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With an ever increasing rise in the use of employment testing, certification testing and need to get a degree, I thought I would write this basic guide on how to study for exams.  Although it was originally written with the college student in mind, the fundamentals still apply to all of us in the workforce.

There are few things that strike terror into the hearts of students more than exam day, particularly if they have inadequate study skills. Perhaps these students study for hours and hours, only to discover that by exam time they've forgotten everything they've read. Below are a few study tips to help struggling students remember the information they've reviewed for their exams. 

-Use memory tricks. There are a number of memory tricks that you can use to help you remember large amounts of information. For example, the use of acronyms (such as Roy G Biv to remember the colors of the rainbow) can be very helpful. In addition, you can use visualization techniques, similes, and songs to assist you in recalling your study material.

-Don't cram. Your brain requires time to absorb facts. If you know about a test in advance, start studying right away for a little bit every day, ramping up your efforts as the exam approaches.

-Take frequent breaks while studying. It may seem counter-intuitive that spending less time studying might actually help you remember more of what you've read. But taking appropriately timed study breaks will keep your mind fresh and make sure you don't stress too much.

-Write it out. For many people, writing information down as they read it is the best way to learn it. Don't just write exactly what you read, however; by rewording the information or even drawing a picture or diagram you commit it to your memory in more than one way, allowing you to remember it easier later.

-Teach it to a friend. To remember information, you have to understand it. And in order to teach information, you need to understand it as well. Nothing tests your ability to recall facts better than teaching them to another person. Find a friend unfamiliar with your study material and teach them a lesson in the subject.

-Get plenty of sleep the night before the exam. Finally, be sure to get a good night's rest the night before you take the exam. Falling asleep at your desk will accomplish nothing. This will help you be more alert while you are taking your test, and will allow you to retain more information.

 

Information Technology (IT) tools are here to support your business in the global market. Effective communication is key for IT and business experts to collaborate effectively in search of solutions. Consulting, reaching out for help to a third-party, can bridge the gap between your business marketing experts and IT operations experts, especially with the emergence of big data analytics and its implication on the global market. Having the right consultants equipped with business knowledge and data technology expertise can make a difference.

Your marketing organization is probably familiar with digital tools and conducting global research. Its results can uncover the journey customers take to purchase your products or use your services. It can highlight the pain points and frictions that prevent their experiences with you to be delightful and amazing. Armed with this knowledge and beautiful compelling presentations, marketing executives expect that IT operations leaders will translate these insights into actions.

But people in IT operations are too involved in meeting key performance indicators that have nothing to do with the end customers. Meeting requirements of faster and cheaper don't translate very well into customer satisfaction. A classic breakdown in communication is described in a Harvard Business Review article, “A Technique to Bridge the Gap Between Marketing and IT.” The author goes on to describe how a new CIO at a bank found IT to be focused on the internal organization as their customers, rather than the real end customer. Moreover, no one was looking at the incident reports which clearly showed that incidents were increasing. And nobody looked at what these incidents were doing to the bank’s customers. The startling and scary numbers of incidents were caught and addressed and brought down from 1,000 to 600 or (40%) and later to 450 per week.

Surprisingly, these type of seemingly isolated scenarios are still being discovered within organizations presently, sometimes internally, and through third party insights such as consultants.  By engaging consultants to provide a perspective based on what they’ve experienced before, they can often bring new and innovative ideas or possible challenges to the table that an internal processes probably wouldn’t have been able to see on their own.  Often, third party input can help to provide the translation needed to go from marketing research results into actions that IT operations can understand and make sense in their high-performance culture. When companies understand and use this knowledge to reassess how to improve their customer experiences, they work backward from what customers want to achieve significantly higher improvements. 

IT and business management are more and more being asked to move away from their traditional roles, such as IT being the "technology infrastructure gatekeeper", and instead become enablers across the enterprise of effective collaboration, big data consumers, and key players in driving desired business outcomes. Marketing leaders look to technology as a way to facilitate the customer's journey and his positive experience of it, bring more clients, and meet increasingly higher loyalty goals. They rely on IT projects to enable big data-based behavioral targeting anywhere in the global market. This means projects to analyze search engine results, improve website personalization and optimization, and building of mobile applications for a more personal experience. All these are projects that consultants with their communication, consulting and technical expertise are well prepared to help in order to bridge the expectation gap between IT and other business organizations.

In order to meet these 21st-century business challenges, Information Technology organizations have been transitioning from waterfall stage-gate project management approaches to agile development. The stage-gate method applies a step-by-step approach where waiting, reviewing and approving are required before moving to the next step in the project. Agile management emphasizes collaboration, no decision hierarchies, and few people roles for making quick, customer-focused small changes over time to deliver solutions that delight and amaze customers. Agile development has allowed many businesses to respond quickly to changing customer desires and expectations. But moving to continuous delivery is a struggle requiring focused, dedicated teams that are not well suited to the traditional matrix organization where people are resources whose time must be "chopped" into many pieces and shared among many projects. Agile teams meet frequently as often as daily but never waiting more than a week to do so.

