Should You Leave Your Full Time IT Job for Contract Work

A male IT worker accepting new contract work on the phone at a home office
On the phone discussing new contract work

In recent years, the availability and scope of contract work has been expanding, especially in the IT field. There are more opportunities today than ever before, and many workers are leaving behind traditional, full-time jobs to seek contract work. While it’s true that this work is not right for everyone, many IT professionals have successfully made the move from a full-time IT employee role to an IT contractor role. While this trend takes off, a lot of IT professionals are beginning to see the many benefits that contract work has to offer. However, what types of workers fit best into these roles, and what can you expect to gain from working as a contractor?

Who Is a Great Fit for Contract Work?

Contract work is definitely not a perfect fit for every employee, but it can be a good choice if you feel stuck in your current position or need more flexibility with your schedule. If you’re tired of the regular 9-5 shift working for the same company every day or think you’re in a position with no room for growth, contracting can allow you to gain valuable experience and skills so you can take a step forward in your career. And while many contract jobs may require you to be available during business hours, you’re given more freedom with how and when to work, including remote opportunities.

Maybe you aren’t quite happy in your current full-time role but aren’t sure what kind of work is really right for you. Contracting gives you a chance to try out different types of positions in a shorter period of time so you can learn more about where your particular skills can flourish. You won’t have to make a long-term commitment to any one employer, and you won’t come off as a “job-hopper” on your resume.

People who are single or are married to a spouse with a steady income may find that contract work is perfect for their lifestyles. Indeed, they may have fewer expenses to cover. This work can sometimes be risky, though, as steady work isn’t always guaranteed. Sometimes contracts can be short, lasting only a few months, which means you’ll be job seeking and applying to and interviewing for positions a lot more. When a contract ends, you can be stuck in a position where you don’t have income while you look for a new role, and it may take you days or weeks to find one. This is why it’s important to make sure you can afford to be without work for short periods if you’re thinking of trying contract work

What Are the Benefits?

If you’re considering leaving your full-time job for contract work, it’s important to weigh both the pros and the cons. One of the most obvious benefits of contract work is that contractors get to work for a wide variety of clients and learn a lot of new skills along the way. For every new contractor position you take on, you’ll have a different role and new responsibilities, which means you’ll get a lot of exposure to different tasks. On the other hand, if you’re stuck in the same full-time role for years, it’s unlikely that your position will change very much, and you won’t have many opportunities to learn new things.

Keeping Up With the Industry

Because you’ll be working in so many different types of settings, it’s easier to keep up with changes in technology and stay on top of the latest trends. And in some of the roles you take on, you may have the chance to gain leadership experience and take on managerial roles. That is not something that’s always available to employees in full-time IT jobs.

Valuable Connections

Even though some jobs may be short-term, you’ll make a lot of valuable connections along the way. Contract work is a great way to network with many different people, which can help you find future openings that match your skillset. You’ll gain lots of great experience by going to more job interviews, and you’ll become an expert at identifying great opportunities.

Cost-Effective

For the most part, contracts last for an agreed-upon period of time (usually 3, 6, 9, or 12 months, but some can last for years), so you don’t always have to be worried about sudden layoffs or firings. In many cases, it’s more cost-effective for employers to hire contract workers, which means they are able to pay you more. But remember, a lot of contract positions don’t offer benefits as traditional full-time roles do, so you’ll have to think about things like purchasing insurance and saving for retirement on your own. And taking a few days off between contracts can be a good idea, as you most likely won’t get paid time off.

Is Contracting Right for Me?

Taking the leap from a stable, full-time job into the world of contract work can be a little scary to think about, but thousands of IT professionals have made it work and made a lot of money doing so! Take a step back and look at where you are in your career. Even if you’re currently happy in the job you have, think about your chances of promotion. Are you regularly gaining new skills and seeing upward momentum, or do you feel like you may be stagnating and getting complacent?

Contract work is a great idea if you’re ready to take a gamble and potentially gain valuable skills and experience. The best way to find contract roles is by getting in touch with recruiters online, sharing your resume with them, and telling them what kind of work you’re looking for. But know that as contract work becomes a more popular form of employment, the market will get increasingly more competitive. Remember to keep your resume updated with every contract that you complete, adding new skills and achievements as you gain them.

Conclusion

If you think a career as an IT contractor would work well for you, start by getting in touch with one of our IT recruiters for more information about the contractor opportunities that are currently available.

How to Choose a CMS

CMS simplification as large content is organized and optimized into an omnichannel platform
Organized content delivery concept

A content management system (CMS) is website creation and management made accessible, even to those with no programming knowledge. You know you need one—the question is how to choose one. WordPress is probably the first one that comes to mind since it’s the CMS behind about a third of all websites. Still, there are many options available, and WordPress isn’t necessarily the best choice for you.

It pays to carefully consider a variety of factors when choosing your CMS, and to work with a web development company to help you make the most of it. They can help you choose a system and build upon it to create the website you need while you stay focused on your customers.

Here are a few things you’ll want to consider when choosing a CMS:

Is It Easy to Use?

This is a tough question to answer, because “easy” means something different for everyone—and every CMS, no matter how user-friendly, has difficult parts to manage. Certain themes can also be more challenging than others. You’ll want to focus on what you do most often, whether that’s blog posts, images, or schedules and booking. Is it easy to format, or are you puzzled when you hit “preview” and see nothing like what you thought you had created?

