The pressure has never been greater to drive efficiency and contain costs, yet, in the words of Tom Peters, “You can’t shrink your way to greatness.” So wise companies use any business contraction to prepare for growth. They also realize that the kind of growth available to companies emerging from recession is not based on old business processes and models, but on innovation.
As the stock market continues to be volatile and a recession seems to be looming on the horizon, it’s prudent to consider that your company may experience an economic downturn that can lead to layoffs or reductions in resources.
E.B. White authored One Mans Meat, a book espousing the virtues of country living. The current frenzy over cutting government spending has a taste of the idiomatic extension of this thought one mans meat is anothers poison. Cutting the Cost of Government The U.S. Congress is looking to reduce the deficit by cutting the cost of gov…
How to Calculate Fixed Cost. The fixed cost of a project or business that cannot be changed. Knowing your fixed costs is essential for proper accounting, as it helps you see what costs you must pay each month, and have no chance of cutting…
How to Prepare a Cheap Cutting Board. A cutting board does not have to be made of bamboo (or whatever the current wood-du-jour is); nor does it have to cost a fortune. Here’s a method for taking a cheap mass-merchandiser cutting board and…
This article discusses the key strategies that corporates employ to beat the downturn. Corporates can sustain themselves either through increased revenues or increased profitability by cutting costs when revenues stagnate. The key theme in this article is in the same manner that an overweight person cuts fat, corporates have to stay fit by trimming costs to remain profitable.
Current economic conditions have forced businesses to look inward to reduce the cost structure. Over the years, IT has become a big component of business, making it a natural target for cost cutting. But IT is also a critical factor in improving business efficiency and increasing revenue, so businesses can’t just eliminate it. Instead, they need to find cheaper ways to do the same activities. Is outsourcing the solution?
How can there be light during a downturn? By using their expertise, workplace learning and performance (WLP) professionals have been given a torch, to help their organization survive the downturn and allow them to emerge in a stronger competitive position when the economy recovers. In the current economic downturn, organizations have been forced to use cost cutting strategies. Departmental budgets are being trimmed, with the learning function being no exception. Learning and development functions are not only being pushed to economize spending on learning activities, but to simultaneously continue to build critical skills and knowledge. A new report by ASTD and i4cp, Learning in Tough Economic Times, indicates that between a fifth and a quarter of respondents said that, to a high or very high extent, the down economy has had a negative impact on each of the following: However, there has been a benefit which WLP professionals need to monopolize, with nearly four-in-ten respondents saying that their firm placed a stronger emphasis on learning during this downturn than previous downturns. Organizations that place a stronger emphasis on learning were also more likely to point to higher market performance, highlighting the bottom-line benefit. Conversely, reducing learning resources during tough economic times was associated with poor market performance. Organizations appear to be learning from previous experiences and realize that eliminating learning opportunities can be crippling for an organization. One respondent to the survey used an impactful analogy to describe this from a previous experience: “turning off the educational tap leaves a company dehydrated with no ability to grow – no way to give the company nutrients”. Experts agree that during these economically difficult times, learning professionals have the opportunity to show the strategic business value of workplace learning and performance. Talent management has never been more important than during this economic downturn, and learning professionals have a significant influence over its success, with expertise in competency management, skills assessment, and organizational development. Thus, the onus is on WLP professionals to demonstrate learning’s effect on developing talent in organizations by ensuring there are processes in place to find, hire, and keep talent. WLP professionals need to partner and collaborate with organizational leaders to demonstrate how learning can positively impact corporate performance and ensure survival through the economic downturn and allow them to emerge in a strong competitive position when the economy recovers. Learning needs to focus on what impacts the bottom line and is business crucial, and a direct cause-and-effect relationship needs to be evident between learning initiatives and results. Source: Learning in Tough Economic Times (ASTD/i4cp) Click here to learn more about ASTD Research.
This article examines how the HR decisions in recent years are being driven by economics more than any other concerns given the emphasis on cost cutting and increasing profits. The key themes in this article are that potential and current employees must be cognizant not only of how well they perform or how poorly they have fared but also about how much they cost to the firms and hence, be prepared accordingly.
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The green movement is transforming the IT landscape — and creating a new set of challenges for project managers, who must balance hard ROI choices, fuzzy metrics and assorted expectations. When it comes to cutting energy costs and delivering long-term sustainability, the blueprint for green projects isn’t black and white. But best practices are emerging.
