Friday, May 05, 2006

Outsourcing secrets - Part 3

Outsourcing is the purchase of goods or services that were previously provided internally. Generally, it is used for a broad range of information technology functions that are selectively contracted to an external service provider.

For most companies, outsourcing is an interesting option, but they are reluctant to explore this option. Many companies are not even aware of outsourcing possibilities.

The decision to outsource is a difficult one that many executives now face. Outsourcing is a difficult issue. The perceived advantages of outsourcing include better control of costs, accountability and the ability to focus internal resources on more business critical tasks.

There are so many risks involved. If you neglect these risks, your business would terribly suffer. Here are some problems often encountered in outsourcing:

Communication is one of the most crucial issues in outsourcing. It can kill projects and the whole outsourcing relationship. There are various sources of communication problems, such as language barriers, inability to communicate bad news or problems, cultural differences, etc. Misunderstandings and language barriers are also contributing factors to communication problems. When work is outsourced the time spent on communication will increase considerably.

Global team management. When a software development team is dispersed globally, through many time zones, it is often difficult to manage and synchronize teams and pay attention to team and individual needs. Resources and time spent on these activities usually increases.

Cultural fit. Here we have to think of, among others, work ethics, work style and corporate culture as well as more general cultural issues. In some parts of the world 9:00 AM means around 9:00 AM which might not be sufficient enough for our purposes. We also have to consider the fact that weekly, public and religious holidays are at different times in different countries. This can cause quite serious timing problems and even communication breakdown. Cultural differences influence management and work style as well as the way people deal with problems, deadlines and stress.

Security: These days security concerns are paramount which influences off-shore outsourcing. Questions like "Is this a safe country or city?" are asked more often and people expect an elaborate and reassuring answer. These questions also relate to the general business climate and political stability in the country in question. But security could also mean other measures a company is taking or required to take in order to meet certain requirements. On-site access security: security cards are used to access the premises and also for instant personal identification, or the building has 24 hour guard for example. Network and IS security - measures could include hardware and software firewalls, virus protection, power supply, backup and fall back operation, fire control, redundant hardware and software, etc.

Training costs. At our outsourcing partner people often must be trained or re-trained to meet our requirements. It can be cross-cultural, general management, communication training for the top management, technology, process, project management, language training for the technical staff. In case training must be provided it will definitely increase our direct costs and can cause delays and timing problems.

Service level. There is a very real risk that while we are busy relocating our IT operation off-shore our service level at the home ground will drop. Clients are lost, new clients are not acquired because of dropping service level. And news travel fast to the competition. The fear from dropping service level is one of the main reasons why companies have decided not to go off-shore with their IT operation.

Employment. In these days, when unemployment in the IT sector returned to Europe and the US, employment became a very serious domestic and political issue. Social tension is growing against relocating jobs off-shore. The issue is often linked to globalization.

Staff turnover. Influence on staff turnover and other HR issues is very limited. It carries the risk, for instance, that one day a key project manager just leaves the company without any notice, leaving a gap behind which might cause delays and cost increase.

This would place you in a better leverage situation when choosing and transacting with outside service providers. The following problems will quell your fears and help you bravely take advantage of the benefits of outsourcing in the new global economy.

About the author::

Peter Dobler is a 20+ year veteran in the IT business. He is an active Real Estate Investor and a successful Internet business owner. Collect more free software and bonus content for your own web site at

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Outsourcing secrets - Part 2

Outsourcing does not necessarily take away from your market share. In today’s business world, a key factor in maintaining customers and acquiring new business is to provide a quality product or service. Many competitors may also be able to provide high standards of quality in their products and services.

Outsourcing has become essential in the role of continuous improvement of any product or service one has to offer. Outsourcing allows you to benefit from the expertise of another company, without accumulating the expenses of new equipment, training, and the crazy world of non-conformances.

