“Quo Vadis, New Graduate?”

“Quo Vadis, New Graduate?”

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According to a recent survey by Job Outlook, for the third year now there is a positive increase in hiring fresh college graduates for 2006. Business owners plan on hiring more from the class of 2005-06 than they did from the 2004-05 class as well as offering higher compensation and benefits for the new hires.

In the annual survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, nine out of ten companies describe the new job market as good, very good, and excellent. Public accounting and consulting firms narrated the brightest prospect for the future graduates, while engineering and construction firms supported the idea by saying they’ll also be hiring.

There is a growing demand for new graduates in the job market as a result of the also growing products and services they offer and to keep up with the retiring HR staff.

Who are in demand?

• Mechanical engineering
• Electrical engineering
• Accounting
• Business administration/ management
• Economics/finance
• Computer science
• Information sciences and systems
• Marketing/marketing management
• Computer engineering
• Chemical engineering

Mechanical engineering graduates topped the list and eyeing on them are aerospace, automotive, mechanical equipment manufacturers. They also plan on hiring graduates with Ph.D.s in science and computer related courses.

Banking, transportation, financial, and insurance services are seeking Economics/Finance graduates. The food and beverage processing companies, merchandisers, and financial services will need more Business Administration/Management degree holders. One-third of business owners plan on hiring associate graduates categorized into three: technology, engineering and business related degrees. Insurance and engineering/surveying companies appear the most in need of 2 year course graduates for they bear a productive kind of technical knowledge which does not require more training. They belong to the hands-on work force who developed a good work ethic which is sadly observed by employers as missing in previous amateur graduates.

During the survey, only 23.5%, (mainly manufacturers) respondents planned on hiring international graduates in 2006.

What qualities should a new graduate possess?

• Must have excellent verbal and written communication skills
• Must be honest and has a high regard with integrity
• Can easily relate to others
• Maintain strong work ethic
• Can work well with others –TEAMWORK
• Analytical skills
• Must be self motivated and initiative
• Adaptability to change
• Updated computer skills
• Observant to details

The standards of companies’ ideal candidates are often higher than the last year’s. It is important that new graduates show good G.P.A.s as full time jobs come with good benefits coming from good revenues. Salary, should not be the sole consideration when looking for a job, benefits are part of it.

Here are some of the lists of benefits:

• Life and Medical/Dental insurance
• Retirement plans
• Annual and semi-annual increase
• Employee counseling program
• Dress code
• Paid trainings
• Bonus and commissions
• Family benefits
• Flexi-time
• Performance updates
• Vacation and sick leaves
• On-site fitness and recreational facilities
• Day care center
• Company car/service

The best places to seek competitive employers can be on campus job fairs, during on-the-job-trainings, student organizations and clubs, Internet search job search engines, etc. What’s important is that you target the right employers. Don’t let an opportunity pass, get in the interview to know more about their career offers and don’t forget to research about the company. You must be able to discuss your career objectives and compose a list of relevant and creative questions you can ask yourself.

Leveraging Six Sigma in IT

Leveraging Six Sigma in IT

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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.

“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
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.

“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.
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.

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.
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.
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 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

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.

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.
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.


  • 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

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.

Outsourcing Without Upsetting Lou Dobbs

Outsourcing Without Upsetting Lou Dobbs

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I don’t know how many times I’ve flipped through the channels and heard Lou Dobbs talking about “Exporting America.” Now, I know Lou is discussing the political and economic context of American companies outsourcing their jobs overseas.
However, this new one-dimensional definition of outsourcing has other implications to some of us in the States.

I am no expert on politics, economics or Lou Dobbs, so I’ll keep my opinions on those subjects to myself. However, what I would like to discuss is the negative connotation that the word “outsourcing” has taken on in this country.

There are thousands upon thousands of small businesses in this country whose sole survival depends on other companies outsourcing their needs. Just think about it for a moment. How many companies in the service industries only exist to support the needs of other businesses?

