Category Archives: Business

Business in the Massachusetts and Boston areas.

How to Find That $100k Job

Looking for a new job and want to make $100,000? You got to get past the recruiter and phone screener first. You met with a recruiter, but now she’s not responding to your e-mails. Maybe your background is perfect but you don’t make it past the phone screen. How could it be that you’re “not a good fit” when you’re so clearly made for the position?

Job hunters tend to view recruiters as an unfortunate necessity in the search process, regarding them as the people who don’t respond and don’t really know what the hiring company is looking for.

It turns out that many job seekers have misconceptions about the most basic role of a recruiter. “They don’t understand that we don’t work for them,” said Greg Bennett, a headhunter at the Mergis Group in Cary, N.C. “We work for the client” — the hiring company.

Below are some typical scenarios in which job seekers may find themselves. We asked the recruiters what’s happening at their end.

Scenario One: You think you’re a perfect fit for the position, yet the recruiter isn’t responding to your application or your follow-up calls and e-mails. Potential red flags may include:

You’re not qualified for the job.

* Like it or not, your work experience may not fit the bill. It could be that the hiring company is looking for 10 years of sales experience and that your 15 years in sales is not attractive. It’s also possible that you didn’t read the posting closely, or at all. “When a job seeker ignores certain stipulations such as a listing that requests local candidates only or has degree requirements that don’t match, it becomes evident that they are answering postings without reading them,” said Sherry Brickman, a partner at Martin Partners, a retained search firm in Chicago. “This is a waste of time for everyone involved as well as frustrating for a recruiter.”

You’re a good fit but not an ideal fit.

* “[Third-party recruiting] agencies get paid a lot of money to find people that a corporation in need of staff can’t,” according to Michael Rosenberg, manager of sales, productivity and performance at TheLadders. “And with a 15 to 25 percent fee going to the recruiter, corporations want to make sure they hire the exact right person.” In plenty of cases, almost isn’t good enough, especially now that recruiters are pulling from a larger applicant pool.

Your recruiter — or the hiring company — isn’t effectively communicating the job specifications.

* Sometimes recruiters aren’t able effectively to express what their client is looking for, a result of their own limitations or their client’s lack of specificity. The larger the organization, the more red tape there is, according to Rosenberg.

Your e-mail subject line could be slowing down the process.

* Effective subject lines in e-mails should reference the position you’re applying for, rather than “Hello” or “Intro,” Rosenberg said. If a recruiter is sorting through hundreds of e-mails a day, it makes her life easier if she receives a cue about the contents of the e-mail.

Your resume may not be conveying your story at a glance.

* With so little time to devote to each resume, make it easy for recruiters to find what they’re looking for: your last employer and position, your tenure there, and the three most relevant bullet points based on the job you’re applying for. If a quick scan doesn’t yield a compelling career narrative, Rosenberg said it’s possible that your application will never make it beyond the inbox.

Misspellings of any kind turn off some recruiters.

* Typos may leave the impression that you don’t pay attention to details. Double- and triple-check your cover letter and resume. Better still, have someone with an eye for detail proof it.

A generic cover letter could be your undoing.

* Recruiters may read the lack of specificity as lazy and/or uncaring, Rosenberg said. Tailor each letter to the particular company, industry and position to which you’re applying.

Superlatives may be getting in your way.

* For instance, calling yourself the “best” or “greatest” CPA without supporting evidence can be perceived as cocky. “It suggests the job seeker is way too sure of himself and may be tough to work for,” Rosenberg observed. “A recruiter could build a story in their head before they even get you on the phone.”

What can you do? Not much if you’re not qualified, but applying for a specific job and making sure that you’ve dotted all your “I’s” and customized your cover letter will at least ensure you’re getting the attention you deserve.

Scenario Two: You didn’t make it past the recruiter’s phone screener.

Your general attitude could be a mismatch with the hiring company.

