Contents

Managing your website development need not cause you sleepless nights providing you learn the secrets of successful project management. Perform the best practices in project management and give your project the best chance of success.

Eight easy steps to managing your website development

Eight easy steps to managing your website developmentDefine objectivesObjectives guide everyone on the project to your final goals. Are your objectives to sell your product online, to provide customer support, to promote investor relations? Carefully decide and clearly document your objectives. Decide the critical success factors the things at the end of the project which tell you if youve been successful. Make them measurable so you know if youve achieved them. For example, the website development should result in an increase in online sales of 25% by year end.Stakeholder analysisA stakeholder is someone with an interest in your projects success (or failure). Decide who they are and whether they support your project. Perform stakeholder analysis by classifying them (high or low) according to how motivated they are in helping (or blocking) your project and how influential (high or low) they are.Highly influential and supportive people are your allies. Gain their support whenever you can. Aim to reduce the influence of people who are both highly influential and against your project as these people could act to damage your project. During your stakeholder analysis, draw up strategies for dealing with each group of stakeholders.Define deliverablesDeliverables are tangible things produced during the project. Talk with key stakeholders to help define deliverables. Will your website design include web page layouts and sitemap for use by the programming team? What is the content for each page? Write all this down. Key stakeholders must review and agree the deliverables accurately reflect what they expect to be delivered. Project planningDefine how you will arrive at your objectives. This involves planning how many people, resources and budget are required. If delivering this in house, decide what activities are required to produce each deliverable. For example, you might decide a web designer will develop page layouts and navigation diagrams. You might decide the marketing team will supply all product details and photographs. You might decide the finance manager will set up merchant and payment gateway accounts to enable e-commerce transactions via your website. If outsourcing work, specify exactly what the sub-contractor should deliver. Estimate the time and effort required for each activity and decide realistic schedules and budget. Ensure key stakeholders review and agree the plan and budget.Communication planningHold a kick off meeting with the team and explain the plan. Ensure everyone knows exactly what the schedule is, and what is expected of them.For example, the web designer needs to know that he is to produce page layouts and navigation diagrams based upon the marketing managers requirements. He needs to know his expected start and end times. Share your project communication plan with the team. This should include details of report templates, frequency of reporting and meetings, and details of how conflicts between teams and their members will be resolved. Project trackingConstant monitoring of variations between actual and planned cost, schedule and scope is required. Report variations to key stakeholders and take corrective actions if variations occur. To get a project back on track you will need to juggle cost, scope and schedule. Suppose your programmer hits technical problems which threaten to delay the project. You might recover time by re-organising or shortening remaining tasks. If thats not possible, you might consider increasing the budget to employ an additional programmer, or consider reducing the scope in other areas. Be aware that any adjustments you make to the plan might affect the quality of deliverables. If you need to increase the budget, seek approval from the project sponsor.Change managementOnce started, all projects change. Decide a simple change strategy with key stakeholders. This could be a committee which decides to accept or reject changes which comprises of you and one or more key stakeholders.Assess the impact of each change on scope, cost and schedule. Decide to accept or reject the change. Be aware that the more changes you accept the less chance you have of completing the project on time and within budget unless you reduce scope in other areas.Suppose the marketing manager wants to add a popup window to display full size photographs of products. Assess the impact of this change. You might need to remove some remaining tasks to include this change and stay within budget. Or, it might be impossible to include the change without increasing the budget or schedule. Dont blindly accept changes without assessing the impact or your project will overrun.Risk managementRisks are events which can adversely affect the success of the project. Identify risks to a project early. Decide if each risk is likely or unlikely to occur. Decide if its impact on the project is high or low. Risks that are likely to occur and have high impact are the severest risks. High impact but unlikely risks, or low impact but likely risks pose a medium threat. Unlikely and low impact risks pose the least threat. Create a mitigation plan of the actions necessary to reduce the impact if the risk occurs. Start with the severest risks first, then deal with the medium risks. Regularly review risks. Add new ones if they occur. Suppose the marketing manager cannot decide what he wants from the website. Without knowing what the marketing manager wants, the team cannot deliver a website to meet his expectations. You assess this risk as highly likely to occur and having high impact. Your mitigation plan might be that the web designer develops page layouts to be reviewed by the manager early in the project.SummaryPerforming best practices in project management will give your website development project the best chance of success.

