Category: Women in IT
Additional Budget? How to spend it wisely…

MONEY- this is the word that rings first when any task has to be accomplished.
Often, organisations allocate budget for projects that are considered as business enablers or enforced as mandatory changes to be implemented for that year. It’s a dream for the management that there is more money allocated to the project than what is required to achieve the project outcome. Such dreams comes true when the board realises there is money that is not yet spent for the financial year and authorise the additional money to be spent for any projects or initiatives.

It sounds easy to spend money but it’s always a challenge to spend additional money constructively to bring in positive outcomes. Spending additional budget is yet another project which requires evaluation of options, estimation, good planning and successful execution.

While additional budget is available, we also need to be mindful that it has to be spent to the benefit of the sponsor. At the same time, all stakeholders would expect the fund to be spent wisely and effectively. While there are numerous options to constructively spend additional budget, there are few options which benefits project, team and sponsors equally.

1. Invest on activities that benefit the sponsor such as Process Improvement
There is always a room for improvement in any organisation. We identify a list of improvements and in most cases, those initiatives don’t get mobilised either due to lack of funding or due to other high priority activities in the pipeline. When money is available for initiatives, it’s good to start implementing those improvements that would benefit the organisation. On implementing improvements, the organisation would realise the benefits in near future or upcoming projects and would result in a satisfactory outcome both for the sponsors and the project and eventually it would be a good learning experience for the team.

2. Identify potential future projects and invest the fund to do the initial assessment for the potential projects
Most of the projects limit their scope to what can be achieved with the allocated funding and within the expected timeframe. The tasks that are deferred for the future eventually become the scope for the a new project. Additional budget available in the current project can be used to do the initial assessment of those deferred tasks which serves as the key input to initiate the next phase.

3. Onboard additional staff and invest on up-skilling the team members and at the same time the team can contribute to the project outcome
Knowledge of a business process and technology is an asset for any organisation. On-boarding additional resources and up-skilling them during the project journey has a two fold benefit; the new member can contribute to the project and at the same time the resource can be trained in the business process which can be leveraged in the future projects.

4. Allocate some fund for rewards and recognitions
A motivated team brings in remarkable results and timely recognition and rewards ensures that the team is motivated to continue to do their good work. Some of the additional budget can be spent for rewards and recognitions while will keep up the morale within the team.

5. Organise team building activities
Teamwork is one of the top soft skills that is required to have a healthy and positive working environment. Team collaboration helps to achieve the project objectives efficiently. Team events provide an environment for the staff to interact and socialise with their colleagues out of their daily work. This helps to build a more friendly work environment, which eventually results in better project outcomes.

6. To retain skilled resources until start of next assignment.
To spend the additional funding inline with the project objectives is a tricky challenge in a scenario where you may already have enough funds to meet the project commitments. If there is a possibility to carry forward the remaining fund to the next phase of the project then the fund can be utilised to continue the core skilled team members if there is a visibility of any upcoming projects where their skills are required. This in-between time, while the next phase is yet to start, can be a good reason for the team to document their learning and prepare knowledge artefacts that can be used to train new members in future.

Ideas to spend money are never ending but at the end of the day, the money has to be spent constructively and wisely. The key success to spending money is to first get the ideas open to the stakeholders and get the buy-in from everyone involved on the option chosen to spend the additional budget. The task doesn’t end in just finalising the option. The challenge is to execute the budget plan successfully, monitoring and tracking throughout the journey and to achieve a positive closure by accomplishing the expected outcome within the budget. Also ROI and benefits has to be evaluated before starting the budget plan.

Money and business are in a cycle, spend money to improve business and improved business gives back the money. It sounds easy, isn’t it? But we all know its not in reality. So Spend Smart!

Gayathri Ramamoorthy – Gayathri is a Project Manager who joined IMA recently and has over 14 years of experience in IT industry. She has been working in IT projects in diverse domains, which includes Manufacturing, Telecom, Chemical and Food Process Industry, Financial Services. She spends her leisure time with her daughter playing interesting kids games. She has now started to explore the experience of blogging and this is her first attempt towards the blog journey.


