Tips for Meeting IT Project Deadlines

Meeting project deadlines can be challenging for any company and IT team. Whether it’s scope creep, poorly estimated timelines, or illnesses within your staff, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with a project. Missing project timelines can be expensive and potentially damaging to the reputation of your company. This is why we put together the following tips to help you meet your project timelines.

What is Expected of You?

The most important first step to ensuring that your team reaches deadline for a project is to clearly define the scope of work and requirements at the beginning stage. Before you can estimate how long a project will take, you need to have a firm understanding of what is expected. Don’t be afraid ask questions and get all of the details. The details can be critical for understanding the volume and depth of the steps that are required to complete the project.

Get it in Writing

Once you have this information, make sure you write it down. This will allow all team members, as well as overseeing managers, a chance to review the scope of work and make changes before the start of the project. It is good to have an agreement where all parties understand exactly what is expected of each team member involved in the project.

Break it Down

Once you have a clear understanding of what is expected, you can then break down the project to its milestones and individual tasks. Once you have the individual tasks, estimate how long each one will take. Tip: make sure you give yourself some extra time and pad each milestone a little. Changes and unforeseen complications are bound to occur, especially in technology development, but IT projects affect other departments and these other departments will need to be told a deadline date so that they can plan their own projects accordingly. By padding each milestone you will increase the likelihood of meeting expectations.

When is it Due?

Once you have identified how long each milestone will take your team, estimate a final due deadline date. This date is important for other departments, who are depending on the completion of the project, a solid timeframe to look forward to.  It will also give your team a goal to work towards and you will be able to communicate on a daily bases if your project is on schedule or running behind.

Focus, Focus, Focus (on the Task)

Once the project work is started, make sure you track each task individually and monitor when it has been completed. This will allow you to know when certain pieces of the project are taking longer than expected. By focusing on individual tasks, you will keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed by the overall complexity of the project.

Communicate

During each milestone of the project, communication is key. You can establish a communication plan at the beginning of your project so that everyone knows when you will be communicating with them. By keeping them in the loop you can greatly increase your chances of success.

Don’t Over Commit Your Resources

Make sure you don’t over commit your resources whether it be employees or outsourced freelancers. In the case of freelancers, keep in mind that many work for other companies and will need some flexibility in their scheduling. Keep this in mind when you are developing the overall timeframe of the projects deliverable deadline.

Overtime – As a Last Resort

If for some reason your project misses a, deadline because of poor planning or other factors out of your control, it may be necessary to for participants to work overtime. This could lead to additional costs, and even burnout of team members which can then lead to mistakes in development…which means more work overall and the risk of not making the final deliverable deadline.

Conclusion

Staying on timeline during a project is critical. IT project deadlines affect other departments and the company as a whole. Most of the time, missing deadlines can be avoided with the tips listed above. It is important to properly document projects so that you can learn which tasks took longer than expected, and what type of unforeseen obstacles occurred. This way you can plan the next project better and increase efficiency within the IT department.

Meet W. Andrew Loe III – Onehub Lead Developer and Sailing Fanatic

It’s time for another staff spotlight! This month, meet Andrew. Andrew is one of our Lead Developers and is a fanatical and outstanding sailor of the great blue seas. Find out how Andrew got started with sailing and how you can follow his maritime adventures below.

Andrew from Onehub

Andrew’s Love for the Ocean Sport
We had a great conversation with Andrew about his love of sailing on the open waters:

Q – How did you get into sailing exactly?
A – My parents had some experience racing and cruising. When I was seven, we lived on a boat in the Caribbean for 18 months. When we got back to New Orleans, they took me out to the lakefront where we saw a group of kids racing Optimist dinghies. I said I wanted to try it, and that was the start.

 Q – What is it about sailing that makes it an addictive hobby for you?
A – First, I like competition; sailing provides plenty of opportunities to race and challenge myself. It is one of the oldest Olympic sports, and many of the trophies have been around for over 100 years; there is a lot of history to try and overcome. Second, I love how dynamic it is, each race is different from the last.

