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Do you have a feasible project?

Is your project feasible?

The best way to find out whether your project is feasible is to complete a Feasibility Study. This process helps you gain confidence that the solution you need to build can be implemented on time and under budget. So here’s how to do it in 5 simple steps…
Completing a Feasibility Study
A Feasibility Study needs to be completed as early in the Project Life Cycle as possible. The best time to complete it is when you have identified a range of different alternative solutions and you need to know which solution is the most feasible to implement. Here’s how to do it…
Step 1: Research the Business Drivers
In most cases, your project is being driven by a problem in the business. These problems are called “business drivers” and you need to have a clear understanding of what they are, as part of your Feasibility Study.
For instance, the business driver might be that an IT system is outdated and is causing customer complaints, or that two businesses need to merge because of an acquisition. Regardless of the business driver, you need to get to the bottom of it so you fully understand the reasons why the project has been kicked off.
Find out why the business driver is important to the business, and why it’s critical that the project delivers a solution to it within a specified timeframe. Then find out what the impact will be to the business, if the project slips.
Step 2: Confirm the Alternative Solutions
Now you have a clear understanding of the business problem that the project addresses, you need to understand the alternative solutions available.
If it’s an IT system that is outdated, then your alternative solutions might include redeveloping the existing system, replacing it or merging it with another system.
Only with a clear understanding of the alternative solutions to the business problem, can you progress with the Feasibility Study.
Step 3: Determine the Feasibility
You now need to identify the feasibility of each solution. The question to ask of each alternative solution is “can we deliver it on time and under budget?”
To answer this question, you need to use a variety of methods to assess the feasibility of each solution. Here are some examples of ways you can assess feasibility:

  • Research: Perform online research to see if other companies have implemented the same solutions and how they got on.
  • Prototyping: Identify the part of the solution that has the highest risk, and then build a sample of it to see if it’s possible to create.
  • Time-boxing: Complete some of the tasks in your project plan and measure how long it took vs. planned. If you delivered it on time, then you know that your planning is quite accurate.

Step 4: Choose a Preferred Solution
With the feasibility of each alternative solution known, the next step is to select a preferred solution to be delivered by your project. Choose the solution that; is most feasible to implement, has the lowest risk, and you have the highest confidence of delivering.
You’ve now chosen a solution to a known business problem, and you have a high degree of confidence that you can deliver that solution on time and under budget, as part of the project.
Step 5:
It’s now time to take your chosen solution and reassess its feasibility at a lower level. List all of the tasks that are needed to complete the solution. Then run those tasks by your team to see how long they think it will take to complete them. Add all of the tasks and timeframes to a project plan to see if you can do it all within the project deadline. Then ask your team to identify the highest risk tasks and get them to investigate them further to check that they are achievable. Use the techniques in Step 3 to give you a very high degree of confidence that it’s practically achievable. Then document all of the results in a Feasibility Study.

After completing these 5 steps, get your Feasibility Study approved by your manager so that everyone in the project team has a high degree of confidence that the project can deliver successfully.

How to cold call a client effectively – the road-map to success

Effective Cold Calling

Cold-calling a client is often regarded as the equivalent of clutching at straws in terms of generating business – and research has shown that out of all prospecting methods, cold-calling is the least effective. The perceived wisdom against cold-calling states that it’s effectiveness disappeared when society moved into the Information Age and many sales gurus will state that cold-calling has not only become obsolete, inefficient, and ineffective it is actually counter-productive. Generating high levels of sales resistance as it often offends qualified prospects who may have otherwise bought had they been approached in a more professional manner.

For sure cold-calling is not for every sales team or every product or service, but for certain services, cold-calling is very effective in finding prospects willing and able to purchase and is an extremely effective prospecting tool. Because cold-calling, making an unsolicited business approach, either door stepping or by phoning, just like spamming, is surprisingly successful if done well and above all is targeted and qualified.

The general principles of selling apply equally to cold-calling and as in a normal sales call it is about building a business relationship around a mutually defined need. A financial salesman once told me that when he called ten clients and closed a deal on the last one for one thousand dollars each one of those calls was actually worth to him a Texas penny. That’s the way he looked at it. Rather than nine rejections each call was regarded as a success and precursor to the successful last one where the deal was made. However even against this positive outlook such an approach that rationalises the process as a numbers game and reduces the sales engagement to the equivalent of junk mail in the end will lead no-where.

The following are my top tips for being successful in your prospecting

Homework:

Firstly identify your market for your product or services then target buyers in that market – first base is getting to know to whom you will be talking to. Narrow the search and get an up to date list of potential clients along with contacts phone numbers etc. Be aware that your current clients competitors are a good starting point for new engagements.

Invest time in research about your potential clients The sales team need to be encouraged to research companies they are going to ‘cold-call,’ so they know something about the company’s business, issues and as a result their potential needs.

