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    Key employees can and will leave your business are you prepared


    Very few businesses can claim to be prepared for the loss of key employees. Quite often it is an unexpected and unplanned for event that causes quite a bit of disruption to 'business as usual'. It is quite a gut wrenching experience to see an employee you have worked with over a period of time leaving your business. Even if the parting of ways is on good terms with a period of handover, you just know that there is so much information walking out the door with your former employee and there is nothing you can do about it. And this is only just the beginning... While labouring through a period of being understaffed and overworked you are then faced with the task of recruiting a new employee to fill the vacant position. This is followed by the inevitable probation and training period where, hopefully the new employee comes up to speed and is able to pick up where the former employee left off. The problem is: What exactly was it that the former employee really did? They always seemed to be busy and on the rare occasion that they were absent due to illness, there were those problems that arose that were only truly resolved when they returned and took control and ‘cleaned things up’. There has to be a better way... Fortunately quite a bit can be done to minimize the impact of situations like this on our business. And like most truly worthwhile solutions the steps required to complete this part of your business development does take some effort on your part. There is an established path that you can follow to get your business in order and the benefits to you and your employees are much farther reaching than just minimizing the impact of key employees leaving you. The following is by no means a definitive list of what is required. But it does give you some idea of the steps required. 1) Create a flexible forward thinking Organization Chart defining the positions you require in your business. 2) Determine what the responsibilities are for the positions in your business. 3) Assign Employees to relevent positions in the Business. 4) Document key information that is critical to your business and make it available to your employees. 5) Work with your employees to define what it is they do, how they do it and most importantly how it could be done better. 6) Record, optimize then implement the business systems you have identified. 7) Assign the business systems to the relevant positions and monitor their use. By consistently following these steps for all positions in your business you will insulate yourself from some of the problems that occur when key employees leave your business.

    Key measures of success for system implementation project management


    Have you ever wanted a short list of of items to keep "in check" as you are managing projects? This short list would contain key measures which, if always kept in check and balance, would lead you to project success? Sure it is important to follow industry project guidelines from the Project Management Institute and within the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, but it is important to always keep these key measures at the forefront of my mind ALL THE WAY through the project - from beginning to completion. Sometimes these factors can be overlooked or forgotten, or thought of as "not needed" in the rush to get a project underway. Stand Up and stop the madness, make sure you have a clear path before trying to get to your destination.... Or you will get lost along the way. Key Measures: 1. Before even looking at business requirements or spending much time on a project, make sure you know: a. Who the executive sponsor is and obtain the following information directly from that sponsor: i. Project intentions and scope ii. What the project is NOT or what is out of scope iii. Who the “Customers” are for the project. (many times, customers are internal to the organization) iv. If a Return on Investment document has been created and what is expected of a ROI document. What areas of the business are returns expected? v. Project Budget and how expenditures are approved vi. Expected Project Success Factors vii. That they want this project moving forward at the present time, if not, when is it to start viii. Timeline expected for project completion ix. Agreement to put companies resources on the project to get it done x. Required project status and reporting xi. Agreement on a communication plan to sponsors, customers and other impacted parties xii. Agreement as to the assigned project manager and support from the sponsor that if there are problems with the project that require the executive sponsors attention, that the sponsor will extend support for obtaining the resolution b. Then put all of that information in writing, generally in some sort of project initiation document and then all project leaders, sponsors and customers and CIO SIGN the document. I cannot stress how important this part is. I cannot stress how many times we have come the end of a project and at least one of these parties (sponsors, customers or CIO) state they never agreed to some portion of the documented information in the project initiation document. This is especially important for System Implementation projects as a lot of time can pass between the time the project got underway and the time the final product is delivered. 2. Business Requirements a. It is vitally important, before talking with any IT personnel (if the project involves internal IT – which, if it is system implementation, it most likely will) or product vendors, that you take the time needed to adequately document all business requirements from all customers. Documenting business requirements should, at a minimum, involve going through the following steps: i. Identifying the subject matter experts and project representatives from each part of the business that serve as your customers for the end result of the project. 1. Identify the current problem or need 2. Document current processes 3. Discuss what is not working about the process 4. Review results they would like to see to support the business and analysis they need to perform to manage the business ii. In business requirements documentation, DO NOT spend time discussing what systems or technology will allow them do. Discuss what is needed for the business. Do not let your customers try to define a process around systems or technology. Technology is there to support the business, not to dictate how a business should be run. Don’t worry, All the technical pieces will come together later. iii. Document all the business requirements as discussed with all customer groups and subject matter experts. Be sure you specify the problems and needs, how it is hurting the business, what is needed, and how that will help the business. Be specific. This information will help you put together the ROI document to be sure the cost and expected benefits are in line with what the project sponsor(s) is expecting. Some project managers might disagree here and state that the ROI should be done before getting to the business requirements stage. However, I have always found new areas of investment (cost) and return on that investment present themselves when going through the business requirements discovery process. iv. Always be sure to think about how a product will be used and how reporting will be required. This can really get you in the end if you don’t pay close attention up-front during the requirements phase. v. You will then match the business requirements to the scope that you created in the project initiation document, or change the scope, which would require an amendment to the project initiation document requiring new signatures. vi. Once the right set of requirements is documented and it lines up with project scope, then be sure to again have project sponsors, customers (remember, customers can be internal or external), and CIO acknowledging these are the business requirements, that the project is active and sponsored, and that they are in agreement with moving forward to the next project phases. This piece is especially important, as people tend to forget or say things like “I never said that” as you get further along in the project. You can always bring them back to the initial documentation and signatures. If you do not get signatures, you are a sitting duck. 3. Now it’s time to figure out how you are going to deliver on these business requirements. This usually leads to a buy or build decision. That is, buy software from a vendor that specializes in the type of product needed, or build with internal IT personnel. The business requirements document is your basis for evaluating the buy or build decision. Do not stray; do not extend scope or budget, without going back through the sign-off process. If you are “buying” a product from a vendor, do the initial “paring down” process of determining top software products which match the business requirements. 4. Now that you have your top list of software contenders, have demonstrations performed by the vendors for your customer group(s). They can help cast the vote for the selected product. It is critical to get buy-in from your customers every step of the way. 5. If possible, it is a good idea to perform a trial phase with 2 top vendors to see how the business requirements match up to the product. 6. After the trial phase, get back with your customers to demonstrate the products against the business requirements. Then have your customers make their final selection. At that point, be sure a technical specifications document is written that matches up against the business requirements. The purpose of the technical specification document is to demonstrate within the product, how business requirements will be met, what business requirements cannot be met or can only be met partially, and the IT requirements for the product. Be sure that, before beginning a major development phase, that you have gone back to your sponsors, customers and CIO or other representative IT parties for agreement on the specifications and agreement for moving forward. This phase will also require an updated project schedule outlining the full development schedule, resource requirements, and commitment from involved parties. 7. Be sure to do a “pulse check” with your customers and sponsors at many points throughout the development cycle. This will ensure your customers are not surprised by the end result or that you haven’t gone completely down a path that they did not want or that you developed something incorrectly. It is much better to catch these things while development is still going on – your time-line will probably be impacted much less this way AND the perception of project success by customers and sponsors will be much higher this way. Ultimately, it is best not to have any such “hang-ups” during the development process. But, it is probably not realistic to expect that you won’t have any. That’s the job of the project manager – to work through such issues and still complete the project on time. 8. When the development phase is complete, it is important that you have documented not only how to use the product, but how it impacts that business processes. It will require discussion with customer group representatives about what the system will now do, and what the new process should look like. It is important to have this document and be in agreement with customer group representatives BEFORE any product rollout occurs. If you do this, you can expect a much smoother training and rollout phase of the product than if you just try to throw the product out there. If you do not have a carefully planned training and rollout phase, all your work will go down the drain, and the project will most likely not be perceived as a great success. 9. During the rollout and training phase, it is extremely important to communicate what the users need to do if they need help with the product. What support for the product is available? A good project manager will already have this in place and be ready to put the support process into motion during the rollout and training phase. It is also important that you obtain agreement from the customer groups on the support process and that they think it will work for their group. 10. Lastly, be sure to follow-up with customer groups ensuring things are running smoothly and to see what problems or issues need to be corrected. Keep doing so until your customers are happy with the product. Remember, there are no levels of success. Either it was a great success, or it wasn’t.

