01 January 2004
Set resolutions and stick with them
By Norm O'Leary
New Year's resolutions. They are something most of us do in one form or another, with varying degrees of seriousness and tenacity.
It's a ritual that traces back to the Babylonians, who are said to have celebrated New Year's Day over 4,000 years ago, although their celebration was in March rather than in January, coinciding with the spring planting of their crops.
Whether January or March, or August for that matter, a resolution-simply a resolve to do something-is worthwhile anytime. And the start of a new year seems like as good a time as ever.
For control and information system integrators everywhere, and for that matter for most companies, I offer this set of resolutions.
I resolve to:
1. Protect my intellectual property.
Make sure we always use software licenses. Check our terms and conditions for adequate protection of intellectual property (IP). Make sure our employees are aware that we own the IP for anything they develop.
2. Implement a project cost accounting system.
Make sure we can quickly and efficiently track every cost for every project, and bill the end user accordingly. Time and expense tracking should be on the Web.
3. Not start a project without complete specifications.
Spend the effort up front to assure the user and the integrator know what is required of the job, so the integrator knows what to deliver and the user knows what he or she will get.
4. Utilize newer technologies, not simply rely on "the tried and true."
Look more for radio frequency identification (RFID), network design, information digitizing, real-time performance management, and future automation ideologies, possibly devoid of older fashion projects with staple words such as programmable logic controllers, distributed control systems, human-machine interface, and old goals of just more efficient widget making.
5. Stop what is not making good money and start focusing on what is.
Review regularly which customers, projects, or engineers are profitable and which are not. Reprice, drop, or terminate those that do not measure up. Spend time to grow the more profitable areas.
6. Improve relationship with users.
Make sure users are pleased with our efforts by having frequent progress evaluation meetings during the job, following up after we have completed the job, and periodically chatting with them between jobs.
7. Improve relationships with vendors and ensure that they know our capabilities.
Have a friendly and cooperative relationship with our vendors, understanding that it can reduce problems during job implementation and can lead to new sales opportunities.
8. Show employees appreciation.
Keep employees informed about the company's plans and progress . . . and their roles in it. A simple gesture of thanks can be more meaningful than money.
9. Get message to users that we are partners, not vendors.
Make a commitment to clearly communicate to users that we truly are partners in their business, and that their success-and ours-go hand in hand.
10. Ensure that our employees understand customer satisfaction is the number one objective.
Remind our employees to understand and follow the "two rules of customer relations." Rule one: The customer is always right. Rule two: When the customer is wrong, refer to rule number one.
11. Maintain good health of both my company and myself.
Manage my time in a way that allows me to balance personal and business life without suffering from burnout.
12. Manage cash flow in a more effective way by controlling it rather than having it control me.
Be proactive in planning, tracking, monitoring, and reacting to cash flow-and users' and vendors' role in it-so I spend time being an integrator.
13. Make technology lead the way so there is no frustration, only results that are better than originally planned.
Be proactive in making emerging industrial automation solutions, for example, network and computing performance, be tools and not millstones on our business. IT
Norman O'Leary is executive director of the Control and Information System Integrators Association (CSIA), which will mark its 10th anniversary in 2004. Contact him at 800-661-4914 or email@example.com.
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