5 Tips For Building A CI/CD Pipeline

Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), is a common practice in modern software development. CI/CD is the automation of anything between a developer pushing code and the customer receiving the latest version of a software product. This can include packaging the product into a deliverable form; running the product through a suite of tests to ensure robustness, to deploying the product to a live environment. Having a robust CI/CD pipeline (the common term for this multistage process) comes with immense benefits most importantly:

  • having a higher quality product,
  • reducing developer time spent on tedious, repetitive tasks, 
  • provides a quick feedback loop to the developer. This lowers costs by reducing workload and catching bugs early.

This CI/CD leads to maximising the relevance of the product by quick delivery of value to the customer, which also enables a fast feedback loop on the product. The following tips should help build a robust pipeline, regardless of the Continuous Integration tools chosen.

Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment

Firstly, it's important to make sure to have a good understanding of the meaning of Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment. Without understanding all these concepts, you may fall into the trap of having an under-developed pipeline. 

Continuous Integration, or CI, typically involves steps including packaging and testing the software. These are the main components that people consider when creating a CI/CD pipeline (and is where some stop).

The next step beyond CI is Continuous Delivery. A fully tested, working version of a product should be produced at the end of the CI portion of the pipeline. The Continuous Delivery portion of the pipeline is responsible for automatically delivering this working version of the product to customers. This could be as simple as, for example, making the product available on a download page and sending out a notification of its release. This saves time delivering the product produced by the pipeline to the customer manually.

Finally, Continuous Deployment covers the automation of deploying the product onto a live environment. A good example of a use case of Continuous Deployment would be automating the publishing of an update to a website. Here we are trying to automate any steps between the software being delivered and the user having the latest version in a usable form. Even if there is a reason preventing full Continuous Deployment to a live site, it can still be useful to have your pipeline automatically deploy to a staging environment.

Having a full end-to-end pipeline that concludes with Continuous Deployment may not always be applicable to your needs. However, maximising the number of steps automated by your pipeline will reduce time spent performing repetitive tasks, reduce the time taken to deliver value to customers and establish the fastest possible feedback loop. Keep each section of a full CI/CD pipeline in mind and automate wherever possible.


Read more about the benefits of a full CI/CD pipeline, instead of just a CI pipeline.


Pipeline as code

As the CI/CD space matures, so has the concept of pipeline as code. This is the idea that we store our pipeline configuration alongside the code that we are building with it. The most notable advantage when it comes to storing pipeline as code is having access to Version Control System (VCS) tools such as Git. In the past, some Continuous Integration tools were limited to managing pipeline configurations via their GUI. This leads to problems tracking changes made to the pipeline over time and being able to reproduce the state of the pipeline for a version of the software to be built.

By storing our pipeline configuration as code, the exact configuration of the pipeline used to build the software at the time will be stored with the code in VCS. Beyond this, it can be far more intuitive for those with a developer background to automate changes via updating a file in VCS. Having pipeline configurations stored as code will likely save a lot of time and effort in the long run. If it is required to build an old version of the software, there should be little to no time needed to accommodate this in the pipeline. This also comes with the inherent benefits of VCS, by providing us with a stored history of our pipeline configuration.

Keeping things modular

Some programming best practices, such as Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY), translate very well over to CI/CD pipelines. When automating a task, try to avoid adding too many steps to any phase. Depending on your chosen CI tools the phasing may vary (e.g. in Jenkins there are projects), but for simplicity, the word "phase" is used here to describe a configuration that will tell the tool to do something. For example, one "phase" could be to run a code analyser tool like SonarQube on your repository. The idea here is very similar to functions/methods in programming. Each phase should do one thing and should be made with reusability in mind. 

One may think it is a good idea to create a "code quality check" phase, which may run a linter, a security scanner and some other checks on the code. However, there are some issues with this. Typically, each check in the phase is performed sequentially. This can hinder the concept of "failing fast", which is discussed in more detail below, which ultimately slows down the feedback loop. In addition, there may be instances where we only want to run one of these checks instead of all three. Finally, and possibly most importantly, coupling all the checks together reduces the reusability of the phase. By splitting the checks up into their own phases, we have a higher chance of being able to reuse these same phases elsewhere in the pipeline.

Keeping everything as modular as possible in a CI pipeline may take more upfront effort and planning but is likely to save time spent on maintenance in the long run. 

Maintaining the pipeline

To quote an episode of Futurama "when you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all". This has always summed up my philosophy regarding CI/CD, as in an ideal world, everything should just work. At one end, a developer pushes (good) code, some time passes, and then on the other end, a new, tested version of the software is produced. We live in a world where requirements are ever-changing, bugs are ever-present and sometimes things just break. It is the responsibility of those maintaining the pipeline to make up for its shortcomings.

When taking on the view that a CI/CD pipeline should be like a well-oiled machine that follows certain steps to achieve a goal, it can be easy to forget that we should value "individuals and interactions over processes and tools". Literal failures are not the only shortcomings of any pipeline. Notifications could be improved, perhaps phases could be reordered or maybe the feedback loop is too slow. It's important to remember that a CI/CD pipeline exists to improve the quality of life for developers and customers. As such, try to seek out and engage with feedback from the users of the CI/CD pipeline. Any woes they may have are potential improvements that can be made. Continuous Integration in agile is important, but we should try to continue to be agile in our Continuous Integration as well. Constantly improving your CI/CD pipeline will ensure a robust system that will speed up production and improve the quality of your product.

Fail Fast

A major advantage of having a CI pipeline is having a constant feedback loop. To take full advantage of this, having failures happen as early as possible is ideal. Imagine a simple pipeline where we prepare an environment, deploy our code onto the environment and then run some tests. If there is an issue with the code, there won't be any sign of an issue until we are deploying our code. If the environment preparation is significant, we're potentially losing all this time in the event our code has a simple issue such as a syntax error. In this instance, it would be prudent to use a static code scanner or implement some other method of ensuring code quality prior to the building of the environment. 

There are countless examples where issues in a pipeline could potentially be caught much earlier. By failing fast, issues can be addressed as quickly as possible, which can drastically improve time taken to deliver features to the product, which in turn reduces the cost of the value provided.

Conclusion

There are many ways to create a CI/CD pipeline. How it looks will vary wildly depending on the Continuous Integration tools used, whether it is only a Continuous Integration pipeline, a Continuous Delivery pipeline or has full Continuous Deployment, as well as the specifics of the product itself. Regardless, these tips should apply to most situations and assist in building a robust pipeline that will save a lot of pain, time and money.


Author
Alan Conroy
DevOps Engineer - Ammeon


Progressing from Support Management to Sustaining Engineering

Enabling Scaling Through Customer Feedback

Selling the idea of “software product maintenance” to a software engineer is not an easy sell as it is not as appealing as new software development. The same goes for the retention of Support Engineers. In my view, one way to address that is to look at sustaining engineering and how it benefits not only the engineers in the team but more importantly your customers.   

