Thursday, November 1, 2012

Basic Project Management Training

A "train and do" workshop introducing the basics of Project Management, including classroom presentation and exercises on how to organize and manage projects and bring them to a close – on time and on budget.

This training is for manufacturing, engineering, and installation personnel with project leadership responsibilities, whether in a new role or just in need of a refresher.

  • Introduction to Project Management
  • Individual Roles and Responsibilities
  • Defining the Mission & Approach
  • Methodology Overview
  • Work Plan Review and Sign-off
  • Project Tracking (Working the Schedule)
  • Action and Contingency Plans
  • Project Status Reporting
  • Book shelving Project Management Data

(Course materials are based on methods described in the Program Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), published by the Program Management Institute)

Date: Thursday, November 8th, 2012
Time: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
      Sign-in and continental breakfast at 7:30, lunch also included
Location: Treadway Inn, Owego, NY
Cost: $250 ($200 for AM&T Associates)
Register on-line at or contact Kathy Peacock at 607-774-0022 x308

Meet your Instructor: Lloyd Johnson is a graduate of Syracuse University where he earned a B.S.E.E. and an MBA. Lloyd has over 30 years of experience in manufacturing, quality and program management. Lloyd is a Professional Business Adviser (PBA), a certified Project Management Professional certified by the Project Management Institute, and is certified to teach Training Within Industry (TWI).

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How Effective Coaching Helps Hold Down Key Employee Turnover

By: Colleen Bracken

Today’s professional sports teams protect their investments. When they’ve paid, say, $110 million for a player, they don’t give up on him easily if he goes into a slump. What do they do? Berate and humiliate him? Make him run stadium steps until he drops? No. Usually, they coach him. And arguably, the most successful teams boast the most skillful coaches.

State of the team
Which invites the question: "What’s the state of your team?"

Do your managers know how to coach your talent so as to minimize their slumps, maximize their hot streaks and make them want to stay with the team for a long time?
The comparison isn’t outlandish. You may not spend multi-millions on your best people, but you know turnover can easily cost a year’s salary - not to mention the headaches of recruiting and re-recruiting.

A matter of training
As an HR pro, you probably either head up or have a lot of say in your company’s training efforts. So it’s up to you to ensure line managers acquire the coaching skills they need to keep valued employees growing, and put them back on track if they get off.

To help you, we’ll lay out a five-step coaching method you can share with managers - and maybe use yourself.

And by the way: Coaching isn’t teaching - rather, it’s helping a person learn by unlocking her potential. Coaching contains elements of training, psychotherapy, mentoring and consulting, but isn’t identical to any of these.

The Method:

1. Create a safe environment
A coaching conversation needs a safe and trusting environment, to encourage communication and foster a willingness to try new things.

The coach creates this atmosphere by:
• Seeking permission: "Would you like some coaching in this area?"
• Stressing confidentiality: "Everything we discuss will remain 100% confidential." (Remember, this isn’t an evaluation or a disciplinary session.)
• Eliciting concerns: "Do you have any issues about our coaching?"

2. Decide agenda and outcome
The employee may want to choose the topic, or the manager may see a need for coaching in a specific area.
In the latter case, the manager asks the employee - ahead of time, not on the spot - if he’d like to be coached on the topic.
The desired outcome is decided at the start. The manager can ask the employee what outcome she desires, or suggest an outcome the manager would like to see.

3. Explore
The next step is for the coach to gain a broad and deep understanding of the employee’s situation.
This can be accomplished by open-ended questioning, using phrases like:
• "Can you describe the situation now?"
• "Describe how you want it to be."
• "What have you tried so far?"
• "What has/hasn’t worked?"
• "What strengths do you have that you can apply?"
• DON’T ask, "Why," which can make the employee defensive.

4. Collaborate and solve
Now the coach and employee are ready to generate ideas and solutions. Here, too, the key lies in open-ended questioning. The coach can ask:
• "What are three possible or impossible solutions?"
• "What obstacles might get in the way, and how can we reduce them?"
• "What else would make it better or easier?"
• "What’s most important to you here?"
Note: Often the coach won’t give advice, but let the employee figure out a solution. If advice is called for, the coach should seek permission to give it.

5. Plan for action and support
The idea of coaching is to drive observable change.
So in the last stage, the coach moves the employee to action steps, by asking questions like:
• "Which of the solutions you’ve come up with are you ready to act on?"
• "By when will you take these actions?"
• "What support will you need to follow through?"