* For instance, your professional-yet-serious demeanor may not work in a setting where a sense of lightness and humor is considered a priority for managers, said Harold Laslo, a staffing specialist at the Aldan Troy Group in New York. Don’t take it personally. The longer a recruiter has worked with the hiring company, the better he’s able to evaluate your candidacy.

You didn’t listen to the questions.

* During phone screens and interviews, less is often more. Whether the cause is nervousness, self-absorption or other limitations, candidates sometimes provide far more information than a question warrants, according to Marian Rich, a recruiter with Bonell Ryan, a retained search firm in New York. Rich said she often asks candidates to give a quick overview of their careers, probing for details later in the process. “I’m always dismayed at how many candidates launch into an in-depth and very lengthy response,” Rich said. “It can put me off and will certainly raise the question of whether or not this candidate will interview well with a client.”

What can you do? Follow up with the recruiter to ask her why you’re not a good fit. She should be able to provide a concrete reason. If she can do that — and you trust her assessment — let her know you’d like to be considered for future positions.

Scenario Three: You met the recruiter in person, but now he doesn’t think you’re right for the job.

Your work style may not be suited to the position.

* For example, the recruiter may determine that you thrive in structured work settings, but the hiring company is looking for someone who functions best in an unstructured environment. Once again, recruiters who have placed candidates with the hiring company have a good sense of who would succeed there. It is well within a job seeker’s rights to ask how long the recruiter has worked with a certain company, said Laslo of Aldan Troy.

Your personality may not be a match for certain company or department cultures.

* For instance, you may think your ambition and assertive personality could only be an asset, but it could signal potential challenges at some firms. “If a candidate has career aspirations and I pick up that they may not have patience before they see advancement or will be badgering HR in regards to advancement, they may not be right for certain companies,” Laslo said, adding that small companies tend to be more focused on personality than large ones.

What can you do? Talk to your recruiter and find out exactly why you’re no longer in the running. Gather as much information as you can and ask if there’s anything about your personal performance that you could improve.

Scenario Four: The recruiter is being vague about why the hiring company doesn’t want to proceed with your application.

She may not have all the information.

* Recruiters agree that at each point in the application process your recruiter should be able to cite specific reasons why she (or the hiring company) doesn’t think you’re a suitable candidate for the job. But recruiters don’t always have that information if the hiring company is reticent to disclose it for legal or other reasons, said Rosenberg.

She may be reluctant to talk about personal quirks.

* If the hiring company is troubled by your lack of personal hygiene, for example, the recruiter may withhold the information if she thinks it’s not constructive.

What can you do? Strike a friendly tone when probing for details. Help the recruiter understand that you value his feedback and would appreciate any information he’s able to supply.

Overcome your fear of public speaking with ANY audience

Hints on How to Lose the Fear of Public Speaking

Overcome your fear of public speaking with ANY audiencePublic speaking is a gift when it’s done correctly but you may need a few tips to achieve it.

Why are people so afraid to get up in front of an audience and give a speech?

Basically, people are afraid of being humiliated in front of others. Some may have negative experiences in the past, such as having been laughed at by the other kids in school when in front of the class. But, for most people, it’s the generalized fear that they are going to get up on stage and tank; that people won’t like them.

Now, many of the above are quite normal reactions. In fact, some experts say a mild level of anxiety is good before you give a speech as it gives you a burst of energy, resulting in a more dynamic presentation. But, if the fear of public speaking is such that it is keeping you from advancing in your career, or keeping you away from certain social situations, then it’s time for you to act.

The fear of public speaking can manifest itself in many ways:

  1. You get “butterflies” in your stomach.
  2. Your palms sweat.
  3. Your hands shake.
  4. Your knees also shake and you feel as if your legs are about to collapse.
  5. Your heart beats much faster than normal.
  6. You experience a “fainting” feeling.
  7. You have panicky thoughts.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Most people don’t want to hear this, but the best way to conquer a fear of public speaking is practice, practice, practice. Facing any fear head on allows us to control it, rather than let it control us. Our over-reactions to our fears is really our brains trying to protect us from what it perceives as a threatening situation. Feeling faint is a good way to keep us off a stage, saving us from
the threat of humiliation. But, the more we experience the “threatening” situation without the harm (humiliation), the more we’re able to extinguish that fear.

