Monthly Archives: January 2017

Common Health and Safety Hazards in Factories

Just like elsewhere in the western world, In the UK as well the government has prescribed some safety regulations that have to be adhered to by any workplace. Protection against health and safety hazards may even extend to the families of people employed in hazardous occupations. In the European Union, member countries have enforced authorities to ensure that the legal basics related to occupational health and safety hazards is followed in any case.

Hazard is something that can cause harm if not controlled. A risk is the probability of the outcome which will occur if harm occurs. The outcome can be defined as the result of an uncontrolled hazard. Risk analysis is conducted to identify hazards, evaluate the risk, and identify and prioritize the required actions.

Workplace safety hazards are normally grouped into environmental hazards, environmental agents, physical agents, physical hazards, chemical agents, and biological hazards. Environmental hazards normally include asphyxiation and dehydration. Environmental agents include heat and cold stress. Physical hazards include collision, tripping, falling, and electricity. Physical agents include noise, vibration, and lighting.

Other hazards are mechanical hazards, biological hazards, and chemical agents. Depending on the type of work that is done in a factory, safety precautions have to be employed. Office workers can be affected by a flu spread by a co-worker, and a factory worker can receive serious injury because of an accident. Common health and safety hazards can be avoided by taking necessary precautions. But, even with all necessary precautions accidents do occur.

To minimize safety hazards, workers are issued safety goggles, helmets, gloves, safety shoes, and coveralls. For avoiding health hazards, a virus free and well ventilated environment is provided. Clean drinking water, clean and safe kitchen and eating areas are maintained. Some factories require medical checkups of the employees on regular basis.

There are some basic health and safety rules that all factory owners are bound to follow. There are special rules for factories that use hazardous material. These include installation of safety showers and eye wash stands. Special safety clothes may also be required by law to be provided to the employees.

The common safety and health laws that factories in the UK have to follow can be found in the local factory laws. They may differ slightly depending on the local county laws. Health laws cover providing a well ventilated, clean, and dust free environment. Safety laws require wearing of proper safety equipment as required by the type of job being performed. If it is a factory where there is a probability of falling objects striking someone, then safety helmets must be worn. If the floors are wet or slippery, proper safety shoes must be worn.

The basic rules are very general in nature as they encompass the entire business spectrum. But there are further classifications that are factory dependent. If the factory handles harmful chemicals, then the safety laws are going to be different from a factory that does packaging. One single rule cannot cover all factories’ safety and health regulations. In most cases, the rules regarding safety and health can also be quite vague.

Digital Marketing, a Must Today

The key purpose is to sponsor brands through various types of digital media. When one talks about digital marketing, it pretty much extends beyond just internet marketing! In fact, is also takes into account mediums that do not oblige the use of the internet. That comprises cell phones, social media marketing, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, as well as any other type of digital media.

Most professionals consider that ‘digital’ is not as simple as it seems. A prerequisite is that an entirely novel approach to promotion and a novel understanding of customer behaviour is required. For instance, it requires companies to examine and compute the worth of tweets on Twitter, downloads of apps on mobile devices and the worth of likes on Facebook.

Here are few of the Digital Marketing Companies in Noida

1. Digitalabs

Digitalabs is a digital marketing agency that endorses the fact that the digital world is continually evolving. They pretty much aim for the same. The company was established in 2010. At Digitalabs, the management gives precedence to performance and not simply the age. They are working with the top national and international brands. Approach them if you believe in constantly evolving with the digital world!

2. Digital360

This Digital Marketing Company, as its name suggests, has a whole solution for any and every digital branding purpose. They make certain to supply the client best branding solution with all needed support and assistance. They develop the digital marketing solution customised, keeping the need of the client in mind. Packages offered meet both the budget and need of the client. They also understand the rising competition of online branding and for the same; they present a range of online branding solutions that will totally help to attract potential customers. With this, the ultimate objective of increasing the business can be easily met! Contact them if online branding is what you want!

3. Blue Digital

Blue Digital is a digital marketing agency. They have an excellent team of trained professionals and are very good at what they do. They survey the latest technologies and are always up for any challenges posed to them. If you are looking for a digital marketing firm that can present you a comprehensive package in terms of design, development as well as marketing, go for them. Blue Digital is one firm that has always stood in the time frame and provided excellent solutions every time. They are very professional and quick with their execution. Some of their specialities are Content Writing applications like CRM systems, Pay Per Click Management, Brand Reputation Management and any complexities to aid their clients worldwide.

