Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Top Five Apps For Executives on the Go

Here are some recommendations to stay on top of your business while running a company from the road.

Getting everything done from the road can be stressful, so one online mobile app store recommends these smartphone apps to help you stay in touch and in control. All are free for the iPhone. The same or similar apps are available for Android, Blackberry, and others.

Evernote: Allows users to create geotagged voice, photo and text notes that are then shared with workstations. You can also access complex notes created on workstations in the field through the iPhone interface.

NetworthIQ: This application supervises your personal net worth as well as your company’s fi nances. Additionally, it allows you to compare your company’s success to your competitors in the industry through an interactive tool.

BizExpense: Hate expense reports? Who doesn’t! BizExpense won’t make them go away, but it will help keep track of expenses and scan receipts on the spot. You can then export the results to an Excel file so that you can sync-and-go at the end of a trip rather than spend the afternoon remembering business lunches.

ThinkFree: For CEOs who are constantly on-the-go, ThinkFree Online is essential. This documentmanagement and sharing application is the perfect app for groups of people editing and revising documents as it offers Desktop, a Microsoft Office compatible word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tool.

Scanner Pro: Paper meets the iPhone in Scanner Pro, which turns the iPhone’s camera into a simple scanner for receipts, notes and document details. A steady hand and innate sense of parallel surfaces are important for best results.

By Steve Minter

Section 41 R&D Tax Credits Can Be Substantial for Manufacturers

R&D tax credits were established in 1981 by Congress to encourage and assist companies to engage in research and development, and thereby become more productive and competitive. As a manufacturer, you may be unaware that many of your efforts to design your products qualify as R&D and may make you eligible for tax credits for expenditures associated with these activities.

Your company may qualify for extensive credits if your research expenditures meet the Federal requirements. These R&D credits may be applied to taxes due or to future tax liability. They may be retroactive for three years in addition to the current year and carry forward for twenty years.

Eligible expenditures include:
  • the salaries and wages of the engineers working on a project,
  • the cost of supplies,
  • and third party contractor fees getting SLA or FDM prototype parts made by a rapid prototyping service center.
In addition to expenditures, tasks performed by executive leadership, legal, manufacturing, sales engineers, operations and IT are also evaluated.

Additional R&D activities, that qualify for this credit include:
  • Implementing Lean Manufacturing
  • ISO 9000 and other standards
  • Developing a new business component (product, process, software system, etc.)
  • Improving an existing business component
Eligible Costs Include:
  • Salaries/wages of technical and support staff
  • Tooling, materials, scrap consumed in the R&D work
  • Subcontractor charges related to the R&D work
For information on R&D Tax Credits, please contact, Jim Cunningham at 607-725-1225

The Goals of Economic Development

In 1989, Phil Burgess, President of Denver’s Center for the New West (now defunct), gave a presentation called “Expanding Choices in America’s New Economy.” In his talk, Burgess, who is credited with first coining the phrase “economic gardening,” argued that “new hope, increasing wealth and expanding choices are the universal goals of economic development.”

Each community will find a different path to achieve the goals of new hope, increasing wealth, and expanding choices. But three things are clear: each community must assess and build upon its existing assets, address the gaps in its resources, and develop a support system at the local level that creates a positive instead of a negative cycle for all its citizens. It is the task of the community’s leaders to initiate and drive this virtuous cycle, and the task of every citizen to contribute to the betterment of the community.

Community development and economic development cannot be separated. They are part of the same ecosystem, one which ultimately produces both hope and expanding choices for all its members.

TWI – Building Supervisory Skills

In 1940, it became apparent that the demand for military equipment would be greater than anything we had ever experienced as a nation. To meet the demands of our defense, a completely new approach to training and the use of people in industry was established, called the Training Within Industry Service (TWI). As a result of TWI, in combination with lean production, productivity skyrocketed, especially in aircraft and shipbuilding. However, as orders began to decline in 1944, TWI was quickly forgotten and “lost” for more than 60 years.

