Electrical System Installation

How FieldElite helps Electricians

Electrical System Installation

The need to hire an electrician arises more often than we expect. It’s quite common to come across problems with structure-wiring, whether at home or in your business premises. It’s, therefore, not surprising to come across a home or a business owner in search of electrical services.

Whether a startup or a fully-fledged business that offers electrical services, there are challenges that come with running the venture. Where you have field service electricians, the challenges are even compounded, more so on matters of assigning tasks, receiving complaints from customers, and receiving field service reports.

As we all know, an electrical business isn’t just limited to the management of field service electricians. You’ll have to manage all the processes, a responsibility that can be quite daunting.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, though. You can take advantage of a field service management software program to make the entire management process effortless.

FieldElite is one such software. With FieldElite, you can assign tasks, communicate, and receive reports from your electricians on the go. Incorporating field service management in your electrical business enables you to run your business operations smoothly. 

Below are some of the benefits of using FieldElite field service management software. 

Increased Efficiency

Improved efficiency is the number one benefit electricians can get from field service management software. With FieldElite, electricians can accept jobs while in the field and add attachments together with client signatures using their smartphones or tablets. From the field management software, they can get information on the optimal route to the site, the tools required for the job, the service history of the customer, and contractual commitments.

Managing and scheduling tasks on FieldElite are just a few clicks away for office-based operators. That means reduced travel times and delays that often cripple workforce management.

Improved Professionalism

FieldElite field management software gives you a professional edge over your competitors. With this field management software, you can store all your business-related information in a central place. Therefore, each of your electricians can access the data from anywhere using their smartphone or tablet installed with the FieldElite mobile application. As such, there’s no breach in communication, and that means the electricians will get the scheduled tasks on time. Building such relationships with your team in the field encourages teamwork and motivates each team member to play their part. Again, since you can monitor what’s going on in the field, you can address the issues raised by your electricians or customers as soon as possible. 

Effective Communication

Timely communication is very essential if you’re working with field technicians. Since you’ll not always be with them in the field, it’s always important to establish a proper communication channel to ensure information reaches them in time. With FieldElite field service management software, electricians receive notifications and details about tasks assigned to them via the FieldElite mobile app.

On the other hand, office-based staff can access the report with the details of the job once the electrician completes the given task. This implies that both the electricians and the office-based operators can get communication instantly, enabling them to see and manage their workloads. Individual electricians can close jobs on-site and proceed to the next task without having to do paperwork reporting. For this reason, electricians can complete multiple tasks within a short time, which improves their overall productivity.

High Accuracy

With FieldElite field service management software, missing data or incomplete information is a thing of the past. Electricians no longer have to deal with paperwork, which can be daunting and time-consuming, yet with a million and one errors. With FieldElite advanced mobile features, all field service processes and operations are automated. The electricians are left with quite little to do, and that minimises data entry errors.

Because the managers get real-time updates from the field techs, they can accurately maintain and track the field processes. With FieldElite mobile features, managers can get information regarding the job status, the actual time of arrival, and the time taken to complete the task. With such updates, the electricians are better placed to do the job well without wasting much time, thus improving their overall productivity. 

Improved Co-ordination With The Team 

Apart from improving the productivity of the electricians, FieldElite improves coordination with the entire management team. For instance, an electrician can be assigned new tasks within the same area where they’re currently assigned instead of sending another to complete a task in that same place. FieldElite makes this possible by always capturing the current location and job status.

Whenever a new request is made in an area, FieldElite first checks the database to confirm if there is an electrician already assigned in that area. If the status of the ongoing assignment is complete or almost complete and the new task request can wait for the remaining time, the electrician in the field would be assigned the new task. By doing so, the business saves on cost and time and minimises movements. 

Improved Customer Satisfaction

As an electrician, you’ll only be satisfied if the service you offer makes the customer happy. Apart from fixing their wiring problems, they’d be happy if you responded quickly to their request. This is only made possible with field service management software. With FieldElite, managers can notify the electricians on the service requests in their respective areas, allowing them to respond to the call within a very short time. Not only does this give you some level of satisfaction as the business owner but it’s also a win for the company. 

Make your field work-flow better with FieldElite, and improve the productivity of your electricians. With FieldElite releasing regular and timely updates, users aren’t left behind whenever there are changes in the field service industry. The updates introduce new features and capture new standards to ensure that you get the best experience with the software at all times.

