- Small Business will look for Lower Marketing Costs: This can be achieved through effective website marketing and regularly optimizing your web site content & tags, to be a better fit with the search engines.
- Free Local advertising: If you have not updated your Maps listings on all the search engines do so, and check out the newly named Google Places, take time to fill out all the details, paying extra time on the categories.
- Free Social Media Advertising: Why pay out lump sum fees to be a member of an “industry association”? Challenge the high fixed costs / charges of Directories & Associations or even better join your local business online community which free.
- Business Blogs: All small business owners should start a writing a Blog, which with the help of Word Press is merging the company presence of Web Site and a Blog
- Low Cost PR Campaigns: The amazing communication results delivered by PR WEB, and Free Press Release should see them continue boom in 2011.
- Reach New Audience: Finding out yesterday that everywhere was out of stock of iPhones in Cincinnati, in fact Southern Ohio, the Mobile Usage with 3G 4G and iPad will bring access to a new audience for small businesses and a new approach to search.
- Internet Profile Maintenance: Keeping track of all the new internet accounts and listings means the consistency of your business profile is critical, so set up a system to update all your Internet profiles regularly.
- Online Competition: 2011 will bring more increased on-line competition especially as more small and medium size businesses realize benefits of Internet Marketing, increasing the demand for a good SEO consultant?
- Coverage of All Search Engines: Make sure your business presence on all search engines [Search Engine Share in 2010 looks like this: Google 72%, Yahoo 14%, Bing, 10%, Ask 2%, AOL 1%]. The number of searches are so high making sure your business is represented an each one is beneficial.
- Sharing Experiences: Specialists helping other specialists brings rewards of fresh ideas from a different perspective.
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While there are more interesting things to read then monthly security thereat reports, we read them anyway. What we learn is that users face more new threats than ever before from the web, smarter pests, and something called a “virus construction kit” which any novice can use to unleash havoc on innumerable computers. In the meantime, the security company Sophos has countered 11 million malware types, every five seconds, the experts discover a new infected website that wants to smuggle harmful code into surfers’ computers. So you have to ask the question: how well is my PC protected against these new threats?
The security tools mentioned in this article now make it very easy to secure your system completely. These tools reveal every security loophole, show you where action needs to be taken and protect all parts of your computer that are at risk, since virus scanners and fire walls are no longer sufficient, our protection package also includes rootkit detectors, updaters browser protection tools and many more.
Of course, commercial security suites that combine different protection tools into a uniform interface are also available. But they have two disadvantages as compared to our freeware tools: they cost money, and they partly slow down the system.
Windows: Four Checks, Zero Viruses
Tools: Eset Syslnspector
If the operating system crashes, then all further measures are useless. Hence, an all-round check should start with windows itself. Eset sysinspector, from the website www.eset.com, checks the most commonly affected parts of XP and vista and informs the user about the existing security risks with the help a log file. The tool doesn’t need any installation and can even be run directly off a USB stick. Once that’s done, it analyses four critical spots – the registry, processes , auto -start programs, and My Network places. When scanning, set the ‘Filtering’ slider control to ‘Risk Level 7 to 9’. If you find files marked in red in the directory tree, then make a note of the displayed registry branches and file names. The reason for doing thins is that sysilspector cannot eliminate the pests. You have to get rid of them manually.
Before you do that, it’s a good idea to use the website www.runscanner.net to confirm whether the files found are really malicious. On our test PC, sysinspector falsely marked the Nvidia graphics card driver in red.
Tip: Simulating an Attack
Tool: PC Security Test 2008
If you have found and removed malware, you must also find out how they could get to your hard disk, PC security Test helps to do this. It simulates different attacks on a computer and shows potential weak spots. After installing and running the tool, click on ‘standard checks l start’ in order to test the computer, if your fire wall and virus scanner report these intrusions, then it is good sign. In this case, these tools have detected the simulated the hacker and virus at tacks. If the security programs don’t report them, then they are probably not updated. If that’s the case, try using a rootkit scanner.
Rootkits : Finding Masked Viruses
Tool : Radix Antirootkit
Computer pests are becoming smarter every minute. Being well-masked, they dodge fire walls and virus scanners or affect computers by using hidden ADS data streams. In the case of rootkits, only scanner specialized in this type of malware can help. It removes pests and repairs manipulated drivers, system files and processes.