A good way to begin feeling comfortable presenting publicly is to start small. Start sharing stories with friends and co-workers. This could be something you read about in the news, or something you did over the weekend. The point is to practice speaking in front of others, and feeling successful at it.

If you have no problem speaking socially in front of friends, but shake at the thought of getting behind a podium and speaking in front of strangers, then practicing behind a podium is what you must do. Lucky for you there exists speaking clubs such as Toastmaster’s International, which meet weekly in cities all over the world. For a nominal fee, you can join a club in your area and practice speaking in public, as well as hearing speeches on a weekly basis. You will also receive feedback on your weaknesses as well as your strengths. You’ll probably be surprised to find out that you’re better than you thought you were.

But I’m too Afraid to Practice Public Speaking

For those whose anxiety level or social phobia is so great that they’re having extreme trouble getting into the practice phase, there is some hope for you as well. Psychotherapy as well as hypnosis has been used by people who need to learn ways of coping with fear of public speaking. With hypnosis, you can help desensitize yourself to your fear, as well as visualize success speaking before an audience. Hypnosis is also helpful with managing anxiety.

For extreme anxiety, there are also medications such as beta blockers which can provide some temporary relief; enough to possibly help you gain a positive speaking experience. If that don’t help imagien yourself play the scary maze game or what the Brady Bunch taught us about imagining your audience.

The point is, you don’t have to allow your fear to rule your life. For some, the ability to give a speech in public can mean closing a sale, getting a promotion, or charting a new career path. It would be a shame, with all the resources now available to help you conquer your fear, to allow that fear to win.

leadership messaging

Be an Excellent Leader. Learn How to Build Leadership Messaging

Exceptional leaders build the content of their messaging to present it in a more compelling manner.

They recognize that in order to Build Leadership Messaging a follower comprehension of their direction develops in stages. Build your message with information that moves from the simple and familiar to the more complex and less familiar.

For example, saying ‘‘We need to improve our website to make it more user-friendly’’ defines a leader’s direction in simple and familiar terms. The leader would then go into a more complex description of how and why this improvement is possible and necessary and would identify less familiar components, such as a new software package and how to use it, that are vital for achieving the end result the leader wants.

leadership messagingThink through the content of your leadership direction. Identify the most simple and familiar words and phrases that describe the purpose or bottom-line outcome of your course of action. Present evidence and examples to flesh out the more complex and less familiar territory you want people to accept. Build from simple and familiar to establish points of agreement. Recall that willing followers must be committed, not simply convinced.

Agreement points give followers time to warm up to your viewpoint. Simple-familiar to complex-unfamiliar also works because it explains how people learn. That is, comprehension comes by building on what people already know and accept. Build your message by repeating key refrains. Recall how the repetition of ‘‘I have a dream,’’ in Martin Luther King’s famous March on Washington speech, catalyzed the crowd.

Remember Ronald Reagan’s effective use of ‘‘There you go again’’ when debating Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential race. Jesse Jackson used the word ‘‘rocks’’ each time he offered another statistic about how many people did not vote in the 1980 election.

Develop a number of phrases and sentences to use as answers to questions such as: What is special about my direction? What do people get as a result of following my lead? Repeat the phrases you develop to reinforce your message. Use contrasting phrases to build your message.

John F. Kennedy brilliantly applied this method with statements such as, ‘‘We shall never negotiate out of fear, and we shall never fear to negotiate.’’ Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’’ also demonstrates this skill. Consider the enhanced impact of the statement, ‘‘We need to improve our website to make it more user-friendly,’’ when it becomes ‘‘Webfriendly sites make friendly web customers.’’