Pricing For Profit

Pricing For Profit

To improve your profitability you must either make a larger gross margin on each dollar of sales or sell more without increasing your fixed costs. It goes without saying that the greatest improvement will be realised when you achieve both simultaneously.Remember your gross margin is the difference between the price of your product and what it costs you to buy or make it. Therefore, the only way to increase your gross margin is to sell at a higher price or buy at a lower price.In most instances (but not all!) you will have limited scope to buy at a lower price. For this reason your selling price is the critical variable.Without doubt, the biggest single barrier preventing small business managers from making an acceptable profit is their refusal to charge a price which will enable them to achieve this. You are not in business to match the price your competitors set, but you are there to service your customers.In fact, studies of the factors people regard as important influences on their decision to deal with a particular business indicate that product and price are relevant in only 15% of cases.It is the lazy manager's competitive strategy to try to hold or win market share on the basis of price discounting. It is relevant and applicable only in the one situation where you have both a definite cost advantage (either variable or fixed) over your competitors and your product or service is one where customers are very price sensitive.For example, if your gross margin is 30% and you reduce price by 10% you need sales volumes to increase by 50% to maintain your profit. Rarely has such a strategy worked in the past and it's unlikely that it will work in the future.The service you offer or the unique way that you add value to the clients you support are all sustainable ways to differentiate your business and support an ongoing pricing for profit strategy.

Simple Stress-Busting Secrets to Creating a First Class Support Team In Any Business

Simple Stress-Busting Secrets to Creating a First Class Support Team In Any Business

