Tag Archives: Amick Brown

Why in the World should I Hire a Consultant?

Contributed by Alyanna Espina, Recruitment Manager Amick Brown

We are often asked why companies would hire outside consultants, when they could likely solve their business requirements on their own. After all, they have employees in house, which is more convenient for the company to get things going on solving their problem or starting on their new project. Not only that, these employees already know the company inside and out. Why would they waste their time bringing in an outsider and have them go through onboarding, training, and acclimating them to the culture of the company. Yes, at first look these may all seem like valid points to not hire consultants. However, there are many great reasons why companies hire consultants rather than employees.

56248327 - consult advise suggestion support consultant concept

Here are some of the reason why companies hire consultants instead of employees:

  1. They want someone with a broader perspective

Often times, companies or clients already have an idea on how to solve the problem they are facing, but they want to make sure that the solution they have in mind is legitimate. Sometimes, they may be close to the answer, but may be missing out due to being too close to the problem. So, they turn to consultants for their expertise because they may have already worked through a similar problem in the past with someone else. The consultant can also give insight on what they have seen work (and not work)  with prior clients. With this experience, they can bring new and innovative ideas, or possible challenges to the table. Consultants bring in a new frame of reference for the company, and helps get rid of the mentality of “things are always done this way” attitude in organizations. In doing so, solving problems or getting projects done on time become more effective.

2. They need more manpower temporarily

Companies have important problems that need solving, but they don’t necessarily have the employee breadth to focus on them. It makes it difficult, since the companies still have to focus on their everyday operations and new projects usually require reprioritizing employees’ core job responsibilities. However, hiring new employees to fill in these gaps may not always work out considering most of these projects do not last very long or may not happen at all. Despite, having employees in house, companies might have difficulties getting the teams organized to do this critical work.

In these situations, consultants come in to serve as temporary, highly skilled employees. Since, they are not full-time employees of the company, it is often cheaper to use consultants than to hire new employees. Consultants are used to switching around companies, creating a very fast learning curve. Also, companies do not have to take their own employees away from their actual day-to-day jobs. It’s a win-win situation all around!

3. They need specific skills that they do not currently have

Another reason why companies hire consultants is to acquire specific skill set that might not be easily available in house. Working with firms who have access to these highly skilled professionals may be more efficient for your company.  With constant innovation in the tech world, keeping your staff 100% state-of-the-art is nearly impossible. Luckily, consultants make it possible for companies to bring in the skill set they demand whenever they need it, since staffing firms make it their business to keep consultants trained and ready for every situation.

4. Sometimes, it is better to have a mediator/ nonpartisan influence

When companies run into a challenging problem, it can be troublesome for them to make decisions or take the necessary actions without getting caught up in emotions or politics. In order to alleviate the situation, companies bring in consultants to provide unbiased solutions to the problem. Consultants are then able to come in and ensure that the problem is being handled by an external party that is both experienced and removed from any controversies. Moreover, consultants can also serve as back-up or affirmation for a client who is attempting to carry out a new idea that might not be well-received within an organization, without any risk to their career.


There are many, many more reasons why companies hire consultants/contractors. I have only touched on a few and would love to hear your must unique reason for hiring a contractor !

With the advent of culture matching and executive oversight for every project, the reward will outweigh the risk.  Save the high dollar value of advertising, screening, interviewing, and hiring an employee by meeting requirements with consultants.


Part 1: Winning your End Users – SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio or SAP BusinessObjects Lumira or …

 by Iver van de Zand,  Guest Blogger


confused_lost_man_cartoonBeing part of one of the leading software companies is great and brings advantages and (sometimes) disadvantages. A key element I like so much in my work is that with my company I can be part of large—or even huge—scaled analytics journeys with customers and BI competence centers who need to serve thousands and thousands of users. In today’s digital economy, they all struggle similar challenges. Let us focus on the business users and reflect their biggest requirements for analytics, and how this often brings us to the self-service dilemma.