Use a timeline to build your message.

Consider John F. Kennedy’s speech at the BerlinWall in 1963. He drew a timeline from the past to the present and into the future. He told the crowd that in the days of the Roman Empire, the ‘‘proudest boast’’ one could make was to be from Rome. He then told them how they, the citizens of Berlin, could proudly today stand as the pioneers in the fight against communism. In the future, he argued, history would look back on those in the audience as the defenders of freedom who outlasted Communist oppression.

Create a bridge of personal connection between yourself and followers. Kennedy used this technique in Berlin also. He said, ‘‘All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin.

So as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’ ’’ Kennedy conveyed that he was a man of Berlin, just like them. Recognize that the order in which people are given information determines how they think. Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, first uncovered this fact while working for Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign.

Luntz conducted a Detroit focus group test of three Perot television ads. Perot was unstoppably popular at that time; however, the focus group members indicated they did not like him. Luntz learned this by accident. He intended to show ads of a Perot biography, a Perot speech, and testimonials from other people about Perot. He inadvertently ran the ads in the reverse order: testimonials, speech, biography.

The focus group saw Perot’s opinions as extreme when his ideas were not presented with the biography first, which outlined his impressive rags-to-riches life story. Luntz’s findings8 indicate that if your message produces a strong opinion, no subsequent information will get people to change their minds.

Build your message to ensure you first stake out the key factor you want to resonate in the followers’ minds. You can also build your message by using the fact that people remember the beginning and the end of a message. The middle gets muddled for most people. Build your message with several beginnings and endings. Chunk your message into parts. Start and end each part in a definitive manner.

Phrases such as ‘‘Let me make another important point’’ signal to the listener that something new is coming.

Conclude by saying, ‘‘This is an important issue.’’ The best leaders also build their message with emotion. They pull emotional levers that influence followers. They know people need more than the simple logic. Your course of action may meet important business needs such as increased profits, improved service, or reduced turnover, but you need to add the emotional hook to influence others. Instead of only putting more profits in front of followers, present your idea by adding, ‘‘We will be the company Wall Street cries to own.’’

In addition to stating that your direction improves customer service, add, ‘‘We are going to serve people in ways that cause them to love us!’’ Present the ‘‘feeling’’ your direction provides. Add the element of intense passion. Demonstrate a level of oratory excellence and inspired rhetoric to take your message far above the nonspecific, bland, and sometimes unintelligible comments given by many about their vision or where they stand on certain issues.

Address key emotional forces that speak to how people want to be treated at work. People want to feel that they are in on things and fully appreciated for their work participation and results, and they like sympathy for personal problems. These factors represent ‘‘soft’’ incentives that influence action.

Demonstrate how following your lead will meet these needs. Translate your direction into an emotional appeal that strikes that inner chord followers frequently seek. Vary your message between feelings and the cold facts. ‘‘This course of action will reduce 99.99 percent of accidents’’ makes a solid case.

Consider the additional genuine emotion reflected in the statement, ‘‘We will all sleep much better at night knowing we work in a safe environment.’’ Facts provide information that people logically analyze before they follow. Emotion provides the internal interpretation people use to get comfortable with a course of action.

Building Leadership Skills

How to Build Leadership Influence Skills

The capacity to gain willing followers at any moment in time often depends on Leadership Influence Skills. Followers will attach to those who have an established base of credibility and power.

In 2000, Jeffrey Immlet landed the CEO position at General Electric because of his success as head of GE Medical Systems. In contrast, Jill Barad, the feisty former CEO of Mattel Inc., lost the support of many by making ambitious promises for growth and then failing to deliver. Followers commit to those already close to them and with whom they have an established alliance.

Recall the Leadership Influence Skill comment by Rudy, one of the summer 2000 participants in the television show Survivor, during the final vote. He supported Richard “because we had an alliance, and I am going to honor it.”