Today some of those basic methodologies are being rediscovered, helping US businesses build supervisory skills, workplace stability and improved competitive positions. TWI has three specifi c job training components for production supervisors -- job instruction, job methods, and job relations. Each component is a ten-hour course that teaches practical supervision skills.

Job instruction (JI) teaches supervisors how to plan for the correct resources they would need in production, how to break down jobs for instruction, and how to teach people safely, correctly, and conscientiously.

Job methods (JM) teaches supervisors how to analyze jobs and make simple improvements within their realms of control. Every activity is considered for improvement. Supervisors learn to question why an activity is done this way, and if it could be eliminated, combined with something else, rearranged, or simplified.

Job relations (JR) teaches supervisors to treat people as individuals and solve basic humanrelated problems in production rather than to ignore them.

Taken together, these three courses help supervisors create a basic routine, discipline, and sense of fairness in work teams.

For more information about AM&T’s TWI programs or to schedule an initial meeting to discuss the potential benefi ts to your organization, contact Lloyd Johnson at 607-227-6229

Are You a Project Manager?

Today, everything is a project with more and more people finding themselves in a project management role of some type. You don’t have to have the title of Project Manager to manage projects.

A Project is a temporary collection of related tasks to achieve a desired and usually unique result.

What do you think? Do you find yourself managing a collection of related tasks to achieve a desired result? If so, you qualify as a project manager. Businesses today are evolving, downsizing, and pushing more work down the organization chart. You may be a project manager and not know it. But what if you haven’t been trained as a Project Manager with the necessary skill and tool sets?

What Is Project Management?

Projects are unique events and not processes, yet project management is definitely a process and not a unique event.

Project management is a disciplined utilization of tools and methods for successfully describing, organizing, and controlling a project.

Project management is a structured process of disciplined actions that follows a common Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle found within the five phases of project management.

What Are the Five Phases of Project Management?
  1. Project Initiation
  2. Project Planning
  3. Project Execution
  4. Project Monitoring & Control
  5. Project Review & Close
All projects go through the same five project management phases that typically culminate in some type of project management phase review. Each project management phase has a distinct purpose, importance, and set of outputs designed to ensure that the project manager is moving the project toward the desired result.

Following a disciplined project management process should help you to eliminate common project issues resulting from poor buy-in, projects consistently going wrong, failing to learn from past project mistakes, or difficulty in getting your projects approved.

If you’re interested in training or consulting help with Project Management,
please contact: Lloyd Johnson, 607-227-6229

A Simple Vision: Planning for the New Year

Vision is the ability to plan for the future based on everything that you have learned so far. But if you don’t know what you want, then it’s hard to plan for it — regardless of intellect or ability.

What do you want? We’re facing the New Year, again. And I can’t help but wonder – are you any closer to that dream?

Simple Questions
Did you hire the people you thought you needed? Did you train or retrain the team that you already have?

Did you expand or enhance the products or services that you offer? Have you improved your bottom line with better marketing?

Did you launch that business? Did you let go of something that doesn’t work?

Have you positioned yourself to move forward, even if it’s baby steps? Did you learn something new that can advance your business? Have you prepared to execute it as soon as possible?

Vision is simpler than we think.
It’s seeing the future — based on what you saw yesterday, what you see today and what you imagine for tomorrow. And if you have the foresight to benefit from the team around you, then you are really on to something.

Planning doesn’t have to be complicated, but it has to take place — consistently. And you don’t have to wait to the New Year to do it, but you do have to do it — religiously, because “shooting from the hip” may get you started, but it can’t sustain a business beyond your lifetime.

What do you see, do and expect?
Vision is not only the ability to see, it’s also our strategy for doing something about what we see, and our right to expect a new future because of those actions.

Take the time to jot down your three biggest lessons from this year. Be aware of how you learned those lessons. What price did you pay to know what you know?

