More efficient work distribution and greater productivity;

  • More efficient work distribution and greater productivity;
  • Workflow ensures that new staff follows established procedures, eliminating errors;
  • Ability to demonstrate compliance with regulations and policies;
  • 300% increase in the number of student verifications handled over the paper-based system, while requiring fewer staff.

The roman god janus had two sets of eyes – one pair focusing on what lay behind, the other on what lay ahead

The Roman god Janus had two sets of eyes – one pair focusing on what lay behind, the other on what lay ahead. General Managers and corporate executives should be able to relate. They, too, must constantly look backward, attending to the products and processes of the past, while also gazing forward, preparing for the innovations that will define the future.

This mental balancing act can be one of the toughest of all managerial challenges – it requires executives to explore new opportunities even as they work diligently to exploit existing capabilities – and it’s no surprise that few companies do it well. Most successful enterprises are adept at refining their current offerings, but they falter when it comes to pioneering radically new products and services. Kodak and Boeing are just two of the more recent examples of once dominant companies that have failed to adapt to market changes.

Kodak excelled at analog photography but hasn’t been able to make the leap to digital cameras. Boeing, a longtime leader in commercial aircraft, has experienced difficulties in its defense-contracting businesses and has recently stumbled in the face of competition from Airbus.

The failure to achieve breakthrough innovations while also making steady improvements to an existing business is so commonplace – and so fascinating – that it has become a battleground of management thought. For decades, scholars have spun theories to explain the puzzle and offered advice on how to solve it. Some have argued that there’s no way out of the conundrum, that established companies simply lack the flexibility to explore new territory.

Some have suggested that big companies adopt a venture capital model, funding exploratory expeditions but otherwise staying out of their way. Others have pointed to cross-functional teams as the key to creating breakthrough innovations. Still others have claimed that a company may be able to shift back and forth between different organizational models, focusing on exploitation for a period and then moving into exploration mode.

We recently decided to test these and other theories by taking a close look at the real world, examining how actual, contemporary businesses fare when they attempt to pursue innovations that lie beyond their current products or markets. Do they succeed in achieving breakthroughs? Do their existing businesses suffer? What organizational and managerial structures do they use? What works, and what doesn’t?

We discovered that some companies have actually been quite successful at both exploiting the present and exploring the future, and as we looked more deeply at them we found that they share important characteristics. In particular, they separate their new, exploratory units from their traditional, exploitative ones, allowing for different processes, structures, and cultures; at the same time, they maintain tight links across units at the senior executive level.

In other words, they manage organizational separation through a tightly integrated senior team. We call these kinds of companies “ambidextrous organizations,” and we believe they provide a practical and proven model for forward-looking executives seeking to pioneer radical or disruptive innovations while pursuing incremental gains.

“The Ambidextrous Organization”, Charles A. O’Reilly III and Michael L. Tushman, Harvard Business Review, April 2004.

One of the most important things in family business management is ensuring that personal relationships among family members are keep strong enough to stand the test of time even if the business does not

One of the most important things in family business management is ensuring that personal relationships among family members are keep strong enough to stand the test of time even if the business does not. It is important to understand that family bonds are much more valuable than business, because a business can be replaced but your family cannot. Family members working together and considering each others needs and feelings will go a long way towards building a successful business.

Business and leisure are sometimes difficult to separate when families work and play together.  However, family business owners must deal with these types of issues on a daily basis. A good way to do this is to establish a solid business plan that outlines the daily duties and responsibilities of each family member actively involved in the business.

Establishing a solid business plan and work schedule will lighten the pressure on management personnel in situations where family members do not adhere to their own policies, rules and regulations. Family members that choose to slack off rather than pull their fair share of the workload will essentially write their own admonishments.

It is important to realize, however, that family business management is not simple at all. There are times when difficult decisions have to be made to ensure the survival and profitability of the business. Any type of business should be managed as a serious entity and not just as a hobby, whether it is a family owned business or not. Many organizations experience failure within the first year when not managed properly.

To avoid this failure, family members must commit themselves seriously to their own business just as they would commit themselves to punching the clock of an outside company. At times though, it can become difficult to maintain your focus or sense of purpose when all you have to do is walk down the hall to start work. However, management must ensure that all employees stay on track as much as possible.

It is also important to tackle issues of family succession, especially if the business owners have more than one child. There have been numerous cases where children of business owners fight over ownership rights. Owners must make it clear who establishes ownership of the business due to sudden death or any other unforeseen circumstances. This process can be accomplished through business succession planning. Having a defined succession plan in place will enable all the children to live harmoniously with one another while helping the business succeed.

There should also be a family member designated as the company leader or president to handle all business affairs. The leader should be capable of making sound business decisions, as well as maintaining the trust and respect of other family members. All family members and business partners must feel as comfortable as possible with business decisions and the over all direction to the company. Successful family business management will help minimize inner fighting and bickering among family members and make for a more profitable and long-term family business.

Have you ever wondered how some of the biggest player in the business world carry about their business and why they have a dominating effect on the market

Have you ever wondered how some of the biggest player in the business world carry about their business and why they have a dominating effect on the market?

It is as much intriguing as it is fascinating.

Again, why do we trust a Mc Donald’s or Wal Mart more than anything else? Why kids always wanted a Nike shoes or an Adidas gears? Why do we dream of owning a Ferrari or a BMW?

It’s the brand that we dream. We want to possess the best accessories, travel in the most expensive vehicle, spend some time in world class hotels and eat at some of the finest restaurants. It’s a wonder how these brands capture every person’s imagination. How can they influence us so much?