    Know when to get help performance management consulting


    Most people dread performance appraisals because it is tiring and tedious, and people believe their jobs may be on the line. Of course, performance appraisals are really quite useful because management can fully make sense out of the things that have been happening in the company. Through a yearly performance appraisal of employees, companies can finally be able to find out about the reasons behind why the company is losing money here or there. 1. Perform Appraisals In A Serious And Scientific Manner As the part of the management that ultimately runs the company, the superiors who are actually doing all that performance appraisals year after year, they should really take this task seriously so that that the company will be able to greatly benefit from the yearly performance appraisals of the employees. In case the people who are going to head these yearly employee performance appraisals are actually clueless on what they should really do, they actually have the option to get some performance management consulting so that they will able to know what people from the management like them should really do when its time to once again make those employee performance appraisals. Employee performance appraisal may seem to be a scary and highly difficult task but through good performance management consulting, you are sure to be able to get the ideas as well as the strategies that other companies are doing with the aid of performance management consulting. When it comes to performance management consulting, experts in the field of business management will actually instruct company heads that before they actually go on to their employees' performance appraisal meetings. Whether they will give out a presentation to other company heads or just be talking to the employees, performance management consulting will actually advice the management to actually make a draft of what they are going to report first before actually going out to the meeting and fumbling on the employee appraisal meeting. 2. Appraisals Should Focus On Positive, Not Negative Aspects When it comes to performance management consulting, it is highly recommended that you plan everything out from the beginning so that the whole process of the yearly employee performance appraisal will go on smoothly and without any hitch. The performance management consulting activity should be able to help out the company's management to actually be able to produce clear and concise ways for them to make their thoughts be fully understood throughout the performance appraisal report. Performance planning is definitely the key to a well-executed performance appraisal meeting according to the performance management consulting. - Heed the advice of the performance management consulting group - Decide on the important factors - Tackle those factors 3. It Works! According to the research from the performance management consulting, top companies today are using the performance management process to eliminate a best-effort directed culture in the company, instead the company should move on towards a results-driven culture instead, the next is to be able to establish as well as reinforce the extreme importance of the company's core competencies and lastly, the company should also be able to target the poor performers in the company for termination. Based on this research from the performance management consulting, the management should be able to target he poor performers in their company by actively weeding out the bottom 10 percent of the pack while completely nurturing the upper 20 percent of the company's employees to be able to sustain their dedication and good work for the company. It is extremely important that the company is able to full acknowledge the presence of such beings in there company so as to be able to further motivate them into doing good for the companywhile the bottom feeders need not be kept in the company anymore since they are hired to do their best and not to actually become a liability to the company.



    In this age, there is a lot of focus on the importance of “getting organized.” There are even professional organizers for hire! Labels are a huge presence in the field of organization, because they enable everything to be tagged and put in its place. From birthday party invitations to mass market mailings to identifying file folders, consumers frequently employ labels in their everyday lives. Labels are a convenient and simple way to increase organization in business and home settings. By using the templates provided on word processing programs, making personal labels has become fairly easy and much less time consuming than writing them by hand. There are several name brand labels and many generic store brands that work with the same templates. Labels are available in several different shapes and sizes and in color, white, or clear. Some are permanent and others are removable. They are tailor-made for optimum print quality on either Inkjet or Laser printers. Labels are available for almost any need that the consumer may have. For larger projects and for transferring data from a mailing list in spreadsheet format to a label template, many people use Mail Merge, a feature in Microsoft Word that uploads a list of names and addresses and reformats it into easy-to-print labels. Even if only one typed label is needed, label companies now sell detachable labels that can be printed one at a time without wasting other labels. The uses for labels are unlimited and include archiving and record keeping, shipping, advertising, and organization. Archiving and Record Keeping Even in one’s home, the amount of papers accumulated in a year from bills, statements, and reports are staggering. Businesses collect a much higher number of invoices, publications, and correspondence. Sometimes there is the temptation to throw it all away, but the day may come when a receipt or invoice from two years ago is needed and the consumer is so glad that it was saved. One way to get rid of all the clutter is by archiving the information monthly or yearly, according to the amount. Office supply companies sell archiving systems, which include sturdy boxes for storage, labels and programs for record keeping, and an internal filing system for use inside the box. This helps tremendously in keeping track of the important communications that have occurred. Shipping Labels are necessary when shipping and mailing various items. Label templates on word processing programs offer a wide array of different labels, such as large labels for boxes, tiny labels for return addresses, and several sizes in between for labeling CDs, videotapes, floppy disks, and more. Full sheet labels are also available so that the user can be creative with their own cut outs, graphics and clipart. Advertising Many businesses place their company logo and tagline on their mailing labels to make an impression on the buyer and create brand familiarity. For example, mail order companies know that it increases the buyer’s satisfaction level when they see the familiar packaging and label arrive at their doorstep. Labels are also used in advertising for mass-market mailings of brochures, coupons, offers, and special sales sheets. Organization Just about every aspect of life can be improved with increased organization. Labels help the user to achieve order by designating specific spaces for items. There are so many areas in which organization and labels are useful, including safety issues, like keeping track of alarm codes and times to replace fire detection units. Also, labels assist in keeping automobiles current on tune-ups, and family members and pets up-to-date on medical checkups. Household chore schedules, gift wrapping area and supplies, coupon clipping, and rummage sales are just some of the other areas that are greatly helped by the use of labels.

