Monday, November 1, 2021

How to Disagree with Your Client (or Boss)

How to Disagree with Your Client
"You can disagree without being disagreeable." - Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar.

Disagreement, whether with a client (or your boss) can be very healthy and helpful as long as you present your point in a positive and agreeable way. General George Patton once said, "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

It's not unusual to shy away from disagreeing with your client. However, disagreements in working with a client can be very healthy and helpful. Most people find that they appreciate having alternative points of view as they strive to make a decision.

Disagreement is not about being right verses wrong. Disagreement can be very helpful as long as you present your point in a positive and agreeable way.

Is The Client Wrong?
Before getting into a discussion with your client to tell them that they’re wrong, ask yourself, “Is the client wrong to begin with?” Just because you don’t agree with the direction they requested of you doesn’t necessarily mean it is not correct for the project. Consider that while you have a better approach, it's not the case that you are right and they are wrong.

Stay Calm
This is the most important thing you can do to keep a conversation on track. It can be a challenge to stay calm and rational when you feel angry or passionate about something, especially if the person you're talking with feels equally angry or passionate. Try to make sure the conversation stays focused on facts and not on anything personal. You may need to manage the conversation and make an effort to stay calm. In turn, you staying calm will likely have a calming effect on the other person.

Give Options Not Objections
If you can’t think up a better idea than what your client offered, then what is the purpose is the disagreement? You might not like the presented idea. However if you can’t come up with something to replace it with, then you must go with what they requested.

Provide suggestions that your client sees as actions, not just objections. Instead of pointing out that their suggestion is wrong, promise you will provide alternative solutions. Demonstrate how your suggestions are a better approach to addressing the project, and how they will still work to address the client's goals.

Back Up Your Suggestions with Evidence
If your client is not persuaded by your arguments, produce evidence that backs up your recommendations. This evidence can come in many forms such as articles and blog posts from respected experts, testimonials from other clients for whom you have worked on a similar project, or provide well-known cases where the same thing you are suggesting was tried and had positive results. To make a strong case against your opposition, it's important that you do and present your research.

When They Still Want to Proceed With Their Plan
In the end, they are your client: It’s their business and decision to make. The best you can do is offer your professional advice and clearly lay out concerns before agreeing to do the work. Then, move forward to do the best for your client with the plan that is now set in place.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post.
David Schuchman

Friday, October 1, 2021

Non Profits - Improve Fund Raising via Email Marketing

In fundraising, raising money can be a challenge. For those on the fundraising staff, you ask individuals for donations and hope you reach your goal. If you’re a board member at a nonprofit organization looking for a way to raise money and improve your funding efforts, creating an effective email marketing campaign may be just what your organization needs.

Here are some tips for creating an effective email marketing campaign that can produce a relevant ROI.
Create an Email Address List
To begin with, put together a list of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Start thinking outside the box... You have doctors, sports club members and a barber that might support you. It doesn’t hurt to ask so you can build the biggest list you can by including everyone you can think of. However, be cautious of downloading or buying lists. Some of those lists may contain email addresses that are no longer valid. Or you may be reported for spamming to people that do not know you or your cause.

Set a Realistic Fundraising Goal
Let your supporters know about your cause, goal amount and goal progress. Many donors will set their personal gifting level a little higher to help you meet your stated goal when they feel they are a part of the process. You may even end up doing a little better than you expect.

Make it Personal
Remember your inspiration. There’s a reason why you are supporting this cause. Let your potential donors know why the cause is important to you. The more personal you can make it the better. Your donor friends will more likely connect with the cause if you bring that energy to your fundraising efforts.

Send a Follow Up Message
If the gifting pace is not proceeding as you hope, a little reminder nudge won't hurt anyone. If someone has indicated that they want to donate but hasn’t, don’t hesitate to follow-up with a phone call or reminder email. This is especially important as the time you have to fundraise runs down. People respond to deadlines!

