Insurance Sales – Do You Have a Strategic Sales Action Plan?

Do you want to shake up your sales results? It’s time to rethink you’re approach and come up with a plan that will produce results. A strategic sales action plan provides an implementable quantifiable path to significantly improve your results.

Let’s begin by identifying the key elements of a strategic sales action plan. The key elements of your strategic sales action plan include: the value you provide, your unique market position, your marketing plan, your sales plan, and your follow-up plan. Each element is critical, but you want to develop or review them in a specific order.

Start by identifying how creating the value that you will provide that people are willing to pay money for. This very simple concept is often overlooked, but people will buy from you if doing so is more valuable than buying from someone else like a competitor. And please realize that this value must be provided by you not the company whose products or services you may be selling.

You as an individual sales person need to establish your position in the market. Otherwise you’re just like everyone else and there isn’t any advantage to buying from you. There are numerous ways to position yourself, but you may want to start by considering: your areas of expertise, who you work with, what you do for the people you work with, speed, quality, etc.

You need a marketing plan to market yourself to the people you want to sell to. A marketing plan isn’t just a list of random marketing activities you plan to do hoping to get results. A marketing plan is the overall plan you devise to generate a specific number of qualified leads that you can consistently and predictably repeat. And every action on your marketing plan must be track-able and measurable so you can make adaptations and improvements.

You’re most familiar with a sales plan. Your sales plan should specifically tell you how you will proactively move the qualified leads entering your sales funnel into buyers. And you should be tracking each phase making adaptations and improvements.

Do you have a follow-up plan for building and extending the relationship you’ve started generating more business and referrals? That’s the whole point of a follow-up plan. Once you start a relationship with a buyer you want to at least maintain the relationship so they will buy from you again. And your follow-up plan should include sales coaching to help your loyal buyers to refer you.

Shake up your sales results by developing a strategic sales action plan to get the results you want. Of course, a plan in and of itself won’t produce the desired results. You produce the desired results by taking the actions you now know are the most effective actions and expecting your desired outcomes to follow.



Source by Cheryl Clausen

Factors Considered in Home Appraisal – The Most Important Ones

Appraisal is simply an estimation of value. A licensed appraiser will evaluate the property and give his or her opinion about the property condition performs it. Although, it may be similar to inspection but there is a big difference. The main goal of this activity is to give a justified opinion about the property value. They need this because it can help in various decision-makings. For example, the seller can use this as a basis for pricing. The buyer can use this to know how much to offer. Lenders need this to know how much money to credit to their borrowers. It has also uses for other purpose like taxation and many others.

However, one must fully understand home appraisal. This can help you determine the factors that will be taken into consideration in determining the appraised value. These factors could either increase or decrease it.

So of you want to know the important ones, check out below:

1. The type of house- it could be identified as one story, two-story, split-level, factory-built.

2. Features of the home (including design)- The materials used and the kind of structure present and how they were built.

3. Improvements made in the property- new components of the house are identified and described.

4. Comparables- Just like in the CMA, several comparables will be listed and will also be described using the same factors.

5. Sale with involvement of financing

6. Location- The kind of neighborhood is identified. Any zoning areas are will be considered as well as its proximity to other establishments.

7. Age of Property-

8. Size

9. Depreciation

The value of the property can be identified using 2 approaches. It could be through sales and cost approach. In sales comparison approach, the appraiser draws the value of the property simply by identifying comparables within the area. He or she would compare the features of a home including lot size.

As for cost approach, the appraiser draws the value of the property by looking into the value of the land, the depreciation, the overall value of the property and the cost of replacing them upon destruction.

After the appraiser has performed the appraisal, he or she would have to create a report stating the following things:

– The method used for determining the value.

– A description of the property including its size, condition and other features.

– Any problems related to its structure.

– A description of the location.

– The comparables used

– The intended use of appraisal

– Certification

– Limiting conditions.

When you seek appraisal services, make sure you hire a good appraiser. He or she must be certified or licensed. Hiring someone with these credentials would mean they are able to perform their job according to the standards set by the accredited appraiser organization in the country (USPAP). But this is not all that defines competency in the field of appraising. Your appraiser must have enough experience. He or she should have appraised various properties within the area.



Source by Katrina Marie Santes

Office Renovation Pros and Cons

An office renovation is always a complicated task that requires careful planning. These renovations allow you to contemporize your space and improve various features of your offices including layout, technology, energy efficiency and more. However, despite the many benefits associated with your renovation, there are some growing pains along the way. Before you start remodeling, you should carefully consider all the pros and cons. If you decide the advantages of a remodeled office outweigh the potential disadvantages, you will be ready to go ahead with the work.