Doing the Call:

  1. The objectives of the call is to get the 30 minute appointment or a ‘call to action’ – a follow-up.
  2. Warm up the cold call by sending out a message that you will be calling (but do not say when). A cold call is better used for when you want to make a sale or make an appointment today – ‘I am in your area today so’ .
  3. Craft a good script and more or less stick to it – set down your exit dialogue and leave the door open preferably with a ‘call-to-action’. However customise the delivery and be contingent – the prospect may cut in and go directly to ‘so what can you do for me…’
  4. When starting the call get to the point and be efficient never ask how they are today – it sets of invisible alarm bells and gives them time to think of a response to fob you off.
  5. Smile and be pleasant throughout and you will feel better (and have higher self-esteem) and your client will feel that you are smiling through the inflection in your voice.
  6. Be nice to the gatekeepers and develop standard scripts to the objections they will throw at you. If you meet a new one (objection that is) that you have not heard before write it down and develop a scripted response for the next time it comes up.
  7. When you get to the Principal acknowledge a time limit and stick to it – ‘I know you have only 30 seconds so …’ Ask for the appointment and ask her to write it down.
  8. Do not say you will call a day before to confirm – just turn up at the appointed time. If something really came up in the meantime and you turn up, and the appointment is cancelled, the balance of power shifts in your direction and you should get the return match. Don’t forget to ask for the new appointment.
  9. Get lot’s of practice and develop a thick skin – I am quite serious – practice cold calling on your colleagues and get them to give you a hard time (they will need little encouragement). They will be over the top but never-the-less this will be invaluable training.

Prospecting is the foundation of any company’s sales approach and enables you to hit targets and fill the pipeline – it is the lifeblood of your sales process. Sales prospecting using cold-calling just like fishing requires that you find the fun in the game. What prevents sales people cold calling is often the fear of rejection that an abruptly ended sales call engenders. We need to turn this around – just as when fishing we rue the ten that got away all that is forgotten when we land the big one. Besides what has happened is the client has not rejected you she has lost the chance of a great deal for the short term ego boost that chewing out a sales rep has given her.

Potentially cold-calling is a means of identifying potential prospects for your sales efforts and is the reconnaissance before any battle begins and is an excellent method of qualifying potential leads. Cold-calling is not where the sale happens its where the terrain is identified and the process begins. It must be said that cold-calling is hard work and not particularly effective compared to other techniques such as networking however although the most universally despised aspect of the sales job if done well will pay very rich dividends

What is a Statement of Work (SOW)

What is a Statement of Work

A Statement of Work (SOW) is a companion document to the services agreement that consists of a narrative description of the products or services to be supplied. A statement of work is a necessity as it refines the understanding between the parties as to what must be delivered and the terms and conditions to be applied. A Statement of Work is in effect a contract between the parties for the service delivery or of a commercial understanding of how to work together in a joint activity with a client.

The typical objectives of the statement of work are to enable the contractor to clearly understand the requirements and needs of the customer organization. You wouldn’t enter into a contract with a builder to make over your house on a smile and a handshake (I hope) and neither should you enter into a commercial relations to delivery a multimillion dollar project for a website development contract either. To be clear on this don’t trust a handshake or a verbal promise always document your understanding – it is far better to spend time arguing about what must be done before the work has started. If you’ve taken the proper steps to write a thorough statement of work then no surprises should occur on delivery when what was ordered is actually seen for the first time.

The Statement of Work spells out the scope of work to be done, the deliverables, the responsibilities of each party, and any fees for services to be rendered. The SOW is created once a client feels comfortable and ready to proceed with the project or activity and documents the joint understanding of what must be achieved at each stage. The statement of work (SOW) is a management product that formally documents the products to be delivered and the associated work units to be performed under the contract.

Typical contents are:

  • Aim and objectives of the activity
  • The scope of the activity and any limitations
  • Assumptions and constraints
  • Project plan and approach
  • Governance and review points including the project management process to be used to report progress
  • Deliverables to be produced including any dependencies
  • Due dates for deliverables
  • How deliverables are approved and what quality procedures are in place.
  • The commercial considerations

Requirement of a good Statement of Work

Normally a statement of work is employed when a simpler needs requirement document cannot be used and it must describe what must be accomplished in terms of the client’s requirements. Stakeholder needs, wants, and expectations are also analyzed and evaluated before being converted into requirements. There may be items such as, reporting requirements, commercial restrictions, market research, anti-competition agreements, geographic scope etc. that must be included. It must outline all applicable quality systems including quality review processes and acceptance procedures to be used, as well as the definition of the type and extent of control that is to be exercised on subcontractors should these prove necessary. On this latter point a sub-contractor must sign up to the overall conditions and the party concerned must warrant that this is the case. Overall a SOW identifies the requirements to be satisfied not the way they must be achieved leaving the parties free to use their own expertise and skill to achieve the desired result.

