Blog

End of Year Spend

December 10, 2013
For many of our clients the end of year is a time when they may realize they have a bit of money left in their budgets. Many clients ask us for our ideas on what is the most effective way to use that spend to help their organization. In general, our recommendation is to use that spend on ensuring additional IT capacity. We know that areas such as storage are growing at a rapid pace; therefore, using budget on items like disk storage ensures capacity will be in place once all the demands of the New Year start to unfold. Outlined below are the three most common areas we see our clients using their yearend budgets on:

Storage – as we all know the demand for storage is only increasing.  We see many clients purchasing additional storage this time of year

Blades – As more and more of our clients are using blades in their infrastructure, they purchase additional compute capacity they can turn on as the demand increases in the New Year

Desktops / laptops – the New Year usually means new initiatives and new employees coming on board, and many of our clients purchase a few additional standard units to be prepared for this

On a final note, one of the key things to keep in mind this time of year is that shipping dates are heavily affected by the official holiday dates. We highly recommend that you get your orders in as soon as possible, especially if you are looking to receive them before everyone returns from the holiday season.
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The Gift of Giving

December 5, 2013
Every year as the holidays approach, there is much talk of Santa Claus, family and the dreaded Christmas shopping. But it’s also a time to reflect on the year that has passed. What did you set out to accomplish in 2013? From day one, Long View’s vision has been to be a great company with great people who do great work for our clients – but also who give back in their communities. Over the last year, we have been able to support many of the not for profit organizations across North America that our people volunteer for, and also some that have really touched our hearts. A few of these are: Spark Science Center Rethink Breast Cancer Big Brothers Big Sisters United Way Youth Singers of Calgary Canadian Cancer Society BC Childrens Hospital 16 Ways Foundation Meals on Wheels Kidsport In May, 2013, some of our staff, friends and family travelled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to build 3 school playgrounds. We all paid our own way for the trip, and others across Long View pulled together to raise $25,000, enough to not only cover the cost of the playground materials, but to also provide program costs for a “Long View Summer Camp”, an educational camp for children. Every day I hear about a way that someone, somewhere is giving back. Just this morning I learned that we have a group of people in Vancouver playing in a charity hockey tournament in support of BC Children’s Hospital. We are so proud of our Long View family for all that they do to help make our world a better place. So while you are indulging in a holiday feast or watching your friends and family enjoy the magic of this time, think about what you hope to accomplish in 2014. Dream big. You never know what you can accomplish, until you try. Follow me @TashaWesterman!
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An Exposition of Long View Culture

December 5, 2013
I’ve worked in People Services with Long View since starting with the company in 2007. In my time here I’ve seen first-hand, our culture grow and flourish. What I’m most proud of, as a veteran Long View employee, is the way that career progression is hardwired into the foundation of our culture. All of this is on my mind as I think back to the third LVS Expo I’ve helped assemble, which took place this October. The Expo is a great way for us to showcase opportunity to our existing staff, and to indulge in some of our unique culture character at the same time. Long View consistently encourages movement between different disciplines of our organization. I think this promotes a much stronger overall team, with a cross pollination of skills and talents between different departments. It’s great for our staff, as each person has the ability to shift their career and try a new direction. Change is growth and that’s a philosophy we’ve built into the company, with the Expo as a prime example of this. Over 400 people attended this year’s version. If you’ve never been, the Expo is a big, loud, boisterous event. One that you can’t help but step away from without a huge smile on your face. There are games, contests, prize draws, and a whole lot of interactive learning and hijinks. Long View teams are responsible for building a booth that shows off their mojo. Then we award prizes for the best booth in various categories. It can get pretty imaginative. And competitive. The Expo continues to grow and represent what we are and what we’re looking for; people that can embrace our core values of Integrity, Competence, Value and Fun. In others words, they’re passionate about IT, well rounded, and active in different activities outside of their careers, and are engaging people that can connect with their clients and coworkers alike.
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How to say “No”