Start Radix Antirootkit from a USB stick so that windows file protection doesn’t get in the way of the tool.
Activate all options in the click check tab. A warning message appears before the registry check. If a rootkit has changed anything there ,the scanner tries to repair the entries, which, in exceptional cases, can result in a malfunctioning system .but if you reject the changes, then you are still left with the rootkit. After all tests complete ,the program displays list of files that have been modified and repaired.
Programs: Eliminating All Loopholes
Tools: Updatestar, Secunia PSI
Besides windows, installed applications can also pose a threat. Hackers can damage your computer with the help of exploits- security loopholes in such applications that expose your computer. The only solution is to eliminate all known loopholes by updating to the latest versions of each program.
Many sensitive programs such as virus scanners have automatic update functions right from the beginning. For such programs, you just have to check whether the feature has been activated . All other applications can be up dated using Updatestar or secunia PSI. The former recognizes a number of applications while the latter specializes in security updates. The tool the you should use depends on the programs installed. The more each one knows about what you are running, the better.
The functioning of both tools is identical. After installing and starting the tool, check which applications are available on the hard disk and whether they are up – to date. If not, then get the latest updates from the interned and eliminate any existing leaks.
Browser : Crash Test
Tool : Bcheck Website
The Web browser is the most common target of an attack. The effects of the exploits mentioned in the last tip can also take advantage of a weak browser. Malware is channeled to PC through modified websites which trigger buffer overruns for instance; hackers can thus crash the browser. Check out the security of your web browser with the help of htt://bcheck.scanit.be/bcheck to see whether your browser will be able to withstand such an attack.
To run the test, open the website from your preferred browser. It immediately shows your browser and operating system. This information is very important for a hacker. The correct option: ”only test for bugs specific to my type of browser’ should be the default selection. With’ start the test’, you will expose the browser to an attack that can possibly cause a crash. We subjected our default web browser, Firefox, to nine different exploits; there were seven in the case of internet Explore. If every things is alright, you will get a confirmation after the test. If the browser crashes reload it , restore the session and open the site again. You will now see the test result and an explanation of what went wrong.
Browser : Securing IE & Co
Tool : Web Browser
If the browser has failed in the crash test, then you must eliminate the loopholes immediately . The problem here is the at there is no ultimate super tip that will immediately block out all hackers. How you secure your browser depends on your surfing behavior .if you like to visit photo sites such as flicker, you can hardly block the display of JPEGs – even if these possibly contain harmful code. The following strategies will help you.
Using a Limited Account: Set up an account with limited rights through ‘start l control panel l User accounts’s in windows and use this limited account only for surfing. If malware gets into your hard disk, it will not be able to execute its code there as it doesn’t have the required rights.
Block Scripting Languages: Beware of ActiveX and Java Script, since most malware is programmed in these languages. You can deactivate these scripting languages in the security settings of the browser, in Firefox, you can do this through ‘tools l options l content’ and in internet Explorer through ‘tools l internet Options l settings l advanced’. Set reliable sites that use scripts as exceptions – for instance, almost all on-line virus scanners also use this type of scripting. All browser let you define a list of exceptions. For sites that can continue to use scripts.
Monitor the Hard Disk: A virus scanner should always run in the badkground while you are surfing. In addition, you can also install threat Fire from PC Tools, which is ideal for tracking down malware, it continuously monitors all files and folders suspicious activity. The tool sounds an alarm if malware changes the access rights or attributes of a file. But beware! Even windows has to occasionally change time stamps and other things in files. Therefore, don’t panic if the alarm goes off, and first check whether it has really been triggered due to some threat.
Hardware : Blocking Threats
Tools : Devicelock, TrueCrypt
Plugging an infected USB pen drive into your PC will infect it in no time .if your PC is a part of public network, you must also protective against physical access. The most frequently affected areas in the computer are the BIOS and the drives; these also affected through the USB ports, Fire wire interfaces and similar hardware.