Now you may be thinking what steps you need to get started on expanding via outsourcing. Well the very first thing for you to do is to see if you have a good clients base where you are:

Define the scope and time frame of a project. Define your project requirements up front. Service providers need accurate, complete information to present you with realistic proposals and to quote you a reasonable price. Give vendors as much information as you can about what you need delivered and the way in which you need the work done. Be clear and realistic about your schedule requirements, project schedules can have a huge impact on project costs.

Evaluate a service provider. Do not be afraid to ask questions, when you’re evaluating proposals from service providers. Check their references and ask for feedback from other clients who have used their services. If you have any concerns about a vendor’s specific capabilities, voice your concerns. Don’t just stew about it and hope for the best.

Get samples of their work. Examine the vendor’s previous work and make sure that their previous work meets your expectations for quality and style. If you’ve evaluated a vendor’s portfolio, references and previous experience and are still unsure of their capabilities, consider asking them to do a quick mock-up or provide a basic outline of a work plan. A service provider who really wants to win your business might be able to give you a rough concept so you can better understand their approach to solving your problem.

Define a work plan for your outsourced project with clearly defined milestones. Having scheduled checkpoints where you review the status of the project as it works toward completion. It is an easy way to ensure that you meet your final deadline and that the final product meets your standards. Tie the vendor’s payment to these milestones.

Negotiate ownership of work up front. Make sure that you are clear about who owns the resulting work product and any important components of that product. Make sure the service provider understands how you intend to use the deliverables that they are agreeing to provide.

Don’t forget about the warranty after the project is complete. It’s a good idea to specify a warranty so that you are assured of some amount of continuing support from the vendor after the project is complete. It’s much easier to negotiate a support clause before the service provider begins work, rather than after the completion of the project. Suppose you need some changes to a business plan based on feedback that you get from potential investors. Specifying some amount of free support or negotiating discounted prices for future modifications can save you time, money and headaches later on.

Get it in writing. During the course of a service engagement, the scope of the project, deliverables or even the agreed upon price may change. Make sure that you clearly communicate any schedule, scope or payment changes to your service provider and get confirmation from them in writing that they understand and agree to the changes. Likewise, keep a record of any agreement changes requested by the service provider and whether you accept or reject those modifications. Save copies of any email exchanges that you have.

You can access top-notch expertise any time you need it without the overhead of hiring full-time staff. By staying focused on your core competencies and hiring expert freelancers for your other needs, you can compete with the delivery capabilities of larger organizations while maintaining your independence

The fact remains that in these days of heavy competition, it’s become a necessity to outsource certain components of a business in order to remain competitive.

About the author::

Peter Dobler is a 20+ year veteran in the IT business. He is an active Real Estate Investor and a successful Internet business owner. Collect more free software and bonus content for your own web site at

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Outsourcing secrets - Part 1

So you are thinking on how you can expand your operation, do more business and make more money? If you are thinking this right now then Outsourcing might be for you.

Outsourcing is a familiar concept to many entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs and small business people are always looking for creative ways to accomplish more of their business goals for less money.

One strategy that can help you save time, money and frustration as you start and build your business is to outsource as much work as possible to skilled, but cost-effective, external service providers. Many large companies turn to outsourcing to cut costs. In response, entire industries have evolved to serve companies outsourcing needs.

But not many businesses thoroughly understand the benefits of outsourcing. It’s true that outsourcing can save money, but that’s not the only reason to do it. Outsourcing too much can be an even bigger mistake than not outsourcing any work at all. The flat economy caused many companies into huge layoffs and subsequently outsourced functions that were better kept in-house.

Wise outsourcing, however, can provide a number of long-term benefits:

Reduce or control capital costs. Cost cutting may not be the only reason to outsource, but it’s certainly a major factor. Access to outside providers lower cost structure is one of the most compelling short-term benefits of outsourcing. Outsourcing converts fixed costs into variable costs, releases capital for investment elsewhere in your business, and allows you to avoid large expenditures in the early stages of your business.

Outsourcing can also make your firm more attractive to investors, since you’re able to pump more capital directly into revenue-producing activities.