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industrial factory employee working in metal manufacturing industry

The Types of Industries That Can Benefit from Field Service Software

industrial factory employee working in metal manufacturing industry

Initially, field service software was designed with field techs and their managers in mind. However, in the recent past, other industries have taken this path to better the performance of their businesses. Any industry that deploys skilled laborers and assets to off-site locations benefits from field service software. It’s all about resource allocation and data centralization for efficient management and running of the business’ activities. With field service software, you got all your business’ functions logged in one place.

So, who needs field service management software? Professionals like electricians, plumbers, IT technicians, construction workers, and carpenters all find it useful. Moreover, there’s a wide range of application in many different types of industries.

Here are some industries that benefit from field service management software.

  • Fire and Life Safety

In a fire and life safety industry, equipment and safety systems should be kept running at peak efficiency. Therefore, it’s necessary to provide appropriate services that will ensure the smooth running of processes. On top of complying with government codes, fire and security systems installed should offer reliable services. Since service is at the core of this industry’s operation, most people in fire and security industries are turning to field service software to automate operations of their service delivery. With the field service software tools, the industry can easily monitor security technologies, quickly respond to customers, and manage compliance, inspections, and procedures effectively.

  • Medical Device Enterprises

For medical device companies seeking to improve their services, sales, and compliance, field service software becomes very essential for the smooth running and operations of their functions. The medical device enterprises that greatly benefit from this software include those offering installations, repair, and maintenance of medical equipment. With the comprehensive field service tools, service delivery and performance is greatly improved.

Moreover, with the field service software, these industries find better ways of tracking critical records needed for regulatory compliance since the medical industry is one of the most regulated industries in the globe. For the companies doing the manufacturing of medical equipment, they can integrate field service software in their accounting systems to streamline their invoice processes and shorten their billing cycles.

  • IT and Communications Services Companies

With the remarkable technological advancements in the recent past, Internet service providers, cable companies, and communications organizations are looking for better ways of service delivery to keep up with the pace of the growing technology. Connections are becoming more complex day by day propelled by an explosion in new data sources, and the use of the devices. To keep up with the increased demand for instant services by customers, the IT and communication service companies, are turning to field service software to make their service delivery more effective.

A combination of the robust, advanced scheduling system and rich functionality makes this software very useful to the communication service companies. They can use the software to design and install complex internet infrastructure. Moreover, field service software can be used by these companies to set up recurring maintenance plans to maintain the installed internet systems.

  • Oil and Gas Enterprises

Most oil and gas industries are faced by complexities which need special handling for better business performance. Since the running of projects is at the cornerstone of their businesses, they’re always looking for better ways to ensure a smooth running of their project activities. For this reason, most of the oil and gas enterprises that have discovered the benefits of field service software are integrating the main activities of their projects in this software.

With the project-based software tools, there’s an efficient flow of information and transparency throughout the enterprise ensuring excellent project management. With the checklist feature included in most field service software, inspections, compliance, site surveys, and maintenance of procedures is made easier in oil and gas companies.

  • Facilities Management Industry

Given that this is a service industry, high-level of efficiency is paramount. To meet customer expectations and battle against cost, most facility management industries are turning to field service software. With the comprehensive tools included in the field service software, supervisors can assign tasks to their reports, monitor their progress, and receive alerts on critical issues while in a remote place or at the comfort of their office.

Maintenance and emergency repairs in the facility management industry are greatly supported by this software ensuring increased productivity and efficiency. Additionally, with field service software the industries benefit from a streamlined workflow and improved communication that greatly reduces administration time and cost.

  • Industrial Equipment Enterprises

Industrial equipment companies aim at maximizing their overall productivity and preventing equipment downtime. There’s a wide range of activities that take place in industrial equipment companies which require field service software for higher levels of efficiency.

From load testing, installation projects, and load testing to emergency repairs, this software, enables the managers to design work orders, and get them ready for scheduling, and distribute them in a moment. With the equipment and asset tracking software, the supervisors can gain instant visibility into the equipment and assets in the field to ensure their regular maintenance. The scheduling and resourcing tools ensure the supervisors are in full control over the dispatching of their workforce, their schedules, and the route taken by each for maximum work output. Additionally, with the field service software, industrial equipment companies can meet their customer expectations.

  • Construction Industry

Since construction work involve both site work and office work, building industries find field service software very useful in integrating their field and office activities. Field service software is designed to establish effective communication between the office staff and the field operators. With inclusive software tools, the supervisors can easily manage daily inspections and receive feedback from the field workers without leaving the office. Moreover, documentation is simplified, and everything is documented in a central place so that it’s easier to retrieve important information at any time. With field service software, building industries can manage their construction efficiently while minimizing cost, and saving on time.

