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The Top 5 Project Manager Mistakes-02

The Top 5 Project Manager Mistakes

By Rebecca Langdon

You will not be surprised for me to tell you that Project Managers make mistakes – of course they do – they are only human. These mistakes are unfortunately fairly common and simply having awareness of them can make it easier to avoid.

  • Mismanagement of project scope

Whilst project scope should be clearly defined at the beginning of a project, we recognize that project change may be necessary. However, there should be a clear change management process in place which is carefully reviewed for dependencies. One of the most common mistakes is allowing additional requirements to come into scope causing scope creep, when proper due diligence has not been completed.

  • Mismanagement of resources

A project will usually have a team of resources, some fully assigned to the project and others who work on it part time. Within that team you will have a mix of skill sets. There is usually scope throughout the life of the project to vary the profile of the resources. The first mistake PM’s make is to not optimally use the resources they have, and the second mistake they make is to not review the resources they need periodically against the plan and adjust accordingly.

  • Lack of feedback

If a team is to evolve and become more productive, there should be an environment where feedback can be shared and there is a process for learning what went badly, and what went well, and embedding that into future processes. This is something sprint teams are very good at as they incorporate this into their process via retrospectives. If a culture of feedback is not developed there is no environment for growth.

  • Poor communication

A Project Manager is there to manage the team, and a key part of that is to ensure that there is the right type and frequency of communication both within the team and to stakeholders. Surprisingly, one of the most common mistakes made by PM’s is either not communicating themselves and/or not ensuring communication within and outside of the team.

  • Bad attitude

The project manager is there to manage, but this does not give them carte blanche to go on an ego trip, with it being their way or the highway. Project Managers should be collaborative and encourage input and discussion.


Being a Project Manager is all about coordinating a set of resources to achieve a particular outcome. It is a role where if the basics are not done right, the project will quickly be impacted. It is however a really interesting role, and one that you can gain an accreditation in called the PMP.

8 CFA Exam Commandments-02

The 8 Commandments for the CFA Exam

By: Rebecca Langdon

I am going to guess that as you approach your CFA exams, you are nervous, apprehensive, and worried about the possibility that it won’t go well. The main way to ease some of these pre-exam jitters is to be really well prepared, and follow these 8 commandments to get you exam ready.

  1. Focus on the curriculum

Learning wider than the curriculum is always encouraged as it provides the learner with a richer experience and makes them a well-rounded candidate as they enter the world of work. However, the exams are based on the curriculum so do not forget to have that covered.

  1. Keep up to date

Ensure that you are following the latest curriculum. This is a basic one, but be aware that the curriculum does change and you need to know about it if it does.

  1. Practice writing

This is one of the common issues students don’t envisage they will face, and it becomes a painful downfall on the day of the exam. We don’t use a pen very often anymore – most of us use a computer for the work we do. So when it comes to trying to write for hours on end, our hand may not want to comply. Practice writing and get your hand used to it.

  1. Be familiar with the exam format

Take a look at the exam formats and ensure you know exactly what will be required. This will allow you to work on time management before you take the real exam.

  1. You aren’t psychic

Do not attempt to guess at areas of the curriculum that will and will not be covered and use that to guide your revision. There is no way for you to predict what will be on the exam, so do not even try.

  1. Time Management

If you run out of time you are going to feel pretty upset with yourself, as those are points you have no hope of achieving. Work out in advance of the exam how much time you have for each question, and do your best to stick to it.

  1. Pay attention to the detail

The exam will have instructions and perhaps scenarios to read. Give yourself ample time to read these. Do not rush this part.

  1. Take a deep breath

Exams are pretty stressful for most candidates. Give yourself time to relax and be mindful of your stress levels.

In Summary

We hope that you found these tips useful, and all the best if you have an upcoming CFA exam.

HR Skills Required to Manage Challenge-02

HR Skills Required to Manage Challenges


By Rebecca Langdon

As professionals we operate in a business environment that arguably has many challenges than ever before. We are still recovering from a devastating global economic crisis, and political uncertainty is now rife. These wider macro-economic issues have huge impacts on businesses and the individuals working within them. So what skills do HR professionals need to manage these challenges?

1   IT Skills

IT allows us to be far smarter in a number of ways, such as e-learning, cloud based employee surveys and analytics and so on. There is huge opportunity to find IT solutions to manage challenges but one must be equipped with sufficient technological knowhow to appreciate how they can leverage these offerings within their organisation.

2   Agility

Things change far more quickly than they did a decade ago, and business agility is critical to respond. The change might be technological or perhaps company merger activity, or even wider macroeconomic events such as legal changes, currency fluctuation, or inter country trade deals.