Pros of Office Renovation

Some of the basic aspects of your office layout and functionality can be made more efficient with a renovation. You’ll have the opportunity to restructure work stations so that you utilize the most efficient use of space. Ultimately, renovations not only allow you to reconsider the aesthetic qualities of your office, but to make changes that will improve worker productivity as well.

Through a renovation you can also upgrade the technology in your office. Even without spending a hefty amount on new office equipment, you can improve the infrastructure of the workplace. During renovations, you’ll have the opportunity to install upgraded routers, fibre optic cables, and if you have the budget, new computers and other equipment.

Another advantage of an office renovation is the fact that you can increase the value or rental income associated with the property. A more attractive, efficient, and advanced office will certainly be appealing to potential leasers. Ideally, you want your office renovations to address your current concerns, while also making the space a more viable workplace.

Cons of Office Renovation

Unfortunately, most office renovations are associated with a number of costs of well. Obviously, the financial costs will be considerable, depending on what kind of renovations you have planned. You’ll want to consider whether the initial financial costs of completing an office remodel will translate into increased worker productivity or an improved client base; after all, in an ideal world, you would like to know that the money spent on renovations will positively impact your bottom line.

Yet, even aside from the cost, office renovations can cause a number of headaches. During the renovation, you should expect some disturbance of workflow. You may have to consider finding temporary offices, or you’ll have to reorganize the office during renovations so that work can continue. Without question, worker efficiency is going to be reduced during renovations which can be especially risky for small businesses.

Fortunately, an experienced commercial contractor can help to reduce the negative impact of office renovations. Should you decide that renovations are necessary for your business to continue to grow, a professional contractor can help you plan the renovations so that your day to day business doesn’t suffer.



Source by Alex Pupkin

The Life Cycle of an Estate

Some estate life cycles turn up very quickly, so that few years or even months separate the initial building and the final phase. In other cases, an estate may remain for several centuries in a single stage of its life cycle. It is impossible to indicate the average period for an estate life cycle to complete its revolution, but in the case of ordinary domestic buildings of traditional construction, a term of 60-100 years is usual. There are signs of, however, that with the increased pace of technological development, this period will tend to be shortened.

In the center of our older towns, there are many examples of estates which have passed through a series of life cycles, and successive buildings have been erected and later replaced, but more common is the estate which is now in some stages of its first cycle. A building reaches complete obsolescence or dies either when it is physically exhausted or when it is no longer economically worthwhile to keep it in use. In practice, the latter is usually the determining factor as the pace of physical obsolescence can be controlled by repairs and improvements, provided the economic incentive to carry the cost is present. A special case is that of a building of outstanding historical interest which may be preserved as a living fossil long after it might have been expected to perish.

While it is not possible to describe in detail the pattern of an estate’s life cycle, it is easy enough to indicate the main stages experienced by most estates that pass from initial development to renewal, and to describe the principal estate management problems relevant to each stage as follows

1) The pre-development stage.

2) The newly developed stage.

3) The middle life stage.

4) The old age stage.

5) The total obsolescence stage.

The Pre-development stage

The site available for development may either be one never previously built upon or cleared of its previous building. Land in this stage of expectancy tends to become neglected as the owner restricts expenditure on its existing use, whatever this may be, such as agriculture, market, gardening, car park, it must be noted that any investment on improvement must be written off as soon as development takes place. Consequently, sites awaiting development are often prey to nuisance and even when well fenced, may be subject to rubbish dumping, trespass, fly-posting and other similar afflictions. Where the pre-development stage is short, these difficulties are not serious, but when the length of this period is uncertain, effective management and use of the land may become impossible.

The Newly Development stage

When an estate is newly developed, it should fit its use in every aspect and so be unaffected by obsolescence. In practice, however, very few buildings even when new, meet this standard. For instance, imperfect planning, external changes that take place between the planning and construction stages and perhaps, slight defects in construction, all may introduce elements of obsolescence. Nevertheless, the utility of a building when new is usually greater than at any subsequent time. In the early years of life, obsolescence is likely to take place at a higher and regular rate as the advantages of being new and modern are lost. This will be determined, to a large extent by the speed by which comparable new and more modern buildings are erected, which force higher standards through competition. Occasionally, as in the case of speculative development that does not find an occupier, a new building may be obsolete as soon as it is completed.