Q – Does sailing help your brain stay sharp for all the stellar code you write for Onehub?
A – I feel like coding and sailing have a lot of overlap. Writing good code is still a very young and changing process. Programmers are learning new techniques nearly every day. The adaptive skills I’ve learned from racing all these years have prepared me well. I am comfortable picking up new tools and techniques, but smart enough to know when to wait for something to prove itself. It’s a delicate balance of risk and reward, much like a race.

Q – What is the craziest or most exciting sailing story that you can share with us (PG-13 version!)?
A – I’ve had a lot of wild encounters all over the world, but I recall one specific event close to home when I was about 14. We were racing on Lake Pontchartrain when a bad storm cell developed causing the wind to go from 15mph to 60+mph in a matter of minutes. To avoid destroying our boats, we flipped them over and sat on the bottoms to ride the storm out. After the cell passed, we righted them and kept on racing. Sometimes you have to adapt to the circumstances!

Q – How can we keep up with your ocean adventures?
A – I was the skipper for the Seattle Yacht Club and Sail Team Seattle challenge for the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup that took place September 7-14, 2013 in Newport, Rhode Island. There is excellent coverage available on Youtube including our at showdown with the eventual winners. In addition to the Invitational Cup, I do some blogging about sailing, kiteboarding, and snowboarding adventures on my journal.

Here is an action shot of the Swan 42s that Andrew and his team raced earlier this month at the Invitational Cup. Andrew is driving boat #17!

Andrew's Boat
(Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our lead developer, Andrew.  Stay tuned for another spotlight interview next month.

Hilco Industrial Tells us Why They Picked Onehub in Recent Case Study

Hilco Industrial

Hilco Industrial has been using Onehub’s online secure file sharing solution since 2011. Recently we had a chance to chat with Hilco Industrial’s Director of Operations Valery Moody about why they chose Onehub and why they continue to use our product on a daily basis for a Onehub case study.

Hilco Industrial, LLC offers machinery and equipment disposition services in several high-profile industries. In the past, they used email for transmitting not only correspondence but also large files, images, and videos between team members and customers. They quickly discovered that there is little security and control over emailing important files since emails can be forwarded to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Hilco started to research online file sharing solutions in effort to resolve this issue. They knew security and control of their files were of the utmost importance, as they needed a place to store customer contracts and other confidential information.

Since Hilco Industrial has offices across the United States, they needed a way for their offices to be able to access shared files over the Internet. Hilco tried a number of online file sharing providers, but most did not provide enough control and security, were too expensive, or were not easy to use.

As part of their trial process, Hilco checked out Onehub’s 14-day free trial to see if it better fit their needs. “The trial had already shown us how easy Onehub is to use,” says Valery Moody, Director of Operations. “Then we saw that we could assign outside employees with passwords and access, set their permissions, plus brand it with our own company logo. The package was very attractive.”

At the end of the trial, Hilco Industrial decided to purchase the Onehub Business plan. Using the Business plan, they were able to build a virtual data room that was specific to their needs. Some of Hilco’s projects require internal file sharing, but they also need to give access to certain pieces of data to customers. With Onehub’s granular role settings and sharing permissions Hilco can properly control who has access to the data and what they are allowed to do with the data.

“We post a lot of proprietary information that we don’t want to give out to just anybody,” says Moody. “Onehub helps us easily control access to these files.”

We are thrilled that we could provide this solution to Hilco. Read the entire Onehub/Hilco case study here. How can we help your business securely and easily share files?

IT Plays Critical Role as Companies Move to the Cloud

Is your company’s critical data stuck in legacy applications? Sometimes, software decisions that were made years ago out of convenience are still in use today. This could mean that critical company information like client info, billing, or other data is being stored in legacy applications. As the data has grown, you have seen first-hand how these legacy apps don’t scale well. Hard drives and computers can crash or software support could end, meaning that your critical company information becomes lost forever.

