Tag Archives: staff

Software Reviews | Computer Software Review

Bottom Line: SurePayroll is a powerful, flexible, and customizable way to pay your staff, and it offers good support and top-notch reporting. It’s also expensive, however, and its interface is dated.

Bottom Line: SurePayroll is a powerful, flexible, and customizable way to pay your staff, and it offers good support and top-notch reporting. It’s also expensive, however, and its interface is dated.

MSRP: $31.00



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Software Reviews | Computer Software Review

Bottom Line: SurePayroll is a powerful, flexible, and customizable way to pay your staff, and it offers good support and top-notch reporting. It’s also expensive, however, and its interface is dated.

Bottom Line: SurePayroll is a powerful, flexible, and customizable way to pay your staff, and it offers good support and top-notch reporting. It’s also expensive, however, and its interface is dated.

MSRP: $31.00



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AU combines talent analytics with HR management

The use of talent analytics may be creating a need for HR staff with specialized training. One source for these skills is programs that offer master’s degrees in analytics. Another may be a new program at American University that combines analytics with HR management.

American University, or AU, is making talent analytics, which is also called people analytics, a core part of the HR management training in a new master’s degree program, said Robert Stokes, the director of the Master of Science in human resource analytics and management at AU.

Stokes said he believes AU’s master’s degree program is unique, “because metrics and analytics run through all the courses.” He said metrics are a part of that training in talent management, compliance and risk reduction, to name a few HR focus areas.

Programs that offer a master’s degree in analytics are relatively new. The first school to offer this degree was North Carolina State University in 2007. Now, more than two dozen schools offer similar programs. There are colleges that offer talent analytics training, but usually as a course in an HR program.

These master’s programs produce graduates who can meet a broad range of business analytics needs, including talent analytics.

“We definitely have interest from companies in hiring our students for their HR departments,” said Joel Sokol, the director of the Master of Science in analytics program at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  “It’s not the highest-demand business function that our students go into, of course, but it’s certainly on the list,” he said in an email.

Sokol also pointed out that one of the program’s advisory board members is a vice president of HR at AT&T.

Analytics runs through all of HR

The demand for analytics-trained graduates is high. North Carolina State, for instance, said 93% of its master’s students were employed at graduation and earned an average base salary of just over $95,000.

Interest in master’s degree analytics training follows the rise of business analytics. The interest in employing people with quantitative talent analytics skills is part of this trend.

What HR organizations are trying to do is discover “how to drive value from people data,” said David Mallon, the head of research for Bersin by Deloitte, headquartered in New York.

“It wouldn’t shock anybody” if a person from supply chain, IT or marketing “brought a lot of data to the table; it’s just how they get things done,” Mallon said. “But in most organizations, it would be somewhat shocking if the HR person brought data to the conversation,” he said.

Mallon said he is seeing clear traction by HR departments — backed up by its just-released research on people analytics maturity — to deliver better analysis. But he said only about 20% are doing new and different things with analytics.  “They have data scientists, they have analytics teams, [and] they’re using new kinds of technologies to capture data, to model data,” he said.

The march to people analytics

“Conservatively, our data shows that at least 44% of HR organizations have an HR [or] people analytics team of some kind,” Mallon said. The percentage of departments with at least someone responsible for it — even part time — may be as high as 67%, he said.

The AU program’s first class this fall has about 10 students, and Stokes said he expects it to grow as word about the program spreads. Most HR programs that provide analytics training do so under separate courses that may not be integrated with the broader HR training, he said.

The intent is to use analytics and metrics to measure and make better decisions, Stokes said. An organization, for instance, should be able to quantify how much fiscal value is delivered by a training program. This type of people analytics may still be new to many HR organizations, which may rely on surveys to assess the effectiveness of a training program.

Organizations that are more mature aren’t just using surveys to try to determine employee engagement, Mallon said. They may be analyzing what’s going on in internal and external social media.

“They’re mining — they’re watching the interactions of employees in collaboration platforms and on your intranet,” Mallon said. “They’re bringing in performance data from existing business systems like ERPs and CRMs,” he said.