Why Retail Businesses Fail Part 3: Do You Make This Mistake In Retail?

Lack of Understanding of Target Market

I visited Harrods for research for my books on store design and visual merchandise display. Harrods, for anyone reading this White Paper who might not know this, is the Mecca of retailing. Royalties, A-list celebrities and the ‘who-is-who’ from around the world fly into London just to shop at Harrods.

You can now imagine my anticipation when I visited Harrods. In my mind everything in Harrods was made of gold. I was disappointed, when I noticed a toy bus I had purchased for my son from ASDA, was also being sold in Harrods. It was exactly the same toy bus, in exactly the same packaging that it is sold in ASDA.

A question popped into my mind, why is it that exactly the same bus, probably manufactured in exactly the same factory in China, is sold in Harrods for twice the price that it is sold for in ASDA?

The answer is decisively simple – ASDA sells a ‘toy bus’, however, Harrods sells a ‘classy toy bus’. There is a difference. This is marketing 101: people buy emotionally but justify their decision logically.

Customers who shop at Harrods do not shop there to buy Harrods’ products; they shop at Harrods to buy ‘elegance and class’. Harrods sells them class even if it is ‘Made in China’.

How does Harrods pull this off? They achieve it with the combination of elegant store design and attractive visual merchandising displays. When you move from one department to the next in Harrods it is like moving from one store to another. Their ability to use their store design to create the illusion of differentiation is one of the keys to Harrods’ success. Harrods understand their customers; they know what their customers desire so they design their store and display their products to satisfy the desire of their customers.

Marcus Buckingham, in his book “The First Thing You Need to Know”, said when he interviewed Sir Terry Leahy, who transformed Tesco into a global brand, he asked him what was the key to Tesco’s successful transformation. Sir Terry Leahy replied that it was asking and answering the simple question: Whom do we serve?

When Tesco figured out whom they were going to serve, they changed their store layout and products to serve their target market. As a result of this change; Tesco increased the number of checkout counters which reduced the amount of time customers spent queuing at the checkouts ultimately resulting in a dramatic increase in Tesco’s footfall.

Wal-Mart serves the person who lives: pay check to pay check.

Body Shop serves the ethical consumer.

Waitrose and Holland & Barrett serve the consumer who wants to live longer.

Ann Summers took merchandise that were hidden in secret ‘adult’ shops; made them trendy and brought them to the High Street. They made a taboo subject acceptable to the mainstream.

If I was to take my significant other clothes shopping at John Lewis she would probably phone my mother to inform her that I was having a nervous breakdown. She would not want to be caught dead in John Lewis’ outfit. She describes John Lewis’ clothing department as a Bridget Jones museum where they store a collection of Bridget Jones costumes.

However, John Lewis continues to increase profit year after year because John Lewis understands their target market. Someone like my significant other might not want to be caught dead in John Lewis’ outfit, but there are people in the UK, who love Bridget Jones’ memorabilia, these people are John Lewis’ target market, so John Lewis cater for them.

The most successful retailers understand their target market and show their understanding of their target market through their store design and visual merchandising displays.

The retailers that go bust fail to understand this basic marketing concept.

Most book retailers are struggling because they are still using the 1960’s business model in the Amazon era. Borders failed because it did not develop its internet business properly and it invested heavily in compact discs when music was going digital. WH Smith only makes money from its airport and train station sales. The rest of its stores are struggling. Waterstone’s is also on a downward trend. Sales are down and customer footfall is in steep decline.

Why are bookshops under threat? Amazon! They will all shout. Of course Amazon is the cause because Amazon understands their market better than them. Since it seems Amazon is not going away anytime soon, are all book stores going to close down?

Will WH Smith and Waterstone’s close down? Or will they rise to the challenge and modernise their stores? Instead of complaining about Amazon, they need to redefine their target market and redesign their stores to attract their target customers.

On Christmas Eve, I had not done my grocery shopping and was dreading the prospect of entering a supermarket, knowing how packed they were going to be. But as I drove passed my local Lidl store, I noticed it was empty. I rushed in and completed my shopping. As I drove back home a question came to mind; why is it, that even on this day when most supermarkets are typically jam packed to capacity, was Lidl empty?

The answer, in my opinion, is that Lidl does not have a target market. One of their biggest sins was making the decision to force customers to pay for carrier bags. Marks & Spencer can afford to do that because they appeal to a different class of customer.

In Tesco and ASDA, customers who are environmentally conscious have the option of paying for shopping bags. However, those who do not want to pay for carrier bags also have the option of getting free ones.