Times are changing and these fears are dissipating with the move of businesses to the cloud. But how many business are really taking advantage of the cloud to avoid these detrimental data loss occurrences? In an article by Forbes, it was explained that The Neovise report attempted to shed some light by screening 822 IT leads and decision makers. It was reported that 46% of businesses had yet to move their data, content, and files into a cloud storage solution to avoid losses.

More than anything, this means that IT plays a critical role for companies who have yet to make the move to the cloud. Lets look at how exactly:

How can IT help?

As IT departments continue to mature and become more of an integral part of business, new opportunities are arising.

Part of the new IT executive’s job role incorporates helping their company map out their business processes and better understand their software and hardware requirements. In some cases during this process, companies may consider moving to the cloud if they have not already done so.

According to Gartner research, sales of cloud computing services are expected to hit $9 billion in 2013. Gartner is also forecasting a 41% average annual growth rate through 2016. As more companies are moving to the cloud, it is becoming a necessity to compete.

This may leave some IT executives wondering how they can assist their companies with this trend. Once they have worked with employees to map out business processes and software requirements, they will be able to determine where cloud services could be useful.

The IT department can help the company answer crucial questions such as:

  • Can the company successfully migrate to the cloud?
  • Do they need public, private (on-premise), or hybrid cloud services?
  • Will the new cloud service provider keep the company data safe and ensure security?
  • How will the new cloud service providers impact business processes and performance?
  • What impact will the new cloud service providers have on customer service?

Companies are moving certain business processes and software to the cloud in waves. When doing so, the IT department can play a valuable decision making role in evaluating cloud service providers and working with stakeholders within the company to help them select a provider.

After a cloud service provider has been selected, the IT department can manage the relationship between the company, its employees, and the cloud services provider. They can establish communication between the parties and make sure that project timelines are met.

In some cases, data conversion may be required from the old legacy applications to the new service provider. Typically, the service provider will provide the import format but it will be the IT department’s job to prepare and verify the data. This can frequently be a time-consuming process and sometimes takes weeks or months, depending upon the amount of data being converted.

Many companies will choose different cloud service providers over time depending on their unique business’s needs. For example, one year they might pick a customer relationship management (CRM) like Salesforce. Another year, they might pick a project collaboration tool that incorporates an online file sharing tool.

Conclusion

As you can see, times are changing for the IT professional. IT departments have grown from simply supporting computers and networks to the crucial role of helping businesses make smarter decisions and perform better. IT departments will continue to become a more critical part of businesses as more companies make the jump to the cloud.


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Onehub Tech Updates – August 2013

August has been a productive month at Onehub for our design and development teams. We improved Onehub performance, enhanced our Google Drive functionality, and even upgraded support. Check it out:

Performance Optimizations

This behind-the-scenes update brings speed improvements of up to 15%.

Google Drive Edit from list view

This week we introduced a minor feature with big benefits. When viewing your files in list view, try hovering over the three dots on the right. If you have Google Drive connected to your account, you will see a nice “Edit” button. Clicking “Edit” lets you jump straight into editing any document compatible with Google Drive. The addition of “Rename” and “Delete” to this menu makes these actions easier to find and use.

24/7 Support is here

We are very excited to announce that we have added 24/7 phone support to all accounts on our Business plan for no additional cost.

Stay tuned for more updates and insights into what we are working on next month!

 

Why White Wolf Capital Chose Onehub

White Wolf Logo

 

We recently had a conversation with our awesome client White Wolf Capital, LLC for a case study about why they chose Onehub for their Virtual Data Room needs. White Wolf is a New York-based private investment firm that focuses on investments, management buyouts, and recapitalizations for prominent middle-market companies. They had a big need for an incredibly easy and secure virtual data room that wasn’t going to break the bank, and they chose us!

