May 19, 2020

Don't Settle for an IT Vendor, Seek a 'Trusted Advisor'

IT
Cisco Systems
Atrion
Chris Nault
Bizclik Editor
2 min
Don't Settle for an IT Vendor, Seek a 'Trusted Advisor'

 

By Charles L. Nault

IT has become an indispensible element of many businesses, so it’s imperative to find an IT partner for your company who will do more than just show up when something’s broken. But we’ve all heard (or experienced!) IT horror stories, and as a result you may have given up hope of ever finding a truly trustworthy IT partner.

But don’t settle! Keep looking because the right IT integration expert will understand both your network and your business, and thus will be able to advise you on which technologies are the right ones for you.

But how will you locate a systems integrator who is best suited to become your trusted advisor? Here’s how:

 

  1. Your integrator’s size should fit your company. We’re talking about a tight partnership here, so if yours is a very small company, don’t engage a firm that’s overly large. If you do, you’ll be insignificant to their business.

 

  1. Check up on references, and not just from the vendor’s top clients. Ask for manufacturer as well as customer references. Give ample weight to what you learn from each.

 

  1. Check your IT integrator’s certifications.Check too the number of implementations they have done involving the kind of solution(s) you need.

 

  1. Investigate partnerships.No company can do it all, so how will your IT vendor fill the gaps? Your IT advisor must be confident enough in its own abilities to forge strong relationships with other companies who can do what your advisor cannot.

 

  1. Assess if your trusted partner makes knowledge transfer a priority, i.e., is this vendor is willing and able to educate your staff on what they need to know in order to do their jobs? Also, ongoing support is crucial. More technical eyes than just yours must be watching over your new network and gathering the requisite performance information.

 

Overall, your trusted partner must (1) clearly understand your business and every aspect of what it provides to your company, and (2) be ready to provide tailored ongoing support.  A trusted partner that fills these criteria will likely support you and your company’s needs. Then IT can truly become a genuine strategic advantage for your firm, now and in the future.

 

Charles L. Nault is author of Risk-Free Technology: How Small to Medium Businesses Can Stem Huge Losses from Poorly Performing IT Systems (Global Professional Publishing) and Chairman of the Board at Atrion Networking Corporation. A recognized expert in “network utility thinking,” he provides training and consulting while working closely with Cisco Systems on network design, implementations and support. Contact him via [email protected] or by visiting http://riskfreetechnology.com/

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Jun 12, 2021

How changing your company's software code can prevent bias

Deltek
diversity
softwarecode
inclusivity
Lisa Roberts, Senior Director ...
3 min
Removing biased terminology from software can help organisations create a more inclusive culture, argues Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR at Deltek

Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day. 

Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at  and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization. 

Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.

Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?  

We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization

What impact can exclusive terms have on employees? 

Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.    

Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code

Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!

What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?

What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology? 

My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve. 

 

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