How To Choose The Right Consultant?

Choosing the right consultant for any job or project is extremely crucial. So, if you are looking for one yourself, make sure that you follow the steps given below.

Pre-requisite – Before you go into the full mode of looking for the perfect consultant, you must at first define the goals of the project and understand them in great detail. This is important because once when you will understand the need of the project yourself, only then will you be able to find the right person for the job. Thus, it is highly recommended that you first spend some time with your project and then go out to look for the perfect candidate.

Ask people around – The first and foremost thing that you must do is check with your friends and family if they know someone. This will be highly beneficial as then you will be able to get references and reviews of the consultant. You can also check with your firm and see if they have a list of consultants with them or not. Moreover, posting on social networking sites about your requirement also helps a great deal.

Check the experience – You must check with the consultant and see if his or her prior work fits your checklist or not. The previous work done by any consultant will help you a lot to understand his line of work. Also, you must check whether his experience includes working with non – profits or not.

Check for solutions – Once you have discussed the project and got some answers, you must check whether the solution provided by the consultant is feasible or not. There is no point in planning something if it cannot be implemented in practical terms, Also, you must discuss whether the solution so provided is the best one or is there an alternative that is better?

Communication – In order for the success of any project, communication is essential. Thus, you must ensure that every detail is communicated to you by the consultant in a proper and timely fashion. There should be no problems pertaining to the project, especially when communication is concerned.

Time and fee – You must be absolutely clear about these aspects with your consultant. First and foremost, you must check if he has enough time to devote to the project and also, you must ensure that he is crystal clear about his position and his responsibilities. Also, you must discuss his fee structure in detail. You must make sure that his rates are affordable and only when you are convinced, you should go ahead with it.

So, now that you have read this article, make sure to follow the given steps and hire a good consultant for yourself!

Guide to CSR

A Guide to CSR Implementation in India

From 1st April 2014, every private limited and public limited Company in India with a net worth of 500 crores or a turnover of 1000 crore or net profit of 5 crore needs to spend at least 2% of its average net profit on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Activities.

While using these large funds, it is extremely important to have a framework and strategy in place along with the proper process and governance. Let’s see some basic steps for CSR implementation in India.

Key Principles:

• An Outcome-based View: An Outcome-based execution model is essential to the success of any CSR Project. Once the need is known, the Outcome need to be defined, and that should get tracked like a corporate goal.

• Partnership with Civil Society Organisations: These partnerships are expected by the law and are most important to use the resources, skills, knowledge and experience of both corporate employees and residents. Everyone should be aware of the available resources and distribution mechanism to make sure the funds and other resources get efficiently utilized.

• Rigour of Monitoring: Defining the project indicators is an important task during the planning phase. They become the objective measure of the progress. The participating organisation should define a quantity and quality related data collection approach based on the monitoring framework.

• Long Term View: The Company is not going to be part of any CSR implementation project for an endless time, and everyone should be on the same page about this fact. Once the Company achieves its decided outcome, it will exit from that particular CSR, but the impact should remain. The activities should become a part of the life of the community to make sure there is no reversal to the old stage.
Building the CSR implementation Model:

• Need Assessment: This is a structured approach to understanding the exact needs of a community. It should align with Section 135 of Companies Act as well as the need for the local community. It ensures that the community gets involved in the CSR from the planning stage. Health, water, sanitation, and micro finance are common needs assessed as they have a major impact on the development of the community. Need assessment has further steps like defining the assessment framework, data collection, and synthesis.

• Solution Design: This phase identifies potential partners and uses Logical Framework Analysis (LFA) methodologies to understand the impact of social programs. The Outputs, Outcome, and Impact are the key parameters to be considered in the Project design. While designing the solutions, it is important to check whether the proposed solution is right for a particular community, current conditions, and location. Something like tree plantation of specific trees will not work in all climates and all conditions. As CSR implementation budgets are pre-approved, the proposed solutions must fit in those budgets, or there should be an assurance from Government or any other authority to provide the additional funds if required.

• Partner Selection: Once the solution is designed, selection of right partners depend on partner’s credibility, expertise, and relevance. Credibility includes legal and Income tax compliance along with any recognition and awards obtained by partner organisations. The expertise should be related to the decided territory as well as related to the CSR subject. The knowledge and experience in solving particular problems are a plus. It is important to check whether the partner organisations have processes in place aligned with the outcome expected. The partner should also be involving the Company employees in the activities if it is important for the Company.