Filed service software is gaining popularity in the industrial world as most enterprises seek to improve their business’ performance, and keep up with the competition. Moreover, more companies are expected to come on board as the field service software companies work extra hard to add more tools to suit a wide range of functions.

One single app brings together your back office, mobile workers & customers in perfect harmony.

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I am at your service

What is Servitisation?

I am at your service

In the current generation, innovation has transformed industries, businesses, economies, and livelihoods. Those who’ve accepted to embrace the changes have prospered and remained afloat and relevant in their respective industries. 

However, failure to embrace change has seen companies like Blockbuster pushed out of business by more innovative and technology-oriented companies like Netflix. 

What does this tell you?

That the only way to stay in business, despite the many challenges your business could be facing, is to remain alert to the dynamic demands of customers, many of which are dictated by technological advancements. 

So, if you’re a manufacturer and you’re keen on diving deeper into technology to stay on top of the game and beat your competition, you must also be expectant of the fast-approaching servitisation-centred economy. Companies like Rolls Royce that have already embraced servitisation are making great gains in their areas of expertise. 

What is Servitisation?

Servitisation can be defined as the transformation of a manufacturing firm from the mere offering of products to the market to providing innovative and invaluable services alongside their products. By so doing, the sale becomes an ongoing engagement and not a one-off event. Cranfield University professors call it “the innovation of an organisation’s capabilities and processes to better create mutual value through a shift from selling a product to selling product-service systems.” 

As foreign as it may seem for some professionals, servitisation has been a need that, though not embraced, its demand remains evident. Nonetheless, firms have hesitated to implement it. Shifting from manufacturing products only to incorporating product-centric services alongside the products is not a walk in the park. It boils down to completely changing the company’s entire structure and processes.

All the same, change is never comfortable, and that’s why it’s always best to focus on the positive for motivation.

Servitisation Case Study

Some manufacturing firms have already embraced servitisation, and they’re reaping big from it. They’ve understood the benefits of offering more value to customers at less cost. What Rolls Royce is doing currently with its “power-by-the-hour” program is a good example of servitisation.

Instead of selling Aero Engines and letting customers take charge of maintenance and uptime, Rolls-Royce now offers a full package that includes a product and relevant services. 

Essentially, what the company is creating is an intimate and long-term relationship with its customers.

The total care package by Rolls Royce means it’s essentially renting out its engines to customers and monitoring data for potential maintenance needs. The plan guarantees that maintenance is only done when necessary and avoidable damage detected in good time. As a result, there is a clear reduction in the overall cost.

Initially, Rolls Royce would make money by basically selling and repairing engines. That meant that the worse the engines, the more repairs required and the more the money the company would make. 

However, things changed when the company realised there is no demand for a product that’s constantly in the repair shop. That prompted Rolls Royce to embrace servitisation.

Servitisation aligns the interests of the customer and those of the manufacturer to ensure everyone benefits. Rolls Royce has been offering this package to airlines since 2010, and the company has seen significant returns as a result.

Benefits

There are several benefits of incorporating servitisation into your manufacturing firm. Below are three of the strongest benefits

  • Financial Stability– Servitisation establishes a more secure revenue stream because of the long term connection between manufacturer and customer. This also translates to loyal customers, meaning more profit.
  • Strong Customer Retention Rate– Being more experienced about the equipment and the constant tracking and monitoring that comes with servitisation; manufacturers are realising that they can keep more customers.
  • Selling a Solution And a Product– Today customers are not just looking to buy a product, instead, they want both the product and the solution to their problem. Meaning you make more money for the product you manufacture and the service you offer to your customers.

Implementation of Servitisation in the Industry

To effectively implement servitisation, there must be an effective two-way flow of information and data in the supply chain. Meaning you may require software like FieldElite for scalable condition monitoring of performance. With FieldElite, for example, servitisation is made easier for you because it enables you to monitor the performance of your assets remotely.

Maintenance and monitoring of assets were traditionally very expensive and time-consuming until the arrival of intelligent software that makes work easier and cost-effective for manufacturers. FieldElite uses advanced learning algorithms to remotely automate the entire process, allowing you to detect, in real-time, the performance and need for maintenance on your asset.

Required Organisational Changes

A few important steps include;

Companies that invest in continuous training and development always have a more competitive edge than their counterparts. Meaning an important step towards servitisation is training the workforce. This is important, considering that the company structure, focus, and process will have to change.

Set up a team that is focused on the challenge, change, and creation. With this, you can easily adjust to industry changes. The team should always work on knowing what should be adjusted and when it should be. 