So, what is the difference between Support Management & Sustaining Engineering?

First, to better understand where Support and Sustaining Engineering fit in the big picture, let’s review the common phases of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and Product Life Cycle (PLC).

  • Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) – commonly described phases are Planning, Analysis, Design, Development, Testing, Deployment, Maintenance and Support.
  • Product Life Cycle (PLC) – phases include Product Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline. 

Based on this, Support and Sustaining Engineering correspond to the Maintenance and Support Phase of the SDLC and map to the Growth, Maturity and Decline phases of the PLC.

Let’s set the scene to provide some context

As part of our services at Ammeon, we provide technical expertise to our customers to help support and fix product issues experienced by our customer or even the customer’s customer, i.e. the actual end-user of the product.  

The Support Management and Sustaining Engineering functions are responsible for legacy functionality released in customer production environments and are implicitly very customer focused.

Support Management can be defined as the function of delivering the service of:

  • managing incidents
  • reviewing
  • analysing
  • triaging
  • troubleshooting issues
  • identifying root cause
  • providing work around
  • documentation updates
  • software fixes

In contrast, Sustaining Engineering can be described as a super set of Support Management.

In addition to the functions linked to the Support Management, Sustaining Engineering encompasses an important new component: Feedback from the customer.

Direct or Indirect Feedback

Based on analysis of data handled, your teams may uncover a cluster of bugs or recurring themes providing indirect feedback from the customer.  In other words, each bug can be treated as a symptom of an underlying problem.  These areas of the product can then be targeted as improvements and fed back to the development team to incorporate into the main product.

Direct feedback from the client can also be obtained in the form of new feature requirements based on customer-use of the product. Similarly, these new requirements can then be tracked and added to the work product backlog for consideration.

Furthermore, having gathered important customer feedback, the Sustaining Engineering function can also help the mainstream development teams with improving the testing of the product, i.e. focusing on the clusters of bugs.

So, Sustaining Engineering is a progression of support management that incorporates product improvement based on customer feedback.

Benefits

So, what are the benefits brought by evolving the support function to Sustaining Engineering?

  • Another way to compare Support Management and Sustaining Engineering is that Support Management is more reactive, dealing with bugs and occasional escalations when critical issues are identified in production. Sustaining Engineering also incorporates a more long-term, proactive approach leading to the overall product stability and customer satisfaction.
  • As seen previously, the benefits centre around customer feedback and product improvements. The customer will receive product improvements based on their feedback while also having the comfort of a dedicated team of specialists supporting and improving the product. 
  • From Ammeon’s perspective, it provides a platform to build trust and to provide a reliable and valuable service to the customer. In the long term, it strengthens its position to build up a strong customer base.

Sustaining Engineering and the importance of scaling

However, the other long-term value is that Sustaining Engineering becomes an enabler for scalability.

You can re-use proven processes and tools, for example, bug tracking using tools like jira, leveraging the use of metrics, ways of working and other associated processes such as on-call support.  Ultimately, the customer benefits from your experience and your people.

The organisation’s structure is also an important factor to consider. It gives you the ability to manage multiple sustaining projects under the same management structure, to serve multiple customers.  Setting new teams under the sustaining umbrella where there is a large degree of re-usable leads to speed setup time, learning from past failures and experiences, applying the agile inspect and adapt principles. 

How to get a stable Sustaining Engineering function that scales?

Typically, the terms support, maintenance, and sustaining are not associated with the exciting part of the project which is challenging when it comes to attracting and retaining talents. You will have put a lot of effort into building strong, capable and knowledgeable teams. One of the key attributes associated with strong performing teams is the sense of family, pride in the work delivered, strong awareness of the sense of urgency with customer issues and ability to communicate effectively internally and with the Customer.

A team that helps each other and backs each other up, will not only help retention knowing they make a difference, but will obviously benefit the customer with a strong dedicated team supporting them, addressing technical debt and improving the product, leading to better customer satisfaction. 


In conclusion, the progression from Support Management to Sustaining Engineering incorporates Customer Feedback which becomes an enabler for scalability. It benefits our customers by providing a long term approach to software product maintenance focused on overall product quality and stability

At Ammeon, we listen to our customers. With our experience and expertise, we believe our Sustaining Engineering teams can help any company scale efficiently and effectively.


David Hong-Minh | Ammeon Sustaining Manager

Author
David Hong-Minh,
Sustaining Manager | Ammeon

Workplace Wellness – Supporting Employee Wellbeing

Health and Wellbeing  

Health and wellness have become a hot topic in recent years. More businesses are seeking out ways to support employees and proactively putting measures and programmes in place to enhance overall staff wellbeing. Given that we spend around a third of our lives at work, a workplace culture plays a big role in employees’ lives. 

“The number of organisations offering stress management and mental wellbeing programmes to staff has doubled in the last five years” 

With such a changing world around us we need more than ever focus on our employee’s health and wellbeing. 

At Ammeon we do believe that employees Mental Health and Wellbeing is vitally important, especially during such a time like this when all our employees are working from home and all we have is a virtual connection. 

The wellbeing of our staff has always been a priority, but how do we maintain this during a pandemic? 

By moving all our wellness events, seminars and company CSR to remote life we are able to continue the Wellness programme that we have planned for this year. 

As a company, Ammeon has stepped up to help our employees by expanding their mental health benefits. These include changes in employee assistance programs, free one to one video consultations with Wellbeing experts and unrestricted access to GP live consultations. 

Benefits that matter

Taking into consideration that our employees are affected by such a rapid change due to the Covid-19 we are very much focusing on delivering seminars that can help them to cope with the stress and anxiety that they might be facing during this time. 

Our employees can avail of the free One-to-One Digital Psychologist consultations that can help them to cope effectively with the variety of problems like COVID-19, Stress/Anxiety, Work-Life Balance, Emotional Disorders, Mental Distress and Bereavement/Grief. 

We also understand that during this time many families come up against the challenges of managing a work/home life balance so we provide Seminars on Positive Parenting, where our employees can get encouragement and advice in their parenting journey.   

Qualified health experts are working with our employees to create a personalised health programme to help and support them to achieve their individual health goals across Fitness, Nutrition & Wellbeing. 

As well as a health crisis, COVID-19 is an economic crisis too. Our employees can book a video session with an independent and qualified financial advisor who can help them come to terms with the financial impacts of COVID-19 and give them advice on how to manage their finances during this time. 

For our employees and their family members, we have provided complimentary online Pilates classes twice a week so that they and their families can stay fit and healthy while at home. 

Double-down on communication 

As we all check on our families and loved ones more often during this time than ever before, here at Ammeon we also double communication with our teams.  

Virtual coffee breaks became a thing that we will continue with our teams even when the current crises are over. 