    Leading with a chip on your shoulder


    PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: [email protected] Word count: 650 A Marine company commander I knew of had a memorable way of introducing himself to his new platoon commanders. When they first reported for duty, he called them into his office, gave them each a laminated wallet card, then dismissed them without saying a word. The wallet card read, "Seven Ways To Get Me Angry." I don't remember what they precisely were, probably standard leadership guidelines like, "You make excuses." "You don't come through on your commitments." "You look out for your career and not the troops." What's important is not so much their content but the leadership style they communicated. After all, if after all these years, I don't remember the specific guidelines but the style they evoked, there must be something to remember in that style. In truth, the list was much longer than seven. He had a hair-trigger temper triggered at the slightest provocation. He was a good leader. His troops accomplished missions. But I believed, then and now, he could've been be better. He could have been better if he had stopped leading with what I call "a chip on the shoulder." In early American history, people often proved their mettle by putting chips of wood on their shoulders and challenging others to knock them off. Today, a person with a "chip on his shoulder" is angry at the world and daring people to provoke him. I'm sure you've known leaders who led with that approach. I've discovered that chip-on-the-shoulder leaders usually don't realize their full potential to get results. There are two reasons for this: One, getting great results is a matter of having great relationships. Great leadership isn't simply about ordering people to do things, it's about having those people be ardently committed to doing them. Getting people to be so committed involves the cultivation of deep, human relationships between the leader and the people. Great leaders know how to cultivate those relationships. People who have trouble cultivating good relationships in their personal life, often have trouble cultivating productive relationships as a leader. Clearly, some of the great leaders in history -- Winston Churchill comes to mind -- have had poor relationships with their colleagues and family. However, it's been my experience working with leaders in business, government, and non-profit organizations for the past quarter of a century that great leaders in these organizations have, for the most part, developed and maintained healthy personal relationships. A chip-on-the-shoulder personality trait impedes such relationships. Two, the chip often becomes the issue, not the results. The Marines often focused on trying to avoid their commander's explosive temper, and focused less on accomplishing the mission at hand. Look, being a Marine can be a nasty business. Leaders are not in the business of being nice to the troops. Leaders are in the business of having the troops get results to accomplish missions. And that applies to leaders everywhere in all organizations whether they are in a nasty business or not. But personality quirks often get in the way of results. The seven ways that got him angry were not stepping stones to accomplishing the missions but stumbling blocks. Clearly, they were good pointers; but tying them to his explosive personality demeaned his lieutenants' abilities to take initiative and created extraneous issues. Finally, if leading with a chip on your shoulder got great results, I'd be writing a book on how to do it – not this article on why you shouldn't. Do you lead with a chip on your shoulder? If you do, take that chip off and kept it off; you'll be a much more effective leader for having done so. Do you know a leader -- your boss, a colleague, a team member – who suffers by carrying a chip around? If you do, you'd be helping them in their jobs and careers by suggesting the same remedy. And the first helping step may be to show that person this article.

    Learn from the olympics how to organize your events part 1 of 3 planning event logistics


    With the Winter Olympic Games in Torino underway, on time and over budget, it feels like a good time to take a minute and look at the lessons the Olympics have to teach us about managing events. To be fair, the Olympics are a massive set of groups with multiple venues hosting simultaneous events with visitors from all over the world. To make matters worse, you only get to do it once, you prepare for years leading up to it, when it arrives you try the best that you can to control the chaos for just over 2 nonstop weeks and then, in a blink of an eye, it is over. While there is a chance that your children or grandchildren will be involved in hosting the Games again, for most people involved there is no next time. It is still too soon to look closely at what has and has not worked for the Winter Games in Torino. It is not until all the smoke has cleared that they will know how the event really went. I did however, have the good fortune of being involved with hosting the Salt Lake Winter Games (2002) while I was a college student in Provo, UT. Those Olympics are now four years old and time has given us a great perspective to glean some valuable lessons from them and the way that they were managed. For the sake of learning, let’s skip past the Olympic bid scandal and look at the things that were done right for those games. Let’s start with logistics in this part of our series – I-15 was under construction for years before the Olympic Games were held, but more importantly, some one had clearly thought out the most popular routes to the venues and where people would be going within the venues. The roads were modified to accommodate the increased traffic and the venues were laid out with the fans in mind. I spent most of my time during the 2002 Olympics at Soldier Hollow, the Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Venue. You could tell that time was spent to design the venue in such a way as to give the fans the most access to the course while making it a great course for the athletes competing. Often times this is a detail that is overlooked for smaller events. The venue will be decorated in a manner that looks great, often times at the expense of functionality. It is also important to take the time to think through how people are going to arrive and leave your event. Look for things that might make it harder for people to attend and try to handle those issues in advance. I was involved in an event once where there was construction on the primary route. Since the location was vaguely familiar to most of the people attending we sent out flyers warning people about the construction and advising them of alternate routes that were available. Printing little maps on the back of your tickets is also a great way to help people get to your event. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to 1) get to your event and 2) do what you want them to do when they arrive. Next: Planning a Profitable Event

    Learn from the olympics how to organize your events part 2 of 3 planning a profitable event


    In the first part of this series, we looked at the logistics of an event, both the logistics of fans getting to the event, and the internal logistics allowing fans to move from one item of interest to another. This time we will look at how to ensure that our event is profitable. The Olympics are a fun example of trying to put on the best show that the world has ever seen and still turning a profit. Every two years, usually about a month before the games, there will be newspaper articles about how far over budget and behind schedule the ticket sales the Olympic Games are. Fortunately, most of our events are not judged by the same standards that the Olympics are held to, but they do have evaluation criteria. One common feature of all events is that they have both a budget and an objective. The size of the budget and the scope of the objectives differ drastically, but that does not make them any more or less important to the person planning the event. The 2002 Winter Olympics were a good example of working hard to stay on budget. At the time of the Olympic Bid Scandal, the Winter Games looked like they were destined to be far over the prescribed budget. As they turned the corner, under the leadership of Mitt Romney, one of the things that helped them was to bring large silent sponsors in to the events. Most of the large profile sponsorships for the Olympics are predetermined (Delta, Visa, Coca-Cola, etc) leaving little room to go out and recruit additional sponsors with the lure of advertising space and publicity. They were still able to find organizations to help foot the bill and keep the games within their budget. Organizations like Marker, NuSkin, and the Eccles Foundation donated money, products, and services to help the games. These companies did not end up with Television commercial spots, but Marker had a label on the uniform of every volunteer and NuSkin distributed sunscreen and other toiletries to thousands of people who attended the events. This created a tremendous amount of goodwill for these organizations. Staying within a budget is a problem that most people have. There always seems to be more to do than resources with which to do it. Like the Olympics, most of our events would benefit from contributions from sponsors. This can be as simple as having a local business pay to print your tickets in exchange for an advertisement on the back of each ticket, or having local restaurants donate pies for a pie eating contest. The more creative you get, the more possibilities you will be able identify to add an additional boost to your budget. The Olympic Games have more objectives than most of us would be able to keep straight. From fostering world peace to bolstering the local economy, to creating an atmosphere conducive to the athletes breaking as many world records as possible, everyone has their own metric by which they judge the Olympics. In general, the Olympics do a good job planning the locations of the venues to benefit the athletes and the logos and displays to benefit the visitors from the different nations in attendance. They also are pretty consistent with helping the economy of the local community. Most of us are lucky in that we do not have as many objectives behind our events. The majority of event planners, however, never stop to consider all of the different objectives that their event may have. It is usually a good idea to take some time and think of all of the stake holders in the event. This includes the organizations that are hosting the event, the participants and performers, and attendees of the event. Once you have listed everyone who is involved, try and think of why they are involved. What is their motivation? As you start to answer these questions you will develop a fairly complete list of the objectives of your event. It is then a good idea to prioritize them in such a way that you spend most of your time meeting the objectives that will make the most difference to the outcome of your event. Taking the extra time to find sponsors to help you with your budget and to identify the objectives of your event will help make your event a success. You will be surprised at how easy it can be to identify the little things that will make a difference as you begin to plan your event. Next: Managing your Event

