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A Dispute Over Refinery Upgrades

August 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Construction turnaround services are planned years in advance to make sure that the impact to workflow is minimal. The extensive planning is to be sure that there are no mistakes, as extended down time is costly for the owners of the plant. During all phases of planning, it’s important to allocate risk and document everything. Here are some tips to help crews navigate construction disputes.

Designate Indemnity Provisions              

One of the most effective methods to stop a dispute before it starts is to designate an indemnity provision that puts financial responsibility on certain parties to perform a job without injury. These are usually part of a contract between contractor and owner, because the owner isn’t responsible for what happens on the site. If an accident occurs, for instance, the owner shouldn’t necessarily be at fault if he or she was not directly related to the cause of the accident. An indemnity helps provide some safety against that type of litigation.

Mediation or Trial

In cases where insurance doesn’t solve the issue, it may be necessary to take a dispute to court. At this point, both parties have the ability to mediate the dispute if they are willing to do so. Private mediation will help both parties arrive at a mutually beneficial decision, and it doesn’t carry the risks of trial. With trial, the outcome of a case can shatter relationships in addition to bringing financial burden. Mediation can help mitigate some of that risk, but it’s important to approach mediation with an open mind. Typically, both parties accept some fault during mediation but the outcome is typically beneficial to everyone involves.

Bio: Lyle Charles Consulting is a firm that specializes in commercial and residential construction projects, including management and turnaround services. Lyle Charles is also licensed as an expert witness and structural steel expert.

Reduce Refinery Downtime with Turn Around

April 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Turnarounds are a big deal. They can affect a company’s annual budget

That is why smart companies use construction & turnaround services. Turn around safety and environmental compliance, It also assures low cost.

To be successful, turnarounds require management skill. The ideal manager already has an arsenal of proven practices for a turnaround. There are a series of things that need to be managed during a turnaround, some of these are maintenance of the normal equipment, making sure the workers that are still there are productive, and that materials arrive on time.

For example, in the case of a steel refinery-there are a series of actions that need to be taken immediately to get things up and running again. Failure to do so adds to downtime that is already costing the company money every day.

One important action is staffing up to ensure not only maintenance but also productivity. It may be necessary to hire an interim structural steel expert. It has been proven that saving money in the quality of workers is not the best way to save money, and this type of action will sometimes backfire.

So it is best to shop for the best experts who have experience with interim services management. And in this case, a structural steel expert with experience in interim services management would be the best.

Once hired, make sure the experts are able to perform their work immediately and promptly so that no time or money is lost.

Bio: Lyle Charles Consulting is a firm that specializes in turnaround services for refineries. Lyle Charles is a structure steel expert with experience as an expert witness and consultant.

 

 

Business Plan Basics

April 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Business Plan Basics
Could your small business be doing better?

If you think it could do better, maybe your business is under-performing for one (or more!) of these sneaky reasons.

– Lack of strategic business focus
– Intense competition
– Not enough time in the day
– Lack of profitability
– The team isn’t working well together
– You’re just not having any fun!

These reasons for a business not achieving its potential are very common. And if one or more of them apply to your business, it simply means that your game plan is not working properly.

The Business Building Challenge

Maybe your business game plan doesn’t take all the important issues into account. Like the condition of the ground you are playing on. Or maybe you need to better understand the other teams so that that you can can outwit them. And maybe the tactics you are using are just not appropriate.

What you really need is an innovative, robust and inspiring plan for building your business. And you need to start from the beginning. You need to make business plans that, firstly, lay a solid foundation. And then you have to follow the plan, and build your business from the bottom up.

Tips for Claiming a Home Office Deduction

January 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

If you own your own business and work from home, you could be eligible for some major tax breaks. The IRS gives significant deductions to people who operate a home office – that is, people who do a significant amount of work from their home. In the eyes of the IRS, this means that the part of your home dedicated to work-related activities (such as your computer room if you are a writer or kitchen if you sell cupcakes) can be treated as your primary place of business and count as a partial tax deduction.