In the shift to servitisation, adopting a comprehensive service technology is an important step. Such service technology software includes FieldElite. This technology will ensure that you’re able to monitor your product in real-time, meaning you can maintain good performance for as long as possible.

Because servitisation essentially focuses on the customer, take time to study customer behaviour. Knowing what your customers need and want will help you remain relevant in the industry.

Conclusion

As the demand for more benefits and long-lasting relationships with dealers grow, so is the need for manufacturers to adjust. Hence more and more manufacturing companies are leaning towards embracing servitisation as a solution to the growing demand. 

In turn, manufacturers who’re attaching service contracts to their product sales are making more than those who remain stuck in the traditional approach to sales. 

Essentially, servitisation will ensure that, as a manufacturer, you remain relevant to your customers now and in years to come. This is a much better arrangement in terms of saving costs and making more returns. Remember to be successful, you have to be flexible enough to change with demand.

One single app brings together your back office, mobile workers & customers in perfect harmony.

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Civil architect and construction manager dressed in orange work vests and helmets discuss a building

Successful Engineer Communication With FieldElite

Civil architect and construction manager dressed in orange work vests and helmets discuss a building

Technological innovations have been on the rise in the recent past. Our news media are awash with new technologies that are being released in almost every industry. From smart buildings to sophisticated gadgets, every industry has a technological invention to flaunt. 

One area in which technology has blossomed is the field service. In the field service management, things have moved a notch higher. Right from communication, document management, monitoring and evaluation, to information storage, nothing remains where it was a couple of years ago. You no longer have to carry clipboards around to do your inspections or pile files in the office. You no longer have to wait for your field service employees to return to the office before you can receive reports. By using a field service management software like FieldElite, you have it all done at a click. 

With FieldElite, you’ve got everything under control right from the comfort of your office. Provided you’re doing what you need to do and posting updates using the app, the rest will fall into place. Your employees will receive updates from you and vice versa. If there is a client who needs attention, they can easily issue a request through the app and the next available field service officer who’s within proximity will pick it up and attend to the customer’s needs. 

Everything is just a click away. Sounds great, right?

FieldElite is a robust field service management software that’s packed with a wide array of tools meant to simplify communication between the office and the field service employees. With FieldElite, you can reach all your engineers at one go. 

Below are a few of the communication features that make FieldElite the software of choice when it comes to field service management.

Simplified Communication

It’s very important to stay in touch with your engineers in the field to monitor the ongoing activities. For this reason, you need to choose a platform that doesn’t complicate the process. You don’t want important information to reach your team late. That would drag your activities.

Fast and effective communication is, therefore, very key in field service. FieldElite has consequently been made to simplify communication in the field service. Its simplicity can be compared to the usual consumer messaging apps. On the back-end, however, there are very many complex procedures executed through refined algorithms meant to process information and generate instant reports for engineers, supervisors, and the rest of the company team members.  

With the FieldElite app, communication is as easy as dropping a message in the team members’ inbox. Again, the app’s communication system is centralised and, thus, every communication trail is easily retrievable. You don’t need different apps for messaging, audio and video calling, and document sharing. You have it all in FieldElite. Simply put, FieldElite is an all-in-one field service management tool that ropes in all essential digital modes of communication. 

But what’s the benefit of having all work-related communication in one place? 

With an all-in-one communication platform like FieldElite, you’ll cut down on wasted time and field tech frustration. Again, any urgent information will reach your engineers on time, and none of them will be left out. What’s more? With effective communication, expect the performance of your team to shoot up. 

Consistent Communication

Field technicians, in this case engineers, need to be kept on toes to get the job done. You can only achieve this by communicating with them more often. Therefore, you need a field service management platform that can offer you that. Most field service management software facilitates constant communication with team members in the field. Even so, not all are as good as you expect. So, you’ve got to be a bit more critical when choosing a field service management software for your business. 

A good field service management software is one that enables you to regularly check in with field techs to make sure that they have everything they need. With FieldElite, you can achieve more than this. FieldElite app allows you to communicate with your engineers from time to time through messages, calls, or shared documents. Again, the team gets information at the same time. 

So, how important is regular communication with your business? 

Keeping in touch with your team members in the field helps you build strong relationships with them. Additionally, you can easily spot areas that need improvement that otherwise could have been hidden from your viewpoint. What’s more? Employees feel valued when you check on them from time to time. As a result, this will boost their overall productivity, which contributes positively to the well-being of your business.

So, take your business to another level by making use of FieldElite communication tools to reach out to your engineers at any time.