As a project manager working to deliver projects successfully in these harsh economic times, you will most likely be adopting Continuous Improvement methods such as Lean and Six Sigma to squeeze maximum efficiency and cost reductions in your projects, which would be the very rational thing to do. But if you think about it, is that all there is to your projects: to be continually optimizing efficiency, reducing waste and cutting costs?
As a project manager, you must be able to determine ahead of time which features must make it in your product for the customer to accept it, and which can be delivered in the next release. If your development schedule is aggressive, you’re inevitably going to cut some features. The question is, are you cutting features that will cost you a sale?
Many PMOs are struggling to survive the cost-cutting knife, facing staff reductions and increased workloads. It is during these periods of adversity that PMO leaders must take steps to discard the PMO’s image as a cost center and recast itself into a profit center.
Being productive in today’s business environment means continuously doing more with less. The next generation of savings and productivity lies in the collaboration of larger, more diverse teams to share ideas and implement new process improvements. The author explains how he put together the right team for a “cost-cutting treasure hunt,” leveraging good program management practices to increase its chance of success.
Organizations are taking a hard look at their outsourcing strategies, looking at what worked in the past and, more importantly, what’s needed in this current cost-cutting environment and for the future as well. Practically speaking, the most prudent strategies are elastic, short-term remedies that can be changed on a dime when the economy improves and shifts into overdrive.
In the ever-increasing speed trip down the ramp of badly made cost-cutting decisions, many mainstream manufacturers are compromising on the quality of their products. To help address this, we all need to more carefully monitor the quality of our supplier goods.
Turn to any page in the Wall Street Journal or flip to your local news station, and you will read or hear about organizations trying to cut back in today’s bleak economy, and for many human resource departments that means traditional cost-cutting practices, such as hiring freezes or cuts on training programs and fringe ben…
(From Business Wire) — As many companies continue to focus on recession management strategies such as cutting costs and increasing operational efficiencies, Randstad’s latest Work Watch survey reveals company culture is a critical driver of business success. In fact, two thirds of working adults (66 percent) believe that company culture is very important to the success of their organizations. The survey also found that employees believe company culture has the greatest impact on employee morale (35 percent), followed by employee productivity (22 percent). Twenty-three percent of younger workers, ages 18 to 34, say it plays the biggest role in building job satisfaction. While company culture may be the secret weapon companies need to retain workers and increase productivity and morale, it has suffered during the past two years. According to survey respondents, 59 percent believe that recent economic events have had a negative impact on company culture. With layoffs, reduced benefits and wages, morale has suffered and many workers are feeling disengaged from their employers. “Companies that will perform well will nurture the factors that make their employees feel happier and engaged at work, more connected to overall results, and more motivated to make a strong contribution,” said Eileen Habelow, PhD., Randstad’s senior vice president of organizational development. “Going forward, companies can’t ignore culture. Rather, it should be addressed as a critical component of their overall business strategy.” Read more.
(From Business Wire) — The Customer Contact Association (CCA), the leading independent authority on contact centre strategies and operations, says a drive to boost employee engagement in contact centres will unlock greater productivity and lead to happier staff and customers. CCA’s thought leadership agenda supports organisations who employ some 30% of the one million people working in contact centres in the UK. CCA has completed an authoritative industry census in which it emerged that an overwhelming majority of organisations described their contact centre employees as mostly committed. However, it identified room for improvement to boost the proportion of employees described as ‘very committed’ from the current figure of 18%. CCA Census 2010-11, which canvassed the views of 246 respondents (the majority of whom work for organisations employing more than 1,500 people globally) found that 73% of organisations describe their staff as ‘often committed’ while a minority of 8% said staff are ‘rarely committed’. CCA Chief Executive Anne Marie Forsyth said: “Front line contact centre staff are living through taxing times, frequently bearing the brunt of customer concerns and complaints as well as worrying about job security. Despite these pressures, employee engagement is relatively high among our membership. CCA is leading a drive to help members raise the bar on engagement levels even higher in order to deliver consistent world class service.” Forsyth added: “We need a renewed emphasis on people issues to reflect the seismic change taking place in customer contact. Performance throughout the recession has been good – our census shows that 82% of our members have had ‘very active’ engagement with customers and 79% are committed to personal development of employees. We’re proud of what members have achieved in a cost-cutting environment and we’re collaborating on strategies designed to boost performance even further.” Read more.