The following hardware protection measures are helpful, in case of the BIOS, you can normally assign two passwords, the ‘user password’ is requested while booting up the computer and the ‘master password’ prevents unauthorized changes to the BIOS settings, but be careful! If you forget these passwords, the only solution will be to reset the BIOS chip by removing the CMOS battery.
Another protection option is to allow the PC to boot only from the hard disk and not from an y other media. The is prevents access through Linux Live CDs such as Ophcrack, which determines the windows password in a split-second.
How companies deal with negative experiences is just as important as creating positive experiences.
In light of the recent pet-food poisoning cases, several companies have taken the lead in reassuring pet owners that they are being proactive in responding to concerns. Brands like Eukanuba, Iams and retailers such as PETCO and PetSmart have endeavored to be proactive in addressing the crisis by pulling product, providing notice information, and updating websites with information about the recall.
Reacting immediately and proactively is not an option: It’s the right thing to do from both a humane perspective and from a brand-sustainability perspective. While Canadian company Menu Foods may have the hardest time surviving the crisis, others may actually enhance customer loyalty based on how they reacted. By all reports, national retailers immediately pulled any questionable Menu Foods products from their shelves and reported to the public that they had done so. P&G took out full-page newspaper ads in 59 markets in order to bolster customers’ confidence in its Iams and Eukanuba brands.
With the advantage of a customer database, both PetSmart and PETCO went one step further by sending out emails to all of their customers recapping the situation and reassuring customers. PETCO’s email was notable in that it wasn’t simply a recap but also a personal and heartfelt letter from CEO Jim Myers, reassuring pet owners about pulling the products, contacting anyone who may have purchased the products, and recommending safe products.
Comparing the first few paragraphs in each of the retailers’ emails provides tremendous insight into not only how each reacts in a crisis but also how they differentiate themselves as a brand. PetSmart email to customers
Subject Line:] Important Pet Food Recall Information
Dear Valued PetSmart customer: As you have probably heard, Menu foods, a national manufacturer of pet foods, issued a voluntary recall of canned and pouched wet dog and cat food manufactured in two of its facilities between December 2006 and March 2007. Again, this is a recall of a specific type of wet pet food made by Menu Foods. Other wet pet foods and all dry pet foods and treats are not impacted by this recall.
Menu foods initiated the recall after receiving reports that some of its food may be the cause of reported illnesses and kidney failure in dogs and cats. Menu Foods distributes these products to supermarkets, mass merchandisers and pet speciality stores, including PetSmart®, under a variety of brand names.
Philip L. Frances
Chairman & CEO, PetSmart, Inc
PETCO email to customers
[Subject Line:] A Message form our CEO on Pet Foods
Dear Mary [customer’s first name inserted],
PETCO cores about Your Pet
Here at PETCO the health and well-being of your pet is our number one priority and we’d like to update you about the recent industry recall of certain WET DOG AND CAT FOOD PRODUCTS.
First, it is important that you know ALL foods affected by the recent Menu Foods recall have been pulled from our stores’ shelves and are not being sold online at PETCO.com. For additional information regarding the recalled pet food brands, you can visit the Menu Foods web site [link].
Second, where possible, we are sending notices to anyone who may have purchased recalled products asking that they discontinue feeding their dog or cat these specific canned and pouched wet foods.
Jim Myers, CEO
The difference is striking, for a few reasons. The first email appears to have been driven by attorneys. It is dry, contains legal speak, and is designed to make sure the company is saying the right thing and mentioning Menu Foods four times in the first few sentences.
The second email appears to have been driven by the PR team. It is personal, caring and talks about the customers, their pets and PETCO. Menu Foods is mentioned only once in the first few sentences. PETCO and the reader’s pet are mentioned three times. A very different focus.
Even if someone were not affected by the recall, the fact that PETCO is reinforcing its brand message of “caring about you and your pet,” even in a crisis, goes a long way in reassuring pet owners about shopping at the retailer. It becomes an emotional added value to buy your pet food at PETCO, and using your PETCO P.A.L.S. card, instead of just at nay discount or grocery store or maybe even at PetSmart.
Another key differences is the tone set by the CEO. The PetSmart letter, while signed by the CEO, does not reference his name until the bottom of the letter. This gives the impression that this letter was probably written by someone else and they added the CEO’s name at the bottom.
