Covid 19 is eating Strategy for Breakfast

Covid 19 is eating Strategy for Breakfast

As 2020 began, we never realised that this global pandemic would be on the menu, invading both our lives and livelihood. As we try to process the implications of living and working under the shadow of Covid 19, we are all trying to rethink and reframe how we do business whilst at the same time safeguarding our lives. We are going through unprecedented change.

What is required is rapid innovation and time is of the essence. In the absence of a crystal ball, we have to consider all the possible scenarios and lead through strategic ambiguity. Success depends on moving the organisation forward precisely at times when the path ahead is hazy. We need to take pragmatic action in order to survive in this period of strategic uncertainty. We need to lead through change.

Communication is critical and leaders need to be visible and maintain frequent dialogue. It must be open and honest to maintain credibility. Even though leaders don’t have all the answers, communication is important to put everyone’s mind at ease and provide hope for the future. We need to communicate through change.

Please join us for our webinar, which explores how to navigate your way through the crisis and ensure your survival. We leverage change management principles and explore:

  • The five Stages of Disruption Denial
  • The Burning Platform
  • Successful Innovation
  • Decisive Action
  • Leading the new Strategic Direction

Please register here for this webinar.

Author:  Norma Lynch, Training Manager, Aspira.

From Russia to Ireland with Love



Diversity in Dublin

At Aspira, we have a very diverse international team, which we believe is key to our ability to innovate and deliver the best possible solutions for our clients. We work with global companies and work alongside colleagues of many different nationalities.

Tanya Gainutdinova is from Russia and is a technical resource specialist who started working in our Dublin office this year. Tanya shares her some insights into life at Aspira, and compares and contrasts Dublin with her hometown of Kazan, Russia.

If you’re considering a career with us, see all available positions on our

I am living in my new home in Dublin for one year now, working for Aspira, and because I enjoy sharing new perspectives and learning new ways of working myself, I thought it might be interesting to share my perspective of living and working in Dublin compared to my home town of Kazan.

Old and New

Dublin has a similar feel to my hometown in Russia – both were founded over one thousand years ago and have many historical buildings to be admired. But there are also lots of new high-tech locations such as Aspira’s Dublin office, which is in a great location in the Silicon Docklands.

Working at Aspira:

It’s been interesting to learn how business processes in Irish companies differs to Russia. My experience is that the atmosphere in Irish companies is very positive, with colleagues always willing and ready to give a helping hand. Our management team are always open to new ideas and encourage us to make suggestions.

One thing I see that the Irish and Russians have in common is the sense of humour, and wiliness not to take ourselves too seriously – having fun and a laugh with the ‘boss’ in is welcomed and typical for both countries (as long as you are getting your work done!).

Universal Interests – Food and Football

In Russia, my region is famous for its Tatar Cuisine – hearty pies, delicious baked goods and very sweet desserts are very popular.

I’ve enjoyed trying some Irish favourites and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of lamb compared to the mutton we have at home. I have now learned what ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ means! The variety of cheeses is astonishing in Ireland – Dairy products and seafood are really standout here.

Kazan hosted some matches during the recent World Cup and we all like keeping up to date with the football results. My team in Russia is Rubin Kazan although my Cork-based Aspira colleagues tell me there’s only one football team to follow:

It is great working and living in an international environment. Kazan and Dublin are very different, but we have much in common. Diversity and collaboration in the workplace helps to achieve synergy and I’m delighted to be part of the team at Aspira.

Author: Tanya Gainutdinova, Technical Resource Specialist, Aspira


Rationalising Requirements

One of the most common issues that teams come across as part of a project is the problem of scope creep. This is defined as uncontrolled changes or continuous growth of a project’s scope. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented or controlled.
This can be easily implemented incorrectly however; one could assume that defining a project’s scope is as easy as stating what a project will entail, the features required, systems involved etc. This is in fact correct but is missing a key detail of requirements gathering and outlining project scope. One of the key things to properly defining requirements and avoiding issues such as scope creep or conflict within the team, is to do the above, define requirements for what the project will entail but also define what the system will not include, features which are out of scope, areas that have been highlighted or proposed in the past but have been rejected. These are of equal importance as the definition of the actual included requirements because it avoids two major issues; the first being scope creep as previously mentioned and the second is lack of clarity. Clarity on what the project will actually be, what will be delivered, when it will be delivered, how it will be operated and how it will look and feel. Achieving this is possible by all stakeholders involved having a clear and defined picture of what the project will and won’t include.
Problems can very easily arise when people misinterpret requirements. This can very easily happen when all a stakeholder has is a definition of what the project requirements are, without the clarifying presence of what the project will not include. This can lead to wasted time, longer testing cycles and disagreements within teams over varying interpretations of what requirements actually mean.
By clearly defining requirements that are in scope and out of scope, we can avoid these pitfalls in our projects.
Aspira offer a range of courses in both Project Management & Business Analysis. These courses provide a structured approach to requirements gathering and provide valuable project management tools and techniques to support the creation of a detailed project plans, that are based on accurate business requirements. To find out more about Aspira’s public and private courses go to our website now.