The more time and effort you invest in the foundation of your site, the easier it will be to use. Choosing a CMS that feels intuitive to you is a great start; after that, you’ll work with the development company to customize and simplify it until you have it where you want it. Keep in mind that it’s an ever-evolving process. For example, the company behind the CMS might make upgrades that render your customized items useless, and you’ll have to rewrite those customizations. A web development company can stay on top of those for you and make the changes with limited time spent in lost functionality.

What Features Does It Offer?

You don’t necessarily have to find a CMS that has everything—that’s what plugins are for. WordPress on its own, for example, is pretty bare-bones, but it comes with a rich marketplace of plugins, both free and paid. You can add features like a client login or CRM integration, but adding them requires some strategy. The more plugins you have, the slower your WordPress site will run, so it’s important to choose only the ones you need. Furthermore, some of them won’t work with your chosen theme, and others don’t work when used together.

If you need a client login to protect documents, you’ll want to look beyond WordPress, which would require several plugins to do the job you could find built into another CMS. If you’re going to build an entirely different site for your client portal, WordPress can still be a good option for your primary site.

The basic features you want to see are an easy-to-use content editor, customization options, and user management options that allow you to set different editing permissions for different people if you intend to have more than one person editing and managing the site.

Is It Scalable?

For your website, you have to look beyond your current needs. You’re expecting your business to grow, so you want to choose a CMS that can grow with you. It’s much easier than having to start all over when you realize your business is bigger than your website can manage.

Your development team can help you identify what features and integrations your business will need by the time you have a certain number of customers or you’re making a certain number of sales. By choosing a CMS that offers those functions and/or building them into your site from the beginning, you’ll save yourself from costly rewrites down the road.

Is It Secure?

You have a big responsibility to protect your business and client information, and that requires careful management of your platform. Though WordPress sites are most often compromised, the breaches are generally among those that are not updated and maintained: 44% of WordPress hacking was a result of outdated sites. More than half of WordPress vulnerabilities are from the plugins—which is another reason to choose yours carefully.

Some CMS companies are better at security updates than others. WordPress has a security team dedicated to staying ahead of hackers, malware, and other vulnerabilities. Some updates are made automatically by the CMS or plugin creators; other updates require action on your part. Make sure you use the latest versions to ensure you have the latest security technology working for you.

What Does It Cost?

WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and Microweber are just a few of the free systems available. Most come with a wide range of open-source plugins and paid plugins. Other platforms, like Sitefinity, Kentico, and EVOQ require a monthly or annual fee that covers patches, upgrades, and ongoing support. These systems tend to come with the capabilities you would need to cover with plugins in an open-source system.

Customization costs vary depending upon what you need to have done, but those customizations can save you time and money in the long run if they make your site easier to use. Custom solutions aren’t always necessary, but they can provide additional control, user-friendliness, and functionality, and they can help your website stand out among the others in your industry.

Learn More About CMS

It’s a lot to consider, but The Provato Group can help. Founded in 2010, we have more than 65 years of in-house experience in IT architecture and development for a wide range of industries. Whether you need an open-source solution or an enterprise-level licensed product, we can help you choose the CMS that’s right for your business, customize it to fit your needs, and help you manage it so you can focus on your customers and let your website do what it’s supposed to do: educate visitors, build brand loyalty, and attract new clients.

Contact us and talk to one of our technology experts. We’re glad to answer any questions you might have about content management systems and how to choose the best one for your business.

Microsoft Azure DevOps for Large Teams

Microsoft Azure DevOps Logo

Large software projects present serious challenges for development and deployment. A complex product involves multiple areas of specialization. There are front-end and back-end people. Security, database management, and user interface design can all be significant concerns.

Online software products raise additional concerns. The software needs to run without significant interruptions. Downtime is expensive. Security issues need rapid fixes. In the traditional development model, the software team goes through a series of releases and the administrators have to configure and deploy each one. This is slow and clumsy when it’s necessary to run smoothly all the time.

These needs have led to widespread adoption of the DevOps model. Its basic concept is treating development and deployment as a single process rather than a handoff to a separate group. It emphasizes incremental change over big releases. It replaces manual processes with automated tools. It stresses agility instead of a methodical, stepwise approach. Developers and administrators work in close coordination.

How Azure DevOps helps

Many tools are available for DevOps teams. Microsoft’s offering, Azure DevOps, takes a cloud-based approach. This makes it especially suitable for large teams whose members aren’t always in close proximity. Its tools support a highly agile development, configuration, testing, and deployment process. Developers and operations people act as one team, even if they aren’t in the same location.

Using cloud-based tools overcomes distance. On-premises DevOps tools work well if everyone is at the same facility. When people from different places combine forces on a project, it’s a huge benefit that people can access the tools from wherever they are. Access to common resources and tools for coordination overcome distance, time zones, and languages.

Azure DevOps consists of five major tools, which can be used as a suite or separately. Teams who prefer other software tools for parts of the process can combine them with the Azure services. The components are:

  • Azure Repos. Any software project which is bigger than an afternoon’s work should use a source code repository. Teams who want to keep all their work in the same cloud can put their source code in Azure Repos.
  • Azure Pipelines. The CI/CD approach requires tools to manage the flow of software from new or changed code through deployment. Pipelines provides the capabilities for doing this.
  • Azure Artifacts. A large project involves generating and coordinating many units of code. The Artifacts tool is an important aid in tracking and coordinating them.
  • Azure Test Plans. Automated testing is at the heart of DevOps. The Test Plans tool lets developers and testers manage the many tests which are necessary.
  • Azure Boards. When many people work together on a component, especially when they aren’t all in the same office, they need a way to track its progress. Azure Boards lets everyone see and update the progress through an action.

