as necessary, whether for business or regulatory reasons. This will be particularly important to firms required to create living wills under the Dodd-Frank legislation for unwinding their business activities in case of insolvency or bankruptcy (see "Corporate Living Wills: The Potential Revolution in Banking and Technology"). These regulator-required liquidation plans can also be leveraged by firms to promote better internal knowledge of business and IT structures and processes in support of overall risk and performance management objectives. It is important to mention that organizations should review these component solutions framed by the larger context of their overall enterprise architectures. They will need to determine how these point solutions fit within the overall framework of business, information, technology and solutions to better address this new uncertainty (see "How Business Leaders Achieve their Top Priorities Using Enterprise Architecture in Challenging Economic Times").
• Consumer Protections with Authority and Independence: Creates a new independent watchdog, housed at the Federal Reserve, with the authority to ensure American consumers get the clear, accurate information they need to shop for mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products, and protect them from hidden fees, abusive terms, and deceptive practices.
• Ends Too Big to Fail Bailouts: Ends the possibility that taxpayers will be asked to write a check to bail out financial firms that threaten the economy by: creating a safe way to liquidate failed financial firms; imposing tough new capital and leverage requirements that make it undesirable to get too big; updating the Fed’s authority to allow system-wide support but no longer prop up individual firms; and establishing rigorous standards and supervision to protect the economy and American consumers, investors and businesses.
• Advance Warning System: Creates a council to identify and address systemic risks posed by large, complex companies, products, and activities before they threaten the stability of the economy.
• Transparency & Accountability for Exotic Instruments: Eliminates loopholes that allow risky and abusive practices to go on unnoticed and unregulated including loopholes for over-the-counter derivatives, asset-backed securities, hedge funds, mortgage brokers and payday lenders.
• Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance: Provides shareholders with a say on pay and corporate affairs with a non-binding vote on executive compensation and golden parachutes.
• Protects Investors: Provides tough new rules for transparency and accountability for credit rating agencies to protect investors and businesses.
• Enforces Regulations on the Books: Strengthens oversight and empowers regulators to aggressively pursue financial fraud, conflicts of interest and manipulation of the system that benefits special interests at the expense of American families and businesses.
• OTS rolls up into OCC: “Abolishes the Office of Thrift Supervision: Shuts down this dysfunctional regulator and transfers authorities mainly to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, but preserves the thrift charter.”
• New Office, New Focus at SEC: Creates an Office of Credit Ratings at the SEC with expertise and its own compliance staff and the authority to fine agencies. The SEC is required to examine Nationally Recognized Statistical Ratings Organizations at least once a year and make key findings public.
• “Interest on business checking: Repeals the prohibition on banks paying interest on demand deposits.”
• In the poll, 45% of 240 Wall Street IT professionals expect their budgets to increase this year, vs. 18% last year.
• Probably the most surprising finding was that half the participants expect to allocate a big chunk of their technology budgets (20% to 30%) toward transformational activities.
• 90% expect to increase their investment dollars in risk analytics
• …the industry has (outsourced) a lot of the day-to-day tasks, such as data centers. But we've seen a big uptick in process outsourcing, which is getting closer to the back office. So, 90% expect to source one or more of their processes.
What Washington Has to Say:
Create a Sound Economic Foundation to Grow Jobs, Protect Consumers, Rein in Wall Street and Big Bonuses, End Bailouts and Too Big to Fail, Prevent Another Financial Crisis.
Years without accountability for Wall Street and big banks brought us the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the loss of 8 million jobs, failed businesses, a drop in housing prices, and wiped out personal savings.
The failures that led to this crisis require bold action. We must restore responsibility and accountability in our financial system to give Americans confidence that there is a system in place that works for and protects them. We must create a sound foundation to grow the economy and create jobs.
Posted By: QSI
Published: May 09, 2012
Author: Dave Rath, Senior Client Manager
A little over two years ago my journey to a new work world began. I can comfortably and confidently say that the last 2+ years with QSI and our partnership with the client was the positive change this consultant needed.
I am so happy to work for a company who values their employees and QSI demonstrates this daily. Whether it has been IT support, assistance with client billing, or any questions (this consultant has had many), The Firm has been there when called upon. What a breath of fresh air to have someone on the other end of the line that cares to assist, listen and answer your questions.
In addition, the value each of us can add to The Firm and be appreciated really means a lot. There has never been a time when a leader at QSI has told me to put my hand down, we are not interested in your ideas. At QSI, it is the opposite. The people at the Firm are always willing to listen to new ideas, different perspectives, and certainly, if you are interested, doing more for the Firm. You are welcome to try it.