The  case study, which can be found on the Onehub website, showcases how White Wolf is a company that takes confidentiality over its data very seriously.  They needed to be able to effectively manage large amounts of data related to their investors, while at the same time protecting their sensitive, confidential financial information.

Like many companies, White Wolf initially tried to use secure sending email solutions to manage the flow of information going back and forth between employees and investors. As most of us of know, that can mean digging through thousands of emails to find the exact one you need before a big meeting with a client or the boss. To resolve this email debacle, White Wolf chose Onehub as a manageable and secure virtual data room.

“Look at Onehub and you see an elegant, easy to use, and highly secure data management system,” says White Wolf Managing Director Elie Azar. “It’s simple, it does the job, and it’s cost effective.”

Onehub has become an integral part of the White Wolf daily processes and we couldn’t be happier to be helping them manage their data more efficiently.  Check out the case study and read in detail how White Wolf uses our unique features such as workspaces and user permissions to get the most out of their virtual data room experience.

Oh, and not to show off or anything, but when we asked Azar what he thought of out level of security and control for White Wolf’s data room he replied, “I give these guys a 10 out of 10!”

Meet Brian Moran – Onehub CTO and Co-founder Plus Outrageous Cyclist

Welcome to the Onehub series dedicated to helping you get to know the people that work at Onehub (you’re welcome). As you know, each month we feature a Onehub employee. This week, we have decided to highlight our lead technical officer, Brian. Brian recently finished a 200-mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland, so we thought this was a great way to dig into his love for biking.

Brian Moran

Brian’s Crazy Energy for Cycling
We had a great conversation with Brian about his love of riding bikes.

Q – When did you start cycling as a serious activity?
A – When I was a younger kid, having a bike meant you could get places. I was more into bicycle motocross (bmx) in those days, and just jumping things. In my early 20’s, bikes were a way to commute in the city. There were great gaps of non-bicycling, as life’s events occurred. A few years ago, in my mid-40’s, I became more serious about long distances than I’d been when I was younger – it’s been a way to exercise, have fun, and sometimes commute. This was my fourth time riding from Seattle to Portland.  I’m not sure I consider myself serious – by the “Internet Theory of Increasing Extremism”, it’s easy to find folks like the Randonneurs who ride 600km or 1000km over consecutive days.

Q – What is it about riding bicycles that you love enough to do for 200 miles straight?
A – Around here, one of the big rides is the STP – Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon. Over ten thousand people typically do this recreational ride, and registration sometimes sells out by February. When I got back into biking again, STP was an obvious goal. I enjoy the personal achievement of riding long distances. The first year, I was having difficulty finding friends or co-workers that wanted to do the STP, so I volunteered to be a ride referee; I found that adds a whole dimension of fun, as it’s like an opportunity and excuse to ride with everyone. Biking long distances provides lots of thinking time.

Q – How did you handle riding 200 miles? Did you have a strategy of any sort?
A – The Cascade Bicycle Club, organizer of the STP, publishes a ‘training guide’ every year to help people prepare physically. The first year I did STP, I took advantage of a series of weekend training rides they offered, which scaled the distances up weekly from 20 miles to 200, from March to July, and also taught and reinforced bike-riding safety, skills and etiquette.  The mental component first required the decision that yes, I was going to do it, obtain the support of your family or friends (it’s going to take some time), commit to consistently train, that you can make time for it in your busy schedule. As I was training, I tried to keep the internal dialog positive – that rain is great to ride in. I tried to incorporate biking whenever I could – like riding to work, riding back home from a shopping trip while the family took the car. Initially, I kept track of mileage via old fashioned paper, but switched to using a GPS watch after two months. The first year, I put in over 1100 miles in preparation for the July ride.  All of that riding gets you in the mode that ‘the ride’ is just like all of the others that you’ve done where you’ve had to stay hydrated, eat enough calories, stay safe, and have fun.