December 2, 2013
OK, it’s not really “No”, we are a customer service company after all….. One of the keys to being an effective IT consultant is the ability to respectfully and tactfully push back on a customer request.  This is not as counter intuitive as it might seem. In fact the concept is embedded in two of Long View’s core values Competence and Value! When companies hire IT consultants they are hiring an expertise or capacity they don’t maintain internally. The value proposition when hiring an expert is that they provide professional advice that marries industry best practices with practical application within the constraints of the organization hiring the consultant. Inherent in the value chain is the necessity for a consultant to recommend against strategies or tactics that are suboptimal or introduce excessive risk. Despite the customers desire to consume a particular solution, professional IT consultants must stand steadfast in their recommendations and ensure customers understand and sign off on risks associated with alternate solutions. A consultant’s competence must come from both training and experience. At Long View, for example, our IT consultants have the opportunity to participate in a Leadership Development program, the newly launched Consultant Development program, multiple technical training courses, and industry conferences. They are also responsible for delivering over 400 technical projects a year. Our PMO conducts lessons learned from each project so we can bring our previous experience to every engagement, completing the value cycle. That is professional IT consulting! Follow me @pedge07
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Rethinking Breast Cancer with Boobyball

November 27, 2013
The statistics behind breast cancer in Canada are staggering. One in nine Canadian women are expected to develop breast cancer in their lifetime. And the disease will kill one in 29. These numbers should hit close to home for any woman. But they hit especially close to home for me, as I’ve had breast cancer twice. What I discovered when I was first diagnosed is that there weren’t a lot of people for me to talk to. Not a lot that I could relate to, anyway. I was a young, career focused, new mom. I had just returned from maternity leave and suddenly my world was turned upside down. The local cancer agencies put me in touch with a breast cancer survivor to talk to, however she in her 60’s and her experience with the disease and recovery could in no way relate to what I was about to go through. This is how I found Rethink Breast Cancer. Rethink approaches awareness of the disease in a way that makes the message much more impactful to women under the age of 45. In their words, they "infuse sass and style into the cause". And in 2007, I made a call to the Toronto founder and after she came to Calgary, we started a volunteer run Rethink Breast Cancer presence here in Calgary. Through events like Boobyball, we’re able to raise money to help a generation of breast cancer patients that no one was speaking to. We provide emotional support for them and their family, plus a community of peers to draw strength from. None of what we’re able to give in Calgary could’ve happened without the support of Long View. Long View has been our main sponsor since Boobyball Calgary’s inception and their support has allowed us to fund programs locally that make sense to this demographic. Many Long View employees have either attended the event or were instrumental in helping to put it on. The most rewarding part of Boobyball is seeing the very people we are trying to help at this event! They dress up, show up, and are able to have a good time because the services Rethink provides help to give them the peace of mind to step away from their sickness for that night. That’s an important thing for their spirit. Our 2013 event completely sold out and brought in over $86,000. The Rethink brand and the Boobyball event are continuing to be more recognized in Calgary, and I anticipate that next year will be even better.
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Building a World Class Service Desk