First of all, behind each of these brand, is a person who can think twice or thrice or even four times as much as we can; who has the ability to take some of the toughest decisions or even some of the riskiest ones; who follows his dream so fiercely that no setback can put brakes on his speed. He is a leader, a motivator and a mentor.

For a successful business, you need a team. One of the grossest mistake is to include people who are incompetent and inefficient. It increases your own burden. Don’t include someone because he/she is your friend or relative. Having experts in a team certainly has advantages. It’s always good to have five great back-up ideas instead of sticking to one and hoping for the best. Again, synergy of values and attitudes is more critical for an organisation.

Choosing the right kind of market is very important for a business. Look if you are making contributions or not. Again, the product you choose should make an impact on the consumer. It should fundamentally change something that generates value. It is very important for a budding business to look at purpose , not money.

Learning to value your customer is very important in a business. If you look at the best hotels, they maintain a database of their customers. So, the next time they check in, they are greeted as MR X or Y and not as some random strangers . this actually makes quite a difference. The customer feels that they are back to a place where they are valued. It instill customers trust on the brand. Again, who is not aware of Mc Donald’s quality and service? whether you eat something here or in some other country, Mc Donald’s product tastes the same. Such is their emphasis on quality and taste. BMW allows its customer to choose even the colour of their seat, when they place an order. Moreover, it also gives its customer the flexibility of changing anything like colour, design etc just 5 days before the delivery date.

People always say, if you can sell a wrapper, you can do business.According to me, it’s nothing but cheating. However, the above mentioned brands don’t make a fool out of their customers. So, it’s always advisable for a business not to get associated with something that just sells. It can generate money but certainly not respect and trust. If one want to retain their costumer and also attract new ones, then they have to show complete honesty and provide the best of services.

The key to a successful business is perseverance. Certainly, you are not going to make any difference in a year or two. Be prepared to remain low key for a considerable period of time but atleast stick to it. Never compromise on quality and always remember your costumer. In 3 yrs time people will recognise you for your service and few more years of hard work can make your company a brand and you, an overnight, hang on…

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By ray myers, jr

By Ray Myers, Jr., PMP

Your success in winning new projects may be due in-part to the rate you charge for your services. Set your rate too high and you won’t win the business. Set your rate too low and you’ll be leaving money on the table. Somewhere between the high and low extremes is the right answer, but how do you find the sweet spot?

Here are 3 steps to determine your optimum billing rate.

Needs and Assumptions

First, you’ll need to document your current financial needs and make some assumptions about your availability and the number of hours you will be able to bill in a year. Answer the following questions, but be realistic in the assessment of your needs and expenses.

SALARY: state your desired salary in annual terms, for example, $75,000 per year. Be sure to include any taxes you will be responsible to pay.

VACATION: usually 2 weeks per year.

TRAINING: usually 2 weeks per year.

SICK: most freelancers add 2 sick weeks per year even if they have no history of taking time off due to illness.

HOLIDAYS and other time not available: we average 10 holidays per year in the United States. 10 days at 8 hour each is 80 hours or 2 weeks per year.

UTILIZATION: this is an estimate of how much you will work during the year. It’s unlikely that you will bill every available hour, so use a realistic number, say 75%, that is to say that you expect to bill 75% of your available hours.

EXPENSES: an estimate of the cost of tools, computer, software, telephone, internet, email, licenses, insurance, rent or other related expenses needed to produce the contract deliverables, for example $2,500 per year.

The Calculation

Here are the 4 formulas used to calculate an hour rate and a worked example using the assumptions documented above. We will base our calculations on a 40 hour work week x 52 weeks in a year or 2,080 hours available to work in a year.

AVAILABLE HOURS = 2080 – 80 -80 -80 -80 =1,760 AVAILABLE HOURS PER YEAR

BILLABLE HOURS = 1,760 x .75 = 1,320 this is the number of planned billable hours per year.

REQUIRED REVENUE = $75,000 + $2,500 = $77, 500

BILL RATE = $77,500 / 1,320 = $58.71 per hour

This means that if you bill 1,320 hours at a rate of $58.71 per hour, you will be able to pay your annual salary, take vacations and time off for holidays, and pay your consulting expenses for the year.

Don’t be afraid to modify the assumptions and rerun the calculations until you have determined an hourly rate that meets the needs of your situation. I suggest using a spreadsheet to perform the calculations. It makes it easy to modify the assumptions and rework the numbers until you have determined your optimal hourly rate.

The Competition

Now that you have calculated your hourly rate, it’s time to analyze the rates of your competition for bids on similar work. It is important to carefully analyze your competition in local, national or international terms. If you determine that your primary competition is local, then it’s a safe bet that the local competitors will be making many of the same assumptions that you made in your calculations and that their rates may be similar to your rate. The primary differences, if any, may be due to differing SALARY requirements and the expected UTILIZATION rate. Reconsider your assumptions and adjust your bill rate if necessary to bring it in line with the local or national competition, if needed.

Competing with international based competitors may be more challenging. You may find it hard to compete if your international competitors are charging the equivalent of $15 per hour when your bill rate is over $58 per hour. Or conversely, you may find it easier to undercut your international competition by charging lower rates because of differences in monetary exchange values and living standards.

Lowest bill rates are not always the best. If you decide to charge higher rates than the competition, be prepared to distinguish yourself with a better proposal, higher quality deliverables, or superior references.