Send a Thank You Note
It’s a simple thing to do, but also one of the most powerful. Make sure to say thank you to everyone who supported your cause. Not only will your acknowledgement will be appreciated by them, it may inspire your donors to donate in the future.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post.
David Schuchman

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Why Work as a Consultant

A consultant is a professional who works under a fixed contract to complete a specific project, task or assignment. Typically, a consultant is an expert or an experienced professional in a specific field, has a wide knowledge of the subject matter and required skills, and provides a service or expert advice to others – professionally.

If you have been unemployed for a while, you may want to consider working as a consultant as an alternative to working as an employee.

Some Differences between an Employee and Consulting Working Arrangement
There's a lot to think about before deciding whether the life of an independent contractor would suit you. Here are some important points to consider:
  • An employee typically receives a benefits package as part of the offered compensation. This may include paid time off, retirement savings contributions and subsidized medical, dental and life insurance.
    • As a consultant, you do not usually get employer-paid benefits.
  • When employed, your employer pays ½ of the cost for social security and Medicare employment taxes – 7.65% (as of 2016) of gross income.
    • A consultant, if self-employed, pays the full employment taxes - all 15.3% of gross income.
  • Employees are paid via a paycheck. The employer reports your year-end income via a form W2.
    • A consultant, when not employed by a representative company, must send an invoice to the client. The client reports your year-end income via a form 1099-Misc.
  • As an employee, you have limited income tax deductions related to your work expenses.
    • As a consultant, you may have available income tax deductions related to technology equipment, home-office space, travel for work and others. See an accountant to learn what may be available to you.

Employer’s Benefits to Hiring a Consultant over an Employee
Employers can reap some rewards by contracting with independent contractors/consultants instead of hiring new employees. Among those are:
  • Easier to hire / Easier to fire – The hiring and termination of a contract consultant usually requires less documentation. There is no employment on-boarding process. And, there is no documentation or continual performance tracking needed to justify a termination.
  • No long term commitment – Employers contract for a consultant for a fixed period of time. Then, release the consultant at the end of the contract term or when the work assignment is completed.
  • Objective new team member - Having an outsider sharing their view of the employer’s current state of business may offer new ideas on how to achieve growth and improve overall efficiency.
  • Skills the employed team doesn’t have – Hiring a consultant with needed skills is more time efficient than training employees.
  • Saves money - Hiring a consultant means the employer does not have to pay for recruitment fees, benefits, time off, training and the cost associated with employee retention and turnover. Consultants are often hired to tackle a particular project within a specific time frame. At project completion, the consultant departs and the costs stop.

Your Benefits to Working as a Consultant
While some job seekers tend to shy away from consulting, there are benefits to consulting that make it, in some ways, a preferable alternative. Here are benefits of working as a consultant:
  • Fill resume gap – Job seekers with a large employment gap may be passed by for an employment opportunity. While this practice is illegal in most states, it is known to exist. Working on a consulting assignment can mitigate any unemployment bias.
  • Usually paid more than the employees – On an hourly basis, a consultant often earns more than as an employee. That compensates for the other compensation benefits an employee may receive. And, consultants are also paid a premium for their expertise.
  • Current Position on LinkedIn - LinkedIn requires the listing of a current position in order to attain its 100% complete profile. The 100% complete profile is needed to improve your profile’s positioning in a LinkedIn search result. Use your profession as a consultant to be your current position on LinkedIn, even if you are not presently on a contract.
  • Variety – You can develop and demonstrate varied experience on your resume. As a consultant, you may be able to provide your professional expertise in a variety of companies and industries that you have not worked, and may not access to when seeking full-time empoyment.
  • Freedom and flexibility- Choose who, when and where to work, when to take holidays & other PTO.
  • Contract-to-Hire opportunities are only available to those on a contract. While on a current contract, the position may be converted to a full-time position. As a consultant, you are likely to be the preferred candidate to fill that position.

