Sunday, June 1, 2014

Keep Your Projects On Track

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.

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
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?

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 Advisor (PBA), a certified Project Management Professional-certified by the Project Management Institute, and is certified to teach Training Within Industry (TWI) and Lean Enterprise Subjects.

To have this class delivered at your facility,
call Jim Cunningham at 607-725-1225

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Rewrite the Rules if You Dare

By Art Petty

One of the most difficult but potentially compelling plays in strategy is to redefine the rules of the game. Those who write the new rules…and get them to stick, win.

Apple re-wrote the rules. Then they rewired the profit models of several industries…and well, it’s remarkable to watch.

Southwest wrote their own rules…and they wired in the profits as well. The rest of the industry still hasn’t figured out the right rules to make the game work for their firms. Buffet might have been right. (Warren, not Jimmy.) Investors would have been happier if someone had shot Wilbur down that fateful day at Kitty Hawk.

IBM changed their rules and the game they were in and saved themselves.

Long ago, Microsoft rewrote the rules. However, somewhere along the way, they lost the book that told them how to rewrite the rules. It doesn’t make them bad…just big and mundane.

Star Trek fans have known about the power of rewriting the rules for years. Kirk did this first. Kobayashi Maru anyone? He took an un-winnable game and reprogrammed it in his favor. (OK, that’s my inner geek doing a shout out.)

Some companies and industries run into the forces of Creative Destruction. The rules are rewritten for them…and they capitulate, seemingly without a fight. Can you say Kodak? What about the entire publishing industry? Best Buy, the new rules are being written right now…not sure if you’ll be in the next game.

We get used to playing on a discrete playing field with familiar boundaries, whether its in our businesses or industries. We plot predictable strategies…with equally predictable tactics.

The same goes for our careers. We work in jobs…do little to strengthen or diversify our skills or experiences and then it happens. Wham. Out of nowhere, we’re out there…and when we look around, signs of the familiar are nowhere to be found.

On a personal level, strive to rewrite your own rules. Pursue a second discipline. Do something way outside of your routine that forces you to rethink everything you ever knew about a subject. Study companies outside your industry that are changing the rules and winning.

For those of you involved in setting the rules for your firms…quit planning the future of your business using the same dusty old playbook. Fight the inertial resistance of the status quo. If you’re not busy rewriting the rules for your business and industry, you can bet that someone else will do it for you. Soon.

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Explore Exporting

Small businesses looking to increase sales and profit, reduce dependence on the domestic market and stabilize seasonal fluctuations should consider exporting. Consider these facts:
  • Nearly 96 percent of consumers live outside the U.S.  Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.
  • Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries.
Here are six steps to help you begin exporting:

Step 1: Register on and take the Free Export Readiness Self-Assessment

Create an account on and complete this questionnaire to determine if your small business is ready to begin exporting and get advice on how to expand into new markets.

Step 2: Training and Counseling

The federal government offers free in-person counseling services to help small businesses obtain export financing and locate business opportunities overseas.

U.S. Export Assistance Centers.

Located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., these centers provide small and medium-sized businesses with local, personalized export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations.

Contact a Trade Specialist Near You.

The U.S. Commercial Service provides a network of export and industry specialists located in over 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries. These professionals provide free counseling and a variety of services to assist small and midsized U.S. business export efforts.

USTDA Consultant Database for Small Businesses

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency provides this database of companies and individuals providing fee-based consulting services to small businesses interested in importing and exporting.

Take our online training course on exporting to help determine if exporting, as a business strategy, makes sense for your small business and whether the basic ingredients for export readiness are in-place.

Step 3: Create an Export Business Plan

Creating an export business plan is important for defining your company’s present status, internal goals and commitment. You learn how to develop an export plan by assembling facts, identifying constraints and setting specific goals and objectives as milestones to success.

Step 4: Conduct Market Research

Use market research to learn your product’s potential in a given market, where the best prospects exist for success, and common business practices. The Market Research Library is the U.S. government’s repository of the latest information prepared by commercial and economic experts in U.S. embassies worldwide. Trade Stats Express is a powerful tool for identifying target markets.

Step 5: Find Buyers

Federal, state and local governments are continually organizing highly focused export events directly putting U.S. sellers and potential foreign buyers in direct contact. Opportunities range from meeting foreign buyer delegations at select U.S. trade shows to signing up for a foreign trade mission or trade show overseas.

Step 6: Investigate Financing Your Small Business Exports, Foreign Investment or Projects

Become familiar with SBA’s export loan programs and other federal government financing, insurance and grant programs to help your company finance its transactions and assist in carrying your export operations. These resources help small businesses ensure foreign payment and manage or remove risk from the equation for both the business and its bank.

Learn More contains a wide range of resources to help your small business begin and expand into exporting.

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Don’t Waste Your Metrics

By Jamie Flinchbaugh | IndustryWeek

Four keys to making metrics a better part of your evaluation process.

Most every company has metrics permeating every meeting, discussion and decision. Metrics are as ubiquitous as email and problem solving and taken for granted to an equal level. Here are some keys to making them work for you.

1) Be consistent and balanced. Bob Smillie, vice president of Nemak who led the organization through its lean transformation after its Ford spin-off, believes in the value of consistency. He states: “We know the culture is catching on and is stable and sustainable because we do not change our objectives year after year. We are currently working on next year’s objectives. We only have five, and four of those are a carryover from prior years. No one is confused about what is expected or what he or she should be working on to satisfy what is expected.”

