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  • Project Management: A Marathon Not a Sprint

    Sep 18, 2013
    Extract by  Duncan Haughey, PMP (taken from Project Smart.)

    As a keen amateur athlete and chair of my local running club, I got to thinking about the similarities between running a marathon and managing a project. The more I thought about it, the more I realised they are similar; a thought process triggered by a throw away comment from my line manager, "a project is a marathon not a sprint", so what do they have in common...

    Plan Your Course
    Imagine a Marathon where the course has not been worked out or accurately measured. The competitors start without knowing the route or where they will finish. In the end it's chaos with runners wandering around aimlessly, complaining it was impossible to finish the marathon successfully. Now imagine a project where the outcome is unclear and there is no plan. Sound similar? Make sure you have agreed a clear outcome and a detailed plan for your project.

    When The Going Gets Tough - Push Through
    A marathon is a significant challenge and requires a lot of dedication and fortitude. Unless you are very lucky (or talented) you are going to encounter difficulties along the way. You'll hit the 'wall'. You need to break through it and keep going. Similarly, projects are significant undertakings and nobody pretends they're easy. You will encounter difficulties, but keep going.

    Drive for the Finish
    The last few miles of a marathon take the most effort and are quite uncomfortable. You may want to slow down or stop, but keep going - one final push will see you safely across the finishing line. The last part of a project is equally difficult. Bringing everything to a successful conclusion takes effort and application. Don't be tempted to slow down or stop, push on to the finish.

    Celebrate Your Success
    Crossing the finishing line of a marathon is a wonderful feeling and the sense of achievement is great! It's the reason people come back time and again to run the iconic distance. You know it's going to hurt, but it's worth it to finish, with the sense of achievement that brings. You deserve to celebrate your success. Equally, you should celebrate your success at the end of projects. It's been a long hard road, with difficulties along the way, but you've made it. You and your team deserve time to reflect and enjoy your achievement for a short while.

    In summary...
    When given a project to manage:

    - Plan your course carefully
    - Keep going when difficulties arise
    - Drive to the finish
    - Celebrate your success

     

    My line manager once told me that I'm a good project manager because I run, and running is about getting from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. Perhaps she had a point.

    Duncan Haughey is the veteran of 10 marathons (including 6 London Marathons) with a best time of 3:01:08 
  • Mapping the Customer Experience

    Sep 18, 2013

    So what is customer experience and why should we map it? The term customer experience was first attributed to Bernd Schmitt, who in 2003 defined CEM as “the process of strategically managing a customer’s entire experience with a product or company.”

    Customer experience designers look closely at usability and the human interfaces at all points along the customer service journey. These professionals endeavour to understand customer through cultural, sociological, behavioural and demographic analysis. With the ultimate aim to fully comprehend the wants, needs, requirements, desires, expectations and the conditions needed to proactively engage the customer. Once these nuances are understood they are then aligned with the company’s strategy and future investments.

    Therefore to understand, to really understand customer experience the fundamental piece of knowledge a company needs to appreciate is the journey that the customer takes. By doing this well the company can begin to understand those critical moments of truth and come to imagine the metrics needed to measure and improve these interactions. Customer journey mapping recognises that customer experience is empathetic, emotionally linked, cultural and collaborative and is a company‐wide exercise, not delivered in silos.

    It is more than identifying breakdowns or mismatches in service expectations it is about walking in the customer’s shoes and experiencing the processes and interactions just as the customer does. It aims to lift people out of their internal worlds and look externally to solving customers’ problems and to seek out what their customer’s truly value. It should also be remembered that the journey map is not the end product it is the actions that result, that are most important.

    Extract by 
    Adam Voak, IoSCM Australia.
    Source available here.

  • Sales data shows promise for Twitter Commerce

    Sep 18, 2013

    The following extract has been taken from Adweek:

    Twitter is starting to make some noise about getting more retailers to use its platform for social commerce. Given the up and downs that merchants have had on Facebook in recent years, it's not the easiest sell.

    But Duane Reade and Papa John's Pizza are early believers in Twitter's ability to make cash registers ring. Duane Reade, a Walgreens subsidiary with roughly 250 pharmacies/groceries in the New York area, has a manifold social media strategy—but gives Twitter major props for some stellar results.

    First of all, the brand has increased its followers on the social platform to 1.1 million with Promoted Accounts ads in the last year, representing a 6,700 percent jump. To commemorate recently passing the 1 million milestone, it's holding a "party" on Twitter tonight at 7 p.m. ET, giving away prizes and incorporating a handful of hashtags such as #DR1MM.