Improving efficiency. Improving efficiency are the most typical reasons that companies turn to outsourcing. An outsourcer, through efficiencies of scale and replicable best practices, may improve efficiency and save money. Companies that do everything themselves have much higher research, development, marketing and distribution expenses, all of which must be passed on to customers. An outside provider’s cost structure and economy of scale can give your firm an important competitive advantage.

Reduce labor costs. Hiring and training staff for short-term or peripheral projects can be very expensive and temporary employees don’t always live up to your expectations. Outsourcing lets you focus your human resources where you need them most.

Start new projects quickly. A good outsourcing firm has the resources to start a project right away. Handling the same project in house might involve taking weeks or months to hire the right people, train them and provide the support they need. And if a project requires major capital investments, the startup process can be even more difficult.

Focus on your core business. Every business has limited resources, and every manager has limited time and attention. Outsourcing can help your business to shift its focus from peripheral activities toward work that serves the customer, and it can help managers set their priorities more clearly.

Delivering results. No matter how many times you tell them, most salespeople don't do enough prospecting to keep their pipelines full. They frequently don't enjoy cold calling and would far rather be negotiating or closing a deal. This is a sweeping generalization but it holds true in many organizations. By outsourcing you are assured of a steady stream of new prospects.

Level the playing field. Most small firms simply can’t afford to match the in-house support services that larger companies maintain. Outsourcing can help small firms act big by giving them access to the same economies of scale, efficiency and expertise that large companies enjoy.

Reduce risk. Every business investment carries a certain amount of risk. Markets, competition, government regulations, financial conditions and technologies all change very quickly. Outsourcing providers assume and manage this risk for you, and they generally are much better at deciding how to avoid risk in their areas of expertise.

Outsourcing can make your business easier to run and more profitable. You'll free up time and resources so you can concentrate on your core business concerns. Creative firms offer a broad range of integrated services to move your company forward. More than ever, business survival depends upon the ability to effectively market and promote your services, as well as keeping costs down.

About the author::

Peter Dobler is a 20+ year veteran in the IT business. He is an active Real Estate Investor and a successful Internet business owner. Collect more free software and bonus content for your own web site at

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Monday, May 01, 2006

How to bring traffic to your site - Part 7

Working with Free traffic tools

Tell-a-friend forms are a perfect example of viral marketing. Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that seek to exploit pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in brand awareness through viral processes similar to the spread of an epidemic. It is word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it harnesses the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly.

Viral marketing is sometimes used to describe some sorts of Internet-based stealth marketing campaigns, including the use of blogs, seemingly amateur web sites, and other forms of astroturfing to create word of mouth for a new product or service. Often, the ultimate goal of viral marketing campaigns is to generate media coverage via "offbeat" stories worth many times more than the campaigning company's advertising budget.

Refer-A-friend is a “tell-a-friend” form that you can install on your web site within minutes.
The only technical knowledge required is the ability to copy and paste a small piece of code into your web pages. Although you put the same piece of code on every page, visitors can effortlessly refer a specific page from deep within your web site because of page-sensing technology.

Word of mouth is still an advertiser's best friend - both offline and online. With it, your visitors can recommend your web site directly to their colleagues' inboxes.

Gain a deeper insight into your web site's performance

Refer-A-Buddy tracks the number of times your web site visitors make a referral and also which pages are referred. These statistics tell you something that even the most expensive and sophisticated web site logs and trackers cannot give you. That is to say they measure a real human interaction with your web site. If someone decides to 'tell a friend' about what they have found at one of your web pages, then you can be sure they were pretty fired up and enthusiastic about it.

At last - double strength email validation to help you and your web site visitors

Email addresses are often long and complicated and most people are not expert typists. Our research shows that without validation, as many as 40% of email addresses are entered incorrectly or are invalid. So any professional web application that asks a user for an email address will try to check that the email address is 'well formed.' A good referral software does this of course - but also goes one important step further and verifies that the web server referenced in the email address both exists and is up and running. This works for your visitors as an intelligent assistant to help them address their referral correctly and, if you are using the opt-in email check box, it makes it more likely that you will receive good quality email addresses for your database.

