Monthly Archives: June 2017

Consultants and Service Professionals – Should You Put an Expiration Date on Your Proposals?

Professionals and consultants who write proposals might wonder if they should be a deadline on their proposals, or if they should make the proposal open-ended.

I’d suggest you always put an expiration date on your proposals. Here are six reasons why you should.

Six Good Reasons to Put an Expiration Date on Your Proposals

1. It creates a call to action and a sense of urgency. The prospect realizes she must act by a certain date or the offer will disappear or new terms could apply.

2. It gives you are reason to contact the client to move ahead with the project. You could call the prospect a week before the deadline and ask if she has questions about the proposal and remind her that the deadline is approaching.

3. It helps you plan your activity. If all your proposals were to be accepted during the same week, you might find that you have more work than you can handle. By adding a deadline, you’ll know which proposals are active and which are languishing.

4. It protects you in case you need to raise rates. If your fees rise, or if the price of your supplies increases, you’ll be glad you added this deadline as a form of insurance. For example, if gas prices increased, would you be able to do the job for the same amount of money and make the same amount of profit? If your landlord raised the rent, wouldn’t you want to have the ability to raise your rates as well so you aren’t locked into a contract that has lower rates?

5. It makes you look like a professional. Adding a date shows that you are a serious business and that you are willing to walk away from the offer if your terms aren’t met. Remember to have some self-respect. We all want business but we should never be in a position to be taken advantage of.

6. Establishing boundaries is always a good idea in a business relationship. Setting deadlines for action shows the prospect that you are an equal business partner, whose work and experience should be valued.

Sample language for your deadline

I guess I should put in the standard disclaimer to check with your attorney when you put anything into a proposal or contract, but with that said, here is sample language your could use in your proposal, or run by your attorney.

“Terms, fees and conditions are valid for 30 days from the date of this proposal.”

It is short and sweet. It says what it needs to say and doesn’t impose any sense of judgment or pressure on the client. Yet it clearly says what you want it to mean. Of course, you could use whatever time limit you desire, either 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or whatever you like.

If you follow these steps, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand with proposals and prospects so you can run your business more effectively.

Simplified Project Management Framework (SPMF)

The IT division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (CIO) aims to ensure that IT initiatives are innovative and transformational in support of long term FAO strategy; demonstrate a positive sign of success and investment for the future and that agreed IT project timescales, budgets and levels of performance (quality) are met. Recently the IT division has been successful in implementing a simplified project management framework (SPMF) to achieve these aims.

The new Simplified Project Management Framework (SPMF) is intended to provide a broad structure using simple performance monitoring and control mechanisms that will enable measurement against industry best practice benchmarks as the implementation is fully adopted and matures. The principles of the SPMF provide a core approach to project management that can be incorporated in any project management system with the required level of support, monitoring and reporting being varied depending on the project size, complexity and requirements.

It is essential to realise that the project management process commences at the initial conception of the project, rather than after the agreement of “the funding for the project” when the operational delivery begins. As such SPMF provides project management support during the project definition and planning phases of all projects. The full life-cycle can be described as a series of distinct phases, with work progressing from the conceptual phases through to implementation phases and into the operational and post evaluation phase. A key part of an effective project management process is the independent review of project progress at the end of each stage, which is expected to verify the benefits and objectives before agreeing and moving onto the next stage, thereby ensuring that the project owner gains the full strategic benefit of the project.

The right mix of planning, monitoring, and control can make the difference in completing a project on time, on budget, and with high quality results. The basic elements of the framework are five key phases during the life-cycle of a project.

Phase 1: Scoping and Approval (identification of a need)

There is a tendency for projects to short-change the planning process, with an emphasis on jumping right in and beginning the work. This is a mistake. The time spent properly planning the project will result in reduced cost and duration and increased quality over the life of the project. The project definition is the primary deliverable from the planning process and describes all aspects of the project at a high level.

This phase mainly identifies whether the need has been researched and justified; is the project consistent with the FAO and IT division’s strategy; have the various options to approach the project been considered and evaluated; has the cost and benefit to FAO been identified taking into account any longer-term recurrent costs e.g. staffing, as well as shorter-term capital costs; have the major opportunities and risks associated with the project been taken into account; are the appropriate internal resources (including time, personnel and/or skills) available to progress to Phase 2 and the subsequent phases of the project; has ‘in-principle’ approval of the project been sought from the appropriate individual(s)/bodies.

