Training Article

Helena Lui’s picture

By: Helena Lui

There’s an old saying that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Every project manager knows that she has to create a realistic project budget before the project begins. This step is not optional because when you’re midway through your project and realize you’ve run out of money, you’re in big trouble.

Although every project is different, there are some commonalities in the steps to creating a project budget. Here are six steps to creating and maintaining healthy finances for a project.

1. Look through lessons-learned documents

If there are records of similar projects within your company, use their project budgets as a model. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, and this will save you a lot of time and effort. You may want to talk to other project managers to fully understand how their budget models work. Also, consider having a team member look through similar activity costs from past projects to help determine the activity costs for your project. This is called analogous estimating.

Kevin Cundiff’s picture

By: Kevin Cundiff

Ask how you can help, always keep a smile, respond to requests promptly... the list goes on. You’ve probably been exposed to an abundance of tips and tricks about how to become more customer-friendly.

That kind of advice can definitely be valuable, but what you likely don’t hear—unless you’re a downright terrible salesperson—is what you’re doing that’s not so customer-friendly. These unfriendly things, that you may not even know you’re doing, are scaring away potential customers and sales, and eliminating return business.

A single action can change the tone of your sale in a second, steering it for better or worse. If your actions lead a customer down the path of bad experiences, it could affect your business well beyond that one person. Once an unpleasant interaction takes place, word of it can quickly make its way to other potential customers. A bad review here, a personal recommendation to bypass your business there, it all adds up—very quickly. When this happens, you have to put out fires and rebuild your reputation before you can return to the good graces of those valuable consumers again.

What’s the answer? Avoid a bad reputation altogether. By dropping these six insulting actions, you can do just that:

Leo Sadovy’s picture

By: Leo Sadovy

Having a mentor is the No. 1 factor in increasing the steepness of your personal learning curve. So says my oldest, Garik, a Park Scholar at North Carolina State University (class of 2012), during a discussion he recently had with the incoming Park Scholar class of 2019.

To accept the value of mentoring first requires one to understand the centrality and importance of the learning curve. Garik asked the students to imagine plotting the characteristics of two people on a simple X-Y axis. Person A comes to the game with only a moderate amount of resources at his disposal, but importantly, also a relatively steep learning curve, such that a plot of his capabilities has him crossing the Y-axis at an intercept of 1 and with a slope of one-half. Person B, in contrast, has much greater resources at her current disposal: time, talent, smarts, money, education, experience, but for whatever reason has a shallower learning curve, such that her plot on the graph intercepts higher up the Y-axis at 2 but with a shallower slope of only one-quarter.

Ken Miller’s picture

By: Ken Miller

Your employees are your greatest asset—and your greatest cybersecurity risk. That statement may sound harsh, but hackers often prey on unwary employees because employees can provide easy access to otherwise secure systems.

Remember the Anthem breach earlier this year? Hackers gained access to nearly 80 million consumer records containing personal data, at least in part by using stolen employee credentials such as user IDs and passwords. It’s likely that Anthem employees unknowingly handed over their credentials online or inadvertently allowed hackers to insert malware into company systems.

How can you keep your data secure? The short answer is to train your employees. They must understand the critical role they play in the company’s cyber defenses. Make sure they understand company policies about security, use of personal devices, and keeping mobile devices secure, among other issues. You must work to engage employees in abiding by these policies. The ideal company culture is one that expects and rewards compliance with cybersecurity policies.

Dawn Bailey’s picture

By: Dawn Bailey

I recently had the great experience of speaking as part of a panel on the value of the Baldrige Excellence Framework, but what meant the most to me was the chance, I hope, to dispel some common misconceptions about what the Baldrige is actually all about. And, no, it’s not just an “excellence award”—there’s so much more.

Following are a few of the questions from the panel and how I answered them:

“I once looked at the Baldrige Criteria to start an improvement initiative, but the process looked like it would take too long.”

I answered by suggesting that we go back to the whole point of the Baldrige Criteria. In 1987, the Baldrige Program was tasked by Congress to develop a set of criteria that would include all of the considerations that go into successful leadership (category one), successful strategic planning (category two), a successful customer strategy (category three), etc. The Baldrige Criteria have been reviewed, refined, updated, and reviewed again for 28 years to ensure that they reflect the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice.

Marta Collier’s picture

By: Marta Collier

The lazy days of summer are a thing of the past. Through a remarkably diverse set of summer camps and other enrichment programs, kids all over Arkansas spent the summer of 2015 participating in activities designed to spark their curiosity and teach them the joy of creating. That joy—and the 21st century skills they learned—will hopefully stay with them and lead some into the rewarding, high-paying manufacturing jobs that require those skills.

Recognizing that one size does not always fit all, businesses, educators, and government officials in Arkansas are teaming up to create a network of opportunities for students and job seekers that could serve as a model for others areas of the country facing the challenge of recruiting skilled labor in manufacturing.

Christine Schaefer’s picture

By: Christine Schaefer

In 2001, the fast-food restaurant chain, Pal’s Sudden Service, received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Today founder Pal Barger continues to share why he considers his company’s investment in employee training to be cost-effective despite being in a high-turnover industry.

Other business leaders reportedly ask Pal, “What if you spend all this time and money training someone and then they leave?’” His response to them: “Suppose we don’t, and then they stay?”

Throughout the past 15 years, an extraordinary commitment to customer-focused excellence and workforce development has continued to benefit Pal’s Sudden Service. The 27-restaurant chain based in Kingsport, Tennessee, has received wide attention and recognition for both its strong customer focus and uncommon practices in educating employees.

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Brenda Percy’s picture

By: Brenda Percy

When looking for the best quality management system (QMS) for your business, there are certain traits to take into consideration to ensure you get the most value out of the system in the long run. Here are six of them.

1. Flexibility to make the system your own

Flexibility is an important aspect of the software. The system should allow you to automate the process of collecting quality events, conducting corrective actions on those events, and providing document control. This covers the standard workflow for quality management, but you should also be able to adjust these processes to suit your preference. In this respect, flexibility of the workflow is invaluable. It’s important to look for a system that can adapt to your existing processes and change when the processes change. This is one of the key considerations when looking into software solutions and can affect future functionality and cost.

Brian Curran’s picture

By: Brian Curran

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory requirements (i.e., 21 CFR 211.25 and 820.25) and the quality management standards from the International Organization for Standardization (i.e., ISO 9001) mandate companies to execute and document employee training. These requirements ensure that employees understand how to perform their duties within company and industry guidelines. Well-managed training programs minimize the risk of noncompliance and improve product quality. This article identifies the basis for the requirement, examines the associated challenges for meeting the requirement, and lists shortcomings that lead to general system failures. A new approach for meeting and going beyond the tracking requirements is presented.

Why track training?

Implementing and tracking employee training is a sound business practice that allows companies to know that employees are competent to perform specific tasks and are properly trained to do so. Without this fundamental information, organizations risk producing products with poor quality, which in turn creates higher costs due to inefficiencies, scrap, and rework. Ultimately, these companies can fail from financial losses due to systemic failures or legal repercussions.

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