When I signed up over two years ago, I ventured into a new world. I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous, anxious, and excited all at the same time. I was put into a great situation at a bank as a Senior Project Manager. In addition, as we evolved our roles, the Partners asked me to be a Client Manager. I have really enjoyed working with our fabulous group in Talent Management and the support from our Industry Lead. It has been fun and challenging forging new relationships and matching solutions to our Client’s needs.
I cannot wait to continue this journey with QSI and look forward to the next two years.
Why QSI? Hopefully, I answered that question.
Calling All CIOs - What is Your Mobile Strategy?
Posted By: QSI
Published: May 01, 2012
Author: Julie Spicer, Director – Retail Industry Lead, Manufacturing/Distribution Industry Lead
This year mobile technologies ranked number one as the top CIO technology priority when asked if they were aligned to the CMO to enable top-line growth. Across industries and companies large and small, we have seen the countless and ever growing benefits mobility brings to businesses, however, with its many facets, there is a lag in developing comprehensive organization-wide plans to adopt and maximize its benefits. Smart organizations are developing strategies to capture and execute cross-functional initiatives to leverage this phenomenon.
What is your company doing?
While most companies see mobility as a key enabler of their overall business plan, marketing, sales, learning and efficiency, few have yet to formulate long-term strategic plans in this area.
Without widespread planning, many companies have already implemented or are in the process of implementing custom mobile applications, mobile versions of critical business applications, and corporate app stores.
With this adoption, most firms feel that mobile computing is extremely challenging and identify mobile initiatives as one of their top IT risks. Gaining an understanding of those risks and what should be done about them is critical to the success and sustainability of a long-term plan. What most businesses need to do now is develop a long-term strategy for enabling mobility in the business across all departments, applications, devices and mobile platforms.
To date, most companies we meet or work with have mobile initiatives that tend to be tactical rather than strategic and departmental rather than enterprise-wide. Given the critical reach mobile applications provide for your business, we recommend an approach that is unified and consistent across the business that addresses mobile platforms, provisioning, usage, device ownership, etc.
Here are some questions and considerations you should ask yourself when building your mobile technology plan:
- Understand Your Goals. Who will own the mobile strategy? What do you plan to implement for consumers in commerce and mobile interactive marketing? What do you plan to implement for employees in mobile enterprise applications? What is the desired consumer and employee experience? Is the business case about driving revenue, improving process, providing information access or customer loyalty? What is your competition doing?
- Understand the Technology. What is the impact on infrastructure? What mobile devices will be supported? What resources and knowledge do you need? Will you need consulting expertise? What processes, policies, and education will be required?
- Consideration Security Factors. How do you minimize risk while allowing access to email, business applications and data on tablets? How do you address the growing diversity of mobile platforms and applications? How will you support new customer facing applications?
- Address Mobile Policies. Have you considered the increased personal devices personal devices on the corporate network and address usage policies?
Building a mobile strategy can be a simple internal process or one where outside support is needed. Whether your business has 100 customers or 1,000,000 customers, thinking about how a user on the go is interacting with your company must be a consideration in todays mobile world.
Head East My Friend!
Posted By: QSI
Published: Apr 24, 2012
Author: Douglas Drescher, Director Energy Industry Lead
In January 2012 while being visited by a Business Development Consultant it was suggested we look at Eastern Ohio for IT business opportunities due to the activity being created from the increase of shale energy development. At the time, there was very little discussion given to this idea.
A new study from Continental Economics shows Eastern Ohio is in a unique position to benefit from the shale-production boom. Ohio has its own significant resources that are currently being underutilized. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources believes there is a reserve potential of 1.3 billion to 5.5 billion barrels of oil and 3.8 trillion to 15.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Utilizing its own resources could potentially make Ohio an energy powerhouse, as shale gas made up roughly 20 percent of U.S. onshore domestic gas production in 2010 and is projected to account for more than 50 percent by 2035.
Researchers from The Ohio State University, Cleveland State University and Marietta College released a study commissioned by the Ohio Shale Coalition that projects an $879 million boost to Ohio's economy this year from shale energy development, a figure estimated to grow to $4.9 billion by 2014.
With numerous energy companies acquiring land rights and starting hydraulic fracturing operations in Eastern Ohio, it is stimulating the local economies with steady, high-paying jobs. Creating steady, high-paying jobs draws people and families. The people have needs for food, shelter, schools, roads, utilities, healthcare and yes, information technology.
Given the information provided, I believe this idea warrants our much greater attention.
Financial Services Key Trends and Challenges
Posted By: QSI
Published: Apr 16, 2012
Author: Kimberly Murgas, Director, Financial Services
Technology advances and global commerce have intensified the competition for profit and market share in the Financial Services Industry. As the demand for innovative products and services continues to increase, time-to-market and brand differentiation become key factors for success. Furthermore, responsiveness to the customers’ needs and agility in adapting to today’s challenges will determine tomorrow’s financial leaders.