Marketing people are externally focused. IT people are internally focused. The first works with customer emotions. The second works to increase efficiency. Big data analytic tools are used by the first and supported by the second. Consultants can be the glue that helps both come together in effective collaborations that deliver positive business outcomes in both global and local markets.

In recent decades, companies have become remarkably different than what they were in the past. The formal hierarchies through which support staff rose towards management positions are largely extinct. Offices are flat and open-plan collaborations between individuals with varying talent who may not ever physically occupy a corporate workspace. Many employed by companies today work from laptops nomadically instead. No one could complain that IT innovation hasn’t been profitable. It’s an industry that is forecasted to rake in $351 billion in 2018, according to recent statistics from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). A leadership dilemma for mid-level IT managers in particular, however, has developed. Being in the middle has always been a professional gray area that only the most driven leverage towards successful outcomes for themselves professionally, but mid-level managers in IT need to develop key skills in order to drive the level of growth that the fast paced companies who employ them need. 

What is a middle manager’s role exactly? 

A typical middle manager in the IT industry is usually someone who has risen up the ranks from a technical related position due to their ability to envision a big picture of what’s required to drive projects forward. A successful middle manager is able to create cohesion across different areas of the company so that projects can be successfully completed. They’re also someone with the focus necessary to track the progress of complex processes and drive them forward at a fast pace as well as ensure that outcomes meet or exceed expectations.

What challenges do middle managers face in being successful in the IT industry today? 

While middle managers are responsible for the teams they oversee to reach key milestones in the life cycle of important projects, they struggle to assert their power to influence closure. Navigating the space between higher-ups and atomized work forces is no easy thing, especially now that workforces often consist of freelancers with unprecedented independence. 

What are the skills most needed for an IT manager to be effective? 

Being educated on a steady basis to handle the constant evolution of tech is absolutely essential if a middle manager expects to thrive professionally in a culture so knowledge oriented that evolves at such a rapid pace. A middle manager who doesn't talk the talk of support roles or understand the nuts and bolts of a project they’re in charge of reaching completion will not be able to catch errors or suggest adequate solutions when needed. 

How has the concept of middle management changed? 

Middle managers were basically once perceived of as supervisors who motivated and rewarded staff towards meeting goals. They coached. They toggled back and forth between the teams they watched over and upper management in an effort to keep everyone on the same page. It could be said that many got stuck between the lower and upper tier of their companies in doing so. While companies have always had to be result-oriented to be profitable, there’s a much higher expectation for what that means in the IT industry. Future mid-level managers will have to have the same skills as those whose performance they're tracking so they can determine if projects are being executed effectively. They also need to be able to know what new hires that are being on-boarded should know to get up to speed quickly, and that’s just a thumbnail sketch because IT companies are driven forward by skills that are not easy to master and demand constant rejuvenation in the form of education and training. It’s absolutely necessary for those responsible for teams that bring products and services to market to have similar skills in order to truly determine if they’re being deployed well. There’s a growing call for mid-level managers to receive more comprehensive leadership training as well, however. There’s a perception that upper and lower level managers have traditionally been given more attention than managers in the middle. Some say that better prepped middle managers make more valuable successors to higher management roles. That would be a great happy ending, but a growing number of companies in India’s tech sector complain that mid-level managers have lost their relevance in the scheme of the brave new world of IT and may soon be obsolete.

 

 

 

The Context Of Design Thinking And Its Application In Employee Skill Training

Design thinking is a crucial pillar in today’s problem-solving imperatives. In fact, it is being pursued as a unit course in various institutions across the globe, thus underlying its importance in aiding objective human thinking. It’s not a specific property for designers. Far from it, it has emerged as an innovative solution-seeking tool for all great inventors and innovators.
 
By description, it is a design methodology used for tackling complex problems that are virtually unknown or ill-defined, through a careful evaluation of the human needs involved, understandably restructuring the problem, by brainstorming to create many solutions, and by adopting a direct approach in testing and prototyping. It helps us come up with creative ways to solve nagging problems that stem from us and especially in the workplace setting.
 
The ‘overwhelmed/overburdened employee’ is a common term in HR offices across many organizations in the world. Employees are faced with a huge challenge in regards to coping with fast-paced technological and office changes in the working environment. This had led to a massive stagnation in productivity, prompting HR heads to look for new ways to reduce their employees’ stress and workload.
 
