Thursday, May 2, 2013

Green Buildings

Green Building

Most construction material decisions are based on factors like cost, durability, maintenance, and structural integrity. As sustainable building practices become more and more important in society, it would be nice to see companies considering the environment when making these choices. If I were in charge of an innovative and forward-thinking company, making sure my buildings were as green as possible would definitely be a priority.

Green buildings are easier than ever. Starting with a steel frame is the first step. Steel is 100% recyclable, and 64% of the steel products we see today are recycled, which is a really high percentage. Steel framing in particular must contain at least 25% recycled materials, but often contains much more. Using steel products like these http://www.capitalsteel.net/products/coldbar helps to limit landfill space and preserve our natural resources.

I would also want to invest in solar energy for a green building. Along with solar panels, designing lighting and water systems that use minimal energy would be a priority. If my business still wasn’t very energy efficient, I would want to purchase carbon offsets to try to make my company carbon neutral, like Microsoft and other companies are doing right now.

Environmentally friendly initiatives are the right thing to do, and I think businesses can play a big part in making the world a better place. I can’t really build my own green building, but I can choose products from companies that do! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Alabama Road Trip and Vehicular Slaughter

"Isn't that a morbid title?" Why yes, it is, but it's an important topic. A lot of people, especially those from Alabama, are soon going to be flocking to Florida for the BCS Championship. That's about a 13 hour drive from central Alabama. It's a lot of mileage, a lot of sitting in the car, and a lot of "Are we there yets?" Miami is busy enough as it is, and it's probably going to be pretty hectic when all the fans and ticket holders rush in to see arguably the most exciting game of college football all year.

If at some point during your road trip (outlined in this map) you happen to fall asleep at the wheel, get into an accident, hit a pedestrian, or cause the death of someone by any other means, it's important to know what to do instead of just flying into a panic. Accidents happen, and you don't want to be like those individuals in The First 48 who bawl after a little police pressure, give everything up without a lawyer present, and end up in jail while the police smile at the camera.

No, you need to know your rights. You might feel terrible and that's understandble, and the police might throw threatening words like "vehicular manslaughter" at you. Even if you weren't drinking, on drugs, or doing anything else illegal (and moreso if you were), you still should have a lawyer present. It might have been an unavoidable accident and if so, say that to the officers but not much else. You want to be represented fairly and not get in any more trouble than you deserve to be in.

So, be safe in your travels and road trips, but if something awful happens, it's best to contact your insurance company and a lawyer right away. If you're feeling tired or unable to drive, let someone else in the car drive. If everyone needs some rest, stop on the way there and check into a hotel. Short on cash? Nap at a rest area. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reducing Health Care Cost, But Not Quality

MIAMI - JANUARY 18:  Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo (...
(Image source: Getty Images via @daylife)
Few, if any, people still deny that US healthcare costs put the nation at a competitive disadvantage, reek of inefficiency and must be confronted soon. And as Washington begins to debate the direction the nation will move, PBS Frontline’s Sick Around America program last night showed us the magnitude of the challenges ahead:

And while many single out insurance and drug companies as part of the problem, a strong case can be made for the importance of private sector R&D driving innovation…which could be negatively impacted by healthcare reforms. But no matter what side of the debate(s) you come down on, there’s widespread agreement that greater efficiency and cost reductions in the system are essential.

So, how do we get there?

In the past, other groups have looked at opportunities for cost savings in the healthcare industry and provided their recommendations, one in particular that sticks out is a whitepaper titled Spend Management: The Antidote to the Healthcare Crisis. They dug into “the spending and procurement practices of over 300 global companies and found that the U.S. healthcare sector could collectively reduce supply chain costs by $40 billion through improved spend management practices, policies, and automation.” The projected increase in profits created by those savings come in at $26.7 billion.

The whitepaper outlines actions that healthcare organizations - from service providers to insurers to pharmaceutical companies - can take to find these savings and drive them to the bottom line. The major recommendations are:
  • Standardize processes: Consistent processes reduce risk, improve efficiency and productivity.
  • Adopt new technologies: Process efficiency through automation can provide greater visibility into spend and supplier performance.
  • Leverage external expertise and services: If the company lacks in-house expertise, supplier relationships or process efficiency, seek outside help.
The savings are out there. So whether they are passed on to patients, share holders or R&D, they are certainly worth pursuing.

Another cost cutting articles of interest:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Doing Business Global

English: Map of the first European corporation...

It's always important to be concerned with how to reach the decision maker in large corporations and, along the way, he does quote often from Jill and a number of others. Now this is an important topic but two things caught my attention. For starters, the tone of the article suggests that Becker has found some new insight in how to talk to the customer. He seems to have had his revelation from Konrath: “Konrath mentions a client who’s had success selling an IT solution to investment banks… The secret is he hardly mentioned his product or his company” Excuse me, but for just how many people is this approach a secret? Can this really be classed as a new insight for those selling solutions?