Automated processes

DevOps automates large parts of the software cycle to produce smoother progress and fewer mistakes. Manual handoffs take more time, and miscommunication is possible. People working under pressure may want to take shortcuts. Replacing manual interactions with automated processes produces more consistent results and eases coordination among groups of people.

Testing is an important part of this process. When developers submit new or changed code to the repository, it should go through automated tests at the unit and component levels. Otherwise, bugs will inevitably find their way into the code base, causing problems that will be caught only later. A testing tool such as Azure Test Plans will make sure that tests are run with every change. Code won’t get into the system until it passes these checks. They can’t guarantee that the code is right in every respect, but they will eliminate most of the errors from careless coding and mistakes in typing.

Automation can enforce any necessary sign-offs on code. If part of the process is that a supervisor has to approve the activation of a new feature, this requirement can be built into the process.

CI/CD

Many DevOps operations embrace the concepts of continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). It’s never really “continuous,” of course; there’s a range in how small and frequent the changes should be. But the basic idea is to eliminate the idea of versions in favor of allowing change at any time.

CI and CD use a pipeline process, where each change goes through a series of steps from code to delivery under automated control. At each step, it has to pass tests, get approvals, or both. Azure Pipelines supplies a supporting structure for this process, letting different parts of the team handle each step.

DevOps and CI/CD generally favor breaking projects up into services and libraries rather than keeping an application as one huge piece of code. It’s hard to stay agile when all the sources feed into a single build. The build process entails constructing, configuring, and deploying many units of code.

Azure Artifacts helps in this process. It provides support for code sharing, pipelines, and maintaining a store of artifacts which is separate from source control. It can deal with Maven, Python, NuGet, and npm packages, storing them all in a common wrapper format.

Source control

Azure DevOps favors Git or TFVC repositories. Teams can use Azure Repos for tight integration with the other tools, or they can use repositories such as GitHub, GitLab, or a private repository. Azure’s packaging of Git adds features such as protected branches and repository forking.

While the distributed Git model is very popular, some teams prefer a centralized repository. Repos lets them use Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC), which takes a centralized approach. It supports file-level granular permissions and change sets, giving a large team the ability to divide up responsibility and track who has changed what.

Keeping the whole team coordinated

There are many advantages to DevOps for creating and maintaining software in a fast-moving world. The larger the team, the greater the benefits, but the challenges grow as well. Developers and administrators need to think in new ways. They need tools to coordinate their efforts while working on different pieces in different locations.

Azure DevOps offers many features to let distributed teams work on large-scale projects while staying agile. Its cloud-based approach helps to overcome distances and keep everyone in sync. We can help you to get Azure DevOps working in your development organization. Contact us for a consultation.

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Make Your Technology Resume Stand Out to Recruiters

In the competitive world of tech, recruiters are always looking for top-tier candidates to fill job openings. If you’re on the hunt for a new job, or just want to get your name out there, the first step towards landing a new position is making your resume stand out. Read on to get some helpful tips on crafting a great technology resume.

Formatting Matters

A cropped shot of a man updating his technology resume at the computer.
Taking the time to update a resume

When composing a resume, job seekers know that it’s important to include elements like education, experience, and relevant skills. However, they are sometimes quick to overlook the formatting of the document. Remember, your resume is your only chance at a great first impression! A resume that stands out from the crowd can easily put you ahead of hundreds of other options. This is where it’s important to do a little research. The best technology resume format for a .net developer may look different from the best resume format for a network administrator. There are a few simple rules that everyone should follow.

Recruiters are looking at so many resumes daily – do them a favor and compose yours in an easy-to-read format that highlights your skills so that they can quickly scan it to see if you may be a good fit for a position. Because these recruiters may not be as tech-savvy as you are, be sure to use language that isn’t too technical. Also be sure to, at the very least, include your name and contact information, a personal summary, and a list of your work experience, education, and relevant skills.

There are lots of ways to organize this information, but you usually want to include your name and contact information at the top, followed by your summary, and then a chronological list of your work history and education. A skills section can be towards the bottom, and you may even want to list any awards or special recognition you’ve received after that.

Spice Up Your Summary

Real estate on your resume is valuable. You want to keep it short and concise whenever possible. This means some job seekers opt to leave out a personal summary. However, this can be a big mistake. A summary is a place to make a powerful statement about yourself and your career goals. This can be particularly important if your experience reflects a lot of experience in one area, but you’re looking to change your career path. A summary is a great place to explain what you’re looking for and why.

Be sure to lead this summary with a strong sentence about your expertise, like “Tech support specialist with eight years of experience working in higher education.” That one sentence can paint a very clear picture of who you are and what you do best.

Back Up Your Claims With Evidence

Numbers and evidence are what can really sell your technology resume. If you are an IT project manager, don’t just say you managed projects, explain in detail the projects you managed and the results that were received. Talking about your achievements is important, but this is your chance to really market what you have to offer, so don’t just list your roles and the responsibilities you had at each previous job.