Enterprise End Users Require at Least:

  • Self-service capabilities: Business users require a great deal of autonomy in their analytics work. They want to easily create, deploy and share their business analytics content themselves without being too reliant on their ICT or BI Competence Centers. The data analysts among them even require access to non-corporate data in order to blend this with the corporate data and search for new insights.
  • Agility and Flexibility: It’s almost become a magical word, ‘agility’ is what I hear every user talking about. Users nowadays require full-flavor flexibility when using analytics. It means easy accessible on any device, the ability to change graph types on the fly. It also means being able to swap measures and attributes at any place in the analytics dashboard, storyboard, or report. Users also require drill-anywhere capabilities and a definite must-have is to drill to the transactional level if applicable. The agility requirements for tooling are based on what the business decision makers’ need to have towards process or market fluctuations and their customer needs
  • financial dashboardOnline or real-time information, yet still highly performant. As you already expected, all the users I met want the data to be accessible in real-time and—ideally—also online. I understand that need; driven by this agility, users absolutely need to have the latest data to respond to any fluctuation in process or market.
  • Consistency in metrics and metadata: Though this should be a no-brainer, users frequently mention that they’ve had negative experiences in the past with consistency in metrics and metadata. In any type of business analytics applications (reports, storyboard, workspaces or dashboards) they expect consistency in metrics, the use of definitions, hierarchies, prompts variables or other metadata-related content. End of the line!
  • Governed: Oh yes, end users do have concerns about governance. Though everybody always wants to have access to anything, deep in their hearts they all understand authorizations and security are top notch subjects and need to be treated with ultimate care. Another one here is SSO (Single Sign On)—would you like to logon and enter your credentials 75 times per day? Nah, don’t think so, so SSO is a must-have.
  • Visually appealing: Basically, I’m talking about the user experience here. Since analytics are widely spread—often also to my customer’s customers—they need to be visually appealing to attract the attention. This element of visually-appealing analytics is more complex than you might think. The visualizations need to have the creativity, effect, and structure to exactly communicate the message that “needs to be communicated.”(This subject is worthy of a few articles already.)

The Self-Service Dilemma – SAP BusinessObjects Lumira or SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio?

train_schedules_infographicSo, here we are with the large enterprise using SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite and users are looking for self-service and agility. Typically now the self-service dilemma starts: users, architects, and IT leaders are all very well informed these days, and consider SAP BusinessObjects Lumira as the ultimate tool to provide for every end user.

And they have a point, considering end users get full flexibility and self-service capabilities while the learning curve is extremely low. It brings powerful visualization capabilities and people can easily blend their data with other – i.e. external – data. (See a detailed component selection tool.)

But  I tend to challenge their considerations, especially if SAP Business Warehouse and/or SAP HANA are involved. They forget about SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio for enterprise dash boarding, and I don’t know why. Apparently, they still believe SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio is a developer tool and that is permanently incorrect.

In a lot of cases, SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio can cover all the end-user needs mentioned above, and it does this in a remarkably powerful way. SAP BusinessObjects Lumira really comes in for data analysts. It is a matter of clearly choosing the best-suited BI component to sort out the self-service dilemma enterprises might have.

I’ll go into detail on how to choose in my blog post next week. Stay tuned!


Diversity – Embracing the New View

By Karen Gildea, Managing Partner, Amick Brown

We live, play and work in an immensely diverse world.  To classify ourselves, we align with others of the same representative group.  We categorize ourselves into numerous different groups based on race, gender, age, religion, culture, ethnic background, etc.  The list of identity groupings can be endless.

The traditional view of diversity in the corporate world has had a focus on preventing discrimination of specific minority groups – preventing exclusion.  We are experiencing a shift now….from preventing exclusion to embracing inclusion.  We are moving away from regarding diversity only as a compliance requirement, to recognizing the value of and benefiting from the various perspectives of different identify groups as a business strategy.

The new view of diversity as defined by the Society for Human Resource Management encompasses “the qualities, life experiences, personalities, education, skills, competencies and collaboration of the many different types of people who are necessary to propel an organization to success.” 

20633211 - diversity color tree finger prints illustration background set. file layered for easy manipulation and custom coloring.