The PETCO email is stated to be from the CEO in the subject line. The letter reads like an actual letter and is signed with CEO Jim Myer’s actual signature, making it more personal.
While it was likely not the intent of PETCO to engage in an “emotional connection branding strategy” with its customers because of a crisis, it is clear that the mechanisms are in place at the retailer to respond in a way that’s consistent with the overall brand message during a crisis. This results in added credibility for the brand.
Other companies are recognizing the importance of being proactive in the face of negative experiences and are doing so not only to be good corporate citizens but also to build loyalty.
Southwest Airlines recently hired Fred Taylor, Jr. as its Senior Manager of Proactive Customer Communications – or, as the New York Times dubbed him, “Chief Apology Officer.” While the appointment may have drawn some snickers in some corporate corners, South-west has long been recognized as the industry leader in customer service. This move, while amusing to some, is clearly a proactive step in taking customer service and the customer experience to the next level by providing personally penned letters of apology and free travel vouchers for customers who have had a less-than-satisfying experience.
Both American Airlines and JetBlue are trying to follows suit, but JetBlue in particular seems to have been caught playing catch-up. While known for customer service and loyalty, JetBlue is most certainly overhauling its crisis management plan.
Here are some key strategies in addressing crisis management in a way that enhances and extends the brands relationship with customers:
Develop a strategy : Develop a comprehensive strategy to address a crisis in a way that’s consistent with what the brand represents. Identify a specific team, plan, practice, revise…and involve the CEO at all steps.
Identify roles : Resolve the natural conflict between the legal team the PR team, upfront. Make sure the teams present a unified message, and resolve differences quickly.
Define brand : Having your brand voice clearly defined, upfront, allows crisis management to occur within the same point of view and will therefore make it more believable and effective.
Have CEO buy-in : The leader is the brand. The leader leads the charge , sets the tone, and instills confidence in the company for the employees, the media, and the customer. The CEO should be involved in every step of planning and should be prepared to be the spokesperson.
Identify weak links : Find out where potential company weaknesses may evolve into a crisis that could hurt the brand’s image and identity. Develop a strategy to address it proactively.
Get employee buy-in : The employee, especially the frontline employee, should be at the forefront of crisis management on a daily basis. Give such employee the tools and empowerment they need to head off problems before they become crises.
Communicate strategically : The key to successful execution and resolution is a clear communication strategy across all channels. When, how, and what you communicate and with whom is the key to maintaining a positive brand perception.
Focusing on the customer experience, in good times and in bad is the key to surviving the experience economy. Whether it’s engaging a Chief Customer Officer, a Chief Apology Officer, or crafting a heartfelt CEO letter, making the customer experience a priority starts at the top for those companies that will enhance their brand – and not only survive, but thrive.
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Equipped with well organized Development and Production department and efficient technical team serve valued customers. The company offers low cost solution through Dedicated Designed and Programmed Logic Controllers (DDPLC). Traditionally used PLC is very useful for small quantity. But when used in quantity DDPLC has advantageous edges like.
Prices much lower to PLC
Difficult to copy as non standard hardware.
Higher Level of user’s friendliness can be incorporated Comparison Of Plc And Ddplc.
Much complicated Algorithms can be easily achieved Price is about 60% or lower of PLC.
With PLC any application can be copied easily as hardware is a available as standard. In DDFLC both hardware and software are specially designed for OEM. Higher level of user’s friendliness can be achieved as DDPLC are specially designed. Keys and Display are designed as per operational convenience of each product.
DDPLC is made on OEM’s brand name hence gives better impact to overall product.
Replacement order comes to OEM and not to DDPLC manufacturer.
Replacement of card is comparativelyeasy as they are specially designed and fitted, with makes it cost effective Limitations.
At however, design, develop and manufacture electronics instruments according to specific requirement of each customer.
Product Panorama Girdle Polishing Robot
The machine is used for Polishing Girdle of the Diamond in Round Shape. The Electronics grain seeking Module enables the machine to polish diamonds with the right grain resulting in maximum production with minimum breakages.
