The Pains of Doing Online Business in Africa

Take it or leave it, Africa is a great continent. It is my beloved continent with an estimated population of 1.216 billion people.

There are about 7 billion people with unique skills, talents, knowledge, and experience. God bless humanity.

So, if you think of the right market to sell your goods or services, come to Africa.

This is the optimistic part of this story. It is good to begin 2017 on a positive, optimistic level.

Now, let us come down to reality. The world has gone digital. But, Africa is still slow in moving from analogue to digital age.

Corruption, illiteracy, poverty, lack of social amenities, lack of trust, lack of knowledge on what it takes to run a business online, are some of the factors militating against Africa and Africans.

Internet penetration is 28.7 percent in my beloved continent. Compared to North America with 89 percent penetration level, this is a far cry.

This means North America with an estimated population of 579 million people is more digital than Africa. But, Africa has the market. In fairness, businesses are striving in the continent.

Lots of Africans know little or nothing about online business and think that people who do businesses online are either fraudsters or criminals.

This is not true. There are genuine and fake business owners everywhere, internet inclusive.

Trust has also made it impossible to do business online. With the world becoming a global family, business owners do not need to meet physically to transact business. There are no limitations in this digital age to running businesses.

Everything and anything could be sold online and money in local and foreign currencies transferred from one part of the world to the other.

But, my good friend in Lagos, Nigeria, who has masters degree from one of the oldest universities in our country know little or nothing about running an online business.

We were discussing yesterday and he told me bluntly that he knows next to nothing about online business.

So, he is comfortable moving his vehicle parts from one place to the other in search of customers.

This is the pains some of online business owners are going through in Africa with great potentials.

But, the pains of not getting enough customers from Africa for your business are a passing phase. Even as the Bible says, this will pass away.

Therefore, in 2017, I am positive that more and more business owners will overcome the pains of going from analogue to digital in Africa.

I get the feeling deep down that ten years down the line, the story will change for the better and internet penetration in Africa will rise.

Prince2 Configuration Management and Change Control

I remember, many years ago, attending my first training course on Quality. Management couldn’t get enough people to attend, so they bribed them with a free scientific calculator (back then worth about $200) – so I attended.

To be honest, I found it a whole lot more compelling than I expected.

After lunch on the second day, they had an expert talk about Configuration Management.

Well, she certainly knew her stuff – but I came away thinking that CM was a bit ‘academic’.

How Wrong Can I Be? Configuration Management is BUSINESS CRITICAL!

I’m serious. Would you buy another auto from your dealer if they weren’t set up with the right tools to service your car?

How about if they fitted the wrong replacement parts? Or if the Manual had errors in it?

There’s a famous story about the Space Shuttle incurring huge extra costs because European suppliers used the metric system and the USA used Imperial measurements. Tolerance errors built up and parts did not fit together properly.

Change Configuration Management would have stopped that from happening, and it would have helped to spot any such problems much earlier on.

Let’s talk about change control within Prince2

Changes usually come in three categories:

Request For Change (RFC). This is usually a request from the customer or users asking for a change from what was originally requested.

It may be a change to the requirements, specification, acceptance criteria, or scope – or all or any re-work – or accept some form of price reduction.

The final category is a general one. reserved for any general issues, observations or concerns (for example, my design engineer has resigned!).

All the above may be seen as just different categories of an Issue.

So what is Configuration Management? Well it’s basically an

internal service group with resources, tools, procedures and systems to control multiple versions of the products (deliverables) of projects.

Each product is termed an “Asset”. The name for the combined set of these assets is called a configuration.

And the configuration of a projects end product is the sum of its parts.

So why should we care about using CM?

Changes to your project WILL happen – so prepare for it. I was talking about Change Management, which by the way, should be under the wings of CM.

So when changes occur, your project will end up with multiple versions of a product.

If you don’t have appropriate tracking and knowledge of these versions, what was changed, and why it was changed, then your project is going to end up in turmoil.

Suppose you are a design engineer, and a colleague asked you for a copy of the specification document as they are about to design something from it.

