Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Constitutionality of a Fiat Currency

The current monetary system of the United States is unconstitutional, through and through. The Constitution does not provide an in-depth explanation as to what monetary system the United States must use, but what it does say is unambiguously lucid. Article I, Section 8, clause 2 states: "The Congress shall have power... to borrow money on the credit of the United States... [clause 5:] to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standards of weights and measures... [and clause 6:] to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States... " Furthermore, Article I, section 10, clause 1 declares: "No state shall... coin money; emit bills of credit; or make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts... "
The writing of the Constitution in the summer of 1787 did not take place long enough after the end of the Revolutionary War for the Founding Fathers to forget the calamity of paper money printed and issued by the Continental Congress during the war. The paper notes known as "Continentals" eventually declined to zero percent of their original value because they could not be redeemed for either silver or gold. They were "greenbacks", and as such were the first of three major experiments with "greenbacks" that this nation has conducted. The Continental greenback failed so terribly that it gave rise to the saying "not worth a Continental."
Therefore, there was hostility towards paper money when the Constitutional Convention met in 1787. A delegate from Virginia by the name of George Mason declared that he had a "mortal hatred to paper money." Delegate Oliver Ellsworth from Connecticut believed the Convention to be "a favorable moment to shut and bar the door against paper money." James Wilson, a Pennsylvania delegate, argued: "It will have a more salutary influence on the credit of the United States to remove the possibility of paper money." South Carolina Delegate, Pierce Butler, made the point that paper was not legal tender in any country of Europe and that it ought not be made one in the United States. John Langdon of New Hampshire said that he would rather reject the whole Constitution than allow the federal government the power to issue paper money. When it came time for the final vote on the issue, nine states opposed granting the federal government power to issue paper money, and only two favored such a power.
The Founder's intentions were made obviously by using the word "coin" rather than the word "print," or the phrase "emit bills of credit." Thomas M. Cooley's Principles of Constitutional Law expounds upon this point: "To coin money is to stamp pieces of metal for use as a medium of exchange in commerce according to fixed standards of value."
Congress was granted the exclusive power to coin money while the states were prohibited from doing so. In addition, states were prohibited from making anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debt, while the federal government was not granted the power of making anything legal tender.
In James Madison's explanation of the Constitutional provisions on money, Federalist No. 44, Madison referred to the "pestilent effects of paper money on the necessary confidence between man and man, on the necessary confidence in the public councils, on the industry and morals of the people, and on the character of republican government." The intention of the Founders was to avoid the paper-based monetary system that has been used in the United States since Richard Nixon closed the gold window in 1971.
This intention was understood even throughout the 19th century. Daniel Webster wrote:
"If we understand, by currency, the legal money of the country, and that which constitutes a lawful tender for debts, and is the statute measure of value, then undoubtedly, nothing is included but gold and silver. Most unquestionably, there is no legal tender, and there can be no legal tender in this country under the authority of this government or any other, but gold and silver, either the coinage of our mints or foreign coins at rates regulated by Congress. This is a constitutional principle, perfectly plain and of the very highest importance. The states are expressly prohibited from making anything but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts, and although no such expressed prohibition is applied to Congress, yet as Congress has no power granted to it in this respect but to coin money and to regulate the value of foreign coins, it clearly has no power to substitute paper or anything else for coin as tender in payment of debts in a discharge of contracts... The legal tender, therefore, the constitutional standard of value, is established and cannot be overthrown. To overthrow it would shake the whole system."
In 1832, the Select Committee on Coins of the House of Representatives, in a report to Congress, concluded that "the losses and deprivation inflicted by experiments with paper currency, especially during the Revolution; the knowledge that similar attempts in other countries... were equally delusive, unsuccessful, and injurious; had likely produced the conviction that gold and silver alone could be relied upon as safe and effect money."
In 1844, the House Committee on Ways and Means concluded: "The framers of the Constitution intended to avoid the paper money system. Especially did they intend to prevent Government paper from circulating as money, as had been practiced during the Revolutionary War. The Mischiefs of the various expedients that had been made were fresh in the public mind, and were said to have disgusted the respectable part of America... the framers.. designed to prevent the adoption of the paper system under any pretext or for any purpose whatsoever; and if it had not been supposed that such an object was effectively secured, in all probability the rejection of the Constitution might have followed."
In 1884, in the case Julliard vs. Greenman, Justice Stephen Field wrote: " There have been times within the memory of all of us when the legal notes of the United States were not exchangeable for more than half their nominal value. The possibility of such depreciation will always attend paper money. This inborn infirmity, no mere legislative declaration can cure. If Congress has the power to make the notes legal tender and to pass as money or its equivalent, why should not a sufficient amount be issued to pay the bonds of the United States as they mature? Why pay interest on the millions of dollars of bonds now due when Congress can in one day make the money to pay the principal; and why should there be any restrain upon unlimited appropriations by the government for all imaginary schemes of public improvement if the printing press can furnish the money that is needed for them?"
It is noteworthy that this power of coining money is mentioned in the same sentence in the Constitution as the power to "fix the standards of weights and measures," because the framers regarded money as a weight of metal and a measure of value. Roger Sherman, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, wrote that "if what is used as a medium of exchange is fluctuating in its value, it is no better than unjust weights and measures... which are condemned by the Laws of God and man... "
Today's paper money system, issued by a coercive banking monopoly, has no basis the in the Constitution. It is precisely the sort of government institution that can forcibly exact financial support from the people without their consent. As such, it is a form of taxation without representation, and a denial of the hard fought and won principle of consent before payment of taxes. It is a form of embezzlement.
Surprisingly, the Supreme Court has never decided on any cases challenging the constitutionality of our current irredeemable paper money system; in fact such a case has not yet been adjudicated before the Court or at the federal appellate level.
The argument against a irredeemable paper money system is more than a Constitutional argument. It is also a moral argument. Furthermore, this system has led to a split in the field of Economics between Monetarists and the new school of Austrian Economics. This split lies mainly in the concept of inflation. Monetarists describe inflation as "the rise of prices over a period of time" whereas Austrian Economists describe inflation as "the unwise over-expansion of the supply of money and credit." It seems that the Austrian Economists have won this argument but the Federal Reserve continues to operate under the Monetarist definition of inflation. This leads to the lowering of interest rates once the bubbles (like the Dotcom bubble or the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008) of the boom-bust cycle burst. This leads to further expansion of credit in the system and the creation of a new bubble and thus the perpetuity and increased severity of the boom-bust cycle. This inflationary monetary policy facilitates the transfer of wealth from the poor to the very wealthy and politicians and the consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prefabricated Buildings for Industry

