News

The exponential rise in the popularity of cloud computing in the past decade proves beyond doubt that it has finally come of age, but organisations need to now learn how to control this technology and make it work for them. Cloud has many advantages over in-house IT infrastructure and traditional outsourcing services. Cloud is constantly available. Its applications are always up-to-date. It is flexible. It requires little capital investment. You only pay for what you use. It is more secure than many traditional in-house environments. It is the answer to so many problems. Cloud usage has exploded globally and all trends point to this continuing well into the future. ...But it is not perfect. There have been some dramatic failures. For example, a glitch at a major cloud service provider (CSP) in February 2017 caused hundreds of thousands of websites using its services to function badly or not at all for a few hours. In another case, a CSP providing customer relationship management platforms to businesses suffered major disruptions in May 2016 when a circuit breaker failed. As a result, the CSP’s own customers were unable to use its services for a day and many lost newly inputted data. Lloyds, the specialist insurer, estimated in a report published in January 2018 that if an extreme cyber incident took a top cloud provider offline for three to six days, it would cost US businesses around $15 billion. Despite these and other high-profile breakdowns at CSPs, and the risk of even worse to come as pointed out by Lloyds, CSPs’ customers – individuals, companies and other organisations – have generally remained undeterred. It is because the benefits of cloud are too important to ignore. The US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) famous definition is too long to reproduce here in full, but the nub of it is that “cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources”. The “network” is usually the public internet, but private networks are also used. One of the computer scientists who wrote that definition described the benefits as “cost savings, energy savings, rapid deployment and customer empowerment”. That is why cloud adoption continues on an upward trajectory. The worldwide public cloud services market for CSPs is projected to grow by 21% to $186 billion in total revenues in 2018, up from $154 billion in 2017, according to Gartner. The research firm expects revenues to grow another 63% over the next three years to reach $303 billion by 2021. So cloud is here to stay, and it is going to get much bigger. Yet potential pitfalls await unwary users, both during the adoption period and day-to-day running. I have already highlighted some of the problems affecting providers of cloud services, but corporate customers face a different set of self-inflicted risks. They need to know what they are. It is imperative they take steps to minimise those risks as well as maximise the opportunities, if they are to maintain control in the cloud. Being in control is what it is all about. Even though cloud services are now at a high level of maturity, companies using them still bear the eventual risks and responsibilities if things go amiss. Maintaining control in the cloud therefore means creating a sound strategy for adoption and management. This includes selecting the right provider and getting the best contract terms. It means ensuring that staff adjusts to all the procedural and cultural changes that cloud entails. If staff do not adapt, many of the benefits of cloud will not be realised and errors are likely to be made. It means integrating old and new technology to ensure that the cloud can work in the company’s legacy environment. In the vast majority of cases, IT failures are more likely to happen at the cloud user end than at the cloud provider end. And it means managing operational risk and compliance. Although a company can outsource its IT, it cannot outsource its risk management, legal and regulatory obligations. Colm McDonnell is a Partner and Head of Risk Advisory in Deloitte. You can read the full report here.

Nov 15, 2018
News

BY FIONA BUCKLEY Different personality types can account for one of the biggest cause of clashes in the office. If people adopt a my-way-or-the-highway attitude, it can lead to serious difficulties in workplace relationships and cause high-level conflict and frustration across teams. If we take some positive steps to proactively deal with different personality types, all sorts of issues can often be avoided. Here are ten tips to working with all different personalities in the workplace: Know your own personality preference. This involves possibly taking a personality test, obtaining feedback and regular reflection. An African proverb once said, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can do you no harm”. If you truly know yourself well and are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, then you should know your limitations. This is about truly developing your self-awareness at the highest possible level. Undertake and attend training to become more aware and attuned to other personality preferences that are different to your own. Being able to recognise personality types will help you adjust your own approach. You can’t change your personality but you can temporally adapt and flex your personality into other personality types when the situation calls for same. Be open to adapting when needed. Read and observe body language more closely. You can often obtain more information from non-verbal communication initially. Develop your blind spots and work on your own personality limitations. There is no such thing as a perfect personality. For example, an extrovert could have a blind spot when it comes to active listening and can be guilty of talking too much in some situations. Respect different personalities and remember that opposites attract. There is no one ‘right’ way of doing things – there are many different approaches to get to the end result and each different personality will take a different journey. This is where creativity and innovation will come alive in your office. If we were all to approach things the same way, the world would be a very boring place. Respect diversity. Be aware of ‘similar to me’ bias where you end up hiring people that are similar to yourself and only make an effort to work with people with whom you more readily identify. If we continually fall back on this approach, we become more narrow-minded in our thinking. Be patient and jump into the shoes of the other person regularly. See the project or situation from a different perspective and work on developing your empathy. Stop comparing yourself to other people. This is a hallmark trait of resilience. Personality begins when comparison ends. Challenge yourself to have that cup of coffee with the person who frustrates you the most. You might be surprised to find out you have more in common with that person than you think and the different way that you approach things is the actual issue. Personality cannot be viewed in isolation. There is a whole host of other contextual factors that wrap around personality, such as: organisational culture, overall confidence, history between people, length of service and experience, individual coping mechanisms, resilience levels and emotional intelligence to name a few. Figuring out how to work with our own personality and those around us is a life-long journey.  Fiona Buckley is an executive coach and trainer. She will be teaching the course Personality types: understanding yourself & others in the workplace at Chartered Accountants House on 6 December.

