Planning to achieve business benefits from Outsourcing essential – free ebook on BizFace

Why is Business Benefits Planning Essential

Benefits planning aims to deliver the benefits promised in the business case and ensures they are actually realised. Many projects although they complete successfully in project management terms fail to deliver any of the initial benefits that launched the initiative. I have seen countless examples of project teams and managers congratulating themselves with the success of the project, ‘how well it went’, ‘all the deliverables done’ and so forth – but with not one penny piece of value delivered for the organisation.

I have sat on project boards to go through the business case and been confronted many times with promises of 25% cost reductions or increased production that if taken in the round with all the other things on the go would mean we get a product that costs nothing to make and sell for millions by the millions – forgive me if I am cynical. The failure of many projects to actually deliver any benefit in real terms in part explains the reluctance to give the go-ahead for new projects. Senior management are getting (more cynical) about the benefits and are getting fed up with being confronted with yet another initiative that promises hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, increased revenue or more customers for example but actually delivers nothing. We have low expectations from any activity and even of the ability of projects to pay for the outlay and our expectations are being met.

Cynicism borne of the experience of hundreds of pleadings from staffers that have come to naught and project’s launched that have promised benefits that in the end have failed to come up with the goods. Evidence show’s that the majority of projects (well over 60%) in such diverse areas as IT, Outsourcing and BPR fail to deliver any discernable improvement. I have found no Outsourcing project that has delivered anything of value – the only exception being when they closed half the department and we got half the service.

In projects I supervise I always fall back on the six faithful servants:

  • What benefits are being suggested and what is the scale and scope being promised and does it look reasonable?
  • Why do we need these benefits – what is the driver at this point in time?
  • Where will the benefits be realised in what department specifically?
  • When will the benefits be achieved? Remember back to the discounted cash flow exercises we did at business school – a benefit ten years away of four pence halfpenny is worth nothing.
  • Who is responsible for achieving the benefits? What department and the manager by name? I also ask if she knows that she will be responsible for achieving these benefits.
  • How will these benefits be released – what has to happen? For example if we have to cut staff this can take a lot of time and be difficult to achieve.

It should not be forgotten that the whole purpose of a project or initiative is to deliver something of value and if this does not occur then the project has failed completely. So now’s the time for a realistic appraisal of where we are. In any assessment of a business activity the expected outcome in terms of cash benefit forms the core of the go no-go decision. Managers must be more critical and evaluate for sure but just as important is to make sure a process is in place that will deliver the outcomes expected. It is simply not good enough to sit back and hope that a new IT system can bring in the money – it has to be planned for and people have to take on their responsibilities starting at the top – they are the ones who are in the end responsible for the money being delivered. I have put together an e-book explaining how to put together a benefits planning process that’s available to download for free on my forum – take a look at least we get some way along the road to delivering value for our organisations.

Free ebook on BizFace: Business Benefits Planning

Selective Outsourcing

Selective Outsourcing

By Ishani Mitra – Expert Author

The outsourcing industry typically encounters two types of investors. Those who are willing to outsource few of their business operations, and know how to do it, and, those who nourish an inclination to outsource, but also harbor doubts because of stories about potential that portray outsourcing disasters. This (second) group of investors, falls into the category of people who would want to see for themselves if outsourcing will work for them, without relying on unreliable third party information strewn all over the internet. This means, they are willing to take the risk, but want to form their own opinion out of experience, and not draw conclusions from the contents of studies, websites and blogs.

“Selective Outsourcing” is aimed at building trust and establishing compatibility between the investor and the outsourcing partner before any long term agreement is reached with mutual consent. This means, while the outsourcing partner works on specific modules, the investor retains control over the overall function. Payroll Management is an excellent example of Selective Outsourcing. Payroll is classified as an HR responsibility. The concerned personnel has to account for each salary component such as leave policy, performance pay, overtime compensation, increment policy in accordance to labor laws, etc. for every employee in the system. The figures need to be meticulously entered and painstakingly double checked to avoid any mistakes, all under the pressure of delivering the completed report before 72 hours of salary due date. Many companies are wary of outsourcing their complete HR operations, but are more than willing to outsource the payroll management.