Did you increase the traffic to your previous employer’s website? By how much? Use statistics and numbers wherever you can, and if you have a portfolio of your work, be sure to include it. For example, if you’re a mobile developer, have a list of the projects you’ve worked on, the timeframes that you worked in, how many people downloaded the finished project, if you finished ahead of schedule, etc. These can all paint a clearer picture of how you work, and where your strengths lie.  

What Are Recruiters Looking For?

While it’s important to use your technology resume as a place to show off what you do best. It’s important to also consider what recruiters are looking for, and tailor your resume to that. Thus, look over some job listings that you may be qualified for, and pick out keywords that you can highlight on your own resume. Take a close look at what hard skills seem to be in demand. This will clearly be different for every particular tech specialty, so be sure to look at job listings that match the jobs you want.

You can also use job listings to see what kind of soft skills to highlight. Soft skills are often not given enough credit because it’s difficult to back them up with hard numbers. It’s easy for anyone to say they have great people skills or are a quick learner. But you can use examples to illustrate these skills too. If you’re a quick learner, talk about the new skills or software you mastered in your last position.

Always Edit

Keeping your technology resume up to date is absolutely essential. Be sure to, at the very least, look over it once a month and add any updates – projects you’ve worked on, skills you’ve gained, etc. Don’t forget to edit! Sometimes, stepping back from the document for a few hours or even a few days can be helpful. Indeed, you’ll come back with a fresh set of eyes and can look over it more objectively. Watch for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes, and keep the formatting consistent throughout the document.

Ask a friend or colleague if they can take a look over your resume to proofread for any mistakes you may be missing. Also, it never hurts to ask for pointers or help! There are plenty of people out there who write and edit resumes for a living. Getting your technology resume looked over by a professional can help you get some valuable feedback. A professional will know how to make your resume stand out from the rest and can give you tips on how to improve.

Don’t Skimp On Your Technology Resume

The tech industry is extremely cut-throat, and recruiters are always looking for the strongest candidates for open positions. Your technology resume is the best shot you have at landing your dream job. Make it count! This is your place to show off your skills and what you have to offer a company, so always put your best foot forward.

If you’re ready to find the perfect new position, polish your technology resume using the tips above and then contact a recruiter at the Provato Group to speak about possible technology opportunities and openings.

You Need a Technology Company, Not Just a Marketing Agency

A successful website is made out of two things: great content and great technology. You can’t let either one fall short if you want to bring in regular visitors. Marketing agencies understand content, and they can make your site sparkle. When it comes to the tech, though, that just isn’t their specialty. You need both a marketing agency and a tech company working for you if you want to stand out.

Beyond the content

A user visiting a website sees the text, images, videos, and so on. But if the tech behind them isn’t up to snuff, users could have problems seeing it. Maintaining the site could be difficult. Full-service marketing agencies without a specialty in technology will deliver great visuals, but they aren’t up to addressing all the issues.

Marketers have their own perspective. They value innovation, uniqueness, and eye-catching material. These are good things, but too much of them can create problems in a website. Many customers have come to us because a full-service marketing agency created their sites and they experienced a lot of problems.

A lack of technical expertise can create problems like:

  • Software that behaves erratically
  • Excessive bandwidth consumption, slowing down the site
  • Difficulties in maintaining and upgrading the site
  • Security risks

Software issues

You can create an acceptable site with off-the-shelf software and an attractive theme. This doesn’t eliminate the need for technical expertise, though. You’re going to want some plugins and perhaps even custom code. All the pieces need to work together. Get one component that doesn’t behave well, and it could ruin the site.

A marketer’s natural inclinations will fill pages up with lots of goodies. Cumulatively, they increase the time that the page takes to load and display. When that happens on a mobile phone with a less than great connection, it can seriously drag performance down. Mobile users are important. They often account for more than half a site’s traffic. They need to see reasonably quick page loads, or they’ll wander off.

Most sites require some degree of integration with outside services. Social media links, payment processing, and form data collection are a few of the areas where a third-party service is likely to be the best choice. Getting the integrations to deliver the best performance takes some technical expertise.

Software needs to be reliable, and it has to come from a reliable channel. You need to have expert guidance so you don’t get your software from dangerous sources. The software you want may have an excellent reputation, but if you get it through a channel that hasn’t been vouched for, you don’t know what you’re really getting.

Maintenance issues

Websites need maintenance. Without periodic checking, they can develop problems that gradually drag them down.

Installing software isn’t just a one-time chore. It needs regular updates. Older versions have known bugs, possibly including ones that endanger security. Having the latest software gives users the most reliable and enjoyable experience.

Performance tracking will show where the bottlenecks are. The sticking points may change as the site grows and traffic increases. Databases may fill up under heavy use and slow everything down.

Nobody likes to think about it, but a site can fail catastrophically. It might be because of nasty activity such as ransomware. It might be because of a hardware failure or a fire. It’s important to have contingency plans for getting the site back up quickly.

Someone with the necessary knowledge needs to keep an eye on all these maintenance issues, so your site keeps running smoothly.

Network and hosting issues

Lots of options are available for hosting a site. You need to decide which ones will give you the best performance at the most reasonable cost. Marketing companies certainly have experience with hosting, but they aren’t the best source of expertise. Technology keeps evolving, and it takes a specialist to keep up.

Cloud hosting has become very popular. It saves on up-front costs, eliminates most single points of failure, and provides excellent uptime. It’s not always the best choice, though, and there are many options within the cloud market.