Imagine if every company had to act as a fully self-sufficient corporation. They must handle all of their own HR issues…no more employment agencies, payroll companies, etc. They must employ a full-fledged IT department to handle all of their own web design, networking, software and database designs. Each enterprise has to have enough administrative assistants, data entry specialists, desktop publishing experts, marketing gurus. The list is endless.

If American companies were to completely eliminate all forms of outsourcing, life as we know it would end!

Now, we all know that this is not what Lou or anybody else who has defined outsourcing as one of the most popular buzz words of the last few years is talking about. I understand that most people know that the business to business outsourcing within America is not a bad thing. Nonetheless, it seems strange to me that one word can take on such a life of its own. It’s really not a new phenomenon, yet it is the first time that I’ve encountered one of these controversial terms in my own ventures.

Let me say that as a business person in a field that is solely based on other businesses looking to my company to meet their needs, I find myself quite often searching for synonyms to outsourcing. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but when I’m advertising, I’m forever brainstorming for words to replace that one that starts with o and ends with source! After all the talk that’s been spinning around Washington and the rest of the country, it seems that it’s turned into a dirty word.

Obviously, most people understand that there are all types of outsourcing. On the other hand, when you’ve got limited time and space are you going to choose a “hot button” word to describe what you’re selling?

What Is A Direct Deposit?

What Is A Direct Deposit?

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Direct deposit has become a very popular way for people to have money deposited into their bank account without having to actually visit the bank. Direct deposit is a form of EFT which stands for Electronic Funds Transfer.

When it comes to direct deposit, employers can electronically deposit a payroll check into an employee’s bank account. This all but eliminates the need for paper checks and visits to the bank to deposit those paper checks. In the U.S. direct deposit has become very popular with many agencies and employers because it reduces the amount of time they have to spend on preparing and handing out paper checks. For some agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, where millions of checks need to be processed each month, these savings can be dramatic.

In addition to the SSA, other government agencies that use direct deposit regularly include the Veteran’s Administration, state unemployment services, the Internal Revenue Service, and a whole host of other agencies.

This type of electronic transfer has many advantages. One of the most important and useful to consumers is that direct deposits will usually post faster than paper checks that are deposited by hand. This allows consumers quicker access to their money.

Another advantage that many consumers find useful, especially the elderly, is that direct deposit does not require traveling to the bank. Those who do not drive or who live a good distance from their bank find this feature especially nice.

Most consumers who use direct deposit can also have their deposit divided up so that some goes into their checking account while other portions go into savings accounts or money market accounts. For those individuals who often forget to do this or do not have the discipline to do this on their own, this can be a very good way to get money into savings’ accounts on a regular basis.

In order to set up a direct deposit you will need to do a few things. You will certainly need to visit the bank and ask them for their guidelines on EFT set up. While most of the process is similar between all banks and credit unions there may be some unique features that your bank uses that you may need to know about. You will also need to visit with your employer’s accounting or HR department to set up your direct deposit account. When you visit with the accounting people have a check with you as they will need to know your account number and routing number.

If you wish to set up a direct deposit with a government agency the best advice is to call the agency and get their requirements straight from them. In most cases, you will see that this is easy to do, and most of this can be handled over the phone.

Direct deposit is popular in the U.S. for a reason and that reason is it works. With today’s technology advances electronic funds transfers are safe and fast and they can save you a lot of time. They are easy to set up and they can provide your money to you faster than traditional methods of using paper checks.

