Tackling the Facebook zombies

Anthony Lowe – 27 May 2011 – Porter Novelli –

Heard that Facebook is a great site to build a community for your brand? Read the stories of brands setting up a new Facebook page for their latest products and 150 people liked it? Or even, you liked a Facebook page last year but haven’t heard anything from it in a while?

Then you have experienced the outbreak of zombie groups on Facebook. Or in non-digital lingo, Facebook pages that have been left untended like the ghost towns of old (minus the tumbleweeds).

Zombies aside, the use of Facebook to form a community is a well-proven social media tactic. With 550 million plus members and a very active Australian audience, Facebook is currently the best platform to build an active community around a topic, product or brand. But active is the key word.

Without activity, the engagement of the page audience becomes sporadic, the effort required to stimulate interest increases and becomes harder to sustain, the return on investment is unclear, the marketing budget gets reallocated and the page quickly joins the growing numbers of virtual zombie groups.

So before setting up a page on Facebook, take a medium-term outlook with your plans. We recommend looking at the following five considerations to get the best return:

1. Allow time to attract a solid community. Don’t be in a rush to deliver an ROI – sometimes building an audience with the right members can take months.

2. Consider the resourcing required to keep the community active. Share the workload and ensure you have a content pipeline in place to keep the audience engaged over the medium term.

3. Be interactive. Respond to comments, ask questions, listen to what your community is looking for and give it to them.

4. Focus evaluation on outcomes not outputs. Outputs are Friends or Likes on Facebook. Outcomes are getting the audience to do something like share ideas, attend an event, recommend your brand to friends, or simply buy the product. And remember to determine what success is, before you start.

5. If the product campaign is over, manage your exit appropriately. Tell your audience why you are closing the page. If a new campaign is starting, tell them about it so before you shut down your page they have the option to move across.

Whatever you do, don’t let your brand page join the zombies – it can still be found in searches. Shutting it down is just a simple mouse click – no need to whack it with a shovel.

How do we keep our customer a customer?

Published 16 May 2011 – Coaching, vision & Action  –

Surveys have shown that when suppliers are changed, 68 to 72% of the time, it’s because the customer perceived that «the supplier, did not care enough about our business.

to ensure that your customers’ expectations are consistently exceeded, it is necessary to establish formal customer service standards, procedures and programs. Here are some important items to consider:
1. Regular « how are we doing» meetings.

2. Annual formal performance review meetings to review which goals were reached, which goals were not reached and which goals should be amended. Together, decide on steps to further your progress.

3. Multi-level contacts, including executive contact and technical support.

4. Entertainment strategies.

5. Customer appreciation events, such as plant tours.

6. Profit improvement strategies, and other ideas to help the customer save time, money or effort.

7. Ongoing communication programs.

8. Create additional strategies for exceeding the needs and expectations of customers, as required – especially your biggest or most strategically important customers, who likely represent a significant part of your territory’s revenue. By basing your customer care standards, procedures, and programs on these considerations you will cement long-standing and mutually beneficial relationships with your accounts.

China to ease trade policies

11 May 2011 – Reuters

WASHINGTON – China has pledged easier access for US companies to key sectors of its economy by removing barriers to its huge market in government contracts and offering a foothold to US mutual funds.

The pledges were made in two days of talks between the world’s two biggest economies which ended with both sides hailing progress in their often tense relationship.

The difficulties in relations, particularly in human rights issues, were underscored by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who described Beijing’s rights record as “deplorable” in a magazine interview. China’s current crackdown on dissent, she said, amounted to “a fool’s errand”.

But on economic matters, officials were upbeat after talks.

“We are seeing very promising shifts in the direction of Chinese economic policy,” US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.

The annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue yielded more results on economic issues than some analysts had expected, although many remained sceptical China’s market-opening vows would translate into concrete benefits for US business.

The talks between top US and Chinese officials carried extra significance because domestic politics may hamper decision-making next year ahead of a US presidential election and Chinese leadership succession.

While some advances were made on the economic track, there was scant movement on thorny diplomatic issues.

“The outcome of this round of meetings shows a clear understanding on both sides that the two countries have shared long-term economic interests and there is scope for a mutually beneficial bargain,” Eswar Prasad of the Brookings Institution in Washington said.