Daily stand-ups help us to know more about each team member, check on how they are doing physically, personally and motivate each other for the project or work that we are planning to complete.  

Most important in the midst of all of this we are trying to have fun by playing quizzes and enjoying music performances on Friday evening. Seeing our employees with their kids and family during the social Friday time makes us really feel like one big family. 


Ammeon is a very diverse company and we have built a culture of inclusion and encourage everyone to bring their whole selves to work, something that I personally value a lot.  

Our goal is to see our employees happy, motivated, productive and knowing that they are valued members of the team. 

I am feeling very lucky to be in the company that truly cares for their employees and goes above and beyond to support and encourage them especially during this time of uncertainty.  

“What you sow is what you reap”- I always believe that how much you invest in your employees is that much they will invest in return for the growth of your organisation.   

Communicating clearly with your workforce about what mental health and well-being resources are available to them and showing empathy in a time of crisis can go a long way – not just for the overall well-being of your employees but for the company’s health long-term. 

It doesn’t have to be big steps, but it is important that they are in the right direction for the healthier growth of your organisation. 


Author - Uljana Naumenko - Ammeon

Author
Uljana Naumenko,
Workplace Experience Manager | Ammeon


5 Reasons Why This Crisis Is A Job Opportunity

Many professionals may be asking themselves the question, whether it is a good idea to continue looking for new career opportunities these days. While thousands are losing their jobs, it could appear that if you have a secure job, it’s best to hold on to it. It seems that the safest bet is to wait out the crisis, keeping a steady income and not to risk. So it seems. But is it really smart to put your career progress on hold?  

While I am not going to claim any expertise in economic trends, I do know that minor or bigger shakes of economy repeat every 2-5 years, with more significant ones taking place every 7-10 years. Additionally, trends and industries are evolving so fast that if we are not running, we will stay behind. So are we really ever safe? Let me think out loud about options for those of you who may feel stuck and concerned whether it is a bad idea to keep looking. I thought I’d share some experience, from both perspectives; as a professional recruiter, recruiting for all kinds and sizes of companies for 10 years, as well as a candidate. I’ve been on the other side of the fence for sure many times. When I arrived in Ireland in 2010, in the middle of the biggest economic recession many of us have seen in their lives, I was told that I am making a big mistake. I was told I won’t get a job in a country that thousands had left and more had been leaving at the time due to loss of jobs. Yet I managed to secure the job within the first month and successfully kicked off my career and life of an ex-pat.  

Like many of you, I’ve risked uncertainty and no income for the vision of better opportunity and growth. I can relay how stressful and silly it may seem to most who like the comfort of safety, but should fear really stop us from progressing? 

And that is the question I believe candidates should ask themselves when they see a role they are interested in while in a seemingly safe position. 

Not every crisis must necessarily have a negative impact on our career. There are still opportunities out there and putting the progress on hold may only prolong the journey towards your career goals.  

The current situation can still be an excellent time to take a new job. After all, exploring your options doesn’t commit you to anything. Companies that continue hiring during challenging situations do so mostly to fill positions that are either of big importance to them or are projects that may not be impacted much by the crisis anyhow.  

Why is now a better time to take a new job?  

  1. The competition after the crisis will skyrocket with hundreds of thousands of applicants extremely keen to get back to work. 
  2. Many candidates will have weeks or even months of upskilling and interview preparation behind them.  
  3. Even if new exciting projects become available again in your company, who can guarantee that the company won’t go looking externally, knowing there’s a sea of great talent waiting?  
  4. Companies that are hiring now will have shorter ramp-up in projects after the crisis than those who froze hiring completely. 
  5. Not all companies have been affected by recent events and continue to thrive in their industry. They still have roles that they need to fill with priority. You can leverage this opportunity to increase your benefits and salary.  

My aim, of course, isn’t to shake your confidence in keeping your job, nor to discredit any company’s loyalty to their hard-working people. But what I’ve learned and seen is that one of the worst situations you can put yourself into is the one when you feel without a choice. When you think you have no option but to wait.  

I believe the best response to any crisis and hardship is to keep progressing and prosper. You shouldn’t feel like you have to postpone your development or your career progress.   

Certainly, there are many pros and cons, ups and downs and hypothetical scenarios that flash through our minds when taking risks, but taking calculated risk isn’t reckless. I would say, if you worry about keeping your job now, you probably never had a safe job in the first place.  

Don’t be scared to weigh your options and look around for better opportunity. Every gain carries a certain risk with it. That is life whether we are in crisis or not.      

J.F.Kennedy said, “When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters — one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”  

Which of the 2 will you focus on and let it form your future? Danger? Or the Opportunity? 


Author
Kate Paucova,
Technical  & Operations Recruiter | Ammeon


Interested in working at Ammeon? See our available jobs and apply today

Remote Onboarding – The Tools Of The Trade

By now you are getting used to remote working. You have your home office set up, and your lower back is grateful that you no longer have your laptop perched on an ironing board while sitting on the edge of your bed. Your colleagues are used to seeing you wearing loungewear and they no longer bat an eyelid at the sight of your children or significant other wandering around in the background of the webcam. Hey, it’s the new normal, so far so good. But work doesn’t stand still even if we are in these unprecedented times. New formidable business challenges lurk around every corner. One of the biggest challenges facing business even before the crisis is handling the onboarding and induction of new employees. Many businesses still don’t understand how vital onboarding is for new employees. Adding a remote element can in some cases be the last straw. Take a look at part 1 of this blog on onboarding principles. This blog is about the tools of the trade. 

The challenge 

Finding talent in a regular market is difficult enough. Trying to work out how to give your potential their paperwork and provide information and support is daunting enough when you’re sitting alongside your new team member. It becomes even more challenging when you’re forced to do the onboarding remotely.  

The good news is that recent times have shown that tools and technology now exist to make this experience as immersive and productive as possible. Literally everyone and their grandmother knows how to use Zoom by this stage!  

You’re hired! 

The quickest and easiest way to complete new employee paperwork is using DocuSign. It’s relatively cheap and allows HR to send out copies of contracts policies and NDAs in one electronic envelope. The new starter can sign the contract wherever they are by adding an electronic signature. Easy. What’s really great about DocuSign is it removes the barrier to signing contracts that previously existed. Printing, signing, scanning, posting. We saw turnaround on contract signing from 5 days to 2 hours! In this competitive market it helps to get contracts signed quickly and easily and begin the process. Once you have your candidate, DocuSign will help you secure them quickly. 

Face to face introductions 

Before the new starter’s first day, set up an online meeting with them via Zoom to say hello. You can give them some insights into some of the areas they might want to research or tools they need to skill up on. You can then share with them the link to the onboarding tool which we build using Trello. Using the tool they can have a look at what they can expect to be doing over their first few weeks.  

Onboard with Trello

At Ammeon we are big believers in visualising process and flow. As agile evangelists and practitioners, we try where possible to show work in progress on Kanban or scrum boards. This visual paradigm makes it easier to digest the status of different objectives and tasks in flight.