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10 Tips for a Simple and Effective Business Plan

From an article by Marty Zwilling

If you want people to invest in your idea, then my best advice is to first write a business plan, and keep it simple. Don’t confuse your business plan with a doctoral thesis or the back of a napkin. Keep the wording and formatting straightforward, and keep the plan short. For minimum content, see the article "These 10 Key Elements Make a Business Plan Fundable" at http:\\

The overriding principle is that your business plan must be easy to read. This means writing at the level of an average newspaper story (about eighth-grade level). Understand that people will skim your plan, and even try to read it while talking on the phone or going through their email.

But don’t confuse simple wording and formats with simple thinking. You’re keeping it simple so you can get your point across quickly and effectively to team members and investors. With that in mind, here are some specifics updated from an old article on simple plans by Tim Berry:

1) Keep It Short. You can cover everything you need to convey in 20 pages of text. If necessary, create a separate white paper for other details and reports. The one-page Oprah plan is a good executive summary, but it’s not enough to get the investment.

2) Polish It. Aside from the wording, you also want the physical look of your text to be inviting. Polish the overall look and feel. Stick to two fonts in a standard text editor, like Microsoft Word. The fonts you use should be common sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, Tahoma or Verdana, 10 to 12 points.

3) Break It Up. Don’t use long complicated sentences. Short sentences are the best, because they read faster, and reader comprehension is higher in all audiences.

4) Don’t KISS It. Avoid buzzwords, jargon and acronyms. You may know that NIH means "not invented here" and KISS stands for "keep it simple, stupid," but don’t assume anybody else does.

5) Keep It Simple. Use straightforward language. Stick with the simpler words and phrases, like "use" instead of "utilize" and "then" instead of "at that point in time."

6) Use Bullet Points. They help organize and prioritize multiple elements of a concept or plan. But avoid cryptic bullet points. Flesh them out with brief explanations where explanations are needed. Unexplained bullet points usually result in questions.

7) Don’t Overwhelm. Pictures and diagrams can effectively illustrate a point, but too many graphics and flashy colors come across as clutter.

8) Use Page Breaks. This will separate sections of the document and can also separate charts from text and highlight tables. When in doubt, go to the next page. Nobody worries about having to turn to the next page.

9) Use White Space. Include one-inch margins all around and open up the space between lines of text. Always use your spell-checker. Then proofread your text carefully to be sure you’re not using a properly spelled but incorrect word.

10) Include Table of Contents. No investor likes searching every page for key data, like executive credentials, or exit strategy. Most word processors these days can automatically generate a table of contents from your section headings. Use it.

Investors hear from too many entrepreneurs who envision a great business opportunity, but don’t have any written business plan at all. They think they can talk their way to a deal. It won’t work. On the other end of this spectrum are entrepreneurs who present long product specifications with a few financials at the end. This is a failing strategy as well.

If you’re not the type who can connect with people based on a simple message, told succinctly, then hire someone who can. In fact, simplicity and readability is one of the most effective strategies for selling even the most complex proposal. A business plan that is easily understood and looks professional is already half sold. Simple is not stupid.

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Associates’ Corner - North Point Technology, LLC

North Point Technology, LLC provides industrial automation and control system engineering services, including consulting, programming, and commissioning for a variety of industrial and municipal clients in North America, the Caribbean, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

Celebrating its 10th year in business, North Point Technology has grown significantly in size and scope of supply since its inception. The firm, founded by Robert P. Lee, P.E. and Lisa W. Lee, employs a staff of engineers who serve clients from North Point’s offices in Johnson City, New York and Park City, Utah.

Lisa Lee pointed out that their clients benefit from the depth and breadth of North Point’s knowledge and experience as they work to implement new products, solve difficult process problems, and achieve higher manufacturing efficiency and quality. She explained that North Point has developed proprietary software, which is a competitive edge and gives them capabilities unique in their field. This software affords clients more cost effective software solutions, resulting in shorter development and commissioning periods.

Recent projects have included work with water treatment facilities, food and beverage manufacturers, precision discrete parts manufacturers, and OEM machine builders. In 2012, the firm’s continued success resulted in hiring additional engineering talent and a further diversification of its client and project base to include material handling systems, power plant operations, boiler control, and emerging energies.

North Point has recently been honored for several consecutive years with both the Central New York Fast Track 50 Award and the Economic Champions Award. “In these times of economic uncertainty, we are proud to be a thriving part of the Upstate economy”, said Bob Lee. “We offer our gratitude to AM&T for all their efforts to keep our manufacturing sector strong.”

For more information, contact Robert Lee, P.E., Principal 530 Columbia Dr, Suite #102 Johnson City, NY 13790 866-885-3377 x901

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Associates’ Corner - Swift Glass

Swift Glass Company is a privately owned worldwide leader, in the manufacturing of quality fabricated glass parts. Since 1937, Swift Glass has applied its experience and knowledge, combined with state-of-the-art technology and processes, to provide total solutions delivery to its customers’ manufacturing challenges.