The best-performing organizations are using automation and machine learning to handle the routine reporting to free up time for higher-value research, Mallon said. But they are also using these tools “to spot trends that they didn’t even know were there,” he said.

Filter and query Windows event logs with PowerShell

In addition to its automation capabilities, PowerShell helps the IT staff troubleshoot problems with Windows, specifically…

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when they need to find errors in the Windows event logs. PowerShell parses logs and has a few more advantages over the numerous third-party tools at administrators’ disposal. Microsoft includes PowerShell for free with Windows, which gives it a cost advantage over other vendors’ products. Also, PowerShell connects deeply with the OS to provide many options to filter logs and query across multiple systems simultaneously.

Get-EventLog is the primary cmdlet administrators utilize to manage Windows event logs. This cmdlet shows the log’s contents with the -LogName parameter, followed by the name of the desired log file.

Log files can get large, but this cmdlet cuts results down to more easily reveal relevant events.

Use this command to show a summary of available log files:

Get-EventLog -List

PowerShell returns the log names and the number of events in each. Let’s focus on the Application log, which can contain several thousand entries. This command displays the Application log events:

Get-EventLog -LogName “Application”

The command output shows the log file’s full contents, which is not helpful. To filter the results, use this example to show the 10 most recent entries:

Get-EventLog -LogName “Application” -Newest 10

Next, take the command a step further, and find the 10 most recent errors with the -EntryType parameter:

Get-EventLog -LogName “Application” -EntryType “Error” -Newest 10

PowerShell also finds specific error occurrences. Find the 10 most recent instances of event 7670 — an issue related to SQL Server database access — with this command:

Get-EventLog -LogName “Application” -Index 7670 -Newest 10

Event 7670 often accompanies several other SQL Server events, such as 7671 or 7673. PowerShell specifies a range of event IDs rather than a single event ID. Let’s say you’re interested in event IDs 7670, 7671, 7672 and 7673. Use this command to view the 10 most recent SQL Server-related errors with those event IDs in the Application log:

Get-EventLog -LogName “Application” -Index(7670..7673) -Newest 10

Alternatively, the command to list SQL errors — which varies based on the SQL Server version — resembles this:

Get-EventLog -LogName “Application” -EntryType “Error” -Source “SQLLocalDB 11.0” -Newest 10

How to check logs on remote machines

PowerShell also filters log events on Windows systems across the network. The administrator must specify the -ComputerName parameter, followed by the NetBIOS name, fully qualified domain name or the target system’s IP address.

To show results from several computers, store the computer names in a variable, and then use a ForEach loop. If the server names are Server1, Server2 and Server3, for example, use these commands to query each server:

$Computers=’Server1′,’Server2′,’Server3′

ForEach($Computer in $Computers){Get-EventLog -ComputerName $Computer -LogName “Application” -Newest 10}

The output does not list the name of the server with the event. To adjust this, customize the results: Append the pipe symbol, followed by the Select-Object cmdlet and the fields to display. The valid field names are EventID, MachineName, Data, Index, Category, CategoryNumber, EntryType, Message, Source, ReplacementStrings, InstanceID, TimeGenerated, TimeWritten, UserName, Site and Container.

[embedded content]

How to parse event log
message field with PowerShell

This command returns the server name, event ID, time and description:

$Computers=’Server1′,’Server2′,’Server3′

ForEach($Computer in $Computers){Get-EventLog -ComputerName $Computer -LogName “Application” -Newest 10} | Select-Object MachineName, EventID, TimeGenerated, Message

These are just a few methods to parse Windows event logs with Get-EventLog. Microsoft provides an extensive list of other ways this cmdlet helps administrators troubleshoot Windows systems.

Next Steps

PowerShell commands to troubleshoot Exchange Server

Implement PowerShell’s piping capabilities to build scripts

PowerShell Gallery offers easy access to scripts

DevOps competency growth hindered by IT skills shortage

Enterprises must rethink how to staff IT departments in a labor market with many more job vacancies than candidates.