When redesigning our onboarding we borrowed learnings from other companies (tip of the hat to Matthew Ovington from Travelport) who used Trello to visualise the onboarding of employees into the organisation. What we did was expand this process to create a reusable Trello board to create the key onboarding tasks, events and stakeholders for each new starter. We also included links which could be accessed when the employee starts on their first day (but not before) to internal systems and processes.  

tello onboarding ammeon

We believe that the manager and team are responsible for onboarding the new employee. Trello allows you to share a board with all the people involved in the onboarding. We typically provide access to welcome buddy and technical buddy so they can configure the board and set up meeting times and events themselves without HR or managers doing it on their behalf. It’s ideal because if meetings overrun or something happens, meetings can quickly and easily be moved using the tool.

By adding events for days 1-5 of the employees first week and further events for the following weeks the employee could clearly see what was expected of them during their first month in the office. We added in photos of key stakeholders and profiles, plus some nice events like coffees with welcome buddies to break up the day. The addition of a “done” column where Trello cards can be moved when complete gives a really good sense of satisfaction to the user. Links into internal systems like confluence allow new users to get a curated view of the key documentation, process and policies. 

Trello can easily be integrated with Slack so managers and HR can receive notifications when Trello cards are moved from one pile to another so managers can quickly get alerts as their new starter completes tasks on their Trello board or check-in if nothing is happening to see if the employee is doing okay. This works particularly well remotely where it’s harder to keep an eye on your new start and see if they are getting stuck. 

Daily standups 

Our team runs daily stand-ups remotely at 9:30 every day on Zoom. In this meeting we share what we did yesterday, our key focuses for the day and any blockers. Ensure that the new starter joins these standups and contributes their tasks from day 1. This helps socialise them quickly and feel part of something rather than an observer. This helps with the socialisation aspects of onboarding too. 

Maintaining team contact 

I mentioned in an earlier blog that we use Slack. Internally. When onboarding, it’s important that the welcome buddy and managers point out the key channels that are used. Typically there are hundreds of slack channels but knowing where to find important information, as well as the fun stuff, can be a daunting task. Help them by adding them into key channels and showing them how best to use the tool. It takes a bit of work but when onboarding remotely it’s really important that new starters know the etiquette of the tool and how to use the asynchronous nature of Slack to their advantage.

Daily tea break 

As soon as we started working from home with the COVID outbreak we introduced tea breaks at 3:00 pm to down tools and chat with our teammates. This tradition has become even more important as we onboard a new team member. It helps fast track them into the team and provides informal catch-up time that is regularly available in the real world but less so online. 

Checkpoints 

Setting clear expectations and startup goals is critical for managers and new employees alike. There could be a tendency to hope for the best as we all scramble to get used to the idea of working remotely and handling the new and difficult business challenges. But keep an eye you must and creating and storing goals which can be revisited and updated over the first few months is very important.  

Regular catch-ups 

During the first few months ensure you set regular 1:1s with your new starter to see how they are getting on. I like to use the 5 conversations model to vary conversations and get feedback. All this can be done effectively remotely 

Job done! 

So that’s it. You’ve set up the tools and built a structure around the onboarding. You now have a successfully onboarded employee. Be satisfied by then that you have done your best to speed your employees ramp up, measure their productivity and keep in regular contact with them. You may have to wait a few months to meet them in person for a celebratory drink but it will be worth it. 


Author - James Ryan - Ammeon

Author
James Ryan,
COO | Ammeon


Onboarding – The Show Must Go On

Onboarding is a critical part of the employee experience and can have a knock-on effect not just in the short term performance of the employee but on their long term effectiveness and tenure. In this post, we will share a simple and effective employee onboarding checklist.


What is onboarding?
Effectively, it is the process of getting new employees productive as quickly as possible.


Why should you take onboarding seriously?

In many organisations, employee onboarding is simply an introduction to HR, a visit to your desk and a link to some online training. If that’s how you operate, you need to read the following very carefully.

According to Harvard Business Review research:

  • 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for 3 years if they experienced great onboarding
  • Nearly 33% of new hires look for a new job within their first 6 months on the job. (Among Millennials, that percentage is even higher)
  • It typically takes 8 months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity
  • The organizational costs of employee turnover are estimated to range between 100% and 300% of the replaced employee’s salary

It’s clear then, that failing to take onboarding seriously can be very costly to your company, especially in software companies where the average tenure of an employee is now, on average, less than two years. Onboarding employees correctly can fast track employees’ productivity and integration into the company.

Who is responsible for onboarding?

This is very, very important. In some organisations, HR are in charge of onboarding the new starter. This is completely wrong. The owner of a new employee is the employees’ manager.

HR has a vital role to play in providing the onboarding infrastructure. However, it is the manager’s responsibility to use this infrastructure (processes, tools, networks) to take ownership of the new starter and onboard them effectively into their new team. In my organisation, managers receive a yellow card for failing to be there on the first day of an employee joining the company. Remember: a new employee is a company asset and depending on the level in the organisation and the role costs tens of thousands of euros.

Imagine a factory taking delivery of a new piece of hardware costing €50,000. Imagine that this asset gets more valuable rather than depreciating over time. You can be sure the manager would be there to make sure it arrived safely in the building and was looked after. Treat each new employee in the same way!

What is involved in onboarding?

Have you ever really stepped back to think what your employee needs from an onboarding process? We can all remember our first day in a new role and how disorienting it can be. Typically you have just left a role in a company where, over time, you have established your credibility, have a social network of colleagues and friends and where you really understood your role and how to be successful. On your last day, you may go out for drinks having chats with friends who tell you they will miss you, to keep in touch and that you will smash your new role.

But then it dawns on you. You have found your way into a new job where nobody knows you or the positive reputation you had at your old job. Everything is unfamiliar. It can be a lonely and scary place to be.

Failure to onboard employees properly can lead to issues like imposter syndrome, diminished self-confidence, stress, a sense of alienation or social exclusion as well as reduced performance and lack of engagement. Employees with in-demand skills won’t hesitate to move on if they feel they don’t fit in or get a sense they are making an impact.

A good onboarding experience proactively addresses these issues and any structured onboarding needs to achieve the following:

1. Role Clarity (“I know what I am supposed to do”)

Despite reading the job description for the role that they have signed off on when an employee enters the office for the first time or meets their new manager on Skype or Zoom, they need to know what is expected of them. This is achieved by setting clear short and medium-term objectives for the employee so they know they are doing the right things and can objectively measure their progress. This is best achieved by managers meeting the new hire on day 1 and discussing the role and the expectations.