Pros and Cons to being a Consultant
The opportunity to be a consultant is available in almost any profession and for almost any role or job function. When deciding this path for yourself, you should consider the pros and cons to help in your decision process. Here are some points to consider to determine if being a consultant is right for you:
  • Some people are concerned that they will not be treated as well as the other employees. As an example, it may be the case that consultants will not be invited to company outings.
    • As a consultant, you may actually be treated better than employees. Often, your expected expertise and experience will hold you in a higher regard, and you can receive better working accommodations.
  • You might be unhappy in the position or how you are treated.
    • Of course, you can be unhappy in any job. If that is that case with a consulting assignment, take satisfaction that you will likely move on at the conclusion of the assignment.
  • There are unpaid admin tasks you must perform, such as billing & invoicing, documenting your expenses and preparing your quarterly income tax returns.
    • Consultants usually earn larger hourly rates which compensate for your required administrative tasks.
  • You won’t be given benefits as part of your compensation.
    • Consultants usually earn larger hourly rates which compensate for your cost of acquiring benefits. If the alternative to consulting is waiting for an employed opportunity, then you will pay for the benefits from your savings.
  • The contract may only be short term. Yet you need long term income.
    • Don’t dismiss a consulting contract due to its possible short term. Contracts terms are often extended. Sometimes, they are converted into an employed position. In terms of earning potential, a 6 month contract billing at $50/hour earns about $50,000 (gross income).

In this post, we discussed some points to help you understand how you may benefit to work as a consultant as an alternative to working as a full-time employee, and to help you decide if it's right for you. In our next post, we will discuss the steps you need to take to understand "How to Work as a Consultant".

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post,
David Schuchman

Sunday, August 1, 2021

What Makes a Website Effective?

If you soon plan to develop a new website, or if you have an existing one, it's necessary that you understand the attributes and characteristics that can make or break the effectiveness of your online presence and brand. An unattractive or poorly built website will do more to hurt your online presence than to help it.

Website & Web Page Purpose
A good web design always caters to the needs of the user. Each page of your website needs to have a specific purpose & message. It must fill the need for your website users in the most effective way possible. Minimize mixing messages or topics on any one page. Keep separate topics or messages on their own pages, or create separate visual sections on a webpage with their own topics.

Organized for Good Communication
People reading on the web tend to want information quickly. So it is important to communicate clearly, and to make your information easy to read and digest. Some effective features to include in your web design include:
  • Organizing information using headlines and sub headlines.
  • Using bullet points instead of long winded sentences.
  • Each page or page section keeps to one topic.
Short Load Time
Everyone hates a website that takes a long time to load.  Tips to make page load times more effective include:
  • Optimizing image sizes (size and scale).
  • Do not use very high resolution images. Their data density requires more load time.
  • Combining code into a central CSS or JavaScript file, which reduces HTTP requests.

Clear Fonts
In general, Sans Serif fonts such as Arial and Verdana are easier to read online. Sans Serif fonts are contemporary looking fonts without decorative finishes of Serif fonts such as Times New Roman. The good font size for reading easily online is 15 - 16 point.

Block/Grid Layout
By placing content randomly on each web page, you can end up with a haphazard appearance that is unattractive and not functional. Grid based layouts arrange content into sections, columns and boxes that line up and feel balanced. Doing so leads to a better looking website design.

Add Images
A picture is worth a thousand words. Choosing the right images for your website can help with branding and in connecting with your target audience. If you don’t have high quality professional photos on hand, consider purchasing stock photos to lift the look of your website. Also consider using videos and other graphics. All of these can be much more effective at communicating than even the most well written piece of text.

Mobile Compatible
It is now very common to access websites from multiple devices with multiple screen sizes. This includes tablets and smartphones. So, it is important to consider that your website is mobile friendly. If your website is not mobile friendly:
  • You can either rebuild it in a responsive layout. This means your website will adjust to different screen widths and platforms.
  • You can build a dedicated mobile website. That would be a separate website optimized specifically for mobile users.
Search Engine Optimized (SEO)
There are hundreds of rules and guidelines for effective search engine optimization. However, this is not the place to cover them all. To start, follow these simple rules:
  • Include plenty of written content in HTML format. Limit using Flash, JavaScript or image-only objects for your navigational items.
  • Use your important keywords frequently and appropriately in your written content.
  • Leverage your links. Make them descriptive and use your keywords in the link text.
  • Add links to other websites.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog post.
David Schuchman

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Leader vs. Manager

What is the difference between a manager and leader? While some people are both, they have very different skill sets. I believe the 2 biggest differences between managers and leaders are:

* Their core business objectives.
* The way they motivate the people who work for or follow them.