During Chrysler’s transformation in the 1990s, we learned from Toyota the value of consistently measuring QDC: Quality, Delivery and Cost. We asked, “What about safety?” And they responded, “Safety is first; it is assumed that you always get safety first.” We took that lesson, and for various reasons added Morale, and the mantra became SQDCM. That pattern of measurement and balanced decision-making entered at every level: shop floor teams, plant-management daily meetings, executive reviews. Instead of making isolated quality decisions, or cost decisions, all were important, all the time.

2) Keep it understandable. A food-processing company used a very elegant metric: ROTA, or Return on Total Assets. It incorporated all assets, whether capital or inventory, instead of looking at those buckets separately.

The downside was that of all the sites I visited, I only found one to three people who understood the metric. They had charts on the wall, but most people couldn’t even tell me if an upwards direction on the chart was good or bad. A metric that people cannot understand, digest and take action on is quite frankly a useless metric.

3) Don’t be limited to metrics. Albert Einstein acknowledged something we seem to have forgotten in management: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” We believe that if we can’t measure it, then we can’t grasp it, improve it or manage it. Yet we do this all the time. Do you evaluate your children on grades (metrics) alone? Certainly not.

Metrics are a tool; evaluation is the objective. But in the pursuit of evaluation, of understanding current reality, there are many methods we can employ, from value-stream mapping to direct observation to pictures and stories. The point is, we must change the question from “How will we measure it?” to “How will we evaluate it?”

Tom Johnson, author of important books such as “Relevance Lost” and “Profit Beyond Measure,” believes that we should take the accounting out of management. He believes we need to understand the system at work and that accounting systems in particular are a barrier to doing so. His vision may seem unattainable, but directionally we must follow the path he has laid out. Metrics are like lawyers -- we should use them to inform and counsel us but not to control and govern us in our decision-making.

4) Know your decision, then your metrics. A quote I saved, although I don’t think it comes from anyone “quotable,” is: “A problem without data is complaining; data without action is waste.” Through the incredibly steep drop in computing power and data storage cost, we can store and process almost everything. And sometimes we try to do exactly that. We collect and store data and generate reports before we determine how we would use it.

Instead, first ask what decision you are trying to make. Second, ask what data, facts and observations will help inform you in that decision. Third, determine the right method, form and timing to package that information to help you. Don’t generate reports just because you can.

Data can be incredibly useful, but it can also be a hindrance, all depending on how we use it.

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Associates’ Corner - Incodema, LLC

INCODEMA3D, LLC is pleased to announce being the first company accepted into StartUp NY under the charter of Cornell University. As part of the StartUp NY program, INCODEMA3D will partner with Cornell University to leverage technology developed at Cornell in the fields of industrial 3D printing and material development for 3D printing. INCODEMA3D is positioned to meet the demands of 3D printing of system-level components for aerospace, medical, automotive, and energy applications.

"Our acceptance into StartUp NY allows INCODEMA3D and New York State a level playing field against non-tax states such as Texas and Florida. More significantly, it partners us with Cornell University, one of the most prestigious research institutions in the country. I truly feel this program will allow us to create synergy between industry and education, to share experience and industrial resources with cutting-edge research, and to foster greater economic success for everyone involved." – Sean Whittaker, President & CEO, INCODEMA3D

"It’s exciting to see high-tech manufacturing making its way back to Upstate NY. We’re particularly happy to see local manufacturers leveraging 3D printing technologies that Cornell has been pioneering for a long time. It’s the ultimate sign of a rising tide." - Hod Lipson, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Computing Science, Cornell University

"The world of additive manufacturing is undergoing a very exciting transition from being primarily a rapid prototyping technology into a true volume manufacturing for a number of industries. Much of this evolution has been made possible by advances in the materials available for additive manufacturing. We look forward to furthering those advances in collaboration with Cornell’s highly ranked Department of Materials Science & Engineering." - Greg Galvin, Chief Technology Officer, INCODEMA3D

About INCODEMA3D: INCODEMA3D joins the INCODEMA Group family of companies; specializing in Industrial 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing. The vision of INCODEMA3D is to create a production 3D Printing operation leveraging our proven knowledge and skills developed over decades in the advanced manufacturing industry. INCODEMA3D offers a range of production machines from multiple vendors and offers a breadth of materials to accommodate demands from a variety of key markets. INCODEMA’s ITAR facilities and proven track record for producing high degree of difficulty components for Superconducting Particle Accelerator systems and Rocket Launch applications along with the advancement’s in 3D Printing technologies bring together new opportunity’s in advanced manufacturing.

Additional INCODEMA Group companies: INCODEMA Inc. (Ithaca NY) NEWCUT Inc. (Newark NY) Engineering Manufacturing Technologies LLC (Endicott NY).

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Associates’ Corner - Audiosears

Audiosears is the premier manufacturer and supplier of handsets, headsets, and components for the telecommunications industry, including handsets, cradles, handheld microphones, acoustic elements and a variety of components including cordsets, switches and custom circuitry.

Their extensive knowledge and experience in the industry allow them to provide innovative solutions that meet the changing needs of their customers. By consistently delivering high quality products supported by outstanding customer service, they have earned the respect and loyalty of their customers.

In-house capabilities at Audiosears include engineering, machining, custom fabrication, and electronic/mechanical assembly. Strong relationships with industry partners enable them to offer turn-key solutions for their customers.

For over fifty years Audiosears has gained increasing recognition and acceptance as a leading domestic manufacturer of high quality telecommunications.

Located in the small village of Stamford, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains, Audiosears currently employs a staff of 68. The plant is certified to the ISO 2001:2008 Standards and is  continuing to implement lean manufacturing processes throughout the facility.

For more information, visit: or contact Shawn Hartwell at 607-652-7305 or 1-800-533-7863

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