The middle life stage

This is normally the longest stage in the life cycle and can be extended to last almost permanently. It begins as soon as the advantages of being new and up-to-date in the initial development stage have disappeared and the building settles down to its long term level of utility and value. Where the value of new buildings tends to be very much greater than that of older properties, however, the inducement to increase the pace of renewal can lead to a shortening in the average period of middle life. During middle life stage, physical decay is normally kept in check by proper maintenance and the annual decline in value due to modifications, extensions, improvements and perhaps, conversions which may be sufficiently major as to constitute virtual replacement and a recommencement of the whole life cycle.

The old age stage

The end of middle life is marked when the property begins to sink rapidly in status. It shows the outward signs of obsolescence like physical deterioration, adaptation to some poorer class of use than that which it it was designed, out of date fittings and equipment, and its remaining life becomes predictable. The problems of management at this stage are dominated by the short life remaining, which is usually less than fifteen (15) years. Fresh investments in order to improve the premises or even to maintain them in an efficient state for use becomes more difficult as the increase in an annual value likely to result is insufficient to provide a reasonable return on capital and sinking fund to replace the capital sum by the end of the investment life. In consequence, improvements and adaptations needed to maintain the estate are first limited and then neglected altogether. When this stage is reached, it is often the policy of an estate to restrict all expenditure to a minimum and to run down existing assets awaiting development. Where premises are leased, there is also the need to limit the grant of new tenancies so that the duration of their terms does not run beyond the date when development is contemplated. Tenants holding short interests pending development will usually have little incentive to maintain the property beyond the lowest standards of repair and physical condition, and may give rise to other management problems relating to its use and care.

Total Obsolescence

Firstly, the stage of complete obsolescence is reached when the old buildings and layout have little or no value as they stand. If all goes well, clearance and redevelopment follow quickly but there may be factors that prevent this. The first is that the site may have insufficient value to justify demolition of the old structures and its replacement by something new. In order words, the economic pressure may not be enough to propel renewal. Secondly the pattern of redevelopment may require changes in the size and shape of the site that cannot be secured at ones. This arises where comprehensive renewal is needed to meet modern traffic conditions and the existing small units of development have to be amalgamated for rebuilding purposes. In these circumstances, it is often necessary for individual obsolescent building to remain until the whole areas are capable of total clearance. Thirdly it happens that a building is totally worn out and judged by contemporary standard, is no longer fit for occupation. But because of the shortage of accommodation, it continues to command a use and income. It retains therefore, a value, sometimes, a high one, and is not strictly obsolete from an economic point of view, although it may be so regarded in social terms.



Source by Anderson Nwoko

Real Estate Characteristics

Real estate has several unique characteristics that affect its value. There are economic characteristics and physical characteristics. Real estate is a product to be purchased but it is different from anything else due to the characteristics that will be discussed here.

The economic characteristics that influence value are scarcity, improvements, permanence and area preference. Scarcity is simply demonstrated in the saying, “They aren’t making any more.” The supply of land has a ceiling and cannot be produced more than what exists today. This value of this supply however, is influenced by other characteristics.

Improvements, such as buildings on one parcel of land may have an effect on the value of neighboring parcels or the entire community. If a large company builds in a certain depressed neighborhood, the value of living their will probably increase because of the introduction of jobs. This value would impact on neighboring communities, thus increasing value in some ways to the real estate in these areas.

Permanence has to do with the infrastructure. As buildings, houses or other structures are demolished, the infrastructure, such as sewers, drainage, electricity, and water remain intact. Permanence effects real estate, or the type of infrastructure. If you buy a piece of land in an area with no utilities, drainage or paved streets, it will most likely be worth less than a parcel of land that has this infrastructure intact and developed.

Area preference refers to the choices of the people in any given area. This is usually referred to by most people when they talk about real estate as, “location, location, location.” The location of a preferred area, for whatever reasons, is what makes values of homes higher. Conversely, the location of a nonpreferred area, for whatever reason, is what makes the values of homes less. 8000 square foot brand new homes on the coast of Long Island’s, East Hampton will be worth much more due to their area preference, over an area with 1200 square foot starter homes in the middle of Long Island, located next to a garbage dump.

The physical characteristics of land represent its indestructible nature, immobility and nonhomogeneity. Working backwards, we’ll start with nonhomogeneity. This simply points out that no two parcels are the same. Two pieces of land may be very similar, but every single parcel is different geographically because each parcel is located in a different spot. This includes two lots right next to each other. It is important to remember that parcels are created by subdividing land, so as one large parcel of 20 acres is subdivided, each individual lot becomes its own separate piece of land.

Land cannot be moved, therefore it is immobile. Even when soil is torn from the ground, the part of the Earth’s surface will always remain. It is important here to note how this physical characteristic affects real estate law and markets. Immobility of land is the reason why real estate laws and markets are local in nature.