This year, I did fewer smaller bike rides, but trained 3 times a week at Xplore Crossfit with the other Onehub folks. Activities like ‘Airdyne sprints’, and ‘300FY’ can directly benefit biking; the back squats, lunges, box jumps, and general improvement in my core also made the hills (and everything else) easier.

Q – Does your family ride bicycles too? Were they on the 200-mile trek with you?
A – While everyone in my family has a bicycle, so far none has committed to wanting to do the STP yet. My wife has been very understanding about dropping me off at 5am starts, and picking me up at the bus or train late at night. I’m going to talk my 14 year old son into it next year.

Q – Do you have a favorite professional cyclist?
A – While I’m happy for the renewed spirit of competition in the Tour de France, I don’t really follow it. When I’ve been doing long rides, I’ve had the chance to meet people that I admire more than the folks on TV; for example, riding to work one day, I met a 74 year old guy that continues to train, continues to ride the STP, and rides his age in miles on his birthday every year. This year, a friend of mine who is over 70, previous multiple-time STPer, but has been off a bike for a number of years rode 85 miles of it. Also this year I met Jerry Baker, the guy that has done them all so far!  I admire the commitment a family shows when mom and dad are riding with their nine or ten year old, and when they’ve all got big grins on since they’re crossing the bridge into Portland, only about 8 miles from the finish. My ‘favorite cyclists’ are those folks that are proving something to themselves. Oh, and the guy who rode the unicycle 200 miles? He must be crazy, but a good crazy.

Q – How can those interested keep up with your cycling accomplishments?
A – Come on a ride in the Pacific Northwest! Also, keep an eye on Onehub’s facebook page. My team members often publish slick, and also embarrassing, photos of me there.

We hope you found our interview with Brian to be interesting. We can’t wait for you to meet our next staff member next month!

Secure Online File Sharing for Schools – At a Discount!

Schools are Moving to the Cloud
There has been a lot of talk recently about schools moving to the cloud. With Onehub, students can download learning materials (documents, videos, lectures, slideshows, etc.) from anywhere, anytime. They can submit work using Onehub’s secure online file sharing to have it graded upon completion.

We have just announced that we are extending our popular 20% non-profit business discount to schools.  This will make it easier for schools to take advantage of our secure online file sharing service, while promoting collaboration among students, faculty, and researchers.

There are several reasons why schools benefit from using Onehub:

  • Schools will saves time and money
  • Students will be able to collaborate with classmates easier
  • Students will be exposed to advanced technology

Save time and money
Funding for schools is a big concern, especially as on-site hardware continues to age and stretch budgets further. By using secure online file sharing, schools can save money on upgrading storage space and hardware.  The new 20% discount to schools from Onehub will make it even more cost-effective to have access to online file sharing.

Collaborate with classmates
Collaboration is key to learning. Teamwork and collaboration in the workplace is essential, and schools must prepare their students for this.  Using Onehub’s secure online file sharing allows students from different continents to work together on projects.  Researchers at neighboring universities can share and edit files seamlessly, regardless of geography.  They can even access files via mobile devices. Onehub ensures security by giving users the ability to set folder and file-level permissions.  This means that only the people who are supposed to have access can get it.  Security is a critical concern with any cloud-based technology, but Onehub’s unique permissions settings give our clients peace of mind.

Exposes students to advanced technology
The future of computing is in the cloud.  Using online secure file sharing helps schools, students, and teachers learn current technology while preparing them for the future. Many schools and businesses are already using cloud computing, and those that don’t transition soon will be left behind.  Onehub gives schools (and businesses) the peace of mind and control needed to make online file sharing work in the world of education.

To learn more about Onehub’s online file sharing 20% discount for schools on the Onehub pricing page. You can also tweet us at https://twitter.com/onehub.