3   Interpersonal skills

This is one that is always going to pop up on the list and interpersonal skills are even more important in times of challenge. This is because a wider and more developed range of skills are needed to manage conflict, challenge and change.

4   Global business awareness

Many businesses operate globally and are regularly seeking business in new territories. With this comes a range of challenges such as different legal jurisdictions and diverse business practices. Of course having prior global business experience is very useful.

5   Management of diverse cultures

Working globally naturally means that you will be working with a range of cultures, some of which may be rather different from your own. For example the culture of a Japanese workforce is very different to that of a workforce in Lebanon. Being respectful of these differences and finding a way to work together as a broad global team is a skill to be mastered.

In Summary

Managing challenges can be incredibly interesting and rewarding. It is certainly an exciting time to work within an HR role, and a great foundation to get you started is an HR qualification.

The Top 3 Digital Skills Needed by Marketers in 2017-02

The Top 3 Digital Skills Needed by Marketers in 2017

By Luci M Iley

If you are looking to develop your digital marketing career or maybe make the switch to digital marketing from another field, there are a few skills you will need to develop in order to be hireable in the 2017 digital marketing industry.

Whether brushing up your marketing team’s skills, or boosting your own knowledge, these six digital marketing skills will be the most relevant in 2017.


  1. Video

Video marketing is taking over digital content at a high pace. With video content influencing 63% of viewers to either find out more about a product or make a purchase after viewing a marketing video online.

With so much video content available, this means that digital marketers need to focus their energies on creating high-quality, ready-to-view video content which is short, concise and makes an impact on viewers.

Digital marketers also need to focus on ‘live’ content, with many platforms introducing live streaming services, this is an opportunity to be taken advantage of by marketers looking to get ahead in the industry.


  1. Analytics

Analytics have always been important, but with the ever-0growing and developing landscape of digital marketing, it is important to keep an eye on the changing data and understand how it affects sales and community relations – staying informed is the first step to staying ahead, after all.

Staying ahead in analytics also involves making the most of free tools, whether you are an individual looking to seek out digital marketing opportunities, or a small business boosting your team’s skills, free tools can be found all over the internet and can provide excellent insights into your digital marketing activities. Make sure that you and your team are confident using Google’s tools, as well as the plethora of other well-known platforms available for digital marketing insights and analysis.


  1. Social Media and Community Management

With over 52% of the adult population using two or more social media sites and social media communications with businesses influencing purchasing decisions as much as television advertisements, there is a huge pressure on digital marketers to really engage with social media platforms to attract customers to the business.

This extends to reviews and feedback – customers love telling people what they think and a well-run social media site will benefit from the positive reviews left as many consumers base their purchasing decisions on the opinions of others, rather than the information given by businesses.


These three key skills are must-haves for the digital marketing industry in 20017, so whether you need to boost your whole team, or just your own skills, why not enrol on one of our digital marketing courses to stay up-to-date and keep your business and resume ahead of the game in 2017?


A CPA’s Role in Business Process Management

By Rebecca Langdon

There is a good reason why a high proportion of CEO’s and board members are accountants. Accountancy equips individuals with the skills to deliver results within a business, primarily because attention to the finances is always a strategic priority. Business process management (BPM) is a technique used to increase operational efficiency and performance by optimizing business process.

BPM Explained

Within organizations processes develop over time and very often they may become overly cumbersome, inefficient, and costly. BPM seeks to review those processes and make them more efficient where possible. There is a fairly simple model which is used which is depicted as a continuous loop:


The contribution of a CPA

CPAs contribute to business process management in a number of ways:

  1. Design

Within the design stage the current business processes are reviewed. The analysis requires financial acumen to understand the cost of undertaking the current process. In all likelihood this will be very complex and may involve many different types of cost such as resource, cost of stock, overheads, etc. There will also be a requirement to understand the costs in the short, medium and long term. For some assets which are depreciated, a CPA will understand the basis of the depreciation and be able to model the costs appropriately. This skill set will also be required as new processes are being designed, so that the costs can be articulated.

  1. Modelling

The proposed designs will be modelled at this point so understand the potential efficiencies and effectiveness. It may also include techniques such as what-if analysis. It is likely that some of the computations will be complex, and therefore a CPA has the right competencies to assist that this stage.

  1. Execution

Whilst the changes are implemented, it may be that the CPA takes an oversight or management role.

  1. Monitoring
    The way in which the new processes will be monitored will need to be designed with agreed metrics, and analytical techniques. Again a CPA would be able to take a leading role in designing the methods and parameters for monitoring.
  1. Optimization

At this stage the output and learning from the monitoring phase will be used to optimize and improve the recently implemented new business process. Once again an accountant would be well positioned to use the quantitative and qualitative output to design optimizations.