Building Leadership SkillsFollowers also offer their support to those who have supported them. Groups of voters, such as a union, commit in blocks to candidates who have demonstrated concern for their particular needs. Exceptional leadership influencers build their commitment base with every action they take.

Followers observe the leader’s model and use it to gauge their return commitment of support. The head of a large hospital spent several hours each week walking through the hallways, talking to staff, and meeting patients.

He learned each of the 1,400 staff members’ names and would give them a personal hello when he saw them. He would take the time to sit with nurses and support service personnel to encourage them to work together more effectively.

The hospital president did not have to ask twice when he called on hospital personnel to dedicate themselves to improve customer relations or improve processes that affected patient care. Those who skillfully establish a firm base of commitment are perceived as natural born leaders.

  • Create the conditions necessary to gain commitment.
  • Enhance your credibility as a leader.
  • Position yourself to have more influence.
  • Maximize your flexibility and responsiveness to followers.
merchant account

Top Merchant Account Payment Processing Systems For Your Website

merchant accountResearching a topic can be frustrating sometimes. You search the web for information only to find much of it not exactly related to the topic you are searching for. This has prompted our experts to help provide better information for people like you. This article will try to help you by providing information that you can actually use.

Let’s be honest. Profit is what Business is all about. And profit can be derived from the payments we secure from our customers. How then do we boost the receipt of payments? An efficient payment processing system should provide the answer. Payment processing is what converts sales into realized profits. Without payment processing, your business could not collect payments, and thus will most likely fail. Without efficient payment processing, your business would needlessly suffer. It’s better than a Paypal debit card. Continue reading

Local Post Offices Are Closing. Is Yours on the List?

As the United States Postal Service, weighed down by a crippling multibillion-dollar deficit, shrinks its operations, post offices across the country are on the chopping block. Each year, hundreds of postal operations shutter, but this coming fall could be the single biggest consolidation in Postal Service history.

post-office-closingOver the next three months, more than 3,200 post offices and retail outlets out of 34,000 will be reviewed for possible closure or consolidation.

Downsizing is a business imperative, says Linda Welch, acting vice president of delivery and post office operations at the Postal Service. “Revenues have declined, and mail volume continues to decline,” she says.

Do you want to see the whole list?

I’ve been working a few hours each day since the announcement to build this list of post office closings so people can look up and see if their local post office will be closing. If you want to be notified of updates to the Most Recent Announcements and to Download the list, subscribe below:

Can We Get A List Of The Post Offices That Are Closing?

If you know of any other post offices that are closing because of this please contact me. Partial list that I have got so far:

Kansas
New Albany, KS, Post Office, 101 2nd Street, New Albany, KS, 66759

Louisiana
Cameron Post Office (70631) is closed. Residents can pick their mail up at the Lake Charles Drew Station.

New York
The South Kortright, NY, Post Office 10675 County Highway 18, 13842 is temporarily closed. The mail is being redirected to Hobart, NY 13788 located at 698 Main St, Suite #1

Ohio
Birmingham, OH, Post Office 44816 is closed. All customers will be serviced at Wakeman Post Office, 16 W Main St. Wakeman, OH 44889

Are These Post Offices Closing Because of the Recession?

Not only have e-mail and electronic bill paying made for a skinnier mail stream, but the recession has caused a sharp pullback in advertising mail that has hurt the Postal Service even more.

In March, Postmaster General John Potter asked Congress for the right to reduce the mail week from six days to five, for a savings of $3.5 billion. Shutting down post offices will have similar cost-saving effects. And most Americans say they’re OK with the cutbacks, as long as they don’t have to pay more to send mail. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll found that more Americans would rather the Postal Service curtail services than seek a bailout or raise stamp prices.

At least, that’s what everyone says until it’s their beloved post office at stake. For various reasons, people tend to react with great fervor when their local offices are endangered.