What if you had changed the document in some way since it was agreed – maybe because you could see it was an improvement?

Your colleague now designs against this different spec to the spec that others are using – and his product doesn’t work or fit with other designs of the same system. Chaos Reigns.

How about this. A client rings up and says they’re using an old version of one of your products (because it’s compatible with the rest of their system), and can you build some more for them as a special custom order please?

You say ‘no problem’ – you go to your design shop only to find that they’ve lost the drawings – worse, the designer retired last year.

You’d have the same problem if customers said it had a design fault, and could you fix it, or if a customer wanted a modification based on an old design.

And the same problems could exist if you run a ‘service’ corporation.

Are your staff using the right tools, procedures and guidelines?

Are they trained to provide that service?

Let me ask – does senior management have a set of business plans based on a set of strategic directions? And do different parts of the corporation base their operational plans on these documents?

Sheesh! I sure hope they are all using the correct versions of these things…

Okay, let’s get back to your project, and how CM will help.

I hope I’ve convinced you that CM should be a permanent fixture in your organisation and not just set up by and during, a project (because the end products have got to be sustained during their whole life).

The person who provides the CM service is called the Configuration Librarian. Yeah, I know, it sounds kind of dated – but don’t let that put you off. This role can also be called the Configuration Administrator.

Here’s how they can help your project:

1. CM has a completed library of all items that have ever been produced in your organisation (including anything that has been ‘bought-in’ from a third party).

In modern times, these records will probably be held on a database of some sort. In the past they would have been held in hard copy form in a traditional filing system.

2. Each of these records will have information stating who has got what, where it is held, and why.

These records will also hold details of any changes made.

3. The library will also hold master copies of multiple baseline versions of products.

If you work for a small organisation and run small simple projects, then you would expect the way that CM is carried out to be small and simple too. As long as you have control of all versions of all of your products and services.

Next, I want to explain what services the CM Library can give to your project.

It is the project managers’ responsibility to ensure that CM is being properly used by the project.

To help ensure this happens a CM Plan can be created.

Note. For a small and simple project, the plan may just be a list of points to discuss and agree with CM.

The Plan may form part of any quality planning or be included within the Project Plan.

Do what is sensible – but here are the areas that should be covered:

A short narrative explaining what configuration method to be used (or a simple reference to the ‘usual’ system.

What corporate standards will be used (or why they will be varied in some way).

Linkages to any other configuration management systems (or any tools) that will be used. An example may be a third party who is contributing products to the project.

How and where the products will be stored. Are they just documents?

Or are they other physical items – in which case will they be installed on the customer site, or stored elsewhere, such as a bonded storehouse.

How will filing be carried out, and what is the process

for secure retrieval?

What form of version control be used – explain how they

will be identified.

Who within the project and external to it will be

responsible for implementing configuration management?

The Configuration Librarian will provide the FIVE

following services to any given project:

1. Planning. Working with the project manager, to establish what level of detail is required (this is dependent upon the complexity of the total end-product configuration).

2. Identification. Agreeing what products will be under configuration control (for example, the Project Plan may not be included, as long as the project manager has a simple ‘off-line’ system for keeping it under their own version control).

3. Control. Procedures to ‘freeze’ baselines of products and bring them under control of the CM library.

Freezing means no changes are allowed to the product without the right level of authority (for example the project sponsor).

There is another point to be brought out here.

Take the development of a new mountain bike.

One person is designing the wheels, another is developing the frame, yet another, the gearing system.

As each goes through the many design versions the others need to make sure the entire configuration of the bike remains ‘harmonized’.

The CM database will recognise such linkages and alert the team (via reports as described later in this article); of the relationships each product has to each other.

4. Status Accounting. This is the CM database for the recording and reporting of all products.

This goes back into history to the first version, and all the way up to the current version. This data can be given to the project manager at key points, such as an end stage review as accurate proof of the true status on all the projects products.

5. Verification. CM provides reviews and audits to ensure that the project team are using the correct versions of documents and other products during the project (and that they match the ‘master’ copies of such that are held in the library).

This should be seen as a service – not as ‘the management police’!