A CDN (content delivery network) brings cached content closer to the user and gives them multiple access points. It requires a little extra work and money, but it can pay for itself if your market is geographically diverse.

A failover server is good insurance. If your primary server fails, you can switch to the failover and have hardly any downtime.

Which of these options make sense for your business? You’ll get the best answers if you work with experts in IT.

Security issues

Security prompt on screen with hand cursor hovering over

Everyone needs to worry about data security. There’s no such thing as a site that’s too unimportant to attack. Automated probes scan the whole Internet, searching for any weakness. A website needs strong security measures if it’s going to stand a chance.

For marketers, ease of use is the most important thing, but it can come at the price of security. IT people understand the need to keep the bad guys out. You need to strike the right balance between user-friendliness and safety.

It’s a complicated issue. Things that seem harmless can make a site less safe. Website security is one area where you absolutely need technical expertise.

The question isn’t whether your site will be penetrated but when, and how much damage it will do. If you have a good security team on your side, the events will be rare, and you’ll be able to plug the holes before much damage happens.

The right combination

None of this is to say you should do without a top-quality marketing agency. But the technology is an equally important part of any website, and you need expert support to make your site work. You need marketing experts for your strategy, branding, and user experience. You need a technology company to implement the front and back end, provide integrations, and keep the site running smoothly and securely. When marketing and tech work together, you have the ingredients for a winning site. Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you make it all happen.

Stay On-Prem or Move to the Cloud – The Pros and Cons

Cloud drawing on chalk board with lightbulb inside of it.

There are more options than ever before when it comes to managing your applications and data. With the rapid evolution of cloud computing solutions, more companies are looking at this as a solution to a lot of problems. How far will it go and is this the right time for your business to move to a cloud-based solution for your company? Forrest Stroud with Webopedia identifies the term “on-prem” or “on-premises” as software and technology that is located in a dedicated physical space. Keeping applications and data in an on-prem environment has always been the standard requirement for companies but with the rise of cloud computing, they are beginning to look at different alternatives. The following discusses the pros and cons of a cloud computing environment versus keeping data on-prem.

The Cloud Offers Nearly Unlimited Storage

Storage capacity is a concern for companies. With an on-prem data and application storage approach, there is a finite amount of space available. As the company expands its technology, more space for hardware storage becomes a concern. The cloud pretty much takes this concern away. When applications and data are stored in the cloud, there is nearly unlimited storage available. Even companies that believe they have “all the space they’ll ever need” have had to eat their words and expand their data center. The cloud gives plenty of room to stretch and expand.

The Cloud is Less Expensive

On-prem data storage space takes a lot of financial resources. A temperature-controlled environment that can take up a significant amount of square footage isn’t cheap. License fees for each individual terminal can also get very costly. When cloud computing is used, everything gets cheaper. The need for a heated and cooled data storage area goes away. The overall budget for technology-related expenses can be drastically reduced. More businesses are able to put their money behind other technological innovations instead of having to spend money maintaining what they already have. It’s definitely a win-win situation for virtually any sized business.

The Cloud Saves Time

When data is located on a piece of hardware, it becomes necessary to back-up the data frequently. At one point in time, back-ups were a huge headache that was neverending. With cloud solutions, data is not physically present on a local device so you don’t have to worry about a fire, earthquake, tornado or other natural disasters. All of the time spent by employees routinely backing-up systems go away with a cloud computing option. Those employees are then free to work on other important projects that will be more profitable for the company. 

Take Your Work Anywhere

On-prem application and data storage means that your files are stuck in one place. While this was the standard for years, the cloud has made this a thing of the past. With cloud computing, you can log-in and access your programs and files anywhere you can get on the internet. At home, in a restaurant, or across the planet, it doesn’t matter. This big plus in the cloud computing category has allowed more people to work from home and remotely than ever before.

Fast Transition with Cloud Computing

Imagine the time involved in setting up an on-prem network. The time it takes to connect, integrate, and maintain each terminal, not to mention the servers and data storage is enormous. Cloud computing is very much a “plug and play” kind of approach. The system can be ready to go very quickly without the hassle of bothering with infrastructure. Even if you are moving from an on-prem environment to a cloud computing environment, you’ll find that the transition to the cloud is fast and painless.

Some Cons to Using the Cloud

While there are many reasons to utilize the cloud, there are still some areas of concern for many businesses. Being aware of these disadvantages is important for both large and small companies before jumping all the way into a cloud computing environment. The following are some of the things you may want to consider.

Security Concerns

One benefit of an on-prem environment is that you have complete local control of your applications and data. Everything is housed in one location and you can keep your eyes on the physical hardware at all times. It doesn’t help that the news is constantly reporting about data breaches in major corporations. Cybersecurity is a new and rapidly emerging field in the technology world, and for good reason. While cloud computing is doing more every day to improve its security protocols, the end result is that you are still giving your data to a third-party provider. This isn’t necessarily a reason to run from the whole concept. Just make sure you are doing your homework when selecting a cloud computing provider.

Cloud Computing Technical Errors

One nice thing about an on-prem approach is that if there’s a technical problem requiring maintenance, you can deal with it locally. This usually means that the problem gets solved quickly. If there’s a problem with the cloud service provider, it’s impacting the cloud on a larger level that you can’t control. This happens to every cloud provider from time-to-time, and some are far more efficient about fixing problems than others. It’s frustrating when you can’t access your files and applications because of a cloud error, so this is another point worth considering when you are considering a cloud-based solution.