The indestructibility of land simply means that it is durable and cannot be destroyed. It can be damaged by storms and other disasters, but it remains and weathers the changing times and will always be there. This is a main reason why land is talked about as being a sound investment.

So the basic characteristics of real estate include scarcity, improvements to the land, permanence, area preference, nonhomogeneity, indestructibility and immobility. Please note there is a big difference between land and real estate. Land is the the part of the earths surface, subsurface and air above it. Real estate is anything that becomes attached to land. So when you’re looking for investments, it is important to note the infrastructure of the area, the surrounding neighborhood and the preferences of the area or…location, location, location!



Source by Thomas McGiveron

Difference Between General Contractor and Remodeling Contractor

If you are thinking of improving your home with the help of home improvement service providers, you have to keep in mind that one professional may offer a different line of services than another. There are those companies that specialize in interior designing for commercial buildings and there are those that have full-service offers in handyman services.

While there is a wide array of services that you can consider for your humble abode, two kinds of professionals are highly demanded in the market these days because of the growing need of homeowners when it comes to home improvement needs. Right before you hire a service provider who is professional enough in updating and reviving the glow of your home, you have to take into good consideration the difference between a professional service provider and a remodeling contractor.

A general contractor is one kind of professional that you can hire if there is a need for several specialists to take care of your home improvement needs. He is the person responsible in supervising the project and assuring that the tasks involved to complete the project are appropriate for the scheduled time.

Furthermore, he makes it a point that the entire project is suitable for the budget you have agreed upon. There are times when this kind of service provider will not be the one to do the work in improving your home. He takes care of the hiring of specialists or subcontractors who will be the point of contact in the necessary duties of the project.

Remodeling Contractor

This type of service provider is a team of professionals who specializes in renovating and remodeling different parts of a house. They are the ones who hire electricians, interior designers, handymen, architects, and any other pertinent specialists who can take good care of your home improvement needs.

There is a different between an entity that focuses on remodeling and one that is commonly referred to as a professional service provider. A remodeling contractor has the tendency to offer various services that a professional service provider does not usually offer to homeowners.

One good advantage of hiring this kind of contractor is the inclusive warranties that they offer to their client. If you are about to decide on which kind of contractor you want to work with in improving your house, it is always best to determine your needs so that you will be able to hire the most effective professionals for your project.



Source by Fidelio Orosco

Evaluating Change

How to Evaluate Change

The final and most important stage of the change planning process is to determine which measures you will use to monitor and evaluate the project outcomes (i.e. were the objectives met?). For example, if the aim was to increase productivity, your measures might include the collation of figures relating to outputs, levels of variation and errors in order to check that they have increased or decreased favourably.

The timeframe over which the measures will be taken should also be determined at the outset, especially when in a turn-around situation where instant results are required. It is essential that you take measures before the commencement of a change or improvement project so that there is sufficient data to compare post-project results to.

How you measure the objectives will depend on the change project, examples of which follow:

Organisational performance – Finance

Organisations often embark on change programmes to improve the financial performance of the organisation in order to increase shareholder value. Here, financial measures are used:

  • Turnover
  • Profit
  • Cost
  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Loss
  • Share Price

Organisational performance – HR

Organisational performance is heavily dependent on, and influenced by, the level of engagement of its staff. Measuring the effectiveness of the HR function can often reveal issues that impact directly on the bottom line. Here, engagement and employee satisfaction measures are used:

  • rate of staff turnover and associated recruitment costs
  • absenteeism
  • average length of service
  • number of disciplinary and grievance cases
  • results of employee surveys

The analysis of the information gleaned from the measures would not only reveal the current level of engagement, but would also help set targets, objectives and budgets for succession planning, training and development initiatives and recruitment.

Productivity

It should be common practice for organisations to regularly examine their systems of efficiency around the creation of outputs and change or amend them accordingly. Productivity measures centre on:

  • the time, costs and resources needed to design, develop, create and deliver a product or service.
  • the quantity of outputs, or number of customers served, etc..
  • the amount of variation in the quality of the products or services, i.e. the number of errors or defects

These types of measures are easily quantifiable and can be obtained from production, financial and sales reports. They will be statistical in nature and many organisations will have automated systems, particularly on production lines and in call centres, for recording the data.

It’s imperative to know whether a change initiative has had the desired effect or not. Therefore, it is very important that you determine at the outset of the project what outcomes are expected, how you will measure them and when.

Dependent on the initiative, your measures will either focus on the performance of functions, processes or people. There are numerous ways in which to measure performance outcomes using data, figures or subjective information. Whichever method you use it is, of course, important to measure levels of performance prior to any project then compare them again afterwards. Remember that some initiatives will be monitored over a period of time, while others will be designed to create immediate improvements.