    Leasing virtual employees


    Business outsourcing is a widely known compelling strategic management option several companies are adopting nowadays. From small to large scale establishments, they have been using it to continually maintain their stable status in today’s overly competitive market. Its emerging power as a business tool is undoubted. Offshore Outsourcing is a program in which non-core operations are delegated from a company’s internal unit to an overseas external supplier. This set-up enables you to focus on your business core competenciespanies in various parts of the word deploy this program in the purpose of obtaining better profit margins and decreasing overhead costs. Through the business outsourcing model, you’ll be relieved of the usual burdens accompanying the implementation of traditional recruitment processes and staff maintenance. Having an outsourcing company to rely on gives you the benefit of deferment from several human resources related fees such as non productive administrative costs, government taxes, levies, unemployment insurance costs, in-house training expenses, etc. There would be no further need to worry about the equipments needed before an employee could begin. Every leased employee has their own table, comfortable working area, computer, efficient internet access, and everything they could possibly need. With just a go signal from you, they could begin right away. Outsourcing offshore gives you an extended resource pool of skilled personnel. Moreover, you can take advantage of the value of less than par foreign currencies. You will only be paying us a fraction of the cost in comparison to the actual charges of using local manpower resources in your area. This program enables your company to function more efficiently by having all manpower services you need without worrying about manpower related fees. Employees’ regular in-house trainings and constant progress check are also conducted upon job placement to continually enhance their skills. Prime Outsourcing, a trustworthy supplier of and IT related outsourcing services, offers you the best cost and quality edge in today’s overly competitive market. Our company currently has a very stable and credible status in the industry, proving it worthy to invest your money and trust unto. Our objective is to assist several local and multinational enterprises attain their full potential as well as increase their ability to compete. Our company has the perfect Asian location - Manila, Philippines - the heart of the largest English speaking country in Asia. With this strategic location, you surely will be encountering no difficulties in communicating with our employees. Our people have excellent English verbal and written skills. Our services have already been globally proven reliable and easily available. You definitely will experience no difficulties in choosing the best employee that will most certainly suit your needs and meet up with your qualifications. Our company features an integrated team of marketing and IT professionals who understand and practice the latest in Information technology. All of them are college graduates with several years of experience in their respective fields. These individuals exhibit professionalism, high competence, flexibility and dedication to excellence. We will also take the responsibility of recruiting and sourcing highly qualified applicants, in accordance to the requirements that you had specified, that will comprise your staff overseas. Every applicant undergoes intensive screening and rigorous training before being absorbed by the company. You will have only the best candidate in the market. In short, we will be handling almost all of the routine maintenance and development tasks for you. Due to the improved organizational efficiency, you can now give your sole concentration to your company’s strategic growth and development. We have two types of solutions that you could try, depending on the package that would suit your needs most. The first one is the “dedicated staff package”. In this set-up, your leased employee will work for you full time - eight hours a day, six days a week, four weeks a month. There would be no need to worry about conflicting schedules since every employee is flexible to your prescribed time frame. The other one is the “per project package”. Provide us the specific requirements then we’ll do the rest for you. We will be arriving at a fixed price after estimating the amount of time and resources involved in your project. Afterwards, a project plan would be presented to you for your approval. These service packages are available in reasonably low prices, promising you of enormous savings without sacrificing quality. Services and solutions offered by the company: •Data entry, processing and conversion •Data capture and image scanning •Forms processing services •Typing and word processing •Web research services •Online research, survey and catalogs •Medical transcription •Documents and record management •Programming •Creative writing •And much more! Outsourcing human resources to us gives you all the cost, quality, and time advantages that only Prime Outsourcing could provide. Give us a try and experience our prime quality services. Here at Prime Outsourcing, our primary goal is to provide ultimate customer satisfaction. You absolutely have high dreams for your company, come and make it happen with us!

    Lessons from the bad meeting contest


    Here are the winning entries from a bad meeting contest and comments on what to do so that you can avoid these problems. > Short, Expensive, and Useless. First, she sent a letter to a prospective client in New York, proposing a meeting. Then she phoned to confirm the meeting. Although she never spoke with this prospect, his assistant seemed to agree to the meeting. So, she and her boss flew from Illinois to New York. When they arrived, they learned that the man whom they expected to meet had been transferred to another office. His replacement agreed to meet with them for a few minutes. He was polite, unprepared to discuss their offer, and not interested. It was an expensive, short, and useless meeting. Comment: The sender of this story admitted that this was a valuable learning experience. The lesson: always confirm essential elements of a meeting with the key participants. In this case she should have spoken with the VP and confirmed interest in holding a meeting. Just sending a letter and talking to an assistant proved to be insufficient. We can never ask too many questions. In my business, I will even call the hotel to confirm that my client has reserved a meeting room. > Open Hostility. People were gathering for a seminar on "congeniality in the work place" when two men began arguing in the back of the room. Soon they were shouting at each other. The seminar leader walked to the front of the room and asked everyone for their attention so the seminar could start. But the agreement seemed to increase in intensity. When the seminar leader politely asked the two men to join the seminar, one of them shouted back "chill out man!" The leader repeated his request for cooperation. And the men responded by complaining about the way the leader had requested their attention. Some of the other participants spoke up in favor of the seminar leader, which soon led to pushing and shoving. At this point, someone called security. Eventually, the two men were led out of the room, in handcuffs, by police. The seminar leader then continued the program using the argument as an example of how to deal with disruptions. (Remember, this seminar was on congeniality at work.) Comments: If an argument (or any other disturbance) is happening before a meeting, you must put it to rest before stating. If you think you can influence the people who are causing the disturbance, go to them. Acknowledge that they are having a disagreement by saying "you seem to be having a argument" or "you seem to be mad about something." They will most likely agree with you. Then ask if they can put their disagreement aside so that you can start the meeting. Or ask them to move to another place. If they continue to be abusive, I recommend that you excuse yourself by saying, "okay, excuse me," or "excuse me, I'm going to let you be" and then call for help. If confronting hostility seems like more than you want to take on, call for help. It is better to let professionals deal with such situations. Remember that your goal is to end the disturbance without becoming involved in it. Always avoid physical contact with hostile people. > Follow Me, I'm Lost. This reader arrived early for the meeting, which is a good thing to do. But the chairperson arrived five minutes late with two other attendees. Then the three of them spent the next ten minutes talking about local sports. Finally, the chair announces that "we may as well start" and asks "does anyone know why I called this meeting?" One attendee proposed a topic. Another proposed another topic. Someone else suggested that the second issue had been resolved. Then they spent the next 45 minutes arguing over the relevance of these (and other) topics. No one took notes. Nothing was accomplished. At the end of the hour, the chair adjourned the meeting by saying, "okay, let's continue this next week." Comment: No one would go on a trip without a destination. But people hold meetings without a goal. And the cost is huge. Suggestion: Always prepare an agenda. If you don't have time to prepare an agenda, you don't have time to hold the meeting.