DISCLAIMER: The following article is a reality and a strategy, NOT defamation or a tactic. THE CONCEPT: Why purchasing and procurement departments should be avoided, and how to do it. THE REALITY: Purchasing and procurement are a way of life. YOUR REALITY: Your total lack of C-level relationships makes your life a sell-from-the-bottom-up proposition. HERES YOUR SELF-TEST: Are you relegated to purchasing as part of corporate policy? Are you prevented from talking to the person who actually uses the product youre trying to sell? Are you making decisions as to how much profit youre willing to sacrifice to secure the business? Are you bullied into matching price to get the order? Are you being TOLD what your price will be in order to do business? Welcome to the club of losers. Not people, profit. The purchasing department or the procurement department has one major job: To save their company money. Oh wait, let me complete that sentence as it relates to you: To save their company money, at your expense. In general, when you deal with the procurement department and their people keep in mind: They dont care about quality. They dont understand outcome. They dont understand the need for service after the sale. They dont understand productivity. They dont care about morale. They dont care about outcome. They dont care about vendor relationships. They dont care about vendor profitability. They dont care about you. They NEVER look for the best, just the lowest price. Procurement departments operate under the general principle of, and are measured and rewarded by: We saved a nickel! BUT the outcome of the saved nickel may be that everyone in the company is unhappy, the product is crappy and breaks down, the service response is slow. NOTE TO PURCHASING: Its also likely the productivity, and low quality, and loss of morale, cost your company 500 times more than the nickel you saved. Theres a Rock, Paper, Scissors game of business: CEOs cover purchasing and procurement. If the CEO calls down to purchasing and says, Were going with ACME Widgets! The procurement person says, ACME boss? Okay boss! And thats it. No proposal, no bid, no price cutting, no match this price. No nothing. Just a purchase order. NOTE WELL: This is only possible if you have a relationship with the CEO. Ouch. ATTENTION PURCHASING: Here are a few recommendations that eliminate lowest price from the final decision: 1. Demand testimonials. Dont just bid. Prove what you promise. 2. Create a range of price acceptance. If the price is within 10% of the lowest bid, the purchasing agent can (and should) choose what he or she believes is the BEST product or service. 3. Let your people test the product. 4. Let your people tell you what they want. 5. Let your people tell you who they want to do business with. NOTE WELL: Independent third party purchasing groups should be TOTALLY avoided. The hotel industry is besieged by RFPs from bullying third party event planning companies that shield the customer, and only care about price. Hotels hate them, and are forced to eliminate most of their profit to book the event. And the ultimate customer loses respect, face, and is in total jeopardy of having a third rate event with a poor outcome. All in the name of saving money. And reverse auctions are worse. They milk every cent of profit. My two-word strategy for both of these is: DONT PARTICIPATE! If no one played, theyd go away in a week. The strategy to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the process of starting with purchasing, is to have a relationship with the person or people that direct them. You can be recommended and you can be the standard used for selection. You can have a history of success at other companies based on quality, productivity, results, and profitability and present proof of this as a price alternative. You can have a social media presence that allows your customers to provide feedback. You can write value-based articles that C-level people might read. This can get you in direct contact with decision makers. NOTE WELL: These 750 words are not going to resolve the issue, and are certainly not going to eliminate the purchasing department. In most cases, purchasing and procurement are a vital part of any large company. The challenge Im issuing is that it is NOT just a price decision. Bidding is a losing proposition. Best and value are the winners. If youre a purchasing agent and you personally need heart surgery or a hip replacement, do you want best, or lowest price? Best, or three bids? Think about it. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at email@example.com. 2012 All Rights Reserved. Dont even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer. 704/333-1112
(BusinessWeek) — While they continue to slog through the longest economic downturn in decades, companies are no longer making cost-cutting their primary focus. Innovation is now front and center on the corporate agenda, according to a global survey we recently conducted with 65 senior executives from diverse industries. Executives are adding more breakthrough innovations and business model changes to their portfolio to fuel the growth engine for the recovery. Yet our survey reveals that companies by and large are having trouble making innovation efforts work. Executives are struggling to find the right combination of business strategy, operational model, and execution to deliver profitable growth. Why the concern with execution? Currently every aspect of business is fair game for reinvention-revenue and margin models, functional areas, and even the organization itself. The risks are also a lot higher than in the past. With so many moving parts and so much riding on the outcome, it’s no wonder executives are anxious that they will miss the target when they execute. As one executive told us: “Management feels very comfortable about our ability to manage costs-we have a good track record. We don’t have the same track record for organic growth from innovation.” In other words, it’s harder to innovate than it used to be. Read the full article.