10 Beer Budget Event Marketing Tips

10 Beer Budget Event Marketing Tips

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Are you planning an event or participating in a trade show any time soon? If so, consider the following 10 low-cost marketing tactics before mailing your payment.
Event Marketing Tactic #1 — Is the purchase decision-maker attending the event? Are you certain? Let’s say you sell gifts that help increase employee moral and you’re considering exhibiting at the National Association of Human Resources annual conference. Is your decision-maker attending? Who attends this event — HR directors, managers or VPs? Perhaps all, or a small percentage of all three attend. If your decision-maker is a human resources director, then you’ll want to make sure the event management company can provide you statistics supporting what percentage of the participants have director-level titles. You need to drill down to your target audience. It’s not good enough to say that it’s a human resources related event; rather, is the job title you’re targeting attending? And if so, what percentage of the attendees hold this title? I recommend at least 50-60% before spending any money.
Event Marketing Tactic #2 — What value-added benefits is the venue [trade show organizer] making available to your business? Will they allow you access to the attendee mailing list so you can implement a premailing promoting your one-day trade show special, as well as the location of your booth? Well organized events, at minimum, provide a list of attendees after the event so exhibitors can follow up. More organized events provide participant contact information BEFORE the event as well as after. Other value-added benefits to inquire about include: being included in participant email distributions promoting the event, as well as an advertisement in the event show guide.
Event Marketing Tactic #3 — Target your event qualifying questions around the “who?,” instead of the “how many?. “
Event Marketing Tactic #4 — Giveaways should be relevant to your business. Don’t give something away for free just for the heck of it. Who cares if you collect 10,000 names because you ran a really cool promotion giving away a free 48″ TV. If you’re a personal chef, what does a TV have to do with your business? Nothing! [Unless you’re Emeril. ] Therefore, you’ve just collected 10,000 NON-qualified leads. Instead, as a personal chef you could try, “Sign up to receive our special report, “How to Live Like the Rich; Tips to Hire an Affordable Personal Chef. ” One can assume the majority of business cards deposited in your fish bowl have an interest in personal chefs.
Event Marketing Tactic #5 — Location, location, location. If prospects can’t see you, then you’re wasting your time. Don’t be fooled into purchasing a cheap booth at a last-minute special, such as “One booth remaining at 50% off. ” Chances are no one will be visiting you, since your booth will be tucked away hidden from all eyes. The most ideal locations are found at the entryway to the event and near the pathway to the food stations and restrooms. Corner booths between major walk-throughs are ideal.
Event Marketing Tactic #6 — Some of your most qualified event leads come from networking with other exhibitors. Therefore, secure the exhibitors’ list several days before your event. At minimum, you want to know what competitors will be there so you can mystery shop. What’s more, you want a plan outlining what exhibitors you intend to approach to either pitch your services, or secure an informal partnership. Prepare your plan and your sales-spin before the big day!
Event Marketing Tactic #7 — Would you like to participate in more events but don’t have the budget? Try approaching complementary exhibitors and ask if they’d be interested in sharing booth space with you. Split the costs. Moreover, you can cover for each other when you need a break. Or, look around for hidden advertising money. If you’re a distributor, perhaps you’ve accrued MDF funds [Market Development Funds] a.k.a. advertising coop money, unbeknownst to you. Many companies will allow resellers to spend MDF funds to pay for event booth fees.
Event Marketing Tactic #8 — Save yourself a lot of time and only approach event passersby who make eye contact. People who don’t look at you or your booth are not looking for a reason. Remember, you can only speak to so many people at an event, therefore utilize your precious time wisely. Target those who make eye contact.
Event Marketing Tactic #9 — Make sure you’re allowed to display signs, posters, banners, etc. Treat your signs as miniature billboards. No more than six words and make sure it can be read from at least 10′ away.
Event Marketing Tactic #10 — Don’t pay full price. Remember, almost everything in life is negotiable, including booth fees. Always ask for a price reduction; you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Printed advertising and/or booth fees are just a starting point for negotiations.
P.S…..Stand up, don’t chew gum and try not to talk too much to the other people working your booth. The latter makes you appear unapproachable. Finally, your attire should be slightly better than what you believe attendees will be wearing. For example, if you’re attending an event whereby most of the attendees are engineers, don’t wear a three-piece suit!

Human Resources 101a

Human Resources 101a

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Managing an organization on its way to success has its own challenges, like dealing with economic factors that may or may not stand as obstacles. Ordinarily, one will claim that this is a Human Resource affair. However, some successful organizations have employed more workable techniques to succeed. This is the human resources of today.