Payroll Management is time consuming, repetitive and a critical time-bound task. The HR department is under tremendous pressure. This creates a backlog at other HR functions. By selectively outsourcing their payroll management system, companies have saved time, money, and valuable man-hours that can now be channeled towards other HR activities that directly affect the company’s overall performance, such as recruitment and induction training, workforce management, grievance redressing and welfare schemes.

Selective outsourcing is also considered to be the most practical way of identifying the right kind of outsourcing partners. Let us consider a case, where you, as the Investor (or Small Business owner) have a series of graphic demands. With several self proclaimed graphic experts all over the internet, it gets hard to identify, who is actually qualified. In this situation, instead of handing over the complete graphic needs to a certain “expert”, you can check them out; by having them handle just a part of your graphic needs, e.g. a logo, a banner, an icon. Each will be considered as a separate project. This will allow you to evaluate your “graphic expert” on the following grounds:

Reliability: – Does the person deliver what has been promised?
Acceptability: – Does the end product meet your requirement?
Compatibility: – Does the process of deployment and delivery suit both of you?
Communication: – Are response time and other things satisfactory to both?

In other words, Selective Outsourcing allows the investor to see beyond the “all or nothing” approach to outsourcing, and to see the development of customer specific strategies that are tailor made to suit the investor’s needs.

Steve Cameron, senior vice president of managed services at Steve Cameron, senior vice president of managed services at Siemens Business Services on his interview with IT Business Edge says,

“The number-one benefit our clients are seeking is cost savings through the innovative application of the selective service. This also gives the client transparency in the cost structure because of the fixed scope of the selective IT element under management”

It has been noted that about 80 % of Irish businesses use Selective Outsourcing in one way or another. The Outsourcing Evolution remarks that several companies struggle with the costs associated with printing and have opted to use selective outsourcing to fulfill their needs by using the services of Outsourcing partners like Ergo

A Survey conducted by Watson Wyatt predicts that steadfast growth in Selective Outsourcing will be seen among small and medium sized business in the coming years. Companies need to step back and take a broader look at how outsourcing can work towards the overall benefit of business by employing the Selective Outsourcing Model. – Virtual Assistant Outsourcing Services is a leading provider of low-cost, yet reliable virtual assistants to help busy entrepreneurs magnify their efforts.

Read more content about outsourcing, productivity, work-life balance and entrepreneurship at OutSorcerer OutLook Additionally, Ezine readers qualify for a special 13% discount off the first 10 hours. Just enter coupon code EZINE1 and experience the magic today!

Article Source: Ishani Mitra – Expert Author Selective Outsourcing

Selecting the right keywords to signpost your site

Selecting the right keywords to signpost your site

Search engines are the vehicles that drive potentialcustomers to your websites. But in order for visitors toreach their destination – your website – you need toprovide them with specific and effective signs that willdirect them right to your site. You do this by creatingcarefully chosen keywords.

Think of the right keywords as the Open Sesame! of theInternet. Find the exactly right words or phrases, andpresto! hoards of traffic will be pulling up to your frontdoor. But if your keywords are too general or tooover-used, the possibility of visitors actually making itall the way to your site – or of seeing any real profitsfrom the visitors that do arrive – decreases dramatically.

Your keywords serve as the foundation of your marketingstrategy. If they are not chosen with great precision, nomatter how aggressive your marketing campaign may be, theright people may never get the chance to find out about it.So your first step in plotting your strategy is to gatherand evaluate keywords and phrases.

You probably think you already know EXACTLY the right wordsfor your search phrases. Unfortunately, if you haven’tfollowed certain specific steps, you are probably WRONG.It’s hard to be objective when you are right in the centerof your business network, which is the reason that you maynot be able to choose the most efficient keywords from theinside. You need to be able to think like your customers.And since you are a business owner and not the consumer,your best bet is to go directly to the source.

Instead of plunging in and scribbling down a list ofpotential search words and phrases yourself, ask for wordsfrom as many potential customers as you can. You will mostlikely find out that your understanding of your businessand your customers’ understanding is significantlydifferent.