An embedded control for diamond Polishing Robot with 5 axis Micro Stepping control and
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Serial Interface with Computer for setting Polishing Parameters.
Camera Interface for Monitoring the cutting process of diamond LCD Display Interface.
Self Diagnostic Control to visualize error conditions in Process.
Highly accurate and sophisticated liners sensing mechanism for cutting Diamond with the accuracy in Microns.
Auto Blocking Controller
The machine is used for cutting Top and Bottom facets of Diamond.
The Electronics grain seeking Module enables the machine to polish diamonds with the right grain resulting in maximum production with minimum breakages.
An embedded control for Diamond Polishing Robot with 3 axis Micro Stepping control and 1 A.C. motor control.
LCD Display Interface. Self Diagnostic Control to visualize error conditions in process.
Highly accurate and sophisticated linear sensing mechanism for cutting Diamond with the accuracy in Microns.
This is a dedicated controller, and can deal with almost all inputs & output normally used in elevator control. It can handle systems like.
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14 x 10 & 8 x 10 Dot matrix display
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Take care of all operations and functions of Dental X Ray.
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Biomedical Instrument controller
Key Pad with 16 keys All logic operations of dental X-rays are controlled by this unit supply voltage regulation Timing selection as per tooth type, film type and body type for controlled exposure.
Titho Tripsy is an extra corporal shock wave Lithotripter. This machine disintegrates urinal and biliary system stones without pain and anesthesia. In this machine under water high voltage electric spark generates shock wave in the form of pressure pluses. 16 x 2 large Lcd Key Pad with 9 keys.
Biomedical Instrument controller for Kidney Stone
Works under very heavy electrical noisy environment (very heavy capacitor discharge) Controls the KV of capacitor discharge for generating mechanical wave
Controls rate at which sparking takes place Controls number of sparks. Display total no of sparks given through this unit Controls pump an charge unit.
Air – Condition Controller
This Microcontroler base controller is meant to control temperature within set limit by switching “on” “of” Connected A.C. and keeping total running hours of all A.C. constant.
Application : 2 x 16 LCD display. 4 switch key pad. 20 Leds. 4 no. relays for alarm. 6 No. relay output for A.C. control. 6 No. input for compressor on. 6 no. input for A.C. overload. Input for considering fire.
Basic function of this unit is to maintain temperature within limit at the same time conservation of energy by optimizing usage of A.C. and keeping total running hours of all A.C. almost same. It has facility to bypass faulty A.C., Clearing falut, Defining No. of connected A.C. within 6, settable switching time between A.C.
With 2 x 16 LCD, one can visualized operating condition of each A.C., Actualand set temperature, total running hour of each A.C., alarm condition such as Fire, High temperature etc.
This Microcontroler base instrument is design to control sequence of Bell or Buzzer operation. It can be programmed for full one week and repeat the sequence every week.
Integrating Health and Safety into Company Processes and Culture to Improve Overall Efficiency and Performance.
The challenge is to avoid having complex and fragmented management systems that are confusing and difficult for managers and employees (e.g. for quality, environment and health and safety). This complexity acts as an obstacle to achieving superior results in overall efficiency and in environmental and health and safety performance.
The challenge is also to succeed in convincing managers of the relevance and importance of health and safety to company business results (the business case) and ensuring that actions and results in these domains are as rigorous and effective as more business-related aspects such as quality.
The solution is to integrate health and safety into existing management systems (for quality and environment) and to ensure that these different systems work in synergy with each other, using company culture and employee participation as a key driving force. The first step was to work on developing the necessary company processes for health & safety, based on the OHSAS 18001 management system and facilitating their implementation within the company using the Business Excellence Model of the European Foundation for Quality Management.
This Business Excellence Model is the shared base of all of the company’s management systems. The existing company culture for excellence in environmental management was used to strengthen this integration process. Training on health and safety for employees and close collaboration and benchmarking between sites was also a key factor of success. In addition to this, the organisation for health and safety was merged with that of the environment (already well established) and health and safety objectives were integrated into the company’s Environmental Decalogue (now EHS Decalogue).