The Traditional Role of Human Resources

Most people in an organization will identify the Human Resources Department to anything systematic, policy-related or administrative. Some automatically think that a Human Resources Program will proceed with psychology or endeavor to inculcate any of the three mentioned above.

This traditional method puts emphasis on leadership, cohesiveness and loyalty in an organization. It emphasized on collectivism.

There is nothing completely bad in such traditional view. However, it was criticized for focusing too much on the economic factors of an organization.

This had been confronted further by different aspects and needs. Thus, the field of human resources was also shaped as it adapted to the social or political environment.

Transitional Phase

Times are changing now. The traditional perception must be taken out of the picture. The modern trend now in Human Resources Management is to be more strategic, consultative and interactive.

Human Resources of the 21st Century

It is definitely a desirable change. However, this may not come easily to those who have gotten used to the ‘old school.’

The social climate of the organization is now addressed, rather than being limited to the economic factors. This time the behavior of the individual is given as much importance as the economic structures.

This time around, Human Resources Department pushes even more the firm into performance as each member now is driven by the attention given.

What Should One Expect in the Human Resources Department Now?

1. The department must show that it contributes to fulfilling all the goals of the whole organization. It is not anymore limited to the department.

2. It should provide also bases and dimensions to measure the success of the human resources initiative and the processes applied.

3. All the members of the organization are to be treated and recognized as clients.

4. Finally, it will not hurt to also change the perception of the people with regard to the role of the Human Resources Department.

It is undeniable. It is necessary to further educate people and provide support to this practice.

What Are the Current Initiatives to Fulfill the Goal?

• Human Resources Outsourcing

Normally, people approach the Human Resources Department to consult on matters to regulate relations among members. However, this consultation could also be utilized to break away from the old shell.

Providing services to the other departments of an organization will make the HR Department a more dynamic entity. It could help in determining some processes to realize the vision of a particular department.

• Human Resources Education

The academe can make a big difference in changing the perception.

Improving and developing the literature and the present theories will be helpful in addressing the concerns and the needs of any organization. This is in light of the constantly changing society that concerns the human resources experts and people.

Further studies in the Human Resources can help shape and improve the theories. However, pursuing a career in the Human Resources is expected to contribute to the developments in practice and implementation.

There are initiatives also to spread the knowledge within the organization, down to the most ordinary members. The best way to empower them is to give out Human Resources software that provides an orientation and comprehensive discussion of organizational policies.

• Human Resources and the Law

There are Human Resources laws provided nowadays. This fact is beneficial to most people in the workplace. It establishes the foundations that must be present in any firm or organization. It also sets limits the extent of what human resources will cover, so as not to deprive any person of any basic right or privilege.

There are even some who now implement a Human Resources Program that allows active participation of the employees. They are made part of decision making and the HR Department is tasked to come up with methods and venues to make this endeavor feasible.

Leadership is undeniably important in any organization. It grounds the responsibility and accountability on a single source. However, for any whole to work, its parts must be recognized. That is why the developments in the field of Human Resources are very much welcomed. Human Resources Management must focus on its real strength, on its real resources, the human resources.

Article may be freely distributed as long as content is not altered and Author’s resource box and link remains intact and active.

Business Process Outsourcing

Business Process Outsourcing

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Business process outsourcing used to be exclusively
implemented by manufacturing firms but today, even
service-oriented firms have been benefiting from them.
Business process outsourcing or BPO refers to
activities or functions that are contracted to a third
party to reduce costs, improve productivity and
efficiency, and achieve greater innovation.

Types of Business Process Outsourcing Various
functions of a business can be outsourced. What they
are will depend on your company’s strengths and
weaknesses and its projected benefits.

Customer Relations Management This is arguably the
activity that’s most commonly outsourced by both
manufacturing and service-oriented firms. Indeed, a
huge majority of the BPO industry is composed of call
centers specifically tasked to handle customer
relation needs of client firms.