The pace of doing business continues to accelerate while employees are constantly challenged to do more with less. Companies continue to look for ways to cut costs and at the same time, increase revenues. Companies must also conduct business faster by processing larger amounts of increasingly complex information. Globalization and decentralization have been the answer for many looking to gain that edge. Distributed sales teams, working different hours, in non-traditional office environments have become the norm. Consequently, this structure has its disadvantages. The rate of change and the disconnected nature of our work are having a negative impact on the modern selling environment. Sellers struggle with efficient communication and are learning through more informal channels. Sellers also struggle with time limitations, information overload, and are realizing newer skill gaps. The reality is, we will all have skill gaps, all the time and there will never be enough time to learn everything we need to learn. The consistent and rapid evolution of the skills and knowledge required to succeed has caused a shift in effective learning delivery. Learning is no longer being provided as a calculated set of costly, formal classroom events where sellers are graded solely on their participation. Instead, companies are shifting their emphasis from bringing the worker to the learning to bringing the learning to the work. For many companies on the cutting edge, social and informal learning have helped bridge that gap. Quite simply put, social and informal learning is learning through conversation and interactions about content.And social and informal learning is not so much about what is learned, but instead, how its learned.The modern work environment has forced us to learn how to learn faster! The benefits of social and informal learning are real. Content is more accurate, more relevant and widely accessiblewhenmaintenance and creation are distributed. It helps sellers grow skills more rapidly, creates a more nimble sales force at a lower cost, and increases engagement. All together, this helps to increase margins and increase revenue. So how has technology influenced the current methods of learning? By using some basic design concepts, social software and simple, cost effective technologies weve improved the way sellers and employees learn. Team challenges bring sellers together and social software allows sellers to connect to share files, bookmarks, content and tasks. Social software also allows sellers the ability to contribute to program design and quickly identify experts. Content can even be filtered, rated and improved through dialogue and conversation. Overall, companies that are harnessing the power of social and informal learning are realizing true returns on their learning investment. Sellers are attaining quota faster, more consistently, at a lower cost and are contributing to the expertise of the overall sales force. After all, most of what we learn is outside of the classroom! Jason Ackerson leads a global technology team responsible for designing, developing, deploying and supporting technology solutions for new and experienced sales professionals within IBM. His focus for the last 7+ years has been on delivering technology solutions that have an impact on how IBM employees learn and more importantly, the bottom line.
The 2009 State of the Industry Report revealed that workplace learning and performance has withstood the challenges of the difficult economy. Although investment in training was stable in 2008, organizations achieved positive outcomes and successfully contributed to their employees’ development with more formal learning opportunities while using fewer resources. Although many organizations were forced to cut costs wherever possible, workplace learning and performance did not suffer disproportionately to any significant degree. Investment in employee learning and development remained steady through the end of 2008. Although the average annual learning expenditure per employee fell from $1,110 in 2007 to $1,068 in 2008 – a 3.8 percent decrease – it was not large by any means. The commitment to learning is also evident from the figure for average learning expenditure as a percentage of payroll: it increased from 2.15 percent in 2007 to 2.24 percent in 2008. Another consistent trend is decreased spending on outsourcing to external services such as consultants, workshops, and training sessions. Since 2004, organizations have relied less on outsourcing each year. The average percentage of the learning budget allocated to external services was 22.0 percent in 2008, down from 25.2 percent the previous year. Instead, organizations are relying on internal resources for their workplace learning and performance initiatives more than in the past. The average percentage of learning expenditure dedicated to internal resources was 66.1 percent in 2008. Learning professionals successfully found ways to manage learning content while cutting costs in 2008. Learning departments were serving a larger constituency than in the past: the average number of employees per learning staff member was 253 in 2008, up from 227 in 2007. On average, there were 353 hours of formal learning content made available per WLP staff member. Additionally, the average cost per learning hour available decreased 8.0 percent: from $1,660 in 2007 to $1,528 in 2008. Source: ASTD 2009State of the Industry Report Click here to learn more about ASTD Research.
Here’s your opportunity to go inside successful organizations that use outsourcing to build learning capability and reduce costs. Twelve real-life case studies offer cutting-edge lessons from organizations that use outsourcing to get expertise from a wide variety of vendors, reduce fixed costs and the cycle time for developing learning, and benefit from the objectivity of an outside perspective.