November 25, 2013
I’ve had the opportunity to work with many great End User Computing clients across North America. Most have a different business focus based on their respective verticals, but they’ve all had a service desk function organized to support their end user community - with as little as 2-4 team members and others as large as 25. All had one thing in common, the desire to “get more” out of their service desk. Here’s how: 4 Tactical Focus Areas for Creating a High Performance Service Desk: 1. People: Have I set expectations with my team members? Your service desk staff typically enjoys getting feedback that enables them to improve and validates their success. Set expectations with your team through a reoccurring feedback mechanism. 2. Process: Do I have processes in place to ensure great service? The end user community wants to contact the service desk and receive the same prompt service every time they call. Documentation and standard processes create confidence in your team and consistency in their performance. 3. Technology: Am I getting value from the tools and systems I have in place? Many organizations have difficulty using the technology in place to create business value. A tactical approach to automation and process fulfillment can improve the overall performance of your team and allow them be more effective. 4. Customer: Do I know what my customers think of our service? The consumerization of IT over the last several years has created an end user community that expects their technology to “just work”. Creating a feedback mechanism that empowers the voice of the customer, creates a caring work environment. Our internal goal for any Long View service desk is to “put people back to work”, as quickly and efficiently as possible. In many organizations this goal is similar although service desk Managers or IT Directors are unsure how to drive their service to become a strategic part of their IT service delivery team. In order to create a high performing strategic service desk, assess and benchmark your Service Desk. Service Desk Assessments should be ITILITSM (IT Infrastructure Library IT Service Management) focused and performed on existing service desks by ITIL certified consultants with extensive hands-on service desk experience. At Long View, we perform a series of short interviews with service desk, IT, and operations staff to become familiar with existing service desk operations. Initial data is gathered through a series of audits with questions that are categorized and scored based on a proven service desk maturity model. Once the overall service desk maturity is assessed, Long View provides a series of “Quick Wins” or recommendations to further enhance the maturity of a service desk. A Quick Win is identified as a small change or adjustment that can be made within 30 days to improve service delivery and increase the maturity of your service desk. A formal plan is vital in order to develop a roadmap for your organization to build a long lasting, functional Strategic Service Desk. Follow me @DaleBirkley
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Reality TV Series Survivor Meets Project Management

November 12, 2013
I’m not a big TV watcher…and when I do watch TV, I don’t usually settle on the reality shows. Reality shows are full of scripted moments, overly colorful characters, and obvious product placements. But when I heard that the PMI-Southern Alberta Chapter (SAC) chose Survivor as their theme for the PMI-SAC Professional Development Conference on November 12th and 13th, I thought: how fitting. Because, the winner of Survivor is basically the best project manager on the island. And here is why. Survivor has key themes and activities: the challenges where you work hard to win, the tribal council where you get voted off, the alliances that you build your trust and teams with. Let’s take a look at each one. The challenges: throughout a project, a PM will face a variety of obstacles and hurdles to overcome in order to successfully meet their project goals. These challenges for the PM (or the survivor participants) require critical thinking skills, technical ability, agility and flexibility, focused planning and vast amounts of teamwork. Succeed with these characteristics and tactics and you are sure to reach you project goals or “win the challenge”. The tribal council: a tribal council is likened to your steering committee or decision-makers. When presenting to your steering committee, you need wit, strategies, great boardroom persona and an ability to influence a decision. You need to be prepared to answer tough questions and have your facts and data ready or you will get voted off the island. Okay, I guess we don’t get voted off islands, but maybe your steering committee meeting is a go/no go meeting. Your project could face “elimination” if you don’t have the information at your fingertips – always be prepared for the toughest questions as it may mean a halt to your project. The alliances: the most striking similarity. People are what make projects successful – not process. The ability to build trust, earn respect, gain credibility and ultimately build a well-oiled team sharing a common vision to get a project completed – that is the ultimate parallel to be drawn between Survivor and Project Management. So there you have it. Project Manager = Sole Survivor. November 12th will mark our first day at the PMI-SAC Professional Development Conference at the Telus Convention Centre, where I will be presenting, along with a number of other speakers. I would encourage you to stay close to our Twitter feed throughout the event, and check back to our website (longviewsystems.com) for any available presentation materials.   Lisa Eyamie Client Services Manager / Practice Director of PMO, PMO
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Growing our Stache to Raise Some Cash (aka Movember)

November 7, 2013
We have the Edmonton branch to thank for getting us started with the Movember Campaign. Their main goals of raising money and awareness have now become Long View goals, and we’re ready to tackle Movember across North America. What is Movember you ask?  Each year, brave and selfless Mo Bros and Mo Sistas from companies across Canada come together as one, united by their commitment to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health by devoting 30 days to fine moustachery. The Edmonton office plans to hold a “best in show” mustache edition later this month, and the Mo Bro with the Best Stache will win a trophy and prize! Want to join in the fun? Grow a moustache, make some office commentary or feel free to donate to the team. Check out our “Long View Mo Bro” teams: Canada Long View Team - http://ca.movember.com/team/1195881 US Long View Team - http://us.movember.com/team/1373761 Good luck, fellas. We look forward to the before and after photos!   Written by Tony Payne
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Storage and Servers at the Epicenter of Change