The need for additional space can present a headache for any business, whether it is needed for extra capacity or to overcome the consequences of a fire or flood. Creating a conventional building of bricks and mortar is a time consuming and costly exercise and increasingly businesses are turning to prefabricated buildings as an alternative. There are a variety of designs and styles of prefabricated buildings so there are choices to be made.
Prefabricated building alternatives
For larger prefabricated buildings the choice is between having a steel or an aluminium building and both have their advantages. Buildings made from steel are obviously stronger than those made from aluminium but, because of their weight usually require ground work to be carried out to support the load and there is the possibility of corrosion over time. Aluminium is not as heavy as steel and buildings made in this material can be installed on to level hard standing without extra foundations being laid. Although aluminium is a lighter material than steel it is more flexible when impacted and is very resistant to corrosion.
The fact that aluminium buildings can be assembled in a matter of days and be disassembled just as quickly, makes them an attractive proposition for use as an alternative to a permanent structure. This type of building can also be bought outright or hired which offers choice in the financial arrangements.
Selecting a prefabricated building
As with most things however its horses for courses and some people prefer steel buildings because they come with a steel roof. The aluminium prefab buildings have a fabric PVC roof which may need to be replaced during the lifetime of the building. This however is an extremely fast and economical job so devoted fans of the aluminium option don't find it significant enough to change course.
Given the very fast installation time and the fact that most suppliers carry stock, aluminium industrial buildings can create on-site space extremely quickly. This is obviously ideal in an emergency such as a warehouse fire, but it also gives businesses the ability to quickly capitalise on growth opportunities and get a fast return. When compared to a steel or permanent structure, a return on a new project can be seen in weeks as opposed to months, or maybe years.
Prefabricated buildings also come in the form of cabin type structures; Portakabin being a renowned manufacturer and provider. These buildings are often used for offices and classrooms but can also provide space for a wide range of applications such as canteens, marketing suites, bathrooms, retail or storage units. Steel framed modular buildings of this nature are manufactured in the factory and fitted out with all services prior to being transported, ready for use, to site where they are craned into position. All manufacturing is done in a controlled factory environment avoiding any problems with adverse weather or busy operational sites. Buildings can be stacked on top of each other creating multiple storeys and hired or purchased.
This wide choice of prefabricated building combined with the options available with permanent structures shows that with the right research and knowledge businesses can find a solution that ticks all their boxes for design, cost, speed, functionality and durability.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Let's Assume the Future of Business

Buying a business or starting a new business is very challenging task to do and everyone cannot perform well in this. A business requires a goal, financial investment, structure and thousands of customers. It's a competitive world and everyone wants to get success in his work and want to make money fast.
As we know that today the whole world is going online. Three fundamental features are there of the web that increase the power of it.
The web is global in which many servers and browsers make connection between businesses and consumers. This is an open technology that has also allowed the Internet to grow globally.
The best advantage of the web is that it is the most powerful information source for consumers and they can easily gain rich information about the product, services and also about buying a business online.
The web is interactive. It is the ability of web in which the true nature of the internet and the basis of its power are included to conduct a dialogue with the consumer. The online business is the best way to start a new business or to buy an old business. You can connect many consumers with your business and earn more profit.
You can make the better future of your business; you just need to be careful of the effects what you see on the website and the real opportunities of your future company. These make the partnership between seller and buyer to work together and to get the mutual benefit. You should have the online store of your product or others for all so that anyone can buy them anytime and anywhere in the world. It will repeat your customers if, you are eager to work harder and it can be a large portion of a company's business.
An e-commerce website or company website builds relationship between business and consumers and help satisfying customer's desire for effective customer service. A business website allows customers to find the information what they want and whenever they need it. It can be easy to answer the same questions of customers with a presence of the web and to save a lot of time to be spent. Your staff can direct them to your website for further information.
Two major advantages are there of online business. First, it makes the online communication and help knowing the consumer feedback. A positive feedback makes your customers feel good about your business or company. Second, it helps in getting more profit directly and getting success in life.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Building A Stronger And More Solid Workforce