While evaluating many options, this model of thinking has posed as a helpful tool for HR managers when dealing with their vexed employees. IT training, in particular, has helped shape the productive realms of many companies out there.
 
Let’s explore how this thinking domain can be used to plan employee skill training:
 
Empathize
If you want to show concern for your employees, first empathize with their situation. Seek to understand the needs of the employees deeply, what they lack, what they need, and the challenges that they are likely facing. This will act as the basis of plotting the problem and working on the next phase of solving it.
 
You can collect data in this phase through empathy maps and journey maps. In the latter, you endeavor to steadily track the day-to-day activities and tasks of employees. This is achieved through observations or structured interviews. In turn, it aids in elevating the thinking process.
 
Through empathy maps, you ponder on collected findings and synthesize them keenly. Here, you seek to establish how an employee is thinking, their feelings, and insights into the probable root cause of the problem.
 
Define the Problem
After a comprehensive analysis of the collected data; the problem definition phase should follow. The idea here is to locate the underlying root of the problem concisely. HR should seek to utilize an analysis framework to help address problems affecting the holistic being of all employees. Therefore, each issue would require a list of underlying causes: lack of motivation, lack of knowledge/understanding, or just lack of skill.
 
Once the root cause(s) are clearly defined, a clear problem statement should be drawn up alongside performance goals that are firmly based on actual drivers. 
 
Think Solely About Employee-Based Solutions (iterative learning)
Conventionally, customers are at the heart of every organization’s dealings. They inspire and drive the company’s objectives because they are crucial in profit making. However, employees have greatly suffered while working ‘behind the scenes.’ Such situations have led to employees feeling discontent and work under immense pressure, which inevitably leads to underperformance. To avoid this, the experimental learning concept can be utilized by HR offices to engage employees more by creating solutions that directly suit the situations they encounter daily.
 
Here, trainers are removed as the center of focus. An iterative ‘reflection’ cycle is established to tap continuous employee feedback in a bid to sharpen their skills. This method helps employees adapt to new technology through a well established IT consulting network. In the long run, employees don’t forget how they handled a particular problem, and this effectively raises a firm’s productivity.
 
Support Employee Tasks with Simple Technology (Ideate)
The simplest way to support employee-working experience is by not sidelining them unprepared with changing technology processes. As an HR Manager, fully engage your employees when transitioning to new tech by making use of effective training or consulting services. Specific training needs can be assessed and addressed within the organization or with a third party industry expert. 
 
According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends Report, design thinking was isolated as crucial in crafting the employee experience. 79% of those interviewed identified it as imperative. However, almost a similar percentage agreed that a lot of compliance programs and training are still based on outdated modes of meetings and processes.
 
The report also recommended the need to put necessary consideration on employees through proper IT training for far colossal efficiency. One way to make this work is by drawing a connected roadmap of skills and information needed at certain work intervals. Shedding off overwhelming and irrelevant amounts of data for new employees is vital in retaining their concentration and output. What’s more, a customizable app can help employees undertake appropriate tasks at the specified time, thus resulting in higher revenue for the long term.
 
Implementing an Intuitive Tech Learning Approach (Ideate)
The basis of this argument is that not every employee is the same. All of them are differently gifted and shouldn’t be forced to use one inflexible technology or system that doesn’t cater to their individual needs in a buzzing work environment. This mode of critical thinking brings to life personas such that fictive employees representing a defined group of external employees are drawn up. In this set-up, the personas should be able to learn and work efficiently within their own small environment while quickly utilizing their own skill set and the required information to make things work.
 
An HR manager can replicate this working scenario through the use of role-plays. This can be achieved by conducting short-term soft skills training sessions to sharpen their ability to handle similar situations. In the case of new technology, video-replays on how to use it in a one-on-one customer scenario can help relieve the pressure and spur the employee to be more productive.
 
Prototype and Testing
Here, the HR Manager should run a couple of tests to ensure whether the desired model of skill training is working. One way to get started is by crafting a simple prototype of the technology required, probably as a single module to establish its viability.
 
The new technology should be vigorously tested during prototyping to pinpoint any leaks, disjoints, or performance issues. Structured walkthroughs can be implemented to help employees navigate the solution through proper IT training sessions.
 
What’s more, HR should conduct sessions to get the employees’ views, emotions, or feelings regarding the new solution. In case of any cause for concern, the prototype should be improved until it meets the intermediate needs of its users.
 
Iterations are also a common occurrence in this phase. Refinements and alterations are curved out to make sure that the final thing suits every employee in some understandable capacity.
 
Wrapping Up
Design thinking is crucial in any organizational setting in making sure that employees sync properly with the technology in place. This will go a long way in improving their productivity.

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Alaska since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
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  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
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