Stress and an occasional sense of overwhelm is a normal by-product of a successful business. Yes, we are lucky to have all the opportunities that the business world presents to us. And yes, at times, it is impossible to make wise use of our time and resources. So, the result is inevitably: Stress! We differentiate between primary, situational, short-lived stress and long-term, accumulated levels of stress. The purpose of this article is then to help you instantly with the first type of stress. To give you tools you already possess but we all dont utilize enough. In addition, my High-Impact Business Coaching Formula allows you to grow thriving businesses while creating rich, balanced lives and with that eliminate the second type of long-standing, highly damaging stress. Yet, this is not an overnight process as any transformation takes time, effort and commitment. So then, this article is about allowing you to find instant relief. To find ways to bust your sense of too-much-to-do immediately, within seconds.I am going to start you off with a somewhat strange statement: Believe it and youll see it. This seemingly bizarre concept is now part of a highly success stress-reduction program at the Stanford University School of Medicine. For further education I recommend Stress Free For Good 10 scientifically proven life skills for health and happiness by Dr. Fred Luskin and Dr. Kenneth Pelletier. One interesting fact about the mind is that the brain has absolutely no actual connection to reality. It relies on chemical signals from other organs to decide what's happening out in the real world. The fact that the brain is ignorant of reality is precisely what makes it so susceptible to suggestion. Harvard's Professor Jonathan B. Cohen showed that imagining performing an activity, and even just seeing someone perform it, fires the same neurotransmitters and the same pathways as actually performing the activity! In sports, visualization has been considered an essential tool for decades. In a 1984 survey of the 235 Canadian Olympic athletes preparing for the Games, 99 percent of them were using imagery. "There's no one who doesn't use imagery," says Rebecca Smith, a clinical research assistant in sports psychology at the U.S. Olympic Training center in Colorado. No professional athlete has ever won first place by visualizing coming in last and yet we do this so often in our business world.Since the principle is called: Seeing the good in others, what comes to mind for you? The saying is old but listen to it again: Seeing the good in others, is about seeing it in your minds eye, isnt it? How often do we prefer to blame others for our stress? How often do we love talking behind somebodys back more than finding the good in others? So, then how does that affect our leadership abilities? Since this concept of Seeing the good in others coincides with chapter five in my book: The Art of Succeeding by Design which deals with leadership, it should come as no surprise that our ability to see the good in others is a highly effective trait as the leader of your small business.Why? Well, think about it. If we could regularly let go of our judgmental tendencies and make a 100% commitment to taking responsibility for our lives (which means NO blaming, ever), combined with an ability to see the best qualities in our team members, what would that allow us to do? Yes, you would see different results. Why, because as our attitude changes, our thoughts change, our body language changes. Those working for you will feel safe and when feeling safe, there is no limit to creativity and productivity. Do you notice the disabling effects of stress on YOUR performance? It is not any different for your staff. They also get stressed and even more stressed when feeling criticized and judged. It impedes their ability to work in their highest performance zone, for you. I guess, you are figuring out what I am proposing here. Yes, a win-win situation! Seeing the good in others allows your stress level to go down since you consistently trust that things will get done and that everybody does their best, your positive actions based on this great attitude influences your brain, and as a crucial consequence your employees or support staff can keep working in a stress-free environment giving their best in turn. Secret number 1:Practice your compassion. Put yourself in their shoes just for a second. Do you really know whats going on their lives? Do you know if they are deadly scared of losing their job? Do you know if they feel empowered and equipped to do their job right? What do you know about their battle scares of life? This does not mean being permissive and lowering your standard of performance. No, quite the opposite. By you setting the stage for an environment where fear and stress is not the driving force, you invest your time very wisely. Having a staff that lives with stress and fear is a waste of your money. Nothing gets accomplished, no new ideas come up, no responsibility is taken when fear and stress is present. If you want to create a team that is loyal, productive, innovative and equipped to take your business to success in a climate where an A+ team will be harder and harder to find, your efforts to practice compassion is essential for sustainable business success.Ok, with that out of the way, I want to give you another 10-second secret: Its smiling. Yes, you heard me right, smiling. So smile right now, hold it for 10 seconds. Really smile, laugh! Do you feel better? I do. If it makes you feel better, how do you think the recipient of this smile feels? How do you feel when you encounter someone who just for the fun, throws you a smile? Yes, I thought so pretty good.Ok, practicing compassion and smiling more often, more randomly, more just for the fun of it, is then good for business, good for employee retention and good for your stress-management. The funny part is that you already knew all this, right? We do and still, at times, we forget. Why? Because we are stressed. Yes, thats why. One of my clients reported that she has attracted a much nicer clientele since her attitude changed and another client reported that seeing the good in people has significantly lowered his anxiety. Remember, as far back as Napoleon Hill, the famous author of Think and Grow Rich said: Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true.Like they say: War is not the way to peace, peace is. Dont let your thoughts take you to a war zone driven by fear and doubt. Let your attitude guide you to thoughts that make you feel connected and you will reduce your stress level and make others feel safe and cared for. There is no possible negative outcome and lots of potent positive outcomes.Do we need scientific proof for that? No, just give it a try tonight in the check-out line at the store or smile to someone at a red light, especially when you feel tired, burned out, foggy in your head. I can promise you that even a quick smile back will help your attitude at home with your family or your friends. Dont waste a minute, practice all of the above or maybe just one but do it and do it often. Stress-busting is guaranteed.