There are several factors that can encourage a person to apply for a job at a specific company and stay on to become a loyal, long-term employee. Primarily, the opportunity to work within one's academic field is a major factor in deciding on which employers to send applications to; in such an employment, the candidate will be able to put the skills and knowledge he gained from his academic life and training to good use. For others, however, getting the job they studied for may not be as urgent a need as landing one that pays significantly better. Still others may choose to apply at an office where employees and the management alike demonstrate a solid commitment to various social causes. No matter where a candidate sends his resume, one can assume that he chose a specific organisation because he believes he can gain positive benefits from the employment.
When employees choose to leave a company, it is equally important for the employer to know the reasons that led to this event. Resignations can indicate that there is a source of dissatisfaction or discomfort within the company's processes that may be affecting the employees' performances or their view of the work environment. By hiring experienced human resource experts to gather and interpret staff turnover data, a company can discover its strong points that motivate people to join their team as well as its faults that convince them to seek employment elsewhere.
Exit interviews are some of the most important processes that can give companies a clearer picture of why employees are choosing to leave their positions. In these interviews, a person is encouraged to identify the reasons they wish to leave-this could pertain to lack of communication among teams, faulty leadership from the management, disorganised workflows, strained relationships with colleagues, unsafe or unsanitary facilities, and others. Often, people undergoing exit interviews will be asked questions such as whether any steps were taken to address these issues and why resignation was the solution chosen by the employee. With this information, a company can discover its undesirable practices and weak spots and address them accordingly to prevent future resignations and improve the harmony within the workplace.
Human resource experts will also be able to help companies discover their strong points that encourage people to join their teams and engage them to stay as employees for the long haul. These experts can find out the main reasons why tenured employees choose to stay; these could refer to respectable leaders, outstanding benefits, creative and constructive team dynamics, and comfortable and productivity-stimulating office surroundings. Companies can identify their strongest areas and further develop these to strengthen employee satisfaction and productivity even more.
With successful employee retention practices, an organization will find itself with loyal, inspired, and happy employees that contribute to the success of the entire business entity. These workers will also become highly likely to invite friends and acquaintances to discover for themselves how the company can be a great place to work, thus bringing in even more qualified and dedicated employees. Retention experts with years of experience in human resource management can help strengthen a company's existing workforce, implement effective recruitment strategies, and enjoy success thanks to their valuable employees.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

IT Support Solutions That Ensure Continued Productivity In Your Workplace

Small businesses, however small they may be described, still have a lot on their plate to keep the venture running smoothly. While they may not have large departments of employees or overseas sites working round the clock on specific operations, they would still have a number of processes to look after, and this is often made possible by the creation of a highly efficient and rewarding office information technology (IT) system.
What small businesses may not have, however, is a dedicated IT department to maintain an eye over their systems throughout the day. If a technical crisis were to emerge on a particularly crucial period, the small company would have no immediate way of getting the IT system back up and running, and every minute that passes with major operations stalled would have potentially devastating loss on the company's ability to generate profits. Important tasks will be delayed and many opportunities for new or recurring business may be lost. One solution to prevent this from ever happening is to hire an excellent IT support team to handle the company's various IT needs.
Local and reliable IT support services would have the know-how and the skills to resolve simple to complicated IT issues in the quickest time possible. Most of these service providers offer a remote support program to help business with their technical problems right away. If there are cases wherein the issue would need a closer inspection or more hands-on solutions, locally based support teams would have no trouble heading out to the client's offices to restore the systems as quickly as possible.
Most IT support systems are also well-versed in a variety of other offerings. They would also be qualified to perform a network installation service to carry out specific IT projects of different scales-from simple servers to more complex multi-site requirements. Client companies can hire IT experts to help from the initial planning stage through to the completion of the project if they wish.
A data recovery service would also be a popular and extremely helpful offering by an expert IT team. Several factors can wreak havoc on a small company's technical systems: a computer virus might attack its servers, an employee may have mistakenly deleted a number of important files, or accidents involving fire, water, electricity, and even natural calamities might severely damage a company's hard drive. Skilled IT experts can employ recovery procedures and install preventive applications to help companies avoid similar disasters with data loss in the future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

