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Using Case Studies to Improve Internal Business Operation

Posted on April 27 2016 | Author: Britney Hess

Using Case Studies to Improve Internal Business Operation

Internal case studies can introduce a company’s values to employees. They can also be used as an effective tool to evaluate key lessons learned, including best practices and potential areas for improvement.


Why should you use case studies for training new employees?
In a small start-up, it can be easy to maintain communication flow between the founder or CEO and the small team that is driving the business forward. Growth is often a goal of smaller start-ups, however many challenges can be associated with it, including the onboarding process. Internal case studies can be used as a time-sensitive training method to convey the organization’s values, processes, and key historical events (e.g. important clients or pivot points). Additionally, they can stimulate discussions around improving internal processes.

What does an internal case study look like?
A typical business case study is a detailed account of what happened in a particular company, industry, or project over a set period of time. Having case studies from several departments in the organization helps to give employees a broad understanding of the company’s goals.

The reader is given details about the situation, often in a historical context. Objectives and challenges are outlined, followed by actions taken, conclusions, and lessons learned from the experience.

What are the benefits of using internal case studies?

  • Expedites the onboarding process - faster understanding of company culture and history.
  • Stimulates discussion - allows conversations to start regarding best practices.
  • Prevents repeat mistakes – learning from the past.

Getting started – how should you write a case study for training purposes?

  • The goal is to capture an interesting situation or challenge, and then bring it to life with words and information. Creating a story line makes the information engaging.
  • Make sure readers can skim the page for the relevant information. Certain formats can help facilitate this, such as headings or subheadings.
  • Highlight certain sections like “lessons learned” or include a short summary or timeline. Visuals are helpful.
  • Find a case study template and stick to it.

Britney Hess
Junior Analyst

 

Resources

University of Notre Dame, how to write a business case study: http://www3.nd.edu/~sbyrnes1/pdf/Writing_Resources/Writing_Case_Study.pdf

Using case studies for knowledge transfer:
https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/L-and-D-Blog/2012/07/Using-Case-Studies-in-Learning-and-Development-Projects-a-Lessons-Learned-Approach.aspx?_ga=1.88559835.1336840469.1460658580

Photo by:
Best Finance. (2015). How to Choose a Currency for Your Offshore Bank Account. Retrived from: bestfinancenetwork.com/tag/banking-services






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Consumer Business Economic Update

Posted on April 25 2016 | Author: Admin

Key indicators combine with analyst sentiments, search engine and social media trends to provide a revealing snapshot of Canada’s consumer business sector.

The thirteenth edition of Deloitte’s Consumer Business economic update for Canada provides a snapshot of key business indicators across the retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and travel, hospitality and leisure (THL) sectors.

The newsletter also aggregates search-related data for online travel, products and shopping with social media trends and analyst sentiment.

Economic indicators
The Canadian economy experienced a 0.8% real GDP growth rate in Q4 2015.

Retail trends
Same store sales year-over-year growth increased by 11 bps from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015.

Travel, hospitality and leisure trends
The majority of key indicators in travel and leisure continue to be positive for this quarter, with hospitality as an exception.

Consumer packaged goods
CPG sales experienced a lower year-over-year growth in most categories in Q4 2015 compared to the growth experienced in Q3 2015.

Social media
Kijiji, a free Canadian local classifieds site has continued to retain its position (as in the previous three quarters) as the top online search in the Shopping category by Canadians in Q4 2015. The second and third positions on the list in Q4 2015 were “walmart”, the American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of discount department stores and “netflix”, the American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media.


View the full report.
For more information, please contact the Deloitte team.






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The Maritimes Are Keen on Agri-Tech

Posted on April 14 2016 | Author: Jennifer Kalanda


Earlier this year, the Bioenterprise Maritimes office locations delivered the Accelerating Agri Innovation event series, which was comprised of two events and attracted nearly 200 people between them.  The event series included the Accelerating Agri-Technology Innovation Summit in Truro, Nova Scotia from February 10-11, 2016, and the Accelerating Agri-Entrepreneurs & Innovation event in Charlottetown, PEI from March 21-22, 2016.