This is because Tesco and ASDA understand their customers. Lidl’s senior management, on the other hand, believed that having implemented a similar strategy in Europe, can introduce the same in the UK. If the Brits do not like it, tough! Well, the Brits are showing their displeasure with their feet.

I have tried to demonstrate with the above examples, that success or failure in retail is the result of the strategies every retailer adopts. Those retailers who understand their target market and cater to them will continue to move from success to greater success, while those who roll the dice and hope that customers show up are the ones who will struggle or go into administration.

I hate to be the one breaking this type of news to the retail industry I guess someone will have to do it: the internet is not going away. This means that retailers are not only competing with one another, they are also competing with factory owners in China whose name they have never heard. Shoppers are now ordering directly from warehouses and distributors, for example an individual can log on to eBay and order a pallet load of goods.

Here is the good news: the majority of people still prefer to shop from physical retail outlets. The question is how does an individual retailer ensure that shoppers are attracted to their store? It can be done by adopting the concept of the “Blue Ocean” strategy.

Adopting the “Blue Ocean” strategy is the only salvation for book, DVD, music and furniture retailers. What is “Blue Ocean” strategy? “Blue Ocean” strategy “is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost” which results in the creation of a new market space making the competition irrelevant.

The concept of “Blue Ocean” is practiced by the most successful business organisations whilst struggling businesses pursue what is described as the “Red Ocean” strategy. “Red Ocean” strategy is fighting to compete in the existing market place.

The “Red Ocean” strategy is adopted by many of the book, DVD, music and furniture retailers. They are trying to compete against the internet and it is just not possible. A brick and mortar store can never go head to head with the internet and win. It can never be cheaper that the internet.

However what they need to do in order to drive customer traffic to their stores is become innovative and creative. For example a book store could arrange periodic book signings; of course authors want to sell their books so it is a win-win situation for all parties concerned.

In order for the book signings to be a successful marketing platform for the book stores it would be advisable for retailers to work in collaboration with the publishers from the onset in order for the book signings to be better promoted.

Promotion of the book signings could take various formats such as making effective use of social media sites, local press and captivating signage in and outside the store.

Another idea could be to arrange book clubs for various genres of books this would entice a variety of customers in to the store, these book clubs would also need promoting in a similar way as described for the book signings promotion.

The trick is to be innovative.

Richer Sounds is a classic case of a retailer that has adopted the “Blue Ocean” strategy. They understand that people still prefer to interact with other people. So whilst other electronic retailers focus on price, they focus on excellent customer service and staff product knowledge. Their “Blue Ocean” is excellent customer service and superior product knowledge.

For book, DVD or music retailers to compete in Amazon country, they need a “Blue Ocean” strategy that goes beyond price discount. They need soul. They need understanding of the perception of their target market.

• What do they want?

• What are their hopes and fears?

• What is their perception?

I can order a book or DVD from Amazon and receive it the following day. I can download music instantaneously from iTunes. There are millions of me in the world. What kind of “Blue Ocean” strategy can WH Smith or HMV devise to get me away from my laptop? It takes me half an hour to drive to the town centre, pay for parking, spend another half an hour in WH Smith or HMV and another half an hour to drive back home.

The 64 million dollar question is: What can WH Smith or HMV do to make it worth my while?

Let me give them a clue, I could order my groceries online, however, I choose to go to the supermarket. What is the difference? That is for book, DVD, electronic and furniture retailers to find out. They probably need to visit Starbucks it might just hold the keys to unlocking their creativity.

The only point of differentiation that most retailers know is price reduction. Price reduction is not a business strategy, it is a death wish.

The Effects of Computer Technology on Our Everyday Lives

These days, the computer technology industry is rapidly growing and changing. Along with that growth and change of computer technology are the people who almost instantly adapt to the changes.

Computer technology has made our lives a lot easier and convenient. For instance our banking needs. Years ago, people had to manually file the important data of their customers; now they just use the computer to find these data. In just one click, they would instantly find the name of the customer, the birth date, the address, e-mail address, phone numbers and etcetera. As for the clients of these banks, they can also easily get a quick look at their account balances through logging in to the bank website; in addition to that a lot of people are able to apply for a loan with the use of the computer.

Because of the birth of computer technology, we now have credit cards or what others call plastic money, which are very useful especially when we do not have cash on hand or when you are ordering a certain product through the internet. It’s amazing how computer technology has changed so much our way of living. Nowadays, purchasing products such as cellular phones, bags, household utensils, and clothes or even paying the bills can be effortlessly done at the comfort of your own home.