Equipment Rather than invest in equipment that they
will only occasionally use, companies prefer to
outsource their need for expensive equipment by
renting them instead. Whereas outsourcing agreements
are commonly long-term for customer relation
activities, outsourcing equipment needs are commonly
done on a per-project basis.

Finance and Accounting In dynamic and highly
competitive industries, companies need to focus more
on product development and whatever aspect of their
business that serves as their core competency. Because
of this, the company has lesser time to concentrate on
administrative functions like finance and accounting.
Most companies choose to outsource finance and
accounting functions to continue devoting most of
their attention in improving organizational strengths.

Human Resources One of the best examples of
outsourcing human resources activities is the Bank of
America. For quite some time now, the well-known
banking company has relied on Exult, a BPO human
resource vendor, for all its HR needs.

HR management is not something that just about any
manager can handle as it deals directly with people
and all related issues. Recruitment, compensation, and
performance evaluation are just some of the many key
activities in HR that have direct impact on an
organization’s ability to achieve its goals.

Logistics Logistics refer to the management process of
all materials and goods used and produced by the
business. Typical functions making up a company’s
logistics include but aren’t limited to product
allocation, scheduling, and forecasting, inventory
control, and order entry.

A small fashion designing business may choose to focus
on designing products and then outsourcing its entire
logistics needs to a BPO vendor that’s well-versed and
more experienced in handling such activities.

Supply Chain Management Also known as SCM, this
process involves the planning, implementation, and
control of supply chain functions. Logistics is a part
of supply chain management. Common problems in SCM
include distribution network configuration, inventory
management, integration of information, distribution
strategizing, and cash flow management. For companies
to enjoy success in outsourcing their SCM functions,
they must be prepared to involve their partners in
local and central activities to a certain extent.

Security Finally, most companies nowadays choose to
completely outsource their security needs, regardless
of their preference for automated or human-managed
security. Security is a highly specialized field. An
advertisement firm would hardly know, for instance,
what the best security measures are in cases of

By outsourcing security needs to the appropriate BPO
vendors, companies are rest assured that their assets
are under strict protection of professionals. No
longer having to worry about security concerns,
companies may then concentrate more on other and
pressing activities.

Business process outsourcing is not exclusive to big
businesses and corporations. Your small business can
benefit from BPO, too, if you know the right
activities to outsource.

Microsoft Navision Customization Upgrade – tips for Programmer/IT Specialist

Microsoft Navision Customization Upgrade – tips for Programmer/IT Specialist

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Source: Flickr

When Microsoft bought Navision it had the plan to take over European market of Business Applications. Now Navision has multiple installations in US and it is very good fit for mid-size manufacturing companies. Currently Microsoft Business Solutions is on the way of creating so-called suites: Microsoft Financials, Microsoft Distributions, Microsoft HR, Microsoft Manufacturing. It is very difficult to say which product will be the core of which suite, but the best guess is this: Microsoft Great Plains – Microsoft Financials and probably Distribution/Supply Chain Management and HR, Solomon – Microsoft Project or Professional Services, Navision – Microsoft Manufacturing. If you have Microsoft Business Solutions Navision and support it for your company then you need to know some technical details about Navision version upgrade and what is going on behind the scenes, which options do you have in case of C/SIDE customization or Jet Reports.
The challenge of Navision Upgrade This should be understood by both: software developer and company executive.
• One Dictionary – in contract to such product as Microsoft Great Plains, where customization goes into separate dictionary – Navision customization sits in the same dictionary. This means that when new version is out there – the customization should be re-analyzed and moved from the old dictionary to the new. If you remember the history – Navision actually merged several dictionaries couple of versions back – this was very tough time for customization upgrade
• SQL Server side – from this side upgrade is smooth, because Navision doesn’t use complex SQL functionality and SQL Server itself is rather data storage.
Do I need consultant? It is probably good idea to have consultant to do the upgrade. We strongly recommend you to use consultant in the following cases
• You have C/SIDE customization or any customization for your Navision
• You have a lot of custom Jet Reports
• Your Navision has more than 20 users and you have to have upgrade done over the weekend – if it fails – you have business problems
• You don’t have support – in this case you have to select your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner and pay for the annual support/enhancement plan – you will get new registration key and will be ready for the upgrade
Good luck in upgrading and if you have issues or concerns – we are here to help! If you want us to do the job – give us a call 1-866-528-0577! help@albaspectrum.com

Growing Your Company In Today’s Chaotic Market!