These events brought together agri-businesses, industry stakeholders, academia and government to explore and promote the entrepreneurial ecosystem in agri-technology. The focus was to build on the region’s innovative agriculture, agri-food and bio-based products economy. 

Attendees had the opportunity to network, make valuable connections and learn about the resources that can support the path of innovation and the market.  The event series also created a platform for the attendees to contribute to the conversation on the future of the agri-technology and collaborate with leading industry experts in Atlantic Canada.

The event series included keynote and panel presentations that provided agri-businesses, and other attendees with commercialization guidance as it pertains to this agri-technology sector.  These presentations ranged from understanding the services available to support the journey to market; how to build a successful business model that will attract investors and strategic partners; how to react in the market; and understanding what funding is available and how to prepare in order to access it.

Presentations were also made by agri-businesses, showcasing their innovations, and sharing their industry insights, the highs and lows from their path to market and what the future of agri-technology looks like for them.

The Accelerating Agri Innovation event series attracted nearly 200 attendees between the two events, with approximately an even divide between agri-business; industry stakeholders and service providers (both public and private); government and academia. 

The event series had support and panelist speakers from the following key organizations involved in the agri-technology ecosystem:
 

                     BioNB
Innovacorp
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Perennia
PEI Business Federation Ltd.
PEI ADAPT Council
BIO|FOOD|TECH
PEI Business Women’s Association
Dalhousie University
Springboard Atlantic
PEI Association of Newcomers
National Research Council Canada
                  Perennia BioVentures
Farm Credit Canada
Bioenterprise Capital Ventures
Deloitte LLP
Farm Centre
Natural Products Canada Inc
Canada’s Smartest Kitchen
Community Business Development Corporation
Bioenterprise Corporation
PEI Rural Action Centre
Innovation PEI 
       

Throughout the Accelerating Agri Innovation event series, many trends within the agri-technology and Maritimes ecosystem were identified.

  • The pathways to market for agri-technology innovations and businesses are often very unique compared to other technologies.
     
  • The agri-businesses who are based in the Maritime regions have demonstrated strong market potential to succeed within their region and beyond.
     
  • The size and scale of a business does not measure market success.
     
  • There are many valuable resources in the Maritimes dedicated to supporting innovation and technology development.  These resources and organizations are also eager to collaborate towards enhancing the commercialization process.
     
  • Some of the top priorities of organizations in the ecosystem include being able to mitigate risk and foster success for the agri-technology ecosystem.
     
  • The Maritime Provinces are home to a significant amount of funding sources and opportunities that companies of any stage or sector could potentially access. 

It is evident that the east coast is driven to see the agri-technology sector prosper and the Bioenterprise Maritimes office locations in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will continue to lead and support the commercialization of agri-businesses.


Jennifer Kalanda
Marketing Manager

 






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What is HACCP? A Comprehensive Look at What HACCP Means and What it Takes

Posted on April 11 2016 | Author: Admin

We know HACCP has to do with food safety. But what is HACCP (pronounced ‘ha-ssup’) really? What does it mean and what does an organization need to do to have HACCP certification? HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). This should not be confused with HARPC, which will be discussed in a separate article on our website.

HACCP is definitely not new to the food industry. It was initially developed in 1959 by the Pillsbury Company, The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) and The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The original intent of HACCP was to guarantee the safety of food on space missions, to deal with concerns about crumbs and liquid droplets in zero gravity and ultimately to deal with concerns related to microbiological safety.

In simplest terms the goal of HACCP is to apply a common sense application of technical and scientific knowledge to a specific food production. Part of the HACCP process is to systematically prioritize and control hazards as well as to identify where and how these hazards might occur either in your ingredients, your finished product, your process or your distribution. When HACCP principles are in place, there are defined actions implemented to prevent, eliminate and reduce potential hazards. That’s not all. The next important part of HACCP is monitoring and verifying the applications and effectiveness of these actions to make sure the risks of hazards are decreased. The end result is the production of a food product that is much safer to consume.

Step 1: Put together your HACCP team
To prepare for an effective food safety HACCP program, the first step in the process is to choose your HACCP team. Ideally your HACCP team should represent all parts of your operation. Quality assurance and quality control personnel are an essential part of every HACCP team, but production, maintenance, purchasing and management employees should not be overlooked and have much to contribute to the success of implementing a HACCP program.