2. Role efficacy (“I have the capability, the tools and the support to do my job well”)

Have you ever joined a company where you are put at a desk and told to read a manual. Maybe because your manager is not available. Or your laptop hasn’t been configured. Getting the setup right in advance is critical. Ensure that all stakeholders in the onboarding process from the manager to recruitment, HR, IT and workplace experience are aware of a new starter. Setting up a robust new starter process ensuring that each person in the process knows who is joining well in advance. In this way, the new starter can get up and running quickly and efficiently.

3. Social Acceptance (“I’m one of the gang”)

Often overlooked, ensuring new hires quickly build a network is really important. We spend most of our lives in work so having colleagues and friends in the workplace not only makes the experience more fun, it is critical to bonding teams. Having positive social outlets through work increases the stickiness of the role and reduces employee churn. Creating a structured set of introduction meetings to key stakeholders, welcome buddies as well as teams and social clubs help employees build their internal network.

4. Knowledge of the Culture (“I know how things are done around here”)

Looking from the outside, software companies use similar processes, tools and languages to build their software products. But every company has a unique culture. Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned expert in creativity and culture defines culture as “the unique habits and habitat of an organisation.” Employees may be doing the same thing, developing software, but how they go about it can be very different.

It is important that managers and colleagues take the time to show employees how things work in the company: for example do people take an hour’s lunch or snack at their desk? Helping the new starter to interpret the ceremonies and rituals of a company can help them fit in more quickly and understand how they can adapt their ways of working to the culture.

5. Personal and Professional Impact

For this, I must be very brief and blunt. Give your talented new hires opportunities to do their best work and see the impact they are having on the success of the organisation. If you fail to provide them with these opportunities they will quickly find a company that will!

The responsibility of the team

They say it takes a village to raise a child. In many ways, it’s the same with onboarding new starters. It’s important that before a new hire starts that the team is aware that a new person will be joining, the scope of their role and what is expected of the team as part of onboarding a new person.

Onboarding roles

Typically there are a number of key roles required for onboarding:

Manager – ultimately the manager is accountable for the successful onboarding of the new resource. They need to plan a programme and provide coaching for the new resource as they come up to speed. They will be the anchor point for the new resource in the business.

HR – HR are responsible for providing onboarding infrastructure, a set of tools, guidelines and processes to ensure the smooth and consistent employee experience that is required. HR coordinate the handoff from recruitment and act as a coordinator to ensure that all the different stakeholders (IT, facilities and finance) are informed about the new starter and ensure that the employee gets plugged into the company quickly and efficiently.

Welcome buddy – socialisation is a key aspect to onboarding. The role of the welcome buddy (typically from a different team) who helps to introduce the employee into the culture of the company and show them the best place to buy coffee in the local area. The welcome buddies need to be trained to know what to do and be dedicated enough to meet up with the new starter on a regular basis.

Technical buddy – Even in non-software companies, it’s important to have someone who can show you how the technical ropes are. How to log your timesheet, or who knows which person from IT can help you with the logins. In software companies, this role is vital in getting employees up to speed on what can sometimes be a challenging environment.

Before the employee joins, HR should bring all the different stakeholders together to ensure that everything is ready for the new starter.

Preboarding – kick start the learning curve

At the outset, I described how the purpose of onboarding is to speed employees on their learning curve and have them productive as soon as possible. One of the easiest ways to get a headstart is to start the process of onboarding days or even weeks before they join the organisation.

Technical heads-up
Whatever the role you don’t have to give away any trade secrets to share your ways of working. For example, if you hire a software engineer a 20-minute conversation in the weeks before the employee joins to talk about the tools and technology used in the project is helpful. The employee can do their research and come in with an edge. In this competitive space, it also keeps employees engaged with the company between the job offer and their first day.

Meet and greet with the team
If you are hiring a manager, encourage them to meet the team members informally before their first day. In the current situation that might be a quick eCoffee so that way they can get to know the individuals and build personal rapport before they start.

Be prepared
The manager and the new team need to ensure they have everything ready for the new starter. This means having a clear and comprehensive onboarding plan for the new starter which covers the first days and weeks of the employees’ career in your company. Details are important particularly in current circumstances where it’s not easy to sit next to an employee and help give them access to files or grab the keyboard that you forgot to order from IT. Create a checklist and a timeline and make sure you order hardware well in advance as the supply chain is being tested to its limits at the moment.

Now you are good to go

Remember why you are bringing on the team member and think about what would have been important to you. Take note of the guidelines above and see what works best for you. Take time to meet the employee after a few months and do a retrospective with them and the buddies to see honestly what worked and what didn’t work about onboarding. Improve your process and go again. The benefits of doing this well will reap major rewards for your business so it’s worth investing the time to get buy in to do this. You’ll appreciate it in 3 years time when your high performers are still with your company.

Read our post on remote onboarding tools


Author - James Ryan - Ammeon

Author
James Ryan,
COO | Ammeon


People and Productivity During A Pandemic

With the recent mass movement towards remote working, there is a need to take stock of both the positive and negatives of remote working along with the challenges. In this post, I’d like to focus on three potential problems that can arise and propose some simple steps that can be taken to overcome these problems.

1. Loneliness and Isolation

First and foremost, the well-being of your teams always needs to be the top priority. One consequence of enforced remote work is the potential for loneliness and isolation. Co-located teams tend to engage in casual chit-chat during the working day. This helps the team gel and creates an atmosphere more open to discussion and healthy levels of disagreement.

Unfortunately, when everyone is working remotely, it is very easy to fall into the trap of focusing 100% of team communication on work-specific details. Furthermore, prolific eye contact and a sense of comradery are traits associated with high performing teams, but these too can easily fall by the wayside when everyone works remotely.

Given these problems, what can be done to improve the situation?

Virtual Fika

Fika is a Swedish tradition which means to make time for friends and colleagues, to share a cup of coffee or tea and maybe something to eat. A Virtual Fika is essentially the same thing, but with everyone attending remotely.

The idea is to get the team to meet once a day for 15 minutes and talk about whatever they want. That is, anything they want that is non-work related. As with all remote meetings, usage of video cameras improves the experience as it promotes eye contact between all participants.

Ironically, the usage of Virtual Fika may heighten awareness that many teams were not talking to each other much when co-located. It is far too easy for people to spend days, weeks or even months working with people without ever getting to know them. I can’t help but think the usage of remote meetings will encourage us all to chat with each other a little more and perhaps be a bit more human.

In addition to Virtual Fika, it is critically important that Scrum Masters and Managers regularly hold one to one meetings with each team member. As with all remote meetings, usage of video is vitally important.

2. Negative impact upon the visibility of work

Scrum Boards and Kanban boards are essentially the Scrum Framework and Kanban realisation of a Visual Management centre. A visual management centre should be visible to everyone and self-reporting. In other words, both the team and stakeholders should have 24/7 access to the current status of all tickets without the need to ask questions or organize meetings to get a status update. Agile work environments typically have Virtual Scrum/Kanban boards in tools such as JIRA or Trello, in addition to large Physical Scrum/Kanban boards displayed on notice boards or walls. The most effective Physical boards are not only visible to everyone, they’re unavoidable.