Some of the benefits associated with a focus on diversity and inclusion include:

  • Diverse teams that include individuals of different ages and with different backgrounds and perspectives can be more creative and innovative because the contribution and influence is more varied and therefore rich.
  • Employers want the best and brightest to join their organization. You don’t know what identity group your best match might be associated with.  A company with strong diversity and inclusion goals and a diverse workforce will be attractive to high potential candidates regardless of their identity group.
  • As with employees, customers will be associated with many identity groups as well. A diverse and inclusive workforce as well as a brand that represents a company’s diversity position will be helpful in attracting those customers.
  • While affirmative action programs still exist to counter-balance historic discrimination, fostering a diverse workforce, and working with diversity supplies will satisfy compliance requirements – not doing so might result in missed opportunities.

At a high level, developing a business strategy to support diversity and inclusion can be approached in a similar fashion as other business strategies.

  • Must have Executive commitment;
  • Create a responsible party/organization to champion the effort and shepherd its development and progress;
  • Perform an assessment of the current state that includes not only the demographics of the organization but also the perspectives of the employees regarding the company’s diversity;
  • Evaluate the results of the assessment and determine path forward that might include hiring goals encompassing all of the dimensions of diversity, diversity supplier purchasing goals and organization leadership goals to name just a few;
  • Facilitate organizational, process and any system changes required to support the strategy and goals;
  • Communicate and provide training to all in the organization. Ensure the message is shared by the executive leadership to demonstrate its commitment to diversity;
  • Monitor, measure and evaluate – adjust as needed over time.

Consider diversity in terms of the benefits it can bring to an organization.  Companies that expand their hiring practices to include individuals from varying backgrounds and those just entering the workforce in addition to those that are seasoned with experience will be rewarded with a rich and diverse workforce.  The brand will benefit as well, and at a minimum, the daily work life will be enriched by the many cultures, generations and viewpoints offered by a diverse group of individuals.

As a core belief in how we approach our business , Amick Brown works hard every day to promote the internal and client-facing benefits of diversity.


4 Best Practices to make your Storyboards more Dynamic and Appealing

By Iver van de Zand  – Business Intelligence & Analytics – SAP – Visualization – DataViz – Evangelist – Author of “Passionate On Analytics”

Your end users will love it when you’d deliver your story- and dashboards in a more appealing and dynamic way. In these Let Me Guide series I discuss 4 easy to use best practices that will help you doing so:

  1. Using backgrounds

  2. Using Navigation

  3. dynamic Vector Diagram pictures: SVG

  4. Dynamic Text

Using Background

Backgrounds can better the looks and experience of story- and dashboards. Use the opacity to ensure the attention is not too much distracted from the actuals graphs and charts. I tends to create my backgrounds myself using PowerPoint: create a slide with a layout you like allocating space for KPI metrics and visualizations. Save the slide as JPG which you can import as background into SAP Lumira.

Using Navigation 

If you have story- or dashboards with multiple pages, my experience is that custom navigation buttons help you users finding what they should read. I use custom navigation all the time on my storyboard’s landing pages for example. Here is how you do it:

  •  Find a shape or picture that you want to use as clickable button and save it as xx.jpg

  • Import xx.jpg as picture in Lumira and drop it on your storyboard where you want it

  • Drag and drop a rectangle shape exactly over you newly created button and set its lines and fill-color both to “none”

  • Click you “invisible” shape and add the URL or page number to it

  • Save and preview

Example landing page B

example of navigation buttons

Example landing page A

Example landing page A

Example of a core layout of a landing page for your storyboard. The color-coded tiles can be used as navigation buttons. The generic tiles act to show key metrics info. Save the core lay-out as JPG and use this JPG as core background in your storyboard. Now add an object over the color coded sections, make it invisible and add a page-link to the appropriate page in your story.

SVG files

Especially infographics gain on weight and meaningfulness if you use dynamic pictures as part of your charts and graphs. Bar- and line charts in SAP Lumira have the possibility to change its regular column and markers into a dynamic pictogram. You can use the embedded pictograms but also add your own. The pictograms need to be in the SVG dynamic vector format. Search for pictures on Google with the “ filetype:SVG” string to find SVG’s. Save and import them to Lumira and change the graphs properties. The results are impressive. It is easy to create your own SVG files: I use PowerPoint to create my own pictures and save them to JPG. Using conversion tools easily creates an SVG that you can use as dynamic chart/graph picture in your storyboards.