With the use of the computer a lot of students especially those with unfortunate disabilities or severe illnesses are able to enroll to different schools through home schooling. Students are even able to take their examination tests or check out their grades by the use of the computer.

As far I know computer technology has helped a lot of businesses to better serve the community. But the computers have not only helped us in the business industry; it also has an effect on our communication systems. Long before the computers were born, writing letters were the main source of communication, which would be such a hassle most especially to those people who lived in far away places; plus telephones were quite expensive so people would pretty much prefer writing to their loved ones. And for that reason, people who are far away from civilization would really have a hard time communicating with others. Now, we have e-mails, and live chat, or even voicemails. We now already have video calling in which we would be able to see the person that we are talking to. This would be really great for people who have loved ones that are away from home. Getting in touch with one another is now a piece of cake.

Computer technology has changed our lives for the better. Without it, we would still be living in the pre historic times.

Manufactured Homes 101 – The Things You Need to Know!

Everyone has dreamed of owning their dream house. A place they can call your own. It’s a place of sanctuary to shelter you and your family. Manufactured homes have always been a good option. Putting your money into it is worth while, although, a lot of people are still unsure whether to purchase one.

Factory built houses come in all shapes and sizes. They come in various floorings and fashion that it is easy to find one that will suit your taste. Aside from being way cheaper than houses constructed right on the location, these homes also give you a chance to design your home. Ranging from $20,000 – $100,000, they are ready for transfer to any location you’d want your house to be set.

A Factory Built Home: What is it?

Also known as a prefabricated house, manufactured homes are units of houses constructed in a huge factory. After purchasing, it is then dragged to the site where it can be put ready for transfer to another location or mounted on the ground through masonry groundwork.

Prefabricated homes are constructed upon certain set of codes which administers mobility, fire safety, effectiveness, style and sturdiness. All of these sets of guidelines are closely monitored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The same set of guidelines also manages the electrical, heating and plumbing systems.

The Basics About Prefabricated Homes

Here are some of the things that you need to know about manufactured or prefabricated homes.

  • They are houses built in large factories.
  • After they are constructed from the factories, they are wheeled to the chosen site for the house. It is done by transporting the whole house one portion after the other.
  • Prefabricated home cost less than the houses constructed right on the site.
  • They are used to be regarded as mobile or trailer houses. They come in many designs.
  • They are constructed under the guidelines set by the HUD or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • After transferring the house’s portions in the site, they are put into pieces.
  • Its market value depreciates as time goes by.

So, now that you have the basic knowledge about what a factory built home is, I guess you can clear up your mind and start weighing things. Buying a house is really a good investment of your hard-earned money and considering the given details about prefabricated homes, counting it as an option is not a bad idea after all.

New Manufactured Home Foundation Essentials – 2 Must Have Upgrades

When purchasing and installing a new Manufactured Home, there are two upgrades that are recommended. They are installing a Vapor Barrier and Earthquake Bracing. Each is explained here:

Mobile Home Vapor Barrier

A Vapor Barrier for a Mobile or Manufactured home is a sheet of thick, rubbery plastic that goes directly over the dirt under a Mobile or Manufactured home. The foundation piers then rest on top of this barrier.

You really need to make sure a home you buy or have installed has this protection. Mobile and Manufactured homes need dry ventilation underneath. This barrier will prevent any moisture from damaging the home – especially rotting of the floors, but also helping with fungus, mold, and termites.

Making sure that a vapor barrier is installed before you buy a Mobile or Manufactured home is absolutely necessary. And the additional cost is very minimal considering the amount of protection you gain.

If you are buying a mobile or manufactured home that is already on a space, but with no vapor barrier, then you can hire a contractor to install a vapor barrier under the home. They will just have to cut pieces that will go around the pier-and-post foundation and all piping in place. This is not ideal, but way better than no barrier at all.

Mobile Home Earthquake Bracing

Earthquake bracing is recommended in California, and elsewhere earthquakes are common. Mobile Homes and Manufactured Homes are especially susceptible to damage in a earthquake due to their foundation system (most of the time they are installed on a pier-and-post system).

Earthquake bracing is a simple upgrade that can increase the value of your home by at least the cost of installation of the bracing. This cost is running from $2000 to $4500 in California right now. The actual brace is like a shock absorber in a car, but installed at an angle from the steel I-beam on the bottom of the home, and anchored to the ground. This brace will keep the home from shifting off the pier-and-post foundation.