Consider the case of the Hawleyville Post Office. After years of negotiations, the Postal Service in January notified the Connecticut community that its 166-year-old post office would close Feb. 14. An article in the local newspaper poignantly noted, “The long love affair between the Hawleyville post office and its loyal customers will come to an end on, of all days, Valentine’s Day.”

Its post office was rickety, but the community embraced it as a gathering place. One resident told the Newtown Bee, “The Hawleyville Post Office is like Cheers in Hawleyville.”

In fear of losing its precious haunt, the community mobilized. A Web site and online petition drive were created. Members got Congress involved. And lo and behold, the community won approval for a new post office, to be opened this summer.

Every time a post office is slated for closure or consolidation, the Postal Service is legally obligated to inform its customers well in advance. “There’s a very long process that they have to go through,” says Mario Principe, the post office continuance consultant at the National League of Postmasters. That gives the communities plenty of time, usually at least two months, to stage a rescue.

Your Post Office is Closing. Get Used to It

The Postal Service will typically send out a survey or host a town hall meeting before an endangered office closes. Perhaps the closing of a post office means too many lost jobs for an already-hurting community. The office might house the bulletin board that posts important community announcements. Or the next-closest post office may be really far away. If customers alert officials to such concerns, there’s a better chance that their office will be spared. Appealing the closure decision to the Postal Regulatory Commission often works, too, though it’s a step many communities don’t know to take.

It’s also important to check out why a post office is on the chopping block in the first place. Those under review this summer are mostly metropolitan branches or stations. But in the case of small post offices, federal law states that the reason can’t be just that the office isn’t bringing in enough revenue. If that’s the only explanation given, then the Postal Service can’t legally shut it down.

Oftentimes, post offices face closure because their leases expire. That’s the case in Deer Harbor, Wash. After attempts to find a new location for the post office failed, the community decided “in desperation” to buy the property just to keep it in business. If the community can raise the $250,000 purchase price by the June 30, the Postal Service says it will continue operations there.

The Postal Service seems willing to negotiate, and it’s not really bothered by the protests. “It actually it makes us very proud to know that we are a valuable member of the community,” says Welch. She says that the Postal Service appreciates the great lengths that some communities will go to just to ensure that their services continue.

What the Postal Service would appreciate even more: If those people would show their appreciation by taking the simple step of sending more mail. Oddly enough, that seems to be the unthinkable last resort.

Employees Calling In Sick With Seasonal Absence Syndrome SAS

calling-in-sick-to-workSince when did wanting a nice, sunny afternoon to work in the garden become a Seasonal Absence Syndrome?

With the arrival of summer, 30% of employees may call in sick this summer to enjoy a day off. Sunny skies and warmer temperatures also brings Seasonal Absence Syndrome (SAS), which will plague organizations in epic portions this summer season. If you have ever felt like calling in sick on a warm summer day, you are not alone.

read more | digg story

Defining Automated Time and Attendance Goals

At this point, your task force has defined your manual time and attendance process, has identified problems and opportunities, and is working to ensure the uniform enforcement of your payroll policies. You’ve probably also uncovered some areas for cost savings.

The next step is to develop goals or criteria for your automated system. These goals will guide your choice of products, services, and vendors. You will evaluate vendors’ proposals based on their ability to help you meet your goals. Goals might be stated in terms of system capabilities and features or in terms of benefits your company expects to derive from the new system. Here are some typical goals that may be relevant to your organization.