Now you can benefit from the power of viral marketing

Without a doubt, old-fashioned 'word of mouth' is one of the most powerful ways to publicize anything. So if a visitor to your web site likes what he/she sees, why not offer him/her a simple and attractive way to spread the word? After all, put yourself in his/her position.

Say you want to tell a friend about a web page you have seen. You don’t need to remember the URL, the web page address. You don’t need to get on the phone and start spelling out the URL. And you won’t even have to try to type out the URL in an email. A sample code of a 'tell a friend service' solves this problem by making it a simple matter for a visitor to pass on their recommendation, and consequently, they are more likely to do it. Not only that, but this web tool makes sure they make the recommendation error-free. The software knows the full and precise URL of your web page and places it as a clickable link into the recommendation email.

This can make a lot of hits to your website especially if you have been patient about making your daily enhancements on your website. This is another easy way to gain more people's trust, as these are often satisfied customers who want to share their experiences. Adding this feature will likely result in more traffic, resulting in additional sales.

As a webmaster resource, a good referral software is a perfect way to exploit a new kind of marketing, which adds smooth, professional functionality to your web design and at the same time is an invaluable web tool for driving traffic to your web site through the power of viral marketing.

About the author::

Peter Dobler is a 20+ year veteran in the IT business. He is an active Real Estate Investor and a successful Internet business owner. Collect more free software and bonus content for your own web site at

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Top 10+ Ways to Jumpstart your New Year's Finances!

Cindy Morus

Of course, these don't have to be done in any particular order!

Just pick one or two that particularly apply to your situation.

  • Create your 2004 filing system. This might include new file folders, a new box to hold them or space in a filing cabinet with easy access.

  • Set up a folder to collect all the important 2003 tax documents which will be arriving soon. Sure to arrive at your house are W-2s, 1099s, mortgage statements, etc.

  • Set up an appointment with your tax professional early so you get the appointment of your choice. This also gives you a deadline to get your information ready! If you're self-employed, the next quarterly estimated tax payment will be due on January 15.

  • Review last year's investments especially in your 401(k), IRA's etc. Find out what financial planning resources your company or 401(k) plan administrator offers and set up an appointment to talk to them. For non-company portfolios, talk to your investment advisor. You have until April 15 to make contributions to IRA type accounts (check with your tax preparer for eligibility).

  • What about Quicken or Microsoft Money? If you don't use software to balance your checkbook, pay your bills and keep track of your savings and investments, this is a great time of the year to get started. My personal favorite is Quicken and for small businesses, you might consider Quicken Home and Business. If you are a small business with Payroll needs, check out QuickBooks.

  • Medical Insurance reimbursements. If you haven't submitted all your medical bills to your insurance provider, now is the time to do so.

  • Will and Estate Planning. No one likes to think about dying, but the best thing you can do for your family is to make sure they are taken care of by creating a will and making sure you have adequate life insurance. Think how easily you'll sleep knowing you have provided for your family even if you are no longer there.

  • Speaking of insurance… If you haven't reviewed your health or home and auto policies in the last couple of years you might find you can save money and/or have better coverage. For example, if you still have a $250 deductible (which was my first deductible in 1979!), you will probably save by increasing it to $500 or $1000. Try to set aside some of your savings for deductibles in case you need them.

  • Create your own Anti-Emergency Fund! We all know those car and home repairs, school fees, medical expenses and vacations are going to happen. Why not determine how much you'll need and save 1/12 of it each month? To read more go to:

  • Holiday Bonus or Money Gifts If you received a financial gift this holiday season, hold on to it for at least 30 days while you decide what you really want to spend it on. All too often financial windfalls are spent before they even arrive. Consider dividing it into thirds: 1/3 to the past, 1/3 to the present and 1/3 to the future. Past might include paying down debt, present could be something you need or want now and future could be retirement, college savings, or a special vacation

  • Financial Goals for next year. Think about where you want to be next year at this time financially. If you want to save $1000, put aside $2.74 each day and you'll be there! Break down your financial goals into monthly, weekly and daily amounts and watch how quickly your savings will grow. Read more about it at:

Happy New Year!!!!!