Dynamic Text

Dynamic Text is a powerful way to improve context sensitive messaging in your story- and dashboards. The dynamic text is based on a dataset attributes and thus changes when data is refreshed are filtered. Since SAP Lumira handles the dynamic text as any other attribute, you can also apply formulas against the text.

The Time to Change is Now

clock_calendar_moneyThe world is speeding ahead at a significant pace towards a major revolution—the data-driven economy.  Several data-driven start-ups in the last decade have become large corporations (Google, Facebook, Twitter), with billions of people reached and influenced by their innovations. Here is a list of the hottest start-ups that are looking to mature to the big league.

As the momentum is picking up, major organizations from different industry verticals are in a quest to exploit the opportunities that have arisen from the humongous amount of data that their business generates, directly and indirectly. Philip Evans, Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group, discussed in his TED talk what businesses would look like in the future, and the impact that Big Data will have on business strategies.

Whether businesses want to use data to make the world a better place, to understand the wishes of customers before they’re expressed, to be more proactive than reactive in decision making based on predictive technologies, or something else, there are several challenges that we must all face.

These challenges include the following.

  1. Data volumes are ever-increasing. Most of the data is unstructured (either textual, videos, graphs and so on) rather than transactional and structured.
  2. The decision cycles are becoming shorter. We expect millisecond response times from the systems we interact with. And with mission-critical applications, the response time could be even shorter.
  3. Thousands of predictive models are required to get coverage of all the predictive scenarios that an application can create.
  4. Traditional methods of modelling are very time-consuming. The quest to find a perfect model drains valuable time and money before it can be put to business use.
  5. The knowledge workers who understand data science, and who could mine useful actionable nuggets from the data, are rare. The demand for such skilled workers is ever-increasing and their lack of availability is causing a massive skills gap.

With Challenges Comes Opportunities

However, with challenges come opportunities.

Consider the Industrial Revolution. As we know, at that point in history the move was to automate processes that were repetitive or required more manual effort, and find ways to free valuable resources—the brain and imagination—that we use to focus on even larger problems. The result is the modern world we now live in.

Now the data revolution is demanding a new change. That is, the way in which we work with data. We must find ways and means to automate most of the repetitive workflows and modelling processes that are applicable industry-wide. This way, we can free the very valuable time of the data scientist to focus on tough problems that cannot be solved without human intervention.

With several thousand models that enable a data-driven company to run, it’s also important to have capabilities that enable the company to monitor the performance of these models in real time. This means decommissioning the models that exhibit significant deviation in performance, as compared to when they were deployed on production systems.

This paves the way for the need of a Massive Predictive Factory, a single source of truth and heart-beat monitor for the entire organization.

For more on Predictive Analytics, Follow Amick Brown

What you should consider when embarking on an Advanced Analytics journey?

By Paul Pallath, PHD,  Chief Data Scientist & Director Advanced Analytics, SAP

In my previous Predictive blog, I introduced four main considerations that organizations need to keep in mind when they’re beginning that journey. Today, I’ll cover them in more detail.

1. How Do We Measure Business Value and Return on Investment?

An advanced analytics solution must make a measureable impact. If not, the solution doesn’t get noticed, never mind appreciated. This holds even more true, if the return on investment (ROI) can’t be realized as a significant opportunity to drive business growth or new market opportunities.

Take the example of a marketing campaign. The ROI is in having the intelligence to target the customers who are likely (if persuaded) to buy your product rather than finding customers who would have bought the product without any marketing required.

An advanced analytics solution will be short-lived if it creates a “wow” effect, but nothing else.  The solution must generate recurrent value, revenue, and business opportunities.

2. How Do We Use Advanced Analytics Effectively?

For your business, good questions to ask at the start of the journey are:

  • Is the enterprise truly digital?
  • Is there a single source of truth of all the data that is generated/captured by various functions of the enterprise?

These questions are important considerations. Why? Because businesses often approach advanced analytics in an ineffective manner.

Remember, advanced analytics drive value to every business function, be it marketing, finance, human resources, and so on. However, enterprise functions want often to embed advanced analytics into their business workflow and embark on advanced analytics initiatives in silos. Though there is value in doing so, the results can be underwhelming.