5 Tips to Encourage Your Customers

Product review & rating has become a popular feature that most of the successful e-commerce merchants have applied on their product details page. Main advantage of this feature is: it assures the visitors and customers that this product is not just another banal e-commerce product. People are actually talking about it (both positive and negative) and their thinking is listed here!
People always leave for your competitors when your product details page can't satisfy them by assuring them. Your product details page is the most important part of the site as this is the place when your customers decide whether to add the product to the cart or to abandon it. Hence, every effort should be taken to assure the customers that the products you are offering are indeed offers good bargain and value for price.
One of the strongest features in your product details page is the option to let the customers express their opinion and experience about the product. A simple one line comment added by a happy customer can assure lots of other visiting customers about purchasing the product.
Following are 5 tips for making your product details page more efficient by encouraging customers and visitors to write reviews for your products:
Tips 1 - Product Details page Design:
Your product details page design should get special emphasize hence people always love to visit the products details pages that are visually attractive and neatly presented. The product details page should arrange the product images, description, prices and attribute selection options etc. very neatly and in a way so that customers can find information easily. If your product details page design and arrangement is vivid and attractive, people would love to write something about it. Adding Image zooming, image video and multiple images illustrates the product better and thus gives customers a good insight about the product. If a visitor finds a eye-catchy product details page, it's more likely that s/he would like to add some words there.
Tips 2 - Don't make the process complicated:
Keep the Review & Rating feature simple. A complicated process would simply forbid visitors and customers from adding the reviews. If you want the rating feature to be present along with the review option, offer a visual 5 star rating which can be rated using the mouse click. Offer the negative rating options that would give a bold impression to the visitors that they are free to rate it the way they feel. For the Review make the email fields optional as people often don't want their emails to be visible publicly. Offer an option whether to show or hide the email addresses from the published reviews. One issue you should be particularly careful about is the CAPTCHA. Easy CAPTCHA can easily be broken by the spammers and hard CAPTCHA irritates the real reviewers. Choose one which is difficult to break by the Spamming softwares yet easy for the human users to read.
Tips 3 - Moderate the Reviews and rating:
Your e-commerce platform should help you administering the review and rating casted by the visitors or customers. You should be able to publish/un-publish the reviews,(even manipulate if you want), control the visibility, control the number of reviews per page, reply back to a reviewer and other conventional review & rating moderation features. If you value what your customers are saying about your products, you should regularly moderate the reviews. Visitors feel frustrated they find that their reviews are never getting published in your website. Send them thank you emails for the reviews and visiting your website and as reply to the review, write something that would not only impress the reviewers but also other visitors.
Tips 4 - Keep the 'Negative Reviews' as well:
If your product details page is full of reviews with flattering and praising words & all 5 stars, that would possibly make other visitors doubtful about authenticity of those reviews. If customers are criticizing the products, it's your best chance to defend the reason and let others know it. Take the chance to confront the negative reviews with satisfying answers and place them among the other reviews.
Tips 5 - Reviewing Competition:
What about announcing a little gift, free coupon or discount for the top rated reviewers? Yes, that would definitely encourage visitors and customers explore your products and write something about them. A $5 coupon code, 5% discount or free gift wrapping would inspire lot more visitors and customers to write some lines for your products.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Only 1% of SMEs Use Social Media

According to a recent survey completed by TalkTalk Business, only 1% of SMEs in the UK utilise social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as new business tools.
Can this be true? Apparently so! I recently read an article in The Drum which highlighted this and, I have to say, I was more than a little surprised. Social Media platforms are most suited to SMEs in that they are free to use, and help to engage directly with their existing, as well as potential, customers. In 2011, Facebook surpassed even Google in terms of internet usage... yet most companies will invest in a website but not give social media a second thought, meaning they are only covering themselves in half of the online market space.
From reading many articles about the emergence of social media specifically as a business tool, I have gleaned that this is mainly down to a classic case of 'fear of the unknown'. "What does it do?", "how do we use it?" and "Where do we start?" are all questions we encounter on an almost daily basis. The answer to this is to have a clear cut strategy in place for your social media usage. As with most forms of marketing, you need to have a defined plan. This can be difficult when you don't fully understand what you're working with yet, so don't be afraid to ask for a little advice or input - sometimes the best ideas for content etc come from customers themselves.
It is really important that you don't overtly try to 'sell' your products and services to your online audience. We see far too many cases of repeated posts of "buy our new this" and "we sell that cheaper than such a body"... this is not the way to go. Obviously the ultimate aim is to generate more or repeated business from your social media usage, but this should be done in a more engaging way. Try instead to be informative about the products/services and become a bit of a guru of information within your specified area. Chat with people, ask questions and answer their questions. The idea is to engage with your audience in a way which will leave an impression, making you the first company they think of when they think of a certain product/service.
Another thing to consider is that social media is a long term investment. It won't generate massive results over night, and it is not a 'quick fix', but don't give up on it! Over time, it is an excellent way of attracting/ gaining presence and retaining business and it WILL work if you do it properly and persevere with it.
Perhaps the most important aspect of your strategy, along with what to post, is where to post to. There are so many social media platforms in use, so it is important to gauge which ones will be best suited to the audience you are trying to target. For example, trying to endorse a video game is likely to have a lot of success on Facebook, but yield very little on LinkedIn. Gauging which outlets will have the greatest impact is all about analising where your customers are more likely to frequent.
I will end with a comment from Paul Lawton, MD of TalkTalk Business -
"Social media can prove invaluable as a new business tool and so it's worrying to see that so few SMEs are embracing it. Its business benefits range from being able to engage and understand the needs of customers and prospects through to gaining insights into target markets and perceptions of your organisation or brand".