Source by S Park

8 Tips for Home Kitchen Remodel

Many homeowners take advantage of kitchen remodeling to increase their home’s value and buyer pool.

Kitchen remodels often sell a home quicker and at a higher price thanks to kitchen updates.

Homeowners looking to sell their home anytime soon, may want to first update their kitchen. It is generally a 100% return remodeling project, helping increase the interested home buyer pool and usually compete better in a tight housing market. Kitchen remodeling projects don’t have to cost mega investment dollars. With wise planning, homeowners can gain a return of $2-3 on every $1 invested. That means remodeling a kitchen can actually earn money. Not all home remodeling investments carry the same high return; however, kitchen remodels are one of the best places to start.

Flipping the TV quickly shows the many options for today’s trendy cooking shows. Homeowners are enamored with the idea of being culinary masters like never before. Where budgets and location allow for high-ended kitchen investments, upgrading to a professional-style kitchens may capitalize on the cooking craze. Small to medium kitchen investments are almost certainly paying off. Expensive kitchen remodels can also gain higher numbers of potential buyers and attractive returns when the homes sell – if the right home designer and updates were made and marketed well.

Homeowners can create a completely new look with an up-dated kitchen remodel, transforming the room from closed off to vibrant, mulch-functional, and inviting:

* Add a custom island. A granite and quartz counter-tops is a favorites of home chefs. Create proper working space and surfaces that are attractive, durable and popular.

* Install a back-splash using natural stone

* Adding fun storage extends your kitchen and makes it so much more useable

* Use a fun new painting technique on your cupboard. New paint says “fresh and clean” in an instant, and is one of the most cost effective improvements. Hiring a pro can make all the difference cutting in edges and gaining “wear and tear” length of life. For selling faster, consider a neutral color such as light tan – think of coffee with cream.

* Change up your cupboards. Add a glass front to showcase favorite dishes. Try attaching a thin veneer to the cabinet’s surface, replacing the doors, and add new hardware for a finished and fashioned look.

* Install a new kitchen sink with a stylish faucet head. Sleek stainless resists scratches and is easy to maintain.

* Updated kitchen appliances to later models with energy saving features

* Hardwood or Laminate Flooring

The length of time a homeowner should plan for the project to take will be determined by:

1) the extent of the project

2) having the right materials ordered and on hand on time

3) your remodelers availability – it is good to schedule your project with the flexibility of fitting into your contractor’s calendar.

A kitchen remodel should reflect the home’s style. Be sure to enlist a professional home designer when attempting to go “modern” in a traditional or historic home. Homeowners can successfully add to the home’s value when there is an excellent flow, are comfortable, functional, and maximize the available space in a stylish manner.

Using a home designer, whether you pay them just for their design expertise or to do the complete job, the money will be well-spent and homeowners save money in the end.

Today, the kitchen may be used for many facets of home life. Such as: a family gathering spot, meal-planning area, computer base for projects, and entertainment center-stage while hosting friends and family.



Source by Jeannie Hill

10 Ways to Improve the Performance of Your Project Teams

Introduction

Projects are increasingly at the heart of what an organization does today. Whether it is new product development, marketing campaigns, technology implementations, process improvement or a myriad of other possibilities, projects are what get things done.

Almost all of us can point to examples of project success and project failure. Many well-known examples of project success include such famed stories as the Apollo space program, and the Chrysler Automotive turn-around. A more recent success story is the rescue of the miners in Chile. But for every success story, there are multiple failures. Time and / or cost overruns occur in many of our projects today while only a small percentage of the desired objectives is delivered.

At the heart of almost every project is a team that is tasked with completing the project and delivering value to the organization. Effective teams deliver high-quality, value-added projects. Ineffective teams deliver mediocre projects at best and no project at worst.

How can you improve the performance of the project teams in your organization? How can you get your project teams to do more, faster, and maintain or increase the quality of their deliverables so that your project is listed as a success and not as one of the statistics? The purpose of this article is to discuss 10 ways that will yield both short and long-term results and that should trigger you to think of other methods that will be effective in your own organization.

#1: Get Everyone Involved in the Project Planning Process

When you plan your projects, get the entire team involved to various degrees. Ask them what tasks will need to be completed to meet the project’s objectives. Ask them how long they estimate the tasks to take. Ask them what issues may arise and how you can plan for them. Why? Because when your team has input into the project plan, they will begin to feel ownership and responsibility for the tasks and deliverables for which they are responsible.