Two-Way Communication

Communication in field service can only be successful if you can get feedback from your field techs. As such, the field management software should make it easier for your engineers to notify you of anything that needs urgent attention. With the FieldElite app’s communication features, your engineers can give you real-time updates from any device. The app is compatible with any android device, and, therefore, the field techs can use their smart handsets to communicate important information. 

The messaging and calling features are easy to manipulate, and with a little training, anyone can use them easily. Again, FieldElite allows you to make group calls or send many messages at the same time. Therefore, in case you’d like to talk to the entire team, you can choose to make a group call or send out bulk messages. 

Real-Time Updates

With FieldElite, you don’t need to wait until you meet your team to communicate any changes. You can notify your team on any work-related changes anytime, and as many times as is necessary. The good thing about FieldElite is that the information reaches all your engineers instantly and at the same time. Provided there’s strong network coverage, you’ll not have to deal with delayed communication. Again, your field techs can always get back to you in case they need clarifications on some matters.

Timely updates are very necessary for field service management. Field techs that get real-time updates tend to be more productive than those who get information late. At least they can make necessary changes on time to avoid wasting time on tasks that aren’t urgent. Therefore, make use of FieldElite communication features to keep your engineers updated.

Would you like to take your business to another level? Well, it’s time to improve communication with your field techs. Get the FieldElite android app for successful communication with your engineers.

One single app brings together your back office, mobile workers & customers in perfect harmony.

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Business colleagues working in team

A Small External Enterprise Development Team is Cheaper than Your Own

Business colleagues working in team

Time is money in the application development business. We have to get to market sooner so someone else does not gazump us, and pip us at the post. We increase the likelihood of this with every delay. Moreover, the longer your in-house team takes to get you through the swamp, the higher the project cost to you.

Of course, in theory this should not be the case. Why bring in a team from outside, and pay more to support their corporate structure? Even going for a contract micro team ought not to make financial sense, because we have to fund their mark-up and their profit taking. Our common sense tells us that this is crazy. But, hold that thought for a minute. What would you say if a small external enterprise development team was actually cheaper? To achieve that, they would have to work faster too.

The costs of an Enterprise Internal Development Team

Even if you were able to keep your own team fully occupied – which is unlikely in the long term – having your own digital talent pool works out expensive when you factor in the total cost. Your difficulties begin with the hiring process, especially if you do not fully understand the project topic, and have to subcontract the hiring task.

If you decide to attempt this yourself, your learning curve could push out the project completion date. Whichever way you decide to go, you are up for paying advertising, orientation training, technical upskilling, travel expenses, and salaries all of which are going to rob your time. Moreover, a wrong recruitment decision would cost three times the new employee’s annual salary, and there is no sign of that changing.

But that is not all, not all by far. If want your in-house team to keep their work files in the office, then you are going to have to buy them laptops, plus extra screens so they can keep track of what they are doing. Those laptops are going to need desks, and those employees, chairs to sit in. Plus, you are going to need expensive workspace with good security for your team’s base.

If we really wanted to lay it on, we would add software / cloud costs, telephony, internet access, and ongoing technical training to the growing pile. We did a quick scan on PayScale. The median salary of a computer programmer in Ireland is €38,000 per year and that is just the beginning. If you need a program manager for your computer software, their salary will be almost double that at €65,000 annually.

Advantages of R&D outsourcing

The case for a small externally sourced enterprise development team revolves around the opportunity cost – or loss to put in bluntly – of hiring your own specialist staff for projects. If you own a smaller business with up to 100 people, you are going to have to find work for idle digital fingers, after you roll out your in-house enterprise project. If you do not, you head down the road towards owning a dysfunctional team lacking a core, shared objective to drive them forward.

Compared to this potential extravagance, hiring a small external enterprise development team on an as-needed basis makes far more sense. Using a good service provider as a ‘convenience store’ drives enterprise development costs down through the floor, relative to having your own permanent team. Moreover, the major savings that arise are in your hands and free to deploy as opportunities arise. A successful business is quick and nimble, with cash flow on tap for R & D.

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Operational Reviews

IT OPERATIONAL REVIEWS DEFINED
An IT operational review is an in-depth and objective review of an entire organisation or a specific segment of that organisation. It can be used to identify and address existing concerns within your company such as communication issues between departments, problems with customer relations, operating procedures, lack of profitability issues, and other factors that affect the stability of the business.
Operational reviews allow the organisation members to evaluate how well they are performing, given that they perform appropriately according to the procedures set by them, allocating their resources properly, and performing such tasks within time frame set and using cost-effective measures. More importantly, it also shows your company how well it is prepared to meet future challenges.
Simply put, the goals of an operational review are to increase revenue, improve market share, and reduce cost.