    Leveraging six sigma in it


    : INTRODUCTION CHANGING BUSINESS PARADIGM The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted that the worldwide outsourcing market would grow from $100 billion in 1998 to $151 billion in 2003, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.2 percent. The 1990s witnessed a massive spurt in service outsourcing, particularly in the IT services sector. Over 60% of the Fortune 500 companies, located in Europe and America are outsourcing their IT operations offshore to developing economies like Asia, Africa, the Carribean and Latin America with a view to achieve cost reduction. The primary contributor to cost reduction was the wage disparity between outsourcing companies and the service providers. This first phase of outsourcing leveraging wage arbitrage is towards completion – with a large chunk of cost reduction potential being realized. Today, outsourcing companies, have identified quality and productivity as the key differentiators in evaluating service providers. These parameters are of prime importance since most software solutions have relatively small payback periods. Service providers also bring complementary knowledge, ideas, and business methodologies, and enable outsourcing companies to concentrate on core competencies. These benefits in addition to cost reduction are turning the tide in favour of outsourcing. It is difficult to leverage these benefits in the absence of a defined set of tools and techniques. Application of process improvement techniques like Six Sigma can help realize these benefits. This paper examines the application of Six Sigma to the IT services industry holistically. SIX SIGMA - AN OVERVIEW “Contrary to what some believe, the goal of Six Sigma is not to achieve six sigma levels of quality. Six Sigma is about improving profitability, although improved quality and efficiency are immediate by-products of Six Sigma.” – Mikel Harry KEY SIX SIGMA CONCEPTS Bill Smith, a senior engineer and scientist at Motorola introduced the Six Sigma concept in 1986, to standardize the way defects are counted. Motorola extended the benefit of its Six Sigma expertise to other organizations via the Motorola University. At its core, Six Sigma revolves around the following key concepts.

    • Critical To Quality (CTQ) – Attributes most important to the customer
    • Outside In approach – Looking at internal processes from the customer’s perspective and changing them accordingly
    • Defect - Any event that does not meet the specifications of a Critical to Quality (CTQ) attribute
    • Defect Opportunity- Any event, that provides a chance of not meeting customer requirements and which can be measured
    • Defective - A unit of product containing one or more defects
    • Transfer Function – Y = f (X1, X2, X3….Xn), where Y is the dependent or response variable and Xs are independent or predictor variable that control the performance of Ys. Focus of Six Sigma is to control Xs and not Ys.
    Before moving on to the application of Six Sigma to IT services, let us first understand the Six Sigma methodology. The evolution of the Six Sigma methodology can be explained with a brief description of sigma. · “s” is a Greek alphabet that denotes standard deviation. Standard deviation is a measure of dispersion in a given data set. The values (of the data set) are equally distributed on either side of the mean i. e. above and below. We delineate some data points within that timeline. The sigma value is measured against this. As we move farther away from the mean on the timeline, the sigma value goes on increasing. · Process Sigma (Z) – Measure of process capability. Process capability is process’ ability to meet customer requirements. · The Six Sigma methodology focuses on reducing the variation in any process and aligning the process mean with customer specified target. A process can be said to be at Six Sigma level if the nearest Customer Specification limit is six standard deviations away from mean of the process. Six Sigma is a business strategy that results into achieving a near zero defect level. The sigma levels and their corresponding defects per million opportunities (DPMO) give an idea of the quantum of improvement in yield with Six Sigma. The fundamental objective of the Six Sigma methodology i. e. implementation of a measurement based strategy to propel process improvement and reduce process variation is accomplished by means of two strategies – DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) and DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify). DMAIC is an improvement system for existing products or processes. Fundamentally DMAIC is –
    • Define – Define project goals and customer deliverables based on voice of customer (VOC).
    • Measure – Measure the process to evaluate current performance with respect to customer requirements.
    • Analyze – Analyze and determine root cause(s) of poor performance.
    • Improve – Devise and evaluate multiple solutions to improve performance and eliminate defects; Pilot solution and compare performance.
    • Control – Quantify improvements; Implement control plans to sustain desired performance.

      Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is used to design or re-design a new product or service. One popular DFSS methodology is called DMADV. Fundamentally DMADV is –

    • Define – Define the scope of the project and initiate the project.

    • Measure – Measure customer needs and specify the CTQ parameters.
    • Analyze – Analyze the concepts that meet customer needs (CTQs).
    • Design – Develop a detailed design with respect to the customer needs and identify control plans.