“The real flashpoints are on political and security issues, including human rights,” he added.

Clinton, in an interview conducted last month with The Atlantic magazine and released just as the talks ended, said disputes over human rights would not stop US engagement with China.

“We don’t walk away from dealing with China because we think they have a deplorable human rights record,” Clinton said, according to a transcript released by the State Department.

China, she told the magazine, was anxious about the uprisings jolting the Middle East and North Africa.

“They’re worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand. They cannot do it. But they’re going to hold it off as long as possible.”

Both sides repeated their stances on North Korea, where China has resisted US pressure to act more forcefully to persuade Pyongyang to back down from confrontation and resume nuclear disarmament talks.

The two sides agreed to boost coordination on Afghanistan and discussed upheavals in the Arab world.

They reiterated their positions on Iran but made no new announcements. China has reluctantly backed UN sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but US officials say that some Chinese entities are not complying with them and have urged Beijing to tighten up.

Even so, a senior Chinese finance official said the talks were a “win-win” for both countries. China claimed Washington gave ground by easing restrictions on high-tech exports though US officials said only they would weigh Beijing’s concerns.

On the key issue of exchange rates, Mr Geithner said China needed to allow a faster rise in the value of the yuan, a comment brushed back by China’s Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao, who said Beijing will move at its own speed.

The yuan has appreciated 5.14 per cent since being loosened from a two-year peg to the dollar last June, well below what many US lawmakers believe is needed to allow for a level playing field for US producers in global markets.

China reported a hefty trade surplus and record exports in April, ammunition for its overseas critics.

Surprisingly, according to a US official, China – the United States’ biggest creditor – raised no concerns about US budget deficits, which could top out at $US1.4 trillion this year.

Market opening in words

In a potentially big step forward for US firms seeking more access to China’s financial services market, China agreed to let US and other foreign banks sell mutual funds in China and provide custodial services.

However, some US commentators said China’s past behaviour suggested US companies might see little benefit.

“They let you in the market under conditions where you cannot be a real competitor,” Derek Scissors of the conservative Heritage Foundation said.

“That’s what they’ve done every single time, so that’s what I expect will happen with mutual funds.”

US officials indicated Beijing would also consider letting foreign insurance companies sell auto insurance for the first time in China, which is becoming the world’s largest car market.

China also said it would take steps to try to ensure the software that government agencies used was not pirated.

Perhaps of most significance was a fresh pledge China made on government purchasing policies that US and European firms had complained locked them out of a big market.

As part of efforts to spur innovation, Beijing had sought to ensure government purchases came from firms using Chinese-owned technology.

However, in January, China pledged that government purchases would be delinked from its “indigenous innovation” policies.

It stated explicitly that the pledge extended to purchases by local governments — not only the central government — answering a big concern of US businesses.

Chinese Exports Hit Record for April

Published: 10 May 2011- New York Times – Keith Bradsher

HONG KONG — China’s exports surged last month to a record level, as Chinese factories appear to have passed on rising costs to buyers who are finding that they have few alternatives in other countries.

China’s imports lagged, causing its trade surplus to widen sharply from the first three months of this year, to $11.43 billion. That was lower than last year, but still high enough to increase trade frictions with the United States and other countries worried that China is using a weak currency to claim an unusually large share of global job creation as the world economy climbs out of the recent economic downturn.

China’s regular release of trade statistics came between two days of negotiations in Washington between senior American and Chinese officials. In the first day of talks on Monday, American officials pressed China to improve its human rights record and allow interest rates and the Chinese currency to rise, while Chinese officials called on the United States to lead a global economic recovery and suggested that their shrinking trade surplus should not be a big concern.

The average price of goods imported from China to the United States, adjusted for quality improvements, jumped 0.4 percent in April from the previous month and was up 2.8 percent from a year earlier, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Tuesday morning in Washington.

The import price statistics were the latest confirmation that China is becoming a contributor to higher prices in the United States. That comes after many years in which the price of Chinese goods was flat or falling, which tended to limit American inflation over all, by making it hard for other businesses to raise prices.