Nov 14, 2018
Careers

Ever wondered how the financial side of recruitment works? Well, here’s the plain, unvarnished truth. In the past, the fee element of the recruitment process has been shrouded in mystery. The truth is, it’s a relatively simple fee structure that isn’t a million miles from other service industries. But that’s the critical point that often gets missed; when people engage a recruitment firm, some think they’re buying a product but in truth, it’s a service. When you engage a recruiter, you are buying their time and their expertise. The cost structure for this time and expertise is differentiated based on whether the hire is permanent, fixed-term or temporary. Permanent assignments typically command a fee of 20% of base salary; fixed-term assignments command a pro rata fee of roughly 30% of base salary; and temporary assignments generally command a higher fee again as the recruitment firm payrolls the person, seconds them on-site and assumes much of the administration and risk involved with hiring temporary staff. This is all relatively clear cut, but the process can become confusing when the issue of rebates arise. A rebate is a partial refund and is generally discussed when a recruiter fills a position for a client, but the new hire doesn’t work out. Where the recruiter has made a strong recommendation or the new hire has conducted themselves unprofessionally, then there is certainly a case for a rebate if the new hire failed to meet the basic and stated expectations of the hiring manager, as outlined in the job specification. Where the candidate was driven out of the firm by an aggressive corporate culture or by being put on reception, for example, the responsibility for the new hire’s exit lies with the company as opposed to the recruitment firm who recommended him or her. In such cases, the hiring manager must assume responsibility for the departure - not the recruiter, as there was nothing wrong with the service provided. The best person for the job? Hiring managers also need to understand the link between the nature of the role and the talent available. Making a permanent hire is like buying a car – you can build it to any specification you like. If you’re renting, on the other hand, your options are limited to whatever is in the carpark. It’s a crass analogy, but the reality is simple – when hiring for a fixed-term or temporary vacancy, hiring managers should understand that they will get the best available person, not the best person.

Nov 13, 2018
Careers

As the recruitment industry continues to evolve, technology plays an increasingly influential role.As with any industry, recruitment is in a constant state of evolution. However, it is hindered by hiring managers’ tendency to see it as a transactional process as opposed to a strategic alliance. While the best recruitment firms work hard to instil this strategic mindset, there are a number of trends that will impact how hiring managers and their recruitment consultants will conduct the hiring process in the future.1. Candidate-driven job market Candidates are now firmly in the driving seat due to a shortage of talent to meet the demand for suitably qualified Chartered Accountants, particularly at the junior and mid-career level. To attract top talent, hiring managers must, therefore, have a stellar brand in the marketplace and be willing to act when the right candidate comes along. This candidate-driven market will also lead to salary inflation in the months and years ahead while intrinsic reward – how people feel about the work they do – will become an increasingly important differentiator.2. SMEs take the fight to MNCs With multinational corporations hiring vast amounts of Chartered Accountants, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be forced to increase their attractiveness to potential candidates. This increased competition will pose a challenge for all entities, but will ultimately lead to a stronger finance market as candidates’ preferences will be increasingly taken into account. This reality once again points to the importance of a strong employer brand and the need for companies to adopt a flexible and inclusive approach to their working environment. Those who expect candidates to conform to out-dated or rigid work practices will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the talent they need to succeed.3. Artificial intelligence gains tractionAs the debate about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) continues, progressive firms are already incorporating it into the workplace while adding to their headcount. The benefit of AI in this sense is the automation of mundane, repetitive tasks and the refocusing of human capital on value-add activities. In truth, the automation of low-value activity has been happening for years, but technology will facilitate the acceleration of this trend. It will also mean that finance professionals will need to be IT-aware and systems savvy as they will act as the conduit for information to the wider business.4. The partnership processTo elaborate on the previous point, finance professionals will become increasingly integrated in the wider business. The concept of the ‘business partner’ in finance has been around for some time, but the finance department is now seen as a key ally in the development and execution of strategy. In this context, hiring managers will need to look beyond traditional technical skills and also hire for softer skills such as communication skills, presentation skills and project management experience. In many instances, finance professionals will be relied upon to interpret the data, not just generate it, and join the strategy conversation with the wider business.While these are some of the key trends shaping the future of the recruitment market, the fundamentals remain the same – to hire the top talent, you need a strong employer brand that speaks to the intrinsic needs of candidates. You also need to act when the right candidate comes along and go in with your best reasonable offer.If hiring managers get these fundamentals right, they will be well-positioned to protect themselves from the threats – and capitalise on the opportunities – that change will ultimately bring. You can read this and more in the Accountancy Ireland and Barden Hiring Guide.