    • Verify – Test and verify design performance with respect to customer CTQs.
    DMAIC focuses on only one or two CTQ (Critical To Quality) parameters at a time whereas DMADV focuses on an entire set of CTQs for a given product / service or process. SIX SIGMA IN IT “Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure to meet customer expectations are related to deficiencies in systems and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better” – Dr. DemingSeveral process improvement methodologies like Six Sigma, Total Quality Management (TQM), Quality Circles, Taguchi, Statistical process control, etc. are being successfully implemented in the manufacturing industries sector. It was perceived that such improvement methodologies are ineffective in the IT services industry. GE, pioneers of Six Sigma implementation in a non-manufacturing set-up, has estimated benefits of the order of $10 billion during the first five years of implementation. Some commonly made arguments against the effectiveness of Six Sigma in IT services sector were
    • Software processes are difficult to measure.
    • Software development is people intensive work that needs creativity.
    • Software development is not a repeatable process.
    • Six Sigma theories are based on assumption of normal probability distribution and Software processes cannot be included in this category.
    Though these factors are true in some sense, the Six Sigma methodology can still be applied to IT processes. The software processes are definitely difficult to measure but it’s not an impossible task. Industry leaders like IBM and institutions like Software Engineering Institute have designed and published many metrics for software processes for the benefit of the entire industry. Capability Maturity Models prescribe the quantitative management processes as one of the Key Process Areas at level 4. Lot of books and other material is available publicly to choose right metrics from. Six Sigma offers strong tools like Quality Function Deployment (QFD), CTQ flow-down and other templates to convert high-level VOC into measurable CTQs. 90% of the processes in a software services company are repeatable and can be improved by the process improvement DMAIC methodology. The DFSS methodology can be applied to the remaining 5-10 % of the processes, which involve creativity. It is true that Six Sigma concepts evolved with normal distribution. But, Six Sigma tools can be easily adapted to handle processes having non-normal distribution Having discussed the arguments supporting the applicability of Six Sigma to IT processes, let us make an attempt to understand the applicability of Six Sigma to the processes that are an integral part of IT services. CORE DELIVERY PROCESSES The software development life cycle (SDLC) consists of four phases - Analysis, Design, Coding and Testing. Along with these core phases, processes like defect prevention, project management, Software Quality Assurance (SQA), Reviews, etc. are an integral part of the Quality Management System of any IT service provider. The effectiveness of these core processes directly impact the CTQ parameters. There is a large scope for improvement in these processes in most IT companies. Six Sigma can be deployed to improve these processes. One of the key factors in deploying Six Sigma is identifying the “Y” metrics (dependants). But for core processes this becomes simpler since historical data for key metrics such as review efficiency, review effectiveness, productivity, defect density, schedule variance and effort variance are already available. After prioritization, critical poor performing metrics can be taken as Six Sigma DMAIC projects. Six Sigma DFSS methodology can be applied for software development projects. Six Sigma in SDLC helps in making the software manufacturing process more predictable and ensuring that all Customer CTQs are met. Some Sigma tools that can be applied in this methodology are –
    • Quality Function Deployment (QFD) helps in converting the high-level customer requirements (VOC) into detailed program specifications. Use of QFD ensures that no requirements are missed and it also helps in prioritizing the software elements.
    • Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a tool that provides effective risk management for the entire SDLC, and identifies the probable failure modes of software at design phase. This initiates corrective action on the design.
    • Pugh matrix enables software developer / analyst to compare different concepts with reference to customer CTQs and create strong alternative concepts from weaker concepts Scorecard is a predictive tool used for:
      1. Predicting final quality (Y metrics) based on process (X) metrics
      2. Quantitative Risk Assessment Identification of High Defect Drivers Linkage from Customer CTQs at lower levels in a flow down
      3. Application of Design of Experiments in software testing is an emerging trend. Software testing based on orthogonal array, detects most possible defects at a fractional testing time.
    DELIVERY SUPPORT PROCESSES The processes that are value enablers are equally important to consistently deliver best quality service to the customers. These processes consist of infrastructure and network services, Resource Management, HR processes, Finance and accounting, Training, Central Quality organization etc. Efficiency and effectiveness of delivery support processes directly or indirectly contribute to the productivity of core delivery processes. Processes like infrastructure and network maintenance are extremely important for offshore development / BPO models. Six Sigma DMAIC projects can be forked to improve any or all the processes mentioned above. Some Y metrics for Delivery support processes are
    • Resource turnaround time
    • Cycle time for recruitment
    • Defects in payroll processing
    • On time invoicing
    • Accuracy of invoicing
    • Network response time
    • Network utilization
    • Training effectiveness
    In effect, Six Sigma has a profound impact on the most critical resource in IT industry i. e. human resources. PRODUCT QUALITY ATTRIBUTES It is of paramount importance to deliver a high quality software product. The application of Six Sigma to the above two areas – Core Delivery Processes and Delivery Support Processes, directly or indirectly contributes to product quality. Metrics like response time, resource usage (Memory / CPU), and resources availability are critical to the quality of a software application. Six Sigma methodologies can be molded to optimize performance in keeping with the required metrics. The Six Sigma DFSS methodology enables us to predict product performance in the initial design stage so that adequate control measures are in place. Figure 3 depicts the impact of any error or missed requirement in design phase on the cost in the later phases of the software development lifecycle. It has been proved that time taken to fix a design or requirements defect during testing phase needs about 20 times of rework effort as compared to a defect fixed right at the induction phase. Here, deployment of Six Sigma can play a major role to reduce or control the development costs. The DFSS methodology as applicable for software processes cannot be directly mapped to DFSS methodology as implemented in manufacturing processes. In manufacturing, a product once designed is produced for years together. Whereas, in case of software development, a software design is manufactured (coded, to be precise) only once. This makes the application of DFSS in software development tougher. In a typical manufacturing setup, the crux of DFSS lies in achieving manufacturability at Six Sigma quality levels. For a manufactured product, the design budget might be flexible but in the case of software solutions, the budget for design is very limited and all the CTQs must be met in the given budget. The DFSS rigor ensures that the software is designed, coded and approved with minimum rework. The DMAIC methodology can be applied to improve the Product Quality Attributes of existing applications, too. Many a times, as the user base increases or if the application is deployed in a global environment, response time decreases. Round the clock availability of application has also become a critical issue in today’s global work culture and BPO scenario. DMAIC projects can be implemented to tackle such issues and find a cost effective fix. Improving reliability measures like MTBF (Mean time between failures) and MTTR (Mean Time to Repair) can be other focus areas of DMAIC improvement projects. CUSTOMER’S PROCESSES Most IT companies provide “End to End” solutions to their clients and therefore enjoy a long-term relationship with their customers. This has benefited the service providers in acquiring significant domain knowledge. The consultants possess fairly good amount of tacit knowledge about the client’s core business processes in addition to IT skills. Six Sigma tools and techniques provide an excellent channel to develop a basis for solution based consulting. Six Sigma methodologies can help core business processes as well as IT processes. Owing to the consultant’s exposure to customer’s processes through IT support, they are familiar with the best functioning processes, processes which are not operating efficiently and those processes which have reached entitlement. This enables prioritization to tackle the relevant processes and this prioritization of improvements makes implementation of Six Sigma easier. PATNI’S APPROACH Patni’s Process Consulting Practice offers customers a complete range of process improvement related solutions that covers the best of process/quality models and applied proven methodology and practices. PCP facilitates IT organizations to move to newer levels of business excellence through incremental process improvements that are either benchmarked against established models (ISO/CMM) or focused on specific process areas of improvement. With over 15 years of experience, Patni’s consultants provide the customer the high-quality and cost-effective solutions by offering the following services:
    • Process Diagnostics
    • Model Based Process Improvement Services
    • Focused Approach to Process Consultation
    • Six-Sigma Methodology for Process Improvement consultation
    • Quality Management Practices & Training
    • Customized solutions
    SIX SIGMA METHODOLOGY FOR PROCESS IMPROVEMENT Patni embarked upon its Six Sigma implementation initiative in 1998 in select software project delivery areas. In the year 2000, Six Sigma was implemented in one strategic business unit (SBU). Eventually, it was implemented at the company level. As of June 2003, Patni has a team of over 30 certified Black belts, over 300 certified Green belts and more than 1100 trained Green Belts. Patni Green Belts executed over 350 projects spanning across all SDLC processes, which resulted in benefit of more than $ 2mn to customers in addition to productivity gains and quality improvement in all SDLC processes. The projects focused on areas such as reduction in batch cycle time, testing time and time spent in resolving production abends. It also focuses on improving On Time Delivery, automation of customer’s processes and optimizing CPU utilization and so on. Patni’s Six-Sigma consultation services endeavor to improve customer’s quality management processes and their returns on investment (ROI) by reducing operational expenses. Certified Six Sigma practitioners transfer critical knowledge and skills to the client organization to lay the foundation for lasting improvements in the dynamic business environment. Patni facilitates optimization of processes using the Six Sigma methodologies (DMAIC/DMADV). Patni’s portfolio of Six Sigma consultancy services includes:
    • Performance Improvement
    • Process Improvement
    • People Development
    Patni has developed its own specific Six Sigma based methodology to execute development projects and maintenance projects respectively. BUSINESS VALUE DEPLOYING SIX SIGMA FOR PROCESS IMPROVEMENT Conseco, Inc., one of America's leading sources for insurance, investment and lending products offers its customers better products as an exchange to their current policies. The exchange process, involves the following two steps:
    • Field related tasks like approaching the customer, to get his/her acceptance, and complete the necessary paperwork.
    • Back office work in policy administration
    The objective of the solution was to process 10,000 applications between August - December 2001 with the existing workforce of 16 people. Patni implemented the Six Sigma , process improvement DMAIC methodology in the following manner.
    1. One Black Belt resource from Patni was deployed at Consesco site to facilitate process improvement using Six Sigma methodology.
    2. A model was developed to project staffing needs to process the desired number of applications.
    3. Formulate new process definition, Implementation Plan, Documentation/Control Plan.
    Patni deployed Six Sigma successfully by reducing the cycle time for processing application forms thereby increasing productivity. DEPLOYING SIX SIGMA FOR ON TIME DELIVERY (OTD) Patni has a project based Service Level agreement (SLA) about the task delivery schedule with one of its clients. On Time Delivery (OTD) is the metric used for measuring delivery schedule. Patni undertook the SPAN – Six Sigma DMAIC project to realign service levels for OTD and convert them to the following two parameters:
    • SPAN - A metric used to measure the variation in deliveries beyond the customer stated date
    • Median – A metric which specifies where the project is centered
    Patni implemented the SPAN – DMAIC project in the following manner:
    1. High level discussions were held to understand and gather the factors affecting high SPAN.
    2. The Six Sigma - DMAIC methodology was implementd for process improvement.
    3. Span Caluclator and Minitab Tools like Gauge R&R, Normality Test, Segmentation, Pareto,
    Regression and control Charts were used to undertake complex calculations. Patni deployed the SPAN – Six Sigma DMAIC project by reducing SPAN and Median and consistently meeting customer delivery dates. It successfully employed usage of statistical tools to track the causes of high process variation. CONCLUSION
    • Six Sigma can be successfully applied to the IT services industry where human resources is a critical input
    • Availability of reliable data and metrics is crucial to successful implementation of Six Sigma in IT arena
    • In IT services sector, benefits of Six Sigma can be accrued from
      1. Internal process improvement
      2. Product Quality improvement
      3. Better predictability
      4. Customer satisfaction improvement due to improved cycle time, waste reduction
    • Though some of the processes in IT industry may not fall under normal probability distribution, other quantitative and qualitative tools could be used to improve the process.
    • Focus of DFSS methodology on Analyze and design phase significantly reduces the defects, rework during testing and hence productivity during the rollout phase
    • Six Sigma rigor is a key differentiator in solution based consulting
    ABOUT THE AUTHOR Rajesh Naik Rajesh Naik has over 12 years of experience, including more than 6 years in the field of quality initiatives like Malcom Baldrige model, Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma and Quality circles. He assumed Six Sigma black belt role at Patni in 2001 and was part of core Six Sigma team that rolled out Six Sigma in Patni-GE Global Development Center. During this tenure, his key role has been to identify improvement opportunities, coach / mentor the green belts for project completion, training of the consultants that include customizing Six Sigma training material for software professionals, deliver training. He successfully designed and launched the DFSS approach for Software development projects within the SBU. He also, worked on cycle time improvement project for a leading insurance company in US. Rajesh holds a post graduation in Software technology from NCST, Mumbai after graduation in Industrial Engineering.