Of course, the IRS also has strict rules governing how these deductions are handled and is often stringent in their enforcement. Here are a few tips to help make sure you get the most our of your potential home office deduction and avoid running afoul of federal tax laws:

Calculate Your Home Office Area: How much of a deduction from your mortgage or rental costs (along with utilities, rental fees and other costs) you can claim is determined by what percentage of your home is used for work. Provide an accurate assessment of how much space you use during work and avoid the temptation to exaggerate.

Keep Private and Personal Effects Separate: Your office spaces needs to be clearly defined as such, so you need to keep any private items away from it. Of course, you can decorate your office space with pictures or have items such as an MP3 player. But having items such as a baby crib or video game system that you would never have in a traditional office is a no-no.

Only Expenses for Your Office Space Are Deductible: This means that you can’t include expenses for the upkeep your your overall home in your deductions. Deductions relating to fixing your office space are acceptable; deductions for landscaping your front lawn or installing a new oven aren’t.

Customer Loyalty Tips for your Small Business

January 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

An easy way to think of marketing is as the process of getting your customers to climb the loyalty ladder.

As they ascend the ladder, your customers become more loyal and their value to your business increases. They start off as Suspects and your objective should be to eventually turn them into Raving Fans.

On the bottom rung of the ladder are all the people who fall into your target market.

You can reach these people through various forms of promotion such as advertising, flyers, inserts, mail-outs, in-store promotions, etc. They are suspects because they may or may not be interested in the product or service you offer.

Suspects take a step up the ladder and become Prospects when they respond to your promotional material. They do this by phoning for more information, walking into your store or interacting in some other way. They have expressed an interest in your product or service by taking action.

When Prospects buy from you, they become customers and move up to the next rung of the loyalty ladder.

Converting a Prospect into a Customer is the purpose of the sales process. It can involve supplying information, making value added offers, giving discounts and guarantees, providing testimonials, etc.

Getting new customers is expensive – it costs six times as much to get new customers as it does to get existing customers to return. So you need to get your existing customers to come back over and over again. You want your customers to take another step up the ladder and become members.

You turn Customers into Members by giving them very good service and providing incentives for repeat business. Various methods can be used to give customers a sense of belonging, eg, giving customers cards like AA and Foodtown.

When Members become Advocates, they start telling their friends about you and why they should also use your product or service.

You get Members to take that step up the loyalty ladder by going the extra mile for them. You have to under promise and over deliver, ensuring your customers’ experience is beyond their expectations.

You create Raving Fans by delighting your customers — getting close to them and anticipating their needs.

The great thing about raving fans is that they do your marketing for you, saving you substantial costs while enhancing your reputation.

Planning for Business Success in four easy steps

January 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

It is generally accepted that a well thought out strategy will take a business to the next level and beyond. And that failure to plan in business is like planning to fail.
But many business owners don’t do strategic planning because they find planning concepts confusing. This article gets around that problem by comparing Strategic Planning to something you can all relate to : building a house.

Building a House
Imagine that, for your new home, you will have a house built and that you have already bought a section. Your challenge is to ensure that you move into a house that satisfies the family’s requirements and does not have any building defects. The process for ensuring that this happens can be divided into 4 steps:

  • Review Requirements
  • Conceptual Design
  • Detailed Plan
  • Build House

Step 1 involves visualising how the house would be used. You need to look at the house from the perspective of different stakeholders – partners, children, the bank (who will be providing the finance) etc. The result is a good understanding of required specifications – number of bedrooms and bathrooms, configuration of living area, and so on.

Only after doing this are you able to give your architect the information needed to do a Conceptual Design (step 2). During this step, options are explored and your initial thinking is clarified. But the thinking is still focused on what the house will look like and how it will fit together –the number of rooms, layout and style.