Insurance companies may insist on having earthquake bracing installed if you want to purchase earthquake insurance on your Mobile Home or Manufactured Home.

Earthquake bracing can also help a Mobile Home not come off the foundation in high winds, although it is not designed to do this and should not be relied on for this.

Pictures and further explanation on both of these upgrades, as well as a whole bunch of free information, tips, advice, and recommendations can be found at: http://www.free-mobile-home-info.com

The Pains of Doing Online Business in Africa

Take it or leave it, Africa is a great continent. It is my beloved continent with an estimated population of 1.216 billion people.

There are about 7 billion people with unique skills, talents, knowledge, and experience. God bless humanity.

So, if you think of the right market to sell your goods or services, come to Africa.

This is the optimistic part of this story. It is good to begin 2017 on a positive, optimistic level.

Now, let us come down to reality. The world has gone digital. But, Africa is still slow in moving from analogue to digital age.

Corruption, illiteracy, poverty, lack of social amenities, lack of trust, lack of knowledge on what it takes to run a business online, are some of the factors militating against Africa and Africans.

Internet penetration is 28.7 percent in my beloved continent. Compared to North America with 89 percent penetration level, this is a far cry.

This means North America with an estimated population of 579 million people is more digital than Africa. But, Africa has the market. In fairness, businesses are striving in the continent.

Lots of Africans know little or nothing about online business and think that people who do businesses online are either fraudsters or criminals.

This is not true. There are genuine and fake business owners everywhere, internet inclusive.

Trust has also made it impossible to do business online. With the world becoming a global family, business owners do not need to meet physically to transact business. There are no limitations in this digital age to running businesses.

Everything and anything could be sold online and money in local and foreign currencies transferred from one part of the world to the other.

But, my good friend in Lagos, Nigeria, who has masters degree from one of the oldest universities in our country know little or nothing about running an online business.

We were discussing yesterday and he told me bluntly that he knows next to nothing about online business.

So, he is comfortable moving his vehicle parts from one place to the other in search of customers.

This is the pains some of online business owners are going through in Africa with great potentials.

But, the pains of not getting enough customers from Africa for your business are a passing phase. Even as the Bible says, this will pass away.

Therefore, in 2017, I am positive that more and more business owners will overcome the pains of going from analogue to digital in Africa.

I get the feeling deep down that ten years down the line, the story will change for the better and internet penetration in Africa will rise.

Prince2 Configuration Management and Change Control

I remember, many years ago, attending my first training course on Quality. Management couldn’t get enough people to attend, so they bribed them with a free scientific calculator (back then worth about $200) – so I attended.

To be honest, I found it a whole lot more compelling than I expected.

After lunch on the second day, they had an expert talk about Configuration Management.

Well, she certainly knew her stuff – but I came away thinking that CM was a bit ‘academic’.

How Wrong Can I Be? Configuration Management is BUSINESS CRITICAL!

I’m serious. Would you buy another auto from your dealer if they weren’t set up with the right tools to service your car?

How about if they fitted the wrong replacement parts? Or if the Manual had errors in it?

There’s a famous story about the Space Shuttle incurring huge extra costs because European suppliers used the metric system and the USA used Imperial measurements. Tolerance errors built up and parts did not fit together properly.

Change Configuration Management would have stopped that from happening, and it would have helped to spot any such problems much earlier on.

Let’s talk about change control within Prince2

Changes usually come in three categories:

Request For Change (RFC). This is usually a request from the customer or users asking for a change from what was originally requested.

It may be a change to the requirements, specification, acceptance criteria, or scope – or all or any re-work – or accept some form of price reduction.

The final category is a general one. reserved for any general issues, observations or concerns (for example, my design engineer has resigned!).

All the above may be seen as just different categories of an Issue.

So what is Configuration Management? Well it’s basically an

internal service group with resources, tools, procedures and systems to control multiple versions of the products (deliverables) of projects.

Each product is termed an “Asset”. The name for the combined set of these assets is called a configuration.

And the configuration of a projects end product is the sum of its parts.

So why should we care about using CM?

Changes to your project WILL happen – so prepare for it. I was talking about Change Management, which by the way, should be under the wings of CM.

So when changes occur, your project will end up with multiple versions of a product.

If you don’t have appropriate tracking and knowledge of these versions, what was changed, and why it was changed, then your project is going to end up in turmoil.

Suppose you are a design engineer, and a colleague asked you for a copy of the specification document as they are about to design something from it.

What if you had changed the document in some way since it was agreed – maybe because you could see it was an improvement?

