Developing A Business Strategy – To Emphasize Or Not An Analysis

Market opportunities have a high tendency to get overlooked in modern day business environment. Competent entrepreneurs, business owners understand the fact well and strive to explore new solutions to stay competitive in the market.

Do you consider yourself a smart and forward thinking business person? Have you ever taken any unique or decisive action in contingency that outperformed your conventional management policies? If the answer is yes, you are a strategic thinker. How can you assure that all of your strategies are effective?

You may not have counted on the major threats either from competitors or the ever changing business environment. Whether your company is a multi-billion turnover enterprise or start up business, you need to maintain a more formal and structured planning process for your business.

Understand why strategy is important for your survival:

Did you complete a SWOT analysis (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat) even before thinking of setting up the business? The business environment is changing fast, along with customers requirements too. It can be the challenge against potential competitors or perhaps external forces like – Political, social, economic, technological, environmental or legislative factors that keep you on your toes.

If your business is going through a bad phase and the poor performance has let you down to your stakeholders, keeping a recovery option is crucial.

Even if the environment is stable and friendly now, every company needs to review the current situation and prepare a strategy for future protection. In fact, you may need to find new insights to deliver value to your customers.

For all these extremities a well-managed corporate entity must accommodate an advocate who would supervise the situation in real time. To simplify, you need a dedicated strategy consultant answering all of your strategic questions round the years.

What does a business strategy consulting solution have to offer you?

First, make yourself understand the definition of comprehensive business strategy. It is all about navigating and streamlining existing business process and policies in the most cost effective way. Intellects combined with forecasting expertise is what defines business strategy consulting.

What more you can expect:

Coordination and overall direction to achieve desired end results

Investigating the business stability and produce analytical reports and recommendations

To be made aware of potential threats and suggest a preparation plan

Provide you strategic advice on various business expansion processes.
For example, mergers and acquisitions due diligence

Advise you on a buyer’s criteria and their changing buying decisions.

Reviewing company financials and safeguarding stakeholders interests

Detailing business reviews and improving future performance

Exercising long term management plans to avoid business uncertainties

Doing comprehensive market research based on company internal data and market/industry trends

All these solutions are realistic and quite possible if handled by professionals and strategic Gurus.

Then what stops you more from having a better and formal strategy for your business?

Well, the implication of this negative mind-set is detrimental. Still people have an assumption that if a business is running well why changing the winning formula?
Sometimes management may get confused with pace of the changes or feel it complicated. For them, reluctance comes from unnecessary fear of change.

However, you must not deviate from your long term aim i.e. to establish the pillar of business prosperity system. Using a strategic approach would always keep you on that winning track. One must learn that proper business coaching is the key to real success.

IT Project Management for Software Development

ABOUT THE CUSTOMER Incorporated in 2000, Abritas is an independent supplier of web-based, fully managed business systems to over 180 local authorities throughout the United Kingdom (UK), including housing associations and social care providers.

Abritas offers a range of modules to manage key areas of social housing including housing register, choice-based lettings, homelessness, enhanced housing options and tenancies and rents. The company’s fully integrated web solution is available across key aspects of social housing to provide applicants and staff with a complete solution from online applications to online advertisement and bidding, shortlisting and social housing allocation.

MAIN CHALLENGES Replace Microsoft Project desktop Manage project budgets, resources and performance more closely Offer greater project task visibility for overruns to ensure swift action Abritas’ expansion and growth created the need to more closely manage project budgets, resources and the performance of the growing number of client implementation projects running concurrently. With a separate timesheet system used to track time, and Microsoft Project used to track project progress, the company relied on a number of manual reports that were created to determine costs and to monitor performance.

“Estimating accurate costs at the start of a project, and the expected cost at completion, was a challenge,” explains the program manager. “More often than not, issues relating to project task overruns were not visible early enough to take action. The management team had to rely on manual reports being created on a weekly basis to track status and highlight any risks or delays across the project program.”

WHY PROJECT INSIGHT Program planning to determine project costs and profit estimates Project planning that provides regular updates and status reports Project financial performance reporting to monitor each project’s current and forecasted profit based on real-time status and costs incurred Program performance reporting that provides overall profit monitoring across all projects and specific alerts relating to major cost overruns Project documentation to ensure quality checks are completed at critical points in the project Custom forms and fields to manage product enhancement requests and plan future system releases based on priority enhancements Abritas identified four key criteria that a potential solution would need in order to address the major challenges faced by both project managers and the management team:

Identify a project management solution to replace Microsoft Project desktop Ensure the solution could replace timesheets with an easy-to-use interface Provide real-time project progress reporting that closely monitored the entire project program, highlighting delays or task overruns affecting project profitability Provide each project resource with a clear list of tasks along with the order to be completed, and when “In meeting with team leaders across the business, we identified an additional key criterion: the need to replace the system we used to manage the issues or faults our clients identified,” the program manager says.