Managers Have Subordinates
A manager has subordinates. They have a formal authority, control and responsibility for other people within an organization. The manager may also have a hierarchical authority of a team, department or division within an organization. That authority is granted to the manager by the organization. The subordinates who work for the manager generally do what they are told.

Leaders Have Followers
Leaders who are not managers have operational and project responsibility for other people in an organization. In addition, the people they lead may be across several departmental functions in an organization. They must ensure the people they are leading know their work responsibilities, but they may have limited ability to enforce what and how those people actually work.

Leaders and Managers Get Things Done Differently
Managers are very adept at executing a vision in a very systematic way and directing their subordinate employees on how to do so. They often focus on work and tasks, resources, processes and budgets. In addition, their primary focus is on keeping their area of responsibility running smoothly.

Leaders focus on achieving goals. Their primary focus is on promoting change. They keep a team motivated and empowered to achieve as much as they can. Leaders have an ability to rally employees around a vision. When their belief in the vision is so strong, they inspire employees to follow them.

Some managers can inspire and some leaders can systematically execute. But, those are not their respective core strengths. For a small organization or a start-up, the person in charge really has no choice but to be both the leader and manager. That's because it's probably just him/her and one or two others in the organization.

Understanding which you are will help you make important choices about whom you need to grow that complement your strengths and ensure the success of your organization. Understanding who your leaders are and who your managers are will help you create an organizational that addresses core business functions and needs, as well as promote positive morale and culture.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery

When people start to develop plans to deal with a major impact event they are confronted by two different terms: Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). A mistake often made by organizations is that if they have an IT DRP that they are OK. That is not always the case. There is quite a difference between these two plans and it is important that your organization understands the differences, and what type of planning each requires.
The nature of both of these topics is sufficiency extensive that we will not cover building a Business Continuity Plan or Disaster Recovery Plan in this post. We will save those for future posts. In this post, we will make the case that BCP & DRP are different, and you need to plan for both.

Disaster Recovery Plan
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) documents the policies, procedures and actions to limit the disruption to an organization in the wake of a disaster. Just as a disaster is an event that makes the continuation of normal functions impossible, a disaster recovery plan consists of actions intended to minimize the negative impact of a disaster and allow the organization to maintain (or quickly resume) mission-critical infrastructure functions. For most companies, the emphasis of DRP is more on their IT infrastructure than maintaining business operations.

For DRP, the question you must answer is, "If we lost any of our IT services, how would we recover?"

Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan (BCP) describes the processes and procedures an organization must put in place to ensure that mission-critical business functions can continue during and after a disaster. The emphasis of BCP is more on maintaining business operations than IT infrastructure.

For BCP, the question you must answer is, "If we lost our building or staff, how would we recover?"

Understanding Risk
Often, organizations consider DCP or BCP the same and plan just for one. That is an incorrect assumption. The reason why that is incorrect is either from the perspective of misunderstanding all of their risks, or choosing to accept a level of risk that is higher than the organization can actually tolerate.

Many organizations put the responsibility of mitigating operational risk on the IT department. I believe that is a misconception caused by organizational management understanding their business, but perceive IT as complicated and something they do not understand as well. Then, they look to the IT department to mitigate the risks in IT. My position is that the responsibility of mitigating operational risk falls on the Finance department since they are responsible for all the day to day accounting for the business leading to profitability. Therefore, the Finance department must ensure all risk to profitability is defined and mitigated.

Risk Assessment
The first step that an organization needs to take is to perform a risk assessment. In short, a risk assessment will identify and estimate of the types and levels of risk that will impact the organization. The next step is to compare the uncovered risks against the determination of the acceptable level of risk within each department in the organization. What should come out of the completed risk assessment are a set of risks throughout the organization, impacting both the IT and the business functions.