To understand the true benefits of Physical boards, imagine Alice or Bob returning to their desk after grabbing a coffee. Without thinking about it, they look at the hopefully very difficult to miss Physical board and make one or more of the following observations.

  • The highest priority ticket is blocked. I didn’t realise that. I’ll talk to the team and figure out what I can do to help.
  • Mary is working on 4 high priority tickets, while John is working on 1 low priority ticket. We need to talk to John and Mary as that doesn’t make sense.
  • The new team member seems to be working on several items in parallel but doesn’t seem to be making progress on any of them. Let’s tell him to work on one item at a time as we want to limit WIP (Work in Progress).
  • We’re in big danger of missing delivery of the highest priority ticket this sprint, but several of the team are working on lower priority items.
  • Etc.…

Virtual Scrum/Kanban boards simply don’t achieve the same level of visibility and transparency as Physical boards. This lack of visibility very easily results in lower team performance and can make stakeholders nervous and lead to a loss of trust.

Good Practice in relation to Scrum/Kanban Board Management

Now that I’ve explained why the loss of a Physical Board has a negative impact, I’d like to explain how teams can overcome or at least limit the impact. Trust can be retained or regained when team members follow a few simple principles:

  • Team members should check the Scrum/Kanban board at least twice daily
  • Team members should focus on the full board, rather than just the tickets assigned to them
  • The Scrum/Kanban board should represent the latest and greatest status of all tickets
  • Team members should update the board and status of each ticket at least daily
  • A comment should be added to all ‘In Progress’ tickets regardless of progress or lack of progress
  • Blocked tickets should be clearly visibility
  • Impediments should be made visible to all

These suggestions would be considered good practice in general but take on an extra degree of importance when everyone is working remotely.

3. Recognition and Gratitude

It is always important to celebrate small gains, but I can’t help but think this is of greater importance with remote working. I would encourage public recognition of both teams and individuals. Recognition of a team can relate to achieving delivery of a feature on time, while recognition of an individual could relate to gaining certification and expanding their knowledge.

Lastly, it’s very easy to miss the good work done by people. When teams are co-located, we tend to notice someone standing at a whiteboard explaining a difficult concept to a group of people or sitting at someone’s desk and helping them overcome a technical obstacle. This can very easily go unnoticed with remote working. For that reason, I would encourage people to publicly express gratitude to others in a more visible way. This can be as simple as a shout out on the team channel.


Author - James Langan - Ammeon

Author
James Langan
Agile Practices Manager | Ammeon


Learn More About Ammeon’s Agile Solutions

Cloud Tools To Run A Virtual Office

During this uncertain time, officed based workers have been presented with new and unexpected challenges. At Ammeon, like many other companies, we have had to adapt and scale. Luckily our journey to the cloud had began in 2018. In the next series of posts, we are sharing our experiences to help you and your teams.

In this post, we will discuss what tools and systems we implemented to assist with our internal communication and HR processes.

As a medium-sized company, we couldn’t afford to spend a fortune on systems. So, we didn’t. We researched widely and picked wisely. Here is the stack we chose:


Communication

Group communication is vital in times of crisis. In the current emergency, our business couldn’t function without the communication tools we have tested and implemented over the past 18 months.

Ramping from zero to full adoption isn’t going to happen overnight. Tools like Slack take a bit of getting used to because of the asynchronous nature of the chat. Zoom is click and go, but bear with it and you will reap the rewards.

Slack

Communicating broadly across sites is challenging at best. We landed on the collaboration tool Slack, which allows direct communication with employees and allows for asynchronous communication via personal IMs, groups and channels. It takes a while to get critical mass and adoption but by insisting on its sole use we have successfully created an ecosystem where we can broadcast information as well as receive feedback.

You can integrate with simple productivity tools and integrate with third-party systems. You can also share files and it’s available on mobile. What’s interesting is once usage begins, it takes on a life of its own. Banter channels and special interests like gaming or hobbies start to spring up. You don’t need a moderator: set a few simple rules and trust your people. Ensure people are conscious of security and you are away.

Zoom

Zoom is our tool of choice for setting up conference and video calls. The quality of the calls, in terms of picture and sound was better than anything else we tried. It’s really made the transition to home working very straightforward.

Slacks quality is outstanding, but you can’t send links outside the organisation. Our team love Zoom for our 3:00 pm Virtual coffee meetings where we sit and chat about informal topics for 15 minutes. For those with kids stuck at home during the Covid crisis, you may have noticed that Zoom is being commonly used by teachers to connect kids and their pals. The company must be booming right now.

HR Systems

Having a set of HR systems which are not only functionally complete but also usable and accessible remotely has allowed our People Operations team to scale a shared services function with a relatively small team. Consistency, templates and automation in all the tools have reduced admin, improved employee self-service and allowed HR to move up the value chain. Here’s what we picked

PeopleHR

After road-testing a heap of different HR tools, we were excited to choose PeopleHR as our tool of choice. There are masses of HR tools out there. But for a company of our size (currently around 200 people), it’s an ideal choice.

Not only does it do all the basic HR admin storage, timesheets, holiday planners but it also integrates with a rake of other systems. The bulk upload of data was easy, the user interface is modern and easy to use. It has powerful reporting capability and mobile app. We even worked with finance to integrate the expenses module which has totally streamlined the user experience of submitting expenses by using the mobile phone.

The killer app though is process automation. Auto-generation of letters reports and processes is fab. It doesn’t have all the things that Workday has but you don’t need half of the functionality they have in a smaller enterprise. What’s more, the output from PeopleHR can be extracted into our SaaS accounting tool Xero which keeps our finance people up to date with changes to employee data.

Greenhouse

As a services organisation, we handle a huge number of job applications across a number of different roles. Greenhouse is the creme da la creme of candidate management systems.

The tool allows recruiters to push out to our website and to various third-party recruitment sites. Some API integration is required but your website provider can help you with this. The tool allows you to post multiple roles and manage workflow as candidates move from stage to stage in a fully configurable workflow. The system automates responses to potential candidates. Reporting allows managers to see what is in the candidate funnel and help identify where in the process candidates fall out. API integration with PeopleHR simplifies the hiring processes by ensuring that when a candidate is hired data is pushed into the HR system, so we don’t have to reenter the information. Sweet!

We use a heap of other online tools for group whiteboards, Kanban boards and so on. Follow the guidelines above and you will be up and running in no time. And maybe after this crisis is over, remote working may continue to be a desirable and productive way of working for your company.