The End Result

There are a lot of reasons why the cloud may be the perfect solution for your business. But not every cloud computing provider is the same. It’s important to consider the potential concerns of technical errors in the cloud and how rapidly they are equipped to handle those problems. It is also important to know the measures potential cloud computing providers take to combat potential security threats. On the whole, cloud computing can be the answer to a lot of problems for companies large and small. If you’re ready to take the next steps toward a cloud computing environment, speak with a Provato technologist to learn more about our cloud-based software solutions.

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Responsive Website or Native Mobile Application: What Works for You?

Desktop computer displaying a webpage with a mobile tablet next to it

The soaring usage of mobile devices no longer is a “new trend.” Today, more than three-fourths of Americans use smartphones and half of them regularly avow that they could not live without one. More than two thirds have made a purchase on their mobile device, but that includes, of course, legions who shopped not once, but made dozens and hundreds of purchases–and do virtually all their online shopping on a mobile device. A statistic that becomes relevant in our comparison of the advantages and drawbacks of “responsive websites” and “native mobile apps” is that, in 2018, worldwide there were 194 billion downloaded apps.

For any enterprise that does business online, and overwhelmingly for businesses that succeed by working to attracting online customers to their websites, it has been mandatory to ensure an easy, appealing reception for smartphone users and other mobile visitors. And yet, the great majority of websites created just a few years ago are not mobile friendly. They simply weren’t designed to be.

The responsive website solution versus the mobile app solution

That creates well-known problems for mobile visitors–for example, adapting web pages to their mobile screen size, finding things on a page, moving through the site, and especially accessing and using some of the special features of a site. Often, the experience is just not easy or pleasant. The same problem faced by a brick-and-mortar store would alarm its proprietors and rightly alarms those responsible for a business’s website.

Our discussion, here, looks at the fundamental choice that a business and its IT staff face when deciding upon their “fix” for the mobile-visitor issue. In broad strokes, the choice looks easy. A website can be made mobile friendly, or perhaps just “more” mobile friendly, by adapting its website to be more responsive, easier and more enjoyable, for mobile visits. Or, a business may elect to create essentially a new way for mobile users to connect with and use the website. That new way is to invest in development of an computer app that the mobile visitor downloads with literally a click and that henceforward offers the visitor a customized experience specifically adapted to his or her phone.

The latter choice is the native mobile app. A “native app” is an app for a certain type of mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. It is installed by being downloaded directly to the device. Most often, mobile users acquire the app through an online store (e.g., such an The App Store or Android Apps).

If you react as do many people to a barebones statement of the choice, you are thinking that adapting your website to mobile visitors seems easier–and probably quicker and less expensive–that turning to a whole new approach that requires you to invest in creating an app. That is not an unfair overall summary of the situation. It is usually somewhat quicker and cheaper to go the “responsive web “route. The alternative, a mobile app, requires that a team develop the new app customized for your product and work with you on the mechanics of offering it to your customers and potential customers or other users and visitors.

The complexity of the mobile app solution, however, results from addressing the full complexity–all the challenges–of making your site a gracious host not only to one type of mobile device, but many; not only to one size mobile screen, but any size; not only to the basics of the site, but all features; and to achieving the easiest, direct link between your site and a smartphone or other mobile screen.

That is, the native app solution takes on the full complexity of the problem, with all variations–but at the cost of more work. The responsive web is something of a makeshift. Mobile use becomes possible, and more or less easier, for certain large categories of mobile devices. Here are some specifics:

Internet connection

The responsive web solution is embedded within the internet connection. In fact, it draws all the information it needs from the browser. Where there is no internet connection, the customer will not be accessing your product. Your goal, everything else being equal, probably is to be found and available to users anywhere, anytime. As we will see, the native app solution supports that.

Performance issues

This may constitute the decisive difference between the responsive web and native app. The responsive web tends to perform poorly for mobile devices where a website uses features such as images and animations that are very slow to connect given their size. Also, a mobile visitor to your site has to wait for the browser to download a whole website page, including those clunky elements, before seeing anything. A solution to this that simply a compromise with limitations is to curtail creative elements such a photos and video on your site. And new digital marketing tools like voice recognition and “augmented reality” are simply no go on the responsive web. They are increasingly useful tools that require a native app.

The navigation problem

One earliest issue that mobile users noticed on web sites was difficulty in just getting around a page when their smartphone screen was so much smaller and differently configured. User interface (UI) and user experience (UI) differ from device to device, depending upon the operating system. Opting for a website adaptation means the experience of your site for users of different devices will feel unnatural–not “native” to their device.

Some lost functionality

Responsive web solutions tend to sacrifice giving the mobile user access to mobile phone functions outside the browser, such as the camera or calendar. There are other technical limits on the responsive web, mentioned earlier, such as trouble accommodating certain site tools. A chief effect of these limitations, taken together, can be to stifle creative design of your site because of anticipated adverse experiences of mobile visitors.

Some pros and cons of native mobile apps

Overall, as we have suggested, native apps as a solution to mobile connection problems are usually more expensive and longer in development than the responsive web solution. The costs arise in creating a custom design and codebase for each operating system and obtaining approvals that each operating system requires. The payoff is quality and speed and opening of opportunities to use capabilities of smartphones and other system. To a significant degree, advantages of a mobile app are mirror images of the drawbacks of the web responsive approach:

Connection

Native mobile apps do not require that users necessarily have an internet connection. When an app has been downloaded onto the users’s device, and stored there, it is always available to access. The user is carrying your online offerings offline in a mobile device.