The participation and involvement of employees and other stakeholders (e.g. subcontractors, local authorities) was used as a strong driving force in the integration process. Employees were invited to participate into cross-functional teams focusing on health and safety performance and results (e.g. accident and injury team, site chemical committee, fire emergency team, suggestions committee, employee health outside the workplace, etc.). In many cases local sites focus on sharing health and safety expertise and awareness in the local community and region.
At the beginning of the programme, achieving full top management commitment was challenging as the focus had traditionally been more on environment than health and safety.
Competing interests in the company meant that obtaining resources and ‘air time’ for training and communication campaigns was not always easy.
Sheer complexity of this endeavour.
The health and safety performance of the company has improved dramatically: all 17 of its manufacturing sites and four non-manufacturing sites have been certified to the OHSAS 18001 standard.
Between 2002-2005, the company has achieved a 45% reduction in its accident and injury incidence rate, a 44% cut in accident and injury severity rate and a decrease of over 34% in the cost of injuries and illness to the company.
Business Meeting Gifts – Part 1
Preparing for a business meeting requires a working knowledge of the information to be discussed or presented, careful attention to all details on the printed material to be distributed, and perhaps a gift. This gift is a social gesture that may be expected in some countries, and could be considered a bribe in others. Knowing the gift guidelines for the country you’ll be visiting will help make your meeting a success.
Some multi-national companies and some governments have very strict policies regarding their employees accepting gifts. To avoid creating a problem, it’s imperative you learn the policies for the companies you do business with.
Countries like Malaysia and Paraguay, concerned with corruption, frown upon any gift that could be construed as a bribe. In Malaysia you wouldn’s give a gift until you had established a relationship with the person. In Singapore, government employees are not allowed to accept gifts, and the United States limits the acceptable dollar value to $25.
However, in some countries like Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, exchanging gifts is strongly rooted in tradition. Part of the tradition is the gracious style used to present and receive them. It’s important to plan time and focus on the process.
It’s very important in Asia and the Middle East to only use your right hand, or both hands, to offer or accept a gift. In japan and Hong Kong, use both hands.
In Singapore a recipient may “graciously refuse three times” before accepting your gift. But in Chile, gifts are accepted and opened immediately. And in Indonesia, small gifts are given on a frequent basis.
Always be cognizant of religious laws when selecting gifts. For instance, pork is prohibited in the Jewish and Muslim religions, so you wouldn’s select a gift made from pigskin. As in India, don’t offer a gift made from cowhide. Another prohibition for the Muslim faith is alcohol.
A standard to keep in mind for any gift you select is quality. Choose quality items that are not ostentatious. If you have gifts with your company logo, it’s better if the logo is discreet. And don’t give company logo gifts in Greece, Spain and Portugal.
Hosting a meal at a nice restaurant is always a good business practice. A fine dinner is a wonderful way to give a “gift to your hosts”.
To show your guests you appreciate the business relationship you have with them, and an opportunity to build rapport. People in Brazil, England, Panama, and Peru enjoy being invited guests for a meal, and the Greeks look forward to an evening filled with dinning. In China, plan a banquet, especially if you are being honored with one.
Discussion on gift giving by region and country will be in subsequent parts, but following are some highlights to use.
If a country isn’t listed in a category, it means gifts may or may not be exchanged. Should you receive a gift, and don’t have one to offer in return, you will not create a crisis. However, this is a good reason for planning to host a meal. It becomes your reciprocal gesture.
Countries in which a gift is expected:
- Europe -Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Ukraine
- Latin American – Bolivia, Columbia, Cost Rica
- Pacific Rim – China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea
- Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand Countries in which a gift is not expected
on a subsequent visit:
- Europe – Portugal, Spain
- Latin American – Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama
- Peru, Venezuela
- Pacific Rim – Malaysia, Singapore
- Scandinavia – Finland, Norway
Countries in which a gift is not expected, or gift are less frequent exchanged:
- Europe – England, France, Hungary, Italy
- Latin America – Uruguay
- Scandinavia – Denmark
- Middle East – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia
- United States
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Managing teams can be a challenge. When you try to mange teams across different geographical regions and perhaps time zones, you have a situation that can be difficult for even the best manager.
Remote teams have become more common in the workplace. They satisfy the need for accessing specialized expertise at a cost savings. With advances in technology, there is now a broad array of communication methods to enable remote teams to function more smoothly and cohesively.