Corporate Time and Attendance Goals

• Decrease overall labor costs
• Shrink the gap between payroll policy and actual practice
• Comply with government and/or union regulations
• Reduce administrative overhead by eliminating time spent on manual timecard calculations
• Find a solution that can expand as the business grows
• Solve anticipated downstream challenges, such as absence management or scheduling Technology goals
• Leverage the company’s existing IT investment
• Interface with payroll program (or service bureau) as well as other systems such as HR or ERP
• Provide audit trails
• Produce timely and accurate management reports by employee, department, and pay-rate class for all pay periods
• Improve data security
• Be easy to install and maintain with current staff

Automated Process Goals

• Reduce time spent on overall process
• Eliminate redundant data entry
• Apply complex pay rules consistently and accurately across all functional departments
• Accurately record, collect, and report time and rates for standard and incentive pay-rate classes, shift differentials, and productive and nonproductive time
• Provide an effective means of distributing reports for departmental review and editing Other goals
• Enable the organization to shift responsibility for managing labor costs from payroll to department managers
• Gain universal acceptance of the solution by making it easy

In addition to specific automation goals, you will have many requirements related to the vendor. For example, you may require that the vendor have a local presence or be experienced in your industry.

Identifying the potential for savings

To evaluate the project financially and prioritize it against other projects your company wants to invest in, the task force should determine the potential for savings. Most of our customers find that automating time and attendance brings a very fast return. The key areas of savings are listed below. Where can savings come from?

• Reducing payroll errors
• Reducing total payroll processing time
• Reducing unauthorized leave time
• Eliminating unplanned overtime and nonproductive hours
• Reducing payroll inflation
• Improving labor reporting

Why do companies automate their Time and Attendance?

Our research shows that companies are initially motivated to automate their time and attendance processes not for the potential cost savings, but because of frustrations with their manual systems. These frustrations are impossible to quantify, but at the top of the list are a lack of accurate, timely reports and a lack of data integration with payroll and other systems. Companies also mention that they face increasing complexity due to a growing employee population and other business changes.

When you evaluate time and attendance solutions, remember that the least expensive system will not be the best system for you if it fails to meet your business needs. You need a solution that can easily and cost effectively be adapted to address changes in your business. It’s important to look down the road. Many organizations automate but soon realize that the vendor’s solution has major feature limitations, does not integrate well with other systems, or requires additional customization as business changes — all of which increase the total cost of owning the solution. The moral of the story: Try to anticipate your future business needs.

Defining Your Current Time and Attendance Process

The first step for your task force is to conduct a comprehensive review of your current time and attendance processes. This is often called a situation analysis. There are three basic goals for a situation analysis:

  • Learn exactly how the Time and Attendance system works now
  • Pinpoint problem areas that automation can correct
  • Identify opportunities for direct time- and cost- savings benefits.

When you examine the processes, you’re looking for indications of:

  • Redundant data entry
  • Inefficiencies
  • Employee and/or manager dissatisfaction with the processes
  • Unacceptable error rates in payroll
  • Rising administrative costs

When you research the current manual processes, be sure that you capture the entire picture. Don’t forget remote operations and individual work environments. Do you have on-site and off-site workers? The best way to conduct this research is to interview department heads and payroll staff.

Then create a detailed written document or flow chart detailing your current time and attendance process and specific problem areas. Next, the task force should talk with hourly employees to gain an understanding of the problems they are experiencing under the manual system. How time consuming is the process of recording hours? How often are paychecks late or incorrect? Ask for suggestions about features they think should be included in the new automated system. For example, they might want visibility of accrued vacation time. This employee feedback serves two worthwhile purposes:

  • It provides practical frontline information that can help you assess the potential for cost savings and improved employee satisfaction.
  • It creates a sense of real participation in the selection process, which can foster acceptance of the solution after it is implemented

By asking the right questions, the task force will come away with important information about the current manual system and suggestions for an automated system — information you’ll refer to often throughout the vendor selection process.

Determining payroll policies

The next step is to examine timekeeping and payroll policies. A complete set of defined and approved pay policies is needed for system installation. If you do this research now, you will have better-informed discussions with potential vendors. Attracting and retaining qualified, highly skilled employees is difficult for any business. As a result, many companies have introduced a wide range of special incentive pay policies and rates to attract and keep quality people. These incentive programs (majority time, differential rules, travel time, etc.) have dramatically complicated the manual payroll preparation process as well as the tracking of labor hours.