November 1, 2013
The IT infrastructure landscape has never been more exciting. We find ourselves at the epicenter of change that will continue to accelerate throughout the decade. Competing technologies no longer encounter the same barriers of entry that occurred in previous decades. This brings the benefit of choice, but at the potential cost of increasing complexity – or does it? Storage was one of the last bastions to experience an exponential technology curve. A great deal of this was driven by startups and not the major players – we’ve seen more than 80 new players enter this marketplace over the last number of years and few will survive. Some will be acquired as we’ve recently witnessed, as more of the larger vendors will look to this community of startups as their R&D labs – resulting in them placing big bets on technology that they couldn’t have funded or imagined. The business benefits of these emerging technologies are compelling enough that customers are now willing to federate their storage architectures and build “fit for purpose” models. It’s also predicted that servers will go through another architectural shift. Generally we’ve moved from standalone servers to blades to integrated stacks – all holding the same paradigm of a server which has components of compute-memory and I/O. In the not too distant future it’s expected that these components will be acquired separately – if you need more speed just add more CPU’s and likewise for the other remaining components of the traditional server. It’s interesting that these changes are being managed outside the typical R&D labs of the major manufactures. The best and brightest are now being attracted to the Hyperscale vendors where radical change is necessary to support the business. However, it is expected that these changes will filter into mainstream and be picked up and productized by the major manufacturers. Building architectures that can easily adapt to take immediate advantage of these emerging solutions in storage and servers will allow you to achieve maximum benefit. Going forward we feel it’s never been more important for you to choose a partner that can help navigate these technological advances. Partners that can provide the complete solution lifecycle from multiple vendors will deliver the desired continuity especially in the dynamic IT marketplace of today.
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Spartacus, and yes, you read that correctly

October 28, 2013
Before anything else happens, I want to relive a piece of cinematic history. The film is Spartacus, the scene, the film’s most famous. A thousand fugitive slaves have just lost their battle for freedom, their numbers decimated by the Roman army. The survivors are huddled together awaiting their fate. The Roman leader announces to the fugitives that they may be spared crucifixion and return to their lives as slaves, but only under one condition. They must turn over Spartacus, their rebellious leader, the one who inspired these same slave masses to fight for freedom. Spartacus, famously played by Kirk Douglas, rises to his feet to surrender, but before the words can leave his mouth, the man next to him stands up and shouts, “I am Spartacus.” Then, the next man rises up to declare, “I am Spartacus”. Soon every man on the hillside is standing and shouting, “I am Spartacus.” This story represents a classic scene from the golden age of hollywood, but that’s not why I’m sharing it. I share this story because it illustrates a concept I would like to delve into deeper in the next few blog posts. The reference belongs to Peter Senge, a leader in the field of leadership and organizational learning. The concept illustrated in the Spartacus scene Mr. Senge refers to as shared vision. He would suggest that the slaves weren’t following Spartacus because he was a hero or charismatic leader. They weren’t standing up on that hill for him, they were standing up for themselves and what they believed in. They were working together towards a vision for the future they all shared. It’s a much more powerful place to be, and a much more powerful place to stand as an organization. The concept of shared vision is a core belief and passion for me as a leader. At Long View we’re working on our shared vision. There is a sense of something far greater than IT that happens here. I felt it from the beginning, and it’s why I’ve chosen to be a part of this company. I think we all feel it. I think we all share it. But we haven’t quite been able to articulate all the elements of our shared vision yet. I’d like to start putting into words what it is that gives our work here meaning.  Here’s what I’m proposing, in my next post I’ll start to outline what I believe our shared vision is, or the greater purpose of what I believe we’re doing here at Long View. Comments and feedback are more than welcome, they’re needed. My hope is that we can turn this into a dialogue. And although I expect the process of truly defining our shared vision will take a lot more than a few blog posts I think it’s a valuable start, and a great venue for discussion.
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