Author - James Ryan - Ammeon

Author
James Ryan,
COO | Ammeon


Learn More About Ammeon’s Cloud Solutions

Ammeon’s Cloud Journey Towards Remote Working

Moving To The Cloud

During the summer of 2018, Ammeon Operations began our journey to the cloud. Many of our back-office functions and ways of working simply did not match the state of the art processes used by our technology teams and our customers. The main issue was we had, over time accrued a technical debt in our back-office technology stack. Our HR and recruitment systems and processes were antiquated and there was no single source of truth on employee data. A number of different systems held together by spreadsheets, the IP in people/s heads and a lot of luck ensured that our dedicated HR team kept the show on the road. Our finance department was also suffering as they were also using out of date software and excel magic. Ensuring payroll and other critical finance functions were delved came with increasing issues.  
 
More broadly, enterprise-level communication was becoming a challenge. With employees on different sites and with an ambition to set up an office in a remote location meant that scaling would be difficult with pockets of employees using different tools. Moreover, the employment market was also adding pressure on our recruitment efforts as the FANG companies all allow remote working and offsite collaboration.  We needed to ensure we could have positive communication at a distance. 

Failure to update these systems could lead to potential issues with audits or employee dissatisfaction. 

At best the issues seemed challenging, at worst overwhelming. So what was our approach to such a big issue? 

Create A Big Picture Plan 

In small organisations, you don’t always have the luxury of employing technology consultants to determine what internal technology stack you need. However, pulling together the experience from team members in small agile work teams, we quickly worked out a sketch of what we wanted to achieve 

  1. Single source of truth of our data across our different functions 
  2. Access to the data remotely and preferably via mobile 
  3. Scalability for team sizes 
  4. Hosted offsite for business continuity 
  5. Keep an eye on security issues 

Then create a box diagram of how all the pieces will fit together and ensure it makes sense. It’s important to have an overall view of what the tools could be. 

Decide Where You Want To Start – And Start Small 

The challenge of moving to the cloud was big, but we made some calls on which systems would have the greatest value to us and decided to focus on a couple of tools immediately. Don’t try and do it all at once. It’s easy to underestimate how long it can take to roll out even the simplest tools. It’s also easier to start somewhere and get that done rather than having multiple open-ended projects with none working. We decided that we would complete each piece first before moving on to the next component of the system.  

Use Tools That Integrate Together 

We decided earlier on that the best approach for us would be to choose our new toolsets from the constellation of exciting new SaaS tools which have a per head subscription model. Clearly functionality and cost are important but being able to bolt the different tools together afterwards is also important. 

Work closely on the project with IT and other stakeholders. Excite them about the possibility of having systems that they don’t have to install or maintain and simply use.  

Get Buy-In From Senior Management

Once you have developed a plan, you need support from senior stakeholders to build out the proposed plan. You may be selling to people who either don’t understand the technology or the reason why it’s important. Often collaborative tools like Slack seem like a gimmick at first; it’s only through usage that everyone sees the true value of these collaborative tools. So what’s the best way to get this through 

  1. Understand what the goals of the business are
    It’s important that you know what senior management is trying to achieve. Tailor your message to show how senior management can achieve the company goals through the implementation of the tools. 
  2. Show the real business value
    You need to demonstrate to the senior management the value of the tools. Part of it will be about showing it is affordable, but you genuinely need to be able to demonstrate that the ideas will work 
  3. Get a demo of the system and get them to try it out
    The great thing about modern systems is they are usually demoed online, so you can either get a remote demo or there are free systems to play with.
  4. Ensure that management can see that the project is achievable
    and in the first instance affordable. Once the value of one of these tools has been seen through usage the next parts will be easier.

Research, Trial and Test 

Research thoroughly and get different team members to try the tools that you select to see if they work for them in terms of usability. It’s good to have a range of tools that you can trial and weigh up benefits. Ensure that you have a clear idea of the functionality you need. And ensure that the spec is dictated by the department ( e.g HR, Resourcing, Recruitment, Finance) rather than someone from a different team. They might help in putting together a spec but will fail to understand the nuances of the day to day. 

Roadtest different products and then evaluate across functionality, usability, cost and modularity. IT have lots to fear from security issues so make sure they are happy with the supplier and the security specs before going any further.

Ensure that the team who will be using the new system are excited and bought into using it. If they aren’t, rinse and repeat.

Dedicate time to installation, rollout and training 

The great thing about SaaS systems is it’s easy to get started. Like any system, there will be challenges ensuring data integrity and accuracy, but all the backend issues are handled by others.

Once you have the system ready, ensure that you invest the time and effort across the team to get it rolled out. There is nothing as sad as seeing the decaying remains of a system that had huge potential but no one used it. Ensure that everyone has the training needed to use the system.

Migrating data from legacy systems to new systems can be time-consuming and sometimes soulless work. Ensure there is plenty of motivation along the way and celebrate once the team (and all the users are up to speed). Remember that one of the biggest challenges can be the changes in ways of working. Have a clear plan for how you want this to work but be open to changes as the team gets used to working in new ways. Listen to the team, get their feedback and update the processes. 

Review – Ask How People Find Using The System 

Learn from the process. Meet on an ongoing basis throughout the rollout and work out what you could do better next time. Document your learnings or at least share them as a presentation to enhance organisational learning about these systems. Before moving on to the next system, check in to ensure that the front line users are happy with the system and enforce compliance with the tools through management.

Look out for shadow IT projects where people use different software because they think the tool you installed sucks. Be transparent and work with those people to find out what the difficulties are and help them resolve the issues. Do a survey after 6 months and see how people are finding the system and again address issues. 

Rinse And Repeat 

Armed with the learnings that you have and a process for building and rolling out new systems, use the process to build out all the components on your plan. 

Moving to SaaS systems has revolutionised how we work in Ammeon and now, during the time of the Covid 19 Crisis, this investment in systems has prepared us to move seamlessly into home working.  


Author - James Ryan - Ammeon

Author
James Ryan,
COO | Ammeon


Learn More About Ammeon’s Cloud Solutions

From College Intern to Full-Time Engineer

Hi, my name is Daniel and I would like to share my experience of working in Ammeon as both an Intern IT Support Engineer and then as a full-time employee. I hope to provide anyone who may be interested in joining Ammeon with a sense of the company ethos and to give you an idea of what working life at Ammeon is like. 

Studying at DIT

I am an early school leaver who returned to education at 26. I had previously worked in several jobs with no real prospect for future growth and I wanted to try and improve my prospects for the future. I always had an interest in technology and I studied Networking Technologies at DIT, Kevin Street in Dublin. 

In second year, we had a six-month period where each student would work at a company in the IT industry to gain valuable experience in the sector. I applied for several roles with different companies, however, Ammeon was one of the only companies to show a genuine interest. I was invited for a face-to-face interview with the IT manager and the senior system administrator.  The interview itself was very casual and I was put at ease by the relaxed nature of both interviewers. I then had a follow-up phone interview with a member of the HR team, which was also managed in a very relaxed style, minimising the stress that everyone experiences in these situations and it enabled me to put my best foot forward on the day. 