But the direct role of Chinese imports in the American economy is still fairly limited. Although they account for one-fifth of total imports, they equaled only 2.5 percent of economic output in the United States last year.

The newest data from China indicates its trade surplus essentially disappeared in the first three months of this year. Rising commodity prices drove up the cost of China’s imports, while exports tend to be weak early in the year, partly because of factory shutdowns that last one to three weeks for Chinese New Year.

China is trying to shift from an export-led model for growth to an economic model giving primacy to domestic consumption. But Ben Simpfendorfer, the managing director of China Insider, an economics newsletter, said that it had been premature for some to suggest recently that the country’s overall trade surplus was already disappearing.

“It will happen, but not for at least another two years,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Only half of China’s imports are related to domestic demand, so they have to grow at twice the rate of exports in order to reduce the trade surplus. That’s a daunting challenge, even for China.”

The long-term trends also offer little solace for American officials. Chinese exports to the United States actually grew faster last month than imports from the United States. Rising Chinese imports tend to be in categories like oil from the Mideast as well as luxury goods and sophisticated machinery from Europe.

China’s General Administration of Customs said that exports rose 25.9 percent in April compared with a year earlier, to a record $155.69 billion, exceeding a previous record of $154.12 billion in December. The increase was somewhat surprising because the spring is traditionally a weak period for Chinese exports, before large quantities of goods start to be shipped over the summer for the Christmas shopping season.

Chinese imports rose at a slower 21.8 percent, to $144.26 billion, as government policies took effect to restrict bank lending in an attempt to control inflation. Japan accounts for about one-eighth of China’s imports, and these shipments barely increased from a year earlier, dragging down the overall total as the earthquake off northeast Japan triggered rolling electricity blackouts and parts shortages that disrupted the manufacture of cars and many other products.

Labor costs are surging by 10 to 30 percent a year in China and commodity costs are rising around the world, leading to warnings by suppliers of Western retailers that price tags will start rising globally. Many companies are searching for alternatives to manufacturing in China, but finding that nowhere else offers China’s combination of a large labor supply, world-class highways and ports and strongly pro-business policies, including a strict ban on independent labor unions that tended to hold down wages until very recently.

Josh Green, the chief executive of Panjiva, a New York company that advises 3,000 corporate buyers of goods from Asia, said his clients were extremely worried about the pace of price increases that they face from Chinese suppliers.

“That’s all I’ve been hearing from them over the past year, is concern verging on panic about the changing cost structure in China,” he said. “That has led to the hunt for the next China, which is a fool’s errand.”

Executives at three Chinese exporters said Tuesday that despite strong retail sales in the United States in April, they had not yet seen a sustained uptick in American orders, even as orders have risen from Europe and emerging markets. One reason might be that these and other exporters are now steadily marking up their prices to reflect the gradual appreciation of the renminbi, which has climbed 5 percent against the dollar since last summer.

“I am not worried about the rise of the renminbi since our company makes an adjustment every three months in the exchange rate used in our contracts,” said Mabel Lee, the sales manager at the Foshan Summit Sanitary Ware Company, a maker of bathtubs and toilets based in Foshan, in Guangdong Province in southern China.

The Shanghai composite index climbed after the release of the trade data on Tuesday morning, and closed with a gain of 0.63 percent. The stock market in Hong Kong was closed because of a public holiday in honor of Buddha’s birthday.

Hilda Wang contributed reporting

Project Management Definitions

Mohamed Elashri

Project: is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

Operation: An organizational function performing the ongoing execution of activities that produce the same product or provide a repetitive service.

Projects vs. Operational Work

Operations are ongoing and repetitive Work, while projects are temporary and unique.

Project management: is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. Project management is accomplished through the application and integration of the project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.

Project manager: is the person responsible for accomplishing the project objectives.

Program: is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually.

Program management: is the centralized, coordinated management of a group of projects to achieve the program’s strategic objectives and benefits.

Portfolio: is a collection of projects or programs and other work that are grouped together to facilitate effective management of that work to meet strategic business objectives.