    Love your coworkers


    Friends ! this is another powerful tip for reducing tension and stress from life. We spend at least 8 hours daily at our workplace. And we have to work in collaboration with other people. These people are our coworkers. Our relation with them can make us tense and angry or it can make us calm and happy. It all depends on what kind of relation we have with them. If you have a feeling of rivalry, jealousy and mistrust for them, you may find yourself surrounded by bitter critics who always thinks ill of you. However, if you have the feeling of compassion, love and cooperation for your coworker, you will meet with love, cooperation and friendliness. Frankly speaking we all are mirrors of each other. It all depends on you. Your coworkers work with you. Some of them may be very cooperative, kind hearted, jovial and happy goers. They will help you in whichever way they can. Whereas some of them may be extremely indifferent, selfish and egoist who always think of 'what's in for me' before extending any helping hand towards you. No matter which type of coworkers you have at your workplace, my advice is that you should love your coworker and have a feeling of deep compassion for them. No matter how good or bad people are, the fact is that they, just like you, are human beings earning a living at the same place as you. All of them have a family to support, have other responsibilities and above all a life other than this job. While dealing with your coworker, have a feeling of compassion towards them and see them in broad perspective as human beings who just happens to be your coworker. Try to help them in solving their problems. Extend your helping hand in their hours of need. Being a student of meditation (which I hope you have learnt on this site), you should be aware that there is one non-dual reality - self that pervades the entire universe. Try to look every coworker of yours as one manifestation of that self. Have a feeling of compassion for all. You will be amazed to see the kind of positive feedback you get from this. Some of the most important benefits you'll draw from loving your coworkers are : (1) As you love them, they'll love you too. (2) The feeling of enmity and peer - to - peer rivalry will vanish among you and your coworkers. (3) There will be less & less moments of stress & tension as everybody behaves amicably. (4) Many problems at the workplace will be solved easily and quickly when you and your coworkers work collectively in solving them. (5) The overall productivity of your workplace improve as everybody works happily in an amiable environment.

    Low cost team building exercises


    Are you interested in increasing teamwork within your company? Many companies are searching for ways to promote teamwork at their company, however some do not have the funds available to hire an outside company to encourage team building. Are you interested in corporate team building exercises that can be done at your office? If so, there are many available options. It is best that you research each available option prior to implementing a certain one. A wide range of media is available, such as video or books, which can provide much needed information regarding team building. Many titles are available at Amazon which can provide you with a wealth of knowledge and ideas regarding team building exercises. A benefit of using a video is that you can watch it together as a large group. Once the video is complete, there can be an open discussion of what was liked or disliked about the team building video. After the open debate, you can easily have a vote in order to decide which team building exercise everyone wants to implement. Not interested in a video? Don't worry, a plethora of books are available for your reading pleasure. Amazon is also an excellent source for books regarding team building exercises. Simply find a book that interests you, read it, evaluate it, and implement it into producing an effective team building exercise. As described above, there are several options when it comes to researching and implementing corporate team building exercises for a low cost. Many more team building exercises and resources can be found at ez-search. us

    M a for insurance a signal of international growth


    In a recent report released by KPMG, the key findings for the expected insurance industry are recapped below. The international insurance market is expected to see good or very good growth over the next three years, and global consolidation is expected to accelerate over those same three years. Asian countries are expected to see the most growth; however, merger and acquisition are not expected to play a major part in the growth. The national and foreign regulations that affect insurance are not expected to be a barrier to acquisition activity. Acquisition strategies incorporated over the last three years were driven mainly by increasing profit and top line growth, and larger insurance companies are generally expected to be the more acquisitive. Almost three-fourths of Asian-Pacific respondents stated that organic growth was more important than growth by acquisition; this is in direct contrast with the almost two-thirds of the European and US respondents looking to M&A for growth opportunity. The report found that in the U. K., as well as the U. S. market, there was an oversupply of providers, and that this fact alone has lead to the M&A growth in the insurance market. As the developed countries insurance markets mature, there is an increased tendency toward merger and acquisition for growth opportunity; this is in direct contrast with developing countries that are still looking toward organic growth opportunity to increase their bottom line.