This is because they’re using adoptions of various technologies, methodologies, practices to address the use cases that might exists— but without an enterprise-wide vision for advanced analytics. Therefore, walls rather than bridges are built between the various functions.

The problem becomes self-perpetuating. With increasing adoption of advanced analytics solutions in various business units, the business as a whole finds it difficult to consolidate all the activities into a central initiative and have proper discipline and governance.

The solution is to create the vision and execute it across all functions— even if the pilot starts from one or two activities. The functions must agree that advanced analytics is an enterprise-wide mission. Leadership must demonstrate belief in an analytics-driven business that it is going to provide competitive advantage. In this way, advanced analytics becomes a true company asset.

3. Is Advanced Analytics Just Another Technology Project?

Advanced Analytics is not just another technology project. If considered to be a technology project, the business understands only the technical feasibility and not its business impact.

As mentioned, an advanced analytics initiative is the means by which a business gains a competitive advantage. It follows that outcomes provide the data to help make well-informed decisions.

A lesser or confined approach is a step in the wrong direction. There is no ROI associated with technology-only thinking, because no tangible results are expected as an outcome. An initiative to embrace advanced analytics must be inseparable from your business strategy.

4. Is Big Data Equal to High Quality Insight?

Big Data is not equal to high quality insight.  A traditional business approach is to think, “We’ve captured huge amounts of data, but how do we  make sense of it?” This is a wrong start.

The right approach is to start with a business question in mind. That way, you can ask if the data that you have is sufficient enough to provide the answer.

These are several pieces of the puzzle that need to be put together for one to find meaningful, actionable insights from the data. This is, after all,  the quest that we embarked on.

As we now know, advanced analytics is about business change, insight and value.

“The combination of some data and an aching desire for an answer does not ensure that a reasonable answer can be extracted from a given body of data”-Sunset salvo. The American Statistician 40 (1).

Follow Amick Brown on LinkedIn for the best SAP Analytics and Reporting topics.

Predictive Analytics 101 – The Real Business Intelligence, part 2

by Ashith Bolar,  Director AmBr Data Labs @ Amick Brown

In my first post, “The Real Business Intelligence” ,  I emphasized on the significance of Predictive Analytics in the Business Intelligence space.  Let us take a deeper look at Predictive Analytics by way of more concrete examples.

As a refresher, Predictive Analytics is a set of tools and techniques based on statistical and mathematical techniques to analyze historical data and subsequently predict the future. The basic premise is that by analyzing historical data, determining relationships, more specifically correlations between related (and sometimes seemingly unrelated) attributes and entities, one can derive significant insights into a system. These insights can be further used to make predictions.

Let’s take a look at this process step by step.

The fundamental component in Predictive Analytics is a Predictive Model, or just model. A Predictive Model is set of data points plus a series of algorithms working on that data. It attempts to capture the relationships between the data points by means of applying mathematical or statistical computations deployed as algorithms.

The output of a model is typically a single number — called a score. The score essentially is an quantitative value for a specific prediction by the model based on historical data. Higher the score, the more likely a certain behavior is predicted. Lower the score, the more likely the opposite behaviour is predicted.

Predictive models can be built for a wide variety of problems. But the most common predictive models, especially in the context of a business application, is one that predicts people’s behaviors. Predictive models are designed to predict how people behave under new circumstances, given what we know about how they behaved in the past with other known circumstances. For instance, Netflix’s movie recommendations — based on the movies that you have seen and rated highly (known circumstances) recommendations for new movies (unknown circumstances) are generated.

You will hear terms like “Machine Learning”, “Artificial Intelligence”, “Regression Analysis”, etc. While, each one is an independent area of mathematics and computing, for a Predictive Analytics suite, these are just different algorithms (computing models) that are employed in the process of predicting.

Let’s dig deeper into the concept of Scores. Let’s take two classical examples of scores generated on customers.

  1. Based on the movies you have seen and rated in the past, Netflix tries to determine if you will like a new movie or not. Say for instance, a scoring of 0-10: 10 being a prediction of you absolutely loving the new movie, and 0 being a prediction of you absolute not caring about it. This type of a score is called a Probability Score. In essence, the score tells you the probability of you liking a movie.
  2. Another type of score is called the Quantitative Score. Here the prediction is not the probability of whether you will like the movie or not, instead to quantitatively predict the amount of something. For instance, Life Insurance companies try to predict how long a certain customer will live based on the life choices and other circumstances of the customer.