Growing Your Company In Today’s Chaotic Market!

I think we’ve all heard enough bad news to last us few months to last us several lifetimes! Our mantra for clients is “get over it” – cut your losses when where you can and focus on the basic building blocks to grow your business. Here are some fundamentals we recommend to any company that wants to survive and grow in this chaotic market:
1. Practice maniacal focus! Who is your customer, how do you reach them with your advertising, partners, channels and/or OEMs? If you can’t readily identify these benchmarks, then you may need to take a hard look at look at your business structure, personnel, costs of good/services, etc. and rework your model.
2. Outsource and build virtuosity into your company. We tell clients to minimize fixed costs like the feudal barons of old – they kept a core group of fighters to man the garrison walls and hired (outsourced! ) conscripts when the baron from the next door came calling at the castle gates with a legion of longbows behind him to exact tribute. Marketing, finance, HR, IT infrastructure, even product development or manufacturing can be easily outsourced to specialists who have levels of proficiency that you might not be able to afford if you tried to hire them full time.
3. Flex and tier your pricing creatively to minimize barriers to entry. If chaos is the order of the day (and we think it is) then make sure your pricing is tiered or structured so your clients can afford to try out your products and services – and be flexible in your negotiations and look for creative ways to bring new customers aboard.
4. Make your suppliers real business partners! Fed Ex and UPS are setting up shop in their customer’s shipping docks to save valuable time and money and become active business partners. You may not have the clout of a Fortune 1K company/behemoth to leverage Fed Ex but you can ask your suppliers to extend terms, work with you on just in time delivery schedules or get creative with pricing, joint promotions, etc.
5. Ensure your marketing fundamentals are up to snuff! We see so many sloppy web sites that do not address the basic fundamentals of good site design, menus, UI, etc., brochures that are out of date, power point presentations that are barely legible, etc. – basic marketing principals should be addressed; i.e. integrate your color scheme and logo across all marcom materials (digital and traditional), reinforce your branding and positioning with clearly worded value propositions (“we save you X by doing Y”) and ensure your logo and tagline look professional and are used properly.
6. Create and deploy credible PR that isn’t full of fluff; i.e. “market or cost leadership, best of breed technology, leading provider of …, high-performance, etc. ; don’t use terms any editor sees hundreds of times a day! Create PR that is original and truthful – you will stand out from the crowd much better.
7. It’s truly a Global Market! Position your company so you can work with customers all over the world – if you don’t have the resources or personnel (see two above) then partner with a local reseller, dealer or distributor who has an established presence in a country or market which you can’t serve via your corp/home office.
Don’t waste time chasing venture capital – fund your company creatively! Venture capitalists are busy today trying to save their existing portfolio of “.bombs” so don’t waste a lot of your time contacting them! Be creative, talk to friends and family about investing or look to your suppliers to give you extended terms in exchange for a long-term contract, discounted parts, etc.
9. Leverage technology to help you grow your business. A good web site should answer questions for your customers, not leave them frustrated and confused – make sure you address fundamentals with an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), or even setup instant messaging via any number of chat technology providers so people can anonymously ask your sales or c/support personnel questions while they are on your web site.
10. Ignore marketing hype and concentrate on technology that really works. Tried surfing the web via your cell phone and finding a hot bistro in a new neighborhood recently? I hate to pick on this technology du jour, but it rates high on my “hypeometer” at this moment in time. There is a reason why opt-in e-mail advertising is the one of the best ways to reach a target market – its virtually instantaneous, is 24/7 in most cases, very targeted, provides global reach, and drum roll … it really works!