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Relevance of Cultural Integration Into Translation

Many of us consider translation as a more conversion of text from one language to another. However, the term has a much deeper meaning. If we try to understand the very need of translation services, the in depth meaning of translation becomes implicit.
Translation Services are needed whenever a document or content of any type is written in a particular language and the reader of the content is not familiar with that language. Thus, the content needs to be converted or translated into a language that the reader is familiar with. There can be numerous instances of such necessity - a technical paper, a website, a software, a news article, a machine manual, a blog, a corporate white paper etc. The conversion is normally required into the mother tongue or native language of the reader. Thus, when the document is translated, the reader expects that the language used must be as per the grammar, culture etc A reader Is really disappointed if he/she needs finds the translation is a more phrasal translation of the source text.
The demand for Chinese Translation Services and Japanese translation services is on a rise. Because of the growing trade relations of China and Japan with the rest of the world, there is an increasing need for Chinese to English Translation, English to Chinese Translation and similarly for Japanese.
Now let's take up Japanese Translation first. Japan is one of the world leaders in automotives and most of the automotive manuals, thus, are in Japanese. Now, for anybody outside Japan, to understand the manual is not possible, thus, necessitating the need for Japanese to English Translation. Again, while translating the professional Japanese Translator must take care of the target language culture, jargons, grammar so that the reader 'feels at home' while reading the translated document. When a document is written in English and needs to be sent to a Japanese counterpart, there is a requirement for English to Japanese Translation. This type of task can be best performed by a native Japanese translator having a good hold on English.
China is one of the fastest growing economies, and hence is rapidly interacting with the rest of the world in terms of trade. Chinese being the language used in China, all content written there is in Chinese (Mandarin or Simplified) and thus if it has to be shared with another part of the world, a language translation is required. A professional Chinese Translator must have a solid understanding of the Chinese and English languages and also, must be conversation with the corresponding cultures.
In a nutshell, whenever a document is translated into another language, a word to word or phrasal translation does not work. The translation services have to be context based and must have an implication of the target culture and locale.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Control Temperature With Essential Equipment in Your Lab

One of the main factors in health care institutes and hospitals is the monitoring and logging of moisture and temperature. This factor holds a greater importance in those labs which store tissue and blood samples along with the medicines which are required to be stored under controlled temperature. Find below certain equipments extremely useful for controlling temperature in the labs.
Wireless temperature monitoring systems
Wireless temperature monitoring systems are extremely easy to program and one can have fully customized operation according to his specific needs. Once the wireless temperature monitoring systems are programmed, it is not require to be reprogrammed unless direly required. This system automatically works by collecting the logs to maintain humidity levels and controlling a critical temperature along with reducing the manual labor in turn minimizing cost as well.
A multimeter can be termed to be an essential tool in the laboratories today owing to the measurement flexibility and accuracy. This device is able to measure the resistance of both current and the AC and DC voltage and hence has often found use in testing the prototype circuits. The different accessories associated with multimeter are temperature sensor probes, transistor testing modules, probe kits and high voltage probes.
Laboratory incubators
A typical laboratory incubator has a see through chamber having an in-built equipment which allows the room to control temperature, ventilation and humidity. Initially, the incubators were used in keeping newly born sick or premature babies and for hatching of poultry eggs. However, with time, the function of incubators has moved to the development of microorganisms. The incubators, help in allowing the rooms to easily manipulate and grow these elements to help in research and development.
LCR meter
An LCR meter which stands for Inductance, Capacitance and Resistance can be said to be a higher version of the multimeters as they cannot measure capacitance. The LCR meters are of two types, one a low cost version which helps in measuring the full impedance of any component and second, the costly version which can measure not only the impedance of all the components but also quality factor and the equivalent series resistance of that component.
However, the accuracy of the low cost version of LCR meter is generally of poor quality with the highest tolerance level of only 20%. Considering that many capacitors have in built tolerance level of 20%, mixing the tolerance of both the meter in use and the component can result in creating addition issues in the procedure of temperature control.
Soldering iron
A resistive block heater is used to heat the tip of a soldering iron which is in turn is often examined by a temperature sensor in order to keep the temperature of the soldering tip stable. There are different forms of soldering iron available in the market; however for controlling the temperature in the labs generally a soldering station is preferred.
Oscilloscopes are a primary tool in measuring and observing the shape of any signal. The digital oscilloscopes have various in built trigger and measurement options which help in making the measurement of frequency, pulse width, peak-to-peak voltage and signal comparisons an easy task in controlling the temperature of the room.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