Portfolio management: aim to maximize the value of the portfolio by careful examination of candidate projects and programs for inclusion in the portfolio and the timely exclusion of projects not meeting the portfolio’s strategic objectives, And to balance the portfolio among incremental and radical investments and for efficient use of resources.

Project management office (PMO): is an organizational unit to centralize and coordinate the management of projects under its domain.

Project stakeholders: are individuals and organizations that are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be affected as a result of project execution or project completion.

Process: A set of interrelated actions and activities performed to achieve a specified set of products, results, or services.

Project Life Cycle: A collection of generally sequential project phases whose name and number are determined by the control needs of the organization or organizations involved in the project. A life cycle can be documented with a methodology.

Organization: A group of persons organized for some purpose or to perform some type of work within an enterprise.

Enterprise. A company, business, firm, partnership, corporation, or governmental agency.

Overview of Project Management Knowledge Areas and Project Management Processes

ITL PM Overview
ITL PM Overview











Tool: Something tangible, such as a template or software program, used in performing an activity to produce a product or result.

Technique: A defined systematic procedure employed by a human resource to perform an activity to produce a product or result or deliver a service, and that may employ one or more tools.

Standard: A document established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

Skill: Ability to use knowledge, a developed aptitude, and/or a capability to effectively and readily execute or perform an activity.

Practice: A specific type of professional or management activity that contributes to the execution of a process and that may employ one or more techniques and tools.

Methodology: A system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.

Procedure: A series of steps followed in a regular definitive order to accomplish something.

Knowledge: Knowing something with the familiarity gained through experience, education, observation, or investigation, it is understanding a process, practice, or technique, or how to use a tool.

Discipline: A field of work requiring specific knowledge and that has a set of rules governing work conduct

Deliverable: Any unique and verifiable product, result, or capability to perform a service that must be produced to complete a process, phase, or project.

contract: is a mutually binding agreement that obligates the seller to provide the specified product or service or result and obligates the buyer to pay for it.

Resource: Skilled human resources , equipment, services, supplies, commodities, materiel, budgets, or funds.

Product: An artifact that is produced, is quantifiable, and can be either an end item in itself or a component item.

Specification: A document that specifies, in a complete, precise, verifiable manner, the requirements, design, behavior, or other characteristics of a system, component, product, result, or service and, often, the procedures for determining whether these provisions have been satisfied.

Requirement: A condition or capability that must be met or possessed by a system, product, service, result, or component to satisfy a contract, standard, specification, or other formally imposed documents. Requirements include the quantified and documented needs, wants, and expectations of the sponsor, customer, and other stakeholders.

Estimate: A quantitative assessment of the likely amount or outcome. Usually applied to project costs, resources, effort, and durations and is usually preceded by a modifier (i.e., preliminary, conceptual, feasibility, order-of-magnitude, definitive). It should always include some indication of accuracy.

Variance: A quantifiable deviation, departure, or divergence away from a known baseline or expected value.

Quality: The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements.

Acceptance Criteria: Those criteria, including performance requirements and essential conditions, which must be met before project deliverables are accepted.

Objective: Something toward which work is to be directed, a strategic position to be attained, or a purpose to be achieved, a result to be obtained, a product to be produced, or a service to be performed.

Risk: An uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objectives.

Defect: An imperfection or deficiency in a project component where that component does not meet its requirements or specifications and needs to be either repaired or replaced.

Effort: The number of labor units required to complete a schedule activity or work breakdown structure component. Usually expressed as staff hours, staff days, or staff weeks. Contrast with duration.

Issue: A point or matter in question or in dispute, or a point or matter that is not settled and is under discussion or over which there are opposing views or disagreements.

Inspection: Examining or measuring to verify whether an activity, component, product, result or service conforms to specified requirements.

Earned Value Management (EVM): A management methodology for integrating scope,schedule, and resources, and for objectively measuring project performance and progress.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): A deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables. It organizes and defines the total scope of the project. Each descending level represents an increasingly detailed definition of the project work.

Opportunity: A condition or situation favorable to the project, a positive set of circumstances, a positive set of events, a risk that will have a positive impact on project objectives, or a possibility for positive changes. Contrast with threat.

Template: A partially complete document in a predefined format that provides a defined structure for collecting, organizing and presenting information and data.