The Ammeon Internship

During the six-month internship, I was given training in several different technologies and systems. I worked with technologies that I had not worked with before, and it helped me to gain an insight into what was required to work in a fast-paced, technologically-challenging environment. The team members that I worked with on a daily basis were very generous with their time and enabled me to learn and develop at my own pace, while also giving me a push, when required, to broaden my understanding of new technologies that I would not have worked with previously. 

I gained extremely valuable experience during my internship. The most valuable lesson I learned is to never give up on a task or project. There will always be pitfalls and challenges in working life but the most important thing to do when faced with these challenges is to keep working on the problem and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Luckily, given the open-door nature at Ammeon, this is never a problem and staff are more than happy to lend a helping hand when required, whether that be a team member or a member of another team or department, the same sentiment holds true. 

Nearing the end of my internship, I had a meeting with HR and the IT manager to discuss taking up full-time employment with Ammeon after I finished college. I was delighted and accepted straight away. However, there was one issue. I had booked a six-week holiday to South East Asia and would not be available to start until August! I feared that this would be a stumbling block, given that there was a lack of staff at that time working in the IT department. Those fears were totally unfounded. Ammeon was more than generous by allowing me to take the six weeks’ travel time to unwind after three years in college. I signed a contract before the end of my internship, which allowed me to travel for six weeks and then return to work after the holiday. On returning to college, I had signed a full-time contract and did not have to alter my plans for the summer. This demonstrated to me that Ammeon was not only open and flexible but also had a genuine interest in employing me as an individual and was willing to wait for me to take a well-needed break.  

I have now returned to Ammeon and am employed in a full-time capacity as an IT support engineer and I love every minute of it! The six-month internship provided me with a solid understanding of how Ammeon operates and what technologies are in use here. This allowed me to seamlessly return to the company as if I had never been away! 

By Daniel Carroll
IT Support Engineer | Ammeon


Start Your Career At Ammeon

MOVING 3975.08 KMS WITH AMMEON’S HELP

New country, even new continent, 3975.08 Km’s of distance between Cairo and Dublin. This is the distance I had to take to move from my home country and join Ammeon.

If you are making such a transition you are asking yourself a lot of questions: there is always the usual risk of changing your work environment by accepting a new job, how will I get along with the new team, management and team leaders? But moving to a different country also adds other concerns: how much help would you get regarding the transition, will your team understand the amount of work you can do while organising a lot of things regarding accommodation and paperwork?
Usually, even small things can boost or dent your confidence when making such a big move.

There were two main stages here. Stage one was before coming to Dublin.
Even before the job offer, all the interviews that I participated in where done over Skype; no travelling by a long flight to have a 30 minutes interview (as some companies do) then you may get a rejection at the end. This wasn’t the case with Ammeon. When I received the job offer, a phone call from the HR department immediately made me more confident about the move. Of course, Ammeon informed me that the company will pay for the application, the flight and accommodation for a month while I look for a longer-term place to live.

But in the first stage, you are still thinking about the paperwork. The HR response was divided into clear stages with detailed documents needed for each. The first part of the process, acquiring the employment permit, was completely carried out by Ammeon. After this stage, the support concentrated on getting the visa. The help that I could rely on at any stage was really comforting, raising up my confidence in this decision.

Then it comes to the flight tickets; there were no direct flights from Cairo to Dublin. Ammeon didn’t pick a cheap option, or long flights with long transit, even when I suggested this (it was a good impression created by the company and this wasn’t the last time).

Then it was stage two; settling here in Dublin.
With a family of a wife and two kids, I was planning to get my family to the country as soon as possible. I expected that the HR team would rent a place for one person in the first month, but what happened instead is that they rented a house for me making sure that my family could join me anytime. Speaking of renting nightmares here in Dublin, Ammeon hired two separate relocation companies to help me find a long-term place to live.

One of the two companies helped me even before my family joined me to find a proper school to register my son. Even though we were picky, searching for an “Educate Together” school, we were successful in booking a place for our son there.

But besides all this, I had a lot of concerns regarding what will happen in the first few weeks in the office and the level of understanding that I will get from management and from my colleagues in the team.
During the first period of chasing rents, schools and the remaining paperwork, I was always able to take longer lunch breaks and leave earlier for viewing a property or acquiring legal documents. My team members and my managers understood, and I got a lot of help and support from them. The list was scary, and I couldn’t finish it without a huge amount of support. A small taste of this list would be viewing properties, legal paperwork for residency, arranging utilities for the new home, even shipping new furniture by companies that ship only during work hours, and the list goes on, and it couldn’t be managed without a good understanding at the office both from my team members and my managers.

The key points here is that such a transition can be really exhausting and full of risks and mistakes, and for sure the employee may find a problem here and there, or even make a mistake or misjudge certain steps, but the full support from the company and understanding from their staff will always be the key to successfully transitioning to a new life in Ireland.

Yassin
Software Engineer

“AMMEON CARES. I AM NOT JUST ANOTHER NUMBER.”

Ireland has always been on the cards for myself and my family for a few years, I just hadn’t gotten the courage to do the big 9000 km journey. I started applying for work from South Africa not expecting to find work easily. Straight away I noticed a trend that companies only saw that I was living in South Africa and completely skipped over me.

Ammeon wasn’t one of those companies and they were more personable, I didn’t feel like another number. They showed me around the office, they explained my actual position and the culture around the office. At that point, I knew I wouldn’t be put in an unsuitable position, and even though I was on the other side of the world I could judge what I might be facing. I was ready to come to Ireland, now I just needed to find a home and get my family ready to go.

Moving house down the road is expensive but moving across the world was almost impossible to plan for. Clearly Ammeon knew how difficult it would be for me so they offered to pay for my flight and temporary accommodation for a month. They also hired a relocation company to help me find a home, as Ireland is facing a housing crisis. Ammeon is great, they are constantly introducing me to new people in my situation, they showed me around the city and they found me a pet-friendly home which is notoriously difficult to do.

Leaving South Africa was difficult but nothing could prepare me for how uncomfortable an 18-hour flight would be and how serious flight attendants take nose bleeds. I landed in Dublin during the early hours of the morning and my South African cellphone provider did not switch on roaming and all the shops were closed. I had never been to Europe before and I had to find my way across Dublin without a GPS. But by far the most difficult thing out the whole process was to get an Irish bank account, even if you are equipped with an Irish passport they would block you at every turn. Ammeon stepped in to save me again, one phone call from them and the banks welcomed me with open arms. These were really the biggest things I had to worry about because Ammeon handled everything else for me.

I have been with Ammeon for almost a year now and I get to work with new and interesting things every day. Funnily enough, they made moving to Ireland so easy for me that it doesn’t even feel like I moved my entire family across the world. A brand new country, freedom and safety that I have never felt in my life. Our lives have only improved since emigrating to Ireland, no matter what people may say about the weather.