The consumer is an invaluable resource. You will find thewords you accumulate from them are words and phrases youprobably never would have considered from deep inside thetrenches of your business.

Only after you have gathered as many words and phrases fromoutside resources should you add your own keyword to thelist. Once you have this list in hand, you are ready forthe next step: evaluation.

The aim of evaluation is to narrow down your list to asmall number of words and phrases that will direct thehighest number of quality visitors to your website. By“quality visitors” I mean those consumers who are mostlikely to make a purchase rather than just cruise aroundyour site and take off for greener pastures. In evaluatingthe effectiveness of keywords, bear in mind three elements:popularity, specificity, and motivation.

Popularity is the easiest to evaluate because it is anobjective quality. The more popular your keyword is, themore likely the chances are that it will be typed into asearch engine which will then bring up your URL.

You can now purchase software that will rate the popularityof keywords and phrases by giving words a number ratingbased on real search engine activity. Software such asWordTracker will even suggest variations of your words andphrases. The higher the number this software assigns to agiven keyword, the more traffic you can logically expect tobe directed to your site. The only fallacy with thisconcept is the more popular the keyword is, the greater thesearch engine position you will need to obtain. If you aredown at the bottom of the search results, the consumer willprobably never scroll down to find you.

Popularity isn’t enough to declare a keyword a good choice.You must move on to the next criteria, which isspecificity. The more specific your keyword is, the greaterthe likelihood that the consumer who is ready to purchaseyour goods or services will find you.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. Imagine that you haveobtained popularity rankings for the keyword “automobilecompanies.” However, you company specializes in bodyworkonly. The keyword “automobile body shops” would rank loweron the popularity scale than “automobile companies,” but itwould nevertheless serve you much better. Instead ofgetting a slew of people interested in everything frombuying a car to changing their oil filters, you will getonly those consumers with trashed front ends or crumpledfenders being directed to your site. In other words,consumers ready to buy your services are the ones who willimmediately find you. Not only that, but the greater thespecificity of your keyword is, the less competition youwill face.

The third factor is consumer motivation. Once again, thisrequires putting yourself inside the mind of the customerrather than the seller to figure out what motivationprompts a person looking for a service or product to typein a particular word or phrase. Let’s look at anotherexample, such as a consumer who is searching for a job asan IT manager in a new city. If you have to choose between“Seattle job listings” and “Seattle IT recruiters” which doyou think will benefit the consumer more? If you werelooking for this type of specific job, which keyword wouldyou type in? The second one, of course! Using the secondkeyword targets people who have decided on their career,have the necessary experience, and are ready to enlist youas their recruiter, rather than someone just out of schoolwho is casually trying to figure out what to do with his orher life in between beer parties. You want to find peoplewho are ready to act or make a purchase, and this requiressubtle tinkering of your keywords until your find the mostspecific and directly targeted phrases to bring the mostmotivated traffic to you site.

Once you have chosen your keywords, your work is not done.You must continually evaluate performance across a varietyof search engines, bearing in mind that times and trendschange, as does popular lingo. You cannot rely on your logtraffic analysis alone because it will not tell you howmany of your visitors actually made a purchase.

Luckily, some new tools have been invented to help youjudge the effectiveness of your keywords in individualsearch engines. There is now software available thatanalyzes consumer behavior in relation to consumer traffic.This allows you to discern which keywords are bringing youthe most valuable customers.

This is an essential concept: numbers alone do not make agood keyword; profits per visitor do. You need to findkeywords that direct consumers to your site who actuallybuy your product, fill out your forms, or download yourproduct. This is the most important factor in evaluatingthe efficacy of a keyword or phrase, and should be thesword you wield when discarding and replacing ineffectiveor inefficient keywords with keywords that bring in betterprofits.

Ongoing analysis of tested keywords is the formula forsearch engine success. This may sound like a lot of work -and it is! But the amount of informed effort you put intoyour keyword campaign is what will ultimately generate yourbusiness’ rewards.