Finally, there are two important reports that the project manager will use from the CM Librarian:

1. The Configuration Record. This is a record of all the information required about each product’s status, and includes; the latest version number, who is creating the product, where the product is to be kept/stored, and what its status is.

2. Product Status Account. This is a report (usually requested by the project manager at key review points), and provides information about the state of all products within some defined time frame (for example “give me a report of all products and their status that have been created during the current project stage”

The PSA will, for each product within that time frame, contain data such as when each product was baseline and when any changes were approved.

Here is a short synopsis of key points within a Prince2 project when Configuration Management is used:

Planning Quality.

The Configuration Management Plan is created, prior to the

development of the Project Plan. The Project Manager to liaise with Configuration Librarian to discuss how the project will use/work with their Configuration Management (CM) System.

Setting Up Project Files

Takes information from the Project Plan, and adds project filing structure to the Configuration Management Plan. CM system may already have these facilities.

Authorising Work Package (WP)/giving work to the team

Update the Configuration Item Record to “under development” Configuration Librarian will do this.

Ensure the WP contains information regarding how version control will work for the developer, obtaining copies of products or product descriptions, submission the Configuration Librarian, and passing product status information.

Assessing Project Progress.

Capturing “actuals” and updating the status of products Configuration Item Record (CIR). Configuration Librarian can provide a Product Status Account (PSA) if needed.

Capturing and Examining Project Issues/Changes

Configuration Librarian could receive/document all Changes/Issues as well as maintain the Change/Issue Log.

Taking Corrective Action.

When any changes are to be made, the Configuration Librarian to make any products or their copies available, add new copies given out to the CIR, and update CIR for any status changes.

Receiving Completed Work Package (when the team have completed each product/deliverable)

Configuration Librarian to update the CIR to a status of ‘completed’.

Product is now baselined if not already done.

As products/deliverables are completed Specialist Team to advise Configuration Librarian to update

CIR status of each product.

Completing a Work Package.

Configuration Librarian to handle the return of completed products (if appropriate), and to assist Project Assurance in confirming customer/user acceptance of products.

Regular Management Reports

Configuration Librarian with assistance of Project Assurance to confirm the CIR is same as actual status of products by carrying out a Configuration Audit.

Also check that version numbers are correct/updated.

Replanning as a result of change.

Configuration Librarian will provide a Product Status Account of products to be replaced/incomplete.

New CIR’s created if needed.

Closing down a Project.

CIR checked for completeness, and used as an input to

Product Status Account – confirmation from customers configuration management records that all products are approved.

Refer to the Configuration Management Plan for how the products are to be handed over to those with support/operational responsibilities.

Carry out a Configuration Audit to check that all products are approved and complies with their CIR’s.

During Project Planning.

The Configuration Item Record is created with reference to the Configuration Management Plan.

A simple numbering system for each product could be structured as: project name/type of product/product name/source/status/version number

So for example, if a project exists to create a new notebook PC,and a unique numbering system as above is used for the hard drive bought in from a 3rd party:

New Notebook Project/hardware/hard drive/external/in development/vA.2

Here is a detailed guide of the information needed in the

documents referred to in this article:

Configuration Management Plan.

– CM method to be used

– Links to other CM systems or tools

– Where and how products are to be stored

– security arrangements for filing and retrieval

– Identification and numbering for

products/versions

– Who is responsible for CM

Configuration Item Record.

– Unique Project identifier

– The type of product (web, hardware, etc)

– Product Name

– The Latest version number

– A full Description of the product

– Life Cycle steps for product (ie.draft,

approved, in-service, etc)

– Who owns the product (User? Ops Manager? etc)

– Who created the product?

– The date allocated to them

– The library or location where it is kept

– product source (internal, external)

– links to related products (physical, electrical,

etc)

– status (where in the life-cycle is it?