Performance issues

Native mobile apps solve problems of functionality that limit responsive web solutions. One such problem is waiting for a browser to download a web page. Designed with mobile performance as their reason for existing, apps are agile, swift, and provide a superior user experience.

Functionality

Again, the native mobile app handles “functionality” far better, accessing all of a mobile device’s functions for the reason that the app, after all, is installed on the device and working in conjunction with it.

Security

A far from marginal advantage of the native mobile app, today, is built-in security. When users connect with a business via the internet, they are exposed to all the web’s lurking trackers. But when that user has downloaded your business’s app, the connection between you is made without third party involvement.

Your brand and its visibility

Desktop computer displaying a webpage with a mobile tablet next to it

An app when downloaded onto a device such as a smartphone often is represented by an icon on the phone’s screen. Remarkably, that means that your brand’s icon is seen by the phone’s owner repeatedly throughout the day. In contrast, the responsive web solution leaves customers and potential customers to connect in the conventional way, by recalling your brand’s name, searching for it on Google, selecting your brand from the search engine results, and clicking on it. The process is repeated each time the user wants to visit your site.

This suggests one perspective that the greater investment in creating the customized app for mobile users of your site That investment buys a truly special connection with customers and potential customers: your brand’s permanent presence on the screen of each customer’s smartphone literally one click away from connection.

The choice

It may appear that pros and cons of a responsive web solution versus a mobile app solution very much tilt in favor of the app. That does not necessarily resolve the issue for every enterprise. For example, a firm with a website largely serving “in-house” connectivity and communication–not marketing and sales–may opt for savings available by accepting the responsive web solution as a “good enough” accommodation of mobile device users who must use the site for work.

In other words, the superiority of the mobile app is more decisive for the firm marketing and selling its products or services on its website–and staking its future on increasing the volume of website transactions potentially without limit. In this context, the one-time investment in a mobile app confers a permanent and increasing advantage through ease and appeal of the customer experience.

Get in touch with The Provato Group to arrange for a Provato Mobile Solution Architect to discuss your enterprise’s internet marketing and sales goals, the unique requirements of your web site, your budget considerations, and long-term plans. We are always prepared to work with you toward solutions that optimize investment payback.

And check back regularly for information, insights, and updates on internet technology, developing and managing your IT team, and partnerships that can advance your technology projects.

IT Staffing – How Managers Recruit and Retain the Best Team

Hand pointing to one silhouette in a lineup of silhouettes to signify choosing one from the lineup.

Remember when fax machines, file cabinets, and switchboards were the backbone of business communication? It wasn’t too long ago that most IT departments were comprised of a small team of techies responsible for troubleshooting and repairs. But IT departments today are undergoing tremendous growth and rapid change, presenting IT managers with a challenge. In fact, for many companies, IT is now less of an individual department, and more of an agile force driving every facet of business. Keeping your IT team as expansive and up-to-date as necessary requires constant oversight, and is met with considerable competition. Here’s what IT project managers and development managers need to know when building an effective IT team

IT STAFFING: The What, Who & Why

So what does the IT staffing process look like in the current business climate? IT skills are now desirable in many industries and across all departmental lines. That means hiring is tough- there is a huge demand and a short supply of qualified tech professionals. More and more businesses are turning to IT staffing firms to help them. Take a look at how it works.

  • What is IT staffing? IT staffing companies are professional recruiters that source the best tech talent for a variety of industries, including short-term, long-term, or individual hires. They also compile entire teams, if needed, and have access to the brightest job seekers. They employ a rigorous screening process that produces candidates who best meet your requirements.
  • Who uses IT staffing? Virtually every company could use a little help acquiring the best IT talent, since demand currently exceeds supply. IT managers and project managers don’t have time to heavily recruit, or even keep up with the changing trends. IT staffing agencies bring you the best web developers, network engineers, cloud architects, and database administrators, just to name a few.
  • Why use an IT staffing company? IT recruiters have access to candidates proficient in all types of technology to customize your hire. They can also assemble entire teams in the time it might take you to hire a single employee. They perform all the legwork on aligning applicant experience, personality, and skills to your job listing, to weed out unqualified candidates.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IT FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS

When it comes to staffing your IT team, you’ll need to decide whether to hire full-time employees or independent contractors, or even a combination of the two. It’s a great time to work in the IT industry, since applicants have multiple opportunities. So, it’s important to hire a team that aligns with your company’s schedule, workload, and budget.

Full-Time IT Employees- Full-time employees are hired to work a set schedule of hours per week and may be entitled to medical or government benefits. They often require on-the-job training and paid vacation, sick days, maternity, or medical leave. Some full-time employees have opportunity for promotion or retirement funds.

  • Risks- The changing industry means their jobs aren’t entirely safe, and they lack the versatile experience that comes with contracting at different job sites. Opportunities to advance may be limited, and time off may be hard to come by. It’s also difficult to keep current with emerging technology while holding a full-time position. They aren’t able to work seasonal hours or periods of growth without being paid overtime.
  • Benefits- FTEs are able to form more lengthy relationships with coworkers and become experts in their particular field. Some enjoy a sense of stability and value and may receive perks like health insurance and networking opportunities.