David is a team member on a new marketing project responsible for generating ad copy. He is not consulted on the project plan, but is told which tasks he needs to accomplish and how long it is going to take. David feels no ownership for the plan, nor does he feel a responsibility to complete the tasks in the time allotted. In fact, he feels somewhat resentful of the imposition. When push comes to shove and the project is running late and getting down to the wire, David leaves work on time and does not put forth any extra effort.

In contrast, Susan is a team member on a software implementation project. She has been involved from the beginning and has provided input into the various tasks that will need to be accomplished and their associated estimates. Susan is excited about the project, feels a part of the team, and is looking forward to contributing. When the project is getting down to the wire, Susan stays late, works harder and is committed to completing her tasks on time and in a quality fashion. Why? Because they are her tasks. She sat in the meeting and made a commitment to her teammates and she feels obligated to deliver.

A related suggestion is to utilize brainstorming sessions. Many times during project planning or execution phases, questions, problems or challenges arise that must be solved. For example, a product solution must be developed to meet a particular need. Sometimes, a brainstorming session may be an appropriate and effective method of putting forth a solution.

A brainstorming session will get several if not all members of the project team together to brainstorm ideas for a possible solution. Granted, a lot of “crazy” ideas will be thrown out and that is ok. The goal is to identify the best ideas and to evaluate them as a group to determine the best appropriate solution given the team’s current constraints.

#2: Make Status Updating Easy

The primary job of your team members is to complete project deliverables in a quality fashion. However, part of their job is also to communicate the status of their work. This is critical as decisions need to be made based on the project’s current status. Can we add resources to a task that is falling behind? Can we source supplies from another vendor since the original vendor is late? What should we communicate to the organization’s customers? Critical questions such as these cannot be asked, much less acted upon, unless you have good project status. And the project’s current status is only as good as the status that each individual provides.

The quality of a team member’s status update is often related to the ease with which they can provide it and what will be done with it after it is provided. If it takes a team member hours every week to supply status, it will either not get done or it will not get done well. If it is a complicated process, they will simply not want to do it. The result is that you will not know for sure at any point in time where your projects stand. This mushrooms into ineffective or missed decisions, poorly executed projects and ineffective teams.

First, make status updating easy. Determine the information that you need to make decisions on the project. Sacrifice quantity for quality. You can collect a great deal of information from your team members, but most of it will not be used or necessary. Do not collect information that you do not absolutely need. Only collect the information that you need.

After you determine what is needed, determine the appropriate format to collect it. The format should be quick, simple and intuitive. Obtain feedback from your team members on what they think.

Second, as stated above, the quality of the status update is also related to what is done with the information. If a team member feels that they will be “beat up” over any type of “bad” information, they will be reluctant to give it. Ensure that the information is used constructively and that “bad” as well as “good” information can be freely given.

In summary, determine what information you need, a good, simple format for receiving it, and then use it appropriately.

#3: Hold Regular Meetings

Your first reaction may very well be a negative one because of the experience that all of us have had with irrelevant and / or poorly planned meetings. Nevertheless, done correctly, meetings can be a valuable tool in your team’s performance.

Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, held daily morning meetings with all of his top staff. He continued this even through the September 11, 2001 disaster. This provided everyone with a forum to discuss what was going on, raise issues, learn what everyone else was doing and most importantly, have direct access to the decision maker.

You may not want to hold meetings every day, but you can still benefit from regular project team meetings if you follow these guidelines:

  • Keep your meetings short. Don’t let your meetings drag on past their allotted time or your team members will grow to disdain them and they will quickly lose their effectiveness.
  • Ensure that the right decision makers are at the meeting. The knowledge that decisions can and will be made at the meeting will greatly increase their effectiveness. Team members will be sure that they attend and that they have issues and questions ready. When decisions are being made, instead of being delayed in order to get the right decision makers in the room, your team will become that much more effective because they can take the decision and act on it.
  • Have a definite agenda. Don’t go into the meeting without at least a basic plan for what you want to cover. Have a specific agenda with specific goals for what you want to accomplish and stick to it. Handle side topics later outside of the meeting if at all possible.

#4: Get your Teams Together Outside of the Office

Good relationships that develop within your project teams will foster efficiencies and productivity that cannot be created otherwise. Team members that communicate well with each other, respect each other and even like each other will work better together and improve their overall performance.

One of the best methods of improving team member relationships is to get your team members together outside of the office environment. Periodically go out and do something fun. Go out for lunch. Take a field trip to another organization that has worked on a similar project. Go to a baseball game. Be creative. You will be surprised – this single, very simple step will go a long way towards improving your team’s performance.