– copy-holders and potential users

– references to issues (if any) that caused change

to this product

– any relevant correspondence

Product Status Account

– Project name

– Product type

– Product identifier

– Version number

– Product description – baseline date

– Product – baseline date

– List of related products

– Date copy of product was issued for a change

– Planned date for next baseline

– Planed date for next release

– Relevant notes (change pending/under review, etc)

Computer Aided Manufacturing Applications

Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) refers to an automation process, which accurately converts product design and drawing or the object into a code format, readable by the machine to manufacture the product. Computer aided manufacturing complements the computer aided design (CAD) systems to offer a wide range of applications in different manufacturing fields. CAM evolved from the technology utilized in the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines that were used in the early 1950s. CNC involved the use of coded instructions on a punched paper tape and could control single manufacturing functions. CAM controlled computer systems, however, can control a whole set of manufacturing functions simultaneously.

CAM allows work instructions and procedures to be communicated directly to the manufacturing machines. A CAM system controls manufacturing operations performed by robotic milling machines, lathes, welding machines and other industrial tools. It moves the raw material to different machines within the system by allowing systematic completion of each step. Finished products can also be moved within the system to complete other manufacturing operations such as packaging, synthesizing and making final checks and changes.

Some of the major applications of the CAM system are glass working, woodturning, metalworking and spinning, and graphical optimization of the entire manufacturing procedure. Production of the solids of rotation, plane surfaces, and screw threads is done by applying CAM systems.
A CAM system allows the manufacturing of three-dimensional solids, using ornamental lathes with greater intricacy and detail. Products such as candlestick holders, table legs, bowls, baseball bats, crankshafts, and camshafts can be manufactured using the CAM system. CAM system can also be applied to the process of diamond turning to manufacture diamond tipped cutting materials. Aspheric optical elements made from glass, crystals, and other metals can also be produced using CAM systems.
Computer aided manufacturing can be applied to the fields of mechanical, electrical, industrial and aerospace engineering. Applications such as thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, and kinematics can be controlled using CAM systems. Other applications such as electromagnetism, ergonomics, aerodynamics, and propulsion and material science may also use computer aided manufacturing.

How to Successfully Advertise Home Care Services

Home Care Service ought to mean what it says. Shockingly, as we now know from such a large number of disclosures, the guidelines of care were not too one may sensibly expect and, for sure, now and again were horrendously, upsetting encounters for the individuals who were so reliant on them for their solace, wellbeing and welfare.

Enter Factors to Keep in Mind

Those in the matter of giving Home Care Services should be aware of some basic issues and worries that will be enter calculates the brains of potential customers.Unless they know about those issues they might just miss the mark concerning desires and neglect to pick up the certainty of the customers yet they may likewise, unwittingly, be taking an interest in spreading a negative picture of their administrations to a more extensive group.

Understanding Your Customer

It is of basic significance to have an extensive and keen comprehension of the basic components that will impact the client. This will educate the reasoning of the supplier in forming and developing the sort and level of administration it is planned to give in the main occurrence thus set up something for which there is an identifiable need and request. Giving an identifiable need does not really liken with the supposition that there is or will be an interest for it. The last will rely on upon different factors, for example, value, comfort, principles, that might be the main variable is benefiting of the administration. With regards to the arrangement of Home Care Services there are more individual and maybe, more personal contemplations that should be calculated into thought.

The Human Side of Enterprise

Some of these contemplations may incorporate a circumstance where an elderly individual can’t be appropriately or securely overseen in their own particular home and may possibly be hesitant to leave that home and go into another and, to them, an undermining domain. They esteem their freedom; they treasure their family and feel they are being cut off; they feel they will at no time in the future have their own particular space and things around them; they can’t have their feline or pooch with them; they won’t see their relatives that frequently. Actually, obviously, they are not customers or clients. They are fathers, moms, grandmas, siblings, sisters, fighters, instructors, fire fighters, specialists, ranchers. They are genuine live individuals it is essential that the natural pride of the human individual is constantly regarded.

Propensities for the Consumer

Why do we, oftentimes maybe, or constantly pass a store that has the item or administration we wish to buy and travel considerably further to obtain it? Why are we here and there arranged to pay more for an item or administration when we know we could get it at a less expensive cost? Why, regardless of the possibility that it is an indistinguishable item or administration will be go somewhere else than the most advantageous provider to buy it?