10 Drivers to CRM Failure

In our years of working in the SaaS space, we can't tell you how many meetings we've attended where an executive expressed those frustrations. Even in organizations where CRM adoption is mandated, teams and individuals will still riotously resist changes in systems, processes, reporting, you name it.
As you can imagine, this doesn't sit well with top management. After sinking thousands of dollars and months of time into a CRM rollout, companies want to see optimized sales performance. Not a long list of grievances.
How can these organizations get a path forward? Helping their people to connect the dots between the data that they put into the CRM system and the value they can derive from it.
And now: an examination of key areas where CRM ROI either succeeds or fails - and what you can do about them.
Missed ROI - and common points of failure
1 - Maintain clean data.
This least-glamorous part of the process is also the first reason for CRM failure and end user dis satisfaction. Getting good data in and getting bad (or old) data out should be a highly visible management priority. Ownership must also be clearly identified for ongoing data validation and maintenance to ensure that the data retains integrity.
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for clean data?
It's not a one-and-done project. Data management extends from the initial upload of data to the system's date of final retirement. Maintaining accountability for ongoing attention to data mainte­nance is a challenge in many organizations.
Free-for-all data entry. When fields in the CRM are free-form data entry, queries and reports have a tough time displaying and performing calculations on that data. Risk of user error and incom­plete data also increases. The solution is to make as many important fields into standardized lists and forcing the user to choose from the menu. System validation and logic rules should be thought through in a holistic way before transferring any data from other systems, and the data entry screens designed in a way that enforces this logic.
Initial data load. Users are more likely to accept (and maintain data in) your system if they see good data in there at the start. Whether the data is coming from a legacy system or being compiled from multiple sources, invest the time to scrub the data before importing it into the new application. After data is imported, it is less likely to be cleansed. Time spent scrubbing data before import guarantees that data will start off clean. Your project team must also validate the data and relationships after the load and make additional corrections/adjustments.
Bad data. A company's processes can often contribute to the creation of bad data. For example: different teams may not share the same definition of terms like "revenue" or "completed" or "start date." With different users interpreting a field differently, and all having access to update it, the field data becomes impossible to interpret over time.
Duplicate data. Duplication creates conflicts, such as who works the lead or services the account, and creates waste and duplication in downstream processes, such as sending marketing letters to the same person multiple times (or at old addresses). End users also deal with the confusion of multiple records by ignoring the system, distributing their updates across multiple records, and even creating their own new duplicate records.
Weak / incomplete data. Records with missing or incomplete data are often filtered out of reports, communications, data mining searches, and many other system uses. Optimize business intelli­gence, and improve marketing and segmentation, with regular data maintenance. Key data can often be appended to existing records with data enhancement services from such providers as D&B and Hoovers.
Data Overload. Carefully evaluate what information is truly essential and what is "nice to have" at each point in your process. Minimize the must-have information at each step in the process; especially for field personnel. This increases the likelihood of user adoption and data integrity.
Handling turnover gracefully. Some job roles can turn over at a high rate. When Tom leaves, and Suzie replaces him, is the company reassigning Tom's records and updating the record owner(s)? If not, over time those records are not updated and lose their value. Companies need a standard process for reassigning records to the appropriate person(s), instead of case-by-case assignments.
2 - Drive process alignment.
Your CRM fields, reports, and screen flow must match the way people actually use the system and its outputs. This must be constantly tended, as processes and people change.
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for process alignment?
The Kitchen Sink view of the business. Some developers may prefer to provide one screen contain­ing every field in the system. However, simplifying screens for the user is a huge part of aligning CRM systems with end user workflow. Decision tree wizards and custom page layouts allow your users to retrieve the data they need, at the point in their workflow when they need it. This customiza­tion takes both initial effort and ongoing updates. The ongoing system ROI driven by such updates is significant in many organizations.
Examine and document processes with a critical eye. Simply automating the old process can not only create frustration, but also cause you to forego benefits the software can provide. It is essential to document the new process, taking into consideration how the technology can help facilitate not only a more efficient/effective process, but also collaboration (via the use of workflow).
3 - Automate repetitive processes.
When your CRM system correctly aligns with your business processes, the system can take over low value, repetitive work through automation. This is a powerful source of CRM ROI.
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for automation?
Data consistency. When the underlying data in a system isn't consistently maintained (see #1), processes are tough to automate. Consistency in key areas must be present for the system to perform automatic calculations, consistent reports, workflow routing, and so on.
Keeping CRMin sync with changing people and processes. As the organization changes, CRM must keep up for its automated components to remain useful. When turnover is frequent, this becomes both more challenging and more important. When Tom leaves, and Suzie replaces him, does the process also change? Does she have exactly the same job mandates and work style that Tom did? Does Suzie need a different report, and does her boss still calculate key metrics the same way? Do automated processes such as lead assignment now need updating?
4 - Align Stakeholders.
Does your CRM system offer value to everyone who puts data into it, needs data from it, or manages people who do one of those things? Giving end users a voice in the process and value-added system outputs are natural drivers of end user adoption and clean data.
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for stakeholder alignment?
Executive alignment. In many companies, an executive sponsor signs the purchase order for the system, and that is the end of their involvement with the system. To align the tool to executive expectations, some face time with the project team makes all the difference.
Executive visibility. Ongoing, visible executive involvement sends an important message to the rank and file: "We've spent a lot of money on this system, and we take it seriously." Naturally, every company initiative would like to have this kind of support. Plan for activities that are manageable over months and years - such as public comments on the importance of CRM, hosting roundtable meetings to discuss CRM feedback. Real impact can be made by participating at least periodically in CRM steering committee meetings. Having very senior executives dropping into these meetings for surprise visits can help you manage a tight schedule while still communicating executive interest in the program.
One-way thinking. Do you depend on employees to maintain data who perceive no stake for them­selves in the outputs of your system? If value is moving only one way - up the chain - the likelihood of that data being inaccurate increases exponentially. Both the carrot and the stick are needed to keep the information maintained in the system the way you need it.
(Lack of) end user input. CRM programs can and should contain active vehicles for end user input (pilots, workshops, "beta" users) and satisfaction measurement. Simply asking end users how the system is meeting their needs and improvements they'd like to see can be a revelation for productivity, data value, process alignment, and much more. However, many companies simply move too fast to design effective questions, analyze the results, or take action based on the analysis.
Viewing training as "one and done". The CRM solution provides significant capabilities. It is unreal­istic to expect that people who are new to the system or technology can fully appreciate or leverage all of these at once. Training must be structured to be delivered over time so that individuals have time to absorb the new processes and system. This regular training will provide continued enlighten­ment for system users as to how the solution can add incremental value for them in their position. Sharing of best practices and "tips and tricks" is one way to provide this ongoing knowledge transfer.
5 - Integrate disparate/legacy systems.
No single system or piece of software can contain all the functionality needed to run a complex organization. But the closer you are to a 360 degree view of your business information, the more valuable all of your systems are. When data from all relevant systems is available in a single place, every customer-facing and revenue-generating function becomes more effective. And every executive view of the business becomes more meaningful.