    Make business simple provide and survive


    Provide and Survive By Mike Pagan – Straight Talking Business Focussed Professional Speaker Many Management Consultants and Business Coaches are asked the question ‘Which Industry do you specialise in?’ or more specifically ’I want a consultant who specialises in Industry X.’ If the consultant does not specialise or is not a specialist in this particular industry, then according to these rules, they have no chance of winning the client. This can be entirely incorrect for a number of reasons. All business is fundamentally the same and objective opinions come from those who are not constrained by detailed knowledge of said industry. How can all businesses be the same? A restaurant is very different from a Hydro Electric Power station just as a bus service is equally distant in essence to an accountancy practice. There are two key elements to all businesses - product or service and profit. The client is only interested in one thing – the benefit of the end product or service they are buying. How that is produced or brought into being is irrelevant to them. That is the producers issue, not theirs. The company may have to employ specialist skills, knowledge of equipment, language and labour relations or specific motivational or managerial skills. They are of no interest to the client who simply wants product or service ‘X’ on date ‘Y’ for the agreed price. How that happens is of no concern. Profit, not loss The flip side of this is profit. A provider of products or services is not in business unless they are making profit. Without profit the company cannot survive. There are many situations which can debate this point such as loss leader marketing techniques, market share capture initiatives etc. At the end of the day, the business must make a profit in some form or other in order to survive. The combination of all elements that go on behind the scenes all cost money. Manufacturing, learning, training, marketing, building, teaching and developing – they all take place to differing degrees; prior to the product or service being delivered. The sum of all things Knowing the sum of all these costs and charging them to the client is the process of doing business. Adding a mark up on that cost is the principle of running a profitable business. The final price will be driven by what the external market forces allowpetition, cost of raw materials, costs of staff and the clients’ ability to pay. Fundamentally the business is the supply of a product or a service to a client at a given price that will allow the business to continue to trade, making all business fundamentally the same. They must provide and survive. Why specialise? Why then when looking at external advice and coaching do clients demand or request specialists in their particular field? A Consultant or Coach working on a specific project in a key area of a business will naturally have specialist knowledge. The more specific the remit and project the more specialised the consultant or coach needs to be. However, where driving business growth in conjunction with motivation, strategy, communication and planning - an in depth knowledge or experience of one particular area can hamper progress. For example, a Consultant or Coach working in the health and fitness industry might focus primarily on the day to day running of the health centre. Areas such as staff recruitment, management, pool ph and chlorine levels. The non specialist approach In contrast, a non-specialist coach or consultant will focus more closely on the two fundamentals of business - member numbers, retention of members, quality of service, consistency of service and other sources of income. The ph levels in the pool are details that the client is not concerned about unless it goes wrong. The processes need to be in place in the background, but the focus should be elsewhere on growing the business. A non-industry specialist objective viewpoint will examine the bigger picture of the business without being constrained by the small details that do not affect the overall goal. Clients simply want product or service ‘X’ on date ‘Y’ for the agreed price. How that happens is of no concern. If the producers complicate that system and make it difficult for the client, there will be a competitor elsewhere more than willing to take over. Difference of Opinion An objective opinion from an unbiased or clouded opinion can give a far greater return in the grander scheme. It may involve work in conjunction with those that have specialist knowledge in a key area. The long-term view will drive businesses further, faster and more effectively towards their primary goal. Give the clients the product or service at a price that brings you the level of profit that will enable the company to survive to fight again another day. The first things to do when contemplating which consultant or coach you need is to understand exactly the reason for seeking external advice or assistance. What is the reason for doing x, what is not working, what could work better, is it a symptom or a cause that you are not happy with? About the Author Mike Pagan is a keynote speaker, known as the:- Straight Talking, Business Focussed Professional Speaker. Forthright, practical and thought provoking, Mike speaks passionately about business growth strategies and celebrating success in business. He is also Managing Director of Breaking Frontiers a business growth consultancy specialising in keeping businesses focussed on the growth strategies they plan. Got to MikePagan for free downloads, ‘Top Tips’ and DVDs available for sale. Building The Right Sales Pipeline - Mike believes companies should concentrate FULLY upon 4 or 5 key marketing methods in order to gain new clients. Building Your A1 Clients - We all want them, but do we know who they are, when they buy and why they buy? Celebrating Success - Not many businesses do. Life’s meant to be enjoyable, so is your business. To check availability, fees or make a booking contact mike at [email protected] . Comber House, Union Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 5LT Tel - +44(0) 1926 450090

    Make meetings easier and more organized


    Modern business takes teamwork. No one can do it alone. That's why today's corporate environments are designed to facilitate people working togetherputer networking helps bring employees into sync, but even more important is the sort of face time you can only get by meeting in person-provided meetings are run efficiently. Anyone who's ever put a meeting together knows just how time-consuming it can be. Whether it's an everyday meeting or a large business event, productive meetings require planning and preparation. Here are some common dilemmas and their solutions: • Dilemma: You have lots of handouts that may get lost in the pile. Solution: An easy way to organize meeting materials is to prepare binders with tab dividers for all participants. The divider tabs make it simple for everyone to follow along as the meeting goes from topic to topic. Use framed view binders for a polished look. • Dilemma: You want your meeting materials to have a cohesive look, but you're not a graphic designer and there's no budget to hire one. Solution: Visit Avery's Meetings and Events Solution Center. You'll find themes and templates that you can use to design and print products that are just right for your event or meeting. From name badges and tent cards to binders and divider tabs, with just a few clicks you'll be able to design and print a whole suite of products that have a coordinated look. There are step-by-step project ideas, expert tips and suggested products for a variety of different types of business and personal meetings and events. Plus, you'll find advice and tips from professional meeting planners. It even includes meeting preparation timelines, checklists for planning meetings and step-by-step guides to preparing meeting materials. • Dilemma: You don't know how to present some important information. Solution: Don't let important information get buried in a pre-sentation deck. Highlight these points on easel board-sized posters that bring them to life. Sign kits to create posters from an ordinary printer are available in office supply stores.

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