    Duane Reade has averaged a 4 percent engagement rate for Promoted Tweets—walloping the industry average of 2 percent. Some efforts, the retailer said, garnered engagement rates as high as 8 percent ("engagement" represents retweets, favorites, follows and clicks).

    But here's the kicker: For a #DRLegwear campaign pushing women's hosiery, Duane Reade saw a 28 percent lift for in-store sales for the product category.

    Calvin Peters, social media lead for the pharmacy chain, said the success is partly due to partnering with parenting bloggers (such as Linda Grant) who have big Twitter followings via shopper marketing service Collective Bias. They tweet the brand's messaging to their collective 98,000 followers. And constant public relations via agency 5W serves as the third wing of attack, Peters said.

    Just as important, employing text and visuals, Peters' team focuses on creating a local-but-illuminating identity for the Duane Reade brand via Twitter.

    "We have a New York-centric voice that's very witty and fun," the retail exec told Adweek. "The brand voice plus brand advocacy plus PR integration plus relevant conversation equals return-on-investment."

    Peters said up next is a Halloween campaign in two weeks that focuses on a user-generated photos contest.

    "Everything we do is image-based," he explained. "If you see a tweet or post without an image, then it will at least have a link that leads to dynamic images."

    Meanwhile, Papa John's location in Houston has been testing HipLogiq's SocialCompass platform, which searches Twitter based on keywords. Examples include the following phrases within tweets: 
    love pizza; need something sweet; ordering pizza; want breadsticks;want some pizza; want wings; and craving breadsticks. When highly targetable Twitter users are identified, Papa John's pitches them offers such as 20 percent off or buy-one-get-one-free.

    Conversion rates for coupon downloaders hit 52 percent during a recent four-week period, per the brand. And since then, Papa John's has seen a 35 percent conversion rate for coupon downloaders. These lucrative statistics were accomplished without a single Promoted Tweet
     ad buy.

    Bernie Perrine, CEO of HipLogiq, said his company and Papa John's are currently talking about rolling out similar efforts around the country. He said the Houston results should show skeptics that Twitter can be a powerful sales engine.

    "The platform offers much better geotargeting compared to other social networks," Perrine said. "You can reach out to the local consumer who has shown purchase intent. Those are the elements Twitter brings to marketers."

    Nathan Hubbard, who joined Twitter last month to drive its retail-based ambitions, certainly wouldn't argue. The TicketMaster/LiveNation vet was brought on board to lure more retailers and e-commerce players to the San Francisco-based firm's platform.

  • Edgy London attracts more fashion buyers from U.S. Asia

    Sep 17, 2013

    Extract taken from Reuters (US):

    Having produced names like Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, the British capital traditionally champions designers prepared to take risks.

    Buyers from big 
    department stores around the world travel to the four fashion hubs each season - New York, Paris, Milan and London - and, while smaller than its rivals, the latter still enjoys a reputation for breaking new ground.

    The September 13-17 London Fashion Week for spring/summer 2014 has drawn a strong U.S. presence, including from luxury 
    department stores Saks, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, said Caroline Rush, British Fashion Council (BFC) chief executive.

    "There is a very strong attendance from the U.S.," she said.

    "(Young) designers are seeing growth in American 
    markets, various different Asian territories; they're seeing growth in mainland Europe but (mainly) a lot of opportunity through America and Asia."

    Well-known British luxury goods brands such as Burberry and Mulberry are 
    staples in many stores around the world, but newer names such as Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto are also proving popular across the pond.

    "I am a huge fan of London Fashion Week because we have so many great designers that we sell at Neiman Marcus," said Ken Downing, fashion director at the U.S. store.

    "The excitement over pattern and print has really happened here in London ... (Customers) love our designers from London."

    Luxury spending in the United States collapsed after the 2008 financial crisis but returned to pre-crisis levels by 2012. Increased confidence among affluent spenders have boosted sales and encouraged luxury brands to step up investments there.

    More foreign shoppers are also visiting stores as the U.S. government eases visa restrictions to attract more tourists.

    Showing a collection of bright printed dresses and skirts in shades of tangerine, watermelon and pale blue, Scottish designer Holly Fulton said she was keen to expand her brand in America after receiving positive press reviews there.

    "We're quite interested in doing more in the States at the moment ... We're keen to expand on that in the coming year," she told Reuters, adding that Asia was also an important market.

    "Asia has been by far the strongest for us. Hong Kong is getting really strong growth for the label over there."

    With economic uncertainty still hanging over Europe, the BFC is seeking to promote British fashion in Asia.