The risks that are identified as impacting IT will fall under the Disaster Recovery Plan. The risks that are identified as impacting the business functions will fall under the Business Continuity Plan. While the 2 plans will have details that are interrelated, the 2 plans must be defined, developed and maintained separately to be completely effective. But, they must be developed with consideration of each others goals and planned outcomes.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Work Effectively When Traveling

You plan to take time away from work because you want to clear some of the stress in your life, spend time with your friends or family, or to enjoy something or someplace new. However, there are times you need to bring your work with you. You may want to forget about it for a while, but you can’t. Here are several tips to help you work effectively while traveling and still enjoy your time away.
Have the Right Tools with You
You can only work if you have the right tools in front of you. Before you leave your home or office, be sure that all of the files you need are on your laptop or mobile device, and in the Cloud, so you can access them. If you will solely rely on having your files in the Cloud, you will need to be sure that you have access to the internet when you are ready to work. Also, make sure you have all of the programs/apps on your device so that you can perform your work.

Set Up a Schedule
Have a list of tasks you plan to work on while traveling. Then, set time each day that you will dedicate to working which will be separate from your non-work time. If traveling with friends or family, let them know your schedule so that they know when you need to work, and when you will spend time with them.

Seek Out a Dedicated Workplace
Most people don’t work well with interruptions. Therefore, a place devoted to work is important for a busy person. A good workplace can be almost anywhere. It can be a corner in your hotel room, a quite lounge or other common area or simply under a poolside umbrella. While this is easy to do at home, this can be difficult when traveling. The key is to set a time for work, then find a perfect place for that time period.

Don't Forget Power
Most of your mobile devices don’t have a very long battery life. So, make sure you have a power cord for each them. You can charge while at the airport or when you get to your hotel room. You may end up stuck with a dead device at some point. But, it’s better than not being able to use your devices at all.

Bring Headphones
You may not be able to have a quite work space when you are traveling. Interruptions from family in your hotel or distractions while seated in a plane are likely to occur. Since that can be inefficient for your work efforts, bring headphones so you can listen to music which will drown out the noise.

Working is not about being busy; it’s all about being effective. No matter where you are traveling, you can manage parts of your work life. There are challenges involved in working while traveling. But if you know how to organize your work time and fun time, the results will be very rewarding.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Google Blogger: For Websites?

Blogger is Google's free web tool for creating blog sites. That's the traditional intent of the product. While it is a great tool for blogging, Blogger is also a terrific tool to create very cost effective and fairly robust professional websites. Such websites are a great cost effective solution for any business, organization and job seeker to promote their brand and develop their initial internet presence.
I built my own company website and blog site using Google Blogger. However, I did so not to save money. As a full service consultant with my own Princeton Technology Advisors, LLC information technology consulting practice, I could have built my website in one of many robust platforms. I offer many other website development platforms to my prospective clients, in addition to Blogger. In this case, I chose to build my website using Blogger to demonstrate to my prospective small-business and non-profit clients just what can be accomplished when their need to manage their investment budget is a top priority.

Developing a full and robust website in Blogger can be as satisfying as it is economical. While not a robust as WordPress or other platforms, the product has many themes and templates built in, and offers the ability to edit and customize the format and content via a simple dashboard and page editor. You can add additional functionality by integrating other Google tools (e.g. Google Drive, Calendar, etc.), as well as incorporating free and low cost 3rd-party plug-ins. In addition, Google has no required website charges for hosting and publishing on the Blogger platform.