THE BENEFITS OF AN IT OPERATIONAL REVIEW
The main objective of IT operational reviews is to help organisations like yours learn how to deal with and address issues, instead of simply reacting to the challenges brought about by growth and change.
In such review, the information provided is practical from both a financial and operational perspective. Using these data, the management can then come up with recommendations, which are not only realistic, but more importantly, can help the organisation achieve its goals. The review recognises the extent to which your internal controls actually work, and enables you to identify and understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

To be more specific, let’s list down the ways wherein an effective operational review can contribute to the success of the organisation.

The review process can:
– assess compliance within your own organisational objectives, policies and procedures;
– evaluate specific company operations independently and objectively;
– give an impartial assessment regarding the effectiveness of an organisation’s control systems;
– identify the appropriate standards for quantifying achievement of organisational objectives;
– evaluate the reliability and value of the company’s management data and reports;
– pinpoint problem areas and their underlying causes;
– give rise to opportunities that may increase profit, augment revenue, and reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the product or service.
Thus, each operational review conducted is unique, and can be holistic or specific to the activities of one department.

Our Operational Efficiencies cover the entire spectrum:

  • What to buy
  • Optimising what you’ve already bought e.g. underutilised servers, duplicate processes, poorly managed bandwidths
  • Making your team comfortable with the changes
  • Instilling Best Practices

UNCOVER WAYS TO DRIVE YOUR PROFITS UP, THROUGH OPERATIONAL REVIEWS

More Operational Review Blogs

Finding the Best Structure for Your Enterprise Development Team

An enterprise development team is a small group of dedicated specialists. They may focus on a new business project such as an IoT solution. Members of microteams cooperate with ideas while functioning semi-independently. These self-managing specialists are scarce in the job market. Thus, they are a relatively expensive resource and we must optimise their role.

Organization Size and Enterprise Development Team Structure

Organization structure depends on the size of the business and the industry in which it functions. An enterprise development team for a micro business may be a few freelancers burning candles at both ends. While a large corporate may have a herd of full-timers with their own building. Most IoT solutions are born out of the efforts of microteams.

In this regard, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg blazed the trail with Microsoft and Facebook. They were both college students at the time, and both abandoned their business studies to follow their dreams. There is a strong case for liberating developers from top-down structures, and keeping management and initiative at arm’s length.

The Case for Separating Microteams from the Organization

Microsoft Corporation went on to become a massive corporate, with 114,000 employees, and its founder Bill Gates arguably one of the richest people in the world. Yet even it admits there are limitations to size. In Chapter 2 of its Visual Studio 6.0 program it says,

“Today’s component-based enterprise applications are different from traditional business applications in many ways. To build them successfully, you need not only new programming tools and architectures, but also new development and project management strategies.”

Microsoft goes on to confirm that traditional, top-down structures are inappropriate for component-based systems such as IoT solutions. We have moved on from “monolithic, self-contained, standalone systems,” it says, “where these worked relatively well.”

Microsoft’s model for enterprise development teams envisages individual members dedicated to one or more specific roles as follows:

  • Product Manager – owns the vision statement and communicates progress
  • Program Manager – owns the application specification and coordinates
  • Developer – delivers a functional, fully-complying solution to specification
  • Quality Assurer – verifies that the design complies with the specification
  • User Educator – develops and publishes online and printed documentation
  • Logistics Planner – ensures smooth rollout and deployment of the solution

Three Broad Structures for Microteams working on IoT Solutions

The organization structure of an enterprise development team should also mirror the size of the business, and the industry in which it functions. While a large one may manage small microteams of employee specialists successfully, it will have to ring-fence them to preserve them from bureaucratic influence. A medium-size organization may call in a ‘big six’ consultancy on a project basis. However, an independently sourced micro-team is the solution for a small business with say up to 100 employees.

The Case for Freelancing Individuals versus Functional Microteams

While it may be doable to source a virtual enterprise development team on a contracting portal, a fair amount of management input may be necessary before they weld into a well-oiled team. Remember, members of a micro-team must cooperate with ideas while functioning semi-independently. The spirit of cooperation takes time to incubate, and then grow.

This is the argument, briefly, for outsourcing your IoT project, and bringing in a professional, fully integrated micro-team to do the job quickly, and effectively. We can lay on whatever combination you require of project managers, program managers, developers, quality assurers, user educators, and logistic planners. We will manage the micro-team, the process, and the success of the project on your behalf while you get on running your business, which is what you do best.