Choosing Your Next Corporate Event Planner

Choosing Your Next Corporate Event Planner

It all depends on what you want. If you want a great event, you will need to select a great Corporate Event Planner. It is that simple. You need an event planner who will not only plan one, but will also produce a perfect memorable corporate event for you. Now, the problem is how to choose a good corporate event planner. You can go about the selection process in two ways. First, you know what type of event you want. You know the theme, the food and beverage, entertainment, the venue, the lights, the sound and the overall atmosphere. You only need to know the where and the how of it, and whether it is within your budgetary constraints. Second, you have no clue what youre doing. In this instance, youll need a Corporate Event Planner who can suggest themes and present them in such a way to have created a vision for you. The Corporate Event Planner you are looking for should be comfortable with both the scenarios. He/she should have the ability to listen closely to your needs and those of your clients. They should also be able to effectively communicate your ideas while motivating the entire team towards working for the same goals. In essence, the "corporate event planner" has to be a visionary leader. Corporate Event Planner What to Look ForNow that you know what they do, you may wonder what qualifications you should look for. First, get yourself organized to know what type of event you are trying to produce. Be very clear about what you want and how to convey it. List all the components of your vision and have a very clear concept of the same. Once you have finalized your requirements, start looking for a Corporate Event Planner an individual or a company with enough experience to fulfill your needs. What you need to choose is a complete Corporate Event Planner; and not a florist, or a caterer, or a DJ. Your complete Corporate Event Planner should have the ability and experience to bring all these component services together as a unit and produce a flawless event that will be remembered for meticulous planning and perfect execution. You can start looking for your Corporate Event Planner by visiting corporate events or by searching the Internet. Make a list of those that seem appropriate to your requirements, and start calling them. Explain your vision and wish list, and arrange for interviews with those who stand out. Ask them to bring their proposal and ask for references from past and current clients. Pick one who is creative, communicates well, has extraordinary vision, and the experience to pull it off. A great Corporate Event Planner can produce not only a great and successful event, but also one that would be enjoyed by all.

How Can A Timesheet System Help Your Business?

Running a small business is challenging. We are constantly required to perform a wide variety of tasks. For many of us, we could probably define our job descriptions as: do everything! Unfortunately, a portion of the everything that we do doesnt contribute directly to the income of the business. However, sometimes by adding a little extra administration we can actually improve our productivity. In this article we are going to take a brief look at timesheet systems, and determine if and how they may help us improve our cash flow.If you are reading this, than chances are that you have already seen a need to implement some kind of time tracking system. If you are already using timesheets in your business, you should be aware that some systems are better than others, and it is worth taking the time to investigate whether the system you are using is providing you with the maximum benefit. Businesses that bill clients for their time will need some method for keeping tabs on the jobs they work on, in many regions this is a legal requirement. While other businesses types may not see any obvious reason to implement a timesheet system, there are a lot of good reasons to consider using one. If your business employs staff, than a timesheet system presents an excellent way of keeping track of what your human resources actually do. You may be surprised as to how much time staff spend doing work that is not related to your core business objectives. As an example, you may think that by not upgrading your computers and software this year it is going to save you money. However, your timesheets may tell you that your staffs are spending a lot of time dealing with computer-related issues that are not income generating, resulting in lower productivity than one might expect. A timesheet system is an extremely powerful tool for identifying and being able to help you quantify the costs associated with these types of issues. If you run a project-based business, where you may bid for jobs with fixed-price quotations, implementing a "time tracking" system in your business can save you money. In todays competitive business climate, there can be a thin line between getting the job or losing it to a competitor. Quote high and your competitor may beat you based on price. Quote low and you may just get the job, but lose a significant amount of money doing it. If you have experienced these types of problems in the past, than it may be time for you to consider a timesheet system. When you are formulating a new quote on a job similar to one that you have completed previously, look to your timesheet system to get an understanding of the actual length of time the job took to complete. You may be surprised to see which sub-projects are taking most of the time. Lets examine two scenarios; In the first scenario, the manager reports we feel that project X came in on budget but we need to budget for a little more time to complete project Y in future quotations, which is useful information that you can act upon. However, in our second scenario the business is using a timesheet system, and the manager reports project X was completed at 23% below budget and project Y came in 279% over budget, resulting in the overall project being 160% over budget. We will inevitably all make mistakes when we estimate the time it takes to complete a project, however the business that uses a timesheet system can quantify their mistakes, learn from them, and produce better quotes in the future. Few would argue that a timesheet system is not an essential tool for tracking and analyzing business performance and productivity. If you have a small business with one or a few employees, and a few projects or clients, you can certainly use a manual written timesheet system to good effect. Start by creating a list of projects that you wish to categorize your time by. You may wish to further break down your projects into sub-projects, so you can get more detailed information about what has been done. Dont forget to include projects for both internal (i.e. accounting, administration etc) and external (i.e. client job) purposes. Once you have done this, create a timesheet with spaces for putting time against each project, and a space to put the employee name and date, and distribute it to staff. Once you have more than a few staff, or if your projects start to get more complicated, it is worth taking a look at the software packages that are available to make the process a whole lot easier. Some companies choose to start off using a spreadsheet program such as excel, but my experience with these type of systems is that they can require a lot of work and can be error prone, probably costing many times more than an inexpensive off-the-shelf timesheet software package. Most of the major time tracking software packages will have everything you need, including support for multiple staff and users on the move, central company project and client lists, and detailed reports of the work done by all of your staff. Most will also link to third party applications such as accounting and project management software. As most software applications tend to work differently, sometimes these links can be more of a hindrance than help, although at times they can also be genuinely useful. One software package called Spherical Timesheet also tracks computer based work to help staff fill in their timesheets, see http://www.sphericaltech.com for more information. In addition to automatically filling in timesheets, this software also links to major accounting and "project management" packages, has a number of useful reports that provides profit amounts for each and every project worked on, and can be evaluated for 30-days free. In all cases, I recommend that you download a demonstration copy of the time tracking software application that you wish to buy and try all relevant features before committing to it.Once you have introduced your timesheet system, you will be well on your way to discovering more about your business. Timesheet systems give you information to help you make better business decisions, increase productivity, and can give you an edge over your competition. Best of all, you can make your timesheet system grow with your business, allowing you to continually fine-tune your processes to maximize the financial reward.