Nov 12, 2018
Careers

People, not processes, are the key to onboarding success. To help your new hires settle in quickly, follow these simple steps. For an employee, a new job means a rare opportunity to  make a fresh start. People often join companies with enthusiasm and ambition, but if your induction process consists of signing forms and reading business procedures, you are probably missing a critical opportunity to capitalise on this new energy. While all companies will have certain documentary procedures to complete, hiring managers should exert considerable influence on the onboarding process to ensure that it revolves around people – not processes. At the end of day one, your new hire should go home knowing that they made the right decision and the best way to achieve this is to introduce them to the organisation through colleagues at all levels. Now, this doesn’t mean walking the floors and introducing the new hire to 300 people in less than an hour; you should arrange a number of strategic meetings with relevant personnel. This will allow the employee to learn about the organisation through the eyes of other employees and also, help them figure out who can answer their questions on specific subjects. The latter is probably the most important aspect as getting new hires up to speed quickly is an imperative for any organisation. Newcomers are expected to be a drain on productivity in the early stages, as there will inevitably be a learning curve associated with any new role. However, the best hiring managers will take a longer-term view of the induction process and see the value in spending time with their newest team member and socialising him or her into the organisation. In truth, it can take up to 20 weeks for professionals to reach “full productivity” according to research published by Mellon Corporation in 2003, but helping new hires establish a broad network in the early days of their new career can speed up this process considerably while also making the employee feel more at home in their new workplace and better connected to the organisation. In 2005, the respected MIT Sloan Management Review listed five rapid on-boarding myths that can sabotage a firm’s efforts to onboard new hires: the best newcomers can fend for themselves; a massive information dump allows newcomers to obtain what they need; cursory introductions are all that’s needed; first assignments should be small, compact and quickly achievable; and mentors are best for getting newcomers integrated. So here are some rules to follow: never start a new hire when you are unable to spend time with them; facilitate introductions throughout the organisation and encourage the new hire to seek information from their new network as questions arise; walk through key tasks with your new hire and expect them to take longer than usual at the beginning; and involve existing employees in the onboarding process as that will cultivate a firm-wide responsibility for helping newcomers integrate into the firm. And finally, spend time helping your new hire understand the company’s appraisal process; according to Havard Business Review’s Dick Grote, this is one of the most important – and most neglected – onboarding tasks for any hiring manager. You can read this and more in the Accountancy Ireland and Barden Hiring Guide.

Nov 12, 2018
News

Dawn Leane explains what supports organisations can put in place to assist new mothers who are coming back from maternity leave. Navigating maternity leave is a tricky proposition for all concerned. It is the critical period in which women are most likely to reduce their working hours or leave the workforce entirely, leading to negative, long-term consequences for gender pay and equality. According to research conducted by DCU and HR Search, reintegration into the workplace following maternity leave is crucial to a woman's decision on whether or not and when to return to the workforce.   Even the most progressive organisations can fail woman at this time with an ambivalent attitude. For example, while most organisations offer mothers flexibility in their working hours, all too often it is at the expense of opportunities or feeling that their opinion was less valued. What employers fail to recognise is that the experience of motherhood is a significant stage in the course of a woman’s development. Research shows that motherhood encourages a woman to clarify her values and authenticity. For most professional women, it is the first time that they have the space to reflect on their purpose, values and what they want from their career.   Personal reorientation Women’s choices in the intersection of career and motherhood are about much more than paid work and career progress. Studies show that motherhood leads to substantial personal reorientation and behavioural reorganisation in their work and lives in general. With this new perspective, women conduct their own due diligence when it comes to returning to work and are often unwilling to make compromises or stay in roles which don’t deliver significant personal and professional satisfaction. When coupled with a work environment that fails to offer them the same career opportunities as before and an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ culture, women often find that the return is not worth the investment. DCU's research found that how women felt about their roles before they returned to work and after their first day back was significant. For example, of those surveyed, 67% felt enthusiastic about returning while on leave, yet by the end of the first day this figure had dropped to 40%; 72% felt determined while on leave compared to 56% by the end of the first day. Retaining mothers in the workplace In order to retain mothers in the workplace, it is vital that organisations consider carefully how they support the reintegration after maternity leave. The DCU research suggests that such a critical period warrants the same level of investment as onboarding programmes for new employees. Some organisations have coaching and mentoring programmes specifically for women at this juncture in their career. Initiatives which make it easier for women to return to work includes making sure to keep them informed while they’re on leave. Offering women the opportunity to be kept abreast of news helps to overcome the disconnect that they can feel at this time. The DCU report suggests an open dialogue approach to a woman's leave, return and settling in period, yet most employers avoid any discussion beyond statutory leave entitlements. Not making assumptions about career/family priorities is paramount. While it might seem counter-intuitive, in my experience of coaching women during this phase, most favour the opportunity to be part of a new project or some form of job enrichment on their return. Most important of all, the report notes that returning to work post-maternity leave significantly impacted on a returnee’s views of her organisation and significantly shaped her future career aspirations. Dawn Leane is Principal Consultant at LeaneLeaders.  

Nov 11, 2018