    BFC chairman Natalie Massenet said Princess Beatrice, Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter, hosted a special event for Asian buyers and press, who were seen in large numbers at shows including DAKS, Mulberry and Paul Smith.

    "Going forward for 2014, there is strong push in terms of the Great campaign (promoting Britain abroad) with Hong Kong and Shanghai. And so it is very likely that we are going to probably have an Asia-dominated showroom plan for next year," Rush said.

    "Tokyo is of interest to us. We were talking to some of the Japanese and Toyko-based businesses ... about how we can build partnerships and what the opportunities might be there."

    Designer Paul Smith, who showed off loose shirts tucked into wide-legged trousers and 1970s-inspired loose dresses, said he planned to open some 20 stores in 
    China in the next five years.

    "(Chinese buying) is not going down," said Amy Yu, editor of luxury Great Britain Magazine aimed at Chinese residents and tourists in London. "Lots of people are still buying."

    And the Chinese are not just buying at home, having pushed out Americans as the top spenders at luxury London department store Harrods.

    (Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Mike Collett-White)

    See more here.

  • HR: One in four companies does not use workforce analytics

    Sep 17, 2013
    Extract taken from HRM Asia:

    Despite the growing importance of workforce analytics as an essential tool among organisations to improve business results, more than a quarter of companies are struggling to deploy analytics.


    According to a new global survey of business leaders by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS), more than a quarter of respondents use little or no workforce analytics.

    Sixty-one percent report its use as tactical, ad hoc and disconnected from other key systems and processes. Close to 50% say they are unable to integrate workforce data with other systems to make decisions critical to the business in real time.

    Many others also report using KPIs, such as the number of performance reviews completed or the headcount of employees who have completed learning coursework. HBRAS said this transactional data is not enough for making strategic business decisions.

    HBRAS notes that with workforce analytics, companies need to integrate technologies, data, metrics and processes to measure and improve workforce performance. This is done by employing suitable staff with the specific skills for the relevant job, as well as providing them with training and development opportunities to engage them to give their best.

    The research indicates that the effort will pay off. Proactive users of analytics are more likely to say their organisation is effective in utilising their workforce.

    Such companies are said to have fewer headcount reductions, as they have a lean and efficient workforce that consists of engaged employees. They also enjoy higher quality, productivity, customer satisfaction and market share, all on top of greater company profits.

    See more
    here.

  • HR: People at the heart of Business Performance

    Sep 17, 2013

    The following extract was taken from HRM Asia:

    The importance of focusing on human capital cannot be emphasised enough if a company wants to improve its business performance.

    This was part of a series of findings of a recently completed study commissioned by the Ministry of Manpower, which validated the common wisdom that having the right talent practices will pay off.

    Launching the survey results was Acting Minister for Manpower, Tan Chuan Jin, who delivered the opening address of the Human Capital Summit 2013.

    The study found that when business leaders in Asia applied talent practices effectively, it accounted for 54% of business results, thereby being able to somewhat control more than half of the variance in business performance.

    The report also suggested that among good talent practices, the ability to identify and groom leaders well has the greatest impact on driving business performance.

    In addition, there is a significant focus gap in talent development. This is seen among Asian leaders who are much more proficient in establishing HR standards, in recruitment and in orientation, and lacking in proficiency in talent development.  

    As such, the Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI) will launch a modular programme to help companies develop the next generation of Asian leaders in 2014, as well as work with top international business schools to design and conduct the Asian leg of the Global CEO programme in Singapore and Indonesia.

    Tan said that human capital management was not just only about leaders. They too need the support of top quality HR professionals. To meet this need, the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has partnered Republic Polytechnic to launch two new programmes in the form of a part-time Diploma in Business Practice or the International Human Resources Management and the full-time Diploma in Human Resource Management with Psychology.

    See more here.
  • HR: Women compelled to behave like men at work

    Sep 17, 2013

    Due to increased workplace pressure, three-quarters of female workers are changing their behaviour or appearance in order to succeed in the office.

    This is according to a new study by telecommunication firm, O2, which found that nearly 50% of women deliberately take on a different personality at work compared to at home, with many feeling the need to adopt more manly characteristics.

    The survey, which interviewed 2,000 working women on how they presented themselves at work, indicated that one-quarter admit to dressing in a masculine way and half said they felt obliged to reserve their emotions.

    Five percent of the respondents sought to behave like their male colleagues, while 25% said that the senior women in their company were the dominant and controlling ‘alpha stereotype’.