Business activity is being conducted through online banking and transactions. E-business capability is quickly becoming a requirement to compete in the marketplace. For aggressive firms, it presents unrivaled opportunities for profit and growth. E-business capability provides companies with essential agility and holds the key to differentiation through internet-based customer services and sharing of information and resources.
How is QSI aligned to add Strategic Value to its clients facing these issues?
QSI responds with its Mobile Banking Service Offerings & Solutions…
Customer Relationship Management (CRM). An important trend in the new economy is the necessity to focus on the customer and emphasize self-service. To build customer loyalty, companies must strive to accommodate the customers’ expanding needs for personalized services and greater convenience.
QSI responds with its Application Development and BI Service Offerings & Solutions… Time-to-Market.
Business strategy and organization must be altered to suit the new dynamics of today’s market. Real-time access to critical business information and integration along product and geographical lines are paramount to the future success of any organization.
QSI responds with its Strategy Service Offerings & Solutions...
Strategies for Success . Among the companies that have maintained a track record of success over time, certain characteristics are evident:
- Superior customer service and innovative products
- Ability to respond to shifts in the market
- Quicker time-to-market
- Staff and cost reduction
- Increase employee satisfaction
- Generate Return on Investment (ROI)
- Create ease and convenience of business transactions (e-business)
Companies must also focus on retaining and building lasting relationships by adapting a customer-centric culture. QSI responds by being Customer-Center Organization and approaches its service offerings and solutions with the client in mind. 95% of QSI's current clients are clients for life. Specifically, because QSI listens and responds to the ever-changing and challenging demands of the Financial Services Marketplace.
A Flexible Workforce is Developing within the State of Ohio Government
Posted By: QSI
Published: Apr 10, 2012
Author: Douglas Drescher, Director Public Sector Industry Lead
Last month Computer Aid Incorporated (CAI) from Harrisburg, PA was hired to provide Vendor Management Operations for the State of Ohio government. CAI now manages the IT supplemental staffing needs for all state agencies. Last year IT supplemental staffing spend in Ohio amounted to $50mm to $60mm. This is a new approach for the State of Ohio to utilize VMO services to manage their IT supplemental staffing.
By implementing a VMO process the State of Ohio is seeking to benefit from controlled costs, improved quality of service, and timely responsiveness. It will also open the door for any IT consulting company or independent consultant to do business in Ohio.
While reliance on consultants may be a sensible next step following the recession, don't be surprised if the trend toward a flexible workforce continues beyond the recovery. The recent explosion of business technology means you now need access to a range of independent contractors, consulting firms, managed services and other experts for a variety of unpredictable demands that will stretch even the most skilled full-time staff. Many state agencies are now finding that it makes economical sense to supplement their team with a pool of experts with specific skills that can be called upon as needed.
Early in the recession, during deep IT layoffs, there was an increase in demand for independent IT consultants. On the surface it appeared to be a natural response to reduced budgets -- hire the temps for now, and when the economy rebounds, ramp up the full-time staff. What people failed to see at the time, but is apparent now, is that we were also at the cusp of a major upheaval in business technology characterized by terms like “do more with less”, “shared services” and “globalization”. These changes inside state government are driven by factors such as the introduction of new flexible technology, communication in real time, and knowing that 1 out of every 3 State of Ohio IT employees are heading for retirement over the next 3 years.
The national unemployment rate for IT is under 2%, and we are in a tech boom. It is even more challenging finding skilled talent. Now more than ever we need our colleges and universities to step up and close the IT gap to meet the demands of a flexible workforce.
Better Living Through Automation - ATDD, Client Satisfaction and Profitability
Posted By: QSI
Published: Apr 03, 2012
Keeping Skills Updated – Not a Luxury Anymore
Author: Tom Lynch
I recently attended a lunch-and-learn session that focused on Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) and automation techniques being employed by one of our project teams. Although I have some background in this, I had yet to see a truly successful implementation of this methodology first hand. I have to say I was impressed. The team is achieving great things and creating significant value for their client through a rigorous approach to ATDD and automation.
As the team has hit their stride over the last few months, they have attained a virtually unheard of standard – Zero Defects. They are catching problems during the iteration and before promotion of new code. This is a tremendous cost savings, as it avoids or minimizes that bug list that never seems to stop growing on most projects.
Along with Zero Defects, the team is delighting the client. They are thrilled with the team’s productivity, in large part, because of the absence of a growing backlog of
distractions defects. Additionally, during demos, the automation runs in the background, demonstrating the functionality as the team displays their accomplishments. The client is able to watch this and see the fruits of the team’s approach. All that, and the code works – the first time, every time!
As I listened to the presenters tell the lunch and learn participants about their success, I was forced to wonder “why aren’t we doing this on all of our projects?” The answer is “because it’s hard!” – there are a variety of challenges confronting adoption of this approach to quality assurance.