There are numerous causes of the skills shortage in the U.S.: long-term trends, such as declining birth rates in the developed world; and recent ones, such as a federal crackdown on foreign workers with H-1B visas. Combine those factors with the rapid proliferation of new ideas, such as Linux containers, heightened demand for new software and explosive growth of data in the tech sector, and a lack of DevOps competency — and shortage in IT labor generally — becomes pronounced.

“We’re on the edge of the biggest skills shortage in U.S. history,” said Don Rheem, CEO at E3 Solutions, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., that works with corporate clients on HR practices and employee engagement. The country is at 4.4% unemployment — which Rheem said he considers full employment — and still has 5.9 million unfilled jobs. “Companies can’t afford to lose people with the competency to do high-tech work,” he said.

Enterprises look within for DevOps competency

Companies must first build an IT staff to foster DevOps competency. This means they must find both skilled programmers and IT ops specialists able to deploy the latest software development and infrastructure automation techniques. In coastal markets, such as the San Francisco Bay Area and New York, this is challenging; in markets outside those areas, it can seem impossible.

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., for example, the unemployment rate for workers in information technology was 1.6% in June 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The dearth of good candidates is painfully clear for Andy Domeier, director of technology operations at SPS Commerce, a communications network for supply chain and logistics businesses based in the Twin Cities.

With the shortage of available skilled workers outside its walls, SPS has begun internal training programs to grow its own DevOps competency. It has established an internal technology community, with a knowledge-sharing website, conference debriefs and updates on new projects, and regular presentations from outside speakers.

The company has also created its own technology conference and worked to simplify and standardize what’s expected of engineers in the first month of work, so employees new to DevOps have consistent expectations, Domeier said.

It’s a similar story for Rosetta Stone, which has mostly avoided hiring outside DevOps experts, said Kevin Burnett, DevOps lead for the global education software company in Arlington, Va.

“We do have two DevOps people — me and a colleague — but we moved into these roles from elsewhere in the company; we were both developers in the product organization,” he said. To build the rest of the DevOps team, the company turned to long-tenured employees.

“If you find people with lots of general and company experience, their colleagues will be more likely to listen to them,” Burnett said. “If people don’t listen to your DevOps people, your change initiatives will not get anywhere.”

The best candidates have an interest in software deployment and experience with command-line and automation tools, but the most important trait in DevOps competency is problem-solving ability and inclination.

“If you have people who already love playing with AWS [Amazon Web Services], or who love building internal tools to make their colleagues more productive, or who wrote a script that can set up a local development environment, these are the people to talk to first,” he said.

New practices spring from DevOps competency shortage

Once you establish DevOps competency, employee retention is an even bigger challenge in a highly competitive seller’s market for technical skills.

“High tech has a lot to learn about culture from the manufacturing business,” E3’s Rheem said. Companies eager to retain employees often find themselves in a “perk race,” but perks quickly become entitlements, Rheem said.

High tech has a lot to learn about culture from the manufacturing business.
Don RheemCEO, E3 Solutions

“Most companies don’t have a great sense of what makes people want to come to work, which is predictability, consistency and the ability to rely on social resources,” he said.

Each human brain has a metabolic limit on the amount of work it can do, but the brain can also take into account the “social resources” of other human brains around it and view them as interchangeable with its own physical resources, Rheem said.

In the absence of a strong group, a good substitute is a deep connection with the mission and vision of the organization — a sense of ownership, he added.

These ideas have been part of successful employee-retention efforts for SPS’s Domeier.

Ownership is important, but it must have defined limits, Domeier said. Employers must break down the environment into smaller areas of accountability, so one engineer isn’t responsible for the maintenance of hundreds of systems or microservices.

“The whole system is a big burden to carry; you have to make sure expectations are realistic,” Domeier said. In some areas, engineers are accountable for a particular internal service or a single customer-facing product. Common-sense approaches to time off and on-call rotations are also essential; many DevOps organizations ensure employees aren’t on call for more than a week at a time.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget’s Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.