• Monitoring and Evaluation: Like in any other project, continuous monitoring and evaluation are very important in CSR implementation in India. It is extremely important to understand and assess the current level of the society related to the CSR activities. It is known as a baseline assessment, which is a one-time activity. Once the project work starts, there should be a monthly or quarterly reporting mechanism in place to make sure any constraints or bottlenecks are immediately known to all the stakeholders. Apart from that, an annual social audit is also required. The audit ensures that the project is progressing as expected and is providing the expected outcomes to the Society. Apart from baseline assessment, all other assessments are recurring. With every new assessment, the baseline is changing with the success of CSR Implementation.

• Impact Assessment: The Impact assessment is critical as it makes you understand the exact impact of the project.

The evaluation or impact assessment has four key parameters:

• Relevance to pressing social needs is most important, and the benefits should reach to the correct beneficiaries.It is an important aspect as once the benefits are visible; there may be people who would like to be part

Financial advisors

Buying a Book of Business – Ins and Outs

Financial advisors know that there is no better way to build a business than through a warm referral. However, the process of getting a warm referral can be a bit awkward at times. Given the relationship that is built between advisor and client, as well as the trepidation that many have about discussing money, it is no wonder that few financial advisors truly master the ability to ask for warm referrals with more than a handful of their clients.

Luckily, there is a way to get an entire career’s worth of warm referrals, though it is not cheap. By buying a “book of business” from a retiring wealth manager, investment professionals can quickly expand their own practices in a much shorter time than usual, and without paying for dozens of dinners or networking events. For many professionals seeking to grow their businesses, this presents an incredible opportunity, especially given the fact that more and more financial advisors are starting to age out of the profession.

It is not just availability that makes this a worthwhile opportunity. If a financial advisor has had a successful enough career to be able to retire, chances are he/she has helped guide many of their clients to that same goal. That means a good number of high worth individuals that an advisor in their twenties simply would not have the opportunity to meet. Further, since this is essentially a warm referral, a number of those clients will be motivated to pay attention to what their financial advisor has to say about their successor. Without the benefit of years of performance to fall back on, having a more established professional vouch for younger practitioners could be invaluable.

That said, buying a book of business is not a sure-fire way to guarantee business growth. Clients are under no obligation to suddenly decide that they trust the younger advisor. Also, there is the chance that the book of business is not worth a great deal – a collection of portfolios worth only $1 million may not be an investment for the advisor. Finally, as with any deal of this type, make sure that everything is legally sound and to the benefit of all parties involved. That could mean seeking the advice of a lawyer who specializes in assisting investment professionals. Still, if these factors are mitigated, buying a book of business can help an investment professional create a practice that is much more successful than might otherwise be imagined.

For those who have made the decision to purchase a book of business, there are two general approaches. Professionals who are willing to work with a more geographically-diverse set of clients can search a variety of sites that provide posting services for advisors who are looking to sell their practices. Be warned, however, that many other advisors looking to grow their businesses will also search here for opportunities.

On the other hand, networking with other professionals can present opportunities. Financial professionals in the local area may be looking to close their practices as well, and would often feel better leaving their clients with someone trustworthy. Better still, building relationships with older professionals in the area is far from a zero-sum game. Even if a book of business is not immediately, or even ultimately, sold, some referrals could come along.

Using Data to Drive Teams

Using Data to Drive Teams

Leaders may often wonder how one can create growth within their organization or company. As an educator, l develop a culture of achievement within my classroom. This is a form of leadership that will definitely transfer to business endeavors. One way to build a sense of achievement is through sharing data. Data can drive a team to meet exceptional goals in particular areas. This could be in task performance or output. Reviewing data helps give the team a sense of direction and a checkpoint to monitor the current state of reality. Let’s look at some tips for making data accessible for your team.

Make it Current

It’s important to have a data tracking system that makes it easy to retrieve current information. This will help lead to decisions that accurately address current situations. This system could be an expensive program or a Google Spreadsheet. Whichever system you use should be easy to follow. After choosing a system or program and determining what you will be monitoring, make sure to regularly check in on progress. Some examples of data to access include: sales, output performance, salary increases, market data. This should all be considered.