This white paper explores how to make a dispersed team successful, including:
Types of remote teams
Challenges and pitfalls of remote teams
How to successfully manage a remote team
Using technology and remote teams
Other tips for successfully managing your remote team
Types of Remote Teams
Remote teams can take on many different forms. These teams may be made up of geographically dispersed individual members forming one team, or distinct existing teams that are not co-located. Remote teams make good economical sense when your can access expertise from a specialist without having to take on the team member full time. This is often the case in mergers where the aim is for synergy by creating strong pockets of expertise and making them available company-wide. In larger organization it is not uncommon to have satellite offices.
Teams can also include a partnership with a third party, such as other companies or clients, to complete the project work. These companies can take advantage of remote talent to fill a specialized need such as technology firms that use expertise from India, Russia, and other countries for their programming. Teams may also cross corporate boundaries, such as project mangers incorporated into work teams or business managers into development teams. Without co-location for even part of the team, these teams take on the characteristics of remote teams.
Home-based offices add to the numbers of remote workers for organizations. Even if they may not work solely from their homes, while they are there, the complications of dealing with remote teams comes into play.
And let’s not forget the sales staff in your organization. Although they do technically have a home-base office, it is more common of them to be working sporadic hours from a hotel, airport, or client site most of their time.
Challenges and Pitfalls of Remote Teams
The challenges for remote teams affect both the teams themselves and the manager managing them. And growing the team can compound it. It is hard enough to add a new member to an existing team it is even harder when the team is remote.
Team members are now expected to interact with a wider set of peers from different areas, countries, and cultures. With the physical and cultural distance barriers, such as time zones, multicultural sensitivities and language affect the ability to communicate in real time.
Maintaining quality and productivity are paramount, but one of the biggest problems the team will face is communication. Even if you have all the team members on the same page, communicating well and working productively, the distance barrier will create a challenge, and it is difficult to, ensure that they are working together. Communication is essential to keep all team members on board and up to date on the most pertinent details of their tasks and the latest revisions including:
Schedules (project, work, holiday)
Outcome of meetings (decisions, action plans, minutes)
As a manger, it will be up to you to manage the interaction of the team members and ensure smooth communication between your team members.
After communication, another critical challenge as a manager of a remote team will be building and maintaining trust and cohesion with your team members.
How to Successfully Manage a Remote Team
So how do you mange your team? Where should you start? What do you need to know to be successful?
90% of your problems will be people problems, and only 10% will concern utilization of technology so it is smart to address your people issues first. Start by working with your team to create a team plan and make sure that all members of the team are familiar with the end result. Your team plan should consist of the following six activities:
Set up your communication plan
Outline what needs to be communicated, how it will be communicated, who needs the information, when do they need it, and what happens if communication breaks down. The communication plan should also outline meeting structure when are they needed; what will be their purpose; in what format, will they be held (chat, video conference, teleconference,, combinations of methods); who will be in control of the meeting; and who is responsible for publishing the outcome.
Outline the decision making process
How, as a group, will you make decisions; what is your back up plan to make a decision; what escalation path have you set when a decision cannot be made if your prime decision maker is either unavailable or unable to decide.
Determine your conflict resolution strategy
How will you deal with conflict and what your rules for avoiding them.
Distribute goals, roles and responsibilities
Set out the goals, then communicate who does what, including their specific responsibilities,.
Ensure fair work distribution
This may need to be adjusted as time goes along and the project or work changes.
Decide your leadership level
What will your leadership be? It needs to be appropriate for both the team as a whole and its individuals.
Now that your plan is in place, you should get to know your team. If you can’t seem them face-to-face, pick up the phone and introduce yourself. Let them know what you will be expecting of them and ask for their input. Determine how much time they can realistically expect to be working on your project.
If at all possible, have face-to-face meetings, especially when the team is initially launched, or when a new member joins in. Face-to-face connections help build trust quickly and it is trust the strengthens relationships on the team. If the budget permits, it may be possible to travel to a central location, or at the very least, use video conferencing to enable members to make more of a personal connection as the initially meet to facilitate better communication in the future.