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for system integration?
Complexity of the initial integration project. Many technologies exist to enable fast, easy system integration without custom code. Wizard driven, in some cases. However, every project and com­bination of systems requires professional evaluation to determine the right mix of technologies and custom integration points.
Complexity of data exchange. Simply migrating data from one system to another can be a significant feat. Ongoing complex data exchange between disparate systems can entail a significant trouble­shooting effort. Creating this seamless integration can be heavy lifting even for the pros.
Flexibility of future system updates. Upgrades, new fields, new reports, and other changes in any participating system must be recognized by all points of integration in all other systems. Will this slow down future customization of your systems infrastructure? It depends.
6 - Educate and empower All System Users.
Many useful IT systems fail because their rollouts did not take into account basic principles of adult learning and change management. The backbone of a successful rollout? Users who understand how it benefits them to use a system, are confident in their system know-how, and are in the habit of using that system.
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for user empowerment?
Upfront thinking about each user's needs. It may seem like a lot of work to get new users acquainted with an unfamiliar system and the process changes that come with it. Just think how much waste will result if those users are left to figure it out for themselves. A little mentorship and hand holding goes a long way.
Forgetting the new hire learning curve. New hires are often forgotten in this process, but they need as much support in acclimating to your CRM world that your existing staff did when the system was new. Once I've learned the system, it's easy to forget how much time a new user needs to climb the learning curve.
System changes mean educational updates. Education must be renewed for each end-user group as the system changes. Many organizations roll out system changes with centralized speed but forget to tell the end user what those changes are, what they mean to each user group, and how to interact with the new functionality.
Forgetting the System Administrator(s). An often over-looked resource, the system administrator needs continuing education as well. Salesforce.com and other SaaS platforms evolve constantly. Your administrator needs to stay current on release changes, best practices, add-ons offered in the community, and other topics that impact their effectiveness.
What's New? Opportunities to improve SaaS ROI come with each release of new platform function­ality. Define a process for reviewing new functionality. Brainstorm ways to use new enhancements to help address items on your company's CRM Wish List.
7 - Provide direct access to data.
The right people must be able to get the right information into and out of the system when they need it. Sounds simple, right? Well, these requirements can evolve over time. Teams tend to set them up once and then leave them alone, but they deserve occasional review & re-evaluation.
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for data visibility?
Integration and Reporting automation. If the data you need resides in multiple systems, then someone must export data from those systems and massage the output in spreadsheets to do the job. This time-consuming extra work consumes hours and headcount weekly and even daily in many companies. Computing errors and inconsistencies add to the costs of data access.
User access permissions. In large organizations, simply figuring out who needs access to what data can become a political challenge. Translating those needs for the technology to enforce can also create complexity when end user roles are highly customized across departments and job functions.
Editing permissions. Record-level and field-level permissions also affect data integrity. Are the right users able to edit the data, while those that need "view only" permissions are prevented from editing?
8 - Drive Accountability.
Now that you have good data, what are you and your team using that data to accomplish? Are you holding teams (and the processes and tools which enable them) accountable for the performance they deliver?
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for accountability?
Clear ownership. Typically, a company with successful CRM has a core team of business stakehold­ers who meet regularly. This team helps to drive user adoption, user communication, process chang­es, implementation of new releases, and much more.
Internal promotion. It's not enough to have an internal champion alone. The company needs a strat­egy for communicating the importance and value of the CRM system to the organization.
One and done. The internal promotion and communication program for launching your CRM must continue to keep the message of its importance in front of users.
Culture conflicts. Some old behaviors must be ousted. For example, if your team is rolling out CRM to increase information sharing, but fiefdoms still hoard data, these culture conflicts can cause CRM failure. This takes time, as well as the carrot and the stick. Leadership vigilance, both at launch and ongoing, is key.
KPI visibility as a way of life. Are your KPIs visible on executive, manager, and user dashboards? Are your managers reviewing their dashboards and discussing performance during team meetings?.These steps are integral to driving a culture of performance.
Define terms - and goals. Do users know the rewards for success and consequences for sub-par performance? If so, it is much easier to communicate (and understand) how the CRM system in helping them achieve rewards and avoid consequences. Clearly-defined metrics of success do not exist in every organization. Even in companies where they exist, acceptable levels of performance aren't always universally understood among the rank and file.
Take time to benchmark. It is difficult to quantify improvement without a benchmark, Before you roll out a new CRM system or any significant change, benchmark your chosen metrics for system success. Then measure change in those metrics regularly after system launch.
9 - Add incremental improvements over time.
CRM is not a one-time implementation. To take action on analysis and user feedback and add new/updated processes into CRM, new functionality may be needed quarterly, half-yearly, or annually. In the Cloud, add-on applications and CRM platform upgrades also support your efforts to streamline workflow, automate processes, drive data quality, and much more - if you take advantage of them.
Where do companies commonly struggle in the quest for incremental improvement?
Post-launch burn out. The energy and focus required to implement a system simply cannot be sustained over time. Make sure that each rollout, whether initial implementation or ongoing release, is realistic for the business to absorb and operationalize.
Having a Change Management plan. It's easier to create momentum for incremental improvements when setting expectations and managing to a plan. This must also be more than a bulleted list on a Powerpoint slide. Include dates and activities associated with project milestones in your change man­agement plan. A roadmap of CRM stakeholder needs and CRM development priorities can be very helpful in keeping the system in step with the organization. This roadmap requires executive interest and sponsorship for most organizations to maintain and carry through with it.
Surprising the Users. Inform your users early and often of your change management plan. Select a group of users to serve on the project team during requirements definition and acceptance testing. This helps drive accountability with the project team. It also improves user acceptance of your system changes. Keep everyone informed through emails, webinars, weekly meetings, executive communications. If milestone dates slip, inform the user community of the new timeframe.
Internal expertise. For example, if the CRM system administrator leaves the business, incremental improvement cannot be considered until the backlog of maintenance work is handled. A backlog of 2 or 3 months' administrative work can quickly drive system neglect requiring sustained effort to reverse.
Resources. Many companies are staffed for data maintenance, not application performance tuning. This can be a matter of workload as well as skills and education.
10 - Calculate ROI on more than sales opportunities.
Success of CRM can be much more than just an increase of Closed or Won sales opportunities.
What KPIs do other companies include in CRM ROI calculations?
- Reduced time for a customer service rep to search for a solution
- Increase of referred business (business development, partner support)
- Reduced cost to serve a customer
- Faster customer response time
- Shorter time to close a deal
- Reduced time to research and work a customer case
- Growth in email capture (to reduce customer communication costs)
- Increased data capture of marketing / segmentation data (i.e., growth in CXO title capture)
- Increase in number of opportunities per customer
- Increase in number of contacts per account (or number of contacts in various job functions)
- Improved ability to track and measure Marketing Campaigns
- Reduced time calculate sales commissions
What common internal barriers do companies encounter when trying to fight CRM neglect?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Helping Your Local Charity