(c) Phelps Creek Financial Coaching - All Rights Reserved

About The Author

Cindy Morus ( is a Certified Financial Recovery Counselor specializing in showing women and their families how to achieve financial well-being and peace of mind. She is also a Certified Credit Report Reviewer. Contact her at 541-387-2995 or Sign up for the "Get Ready to be Rich!" teleclass community for FREE for 30 days at!

Attention Ezine editors/Site owners: Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety in your ezine or website as long as you leave all links in place, do not alter the content and include our resource box as listed above. If you do use the material please send us a note ( so we can take a look. Thanks.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

How to bring traffic to your site - Part 6

When people like what you do, they are happy to say good things about you. I'm sure you know that getting written or recorded testimonials for your products or services is an excellent way to build your credibility.

Sending and recording testimonials is one of the greatest ways of establishing trust with your potential customers. It is a way of showing them what your satisfied customers say about your products and services.

But did you know that testimonials can help increase your website?

Giving testimonials is not only a good way of brand building yourself, but also in getting traffic to your site. They are actually a unique and practical way of gaining visitors to your site. In most cases, you can find them in sales letters, sales text, email, etc. They can be placed on the product sales page that has lots of visitors.

When a potential consumer is considering whether to buy or not, testimonials may reassure him.

Basically, testimonials are a valuable addition to your marketing materials and your website. When done right, testimonials can be a strong ally in establishing the credibility of your website. Not only that, they often make the sale all by themselves. Therefore, you will have a greater chance of boosting your profits.

So, how will you make your testimonial a hit to your potential consumers?

No webmaster, no matter how successful, can resist an honest, glowing tribute to their creation. The trick is to write short, flattering testimonials for the content, design, functions, products, services, etc. of many web sites and send it to them as sincere "feedback.” Testimonials also assure the consumers whether to buy a product or not, so make sure that they absolutely get published.

Here are some of the basic things to consider in making a credible testimonial.

1. Photos
Photos add credibility. These can help prove that these are real people. So, ask those people for photos. If they don’t have a scanned picture, they can send a softcopy by email.

2. E-signatures
Generally, almost all online testimonials you see have text signatures. You could have people mail their written signature, scan it, and upload it with their testimonial. In this way, people will feel the testimonial is more official.

3. Profiles
The basic part of a testimonial is the profile. Ask your potential costumers to include a brief profile of themselves with their testimonial. Let them answer some basic questions like age, occupation, hobbies, favorite motto, etc. This will make your testimonials more entertaining to read. And, more chance of knowing you.

Testimonials are not only expressed through writings, but also verbally. One thing you can do is record people's testimonials with a mini tape recorder over the phone, on your answering machine, or voice mail. With each one, include a phone number they can call to hear the actual testimonial. You can record online audio and online videos as well. Just convert the recording into an online audio file and upload it to your website. You can do some research on how to convert these files.

When you get e-mail testimonials, publish the entire e-mail message instead of just the contents about the product or service. It will be more believable because it will include the date, time, subject, who it's from, and who it's to.

Like, email signatures you can also mail hand written letters. Scan and upload the entire written testimonial or letter to your web site. This will give your testimonials a feel of realism.

When you get testimonials from people, it is better to ask them if they are willing to include their contact information under the testimonial. In this way, you will allow your potential customers to ask your current customers questions about your product or service before they buy.

Also, if they're speaking on behalf of a business, include the business name. Mention if they have any professional certifications or titles that would enhance their authority.

Those are some of the relevant things to consider in making a testimonial. Keep in mind that testimonials will help pave your way to a successful business. It really is worth the effort. So start collecting your own now!

About the author::

Peter Dobler is a 20+ year veteran in the IT business. He is an active Real Estate Investor and a successful Internet business owner. Collect more free software and bonus content for your own web site at

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