Anyone comfortable using computers and having a little technology experience can learn to create and manage their Blogger website with relatively little effort. However, given that most professionals are quite busy with developing their business and brand, it may make very good sense to contract with someone well versed in Blogger (or any web development tool) to help with those efforts for several reasons:
  • Most professionals are quite busy starting their business and growing their brand. They put much of their time in what they know best. If Blogger (or any website platform) is new to you, you may be able to more quickly publish your website when you engage someone with the needed skills to quickly complete the work on your behalf.
  • Soliciting the advice of others can give you objective opinions as to design and style. Also, you may find that others you consult will have an expertise you have not yet achieved.
  • The Blogger dashboard and page editor support many standard and intermediate formatting, including adding links, uploading images and font formatting. Among the shortcomings of the standard page editor are that the default number of font sizes, colors and types are limited, and some layout features such as tables are not supported. However, those can all be accomplished by coding HTML, the language that internet browsers interpret, directly within the page.
If you have not yet published a website, and have put off doing so because of a potentially large upfront cost, consider creating your new website with Google Blogger. You will be pleasantly surprised with the ability of this tool to help you gain and grow your social media and internet presence. Should you have any questions about how to get started, please feel free to contact us at Princeton Technology Advisors, LLC.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Do You Really Want to be a Manager?

So, you have been working for the organization for a few years. Your manager has challenged you with assignments of increasing responsibility, and you've accomplished them well. You have received good annual performance reviews and were promoted not long ago. Now, your manager feels you are ready to be a line manager yourself and discusses this with you. You are asked to give your answer early next week.
Becoming a manager will be a huge change in your professional life. Some newly promoted leaders excel, but others wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into. If you’re ambivalent about making the leap to manager, here’s what to consider:

Consider the Big Picture at Work
Taking on new responsibilities will require you to give up old ones. You will likely become less hands on with the day-to-day assignments of your prior role and need to assign those tasks to others. Be sure you are ready to let go and trust the people to whom you assign your former work. 

You may need to rethink your relationships with your former peers. As a manager, you will be privy to higher-level organizational information which you cannot share with your former peers. You have to be aware that your interactions with former peers must change within the office, and you may need to help them become comfortable with that change.

Your new peers are other managers:
  • Some of your new (manager) peers are very seasoned. They will place expectations on you that are different than when you were doing the hands-on assignments. Expect changes in those relationships.
  • You may become closer to office politics. People and teams within organizations often compete for limited resources. This can lead to conflicts as teams compete to satisfy their needs and objectives. As a manager, you may need to become one of the competitors.

Understand Your Motives
  • Are you driven by ambition or contribution? As a manager, your job is to support your team, not to grow or guard your own power.
  • Personal Gain/Personal Sacrifice Having more responsibilities at work may require you to put more time in to work. This will likely be the case when you first take on the new role. More time at work may mean less personal time. As you consider taking on the new role, involve the people in your personal life that may be impacted by your time away from them.
  • Do you Want to be a Mentor? Sharing information and knowledge with someone else can be incredibly rewarding. If you’re lucky enough to see those lessons in practice, you’ll understand why good managers love to manage. However, this isn’t motivation for everyone. If you find that you’re more excited by the work you actually produce than by coaching and training others, consider whether managing is really what you want to be doing.

Know How You Handle Conflict
If you find you do well in challenging situations, like dealing with an angry client or subordinate staff, you might be well equipped to handle interpersonal conflict. However, if facing such conflict is uncomfortable, you probably want to avoid the manager position.

While being the boss has its perks, it also comes with a lot of work, responsibility, and stress. If you think management might be in your future, consider carefully the opportunity ahead of you before agreeing to the new role. Discuss your new expectations with your manager. With a little self reflection, you may be better prepared to make the adjustment and take on the new challenges.

I encourage you to leave a comment by clicking on "...comments" below...

Monday, February 1, 2021

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing provides a simple way to access servers, storage, databases and a broad set of application services over the internet. Services are offered via a subscription instead of via a purchase or lease. Here's why you would be wise to consider a cloud computing model when you need to replace or upgrade your technology.
The technology is offered as a subscribed service. The subscription cost is often offered on a monthly basis and covers all use, hosting, maintenance and support, as well as technology upgrades. Therefore, you do not have a large upfront (or recurring) capital expense. Because the technology is typically installed and running at the technology provider's data center, you will not have to maintain a large data center facility and staff. Instead, you have a recurring operating expense which can often be more cost effective than a purchase/lease and support model.