Swift Glass provides complete engineering capabilities for all types of glass fabrication. Processes include CNC machining and cutting; ultra-high pressure water jet cutting on hard-to-machine materials; polishing of all types of glass including sapphire and super hard ceramics; heat treating of glass as well as chemical strengthening of glass. No size or thickness is too large or too small and no job is too complex, or too small.

Quality is the byword at Swift Glass and starts at the beginning of a project. From prototypes and specialty quantities to large volume production, every order passes through several extensive levels of quality control. An understanding of their customer’s project intricacies well beyond the basic specifications is developed because Swift doesn’t just try to meet the specifiations – they do it. At Swift Glass "when it comes to quality, we deliver the first time."

Swift Glass provides product solutions for Biomedical, Appliance, Industrial, Optical, Commercial, Defense and Aerospace applications.

For more information please visit their website at http:\\

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Got a Big Idea? Speak Up!

By: Idea Champions

You have a BIG idea. A HOT idea. An INSPIRED idea -- one that will make a difference. Maybe it’s an idea for a new product... or a new service... or a process improvement. Or maybe you just want to move away and join the circus.

You cannot shake this idea. It shakes you. But you have not told anyone about it. At least not recently. I’m not sure why. Maybe you think you’ll be ridiculed... or there’s no budget for it... or you don’t have the time. So what? If you don’t speak up, nothing will happen and you’ll only end up cranky and wondering "What if?"

Tell someone! Let go of your doubts! Get the ball rolling! “If not you, WHO? If not now, WHEN?”

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The 7-Basics for Manufacturing Performance Management

By Bill Gaw

1) The Strategic Plan: The strategic plan is the result of a business process that many companies employ to identify their critical success targets that set the course for future growth and profits. Lewis Carroll in “Alice in Wonderland” makes a good case for it: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” said Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where…,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

2) The Balanced Scorecard: Financial numbers may tell us we’re winning the war, but it takes a balanced scorecard to focus our energy and efforts to win each of the battles along the way.

3) Overcoming Objections: Let’s not forget that we’re in the business of promoting improvements. There are many reasons why positive change is difficult, the most significant is all the objections and obstacles that are placed in the way of your progress. Don’t become a member of this negative force, they are the losers. Remember, there can be no status quo; if you are not gaining, then you are losing!

4) Information Integrity: Bottom line expectations will not be achieved when day-to-day production and business training programs are driven by inaccurate, untimely and uncontrolled data and/or documentation.

5) Team Dynamics: It is extremely important to understand that results gained from a Strategic Planning Program will be in direct proportion to the amount of empowerment granted to self-directed work teams.

6) Structure & Deployment: There are three types of business managers: Those who track the score and know that they are winning the competitive battle… those who track the score and know that they are losing the competitive battle…and those who don’t track the score and are not even in the competitive battle.

7) Kaizen Management: If your manufacturing team can handle only one strategic initiative at a time, then let it be the implementation of a "quick-hitting" kaizen management program. There just isn’t any other more important program in our pursuit of profits.

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How We Help

• Conducted a Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) to implement Lean methods in the Circuit Board Assembly area. Facility renovation, workplace layout, and work flow changes will be implemented before the end of 2012.

• Conducted an ISO 9001:2008 gap assessment and baseline audit at one company. The company has gaps and deficiencies that will need to be addressed in order to achieve an ISO compliant Quality Management System.

• Conducted a four-hour Lean Thinking training session focused on identifying production and administrative wastes. The training was attended by 32 people, and it identified dozens of actionable high impact, low effort opportunities.

• Conducted an 8-hour Lean for Office workshop, training participants in Lean Thinking and how to apply Lean tools & concepts to support and administrative processes. The training was attended by 12 people and identified numerous potential opportunities.

• Completed a 5-day Cellular Flow Manufacturing event. The team designed a cell that incorporated all machining, inspection, and assembly operations. The cell design will result in better flow and quality, and less WIP, distanced traveled and floor space.

• Implemented a visual scheduling system to substantially improve due date performance and reduce WIP.

• Implemented a pilot supermarket replenishment system for purchased parts and work-in-process. The simplified system will result in fewer stock-outs, less inventory, lower space requirements, higher productivity and greater flexibility.

• Created a production and office layout to improve workflow and address a need for additional space for new equipment and personnel.

• Assisted a company in looking for a manufacturing partner, provided mentoring in conceptualizing and negotiating a successful partnership.

• Worked with a company to create a business growth plan and continuing with Sales Training and implementation assistance, and guidance in content and focus of website development.

• Coached a company in pursuing funding required for survival and growth. Project is expected to expand once funding has been secured.

• Co-hosted a Solutions Fair event that brought companies together with technical and business resources from universities, research institutes, and Regional Technology Development Centers.

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