IT Contractors- IT Contractors are hired on an as-needed basis, to fulfill a specific job. Some jobs may last a day, while others go on for months, or even turn into long-term hires. Contractors typically set their own rates and hours and have a more flexible schedule, with a wider breadth of experience. They often work with a staffing agency to secure frequent employment and enjoy selecting the jobs that appeal to them.

  • Risks- Contractors must cover health costs on their own, and can lack a connection with your team. They have to be looking for the next job at all times, which can be daunting without a staffing firm. They often charge a higher rate than FTEs, but it usually comes with broader experience, as well.
  • Benefits- IT Contractors can fill in necessary gaps whenever and wherever you need them. They aren’t subject to a 9:00-5:00 schedule and don’t require costly extras like benefits, overtime, or paid time off. They help insure that there is no downtime in your company, even when staff members are away. With the ever-changing nature of technology, your growth may be hard to control. Hiring trained contractors to work on projects as needed is more efficient and cost-effective than bringing your whole staff up to speed. Contractors also work with a sense of urgency and a desire to please, since they rely on referrals and repeat customers.

SOLUTIONS TO TOP 5 PAIN POINTS OF IT STAFFING MANAGERS 

Whether you’re staffing a permanent team or heading up a short-term project, IT hiring presents several challenges for managers. It is an applicant’s market in the IT industry, making it tough to attract and obtain the top talent. Here 5 of the challenges managers face, and ways to overcome them with the help of IT staffing firms.

  1. Recruiting top talent- IT help is in high demand across every industry. It’s challenging to not only locate but acquire the best of the best, with so many others vying for their attention. The solution is to let an IT staffing firm seek them out and attract them using their industry insight and reputation to boost the candidate’s interest. With multiple platforms of communication and countless connections, IT staffing groups reach the broadest audience.
  2. Finding a fit- It’s important that your employees have compelling resumes, but it’s also essential that they fit your specific needs. Applicants might know how to sail through an interview with you- providing stock answers of what they think you expect. But staffing firms are experienced in selecting an actual match for your team. They sort through the pile of applicants and present you with only the people you’d be interested in hiring.
  3. Employee retention- With so much to choose from in IT job listings, it’s easy for employees to jump ship. If you hire someone who’s not passionate about your company’s goals or is itching to advance too quickly, it might cause unnecessary turnover. IT staffing companies know how to select employees that are in sync with your purpose and mission. They are also experts at placing contractors in positions for exactly as long as you need them. Turnover is costly for companies, so contracting is a safer bet for IT hires.
  4. Managing growth- Technology is a burgeoning field, growing by unpredictable leaps and bounds. By the time IT managers hire and train a full-time employee, their skill set is practically outdated. In order to keep up with IT needs, managers need to partner with a firm who supplies them a steady stream of contractors to fill in the gaps. An employee who arrives on day one trained and ready prevents downtime and loss of revenue.
  5. Lack of time- Whether it’s time to train, time to interview, or time to lose, managers are constantly short on time. When you need an employee immediately, there’s no time to be picky. This leads to eventual firing or quitting if an employee is improperly screened. Let a professional staffing firm save you time and reduce that risk by taking the job off your hands.

Your IT team might be the most important component of your company today. Everything from marketing, to data storage, to communication is now fueled by IT skillsets. The needs are evolving and demand is high, but you want to hire quality candidates who will promote your brand, not just fill the spots. The best way to attract, obtain, and retain the strongest team is to partner with an IT staffing firm who knows how to get the job done. 

Cleveland-based Provato announces partnership with Dell Boomi

Provato believes its substantial growth is a testament to an unwavering commitment to delivering quality, cost-effective solutions to clients time and again. Furthering its dedication to building and maintaining trust with clients, Provato is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership with Dell Boomi (Boomi).

Many business leaders claim that poor integration is holding back their organization. While Software as a Service (SaaS) model of software deployment has opened the door to businesses of all sizes, allowing them to gain access to enterprise-grade applications with affordable pricing, it has also introduced several challenges specific to integration. As a result, IT resources have been increasingly used to bridge the gap in sharing data to achieve end-to-end automation of key business processes.

“Provato recognizes the ever-increasing need to synchronize data across platforms and business segments without draining valuable IT resources. Providing expert services in developing and implementing a sound integration strategy will help our clients solve the challenges surrounding enterprise integration,” says Jeff Zart, President of Provato.

Boomi exists to help enterprises connect everything and engage everywhere across any channel, device or platform. Boomi integration platform as a service (iPaaS) equips enterprises to improve productivity, accountability and collaboration both internally and with customers and partners to help build The Connected Business and drive digital transformation efforts.

About Dell Boomi

Dell Boomi, an independent business unit of Dell, is the leading provider of cloud integration and workflow automation software to build The Connected Business. Boomi helps more than 7,500 organizations accelerate business agility by connecting data and applications to run faster and smarter. Visit http://www.boomi.com for more information.

About Provato

Founded in 2010, The Provato Group is a Cleveland based IT staffing and consulting firm that supports a wide range of clients and industries, including Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing, Insurance and Automotive. Provato maintains a team of highly skilled in-house technicians along with a strong network of contract consultants to provide a diverse solution offering for clients. With a focus on quality and customer service, Provato has established long-term relationships with a significant number of companies.

© 2018 Boomi Inc.  Dell, Boomi, and Dell Boomi are trademarks of Dell Inc. or its subsidiaries. Other names or marks may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Media Contact: Jeff Zart, Provato: 216-546-0768