Your primarily access cloud technology services via the internet. The connectivity access methods and security are provided with your subscription. Your access to those services can be from virtually anywhere you have an internet connection. Therefore, you can securely access your technology from your office, a client site, hotel or even when you are at home. Your user experience is the same from all locations.

As your needs change, your use of technology will change. In a service offering model, you contract for what you need when you need it. When you add staff, you add software licenses at that time. When you take on that big project, you subscribe for short-term use software licenses, servers and infrastructure for use through the project life-cycle. Then, eliminate that short-term cost from your subscription at the completion of the project.

One of the best ways to accelerate innovation is to invite a new technology into your organization. For some, this could be a new way for teams to work. Teams that reside in several locations can easily communicate and collaborate as if they are in the same office. For others, cloud computing will allow your organization to prototype new technologies. Without a big cost commitment, you can effectively find the best technology to give your organization a competitive advantage

With a cloud computing implementation, you will see that you will always contract for the optimal amount of needed technology and support. You will no longer have under utilized servers and an excess of purchased licensing. Your IT assets are utilized at a level that will yield the greatest effect for your organization, while your IT staff are able to focus on key business initiatives.

Because of the benefits stated above, cloud computing has the ability for organizations to innovate new products, services and business models that decrease time to market, create operational efficiencies and engage customers in new ways. The cloud can impact your entire enterprise: strategy, finance, operations, governance, culture and technology.

Cloud-based services are ideal for businesses with growing or fluctuating demands. If your needs increase, it’s easy to scale up your capacity. As you need to scale down again, the flexibility is included in your subscription. This level of flexibility, along with the efficiencies and potential cost savings, can give your business a real advantage over your competitors.

I encourage you to leave a comment by clicking on "...comments" below...
David Schuchman

Friday, January 1, 2021

Debrief at the End of Each Project

Making mistakes during a project, although sometimes painful, can be valuable as long as we learn from them. The same can be said for the project successes. More than a casual conversation about what did and didn’t work, a debriefing digs into why things happened, and can help accelerate progress on future projects.
Not all failures are bad. Some of them are actually good because of the valuable learning opportunities they present. Dividing your project's failures into categories will help you distinguish the good, useful failures from the bad, useless ones. In turn, you can be prepared to deal with them and learn from them:
  • Preventable failures. These are caused by inadequate training, inattention to task details, or lack of skills and ability. They’re typically easy to diagnose and fix. Using a robust checklist at the very beginning of a project is a good tool to identify potential points of failure.
  • Unavoidable failures. Every project has built-in uncertainty of tasks and work effort. Projects that are very complex, have tight timelines or involve high risk will have an increased opportunity for unavoidable failures. Good project due diligence at the start of a project will mitigate most failures. Have a plan to triage such events, and even add some time into your project plan to deal with these should they arise. However, accept that some failure is possible and may not be avoided.

What is a Debriefing?
Start by talking with your team about why a debriefing is important. Maybe you want to improve for the next time, or you want to analyze a unique situation that arose. Perhaps you hope to capitalize on your strengths or learn from mistakes. Others may want to continuously learn and improve.

What to Ask When You Debrief
  • What were we trying to accomplish? Every debriefing should start by restating the objectives you were trying to hit. The project team should have agreed on clear objectives prior to taking action in the first place. If the objectives were not clear, the rest of the debriefing will be of little value because you won’t know how to judge your success.
  • Where did we hit and miss our objectives? With clear objectives, you can clearly identify if you did or didn’t hit them. Review your results, and ensure the group is aligned.
  • What caused our results? This is the "root-cause analysis" step for your successes and failures. It should go deeper than obvious, first-level answers to missed objectives. Don’t be satisfied with answers like, "We needed more time". Keep digging and ask why you needed more time. For example, it may be the time was adequate if the project team had a different skill set.
  • What should we start, stop, or continue doing? Given you uncover the root causes, determine what you should do next now that you know what you know.
Make sure you capture lessons learned in a usable format for later use. At a minimum, take notes and distribute them to the project team members. In addition, make the information readily available to other project teams or even to a broader organizational audience. In the end, you may find the most successful process changes are the easiest to implement.

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David Schuchman