In case of the Netflix model (Probability Score), if a customer gets a 8 (out of 10) for the likelihood of liking a particular movie, it can be rephrased as “There’s a 80% chance that the customer will like this movie, and a 20% chance that they will not like it”. Such a prediction is basing its prediction on the spread of probabilities (probability distribution). Another way of looking at this score of 8 (out of 10 is) “The customer might not absolutely love this movie (which would be a 10/10), but definitely not absolutely hate the movie (0/10). Instead the customer is more likely actually liking the movie to some extent (8/10), rather than completely disinterested (5/10).

In either case, a careful examination of this score tells us that all the system is doing is categorizing people’s behaviours into a set number of ranks. Therefore, predictive models which generate probability scores are usually called classification models. On the other hand, the quantitative scoring (predicted life expectancy of an insurance customer) is really a quantitative number. Another classic example is customer spend which is how much a customer is willing to pay for a new product or service. The actual value is reached at by means of various statistical and mathematical computations. These models are typically known as regression models.

A good predictive model might not be accurate in every single case, but given a large set of data (read target customers), the model regresses to the predicted mean of the behavior.

In the following posts, we will delve deeper into predictive algorithms, and try to gain a better understanding of how they work, and more importantly why they work, and why they are important in your corporate strategy.


Are you Planning to Embark on an Advanced Analytics Journey?

Businessman Analyzing Graph

Welcome to the new world!  The manner in which data is generated and captured today has come of age. Traditionally the way of generating data for the most part from B2C/B2B2C business processes, was by having interactions captured as part of transactional systems in a highly structured format. But with changing technological landscape, much has changed in how data is generated and captured.

What data supports this view?

According to the ESG Digital Archive Market Forecast, the growth in data volumes that is driven by unstructured data amounts to more than 88% as compared to structured data. What’s more, Computer World states that unstructured information may account for more than 70% to 80% of all data in organizations.

The change has come because we in the 21st Century have redefined the way business is conducted. Significant advancement in internet technology has forced the need for digital online presence for most businesses to stay relevant. Likewise, every interaction that a customer has in the digital online ecosystem leaves behind a digital foot print containing huge amount of information.

Social media presences, for individuals and businesses, have increased the speed at which information travels. This has made it possible to share opinions as blogs or multimedia content. The result is the constant generation of large amounts of unstructured data.

All that Unstructured Data Is Good News for Data Scientists

However, this is good news for data scientists.

The previous figures imply that we have now Yottabytes [1024] of data at our disposal for deriving business value—and that amount of data is about to increase.

The Internet of Things with its emphasis on completely connected systems has resulted in the availability of high speed streaming data. This makes it possible for new innovations that use data to build technologies to enable machines talk to one another (and perhaps eventually become intelligent enough to remove humans from the loop)! Taking the trend into consideration, Brontobytes [1027] of data to work with will soon be a reality for data scientists.

So, what is the best way for a business to capture and benefit from this information? Of course, capturing the massive swathes of data available is an important part of the Big Data story. But it’s not the most important part.

The most vital activity is to generate insights that add value to your business. This takes vision, it takes change, it takes…advanced analytics.

For organizations embarking on a journey into advanced analytics, it’s vital to keep in mind these important considerations:

  • How Do We Measure Business Value and Return on Investment?
  • How Do We Use Advanced Analytics Effectively?
  • Is Advanced Analytics Just Another Technology Project?
  • Is Big Data Equal to High Quality Insight?

In future blogs, I’ll discuss each one of these considerations in more detail.

Let me know what you think. Did I leave one off the list?

Amick Brown would sincerely like to Thank Dr, Pallath for his contribution today .

Five Tips for New Recruiters

By Alyanna Espina,  Business Development at Amick Brown

When my bosses told me that I was getting trained to become a Recruiter, my heart started racing and the feeling of panic started to sink in. All these questions were floating in my head, where do I begin? Is there a cheat sheet to becoming a recruiter? How do I learn about all of this technology? I have to talk to strangers? In other words, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into or what I was going to do.