These questions are linked to the second point that brought me up short. Here’s Becker again: “First, you need a broad understanding of the way things have changed within corporate America - and that some of the sales wisdom of the old days doesn't hold up.” Does this mean that doing business in corporate America is radically different to doing business in corporate Britain? As if in answer, Becker has this to say: “Committee-based decisions are much more common now. This makes sales easier in some ways, and harder in others. It’s harder to figure out who to talk to because there’s usually not one person with all the power. On the other hand, it can be easier to instigate a productive conversation, because there might be a dozen people who can influence your sale. That also means sales are more complicated. You can’t just convince one person. Suddenly, selling requires matching your client’s buying process.”

Now, I’m not sure if I’ve missed the point, but in my experience of selling solutions I don’t think I’ve come across a situation where the decision has been made just by one person. So how new is this concept of “committee-based decision” making? Is this different to what we see in Britain? Hardly.

When it comes down to helping sales people to become more effective I don’t think there is anything to be gained by trying to distinguish between selling in corporate America from selling in corporate Britain, or corporate France, or corporate Europe, or indeed corporate anywhere else.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Making a Short Sale


If you are struggling to make the monthly mortgage payments on your home, foreclosure is not your only option. In fact, it should be the last options that you have left after you have exhausted all other avenues. A foreclosure judgment against you will have a severe impact upon your credit for years to come. It will make it difficult for you to secure housing after you are forced to move out of your home. You do not have to face foreclosure; you can still ask for a loan modification or seek out short sale help in order to reduce your monthly payments to something that is more manageable.

The last thing that a mortgage lender wants to do is go through the expensive and lengthy process of a foreclosure. They have to pay court costs and man hours for foreclosures. These lenders would much rather come to some sort of agreement or settlement in order to satisfy the debt without a foreclosure, especially given the high number of homes that are going through foreclosure proceedings right now. Your lender will be much more apt to reach some type of settlement with you then have to go through the back logged courts. A loan modification or some short sale help will get you back in control of your finances and out of the stressful situation that you are in.

If you are interested in obtaining a loan modification or some short sale help then it is imperative that you enlist the services of a skilled and professional lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer will deal with your mortgage lender and try to work out some type of deal so that you do not have to foreclose on your home. Make sure that you research the lawyer that you are hiring to make sure that they have the experience and knowledge needed to get you a successful outcome.

The right lawyer will be able to negotiate with the mortgage company and come up with a reduction in your monthly loan payment if you have your loan modified. Or, in the case of a short sale, your lawyer will significantly reduce and possibly eliminate the amount of money that you owe your lender. Don't go into the situation blind, get the right information to come out on top.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Transporting Goods For Businesses

English: Modified version of :Image:World map....
English: Modified version of :Image:World map.png, which was created by John Monnpoly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the biggest challenges companies that sell a product face is moving the product from A to B, in short, logistics. It's one of the biggest costs companies have to pay, and automating the system is something they spend millions on. Here are a few of the major parts of the logistical system.

Part A: Assembling the raw materials. All products are different, and require different materials, but bringing all the necessary raw materials together requires a bit of math and coordination so there are no shortage or surplus of items.

Moving products around internally requires an automated conveyor system to minimize waste and improve efficiency. Most of the waste in this step is a result of human error, and computer software systems are designed to eliminate that. Inventory management is a part of logistics that keeps count of everything in a warehouse, and requires immense coordination that is better done by a software system.

Getting the products to stores or shopping centers is the final step and requires branching out the product into many different lines. Transporting the items in bulk by train, ship or semi is usually the preferred method, but again, every product is different and requires a different method. Perishable products like fruit and vegetables are sometimes flown across the world to keep them fresh.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Investing in a Bad Economy

Economy
Economy (Photo credit: yourdoku)
When times are hard, investing isn't always a cheerful topic to discuss. Unfortunately we just saw a bad twist in the economy, but that doesn't mean there isn't a silver lining. Not all industries and economies are down, and they may be strong enough to develop new jobs, and support the rest of our industry.

Tech companies rely on people's instant need for news, products, services and social connections to make a profit. With constant improvements in this industry, new products and services are emerging, resulting in a demand for talented workers.

Foreign economies are picking up the slack from the US markets. Many manufacturing industries continue to do poorly in the United States, but there is a huge demand for them from foreign industries. Investing in these industries may not be a bad part of your funds. The risk will be high, and they could easily tank in the short run, but I wouldn't count on it for the long run.