Step 3 is the Detailed Plan, which specifies exactly how the house will be built. It provides detailed instructions for the builder to follow and, provided that it is followed correctly, will result in the desired outcome.

This simple process should deliver the house of your dreams. But it is very important that each step is successfully completed before moving on to the next step. For it to work, no steps can be left out and the sequence of these steps must not be changed. If the process is corrupted in this way, the project will most probably not deliver the desired outcomes – a comfortable home and a happy family.

Built into our house building process are the basic rules of project management, and they are just as applicable to Strategic Planning.

Strategic Planning
When doing Strategic Planning for your business, you need to go through a similar thought process as you would for building a house. The steps are :

  • Explore Business Vision
  • Set Strategic Objectives
  • Tactical Action Planning
  • Take Required Action

Each step is similar to the corresponding step in building a house. Compare these steps as we move through the process.

Exploring the vision you have for your business (step 1) is a lot like reviewing your requirements before building a house. It involves considering all the outcomes you want from your business, from the perspective of different stakeholders – the owners, customers, staff etc.

An effective way to do this to ask the question “If this business was a stunning success, what would it look like?”. For example, the business owners might want profitability, having more time for themselves and maximising the saleability of the business. Staff might be mainly concerned about career development, sharing in profits and flexible hours.

Your business vision is the foundation on which Strategic Objectives are built (step2). The Strategic Objectives, when they have been achieved, will turn your business vision into reality. Setting Strategic Objectives clarifies your thinking on what you need to do to achieve your business goals. It is like telling the architect what the key success criteria for your new house are.

Step 3, Tactical Action Planning, involves planning in detail what has to be done to achieve your Strategic Objectives, based on the use of appropriate tactics. It is like the detailed plan an architect does before building starts.

The final step is taking required action (step4). If all these steps take place successfully and in sequence, your strategy will be turned into action. Success in your business will inevitably follow…

Strategic Management : Is your business going where you want it to go?

January 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

… Because if it isn’t, you probably need to do some Strategic Management to get your business pointed in the right direction.

Strategic management is an approach to running your business that focuses on delivering the long term outcomes you really want.

Strategic management transforms your business, so that it satisfies your top priority desires. They could be a capital gain, a passive income, more time for yourself, better teamwork, or just having more fun!

The Strategic management approach builds your business into what you want it to become. Its like building a house. You start with laying a foundation. And you build on it, from the bottom up.

The Strategic Planning Model illustrates the process. It is a layered model and you start at the bottom. It is shaped as an inverted triangle because, the process starts with a few key thoughts – what you want your business to become.

Each of the 5 steps that follow, expands on the step that precedes it, broadening the scope and increasing the level of detail.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey captures the essence of Strategic Thinking. Covey’s second habit is Starting with the End in Mind. Before you start doing anything, make sure that you are absolutely clear on what outcome you really want.

So your first step in the Strategic Management process is to build a Mission or vision for your business. It is a detailed mental picture of what you want your business to become. This is the raison d’ etre, or “reason for being” of your business.

Your business will only give you what you really want if your Mission becomes the driving force behind it. Which is why getting clear on you Mission is a good place to start.

With you Mission under your belt, you have clarity on where you are going with your business. The next step is to understand, in detail, where you are coming from. In other words, you have to systematically analyse your Current Situation.

Strategic Management is like reading a map. Before you can plan a route to get there, you first have to locate your destination and current position on the map. You are then able to choose the most effective route for making the journey.

Now that you are clear on where you are going with your business (your Mission) and where you are coming from (analysis of Current Situation), you start to get a good idea of what the strategic gap is. And you are well placed to Develop a Business Strategy that will bridge that gap. This is the next stage in the process.

Developing a Business Strategy is often hyped up in the media as something that only expensive specialists and business fortune-tellers can do. In fact, it is fairly straight forward and can produce spectacular results for anyone. As long as you use a systematic approach and follow through to the end.