Your colleague now designs against this different spec to the spec that others are using – and his product doesn’t work or fit with other designs of the same system. Chaos Reigns.

How about this. A client rings up and says they’re using an old version of one of your products (because it’s compatible with the rest of their system), and can you build some more for them as a special custom order please?

You say ‘no problem’ – you go to your design shop only to find that they’ve lost the drawings – worse, the designer retired last year.

You’d have the same problem if customers said it had a design fault, and could you fix it, or if a customer wanted a modification based on an old design.

And the same problems could exist if you run a ‘service’ corporation.

Are your staff using the right tools, procedures and guidelines?

Are they trained to provide that service?

Let me ask – does senior management have a set of business plans based on a set of strategic directions? And do different parts of the corporation base their operational plans on these documents?

Sheesh! I sure hope they are all using the correct versions of these things…

Okay, let’s get back to your project, and how CM will help.

I hope I’ve convinced you that CM should be a permanent fixture in your organisation and not just set up by and during, a project (because the end products have got to be sustained during their whole life).

The person who provides the CM service is called the Configuration Librarian. Yeah, I know, it sounds kind of dated – but don’t let that put you off. This role can also be called the Configuration Administrator.

Here’s how they can help your project:

1. CM has a completed library of all items that have ever been produced in your organisation (including anything that has been ‘bought-in’ from a third party).

In modern times, these records will probably be held on a database of some sort. In the past they would have been held in hard copy form in a traditional filing system.

2. Each of these records will have information stating who has got what, where it is held, and why.

These records will also hold details of any changes made.

3. The library will also hold master copies of multiple baseline versions of products.

If you work for a small organisation and run small simple projects, then you would expect the way that CM is carried out to be small and simple too. As long as you have control of all versions of all of your products and services.

Next, I want to explain what services the CM Library can give to your project.

It is the project managers’ responsibility to ensure that CM is being properly used by the project.

To help ensure this happens a CM Plan can be created.

Note. For a small and simple project, the plan may just be a list of points to discuss and agree with CM.

The Plan may form part of any quality planning or be included within the Project Plan.

Do what is sensible – but here are the areas that should be covered:

A short narrative explaining what configuration method to be used (or a simple reference to the ‘usual’ system.

What corporate standards will be used (or why they will be varied in some way).

Linkages to any other configuration management systems (or any tools) that will be used. An example may be a third party who is contributing products to the project.

How and where the products will be stored. Are they just documents?

Or are they other physical items – in which case will they be installed on the customer site, or stored elsewhere, such as a bonded storehouse.

How will filing be carried out, and what is the process

for secure retrieval?

What form of version control be used – explain how they

will be identified.

Who within the project and external to it will be

responsible for implementing configuration management?

The Configuration Librarian will provide the FIVE

following services to any given project:

1. Planning. Working with the project manager, to establish what level of detail is required (this is dependent upon the complexity of the total end-product configuration).

2. Identification. Agreeing what products will be under configuration control (for example, the Project Plan may not be included, as long as the project manager has a simple ‘off-line’ system for keeping it under their own version control).

3. Control. Procedures to ‘freeze’ baselines of products and bring them under control of the CM library.

Freezing means no changes are allowed to the product without the right level of authority (for example the project sponsor).

There is another point to be brought out here.

Take the development of a new mountain bike.

One person is designing the wheels, another is developing the frame, yet another, the gearing system.

As each goes through the many design versions the others need to make sure the entire configuration of the bike remains ‘harmonized’.

The CM database will recognise such linkages and alert the team (via reports as described later in this article); of the relationships each product has to each other.

4. Status Accounting. This is the CM database for the recording and reporting of all products.

This goes back into history to the first version, and all the way up to the current version. This data can be given to the project manager at key points, such as an end stage review as accurate proof of the true status on all the projects products.

5. Verification. CM provides reviews and audits to ensure that the project team are using the correct versions of documents and other products during the project (and that they match the ‘master’ copies of such that are held in the library).

This should be seen as a service – not as ‘the management police’!

Finally, there are two important reports that the project manager will use from the CM Librarian:

1. The Configuration Record. This is a record of all the information required about each product’s status, and includes; the latest version number, who is creating the product, where the product is to be kept/stored, and what its status is.

2. Product Status Account. This is a report (usually requested by the project manager at key review points), and provides information about the state of all products within some defined time frame (for example “give me a report of all products and their status that have been created during the current project stage”

The PSA will, for each product within that time frame, contain data such as when each product was baseline and when any changes were approved.