#5: Celebrate Achievements

In today’s hectic pace, achievements often times go unnoticed and unrecognized. We focus on our failures but rarely on our successes. It is important that you find things to celebrate. Celebrate a set of tasks being completed on time or early. Celebrate a project completion. Celebrate the little things as well as the big things. This will provide motivation for your team members to achieve more and make your project environment in general more enjoyable. An individual and team’s performance can often be related to their attitude. Celebrating achievements almost always helps to improve attitude.

How do you celebrate achievements? There are a variety of methods ranging from large gatherings or parties to very small acknowledgments. You do not always need to celebrate in grand fashion. Sometimes the small acknowledgments mean more: a personal recognition in a meeting, a hand-written note, a crafted “award”. If your team members know that you are appreciative of their contributions and are sincerely acknowledging them, they will catch on and continue to improve their performance.

Finally, celebrate individual milestones as well. These do not have to be project-related but could be birthdays, company anniversaries, promotions, etc. This simply creates a fun project environment that team members enjoy.

#6: Deal with Failures Head-On

Equally important with celebrating achievements is to deal with your team’s failures head-on. It goes without saying that this is a difficult task. Every project team will suffer failures as well as successes. What often times separates the highly effective teams from the ineffective ones is not how they deal with success but how they deal with failure.

If failure is not properly dealt with, it will become an “elephant” on the back of your team and will load them down in all future projects. No one will want to talk about it but everyone can feel the “cloud” hanging over the project. It is important that the team sit down and discuss what happened. Simply airing out frustrations can go a long way towards moving forward. Be careful, however. This should never turn into personal accusations or injury. Ensure that everyone understands that this will be conducted professionally and courteously with a focus on how to improve and that any exceptions to this rule are simply not allowed.

It is sometimes helpful to get the project team away from the “project setting” for a brief period of time. Go offsite. Talk through what happened. What did the team do that was good. What could the team have done better? Keep it positive, but don’t be afraid to talk about what should have been done better.

After you have gone through this process, work at making appropriate changes. Learn from the mistakes. The next project will not be perfect, but it can always be better. Implement some of the lessons learned.

In short, deal with the failure directly, work towards making changes and then move forward and stop dealing with the past.

#7: Encourage Team Input

Team members can often times come up with the best ideas on how to improve the team’s productivity and ultimate success. Be creative with methods on how to solicit their input. Leave a few minutes of time in your meetings for ideas and suggestions. Be open to them. Encourage your team members to provide input regularly and in various formats. Be open with the input and act on ones that are appropriate.

Not only will team members offer truly productive ideas (granted they will offer some unproductive ones as well), but they will feel more ownership and responsibility to the project when they have some input into how the project is executed.

#8: Empower Decision Makers

There is often nothing worse than a project team that has no decision makers. The team must then make decisions by committee which is often a cumbersome and time-consuming process. Identify who the decision makers are, make it clear to the team who the decision makers will be and stick by it. Often times, team member input should be solicited, but there must be one person who makes the decision.

Note that there can be more than one decision maker. There can be a decision maker for different areas of expertise such as product development, testing, engineering, marketing, etc. And the project manager can be the ultimate decision maker for the project as a whole outside of business issues that need to be decided upon by management.

This ties in directly with holding regular meetings. Your decision makers need to be involved in the meetings to make your meetings and your team effective, and to provide a forum for team input and for quick decision making.

#9: Give Them the Tools They Need

One of the common frustrations of team members is to not have the right tools to do their job. This covers two areas: tools that are job specific (a testing platform, a good computer, the right software for a graphics designer), and tools to manage the project.

Tools that are job specific are self-explanatory. If your team members need something to do their job, there is nothing more frustrating (or that wastes time more) than not having it. Get it for them. I understand the budget constraints that organizations are under, but find a way to win. Borrow from another department for a while, beg, but find a way to give your team what it needs to be successful. Not only will this help them do their job better, but will also show them that you are going to bat for them.

When we talk about tools that are used to actually manage the project, it gets a little fuzzier. What is frustrating to team members is when they have to spend a lot of time using tools to manage the project itself – i.e. updating status. How many people spend hours because they are still using spreadsheets to track project information? You do not necessarily need to embark on a grand expedition to find and implement a big project management software system. There are simpler tools available and you can even use better process to augment existing in-house tools. Follow these basic principles:

  • Provide a tool that will only ask for the information that you will actually use (related to earlier points).
  • Make the tool easily accessible.
  • Make the information easily accessible (so they do not have to hunt for the right information).
  • Ensure that it is not time consuming (don’t have them spending hours each week updating status).
  • Ensure the tool is not difficult or overly complicated to use for the task at hand – keep it simple.