Step 2: Prepare a flow chart
After choosing your HACCP team, the next preparation step for the HACCP implementation process involves describing your products and identifying their intended use. This is not a difficult step and is simply acknowledging and documenting what you already know about your product and its destination after leaving your production facility. Creating a diagram of the flow of product from receiving to shipping is the next preparation step and is an excellent exercise in understanding how materials, finished product and people flow through your plant.

Step 3: Identify your hazards
The next step is to conduct a hazard analysis of your process and raw materials. Conducting hazard analyses of your process involves asking the question what are the possible biological, chemical and physical hazards that can occur in my process?

A biological hazard is one that can cause illness. It can involve contamination by bacteria, virus, parasite or any organism that can produce a toxin.

A typical chemical hazard is one that can cause injury or poisoning and includes even naturally occurring substances such as allergens. Other chemical hazards can even include intended ingredients but used in a manner as to exceed the intended amount. Antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides are examples. Chemical hazards also include ingredients that are accidentally added – such as cleaning chemicals, paint or pest control chemicals.

A typical physical hazard is any foreign object accidentally added that can cause injury. Examples of this are glass, metal grindings, screws, bolts, stones, pebbles and hard plastics.

Step 4: Determine the CCPs and limits
The next important principle in the development of your HACCP program is determining the critical control points (CCPs) and establishing critical limits. A CCP is any step (or activity) which adds an element of control to the production environment and can be applied to your process. The CCP is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level. An example of a biological CCP to reduce a possible biological hazard involves a heating step in your process for a specific time and temperature. An example of a physical CCP to reduce a possible physical hazard involves having your product go through a metal detector. Once the CCPs are established the limits for each point need to be established. For example, for the elimination of a potential biological hazard we would cook a food product at a designated minimum temperature for a designated minimum amount of time.

Step 5: Don’t forget the prerequisite program!
For a complete HACCP program to be in place a prerequisite program is also required. A prerequisite program reduces the likelihood of certain hazards from occurring. Often prerequisite programs are facility wide and if not followed, bring significant food safety concerns. Many recalls are not related to CCPs but rather to failures in prerequisite programs. The WHO definition of Prerequisite Programs is practices needed prior to and during implementation of HACCP which are essential for food safety. They can be divided into the following groups: premises, personnel, transportation, sanitation, equipment, and recalls. Procedures need to be written and implemented and need to be made available to everyone who has a role in monitoring your process, implementing corrective actions, and verifying that the steps implemented are effective.   Finally, procedures need to be in place for record keeping and documentation.

In essence HACCP is a system what when properly designed, implemented and maintained, results in the production of safer food, improved workplace safety, increased market access, protection against liability and sets the company on a pursuit for continuous improvement.

Article provided by: dicentra.com

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com






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Market Research and Your Company

Posted on March 23 2016 | Author: Alex Lazier

The advent of advertising was here. The date is November 2nd, 1920 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the first radio advertising licence had just been purchased. While undeniably monumental, early advertising lacked the direction and precision which market research would eventually facilitate over the decades to come. Early marketing managers would simply create and advertise with the optimism that readers would be influenced through the information provided. However, it was not until Harvard psychologist Daniel Starch pioneered the first market research firm in the mid-1920s that quantifiable data was utilized in supporting serious company strategies.

Nearing a century later, market research has evolved into a pillar of corporate strategy. With increasingly precise technologies and algorithms with abilities to collect information on the most specific of demographics; effective businesses have rooted themselves in high-level market research.   

Though broad in terminology, market research is defined as “The action or activity of gathering information about consumers' needs and preferences.” The current mediums of which this information is identified and interpreted include:

Market information

  • Being cognisant of applicable commodity prices on the market
  • Recognition of supply and demand situations
  • Understanding social, technical, and legal aspects of market

Market segmentation

  • The division of the market or population into subgroups with similar motivations
  • Division allows for deeper analysis of geographic differences, personality differences, gender differences, demographic differences, technographic differences, use of product differences, and psychographic differences

Market trends

  • Identification of patterns in the market
  • Ability to forecast events which have bearing on profit, production, and market value

SWOT analysis

  • Written analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) to a business

Marketing Effectiveness

The measure of marketing ROI through the means of:

  • Customer analysis
  • Choice modelling
  • Competitor analysis
  • Risk analysis
  • Product research
  • Advertising the research
  • Marketing mix modeling
  • Simulated Test Marketing

How can your company benefit from Market Research?