How Much Are You Worth: Consulting Fees

How Much Are You Worth: Consulting Fees

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How much is your time and expertise worth? Its the age old challenge for consultants: how much do I bill my clients? Sadly, there is no set in stone answer, however, here are some tips that will help you establish your rates.

First, lets look at your client’s needs. Why are they hiring an outside consultant, when they have employees? There are several reasons why your client is interested in hiring you as a consultant:

a) third party opinion – employees know where their bread is buttered, so they are less inclined to go against the current direction of the company. As an outsider, there is no concern with offering a different opinion. Your independent opinion can provide a much needed, focused perspective your client’s company needs.

b) you are cheaper – this is what is normally the hardest for new consultants to understand. How can you command $75/hr when your client has reps working for $20/hr. It normally ends up with the consultant charging a lower rates. No more!

The employee:
$20.00 Hourly rate
$ 7.00 Fringe Benefits @ 35%
$10.00 Overhead rate at 50% (computers, office space etc)
$37.00 Total effective pay rate

Hours per year: 2080… Annual salary $76960

The contractor:
$75.00 Hourly rate

Hours per year: 480 (12 weeks, 3 months worth of work)…. Cost of completing the project: $36000

Your client gets the project completed quicker, and you end up saving them over 50%.

c) expertise in a specific area – you clearly can bring something that no other person on their team can. That’s why they called you. As the expert in your chosen field, you can meet your clients needs with quickness and efficiency.

d) motivated to get job done on time, and likely, on budget – your work becomes your reputation. If you take too long, or go over budget, you wont see any future business from your client. However, provide the customer with what they need, under promise and over deliver, and not only will you retain your client for future business, you will get referrals. That’s motivation that no employee has.

Now that you know what is motivating your client, you have the groundwork to start to establish your rates. As show in the second reason for hiring a consultant, while your hourly rate may appear to be more than their employees, it actually works out to be less expensive. Any fears or unease that you have in commanding a hire rate than their employees should now be eased. However, how much more can you charge?

Who is your competition?
Establish what their rates are, and then confirm what can they offer. Can you honestly provide more services, better customer service and come under budget or on time? If your competitors can provide more than you, you’ll find that you may only be able to compete with a lower rate. However, if you can offer more, and have the proven results to back up that claim, you can justify a higher rate.

One key factor to remember is that if you charge a lower rate than your customer, you open yourself up to clients who will demand more of your time (it doesn’t cost them as much as your competition). This may lead to finishing projects past due and scheduling conflicts with other clients. So while you may be able to charge an extra $40 per hour for example, you may end up losing clients, and worse, having client demands cut into your personal time.

If you bill a higher rate, you may surprisingly find that you get better clients, and more referrals. If you can justify a higher rate, your clients will be very specific with you in terms of what their needs are (saving you time). Clients who are willing to pay a higher rate, will referral other clients who are willing to pay a higher rate.

Your rate will impact the amount of business you receive. One term successful consultants learn very early is to understand the concept of value billing. Instead of billing by the hour (which many of your clients will be leery of), consider billing by the project.

By negotiating an amount the client will pay based on the project, you can establish milestones at which payments will be made, and provide added motivation to get the job done and the client signed off quicker. If the project is going to take you 10 hours, consider negotiating an amount for 1.5 to 2x your normal hourly rate. If you get the job done in 5 hours, you get paid the full amount, not for 5 hours. The client is happy because they know what the cost ceiling is, and most importantly, the project is delivered early.

Another benefit of value billing is that you can set up milestones whereby you can get paid. If you advise your client that the project will be completed in say, 6 weeks, and comprise of 3 phases, you can receive payment from them when each phase is complete. Finish early, you get paid early and your client is happy. Finish behind schedule and your client isnt paying for work that isn’t complete yet.

This method helps to improve your cash flow. This is key for any self employed consultant.

So, how much are you worth now?