The flip side of this is the situation where team members do not want to use a tool, but would rather use nothing and stay in their cocoon. You still need to provide the right tools, and there is nothing wrong with expecting them to use them. Nevertheless, make sure that you follow the principles above.

#10: Put in Place a Method of Managing Issues and Change

Change is a given in almost every project and that can be a good thing. What you need to do is implement a system to manage it. Unmanaged change can very quickly remove any performance and motivational improvements that you have made with your teams. The reason is simple. If your team members have worked hard, planned well and performed well only to be hit by an unexpected change that requires them to work longer hours and that may jeopardize the project’s success, team motivation and performance will drop in a hurry.

That does not mean that we should not allow for change – we should. Resources, environments and business needs all change and we need to be flexible to meet those changing needs and requirements. However, we need to do it in a way that does not jeopardize our team’s performance.

Your system for managing change does not need to be complex. In fact, it can be quite simple. But it should at least follow these simple rules:

  • All change should be funneled through the same process.
  • Your team members should have input into the change. They may not have the authority to approve or disapprove of a change, but they can indicate the time and effort required and what the consequences of the change may be (i.e. other deliverables will be late, the project will be finished later, etc.).
  • Do not allow anyone to work on the change until it is approved.
  • Identify clearly who has the authority to approve a change.
  • Ensure that there is an organizational value for implementing a change.

Like change, issues will appear in every project. You also need a system in place for managing these. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing the issue, when it appeared, who is responsible and what action will be taken to address it. Your periodic meetings can be great places to raise issues and in fact you should allow for time in them to raise issues. Your issue management system does not have to be complex, but it does need to exist and someone (typically a project manager) needs to be responsible to coordinate them. This will ensure that issues are not lost or forgotten (this will invariably come back to haunt you at the most inopportune time), and that they do not affect the overall performance of the project and the project team.

Conclusion

Improving the performance of a project team can be a very lengthy and detailed conversation covering many different areas of knowledge such as psychology, organizational behavior, business, team dynamics, etc. However, there are some simple, fundamental methods that you can easily put in place today which can lead to noticeable, short-term results, improve the performance of your project teams, and increase the success of your projects.

Take a look at your own organization and projects. Come up with other, similar ideas that will also be productive in your organization. Choose a few of the methods listed here that you feel will have the greatest impact and focus on these.

Project management is not easy, but with some persistence, flexibility and the implementation of some fundamental project management practices, you can begin to see more success in your own projects. 



Source by Mark S Kenny

Overcapitalisation – Why Cost Does Not Equal Value?

If you are unaware of the real estate terminologies then you might be wondering what overcapitalisation is. Basically, overcapitalisation refers to an overspend on construction or renovation costs which means the actual cost of a construction/renovation of the property is superior to its real market value. Overcapitalisation is also considered as asset inflation. Confused? Let’s make it simple. For instance, Mr A is planning to renovate his house by remodeling the bathrooms, basement and kitchen; upgrading the living room and bedrooms; adding a porch and swimming pool; installing vinyl siding, fencing front entrance and extending the garden. Mr A decides to use upper end expensive quality materials in the renovation. While doing so, he forgot to consider the real market value and quality of the houses in this area, which was lower than the value of his upgraded house. This is overcapitalisation.

Now the next question is what should be done to avoid overcapitalisation? Simple! When renovators and home builders are planning for home improvements, they must keep in mind some factors which have greater impact on the overall value of the property. For instance, evaluating neighbour’s housing style, demographics of neighbourhood, streetscape, design trends of neighbouring property, and recent resale prices of the homes in the area.

Although generally improvements and renovations add value to a property, it will be wrong to say they will ALWAYS increase its value. The reason is that if renovations and improvements are overdone, without keeping in view the real value of the area where your property is located, you might be overcapitalising your property. This means that your property cost will not equal its market value.

Hence, it is rational that a renovator or home builder is aware of overcapitalisation, and increases the value of the property only to an extent that it can cope up with. Remember, you’ve got to be really careful about overcapitalisation when upgrading or renovating your property.

Often overcapilisation occurs when people are not rational and business minded in their approach. Typically home owners will spend more on fixtures and fittings with the aim to live in the property.

Some cultures often prefer to live in larger homes as status symbols and will opt to spend more on improvements than is the norm in the locaility.

However if you are an investor or builder, it is important to get the mix right as this will result in higher profit margins. Getting it wrong can often mean longer selling periods and discounted prices. Do your due diligence to avoid disappointment.



Source by Keith P Peric