The General Data Protection Regulation & The Duty to use Encryption

The General Data Protection Regulation, abbreviated to GDPR, raised a storm when it arrived. In reality, it merely tightened up on existing good practice according to digital security specialists Gemalto. The right to withhold consent and to be forgotten has always been there, for example. However, the GDPR brings a free enforcement service for consumers, thus avoiding the need for third party, paid assistance.

The GDPR Bottom Lines for Data Security
Moreover, the GDPR has penalties it can apply, of the order that might have a judge choking on his wig. Under it, data security measures such as pseudonymisation (substitution of identifying fields) and encryption (encoding including password protection) have become mandatory. Businesses must further respect their client data by:

a) Storing it in a secure environment supported by robust services and systems
b) Having proven measures to restore availability and access after a breach
c) Being able to prove frequent effectiveness testing of these measures.

The General Data Protection Regulation places an onus on businesses to report any data breaches. This places us in a difficult situation. We must either face at least a wrist slap upon reporting failures. Alternatively, pay a fine of up to €10 million, or 2% of total worldwide annual turnover.

The Engineered Weak Link in the System
Our greatest threat of breach is probably when the data leaves our secure environment, and travels across cyberspace to an employee, stakeholder, collaborator, or the client themselves. Since email became open to attack, businesses and individuals have turned to sharing platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive, and so on. While these do allow an additional layer of password protection, none of these has proved foolproof. The GDPR may still fine us heavily, whether or not we are to blame for the actual breach.

How Hacking is Approaching Being a Science
We may make a mistake we may regret, if we do not take hacking seriously. The 10 worst data hacks Identity Force lists are proof positive that spending lots of money does not guarantee security (any more than having the biggest stock of nuclear weapons). We have to be smart, and start thinking the way that hackers do.

Hacker heaven is finding an Experian or a Dun & Bradstreet that may have shielded 143 million, and 33 million consumer records respectively, behind a single, flimsy cyber-security door. Ignorance is no excuse for them. They should simply have known better. They should have rendered consumer data unreadable at individual record level. The hackers could have found this too demanding to unpick, and have looked elsewhere.

How Data Encryption Can Help Prevent Hackers Succeeding
Encrypting data is dashboard driven, and businesses need not concern themselves about it works. There are, however, a few basic decisions they must take:

a) Purge the database of all information held without explicit permission
b) Challenge the need for the remaining data and purge the nice-to-haves
c) Adopt a policy of encrypting access at business and customer interfaces
d) Register with three freemium encryption services that seem acceptable
e) After experimenting, sign up for a premium service and be prepared to pay

Factors to Consider When Reaching a Decision
Life Hacker suggests the following criteria although the list is a one-size-fits-all

a) Is the system fast, simple, and easy to operate
b) Can you encrypt hidden volumes within volumes
c) Can you mass-encrypt a batch of files easily
d) Do all other files remain encrypted when you open one
e) Do files automatically re-encrypt when you close them
f) How confident are you with the vendor, on a scale of 1 to 10

It may be wise to encrypt all the files on your system, and not just your customer data. We are always open to a hack by the competition after our strategic planning. If we leave the decision up to IT, then IT, being human may take the easy way out, and encrypt as little as possible.

How Small Irish Businesses Avoid the GDPR Sting

Accountants providing chartered accounting services and tax advice are alerting smaller Irish companies to the consequences of the pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They believe these are going to feel the most pain come 25 May 2018, if they do not implement GDPR by then. We are trying our best to help avoid this situation by providing advice.

How to Kick the GDPR Ball into Play

The Irish Information Commissioner’s Office has produced a toolkit regarding where’s best to start. They suggest beginning with an information security assessment to determine the gaps companies need to close. Once quantified, this leads naturally to a plan of action, and resources needed to fulfil it. Here’s how to go about it:

1. Start by assessing your current ability to identify, assess, and manage threats to customer data security. Have you done anything at all to date? You must be holding some customer information surely, and it is highly likely the GDPR applies to you.

2. Next, review your company’s current customer data security policies. Are they documented and approved, or do new employees discover them sitting next to Nellie? Rate yourself on a scale where ten is successful implementation.

3. Now consider how well you have pinned responsibilities on individuals to implement policies and take the lead on GDPR. The latter should be the business owner, or a board member with clout to make things happen.

4. By now, you should have a grasp of the scale of work ahead of you, remembering the EU deadline is 25 May 2018. If this sounds overwhelming, consider outsourcing to your accountant or a specialist provider.

5. Under the General Data Protection Regulation you have only 72 hours to report a breach of customer data security to the Information Commissioner’s Office. Do you have a quality assurance mechanism to oversee this?