For some, these lessons will be top of mind.
For others, you’ll have to dig a little. To help you unearth your hidden lessons, record your three biggest successes and failures of the year. You can learn from everything, so write them down, because even the mistakes carry insights if we pay attention.

Beside the failures, write down what you learned and three things you can do to keep them from happening again.

Beside the successes, write down
  • what you learned,
  • the actions that you will imitate in future projects, and
  • three things you can do to make it better the next time around.
This exercise is a jumping-off point.

If you discover the lessons, you can build something stronger in the new year — one day, one deliberate action at a time.

By Jamillah Warner
Small Business Trends

Start the New Year off right
We can help you develop your plan.
Contact Jim Cunningham 607-725-1225

13N Grant Now Available for Advanced Manufacturing Training

Applications Currently Being Accepted (until 12:00 p.m. on April 10, 2012)

All training must be completed by April 20, 2012

Applications will be accepted on a first come/first basis until funds are exhausted.

Early Applications are Strongly Encouraged

Purpose: The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to solicit projects that will support employer strategies and local efforts for lifelong learning for the development of the incumbent (employed) worker by providing funds for upgrading the occupational skills of those workers conducted in an institutional, worksite setting on or off-site. This initiative targets training to support the Advanced Manufacturing sector's needs. Applications that support "green" or environmentally sound practices are also encouraged.

Eligible Counties: Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Steuben, Schuyler, Chemung, Tompkins, Tioga, Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Otsego.

Eligible Businesses: Any private, for-profit manufacturing business that has 4 or more full-time, permanent employees that reside with the 12-county area listed above.

Type of Training Allowed: Companies may use an outside training provider or in-house trainer. For in-house training a minimum of 4 trainees is required for each course. Courses may be delivered on or off site. Only training that results in acquisition of transferrable skills is eligible. Training periods cannot exceed 90 days.

Match Requirements: An employer 50% match is required. Training wages can be used to meet this requirement.

Maximum Award: The maximum award is $15,000 and includes any previous awards under the STNY 13N Grants (issued in late 2009 and again in 2010). Training costs are reimbursed to the business.

Applications and Additional Information

All interested businesses will need to be reviewed to ensure the business is eligible to receive local, state & federal grant dollars.

All interested applicants MUST first inquire prior to submitting their application in order to be provided with a contact for assistance with the application process. Initial inquiries and questions should be directed to: Lori Haner, Business Services Manager – CSS WIB at (607) 937-8337 Ext 1113 or via email at for program administration inquiries for this project.

Request for Proposal packets are available at Look at the bottom half of the webpage for ‘Incumbent Worker Training Request for Proposals’.

For information about how AM&T can assist, please contact:Jim Cunningham, 607-725-1225

Friends of MEP UPS Freight® Savings Program

The American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) have partnered with UPS to bring freight savings to manufacturers. (AM&T is the Regional MEP Center)

Friends of the MEP can now receive a minimum 70% discount on UPS Freight LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) services, with participating members saving an average of $500 per shipment* off net shipping charges!

To become a “Friend of MEP”, simply visit:
Once you have joined, the UPS Freight Savings program, will offer you free enrollment with no fees or minimum shipping requirement.

This program provides significant savings for most companies using commercial freight carriers. Sign up today or contact us to compare your current freight charges and consider the advantages of enrollment in the new ASMC Savings Program.

Member discounts apply to LTL freight shipments weighing 150 lbs – 20,000 lbs that are:
  • Inbound shipments billed collect to your company
  • Outbound shipments prepaid from your company
  • Shipments billed to your company as a third party
How can we help you get started? For enrollment, rate quotes, or questions regarding your discounts, we have a dedicated sales representative ready to assist you.

Phone: 866.443.9303, ext. 4080
* Savings based off 2010 member shippers over a 12 month rolling average. Results may vary.

To Enroll, complete and submit the sign-up form at
(In the form’s “MEP Assistance Center” space, enter AM&T)