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Advice for embracing change
Source: The Art of Project Management blog

Whatever you think of the Obama administration’s various efforts to overhaul federal technology spending and management, all those new orders eventually fall to administrators, project managers and other employees whose job it is to transform edicts into actions. It’s rarely an easy task, and the way our brains are wired to respond to — or, more accurately, resist change — doesn’t help matters much, even for those who agree with the new directions.

However, there are some simple techniques that teams can use to be more creative and therefore successful when making changes mandated from above, writes Jeff Richardson on the “The Art of Project Management” blog.

For example, brainstorming is an important tool for overcoming the anxiety that arises in response to impending change. But the exercise can easily get short-circuited if it’s run as a free-for-all in which only the loudest and quickest thinkers dominate. A technique as simple as giving the team a few minutes to jot down ideas on their own in silence can work wonders for increasing the quantity and diversity of ideas, Richardson writes.

New fuel sources for data centers
Source: Computerworld

“If there is a golden rule for data center managers, it is this: Don't mess with your power source,” writes John Brandon at Computerworld. However, the potential payback of alternative power sources is encouraging some managers to break that rule.

Brandon profiles several organizations that are testing innovative ways to generate and use power at their data centers. For example, at Syracuse University, natural gas-fired microturbines “drive two 150-ton absorption chillers that turn the heat exhaust from the turbines into chilled water that cools the data center,” he writes. “In the winter, the university uses cold outside air for data center cooling, and hot water generated by the turbines is used to heat an adjacent building.”

The First Bank of Omaha chose hydrogen fuel cells for its data center. The technology is prohibitively expensive for most organizations but highly valued for its reliability. The bank had a big motivator in its credit card processing: “Just one hour of downtime could result in a loss of as much as $6 million,” Brandon writes.

IT worker shortage: No end in sight
Source: National Association of State CIOs

State governments are facing a critical shortage of IT professionals, according to a recent report by the National Association of State CIOs. And many of the causes that NASCIO identified are similar to measures being proposed for the federal workforce.

“A wave of state layoffs, furloughs, hiring freezes and lack of salary increases has exacerbated this situation,” the report states. And the worst might be yet to come because many older workers have postponed their retirements until the economy improves.

Here are some of the key findings in the report, titled "State IT Workforce: Under Pressure.”

  • Hiring freezes and eliminating vacant positions continue to be the greatest problem for state CIOs when developing, supporting and maintaining IT services for state government.
  • Consistent with results from the 2007 State IT Workforce survey, nearly a quarter of state CIOs predict that between 21 percent and 30 percent of state IT employees will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.
  • A majority of the state CIOs reported that the recession has caused many state workers to postpone retirement.
  • Slightly more than half of the states continue to have difficulty recruiting new employees to fill vacant IT positions, but data suggests the continuing high unemployment rate has reduced the burden for filling entry-level positions.
  • An overwhelming 78.6 percent of state CIOs confirmed that state salary rates and pay grade structures present a problem in attracting and retaining skilled IT talent.

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