The temptation, when developing a Strategy, is to focus on marketing, sales and the generation of income in the short-term. But it is very important that you take a balanced view of the whole business. In addition to Financial returns, you must also consider Customer Satisfaction, Business Processes and Learning & Growth areas in the business. Most importantly, you must understand the interdependencies between what is happening in these business areas.

Let me explain. Getting good financial returns from your business depends, in the long run, on how satisfied your customers are. In turn, customer satisfaction is largely a function of how good your business processes are.

To take it one step further, how good your business processes are depends on how good your equipment is, how skilled your people are and how well your systems have been set up (Learning &Growth).

All these interdependencies work together to produce the ultimate business outcome – the performance, or lack of it, of your business. Strategy is the key to the growth engine in your business. Without strategy, the business won’t go anywhere.

There are three key steps in developing a strategy. And you must go through them in order:

1- Understand interdependencies between different areas of your business
2- Figure out the critical success factors in these business areas
3- Identify tactics that support the critical success factors

A Tactic is a group of related activities that support achievement of an objective. For example, if the objective is to get more clients, a tactic could be getting referrals from existing clients. The activities are all those things you have to do to implement a referral campaign.

Your Strategy will consist of a whole lot of Tactics. Your next step is to organise these tactics into a Plan Design. At this stage, don’t worry too much about the detailed actions involved. Prioritise your tactics and decide which ones you want to start working on.

When you know what tactics you want to implement, you can start to Make Action Plans. Simply break your tactics down into detailed actions, and schedule them over a period of time.

Don’t think too far ahead. Planning for the month ahead works best in small businesses. At the end of the month, you review what you achieved and plan for the next month.

The final step in the Strategic Management model is taking Strategic Action. This is where the rubber hits the road. And this is where strategic management efforts often falter. It goes almost without saying. If you don’t take the action, all the planning you did beforehand was a waste of time.

Many businesses never manage to implement their strategies because key stakeholders were never adequately committed to the process in the first place. And they failed to re-arrange the way they work to ensure that strategic action gets taken.

To avoid this happening to your business, you must ensure that key stakeholders buy into the process. And that an effective, action focused ongoing Strategic Management process is used.

Note that the Strategic Planning Model has a Feedback Loop. This is because your business operates in a constantly changing environment.

While, your Mission may stay the same, your Strategy has to constantly adapt to changing circumstances. This is why a monthly planning cycle works best. At all times, you have to scan the environment and re-focus your Strategy when necessary.

Rapid and sustained growth in any business, has to be launched from a strategic platform. Failure to create and maintain a strategic focus means that growth, if it happens at all, is short-lived.

It also doesn’t matter how big the business is. Whether you work alone, or you are supported by a large team, the challenge remains the same. Developing a balanced business strategy, and making sure that all that strategic action is taken.

Could your small business be doing better?

January 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

business-meeting
If you think it could do better, maybe your business is under-performing for one (or more!) of these sneaky reasons.

– Lack of strategic business focus
– Intense competition
– Not enough time in the day
– Lack of profitability
– The team isn’t working well together
– You’re just not having any fun!

These reasons for a business not achieving its potential are very common. And if one or more of them apply to your business, it simply means that your game plan is not working properly.

The Business Building Challenge

Maybe your business game plan doesn’t take all the important issues into account. Like the condition of the ground you are playing on. Or maybe you need to better understand the other teams so that that you can can outwit them. And maybe the tactics you are using are just not appropriate.

What you really need is an innovative, robust and inspiring plan for building your business. And you need to start from the beginning. You need to make business plans that, firstly, lay a solid foundation. And then you have to follow the plan, and build your business from the bottom up.

Business Building Resources on this Website

Read all about a very powerful Business Model for building your business into the success it deserves to be. It show you how to move through the process of creating your Strategic Business Plan, and then put it into action.

From the Your Strategy section, get ideas on Business tactics that could make that elusive difference to your business. Key areas to look at include Marketing, The Internet and Goal Setting.