By integrating this issue management functionality into the project management solution, project managers would be able to raise issues specifically against project tasks, assign these to individuals for resolution and track the time spent resolving each issue.

After searching the market to identify which project management solutions potentially met the majority of the company’s criteria, the program manager selected three providers to undergo a four-step trial.

He explains: “The three solutions were scored based on each of our key evaluation criteria, their general ease of use, and their general ability to customize the project management software specifically to our own requirements. Of the three solutions, Project Insight not only scored highest in each of the key criteria, it was the only solution that could be self-hosted or installed on premise which, though not a key requirement originally, offered us the ability to take ownership of the solution and technology while being fully supported by the Project Insight technical support team.”

THE RESULTS See a complete picture of actual project costs incurred to date and the expected forecasted profit at project completion Take quick action to mitigate key areas of overrun or concern Capture projects and time within a single system to more accurately assess performance Obtain an easy-to-use software solution to manage projects more closely within a collaborative environment Provide a project management solution tailored to Abritas’ business needs to ensure the company proactively manages project delivery and analyzes performance for future improvements Project Insight was installed in May 2010, and by October 2010 all client implementation projects had been migrated into the project management software.

What’s the biggest benefit of implementing Project Insight project management software?

According to the program manager, “It’s having a complete picture of the actual project costs incurred to date and the expected forecasted profit at project completion. Previously we manually compiled this information from reports generated within separate systems, which was time consuming. And, in reality, the information was out of date by the time it was compiled. There was no ability to really analyze or drill into the data specifically when project performance was suffering.”

Because both project managers and the management team now have a real-time picture of project performance, they can quickly take action to mitigate key areas of overrun or concern. With projects and time captured within a single system, project managers now can more accurately assess performance and, retrospectively, adapt project plans to ensure greater accuracy in the future.

The program manager sums up, “Project Insight offers our users an easy-to-use solution with all the benefits of Microsoft Project and a time management solution, but with the capability we require to manage projects more closely within a collaborative environment. We now have the ability to more accurately plan timescales and costs during the sales process as well as more closely manage projects’ performance to reduce overrun and maximize profitability. The Project Insight solution also enables us to tailor our own business needs to ensure we proactively manage project delivery while analyzing project performance to address areas for future improvement.”

Project Insight worked so well for project management, that now the development teams also use the software to more accurately plan their system releases and determine resource requirements.

Pretty on Peaks The Pink North Face Jacket

Has the normal black and grey winter wear got you down? Feeling a bit drab in your fleece lately? It might just be time to go bold and get into a pink North Face jacket!’ Don’t be shy, we assure you the pink North Face jacket comes in all your favorite cuts and styles, it just happens to be pink’and proud! Stand out against nature’s grand backdrop in your pink North Face jacket and never get lost in the trees again ‘ and if you do, somebody is sure to find you.

If your inner-girl is feeling pent up, pull out your favorite pink North Face jacket and get out of the house for a little attention. These top styles in the pink North Face jacket are sure to convert even the biggest tomboy!

The Standards, Revisited

When it comes to jackets and fleeces for the outdoors, most people have a favorite they will stick to for many years. Lucky for pink lovers, North Face makes a pink North Face jacket in most of these classic lines.’ The ‘Eco-Engineered Denali Hoodie’ takes after the classic Denali design, but this pink North Face jacket is made of recycled Polartec 300 mid-weight fleece and 100% post industrial/consumer waste. This pink North Face jacket is sure to last any seasoned backpacker at least a few seasons with its abrasion reinforced shoulders and elbows.

Another classic favorite is the ‘Momentum Jacket.’ Convenient pockets are hidden from the design by invisible sippers and an easy-grab chest pocket is perfect for lip balm and car keys. Fret not, this fancy piece of outdoor gear is a proud member of the pink North Face jacket family as well! Full-torso pink is broken up by sold black sleeves, creating a streamlined and professional look on this pink North Face jacket.

North Face Gets Plush

Going with the pink territory, the newer designs of the pink North Face jacket are in plush fabrics and satin-like quilting. The ‘Mossbud’ ‘ zip fleece pullover looks especially luxurious in pink aurora pink. Get cozy in front of a fireplace with the ‘Mossbud’ on and it could easily become your favorite pink North Face jacket of all time!

For those of you who prefer to take your lavish pink look to a more sophisticated ski-bunny style of pink North Face jacket, we introduce the ‘Aconcagua Jacket.’ High quality goose down contributes to the elegant look and feel of this pink North Face jacket, and the signature quilted appearance tops it off! Layer the ‘Aconcagua’ pink North Face jacket over the ‘Mossbud’ fleece and really blow the lid off ski club when you get to the bottom of the mountain!