Charities will always need our help as they do not have the ability to run and be effective without the assistance of others. It is because of this that it is very important to make sure that everyone does there bit for charity so that they can carry on with their great work. There are many things that you can do for your local charity so there is no reason why you cannot.
One of the best things that you can do for your local charity is to donate money. This can be done on a monthly basis and this will make a huge difference to your charity because then they will be getting a steady flow of income which gives the charity security which is something they sometimes lack. If you do not want to donate monthly why not start putting all of your coppers and spare change into a big jar and when it's full donate it. This may not seem like a lot of money but when it is all added up it can be over £100 and if they receive that just from one donation that would be amazing.
You should also look at volunteering at your local charity so you can do your bit. By doing this a charity will be able to help everyone that they need to whether that's people or animals. When volunteering you will be given a wide variety of jobs so you could be working as a cashier or you could even be helping children have fun and this can give you valuable experience which could even help you when applying for jobs. Volunteering does have to be full time as you can even volunteer at their events because charities appreciate any help that they are given. The more people they have helping out at their events the more people they can reach with their message and make a real difference.
Fundraising is another great way for you to raise money and this can be fun for everyone. Many schools do host fundraising events and these are normally successful. The variety of events that can go on is endless and they do generally appeal to everyone. One week you could be organising an sports event where people pay to take part and next week you could be helping organise an event where people are throwing wet sponges.
A popular event that you could do is a sports day style event. With this you can get a group of people together to take part in certain events like a sprinting, throwing or jumping event and the winner gets a prize. If 50 people pay £2 to take part in one event then that's £100 and then you could be raising money from charging people £1 to watch and then there's money from the food and drink on sale. Another popular event is to organise a charity football match. You can get 2 local teams to play each other in a charity match where people pay to watch and while they are there you can get them to donate or take part in raffles etc. The opportunities are endless.
Another way that you can help out your local charity is by donating your old clothes and games to your charity shop. They always appreciate donations and then the shop can sell these products on to raise money. You do not even have to go down to your local charity shop anymore. Most charities now operate a charity bag service where they will drop charity bags off at your house and then they will collect your goods from you. So all you have to do it put the stuff in the bag. These bags are hard wearing so do not be afraid to put CD or DVD cases in there. With Christmas coming you will likely receive new clothes and gifts so there is no reason why you cannot donate your old clothes to charity.
It is highly recommended that you do help your charities help. Think of it from the point of view that if you were vulnerable you would want help so this is why you should help your charity help others.