As mentioned by the Canadian Government, the goal of conducting market research is to equip businesses with the information needed to make informed strategic decisions on innovation, growth, and the 4 P's:

  • Product — Improve product or service based on findings reflecting customer wants and needs. Focus on features such as function, appearance and customer service.
  • Price — Set a price based on popular profit margins, competitors' prices, financing options or the price a customer is willing to pay.
  • Placement — Decide where to set up and how to distribute a product. Compare the characteristics of different locations and the value of points of sale (retail, wholesale, online).
  • Promotion — Figure out how to best reach particular market segments (teens, families, students, professionals, etc.) in areas of advertising, publicity, social media, and branding.

In summation, by conducting research on a regular basis, businesses keep up with the market dynamics by pre-emptively adjusting to new regulations and technological breakthroughs. While intuition through experience can prove helpful at times, it is research and facts that paint the more accurate picture of your company’s market.


Sources
Diaz Ruiz, C. A. (2013). Assembling Market Representations. Marketing Theory 13 (3): 245–261.
Drucker, P. F. (1974).
 Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. Australia: Harper & Row. p. 864.
Government of Canada. (2015). Market research and statistics. Canada Business. Retrieved: March 16, 2016
Pauline M., Mark T., Barbara S., Michael S. (2009) The SAGE Handbook of Marketing Theory. SAGE Publications. p. 61-82.

Photo Sourced
Best Finance. (2015). How to Choose a Currency for Your Offshore Bank Account. Retrived from: bestfinancenetwork.com/tag/banking-services

 

Alexander Lazier
Market Intelligence Specialist
Bioenterprise Corporation






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Thinking of expanding to new markets? Consider this first!

Posted on March 04 2016 | Author: Admin

Thinking of expanding to new markets? Here’s what to consider before taking the leap

Expanding into a foreign market can offer many benefits for private business, including increased sales, higher profits, competitive advantage and a reduced dependency on domestic markets, to name a few. However, it can also present new challenges and risks that require careful consideration. Here are some ideas to help you navigate through the process:

Set the right strategy and priorities
Planning for expansion is a strategic exercise that involves identifying the market that meets your private company’s needs from among the many attractive options. Your strategy should consider the markets, your products or services and your overall goals for international trade. This may seem daunting, but without a full analysis of each potential market you risk choosing a market that may not be the best one for your business.

Develop the skills to evaluate, plan and execute entry into a new market
Companies expanding overseas, especially for the first time, need to acquire some new skills and expertise. It’s important to understand the effort of conducting business in a given foreign market and investigate the regulatory environment, the culture and the ability to operate seamlessly. Also, determine whether there’s a clear and growing demand for the type of products or services you offer, a base of potential clients who have the interest and money to buy and what the competitive landscape looks like.

Understand cultural, product and regulatory differences
Local culture and customs can have a significant impact on expansion. It can affect marketing your product, human resources and your methods of conducting business. It’s a good idea to get advice from someone with expertise in the market’s cultural norms and nuances. Being respectful of cultural differences can help you avoid making costly faux pas.

Get the right advice
Even where good data and information are widely available, look for people on the ground to advise you. Nothing beats real life experience when it comes to export know-how. Try to network with people who have lived in, conducted business in or have some type of connection to your target market. The information they can provide is invaluable.

Build a strong management team
Building a team of people you trust, and who share your ideas about running your private business, is an essential step in expansion. Your management on the ground needs good local knowledge and experience that can drive expansion and ensure linkages with your home market. Develop a strategy for recruitment and keep in mind that management skills needed to get a new operation off the ground may not be the same ones needed once your business is well established and growing.

Create a governance structure
Attempting to micro-manage a local operation from afar is unlikely to be successful, but you will need to retain oversight. Impose a clear decision-making process that empowers local managers to run day-to-day operations effectively while working toward the business’s strategic vision.

Be clear about your objectives and monitor progress
State your goals at the outset, along with measurable performance indicators that can be tracked by both local managers and your head office. Staying on top of progress to plan will help minimize risks and enhance your success in the market.

