Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Real cost of lay offs

In the last few weeks, we saw a lot  of companies laying off staff , with the main objective to reduce short term costs, and improve their stock price.

I agree that in times of recession an organisation leadership should look at how to  become more lean, but from some reason companies prefer to cut jobs and release employees that are high preforming , committed and probably hold a lot of knowledge which allow the organisation to operate on a certain level of quality.

It also seems pretty obvious that  if there is an opportunity for voluntary redundancy with  a nice package , or even just the notion that layoffs are approaching,  the first people to sign up to it will be the high preforming with the vast professional network, skilled up and knowledgeable employees, as they  have the best chances to find their next job quicker than those who are less skilled. to compete in the market and  on even level will find it hard to even survive in the same industry.

Just  consider how much time, effort and cost was invested to get this workforce preforming the first place it a bit no brainier to release this workforce to the market which will l probably allow them to go to competitors or establish thier own practice and under price their ex employer, not to mention utilise their connections and network to attract clients and past client or intercept potential new business of their ex employer .

Unless the organisation stopped its activity in specific markets or niche , the real cost of laying off staff is an accumulation of the total investment in the last 2 years of  skilling up the workforce, doubling it as the same cost will have to be put again for someone else to take this workforce place sometime between now and the next 18 months. To all that add to that the cost of laying off (package, outplacement, reduction of performance levels etc.), the cost of recruitment , on boarding, handing demoralisation and .... the cost of unrecoverable Tacit Knowledge loss, which will have immediate impact on business processes effectiveness, costumer service levels, and any positive internal change in order to introduce  effective and efficient supply chain.

High preforming organisations capitalise on the opportunities that recession and reduction in the size of their market, by increasing their competitiveness, aggressively pushing out their main competitors and proactively motivating their employees to work in a collaborative way to exchange information, share knowledge and work together on innovative solution to gain more grounds. this can also be accompanied by acquisition or merger with organisations that add unique value.

In order to do that organisations need to divert funding to introduce and increase activities  of Knowledge sharing, internal redeployment of workforce which can contribute to the innovation and "out of the box" thinking processes around the specific objective of gaining more market share, and wining the battle on the customer loyalty and confidence.

SME (small and medium enterprises) should look on how to collaborate with their vendors and suppliers in order to offer a competitive and attractive offer to the market, or even considering to join up with competitors either as a joint venture or even a merger in order to ensure their survival and to battle out other none cooperative competitors.

big enterprises souled focus on how to utilize their existing workforce to improve their processes and offers to the markets, explore new niches emerging markets and by introducing cross functional knowledge sharing and transformation initiatives such as "think tanks" and tasks teams with clear objectives, while reviewing their supply chain and CRM activities. 

workforce performance should be monitored more closely in order to ensure that if lay offs are inevitable the total  cost including loss of knowledge and future recruitment and on boarding are considered as well.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

My New PC under £250

A few years ago the best option for a computer was the Desktop (a large noisy box that we call Home PC), about 5 to 4 years a go the price of laptop went down dramatically and people started considering using a laptop as a replacement for that Home PC, to prove it right if you join a technology or service company today you as part of your first day orientation you will receive a laptop and a mobile phone (probably a smart phone or PDA) as you essential working tools.
well last year when i visited CES 2007 in Vegas i saw the next gen of UMPC (ultra mini personal computer) with the known Q1 and friends, but the price looked somehow high to what you get, and i couldn't see how a stylus based pc will replace my beloved laptop.
so as far  i was concerned UMPC's are a nice to have gadget (such as PSP) but not a good replacement for my laptop and especially for their price.
Well all that changed last week when  i went to do some window shopping with one of my best friends, who had an obsession to buy a UMPC (Ultra mini PC) to replace his longtime Dell laptop.

initially i was very sceptic , as my HP NC6400 was small enough to carry, yet big enough screen to work on and all the essential I/O 's that were available 2 years ago. also price wise a UMPC, web book or Laptop are very similar so why paying more for less (same delima you have when looking at smart cars compare to lets say a Vauxhall astra). 
Well we went from one shop to another in "Tottenham Court road" as you do in London when electronic gadgets are in question. and looked at 3 main mature (ones that have more than 5 models to offer) brands: AsusAcer  and HP.

My mate had a clear vision of what he want - a Windows based machine, under £250 ,with Wi-Fi, buletooth, reasonable HDD (at least 20g), a reasonable screen resolution (1024X600) and 1G ram.

me, i had less demands, from looking at my common tasks all i need is a browser , word processor, spreadsheet , skype, and a presentation tool that can read and write MS Office files but not have to be MS Office - so i thought a Linux and open source tools like open office will do the job for me.

Well to start most of the PC's you can hands on test in a shop are Linux based, and the same model with a WinXP installed on it is on average £100 more as we both have  a licenced XP SP2 media i said we can buy the Linux one and if it doesn't feel good we can always install an XP on it.
easy to say but hard to implement if you think about it as non of the web Pc's have a CD/DVD drive.
Than there is the question do you go for a large but small HDD (max 102GB) or do you go for a smaller SSD (Solid State Drive) which goes to about 40GB but cost more. for my mate it didn't really matter (as an ex-Microsoft employee i guess he is used to wait for windows to start up), for me i wanted something fast and reliable that will work event if it gets smacked a bit.

well while my mate is still compering between the different options, i was quicker to decide (especially when i spent more than £250 on vodka in a club 2 days before). so i went for the Asus Eee PC 901 (linux based) with 20GB SDD , 1 GB ram, 1.3 MP build in camera and 8.5" screen for £210 (after negotiation) and added a WD 320GB external drive (to hold the data).
i must say that once turned on it was less than 10 sec. to have a fully operational PC connected to my Wi-FI and works like a charm.
the next challenge was to learn how to install things on Linux in order to set it up the way i want... that is why i have geek friends for :)

getting started as a blogger

until last week i never thought i might need a public blog, as I'm not the one who will try to publish things publicly for free and because of my dyslexia i would prefer a visual tool than a text based knowledge sharing tool. 
But as i was trying to talk to one of our consultants on the benefits of social tools in an organisation environment , i was ask "so why don't you have a Blog"? 
this made me think ...for a while i was posting my opinions and thought in many different forums, i was talking about blogs, web 2.0, face book etc. but the only thing i really used that can be called a blog was a kind of journal based on Share point blog tool in our internal Accenture Platform and as it wasn't updated when i didn't work on projects you can guess it wasn't one of the most popular blogs.
so i decided that i will open a public blog and will try to drop some of my reflections and eureka moments as i go.
i hope you will find it interesting enough to follow and comment.