    Ten percent of women said there were no females in senior positions in their organisation, with around 39% feeling that it was difficult to ‘be nice’ and attain senior roles. Twenty percent of women also believed they had to act ruthlessly to be respected at work.

    Meanwhile, just 47% of women thought it was possible to have both a happy home and fulfilling career.

    O2 said that while the case for diversity in the business sector had been widely covered, the new figures highlighted a “desperate need” for companies to create an environment to allow women to succeed “as themselves”.

    Ann Pickering, O2’s HR director, said, “While businesses today have come a long way… the reality is that many modern women are still feeling the pressure to conform to outdated stereotypes.”

    “These results should act as a wake-up call for businesses to ensure they don’t miss out on the valuable contribution that women can make to their organisations. Through a number of simple measures – such as providing better flexible working, mentoring or training – businesses can ensure that they help all their people to achieve their potential regardless of the stage of their career or gender,” she continued.

    See more here.
  • Sharpest expansion of construction output for almost six years

    Sep 16, 2013

    The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the construction sector showed a sharp improvement in new business.

    Posting at 59.1 in August, up from July's 57.0 with residential construction remaining the strongest performing sector.

    CIPS CEO David Noble, "A new dawn is breaking in construction. The industry recorded the fastest pace of growth since 2007 in August, leaving the dark days of recession behind. Builders have seen a step change in recent months and are now starting to show their true potential to the UK economy. Nowhere is this more true than in new business, where growth is at its second-strongest in almost six years, leading to more jobs and increasing confidence. 

    "Robust expansion can be seen in all three sub-sectors; house building is rising at a rate not seen since mid-2010, commercial growth is also strong, but it is the strongest growth in six years recorded in civil engineering that is a real cause for optimism and a sure sign the sector has overcome its previous difficulties.

    "This new direction brings new challenges, not least the prospect of additional work and insufficient capacity to meet demand. How the sector navigates these tensions and manages the supply chain could come to define its performance over the coming months."

    Click
    here for more information.

  • New roles within the Forensic Science Society

    Sep 16, 2013
    Karen Squibb-Williams, a practicing criminal barrister has been recruited to raise the profile of The Forensic Society and to bring significant legal skills, knowledge and contacts into the organisation. Many of you will know of Karen as she has spent the last ten years as national lead for prosecution policy for forensic science and expert witnesses based at CPS HQ in London. As a well-respected lawyer and strategic policy adviser she has experience of the forensic science landscape and the criminal justice system at the very highest level.

    A quick summary of her activities includes: advising successive Attorney Generals and DPPs; providing legal guidance for CPS nationally; as Chair of the DNA Specialist Working Group established by the Forensic Science Regulator; as a member of the Home Office Forensic Transition Board, dealing with the closure of the Forensic Science Service; by contributing to the Law Commission’s consultation about expert evidence; as a member of the Home Secretary’s Pathology Delivery Board; by giving oral and written evidence to both Science and Technology Select Committee inquiries into government decisions about the Forensic Science Service; as a member of the ACPO Forensic Science Portfolio Board and by being involved in a number of Metropolitan Police and ACPO ‘Gold Group’ Strategic Reviews of high profile cases involving forensic science, particularly Low Template DNA, fingerprints and retention of body parts.
  • Increasing Demand for Environmental Qualifications

    Sep 11, 2013

    Figures from examination body NEBOSH show that increasing numbers of people are seeking an environmental management qualification.

    NEBOSH revealed that in the last two years the number of people registering to take its Environmental Management qualifications had more than doubled.

    In 2009, around 1,100 people registered for a NEBOSH environmental qualification. Last year, the number of registrations rose to almost 2,200. Registrations so far in 2011 indicate a further rise this year to around 2,700, an increase of almost 150% on 2009.

    Research among recently qualified NEBOSH students also showed that nearly three quarters (70%) of those taking one of its environmental management qualifications have their course and examination fees paid for by their employer (1).

    "Our figures show that more and more people are seeking a specialist qualification to go with their environmental management responsibilities," said NEBOSH Chief Executive, Teresa Budworth. "And judging by the willingness of employers to fund and support their staff with this, it is clear that more and more employers want them to be qualified in this field."

    Around two thirds of those who take a NEBOSH Environmental Management qualification are employed in a health and safety role. The majority of the rest are environmental specialists. Two thirds also already hold another NEBOSH qualification.

    NEBOSH currently offers two Environmental Management qualifications - the NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management and the NEBOSH Diploma in Environmental Management. Further information about all NEBOSH qualifications can be found at www.nebosh.org.uk/Qualifications.

    This research was carried out among 46 recently qualified NEBOSH environmental management students in September 2011.