Your rationale for a move into a new market may be one of opportunity — overseas markets can offer exciting new prospects, high growth potential or the chance to better serve existing clients. Alternatively, it may be one of risk. You owe it to your business to do the research necessary to decide if it’s the right strategy to pursue.

By Bill Hamilton and Brock McMillan at www.financialpost.com

Click here to view the original article.






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Co-operative Education Programs: How Students and Employers Benefit

Posted on February 10 2016 | Author: Kelly Laidlaw

Co-operative (co-op) education allows students to alternate periods of academic study with periods of work experience from across several fields in both the private and public sectors. Over half of Canadian undergraduate university students participate in co-op education and internships, spanning numerous majors, and those numbers are on the rise.

Co-op education is an excellent opportunity to provide “hands on” industry experience to students before they enter the workforce on a full-time basis. Additional benefits of co-op education to students include:
 

  • Co-op students are able to test theoretical concepts that they learned in the classroom in a real-life work place setting. This provides students with a more well-rounded and realistic view of industry than academics alone can provide.
  • Co-op placements help students evaluate the suitability of their career choice before they commit to a full-time position.
  • Co-op students are able to build a network of industry contacts, learn to communicate professionally, and develop relationships with mentors.
  • Career-related experience will help to build students’ résumés, providing them with a clear competitive advantage when applying for jobs.
  • Co-op students are provided with the opportunity to learn new skills and build relationships with employers that could lead to a position post graduation.
  • Co-op education provides students with financial resources to help pay for their education, while earning credits toward their degree.
  • Co-op students are able to test skills learned in their studies, and to expand their knowledge through related work experience.

The benefits of co-op education also extends to employers, including, but not limited to:

  • Employers benefit from staying on top of new knowledge, trends and perspectives coming out of the universities.
  • Co-op students provide an infusion of bright, passionate, and enthusiastic people to the workplace. Students can bring innovative thinking to workplaces, improving business operations.
  • Co-op programs provide employers with the opportunity to meet short term staffing needs due to sick or parental leaves, vacation schedules, or transfers.
  • Existing employees get the opportunity to develop their management skills and gain the satisfaction of mentoring co-op students.
  • Co-op students can strengthen relations between academic institutions and industry.
  • Employers have year-round access to co-op employment opportunities, which can significantly reduce labour costs.
  • Co-op placements allow employers to vet and gain access to well-qualified employees upon graduation.

There are options available to help employers add a co-op student to their team. One example is the Co-operative Education Tax Credit, which is a refundable tax credit. It is available to employers who hire students enrolled in a co-operative education program at an Ontario university or college. This allows corporations to claim 25 per cent of eligible expenditures (30 per cent for small businesses), with a maximum credit of $3,000 for each work placement. For more information visit: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/credit/cetc/.

Additional funding opportunities for Canadian co-op education programs are listed here:
https://uwaterloo.ca/hire/recruit-waterloo/financial-support#Topfundingopportunities

Bioenterprise has seen the value in participating in co-operative education programs for several years now.  In fact, we are a proud recipient of the University of Guelph’s “Co-op Employer of the Year” award. We hope to continue to support the learning goals of students who are looking for opportunities to gain experience in the agri-tech industry. In the long term, we see the importance of contributing to the increasingly productive and innovative future workforce that Canada needs to compete globally, as driven by the next generation. 

Sources:

Kelly Laidlaw
Program Manager, Corporate Relations

 






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Farmer-Entrepreneurs Adding Value to the Agri-Food and Products Sector

Posted on January 27 2016 | Author: Carolyn Dowling

Primary agriculture in Canada plays a significant role in the economy as one of the most prominent and complex industries. As a result of fluctuating variables in the agriculture sector, including changing weather patterns, transportation, and global economic shifts, Canadian farmers are increasingly seeking alternative routes to market in order to mitigate risk and extend their market season. These farmers transitioning into agri-food and agri-product processors and manufacturers are a unique type of entrepreneur who demand specialized resources and support to enter the space, gain traction, and deliver on the bottom line.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) provides critical resources to start navigating the value-added sector:

If value-added food processing business is the next venture, OMAFRA’s online 2015 Guide to Food and Beverage Manufacturing provides commercialization considerations that every entrepreneur needs to make at the product development stage. The considerations covered in the Guide include quality assurance, marketing, pricing and distribution, as well as zoning and tax considerations.