Created By:        Stephen Pearse

Company:           Aspira

Title:                  Software Engineer

Business Showcase

Describe the company – the elevator pitch…

Aspira is a Consulting and Managed IT services specialist – an Irish company that delivers an International impact.  We provide expert consultancy in Project Management and Business Analysis, and as part of our Managed IT Services, we offer Software Development and Test Management solutions. It is a very broad service offering, backed by a world class team based in Cork and Dublin.

How are you different?

We differ from the norm in three key ways – our intense client focus, the deep expertise of our team, and the breadth of our service offering.

Aspira has an unremitting focus on identifying and meeting client needs – it’s what drives our day-to-day work practice. And since our clients really appreciate that effort, it makes it a very fulfilling place to work. Secondly, our team has a vast range of expertise – the people working in Aspira are seriously smart,….


Follow this link for the full article:

The Black Art of Risk

Project Risk Management is an essential activity often marginalised to the early phase of a project and subsequently neglected as projects protract in complexity. This type of risk management is a mere box-ticking exercise by ineffective project managers leading to perplexed project teams, pricey and perpetual delays – even cancelled projects. The irony here of course is the risk posed to the project by poor risk management is high and not easily fixed.

Detailed risk management must play an important role over the full lifecycle of any project – risk is not static or finite, nor can all risk be predicted at one time – therefore artefacts such as a Risk Register, Risk Assessment Plans and Risk Management Plans produced as part of the due diligence need to be maintained as living documents for risk to be mitigated.

Too often a risk management plan consists only of the identification of risk – as though its identification will automatically negate it happening. Good risk management details and documents all the known risks to a project but great risk management is able to identify the potential ripple effects of those risks if realised, and detail appropriate preventative mitigation plans as well as highlight further risk which may be incurred out of the mitigation plan itself.
In addition, with the best will in the world, sometimes the risks do realise, and if there is no contingency plan in place, then the project team is left scrambling and the risk management has ultimately failed.

Aspira’s expertise at risk management is unparalleled and our approach is not easily replicated.

  • Review your risk management policies and procedures, offering solutions to strengthen your risk exposure.
  • Provide in depth risk identification, with full detail of the secondary risks posed.
  • Do a detailed risk analysis, identifying potentially impacted business and technological functions and plans.
  • Prioritize your risk based on your key criteria – financial, customer impacting, business critical – whatever your key criteria are, we can work to help you prioritize, guiding influence, effort and budget to where it needs to be.
  • Creates risk mitigation plans, addressing how those risks will be treated – how they will be mitigated to prevent them happening, and the plans that needs to fall into place if they do.
  • Identify your impacted stakeholders – this goes far beyond your standard RACI matrix – this outlines your key stakeholders and the impact that risk realisation may have on their interests in your project.

If your project requires a solid risk management foundation, an inflight risk assessment or a review of how risks were dealt with, Aspira has the expertise to expedite your risk management plan and limit your exposure.

Aspira’s Risk Management has resulted in our clients being able to:

  • Achieve complete business buy-in on the decision for projects to proceed based on complete risk assessment, offering confidence in budget stability.
  • Competently budget for contingencies based on the prioritization of risk and their likelihood to occur.
  • Allow Project Managers to focus on the day to day project tasks rather than risk mitigation planning.
  • Save time and budget by having plans in place which can be immediately executed if risks do realise.
  • Allow project managers to immediately brief senior execs on impacts to a project due to risks that have realised.
  • Improve communication and allow for key stakeholders to be identified quickly.
  • Stop work backlogs and resource inefficiencies by concentrating on key high risk areas.
  • Complete projects smoothly engaging whether engaging in risk mitigation or risk treatment plans.


IT Peace of Mind

Companies of all sizes can reap real tangible benefits from partnering with Aspira for Managed IT services. As IT estates have evolved, and ways of doing business have widened their scope, the gap between good and great Managed Service Providers (MSPs) has stretched. Businesses today seek partners who offer more than cost savings alone and rightly so; efficiency, reliability and enhanced security are the minimum that advanced MSPs like Aspira must provide.