Here is a short synopsis of key points within a Prince2 project when Configuration Management is used:

Planning Quality.

The Configuration Management Plan is created, prior to the

development of the Project Plan. The Project Manager to liaise with Configuration Librarian to discuss how the project will use/work with their Configuration Management (CM) System.

Setting Up Project Files

Takes information from the Project Plan, and adds project filing structure to the Configuration Management Plan. CM system may already have these facilities.

Authorising Work Package (WP)/giving work to the team

Update the Configuration Item Record to “under development” Configuration Librarian will do this.

Ensure the WP contains information regarding how version control will work for the developer, obtaining copies of products or product descriptions, submission the Configuration Librarian, and passing product status information.

Assessing Project Progress.

Capturing “actuals” and updating the status of products Configuration Item Record (CIR). Configuration Librarian can provide a Product Status Account (PSA) if needed.

Capturing and Examining Project Issues/Changes

Configuration Librarian could receive/document all Changes/Issues as well as maintain the Change/Issue Log.

Taking Corrective Action.

When any changes are to be made, the Configuration Librarian to make any products or their copies available, add new copies given out to the CIR, and update CIR for any status changes.

Receiving Completed Work Package (when the team have completed each product/deliverable)

Configuration Librarian to update the CIR to a status of ‘completed’.

Product is now baselined if not already done.

As products/deliverables are completed Specialist Team to advise Configuration Librarian to update

CIR status of each product.

Completing a Work Package.

Configuration Librarian to handle the return of completed products (if appropriate), and to assist Project Assurance in confirming customer/user acceptance of products.

Regular Management Reports

Configuration Librarian with assistance of Project Assurance to confirm the CIR is same as actual status of products by carrying out a Configuration Audit.

Also check that version numbers are correct/updated.

Replanning as a result of change.

Configuration Librarian will provide a Product Status Account of products to be replaced/incomplete.

New CIR’s created if needed.

Closing down a Project.

CIR checked for completeness, and used as an input to

Product Status Account – confirmation from customers configuration management records that all products are approved.

Refer to the Configuration Management Plan for how the products are to be handed over to those with support/operational responsibilities.

Carry out a Configuration Audit to check that all products are approved and complies with their CIR’s.

During Project Planning.

The Configuration Item Record is created with reference to the Configuration Management Plan.

A simple numbering system for each product could be structured as: project name/type of product/product name/source/status/version number

So for example, if a project exists to create a new notebook PC,and a unique numbering system as above is used for the hard drive bought in from a 3rd party:

New Notebook Project/hardware/hard drive/external/in development/vA.2

Here is a detailed guide of the information needed in the

documents referred to in this article:

Configuration Management Plan.

– CM method to be used

– Links to other CM systems or tools

– Where and how products are to be stored

– security arrangements for filing and retrieval

– Identification and numbering for

products/versions

– Who is responsible for CM

Configuration Item Record.

– Unique Project identifier

– The type of product (web, hardware, etc)

– Product Name

– The Latest version number

– A full Description of the product

– Life Cycle steps for product (ie.draft,

approved, in-service, etc)

– Who owns the product (User? Ops Manager? etc)

– Who created the product?

– The date allocated to them

– The library or location where it is kept

– product source (internal, external)

– links to related products (physical, electrical,

etc)

– status (where in the life-cycle is it?

– copy-holders and potential users

– references to issues (if any) that caused change

to this product

– any relevant correspondence

Product Status Account

– Project name

– Product type

– Product identifier

– Version number

– Product description – baseline date

– Product – baseline date

– List of related products

– Date copy of product was issued for a change

– Planned date for next baseline

– Planed date for next release

– Relevant notes (change pending/under review, etc)

Ethical Issues In Inventory Management

When we speak of ethics violations we immediately think about executive management, or some sort of Wall Street scandal, and rarely do we realize that it happens more frequently from the bottom half of the workforce than the glass tower. Ethics violations in inventory management are committed by:

1.Knowingly giving inaccurate information to clients or prospective clients concerning pricing of storage space or other services, and the status of their inventory.

2.Favoring one vendor over another when purchasing goods or services because you have a friend that works for the preferential vendor or because of possible financial gain.

3.Cover-up of damaged products going out on a shipment.

4.Manipulating inventory figures and levels when the client questions his inventory levels or when management inquires about inventory statuses.

5.Work slowdown to gain overtime.

6.Giving preferential treatment to certain employees for possible gains in the future and friendship.