This phase is presented to the IT Board for consideration/approval, if approved the process progresses to the next phase.

Phase 2: Project Planning

After the project definition has been prepared, the work plan needs to be created. The work plan provides the step-by-step plans for constructing project deliverables and managing the project. During the development of the work plan of the project, the major elements to be evaluated are whether the skills the supporting project team possess are adequate for the successful completion of the project; has a detailed project management plan been prepared with SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time-limited) targets?

The output of this phase is a project initiation document supported with an IT work plan that identifies all elements of the project deliverables, timeline, resources and costs. Approval of this work plan is a prerequisite for the next phase.

Phase 3: Start up the Project

In order to proceed with the start-up phase, the project needs to ensure that all individuals directly and indirectly associated with the project (including the independent reviewer) clearly understand the objectives of the project and the impact it will have upon them. In addition their responsibilities need to be clearly defined and discussed with the independent reviewer. A simple communication plan needs to be developed to define quick and easy communication with members of the project team and other stakeholders in the project.

This phase must provide assurances that there are no significant time gaps between key milestones and that provision has been made for appropriate interim reviews.

Phase 4: Deliver the Project

The main elements of this phase is to ensure that the project stays on track with respect to the project plan; all the expected products and services are being delivered and objectives achieved; all the scheduled project monitoring meetings have been completed; all project issues have been communicated to the Senior IT portfolio officer and /or resolved; and that all major elements of the project delivery are met, like “on time”, “on budget” and “to quality”.

Phase 5: Close the Project

The SPMF requires the project owner to undertake a project evaluation, immediately on completion, to assess the actual performance of the project in relation to achieving the original objectives, success criteria and that the outputs delivered are as expected.

The lessons learnt need to be documented and used to improve the management of similar projects in the future. Also a well-documented production handover needs to be prepared by the project development team and submitted to the operations team to ensure smooth handover to operations.

The SPMF is a framework that is oriented for both “Water fall” as well as “Agile” methodologies.

The waterfall methodology stresses meticulous record keeping where the client knows what to expect and what their program will do in the end (including cost, size, and timeline of the project). Whereas the Agile methodology follows an incremental approach which starts with a simplistic project design, and then begins to work on small modules. The work on these modules is done in weekly or monthly sprints, and at the end of each sprint, project priorities are evaluated and tests are run. The main impact on the SPMF in the Agile methodology, is that the second to fourth phase of the SPMF are repeated for each sprint until the final delivery of all modules is achieved.

Since the introduction of the SPMF in early 2015, the IT division has achieved over 85% successful traditional project delivery, and 90% success on the delivery of agile development activities. In the future, the IT division will propose further evaluation “Post Project Review(s)” planned for 6, 12, 24 months after completion.

The Importance of Having an Escalation Management Process

“Escalation” is often mentioned when dealing with Incident and Problem Management processes. The ITIL Incident Management process talks about Hierarchical and Functional escalations but did not call out “escalation management” as a separate and important ITIL process within Service Operation.

In my previous organization, escalation management is a well-defined and documented process. It is even handled or managed by a separate dedicated team of people. This “escalation center” function works closely with the Service Desk function. It also supports the field or on-site support engineers who taking on Maintenance and Support roles.

When I started out as a rookie service engineer, the knowledge that there is a team of experts which I can call upon to help out in major incidents or problems is often reassuring. The fact that the Service Desk or an on-site technical or application support engineer has escalated a major incident or problem to the “escalation center” function and there is a team of experts attending to the escalated incident or problem is also reassuring to the Customer.

Escalation Management is to bring order, structure, focused management attention and additional resources to those customer situations which could otherwise result in a high level of customer dissatisfaction and/or damage to the Service Provider’s reputation. These are situations which could lead to significant loss of business to the Customer or IT Service Provider or where significant costs may be incurred by IT Service Provider to resolve the Customer situation. The criteria to trigger an escalation depend on the organization or service provider. But it should be well defined.