Whether you’re serious about the outdoors and ready to summit some peaks, or you simply enjoy high quality warm weather clothes to cuddle up in, a pink North Face jacket in a traditional or more revolutionary design will fit your needs quite nicely ‘ while ensuring that you are easy to pick out in that photograph from the slopes!

Myths Of Airport Advertising India

Airport Advertising India is a prominent Advertising Platform that has always been adopted by the top brands for various promotional campaigns. However, there are still a few myths that circulate in the industry circles about this medium. These ill-researched notions are the top reasons why some of the brands are still hesitant in contacting Airport Advertising Agencies in India. This article discusses these myths and points out the reasons as to why they are nothing but highly inaccurate conjectures cooked by sources that chose to be unmindful of the facts.

High Cost

This is the first factor that comes into question. Brands opting out of the medium due to its high costs are common occurrences. Though it is true that Airport Advertising does cost higher than most other mediums, it is only the first half of the tale. What the myth propagators conveniently overlook are the High Returns on Investment (RoI) that the medium offers. The RoI from the airport medium is, in fact, way higher than even the media that cost more. Looking at only the investment part of the platform without considering the returns part at all is either a short sightedness or reeks of an intention to create myths. The brands, that have become royal patrons, know that the high returns, commanded by the medium, make the cost a worthwhile investment.

Only Selective Audiences

A reason why the relatively smaller brands do not include the discussed platform in their media spend is that they have formed an opinion that it is for those looking for an affluent audience only. It is true that affluent audiences form the cream of an Airport Audience, but with the surging popularity of low cost airlines, the upper middle class has also become an integral part of the audience. This new opportunity is only likely to grow with the Tier II and Tier III cities in India set to gain their own airports. With their number to reach 400 by the year 2030, there are whole new dimensions to the audience types that will be incorporated into the medium. One of the reasons why such a decision received a boost is the encouraging response received by the low cost carriers.

Time Consuming

Another impression, doing the rounds, is that due to the nature of the medium, a campaign would take much time in getting launched. Considering the large sizes of airports, this viewpoint is understandable. However, the reverse is true; as such a big transit point requires functioning at a highly organized fashion. Contrary to the stated myth, installing displays at the airports take much lesser time. The record time for complete installation at 4 airports in India and client intimidation, as set by TDI International India (P) Limited, is merely 13 hours from the signing of the contract.

Hassles

Airports are some of the most heavily guarded civilian places in the world. The impression that attaining the necessary clearances might involve hassle-filled procedures is understandable in this regard. However, the AAI ensures that the Advertising Licenses are given only to the agencies that have the requisite resources and experience to run campaigns in the prescribed manner. Due to this stringent selection, operational hassles are only at the bare minimum at the later stages. In fact, if the agency holds exclusive rights on the airport, these hassles do not exist at all.

The Airport Medium is often referred to as the king of OOH in India. Brands that have benefitted and are benefitting from the medium will second that reference. It is tragic that, due to the above myths that float in the market, some of the brands stay away from the rich benefits of the platform that has been accorded the highest position in Advertising in India.

The Evolution Of Business Analysts

Software application development has only been around since the late 1970s. Compared to other industries and professions the software industry is still very young. Ever since organizations began to use computers to support their business tasks, the people who create and maintain those “systems” have become more and more sophisticated and specialized. This specialization is necessary because as computer systems become more and more complex, no one person can know how to do everything.

One of the “specialties” to arise is the Business Analyst. A Business Analyst is a person who acts as a liaison between business people who have a business problem and technology people who know how to create solutions. Although some organizations have used this title in non-IT areas of the business, it is an appropriate description for the role that functions as the bridge between people in business and IT. The use of the word “Business” is a constant reminder that any application software developed by an organization should further improve its business operations, either by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or increasing service level to the customers.

History of the Business Analyst Role

In the 1980s when the software development life cycle was well accepted as a necessary step, people doing this work typically came from a technical background and were working in the IT organization. They understood the software development process and often had programming experience. They used textual requirements along with ANSI flowcharts, dataflow diagrams, database diagrams, and prototypes. The biggest complaint about software development was the length of time required to develop a system that didn’t always meet the business needs. Business people had become accustomed to sophisticated software and wanted it better and faster.

In response to the demand for speed, a class of development tools referred to as CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) were invented. These tools were designed to capture requirements and use them to manage a software development project from beginning to end. They required a strict adherence to a methodology, involved a long learning curve, and often alienated the business community from the development process due to the unfamiliar symbols used in the diagrams.