On-Premise Enterprise File Sharing from Onehub

We know that some IT managers are not ready to use a public cloud file sharing solution. It may be because of government regulations or other reasons that are out of their control. Regardless of whether your file sharing is on premise or “in the cloud”, we’re here for you. In addition to our standard Onehub cloud file sharing solution we also offer a private cloud solution, which can be hosted on premise.

Here are some reasons Onehub customers might pick an on-premise file sharing solution:

Complete Control Over Your Data
With on-premise enterprise file sharing, your data is always hosted on your own network and completely under your control. You decide who can access which files. Since on premise literally means “in the same building” your company alone has access to the resources.

Onehub On Premise

Regulatory Compliance
Compliance is a typical reason IT staff may pick an on-premise file sharing solution. Sometimes public cloud providers (Onehub included) can’t meet the myriad of government regulated red tape (ITAR, EU data privacy laws, financial services, etc.) for every type of compliance.  On-premise file sharing gives you the ability to control your infrastructure to meet any compliance needs.

Improved Security
In an on-premise private cloud scenario, you maintain control of the physical server and who has access to it. Your server can exist behind locked doors in your very own server room. Management can have the peace of mind of knowing exactly where the data is located and control who can access the machines.

From the internet, your server will exist behind your own firewall, which can be configured and updated whenever needed. This gives you greater flexibility for controlling remote services like VPN, etc. Since the hardware is dedicated to a single organization, you have the ability to ensure the highest levels of security.

Does This Sound Like Your Business?

One or more of these reasons might account for why you are thinking about going with a private vs. public cloud. We get it, and can support whichever your business needs. It’s totally possible to install Onehub on a server within your data center, which allows you to have all of the awesome file sharing features that we provide, while still having full control.

Learn more by contacting us directly at https://onehub.com/enterprise.

Onehub Brings Cloud Mobility to iPhone

We kept hearing from customers that when they were out of the office and received an email attachment, they wanted to share it securely with colleagues over Onehub. Well, we listened and have now made it possible for Onehub users to control when files are stored and shared from their iPhone and iPad.

With so many people on the go, it needs to be easy to store and share all the files you want from anywhere, and across multiple devices. We have just released an update for our iOS app that allows you to save your files quickly and securely to Onehub.

This exciting new feature is available to anyone with an iPhone or iPad and a Onehub account. It allows users to save files using the same directory and file-level security they’ve grown accustomed to using with Onehub to share files and collaborate on a daily basis. Now users can easily save attachments from an email to a Onehub folder on the iPhone and iPad. Here is how it works:

  1. When you receive an e-mail with an attachment on your iPhone or iPad, you open the attachment and determine whether it should go onto your Onehub site.
  2. If this is a document that should be shared for collaboration purposes, select the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of your iPhone or iPad screen. This will open the sharing screen.
  3. You will see the familiar Onehub icon as one of the options. Select the Onehub icon to open the app.
  4. At this point, Onehub opens and you can select any folder on your Onehub site.
  5. Tap the save button in the lower right-hand corner of the iPhone or iPad screen to upload it to the site.
  6. Once the upload is complete, the file is in your Onehub account and available for collaboration.

Open in Onehub

Why would you want to do this? Imagine you are out in the field when a client sends you an updated spreadsheet that the rest of your team needs to see.  The updates will affect the project’s bottom line, and the customer wants an answer on the new costs today. You can now upload it to your Onehub account immediately, alert your team so they can begin working on it, and go about your day without needing to rush back to the office.  In today’s competitive market, quick turn-around time is critical.  Onehub makes it easy for users to manage file sharing and collaborate, even when you’re on the road.  This new feature on our iOS app will make your work life easier and more productive.  Onehub is committed to helping users like you improve your business, and will keep working to bring more updates and improvements to you, our valued customers.

Want to learn more or get a free demo of this new feature? Just contact us at onehub@onehub.com. If you haven’t signed up for your free 14 day trial, do so here.