With expectations set for each team member, check inarguably to monitor their progress and provide them with feedback (back good and bad). Make sure that they are well informed of the work flow not only what is expected them, but what other team members are responsible fro and how their work affects them.
Stay on top of your meetings. Make sure that they remain productive and produce the desired output such as brainstorming, editing documents and files, and marking decisions. Ensure that the right decision makers are present at meetings to ensure that decisions are made on a timely basis. Even if the meetings are video conferences or teleconferences, they will need the same level of preparation, if not a little more, to be well executed.
Keep you remote workers in the loop and motivated to work. Encourage collaboration on ideas and decisions to keep them connected. Keep your communication consistent to avoid the trap of out of sight out of mind. And make a plan so that team members can easily contact you. When you are unavailable, contact someone in authority who can ensure work progresses when issues are encountered. This will involve you determining an escalation path including decision – making authority levels.
Technology and Remote Teams
Technology makes it possible to have productive teams located all over the globe. However, there are issues that must be handled to ensure that the technology, an how team members use it, does not become a barrier itself. One excellent form of keeping in touch and providing access to information is either through the Internet or an intranet site. These can provide a central location for a repository of information and can be secured to provide appropriate access. A revision system will ensure that only the latest information is being viewed, edited, or transmitted. Mailing lists, issue tracking logs, and specific work space can be set up for your team and can be organized by projects for simplicity.
For meetings take advantage of video feeds, conversation streams, access to documents and slide presentations, and even smart white boards that can be hand written on at one location and the images then printed at others. Meeting may take a little more preparation to ensure that sites an link-up properly, so appropriate time and resources will need to be made available at all locations prior to meetings.
Technology can give us instant access to our colleagues, wherever they are, with instant messaging on telephones, cell phones pagers, and chat programs on the computer.
The downside of technology is our ability to use it properly. Ensure that your team has the appropriate training and convenient assistance when things go wrong. Make sure that you have the necessary support to both recommend appropriate technology for your organization and your goals, and also to provide technical assistance on a timely basis to keep your team connected.
Tips to Successfully Manage Your Remote Team
Here are some great remote team management tips:
Try to have an initial facto-face meeting and incorporate team building activities to build trust as you launch your remote team this will help you dramatically if problems arise later.
Establish strong procedures around communication phone, e-mail, and video conferencing etiquette and corporate guidelines for sending and replying to emial and phone calls,. Establish how meetings will be scheduled and who needs to attend.
Determine how work will be managed an information shared, reviewed, and modified (develop a change control procedure).
Very the time of meetings so that no one group or individual is consistently having to meet after hours.
Can’t meet face-to-face? Then try distributing photos of team members on a communication list, or attached to their chat identity so that team members will be able to relate to each other personally.
Put multilingual people in key positions to bridge the language barriers, and make sure the team members know who they are.
Encourage social interactions between remote teams.
Test video conferencing equipment thoroughly before each and every meeting.
At any virtual meeting have someone make introductions at the beginning of meeting and include what their responsibilities to the team are.
Make sure everyone participates, otherwise silence will be taken as agreement.
Encourage personal communication whenever possible such as face-to-face or over the telephone, as long as it does not interfere with the work being done. Remember technology tends to be very impersonal and can easily lead to misunderstandings.
Keep your information tight, such as up-to-date mailing lists, to keep everyone informed of current questions. answers, and general progress on work being done.
Watch out for cliques that may form that tend to work independently of the team. Cliques tend to seek each other out instead of going through proper channels, so it is in your best interest to keep in the loop.
Keep your eye on group that have worked independently in the past, especially home-based employees the ensure that they are fitting into the team and working well. Keep in mind that these workers function well alone and will tend to gravitate toward that mode of operation.
Ensure your team is attuned to cultural sensitivities. This may require cultural sensitivity training and should be done as close to the beginning of the team forming as is possible to avoid misunder standings.
Managing remote teams is similar to managing regular teams, but will require greater emphasis on building trust, fostering communicational, implementing team processes, and utilizing technology. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the team’s progress and individuals work will be essential to knowing whether or not your team is one track. You will also need to have a good understanding of technology and excellent technical support to ensure that your team network is performing at its peak.