Moving forward a year later, I found that recruiting is not as difficult as it seemed to be, it’s actually enjoyable. If you are willing to learn and are ready to put in the hard work, then you are on your way to becoming a successful recruiter. Yes, it is challenging at first because you are talking to complete strangers and trying to convince them about the job offer you have. But, it’s all worth it in the end knowing that you are actually making a difference in someone’s life.

In the IT industry, finding the right fit candidate is one of the biggest hurdles when recruiting in this specific field. There are tons of positions available, but not a large enough pool of candidates to choose from. This goes against the norm of our society in which finding the right kind of job is also an issue for people outside of the IT world. Regardless, getting that call from a recruiter is just exactly what you are waiting for. There are recruiters out there who truly enjoy their work and there are others who are doing it for the paycheck. Needless to say, we can all tell the difference between the two.  Of course, it is true, that the job provides a huge opportunity to earn a good amount of incentive when your candidates gets placed, but you have to work really hard to get to that point. If you have sales skills and can provide excellent customer service, then that is something you can apply to recruiting. Who knows that may even earn you a spot at the top one of these days. Perhaps, you may even own a recruiting business in the future.

Here are five pointers that will help you, if you are just starting out as a recruiter.

  1. It’s basically match making – you take the requirement that the job position has and match it with the qualifications of the candidate. If it doesn’t match, let them know that you will contact them when there is a more suitable job offer that matches their skills.
  2. Time management and organization is a must – When you are recruiting for a job, it is very important to manage everything that needs to be done within the stipulated time period. Not only that, you must have everything organized, documents, contact information, etc. You are most likely going to be working with people in different time zones. So, you must be mindful of their time when you set up a call. It helps to be prepared, that’s when organization comes in.
  3. There is no “I” in TEAM – you will have to be a team member all throughout the entire process. As a recruiter, you are not only working with your immediate co-workers, you are also working with numbers of people out there. It could be your clients’, candidates’ employers or the candidates themselves. Different people, mean different styles and personalities. So, having the ability to work in a team will make your job easier.
  4. Communication is key – I can’t emphasize enough how important communication is in the recruiting world. So many things can go wrong, if you don’t hone in on your communication skills. Heck, it may even be the reason why you lose a candidate to the next recruiter. Having the right communication skills is the key to building a relationship with others in the market. It is by far one of the most important factors in business of any kind, in this case, recruiting.
  5. Be tech savvy – there are many aspects of recruiting that requires you to use technology. Therefore, it is important that you know how to make use of computer technology. There are job boards, database systems, and networking tools that you will have to use when recruiting. So, if you aren’t tech savvy, then it will be difficult for you to keep up with the job requirements.

I’ve only listed out 5 pointers, but there are far more beyond than what I have written. Some skills are meant to be learned as you get yourself situated in your recruiting position. No matter how much research or studying we do for a position, nothing beats learning from doing the actual job. Keep in mind that staying positive and working hard has no alternatives, there’s no shortcut to get to the top.

25 years into a career and you are Outsourced – time to Panic or a Gift?

By Karen Gildea, Co-founder and Managing Partner
Amick Brown

Karen Gildea

Like so many of my peers, and by that I mean those that
started their careers years ago with the plan to remain at the same company until retirement, the news that outsourcing will end your career there is shocking to say the least.  When you must leave your company for whatever reason, and you aren’t really ready or old enough for retirement, it is quite distressing.  You look at the many millennials who seem to so comfortably pick up and move to a new company when they see a new opportunity and you think, “what do I know and what skills do I have that would enable me to start again somewhere?”

What felt like the worst thing that could happen to my career…….WASN’T.

I spent more than 25 years working at a company that was so large that there was an endless amount of potential in terms of jobs, career paths and the ability to climb the corporate ladder.  I loved my job as it was constantly changing and enabling me to grow.  I loved the people I worked with and through the years they became a kind of extended family.  This was my world – I never looked beyond it.