The process could consist of the following activities:

  • Initiate an Escalation, based on meeting specific escalation criteria
  • Assign an Escalation manager for the escalation
  • Log the Escalation and link the Escalation record to related Incident or Problem records
  • Escalation manager assigns or appoints the escalation team. The escalation team should include the Incident owner, Problem owner, and other subject matter experts, as required
  • Identify appropriate Service Provider and Customer management contacts
  • Conduct a detailed situation appraisal and review, led by the escalation manager
  • An escalation management action plan, including additional resources needed, is developed in conjunction with the Customer. The escalation management plan is to be executed in parallel with the detailed technical action plan (as per Incident/Problem Management)
  • The escalation management action plan is reviewed and adjusted as required
  • A Hierarchical Escalation (as per Incident Management process) is initiated, if appropriate. Senior management and executives are alerted.
  • Escalation team works to resolve the problem. At each stage, records are updated and management contacts and team are informed of the progress and escalation plan reviewed and adjusted as required.
  • Once resolved to the Customer’s satisfaction, the situation is monitored for an agreed period
  • The escalation team remains on standby and available in case the problem recurs during the monitoring period
  • Once the monitoring period is successfully completed, the escalation is closed by the escalation manager, after seeking agreement with the Customer
  • Once the escalation is closed, a post escalation review is conducted and input provided to the Problem Management process. This can be done in conjunction with the Major Problem Review which is part of Problem Management.

As can be seen above, Escalation Management is closely related to and supports the Incident Management, Request Management and Problem Management processes. It is an important process that should be treated with equal or greater focus as compared to these other well-defined ITIL processes.

What wardrobes need more than just “outfits”?

Garments characterize your identity; henceforth, it is fundamental to keep your closet brilliant unfailingly. A very much arranged wardrobe doesn’t mean you spend best dollars to fill it to the overflow, yet to orchestrate your assets gradually in an adaptable way. Any mindful individual would be glad for having over-the-beat garments and adornments in his/her closet.

Yet, when we discuss the term under thought, we need to acknowledge that it is more than a minor ‘outfit storage room’. A savvy storeroom must have all the closet fundamentals including easygoing clothing types, formal clothing types, wallets, distinctive assortments of shoes, gems pieces, and so forth. More or less, all the ordinary wear and tear stuff.

Begin with maybe a couple things consistently as getting a tasteful organizer isn’t simple. Go simple in filling the rooms. Purchase the stuff, which is of most extreme need. Try not to surge as you won’t turn into a fashionista in a matter of days. Likewise, don’t spoil yourself for luxurious things, which you needn’t bother with. Stop by a steady shop.

Here’s the means by which you can plan and develop your closet in a flexible way.

Overhaul your closet with a smooth new wallet: An “unquestionable requirement in” stuff in the trunk drawer of your storage room is a smooth and straightforward business wallet. Supplant it with fresh out of the plastic new duplicates which can be utilized as the easygoing grasp too.

Dark is evergreen: Black is the meaning of class. From socks to cotton shirts, denim jeans to single-soul heels, half of your pantry must have dark in there. Regardless of whether you are getting late for a conference or for a night out fun, a closet with brimming with blacks won’t make you late.

Fragile Jewelry-Bingo: Ladies, buck up and begin adding fabulousness to your cosmetics compartments. Shop a gold thin line accessory with a clear pendant. You can wear it consistently, and it will improve the great touch of your closet immediately.

An impeccable coat: Let your holders savor the essence of no less than one flawless overcoat that compliments your outline. Approach your trusted tailors and request that they fasten a since quite a while ago sleeved coat that legitimately fits around the shoulders and the abdomen.

Not any more modest footwear: Don’t make your gathering of shoes look shabby. Do a fine look for marked web based business shopping entries and purchase something tasteful for your closet racks. Each time you purchase a footwear, ensure the accumulation is distinctive and a la mode from the earlier buy.

Ties and jewel studs: Have a confined section for your ties and precious stone studs. Attempt a blend and match of your tie sets with various shirts you have, and for the women, even false ones can make you look wonderful. Abstain from dangling hoops and convey the style with jewel studs.