How to Utilise your Time on the Bench

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.59.45 AMBy Saira Cheema.  Saira makes her blogging debut today for IMA, please make her feel welcome…Saira, a rather new entry in IMA, is a Business Analyst and a nerd in disguise. Books, current affairs, cricket and sarcasm are her go to areas of interest. Other than being awkward, she loves writing, reading fiction and watching gruesome TV shows.

 

We all know that for any Business Analyst, the time at the bench can be hard. (For those not aware of the term, “bench” or “Beach” is a commonly used term for Consultants who are in-between or yet to be allocated to projects but still employed by a Professional Services company) You have been working non-stop at a client’s site for months and as soon as you are back at the bench, you start wondering, “What do I do now?”.  It can be difficult to find the best way to utilise your time,  I have had that struggle, which is why I wanted to share my experience. It has not only been a way to fill my time but for me, therapeutic as well.

1. Blog about it:
Being a Business Analyst, you get to work with different clients with diverse work environments and you always get to learn something new. Among the BAs I had the privilege of working with, there is so much to learn which you end up sharing over coffee or the weekly lunch but it is never written down or made part of the bigger conversation. So when you are on the bench with some time on your hands, sharing your experience should be the first thing you do.
How do I share my experience, you ask? Company blog is the best way to become part of the mainstream conversation. The starting point for writing a blog is always difficult but once you overcome your fear, writing is the best way to de-stress. All you have to do is gather your thoughts and create a blog-post. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about your experience at a particular client. It can also be a generic post about the skills you utilised or the new ones you acquired.

2. Catch up on what you missed:
Time on the bench is not the time to slack or go rusty. It is the best time to invest in acquiring new skills. While I was working on the client site quite recently, I missed out on many company events but I also missed out on some of the training sessions conducted.
How did I catch up? I dug out the material on the Intranet and went through the sessions. If I didn’t understand some of the newer concepts, folks on the World Wide Web were always there to help. This is also a good time to go back to the basics and re-evaluate your skills with spending some time reading on what you already know. Open BABOK or do a training on PRINCE2.

3. Lend a helping hand:
One thing I have learned with IMA is that being a consultant here is not the same as being a consultant anywhere else. You are always part of the bigger picture like any other permanent employee and you get to know that there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
What can you do to help out? Documentation is normally one of the strongest skills a BA has and there are so many internal projects you can lend some help in. Need a case study for the website? Give out your advice on what your experience was and how you helped out in the process. The Administration officer is swamped with work? Help out by setting up company meetings in the office and sending out invites. Account Manager has to give presentation to a client? Give advice on how to make the presentation a perfect blend of sales and technical.

As I said, being on the bench can be boring but it is also the best time for you to learn as you don’t have deadlines to meet or constantly engage with stakeholders. This is your own time and you can get the best out of it by investing in your skills. Go for it!



International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day 2016.

 

 

One of the greatest issues facing the IT industry today is the declining number of women entering and remaining in the industry.  The development and retention of  high performance female staff is critical to the longer-term diversity of the IT industry.

At IMA, we support the career aspirations of our female staff without expecting them to sacrifice or compromise other priorities.  The IT industry is traditionally a male-dominated workforce and at IMA, women make up close to 30% of our team (according to VIC ICT for Women, women only make up 16% of ICT roles in Australia).  We have a strong focus to enhance our workforce to better represent society as a whole, and are striving to ensure that women within IMA are fairly represented in all technical, leadership and professional roles.

Our HR General Manager, Shelley Brown says, “We have a solid number of strong, professional women at all levels of our organisation.  From Consulting to Sales to the Management team, women are an integral part of our continued success. People tell us it is a high percentage for the industry, but we just hire the best people we can for the work that we do, and do what we can to encourage, support and engage the people that choose to work with us.”

Archana Patel who has recently taken up an Account Manager (September 2013 when her client engagement concluded and as of April 2015 as General Manager of our NSW branch!) role with IMA adds that her experience with IMA “has been refreshing”.  She further says “A few months ago I was offered a position as an Account Manager within the organisation, something I am really looking forward to, and a great opportunity for me to work with IMA to put both our clients and consultants first, to ensure the best fit and exceptional client delivery.  As a woman, a minority, in the world of IT – I can’t wait for the challenge.”