Tips To A More Effective Project Management

Gillian is at the end of her wits! They only have less than three months to finish the project and yet all things seem to be going wrong. And to top it all, there's little financial resources left to finish all things that needed completion before d-day! To an expert's eye, Gillian's problem all boils down to improper project management. She may have started the project without evaluating all her resources and whether or not these resources will be enough to meet all the requirements of the project. She has also failed to make a doable timetable for the project, the reason why she is on a panic stage.Project management is the process of applying one's know-how or knowledge in overseeing and managing a project of whatever magnitude. Do not think that "project management" is required only by big projects. Small projects can also benefit from an effective project management. Knowing how to use and apply the knowledge you have acquired in all areas will be helpful in the implementation and accomplishment of any project.Scope of project managementProject management covers all the areas necessary to see a project into completion such a finances, administrative work, communication and public relations. Project management includes but is not limited to:1. The development of a project plan- The project manager must talk to the project creator before accepting or starting a project. They must agree on specific terms of the project so as to avoid conflicts and unreasonable delay in the future. Make sure you know what needs to be done and in what time frame. Ask for specific results that the creator wants to arrive at so you would know what to expect and you will have a gauge as to whether or not the project was managed properly.2. Definition of the scope of the plan- Once the terms of reference has been agreed upon, the project manager must make a project plan which contains all the things necessary to start and complete the project. List down all the resources and logistics you need and the available human resources. Make a map of the project, from start to finish. Make the map realistic so you can avoid problems later on.3. Creation of a project schedule-A timeframe for your project would help you map out the exact schedule required to start and end the project. Create specific time schedules for each step of the project so that would know if you are ahead of your schedule or whether you need to hasten things up to meet the desired schedule.4. Acquisition of human resources- Aside form good planning. A good project management relies on the acquisition of efficient and able human resources. The project leader may be doing all things possible but if he is surrounded by an inept staff, then he will have more problems than he can handle. A project's human resources must be informed of the project schedule and deadline so they will know what is expected of them. Try to motivate your staff and praise each accomplishment no matter how small.5. Development of a communication plan and good public relations- Project management includes the creation of a good communication plan which will enable the efficient flow of information from the leaders to the staff and to the stakeholders. The communication plan must make sure that all information related and affecting the project are relayed to the proper person or office as soon as possible to avoid delays and misunderstanding. A good public relations plan should also be put into place, particularly if the project has a positive or negative impact to the community. So many projects have been stopped in the middle due to pressure from the public. It is better to inform the public on the advantages and disadvantages of the project at the start of the plan so as to avoid conflicts later on.Proper project management is not really complicated but it requires had work and proper planning to make everything smooth, from the start to the completion of the project.

Summary

Managing your website development need not cause you sleepless nights providing you learn the secrets of successful project management. Perform the best practices in project management and give your project the best chance of success.