First, our developers (both programmers and quality analysts) are still very uneven in their exposure to these concepts. Many business analysts have heard little about this topic. Until we are able to generate a critical mass of developers that are able to implement these techniques, we are going to face significant difficulties in applying them across the board. The example project has the good fortune of being lead by a thought leader in the QA space and a technical lead who is an automation hobbyist in addition to his day job. Clearly we need to, as an industry, make evangelizing these methods a priority and bring our development experts to a more consistent level of expertise.
Second, until we reach a point where all members of a project team are comfortable with and enthusiastic about these methods, projects will continue to under-deliver and take longer. ATDD simultaneously increases productivity and client satisfaction with the end product. However, implementation of these techniques currently depends upon having highly skilled project team members with the initiative to drive their adoption on the project. These resources are potentially more costly to the client and could be better utilized on other project tasks. Additionally, bringing the other members of the team up to speed and ingraining the methods hurt productivity initially and lengthen the overall project timeline.
Lastly, the central idea of ATDD in an Agile environment is to bring testing to the front of the process. One of the benefits of this is to draw the business analyst (and product owners, for that matter) into the development process and get them more engaged in design considerations. This is heavily dependent upon making the techniques, especially automation, more user friendly and easier to manage and maintain. With the current tool sets (cucumber, Selenium, Watir, SVNs, etc.) this is a huge challenge. As a BA myself, the last thing I am interested in doing while refining the team’s understanding of the client’s desires for the application is to wade into an SVN and check-in/check-out test scenarios so that we can all stay in sync. Additionally, every project I have seen dabbling in this uses a whole slew of different open source gadgets and "doo-dads" to make it all work.
Despite these challenges, we are on the cusp of great things in the ATDD and automation space. The potential to improve project success is massive. We simply need to focus on broadening our acceptance of the methods, demonstrating their value, and refining the tools. Sounds easy, right?
Posted By: QSI
Published: Mar 26, 2012
Quick Solutions, The History Behind the Name
Author: Kevin Feeman
With the U.S. economy still slumping and unemployment numbers barely moving forward, it is imperative to keep professional skills up to date. Whether you need to update the computer programs you already know or train for a completely new industry, your ability to adapt to change will help keep you employed, both now and in the future.
Staying current with required knowledge and skills enables you to make the most out of your years of experience. One of the best and most inexpensive ways to keep your skills up to date is using online training resources. There are many available options on the Internet to enhance your skill set ranging from going to an online university to taking free tutorials. However, one of the best, inexpensive, valuable training resources on the Internet today is Lynda.com.
Lynda.com has an amazing library of more than 1,000 learning courses for people at all experience levels. Instructional videos are added almost on a daily basis. There is in-depth training for advanced software, particularly Adobe products. There are also courses to sharpen business skills, such as Achieving Your Goals and Creating an Effective Resume. Courses are well structured, and the excellent video and audio quality make learning easy, fun and best of all, quick. The instructors are top notch and have extensive experience in the subjects they teach.
In today's economy keeping up with current skills and knowledge is essential. With the right training and education, updating your skills will not only be easier to achieve but will also enable you to re-enter your field in step with current conditions and requirements.
Posted By: QSI
Published: Mar 23, 2012
Author: Terry Wiegmann, Director
You know the meeting ice-breaker activity where you name 3 people you’d like to have dinner with or have in your golf foursome? I don’t know about their golf game, but my two choices would be Gary Quick and his wife, Shelly. Some people may be surprised to learn that our company name, Quick Solutions, isn’t an adjective, it’s a pronoun!
As I look for exemplars on which to base our new People Service Line, I think it’s important to learn from history, and so I interviewed people who had the privilege of working with Gary in the early days of Quick Solutions (QSI).
Building on a successful career in executive recruiting, Gary recognized an opportunity existed to provide services and solutions to the Columbus IT community. As a result, he founded QSI in 1991. Following an accident in 2006, Gary was no longer actively involved with QSI when I joined, but here are some comments from those who worked with him:
“So full of energy - he would light up the room - you knew when he was in the office”
“The thing I remember most is he had the opinion that if you invested in making the employee happy, that they would return that tenfold.”
“He cared very much about what the employees thought. If employees didn't like something he would work to fix it. He was very generous, fun loving and easy going - but didn't believe in jeans at work!”
Most importantly, for those of us who are here now, is his foresight in ensuring a succession plan was established so that jobs would be safe and client relationships remain stable in case of unplanned events.
Energetic, caring, courageous and persevering in the face of adversity – I think that’s how Gary would like to think of the people of QSI!
Oh, and my fourth? Another energetic, curious and courageous person: my great-great-grandfather, Patrick Gass, who was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
When’s tee time?!?!