These are just a few examples and I’m quite sure that if you observed closely in your organization you can find many more. Why do these ethics violations occur? One reason is a lack of a code of ethics. Code of ethics are a specific set of professional behaviors and values employees must know and must abide by, including confidentiality, accuracy, privacy, integrity. Large organizations have a code of ethics, but violations occur because the standards are not enforced or management feels the violation is not worth their time.

Medium to small organizations lack a code of ethics program because they either don’t know how to develop one, it not important to them or it’s too costly in terms of finances and manpower.

Enron and Goldman Sachs are good examples of why it’s important of have a company code of ethics. In the business world the bottom line is to make money and there is nothing wrong with that but, when it consumes your organization and you take an attitude of making it at any cost, then that’s when the problem comes to view and people will do whatever they can be it ethical or unethical to make money.

A code of ethics will keep people within certain limits of what is acceptable in the organization in terms of behavior and business practices. Reality in the business world is that profits rule and as long as the shareholders are happy, and there is full employment in companies no one seems to care and ethics take a back seat to everything else.

With so much talk now days about morality in business and the state of the financial affairs of the world ethics is even more important today than before. Journalist are keeping an ardent eye out for the next business scandal and will uncover every stone to expose one, after all it sells news. Traveling and working in Asia I have found the Asian culture less sensitive to the actions of business not that they don’t care it just doesn’t consume their every waking moment and they aren’t quick to judge like the Western Nations.

Operating with honest principles and ethics is no less profitable than operating in an unethical manner. LeClair, Ferrell and Fraedrich, in their book Integrity Management (1998), describe five well-known successful companies that have invested organizational resources and are making profits and operating in an ethical manner three listed below you may recognize;

1. Hershey Foods

2. Home Depot

3. Waste Management

The old myth and saying “it’s not personal it’s just business” is as hollow then as it is now. Business is personal especially when you take the time to build a business relationship with vendors and clients to the point where they trust you, and acting in an unethical manner will certainly destroy any confidence they had in your product or services and make it nearly impossible to regain.

Concrete Rot or Concrete Cancer

If you want a lifetime job, it could be painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge – once you finish you probably have to start at the other end again. The painting continues in order to stop the steel from corroding, and steel corrosion is what causes concrete rot, otherwise called concrete cancer or spalling.

How does concrete ‘rot’ ?

Concrete is used in most commercial and residential buildings in a host of applications such as slabs, stairways, post and columns, support beams, balconies and verandahs, walls, pathways and pools. Huge volumes of concrete are involved in structures like bridges, wharves and high-rise towers. The concrete is generally reinforced using steel bars or mesh and in the larger developments significant amounts of steel are required for added strength.

The enemies of reinforced concrete are water and air. If these elements gain access to the steel enclosed within the concrete it can corrode – the steel expands as it breaks down and fractures the surrounding concrete. As the concrete cracks and crumbles, there is even greater opportunity for water and air to contact the reinforcing steel and the process intensifies. There are obvious safety issues as the structural integrity of the concrete is reduced.

How to identify concrete rot

It can be happening unseen within the concrete but as it continues it becomes more evident. You may notice rust marks running down the concrete, or the concrete flaking, cracking or crumbling. In extreme cases, large sections of the concrete will fall away, exposing the rusted reinforcing steel. Remedial treatment can involve substantial and expensive corrective measures.

A professional building inspection can identify the problem or warn of potential for future trouble. It can be water pooling somewhere, small cracks in the concrete or reinforcing too close to the concrete surface. Prevention is certainly better than cure with concrete rot – it may simply be a matter of improving drainage, painting a surface or sealing cracks with some sort of mortar or epoxy filler. If you have any concerns about concrete rot, it pays to get some expert advice.

I do like to be beside the seaside

Well yes, most of us do but it’s here that concrete rot can be even more prevalent as chlorides in the moist, salty air react more aggressively with the reinforcing steel. Concrete rot is an ever-present issue in locations close to the sea and property owners need to be constantly on the lookout for any signs of deterioration and to ensure that protective measures are maintained.

The same can be said for chlorides associated with swimming-pool chlorine or saltwater pools.

Also, there is often moisture close to the ground surface in beachfront blocks and water can soak up into the structure. Large buildings with basement or underground car parks can experience the same problem with groundwater seepage.

In summary, concrete rot is a common problem. It can lead to significant structural damage which may be difficult and expensive to repair. It is not always easy to detect, it can result in serious safety implications and it can be avoided by getting expert advice and using the right materials and appropriate construction guidelines.