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Archive for March, 2011

Resource Profiles & Business Silhouettes

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

It’s not uncommon to hear the commentary that company X should have done Y and company A should have invested in B. However, within each company there is a unique mix of talent, skill, financial capacity and plain old stuff. Every business has it’s own resource profile.

Resource Profiles Determine the Current Capabilities

As an example we’ll look at Designer Firm (Company X). There are three months project work on the books, AUD$37,000 funds in the account, 3 experienced staff (manager, designer, web designer) and a younger trainee. Each person has a dual screen Mac set-up with current design software. The office is in the local central business district.

By looking closely at what Designer Firm (Company X) has at it’s disposal as resources, it becomes possible to reasonably predict what they can and cannot take on board as a business. That makes intuitive sense. For example, they can take on new design work as time / space permits; they can pay money to outsource parts of a project they can’t do for themselves in-house; and, they can launch a relatively efficient marketing campaign on television and print in the short-term.

They cannot purchase a share in a start-up for $400,000 even if they believe it’s going to produce an Apple iPhone killer application. They cannot take on a movie project on the other side of the Continent. And they cannot, for the life of them, fill their project roster with 200 hours per week per person.

Tweaking the Resource Profile over Time

If the resource profile is lacking then it may be time to increase it… or it could be time to decrease the resource profile if elements aren’t being utilised effectively.

Limited resources entirely govern what opportunities can be pursued and what weaknesses can be addressed so it’s a matter of monitoring and tweaking the resource profile over time. A common strategy used in business is to concentrate on core competencies then temporarily increase the resource profile through outsourcing project components.

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Cheap Off-Shore Web Design is Risky Business

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Telephone conversations can be revealing. A recent discussion came around to an Australian professional consultancy and their choice to contract work out to a perceived cheaper option – a Bulgarian web design firm. It’s a strong business temptation in the hyper-networked world.

But before they went down that route I’d have offered some food for thought.

Some Contracts may resemble Toilet Paper

The first point to clarify is the country the contracts apply to… where they were signed… the jurisdiction of any legal resolution – where you have to appear in court if the contract comes to a dispute. There are three major legal systems and they don’t treat contracts equally – Common Law (the British System), Civil Law (the European System) and Islamic Law. Each individual country also has it’s own business context including political risk and economic profile. And specific countries offer unique challenges to doing business that should be considered.

If the contract is Bulgarian then you might have to hire lawyers and attend hearings on specified dates in Eastern European Civil Courts.

On the other hand, if this is an Australian contract, then how do you force the Bulgarian web design firm to appear on a given date in the appropriate court in Sydney? And how do you force them to adhere to the Australian court’s judgement? If you were awarded AUD$20,000 damages then how would you enforce that fine in Bulgaria? Or African or Middle Eastern countries? Or the United States where you might be sued on that contract, have to fly to appear with US lawyers and fight an extended and expensive legal battle with huge monetary consequences if you lose.

Were you to have a legal contract with an Indian firm… any court would take between 10 and 20 years to hear the case due to stress on the Indian legal system. You may never see a resolution.

The bottom line is that a contract you can’t enforce or that has you at such a disadvantage is worse than toilet paper to your business. It might lead to your being sued in a foreign country under a different legal system and possibly in another language.

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Nick McKim versus Tasmanian Prison Officers

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The Greens Leader and Corrections Minister, Nick McKim, is in the news again this week being called out as a hypocrite for his past support for Nigel Burch (the whistleblower who felled Deputy Premier Steve Kons several years ago) while asking this week that those responsible for the theft of personal prisoner records be investigated by police.

The bottom line of this issue is that Nick McKim wants to reform the current prison system… while the prison officers’ union representatives claim the proposed reforms will endanger prison officers’ safety. That greater subject can lay fallow – is McKim a hypocrite or not?

A Whistleblower versus a Plain Old Thief

The first point to make is that Nigel Burch was a classic whistleblower who only stood to lose by revealing corruption in the Deputy Premier. I should add that the then Premier, Paul Lennon, and his successor, David Bartlett, are both under investigation by Tasmania’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Integrity Commission. In the classic spirit of whistleblowing, the information was released by Nigel Burch for the wider good of our society (by a person who knew that it would hurt nobody more than himself for revealing it). It was solely through ethical outrage – a key point of whistleblowing.

That should give you a good idea of what whistleblowing legislation is designed to protect – people revealing information for the greater public good.

Enter the disgruntled Tasmanian prison officers in pursuit of their stouche with government over danger in the workplace and McKim’s prison reforms. An as yet unidentified individual or individuals removed private and personal prisoner records and placed them in the public domain to serve their own ends… to prove a union case for a pay rise… a pay rise they stand to benefit from… in the hope of never being revealed.

The first example, Burch, is the whistleblower. The second example, an unnamed prison officer (or officers) have removed private information for personal gain. That is theft by anybody’s definition. It also impinges on the Tasmanian Government’s duty of care of those human beings being held in custody at the Risdon Prison Complex. We should never overlook our responsibility to those human beings nor our internationally recognised obligations to them regardless of their offences. As we wouldn’t condone torturing a rapist we should also abstain from defrocking them beyond the law without natural justice. These men and women are prisoners; these prisoners are men and women.

The Contents of a Prisoner’s File

My experience with the Tasmanian prison system is extensive and my file at one point was over six inches in height. The State Ombudsman, after my complaint about it’s size and how it was being used, ordered that file to be significantly culled by Prison management somewhere around 1994 because most of what entered that file was biased and editorial in nature – random prison officer commentary, parts of private letters out of context… anything anybody who disliked me thought could be useful as a weapon to bring me harm.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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