Diverse issues are faced by companies of different sizes; but the solutions for both are provided for by Aspira. Small to medium sized companies depend upon their computer network, email, database and internet access as well as their core physical devices such as their PCs, mobile devices and printers. Large companies and Corporates often additionally have large server farms supporting complex applications and system estates that require constant monitoring and proactive management.

Infrastructure landscapes supporting these businesses have transformed over recent years, with companies of all sizes favouring virtual over physical server architecture for performance and cost efficiency. Aspira’s remote 24×7 monitoring application supports all VMware hosts and Hyper-V servers ensuring keen eyes are always monitoring the bedrock of your business, protecting your company’s ability to perform to peak potential.

“Security remains a constant and costly headache for companies of all sizes.”

As business strategies evolve, significantly more companies are employing mobile devices such as tablets with significant business operational usage – as point of sale terminals, CVM devices and Loyalty tools amongst many common business uses. Aspira offers remote monitoring and management of iOS and Android devices – executing application management, file synchronization and sharing, data security, and support for either a corporate-owned or personally owned device.
Security meanwhile remains a constant and costly headache for companies of all sizes.  Firewall protecting company networks and servers with sensitive customer and business data require constant monitoring and management. Not only that, but proactive optimisation and fast fixes are an essential for business continuity reasons. With Aspira’s monitoring and management system, you can rest assured that you have provided the best protection for your business.

“Concentrate your staff on strategic business activities, rather than being distracted by day to day hardware and software issues.”

Our system’s advanced algorithms ensure that we can identify issues and fix your machines while you sleep, minimising business or user downtime. Outsourcing your monitoring and support to Aspira allows you to concentrate your staff on strategic business activities, rather than being distracted by day to day hardware and software issues. Aspira’s Managed IT service ultimately reduces the total cost of ownership of your estate, as the annual maintenance costs reduce in line with the increased quality of your monitoring and management.

Our remote monitoring and management system supports:
With our RMM platform, we can monitor:
• VMware hosts, Hyper-V servers
• Windows, Linux servers, Mac desktops
• SNMP & ICMP devices like printers and firewalls
• Mobile devices including Android & iOS
• HIPAA compliant patching and update process for applying updates and fixes to your machines

From Chaos to Clarity

Whether you’re using the Agile or Waterfall project methodology, the importance of brilliant business analysis cannot be underestimated. Sloppy business requirements lead to bursting budgets and stagnant schedules as projects trip over clumsy requirements. Business analysis when perfectly executed results in a solid signed-off set of agreed business requirements, with no ambiguity and complete business buy-in.

A large majority of business owners aren’t aware of full extent of what they want or need prior to being led through the Requirements Gathering phase. If the owner of the project doesn’t know what they want, how can the project deliver it? The answer lies in business analysis.

That’s why business analysts are the lynchpin of every successful project. Getting requirements right means saving money on expensive changes further down the development road and keeping the schedule streamlined and on track. Investing in Business Analysis coaching will bring demonstrable benefits to your organisation regardless of the industry.

Aspira’s Business Analysis Coaching will demonstrate to you not just how to be a great business analyst, but what it really takes to be an awesome one.

Pure business analysis is independent of design; the requirements are the ‘what is required’, and the design is ‘how it is implemented’, but with that said, a business analyst needs to have a clear understanding of the scope, risks, dependencies and assumptions surrounding the requirements in order to liaise with technology stakeholders such as Architects, Technical Leads, Programmers and Testers, not to mention the Project Manager.

That’s why great communication is key. Aspira’s Business Analysis training will teach you practical techniques to power up your to communication skills as a Business Analyst.
Business Analysts are the absolutely essential intermediary between the business and the technology departments of an organisation, thus they must be able to elicit requirements eloquently and assess solutions astutely.

For example, business stakeholders are not interested in what the middle-tier error response handling capability needs to do, nor are software developers interested in the competitive market advantage of certain requested features.

Invest in Aspira’s superior Business Analysis Coaching and you will learn:
• Business Analysis terminology, concepts and methodologies
• The 7 Business Analysis Knowledge Areas
• Inputs, outputs and the purpose of each of the core processes
• Techniques for Solution Assessment and Validation, Requirements Management and Communication
• What you need to know in order to pass the Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP) exam
• Test-Taking Strategies including what to expect on the day

Aspira are approved education providers by the International Institute of Business Analysis. This means our training has been audited by the IIBA® and meets their strict quality requirements. This course is also part-funded by IT@Cork Skillnet, so the cost of the CBAP Version 3 course to you is now only €1200! Click here TODAY to talk about your Business Analysis Coaching today and bring order to the chaos!