Entrepreneurs

Anybody, Small Business Owners specifically, should know about the mental variables that assistance educate those choices, if genuinely intrigued and worried about drawing in customers and clients. It is important to recognize Small Business Owners from the Giants in the commercial center as the last have, as a major aspect of their DNA, the inborn abilities, skills and experience accessible to them to do broad statistical surveying and apply the most recent bits of knowledge and understandings into all aspects of the advertising systems.

The Home Care Service Market

Home Care Services, as suggested prior, are in an especially touchy specialty and should be altogether comprehension of the attitude of potential customer’s needs and in addition the individuals who, maybe, may be getting the administration for their cherished one and who might be paying for the administration.

The 3 Myths of Network Marketing Work From Home Business

Organize Marketing, referred to numerous as Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), is the quickest developing work from home business yet most misjudged method for moving items today. All things being equal, more than 100 billion dollars worth of items and additionally administrations are being traveled through along these lines.

In this article, we will expose 3 most normal myths about this business. Before we do that, we should first investigate the central significance of…

What Exactly Is Network Marketing or MLM

Customary promoting is the procedure which includes items or administrations being moved from the maker or organization to the customer. A system alludes to an association of individuals. Joining the two terms together we have organize promoting is accordingly is the route in which items or administrations are being traveled through a system of individuals.

Along these lines, no promoting expenses are brought about as advertising of the items or administrations is done only through informal. Accordingly, organizations can focus their funds exclusively on innovative work, creating the best quality items in the market.

The 3 Myths Debunked

MYTH #1: MLM Work From Home Business = Pyramid Sales

This plan of action is frequently mistaken for PYRAMID SALES in light of the fact that both are multi-level and includes the moving of items or administrations through a system of individuals.

Be that as it may, pyramid deals is ILLEGAL! This is on the grounds that despite the fact that they subscribe to moving items and administrations through a system, they regularly don’t have any items nor do they give any substantial administration. In this way, pyramid deals are tricks.

Sadly, in light of the fact that MLM is regularly mistaken for pyramid deals, many individuals disregard this work from home plan of action. Henceforth, the vital things to ask while separating these two altogether different models are: Are items or administrations being moved? Is there a legitimate item or administration given?

MYTH #2: MLM Work From Home Business = Sales Job

The early introduction you most likely have of a man required in system showcasing, is of one thumping at your entryway and conveying items, attempting to offer you something. Albeit many system advertisers have been and are maybe presently as yet doing this, this is a wrong discernment on the grounds that in a honest to goodness arrange showcasing business, NO customary offering is included.

Around here, we are moving items and administrations not offering them. Indeed, isn’t that a similar you may inquire? Yes and no. Being ready to go for yourself, items can be purchased at discount cost from the organization you are speaking to. Many individuals joined a specific organization for this sole reason – to purchase at discount. Thusly, you can, in the event that you wish to, offer those items at retail cost and make a benefit. Along these lines, yes you can offer items in this business in the event that you decide to.

Be that as it may, you don’t HAVE TO pitch retail to be fruitful in this work from home business. The best organizers make the bigger aggregates of salary by building their association. When you manufacture a system of individuals for the organization you are speaking to, items or administrations can be diverted through your association. That is the reason deals in system showcasing come as a characteristic consequence of wholesalers imparting the items to their companions, neighbors and friends and family.

On the off chance that you basically SHARE the nature of the items to your companions in your association, that is ALL the “offering” required around here.

MYTH #3: Network Marketing = Recruiting

Many people another regular misperception individuals have about a this work from home business is that you need to select a great deal of salesmen with a specific end goal to be fruitful. This originates from the way that MLM is frequently mistaken for Direct Sales.

The one unmistakable contrast between direct deals and this business is that you are really SPONSORING business accomplices into your group not selecting sales representatives (as with Direct Sales associations). There is a huge distinction: Recruiting would mean just to “sign them up” though when you support somebody, you show them how to do what you are doing and you make a pledge to enable them to fabricate their very own business. Subsequently as a support, you are dependable to instruct the general population you achieve in this business and how they can telecommute