The On-Farm Processing Recipe Based Costing Tool is another user-friendly online resource from OMAFRA which can help determine if value-added food processing is the right opportunity for you.  It analyzes the effects of ingredient, packaging and other costs on the product margin when scaling up to commercial format.

The Food Processing Human Resource Council (FPHRC) has launched the Innovations Road Map for Food and Beverage Processors , which is a start-to-finish online interactive platform for entrepreneurs moving from conceptualization to commercialization.

From a farmer-forward perspective, Farm Management Canada (FMC) has started bridging the gaps in the value chain by introducing Canadian farmers to sustainable business management strategies, including diversifying their market opportunities to increase their bottom line. FMC offers comprehensive online resources targeting the range of farmers from those individuals exploring their options to progressive farmer-entrepreneurs looking to make their next move. The following resources also include real-time case studies of Canadian farmers who travelled the road to commercialization before them:

The Agri-food Management Institute (AMI) provides complementary resources to both OMAFRA and FMC through two initiatives with Georgian College:

  1. Transition Smart- Farmers to Processors: This program is being rolled out in February 2016, aiming to connect farmers with the appropriate tools to enter agri-food processing, including operational planning, distribution and sales from a business management perspective.
  2. Food Entrepreneurs: Building Ontario Innovation One Product at a Time: This is a new food entrepreneur-focussed conference launching in March 2016, which will showcase local farmer-entrepreneurs, expert speakers and resources for new entrants to the space.

Although these resources are accessible to all Canadians, there are some additional programs targeting farmer-entrepreneurs in the Maritimes. These resources include:

  • The Future Farmer Program through PEI’s Growing Forward 2
  • THINKFarm through Nova Scotia’s Growing Forward 2
  • Innovation PEI provides programs that promote productivity, innovation, development, and commercialization in the value-added food and product space
  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) supports the processing space more so than the primary production space through their funding opportunities that are focussed on business development and innovation. 

Bioenterprise has worked with a number of farmer-entrepreneurs who have turned creative farm equipment solutions or niche food products into a successful value-added business ventures. These individuals accessed available resources to realize their dreams, including connections to local incubators and hubs, professionals in product and market development, and public and private funding opportunities.

The aforementioned resources, programs and tools act as a springboard for Canadian farmers to explore or upgrade their natural entrepreneurial business acumen. Farmers are enabled to hone in their focus on the innovation, competitiveness and market development necessary to advance and capitalize on the emerging market opportunities in the agri-business space.  

Carolyn Dowling
Senior Analyst






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“Rome wasn’t built in a Day”…

Posted on January 14 2016 | Author: Laura Millson

The ancient Roman Empire is renowned for its architectural and visual splendor.   It took the patience and commitment of many and attests to the fact that we simply cannot hope to achieve anything great within a short period of time.

We experience daily how our lives and work can be simplified if we were able to consolidate information in one place.  It is an intimidating task to research and model a database.   Patience, persistence and planning are key elements before you even get to the bricks and mortar.  This is the foundation of database development.

The challenge...

Perhaps the most important rule and phase to designing a database is the initial design and brainstorming phase.  A good database starts with a good plan.  Determine the purpose, the scope and the functionality of what you want the database to store, what you need out of it and how it will help you work.  This gives a developer all of the information upfront to begin a design.  Spending time on the planning process ensures you have a clear idea of the type of database your organization needs, can afford and support.  Only with all of the necessary information available can a great database “empire” design be created with proper linkages and best practices intact.

The goal…

The goal of any database is to be efficient and scalable.  Data is always edited, added and deleted so it is important to keep it organized in order to maintain this constant changing set of data.  Identify your organizations overall objectives, what data needs to be collected, what reports are required, user needs and overall benefits of the database and what it will offer.

The design…

The core of the database design can be complex and the process of planning can vary greatly.  Start with a general and complete view or “wish list” Be realistic about the planning process and collect the information about the needs of those who will be using the database.  It can often be more difficult to add in items later rather than get it right the first time. Decide what you want, prepare a timetable and scope of the project.  It can be streamlined as you progress.  An excellent feature worth investigating is the option of an administrative module to manage data, permissions, and security.