Lean in and become a ScrumMaster

Most software development teams are either agile or leaning towards agile. Scrum has revolutionised IT and has trended significantly in recent years and qualified ScrumMasters are the new software development accessory.

In today’s highly competitive environment there are increasing demands for rapid release of software iterations with a focus on quality at affordable costs. By embracing the Scrum Agile methodology and mastering the skills of the ScrumMaster you will see both the passion of scrum teams and their increased productivity unleashed within your organisation.

The ScrumMaster is relentlessly focused on leading the development team to success and ensuring their path to delivery of their goals is clear.

Aspira’s world class training will take you to the heart of what being not just a good, but a great ScrumMaster really means. So lean in to our two day ScrumMaster training course and you will learn to:

• Understand the principles of Agile and how to implement the Scrum Agile Method

• Learn how to estimate and create a realistic plan so that project commitments will be      delivered

• Increase your team’s productivity, and balance their workload

• Build up your capability to deliver early prototypes and projects

• Learn how to manage change when implementing Scrum in your organization

Aspira are approved education providers by the Project Management Institute, the International Institute of Business Analysis and Scrum Alliance. This means our Training has been audited by the PMI® and the IIBA® and meets their strict quality requirements. Click here to talk about your Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification.

Professional ScrumMaster courses – Earlybird price is €750 and includes exam fee

• Cork on 13th & 14th September 2016
• Dublin on 25th & 26th October 2016

Managed IT Services

With many companies are now looking to streamline efficiencies, processes and save costs wherever possible – Managed IT Services are fast becoming an attractive option for businesses of all sizes. If you haven’t already considered outsourcing some of your IT to a managed service provider (MSP), we will highlight some of the fundamental reasons why many organisations have already chosen to do so below;

Keep Your IT Costs Under Control At All Times

The majority of MSP’s will offer you a fixed monthly, or annual payment plan for your systems maintenance. This will often take into account the number of people, devices or systems you require to be managed and will give you assured service level agreements as well. No nasty surprises, or changes in charges – with an easy to manage, predictable cost.

Proactive support through RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management)

With more sophisticated RMM tools at their disposal MSP’s are allowing businesses to manage alerts in a proactive manner. Systems are reporting potential errors rather than absolute failures thus allowing a proactive response. This proactive response reduces or eliminates the unscheduled downtime caused to your business when a system fails. These systems are running 24×7 and the response to alerts can be tailored to match if required.

Elasticated Services – Giving You Flexibility When You Need It Most

Another great part of the managed services offering is the flexibility that can be offered, with some providers dishing out their services on a pay-as-you-go basis. They can often deal with rapid growth when you need it, as quickly as you need it. Alternatively, you will not end up paying for services you are not using if you are looking to consolidate, or reduce costs, as the same level of resilience is applied.

Profound Expertise In Your Team

You have instant access to the best in the business and are supported by highly skilled, highly trained individuals, who would of otherwise cost a small fortune to hire in, or employ. This access to staff with specialist skills can prove invaluable to your business, even if they are only called upon once in a year. This can save your company the expense of training your team for eventualities they might only ever use once.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Most MSP’s will use the very best of breed technologies that are available, in order to deliver the very best services to their clients. Upgrades and patches are no longer a concern to your business as these are all taken care of by the service provider, behind the scenes.

Technology At The Top Of its Game

The majority of MSP’s will offer you a fixed monthly, or annual payment plan for your systems maintenance. This will often take into account the number of people, devices or systems you require to be managed and will give you assured service level agreements as well. No nasty surprises, or changes in charges – with an easy to manage, predictable cost.

Secure Infrastructure – Always

While individual cloud service providers manage their services, an MSP takes into account the security of the systems and the data, whether it is on premise or located in a datacentre. While the datacentre and its overall network infrastructure is extremely robust it is important to ensure that security is maintained through the entire IT infrastructure. A good MSP will take this in to account not only in the design but also in ensuring it is managed 24/7/365 days a year.

Greener IT

As MSP offerings will often run some or all of your services and system within a virtual environment, your company will benefit not only from power savings, and ease of access you will also be able to boast about reducing your overall carbon footprint, whilst reducing your operation costs at the same time.

Aspira offers a highly skilled team of engineers, boasting competencies and IT deliverance assurances that will help any business of any size to operate more effectively, competitively and efficiently. Deliverance of our IT services can either be on-site or remotely, depending on your specific requirements, as well as the complete assurance that our team is available on a 24/7 basis, supporting your business whenever you need it.