As I started to think about the situation at hand, some truths were evident. Through the years, I was afforded some very valuable training and experience.  I managed a team that was responsible for building and supporting 24 x 7 applications for a user base that numbered in the hundreds of thousands.  We learned, sometimes the hard way, that the right people, constant communication, process, documentation, and a strong focus on quality assurance and system performance are required for success.  When you are there not only to implement systems, but to support them, you learn to be very thoughtful about design, testing and user communication and training.  These are sometimes areas that are of little interest to those who implement and move on.  We had a roadmap and a long term view of the solutions we were building and we had a lot of experience that would ensure our success in getting there – but that was over.

Make a Plan, Work the Plan, Be Accountable

Together with some of my colleagues, we decided to start a small consulting business.  We realized that the skills and experience that we had acquired building and supporting SAP and BI solutions for such a large implementation would be of value somewhere.  We believed we could make this work….but at the same time we definitely had moments of concern.  We met and planned in our dining rooms.  We understood from our long-term and collective experience the value of developing a detailed project plan, holding people accountable, and then working the plan.

As Amick Brown became a reality, we knew we had the expertise in SAP and Business Intelligence, but what about running a business?  We had a lot to learn, but it turns out that there is a lot of help out there.

First, we found a mentor. This person had already done what we were trying to do.  Her business was in another state with a different focus so competition was not an issue.  She was a huge asset and we will be forever grateful.  We asked her endless questions, took copious notes and still reach out to her from time to time for advice.

We then took advantage of all of the resources we could identify.  The Small Business Administration provides immeasurable support to small businesses. Through the SBA, we connected with the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in the three counties in our area.  The centers are there to provide training, counseling and support to small businesses.  We attended all of the training that we could about starting a business, marketing, payroll, legal issues, accounting, etc.  We also discovered the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) which is another valuable resource that has a focus on government contracting.  We attended many PTAC training sessions where we learned about doing business with the various government agencies and responding to Requests for Proposals.  Most of the training we attended was free and when there was a cost, it was minimal.

We worked with our bank to obtain an SBA backed loan to support our start-up costs.  I can’t stress enough the value of a good banking relationship.  I have to give a shout out to Wells Fargo for being such a good business partner and providing such terrific support through the years.


We pursued all of the certifications that were appropriate for us. We are a woman-owned business, we are a minority-owned business and we are a small business.  It is a lot of work to complete each application and it may be a bit overwhelming as you begin the process, but it is well worth the time.  Doors will be opened instead of closed because you are a supplier that holds a specific certification.

Conferences and business matchmaking events are one of the best places to learn and make connections.  We connected with people in other companies and government agencies, and identified additional useful resources to call upon when needed.  Each event helped us learn, grow and refine our marketing material and “elevator speech”.

Our first contracts were with companies we connected with through our already extensive network.  Though they were small contracts at first, it provided us the opportunity to build up our support systems that included HR and payroll services, legal support, accounting processes, web support and recruiting systems and processes.  Obviously, we grew very quickly beyond SAP Business Intelligence – a greater reach for our growing customer base.

panic buttongift icon

So, was outsourcing a panic situation or a gift? Here are the lessons learned:

  • Starting a business is completely possible. We found support everywhere we looked and people wanting to see us succeed.  We started with what we knew, and then looked for help and guidance for what we didn’t know.  Help is out there.
  • Relationships are everything – We understand that without good relationships with our clients, our employees, our subcontractors and our other business partners we won’t thrive. We will always do right by each of them.  They can count on us.
  • Continue to think long term – We make sure that we hire seasoned people who understand the long term impact of design, and in the event one of our hires needs additional assistance to ensure success we make sure it is provided. The long term success of our clients and the relationship we have with them is of utmost importance to us.
  • Be frugal – We have always had an eye on cost containment and we don’t spend money on things that don’t bring value. We are fairly modest with business purchases and we would rather offer better compensation and benefits packages to our employees and contractors – this way everybody wins.
  • Being a business owner is a completely rewarding and exciting experience. We have a renewed energy and enthusiasm toward all that we do.  We learn something new every day and life is good.

To date we have made the San Francisco Business Times Fast 100 list which lists the fastest growing privately held companies in the San Francisco Bay Area two years in a row and the Largest Women-Owned Business list three years in a row.  Our US focus is growing markets in the East and Central United States, as well as the West.  Our detailed plans, working them carefully, and staying accountable are making a new business success our reality.

Keep an eye on Amick Brown.  Good things are happening here!