Creating a statement of work is not an easy task and can be time consuming but is well worth the effort. Do not trust to partner rhetoric that suggests leaving the difficult points to later never rely on such terms ‘spirit of agreement’ – it always ends in trouble. If a statement of work is too ambiguous, it can lead to misinterpretation and future problems and a major falling out. The failure write down expectations and then to properly execute a SOW is often the reason parties end up in a dispute and the major reason why this process must be well thought through and executed.

Quality assurance policy – this is a high level statement of aims and objectives

An assurance policy is a high level statement of objectives and approaches that are further worked out in the Quality Plan – shown here in this post is an example of the main clauses in the policy statement typically signed off by senior management.

AnyCo’s Management Ltd.’s quality assurance policy is based on principles and values provided for in the Company Mission, strategy and goals.
Quality Management System (QMS) creation is a major strategic direction of the business activities. The QMS is regarded as a useful tool for creation and management of effective business processes. The system formation will result in provision of services of consistently high quality, fully meeting customers’ expectations.

The company pursues the following goals in the field of quality assurance:
1. Strict compliance of the company’s services with international, national, and corporate standards and requirements.
2. Professional and technical level of the services must correspond to or exceed that of the leading enterprises and companies operating in the UK market.
3. Responsibility to customers for the quality of the services rendered.
4. Cost efficiency of the services as compared with other companies operating in the market.
5. Development and implementation of new services that fully satisfy our customers’ needs.
6. Continuous monitoring of complaints and claims from customers, and aim to maintain these at zero.
7. Positioning of the company as employing professional staff educated to at least Masters level, and providing services of high quality.

The strategy for achieving the goals is the following:
1. Focus on the process management model and continuous improvement of the company services (in accordance with the market requirements).
2. The QMS development, implementation, and maintenance in conformity with ISO 9001 international standards. Certification to 9001 will be applied for by 2008.
3. Satisfaction of customers’ requirements to all services. Fulfilment of the customers’ requirements within the shortest periods of time, ensuring highest quality. The services can be provided under Service Level Agreements (SLA).
4. Understanding of the customer needs, their present and future specific requirements.
5. Continuous cooperation with customers in order to understand their needs.
6. Transparency – customers obtain access to information on the quality of the services.
7. Priority of quality issues in “personnel – technology – organization” chain.
8. Strict quality assurance procedures at all stages of the services life cycle, well-defined personnel responsibility for quality assurance.
9. Primary focus on prevention of a possible decrease in quality rather than on measures to restore the quality level.
10. Consistent training of all personnel in the sphere of quality, each employee’s participation in services improvement, rewards for quality improvement.

Main Content for a Training and Development Policy

Training and Development Policy

‘Your company name’ believes in the importance of lifelong learning for all directors, staff and associates, and in the need for continued professional development (CPD). Crosslight works towards continual ‘reflexive practitioner’ processes, to enhance the learning environment for all involved in our projects.
The company will employ and contract from a pool of highly qualified, experienced and well-respected professionals who already have high levels of education (to at least Masters level with the exception of administrative staff). In particular, staff and associates are selected for their highly developed and practiced skills of written and oral communication, professional and ethical conduct, analysis and synthesis of a wide variety of information, and research and evaluation leading to sound practical advice for our clients. Professional development seeks to build on these skills to assist team members and individual researchers or consultants to apply these skills to satisfy our clients needs.
The training and development policy is as follows.
Policy
The training will be designed to enable associates and staff, where appropriate, to:

  • participate in accessible and relevant training and development which is economical in the use of their time;
  • experience learning methods which take account of individual learning styles;
  • participate in training which takes due account of prevailing legislation;
  • participate fully in training activities that will be relevant to all participants irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity or disability;
  • hone and apply core skills essential for all of the company’s methods.
  • What can staff and associates expect of the company?

All staff and associates can expect the company to:

  • provide induction to the work of Crosslight, its mission, standards and values;
  • train him/her in specialist skills needed to carry out or facilitate research or consultancy work; this includes effective use of the electronic communications system set up to support projects;
  • assist him/her to develop sufficient confidence to undertake or facilitate their projects;
  • hold regular reflexive practitioner meetings, coaching sessions and lead-researcher/consultant observations and follow-up reflection discussions.
  • work together in teams whenever possible and have regular team meetings focusing on development of skills;
  • provide training reference material to use after completion of their training;
  • provide the company’s documents they need to conduct the project to which they are assigned;
  • add them to Crosslight’s mailing list for receipt of relevant new publications and information about the company’s work;
  • provide them with opportunities to contribute to the evaluation of the methods which they use on Crosslight projects.

Benefits for clients and other organisations include
Adherence to this policy should provide the following benefits:

  • confidence that Crosslight team researchers and consultants are properly trained to undertake research and consultancy work professionally, and confidently;
  • consistent application of chosen method;
  • consistency in quality, ethical processes and benefit realisation.

Related documents: Quality Policy, Health & Safety Policy, Diversity Policy.