Tangible Things to Bring Your Own People on Board

With all the changes going on, there is a risk of your employees regarding GDPR as ‘another management idea going nowhere.’ Thus, it is important to incorporate the new EU regulations in staff training, particularly with regard to data security generally. They may fully come on board only once they see tangible signs of progress. You should in any case put the following measures in place unless you already have them:

1. A secure area for your servers and for any paperwork your customers provided. This implies access control on a need-to-know basis to protect the information against loss, damage, and theft.

2. A protocol for storage media and record disposal when you no longer require them or something supersedes them. You are the custodian of other people’s information and they deserve nothing less.

3. Procedures to secure customer data on employee mobile devices and computers: This must extend to work done at home, at consultant sites, and by remote workers.

4. Secure configuration of all existing and new hardware to minimise vulnerability and storage media crashes. These quality assurance measures should extend to removable media and remote backups.

So Is This the Worst of the Pain?

We are at the heart of the matter, although there is more to tell in future articles. You may be almost there, if you already protect your proprietary information. If not, you may have key company information already open to malware.We should welcome the EU General Data Protection Regulation as a notice that it is time to face up to the challenges of data protection and security generally. The age of hacking and malware is upon us. The offender could be a disgruntled employee, or your competition just down the street. It is time to take precautions.

Is the GDPR Good or Bad News for Business

The European Union’s General Data Protection Act (GDPR) is a new data authority coming into force on 25 May 2018. It replaces the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, while extending the remit to include the export of personal data outside the EU. It aims to give EU citizens and residents living there more control over their personal information. It also hopes to make regulatory compliance simpler for participating businesses.

The Broad Implications for Business
The GDPR puts another layer of accountability on businesses falling within its remit. It requires them to implement ‘comprehensive but proportionate governance measures’ including recording how they make decisions. The long-term goal is to reduce privacy infringements. In the short run, businesses without good governance may find themselves writing new policies and procedures.

Article 5 of the European Union’s General Data Protection Act lays down the following guidelines for managing personal data. This shall be …
• Processed transparently, fairly, and lawfully
• Acquired for specific, legitimate purposes only
• Adequate, relevant and limited to essentials
• Not used for any other, incompatible purpose
• However it may be archived in the public interest
• Kept up to date with all inaccuracies corrected
• Ring-fenced when the information becomes irrelevant
• Adequately protected against unauthorised access
• Stored in a way that prevents accidental loss
Furthermore, affected businesses shall appoint a “controller responsible for, and able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles.”

Implementing Accountability and Governance
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has issued guidelines regarding provisions to assure governance and accountability. These are along the lines of the ‘don’t tell me, show me’ management approach the office has generally been following. In summary form, a business, and its controller must:
• Implement measures that assist it to ensure demonstrated compliance
• Maintain suitable, relevant records of personal data processing activities
• Appoint a dedicated data protection officer if scale makes this appropriate
• Implement technologies that ensure data protection by design
• Conduct data protection assessments and respond to results timeously

Implementing the General Data Protection Act in Ireland
The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has decided it is unnecessary to incorporate the GDPR into Irish law, since EU regulations have direct effect. The office of the Commissioner is working in tandem with data practitioners, and industry and professional bodies to raise awareness in business through 2017. It has produced a document detailing what it considers the essentials for business compliance. Briefly, these pre-requisites are:
• Ensure awareness among key personnel, and make sure they incorporate the GDPR into their planning
• Conduct an early assessment of quality management gaps, and budget for additional resources needed
• Do an audit of personal data held, to determine the origin, the necessity to hold it, and with whom shared
• Inform internal and external stakeholders of the current status, and your future plans to implement the GDPR
• Examine current procedures in the light of the new directive. Could you ‘survive’ a challenge from a data subject?
• Determine how you will process requests for access to the data in the future from within and outside your organization
• Assess how you currently obtain customer consent to store their data. Is this “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous”?
• Find how you handle information from underage people. Do you have systems to verify ages and obtain guardian consent?
• Implement procedures to detect, investigate, and report data breaches to the Data Protection Commissioner within 72 hours
• Implement a culture of always assessing the effect on individual privacy before starting new initiatives

So Is the GDPR Good or Bad for Business
The GDPR should be good news for business customers. Their personal data will be more secure, and they should see their rate of spam marketing come down. The GDPR is also good news for businesses currently investing resources to protect their clients’ interests. It could however, be bad news for businesses that have not been focussing on these matters. They may have a high mountain to climb to come in line with the GDPR.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and not intended as a comprehensive guide.