Creating a plan will serve as a guide when implementing the database and as a functional specification for the database after it is implemented.

Think outside the database.

  • Consider search features, uploads, messaging links to web browser and email functionality.
  • Decide what fields and tables your database will contain and the content and layout requirement of those tables  - be specific.
  • Define how data in one table is related to data in another table.
  • Do tables need to be linked together; or does data within each table require sorting.

Assess...

  • Who will lead the project?
  • Who will use the database?
  • Who will maintain the database and what experience do they have, in hardware and software requirements?
  • Are there any limits created by your current setup such as the age of computers or whether they are PC or MAC and their varying operating systems?
  • Do you have a network, require remote access; is there a budget for upgrades?
  • What staff will be trained in the use of the system?
  • How will it be delivered?
  • What support do you require?  (i.e. upgrades, potential new features, troubleshooting)

Plan your time…

No matter who is leading the project, the amount of time taken for planning is often under estimated.  Before the technical details, think through the commitment and ensure you have the budget and support needed.

  • Staff time to develop the database plan.
  • The cost of buying or building the database.
  • Staff time to test/data entry.
  • Training of staff to use the database.
  • Time to manage, maintain and use the database.

The budget…

  • Your estimate of time and budget will become more and more accurate as the planning process continues
  • Identify the problems that need to be solved and the benefits it will bring
  • Staff time, streamlining productivity and efficiency
  • Improved quality of service or delivery of information
  • The value of these potential benefits will help set up an initial budget which can be modified as you talk to suppliers and contractors.

The Key to Success…

Ensure you have the clear support and involvement of senior management.  Developing a new database cannot be seen as a technical issue – it is likely to affect the entire organization and it needs senior level support.  Which is vital once the development process becomes more technically driven.

Now that the foundation blocks have been assembled you can begin the intricate architectural build of your database project.

Laura Milson
Special Projects Coordinator






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Sustainability and the Start-Up: The Value of Implementing Sustainable Measures into Your Business Plan

Posted on December 09 2015 | Author: Emily Hartwig

This month, France will chair and host the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The main objective of the Convention is to create a new international agreement on climate change – a major focus of which will be sustainability and creating a sustainable future for our global economy. You might be wondering, “What does sustainability have to do with my business?” and “is incorporating sustainability really worth it during this development stage of my company?”

Traditionally in business, a company’s bottom line includes profits, return on investment and shareholder value. In today’s market exists John Elkington’s business theory: the Triple Bottom Line. This hybrid of traditional and modern ideals is an accounting framework that incorporates three dimensions of performance into a company’s business plan: environmental, social and financial. Sustainability planning allows companies to incorporate various tactics to elevate their influence and impact on these three dimensions of performance, and ultimately, accelerate their business. 

Ellen Kappes, an MBA focused on sustainability in business, details the benefits of sustainability planning for start-ups and small businesses:

“Sustainability concepts naturally align with the core values of most entrepreneurs and therefore can easily be embedded in a start up business”. Sustainable measures can include energy reduction planning by means of energy efficient devices, and waste diversion by means of recycling and composting programs. Both of these initiatives create cost savings, a core value among entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“Engagement at the early stages of a business will build a culture and competitive position that will be harder to create later on”. Enacting a sustainability plan in your early stages of development will reduce costs incurred as a result of potential future government mandates for these types of programs such as water use reductions and pollution prevention measures.

“Formalizing sustainability goals early on will ensure that you make good on your intentions and will force you to build organizational capacity”. Not only will incorporating sustainability in your business produce financial savings, but they will enhance your public image as well. Sustainable planning will improve your company profile and reduce the risk of negative public opinion. A company that exhibits social responsibility will garner customer loyalty and retention, which are highly valuable traits to financial inventors when you wish to expand your company.

“Time spent identifying sustainable solutions fosters creativity and innovation”. Sustainable planning initiatives will foster creative thinking, and creative thinking will result in an overall revolutionary business!

Emily Hartwig
Regulatory & Sustainability Assistant

Photo Credit: GreenBiz






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