As IT teams struggled to learn to use CASE tools, PCs (personal computers) began to appear in large numbers on desktops around the organization. Suddenly anyone could be a computer programmer, designer and user. IT teams were still perfecting their management of a central mainframe computer and then suddenly had hundreds of independent computers to manage. Client-server technologies emerged as an advanced alternative to the traditional “green screen,” keyboard-based software.

The impact on the software development process was devastating. Methodologies and classic approaches to development had to be revised to support the new distributed systems technology and the increased sophistication of the computer user prompted the number of software requests to skyrocket.

Many business areas got tired of waiting for a large, slow moving IT department to rollout yet another cumbersome application. They began learning to do things for themselves, or hiring consultants, often called Business Analysts, who would report directly to them, to help with automation needs. This caused even more problems for IT which was suddenly asked to support software that they had not written or approved. Small independent databases were created everywhere with inconsistent, and often, unprotected data. During this time, the internal Business Analyst role was minimized and as a result many systems did not solve the right business problem causing an increase in maintenance expenses and rework.

New methodologies and approaches were developed to respond to the changes, RAD (rapid application development), JAD (joint application development), and OO (object oriented) tools and methods were developed.

As we began the new millennium, the Internet emerged as the new technology and IT was again faced with a tremendous change. Once again, more sophisticated users, anxious to take advantage of new technology, often looked outside of their own organizations for the automation they craved. The business side of the organization started driving the technology as never before and in a large percentage of organizations began staffing the Business Analyst role from within the operational units instead of from IT. We now have Marketing Directors, Accountants, Attorneys, and Payroll Clerks performing the role of the Business Analyst.

In addition, the quality movement that had started in the 70s with TQM, came into focus again as companies looked for ways to lower their cost of missed requirements as they expanded globally. The ISO (International Standards Organization) set quality standards that must be adhered to when doing international business. Carnegie Mellon created a software development quality standard CMM (Capability Maturity Model). Additionally, Six Sigma provided a disciplined, data-driven quality approach to process improvement aimed at the near elimination of defects from every product, process, and transaction. Each of these quality efforts required more facts and rigor during requirements gathering and analysis which highlighted the need for more skilled Business Analysts familiar with the business, IT, and quality best practices.

Future of the Business Analyst Role

Today we see Business Analysts coming from both the IT and business areas. In the best situations, the Business Analyst today has a combination of IT and business skills. Each organization has unique titles for these individuals and the structure of Business Analyst groups is as varied as the companies themselves. However, there is a core set of tasks that most Business Analysts are doing regardless of their background or their industry.

The Business Analyst role becomes more critical as project teams become more geographically dispersed.
Outsourcing and globalization of large corporations have been the driving factors for much of this change recently. When the IT development role no longer resides inside our organizations, it becomes necessary to accurately and completely define the requirements in more detail than ever before. A consistent structured approach, while nice to have in the past, is required to be successful in the new environment. Most organizations will maintain the Business Analyst role as an “inhouse” function. As a result, more IT staff are being trained as Business Analysts.

The Business Analyst role will continue to shift its focus from “Software” to “Business System.”
Most Business Analysts today are focused on software development and maintenance, but the skills of the Business Analyst can be utilized on a larger scale. An excellent Business Analyst can study a business area and make recommendations about procedural changes, personnel changes, and policy changes in addition to recommending software. The Business Analyst can help improve the business system not just the business software.

The Business Analyst role will continue to evolve as business dictates.
Future productivity increases will be achieved through re-usability of requirements. Requirements Management will become another key skill in the expanding role of the Business Analyst as organizations mature in their understanding of this critical expertise. The Business Analyst is often described as an “Agent of Change.” Having a detailed understanding of the organization’s key initiatives, a Business Analyst can lead the way to influence people to adapt to major changes that benefit the organization and its business goals. The role of a Business Analyst is an exciting and secure career choice as U.S. companies continue to drive the global economy.

Training for the Business Analyst

The skill set needed for a successful Business Analyst is diverse and can range from communication skills to data modeling. A Business Analyst’s educational and professional background may vary as well–some possess an IT background while others come from the business stakeholder area.

With backgrounds as diverse and broad as these it is difficult for a Business Analyst to possess all the skills necessary to perform successful business analysis. Companies are finding that individuals with a strong business analysis background are difficult to locate in the marketplace and are choosing to train their employees to become Business Analysts in consistent structured approaches. First, organizations seeking formal business analysis training should examine vendors who are considered “experts” on the field with a strong focus on business analysis approaches and methodologies. Second, you will want to examine the quality of the training vendor’s materials. This may be done by researching who wrote a vendor’s materials and how often they are updated to stay abreast of industry best practices. Third, matching the real-world experience of instructors to the needs and experience level of your organization is critical to successful training. Business analysis is an emerging profession and it is critical that the instructors that you choose have been practicing Business Analysts.