Make it Simple

While numbers and formulas can be a wonderful tool, it is necessary to present data in a way that is digestible for your audience. If a chart is used, make sure that it is labeled and that your team understands where the analytics are stemming from. This will allow for your meeting on data to be efficient. While you should be assured that your employees or team members are highly qualified and intelligent, it’s not fair to assume that every person has a PhD in Economics.

Make it Relatable

Numbers will just be numbers unless colleagues understand their meaning. There are many types of employees, and if I have a colleague that is similar to me, they will want to understand the social implications of data. It’s not always about the bottom line; it can also be about the “why” for the significance of the data. Will this data impact our customers, employees or competitors?

Allow Feedback and Critique

Its imperative that your team is able to openly analyze and discuss data. Ask your team what trends are they noticing? How can we get better? I am always surprised by the responses and inferences that my team makes in regards to performance. This helps us all grasp what is lacking and what should be done to solve particular problems. As a leader, you may also get feedback on ways that you can support the team to meet their goals.

Companies need to understand how data can evoke action within employees. Leaders must grasp how to relay data to their colleagues. Whenever you choose to implement a regimen of data analysis, remember to: make it current, make it simple, make it relatable and allow feedback and critique from your colleagues. This will ensure that company culture is established.

Doc Dillard is an Emerging Entrepreneur based in North Carolina, South Carolina and Memphis, TN. Mr. Dillard enjoys writing, learning about people and new cultures.

Requirements Analysis

10 Top Models to Effectively Analyze and Document Solution Requirements

First, what is Solution Requirements Analysis?

Requirements elicitation and analysis is the cornerstone process to analyze the business requirements and document a solution requirements package” sometimes known as SRS or DRD”.

It is iterative work to plan, prepare, and conduct the elicitation of information from stakeholders, to analyze and document the results of that work, and to eventually define a set of requirements in sufficient detail to enable the definition and selection of the preferred solution, thus, business analysts use a number of analysis models to support the analysis activities.

According to the PMI ” Project Management Institute standards, requirements is to be analyzed, decomposed, and elaborated using techniques such as dependency analysis, and data and process models in order to collaboratively uncover and clarify product options and capabilities.

Here are the top ten models:

1) Context Diagram: This model is very helpful, which enable the Business Analysts to identify the solution scope and avoid working on non-added value features and functions.

“Allows the business analyst to clearly show the boundary of the system, the users (both human and other systems), and the high-level data provided by and to the system. A context diagram is only a high-level view, but when supported by detailed data definitions, it is an excellent tool for communicating part of the project scope to stakeholders”… referring to the PMI

2) Ecosystem Map: This model will help business analysts to identify all related systems, which will facilitate defining the data entities later on and help analysts to easily determine the transition requirements

3) Process Flow: One of the challenges is to understand how work is being done to facilitate analysis and find out a detailed requirement related to the work itself.

4) Feature Model: Can you imagine that your solution features are built at a hierarchical way, yes it is the fact. Accordingly you should group your solution features in a structure that will help you understand a detailed level of features, and group them to define them later on, prioritize them, and understand features dependencies.

5) Use Case Diagram: This is a simple model that define features scope and considered as a focal point that will translate your feature into a detailed requirements.

6) Use Case Description: Use cases describe how “actors” interact with a “system” to accomplish a business goal or respond to events. Use cases contain “scenarios,” which are primary and alternate paths through the use case for accomplishing the desired goal. The use case diagram is typically easy to read and understand, and it provides a visual representation of a system by focusing on the actors who will interact with the system and their goals in the interaction.

7) Decision Tree: Often it is necessary to identify scenarios at least when defining interface requirements within the use case description. This model is important to analyze business rules, which will represents solution constraints and help business analyst to find out related requirements.

8) Entity Relationship Diagram: It is a meth that there is a business analysis solution without data structure. It is a graphical representation of the entities relevant to a chosen problem domain, the relationships between them, and their attributes.

9) Data flow Diagram: If you have a clear process flow and well identified data entities, it is now the time to determine the data flow within the work flow. DFD” Data Flow Diagram model can stand alone”. So it is an analysis model that illustrates processes that occur, along with the flows of data to and from those processes.

10) Data Dictionary: We can say that this model is the destination in most business analysis initiatives in analysis stage, most of business analysts feel that this the final step in the requirements analysis lifecycle. It is an analysis model describing the data structures and attributes needed by the system.