The complexity of these incentive pay structures increases the opportunity for inconsistent payroll policy application. Many companies we surveyed noted that once they automated their time and attendance processes, they were able to clearly see where their old manual systems had masked payroll inconsistencies from department to department and from pay class to pay class. These were problems that had gone undetected for months and sometimes even years. Pay policy inconsistencies can result in costly payroll errors, noncompliance with wage and hour regulations, and inefficient use of administrative time.

Companies that successfully implement automated systems tell us that achieving consensus on a common set of payroll policies for all employees is critical. Consensus must be achieved before you proceed with automation. When all departmental inconsistencies are uncovered and resolved, a smooth transition from a manual system to an automated system can begin.

Identifying pay policy inconsistencies

Create a table to identify pay policy inconsistencies. There might be inconsistencies between the ways on-site and off-site employees are treated, or perhaps managers in different departments have interpreted the rules differently. Interview managers and ask, “How do you actually manage your full-time and part-time employees with regard to overtime, leave, etc.?” Experience tells us that you will see many discrepancies in the ways policies are being interpreted.

Choosing a Time and Attendance Vendor

Most businesses, regardless of their size, are under pressure to effectively assign time and attendance resources and control labor costs. However, they also need to balance time and attendance complexities, competitive pressures, and limited budgets or IT support. This leaves very little margin for error in identifying a solution.

Participating customers recommended establishing a cross-functional task force as the critical first step selecting an automated system. This allows decision makers to share vital information and feel involved the vendor selection process from the beginning. As logical as this advice seems, many businesses we did not start their selection process by creating a task force, and only after some false starts did they the need.

The task force organizes information about the needs of various departments and the current process. Members also promote understanding within and cooperation from each department, which are vital successfully changing over to automation or updating an outdated system.

Who’s on the team and what do they do?

A typical task force is made up of three to four people. You should appoint a chairperson to coordinate the committee’s activity and oversee all aspects of the selection process. Seek out participants who have the time and motivation to do a good job. And make sure you have a representative cross-section of managers, IT staff, and payroll staff. Some companies augment the task force with an employee advisory group to encourage and incorporate a wide range of ideas from everyday users. This also helps foster acceptance of the solution after it is implemented.

Formulating a project plan

As early as possible, your task force should conduct a kickoff meeting and formulate a project plan for its time and attendance project. The written plan should include due dates and clear definitions of individual responsibilities.

  1. Conduct a situation analysis: Define your current manual time and attendance processes. Determine your current policies
  2. Establish specific goals for the new automated system: Corporate goals. Technology goals. Process goals. Other goals/
  3. Prepare preliminary analysis showing potential cost savings
  4. Go/no-go decision: Do we continue to pursue?
  5. Create a list of potential vendors
  6. Review and compare offerings to pare down the list to three or four competitors
  7. If necessary, solicit proposals with a Request for Proposals
  8. Define detailed product requirements so you can evaluate offerings
  9. Select two or three finalists
  10. Determine the cost of each solution
  11. Determine the potential return on investment
  12. Conduct company background checks
  13. Conduct a services capability survey, including the following: Visit customer sites. Check references. View demos/presentations.
  14. Select a vendor
  15. Develop an implementation plan
  16. Manage implementation
  17. Take the plan live!

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Donald Trump Apprentice Video Phone

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Donald Trump Endorses the Video Phone

Donald Trump Endorses the Video Phone

Dunkin Donuts to Sell Togo's

Dunkin’ Donuts plans to sell Togo’s Eateries Inc., the Canton, Mass. coffee giant announced Friday.

Trinity Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment banking firm with extensive experience in the multi-unit retail and food and beverage industries, has been retained to evaluate and market the business to potential buyers.

The restaurant chain specializing in fresh sandwiches, salads and soups. There is no price tag for it; Togo’s system-wide sales were $157 million.

Togo’s was established in 1968 and became part of Dunkin’ Brands in 1997.