Marketing Consultant

Hiring A Marketing Consultant Made Easier

Hiring a marketing consultant is very important for your business to flourish. You need to spread a word about your company to the people through all possible ways including media. For this purpose, having a marketing consultant is very beneficial, as it would help you and your company in reaching new heights of success and growth.

Thus, in order to hire street smart marketing personnel, a few basic things must be kept in mind.

• Relevant experience: Your main priority should be to check the person’s experience in the relevant field. You can easily rely on the person with experience rather than a person who does not put his words into action. He must be able to have a complete understanding of your business to promote it better.

• Know how of digital marketing: With the advancement of technology, everyone nowadays has access to the digital media. Thus, it becomes very important for you to promote your company’s objective through social media. So when you are hiring a consultant, make sure he has the know-how about digital marketing and is well aware of its potential.

• Have a look at their website: Your marketing agent should be well versed in writing skills. Any flashy animations cannot make up for the content of the website. Thus, it is very important to have a look at their website to have a clear understanding of how well they can write about your sales performance to turn visitors into actual customers.

• Check their LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn can prove to be helpful for you to get the candidate for your company. Just as they would sell your company’s objectives to expected customers, they would try to sell their characteristic and talent through their LinkedIn profile. Thus, it is always advisable to check the entire profile to get an idea about past work, which will help you decide better.

• Test his skills during the initial days: Your workflow should be in complete sync with that of your marketing managers. Only then can you achieve the desired goals set for the growth of your company. So, work with him for initial few days to understand his way of working before you decide to hire him.

• Read their write-ups: Nowadays, all active marketing consultants have their own blogs to promote themselves that help them generate leads. Thus, you can go through these blogs to understand their approach towards marketing.

• Find their areas of strength: To get the right candidate for your company it is important for you to foresee his areas of strength and weaknesses. They might have experience in a number of fields but their expertise lies only in certain fields. You need to find out those fields and check whether those are beneficial for your company or not.

Always remember that you need to sell your company’s ideology and workflow to do business. Thus, these tips would help you find the best suitable candidate.

Business Needs

ISO 22000 Vs FSSC 22000 Certification: What Your Business Needs

There are many food safety management systems around the globe but only the ones that exhibit par excellence in terms of implementation and audit are exactly the ones your organisations needs. Initially, International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) with its globally accepted standards became the most logical choice for developing an international food safety management standard. ISO 22000 made its foray in the year 2005 and was well received by hundreds of companies worldwide within a short span of time. ISO 22000 standard applies to any organisation within the food chain – right from farming to packaging businesses.

The only setback of this standard was that it did not make it to the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) list that soon became an important criterion for acceptance by many significant retailers. Retailer giants such as Walmart, Tesco, Metro, etc., have made GFSI benchmarking mandatory and that has left major food companies with no choice but to get GFSI recognised. Presently, GFSI list includes IFS, SQF, BRC and Dutch HACCP. GFSI reviewed the standard requirements and decided that all food manufacturers will have to comply with the requirements of a more specific Prerequisite Program, and this led to the PAS 200 document creation. GFSI benchmarked scheme falls under FSSC 22000. FSSC 22000 certification is a judicious blend of regulations of the PRP document, PAS 220 document, and ISO 22000 standard. So naturally any company that wishes to register itself under FSSC 22000 certification will have to implement the requirements of ISO 22000 as well as the PRP programs in PAS 220. FSSC 22000 standard applies to food manufacturers solely, while other organisations in the food chain shall continue to implement ISO 22000 standard. FSSC 22000 is purely owned by the Foundation for Food Safety certification (FSSC).

Before deciding on the ideal standard implementation for your business you should first consider factors that are market driven. If you’re not a food manufacturer, ISO 22000 standard shall be applicable and on the contrary, and if your business is into food manufacturing, then your decision is dependent on the needs of your customers and suppliers. Transition from ISO 22000 to FSSC 22000 certification is a smooth one and only requires a review against the PAS 220 document by a duly accredited registrar.

Conclusion: Consumers are becoming exceedingly aware of food safety. From adulterated milk to contaminated juice, food safety related incidents also happen with even the most reputed food brands. FSSC 22000 is helpful in bringing organisations in the food chain a step closer to an internationally recognised and accredited superior food safety management standard.