In Summary

Business process management is quite a hot topic and has been hailed by some as a technique to drive widespread operational efficiencies. The basis of these efficiencies is rooted in financial terms and therefore an accountant or financial professional is a key part of any BPM team. If you are interested in pursuing a CPA qualification, take a moment to explore the course information here.

Workplace Trends in 2017-02

Workplace Trends in 2017

By Bilal Sadiq K

2016 had witnessed the rise of new talents, different employment opportunities, compensations for over time, as well as a shift to the on-demand workforce. These trends are very significant in determining how the work culture evolves, how recruitment and training are carried out, and how far you can go in retaining the best talents. 2017 has brought various workplace trends with it and we will shed some light on them.

Trend 1: Peers will hold more significance than ever in your workplace. It has also been estimated that the employees who will have more connections in their organisation will tend to be the highest performers, attaining more success. This method will also ensure which employees have more leadership potential to step ahead. Peer-to-peer recognition to help build bridges between the employees is going to be a must.

Trend 2: Transformation of the Human Resource function will be a significant trend in 2017. Use of data science in HR to make small improvements, and even use in recruiting and engagement will reap huge benefits for firms. Tapping into the workforce analytics to estimate the progression of an employee through his training will also be evident. A sentiment tracker can also be used to gather feedback on their views and emotions towards the workplace and culture.

Trend 3: Increased diversity, indicating a blended workforce, with people pouring in from all parts of the world will be seen as a new workplace trend in 2017. This would mean a more and much better “flexible teaming”, in turn enhancing the efficiency of the organisational output. Freelance workers teaming up with employees will also be taking place.

Trend 4: All the complaints about huge wage gaps might mitigate this year. The wage gap is estimated to narrow down as the provision of equal pay is a necessity to retain talented employees. Coupled with this, gender equality will also get better, especially in the work culture.

Trend 5: The trend of telecommunicating and flexible schedules will continue to increase in 2017, with higher dependence on the digital mobile world, to bring about more efficiency and effectiveness. Learn more about the digital world with the PDDM program.

Trend 6: This year, firms will finally realize the drawbacks of the traditional performance review system and will come up with a better, more simplified, objective and comprehensive system that tackles inefficiencies.


Chain of gear wheels filled with bio eco environmental icons and

Supply Chain Sustainability – No Longer Rhetoric

By Rebecca Langdon

When I started my career in supply chain we learnt a lot about sustainability in text books. As I eagerly joined the workforce I came to realize that sustainability was something the smaller organizations rarely cared about, and the larger ones paid lip service to. As standard practice we would ask vendors about their own sustainable practices in tender processes, but they were seldom reviewed. Why? The truth is that unless it was legislative to perform sustain-ably, most organizations saw it as a distraction from the bottom line.


In more recent years I noticed a shift with organizations hiring professionals who were focused on organizational sustainability and environmental issues. Yet the same issue seemed to linger – that these individuals invariably had any real influence to enforce the issues. As we rapidly move through 2017, a lot of voices in the industry are finally saying that organizations are genuinely interested in sustainable supply chains. The pessimist in me wonders what could have caused this change – when altruism had always failed to produce wide reform in the past.


Long term resilience

Board rooms are not focusing on the short term only, they recognize that to be successful they must plan for the future. They are looking as far as 20 years ahead, and are taking business continuity and disaster recovery within their supply chains very seriously.


Increasing public pressure   

This is not an issue that is going to go away from a public perspective, and there are an increasing number of consumers that want transparency about how products and services they consume are manufactured. If they don’t like the answer, they will be willing to vote with their feet.


Smarter measurement of environmental impacts

As technology advances we are becoming better at measuring and understanding environmental impacts. This in itself allows the government and other bodies to more accurately measure the impact organizations are having on the environment and introduce controls accordingly.



Businesses have long talked about supply chain sustainability but rarely genuinely backed this up by their actions. As the interest in this increases I would expect supply chain professionals to be tasked with driving it forward. It looks like they may finally get to practically use what they have studied in their qualifications.

10 Criteria to Use for Evaluating Six Sigma Projects-02

10 Criteria to Use for Evaluating Six Sigma Projects

By David L

If you look around your company you can probably identify a number of areas that would benefit from a Six Sigma project, but trying to tackle everything at once is a greater issue that not tackling anything.  The adage of if a job is worth doing it is worth doing well holds here and only half-heatedly running a Six Sigma project is likely to leave you in a worse position.


Instead of trying to solve all of your problems in one go, a structured approach will give you more wins in a shorter period of time, and by evaluating your likely projects using certain criteria, you will be able to identify which should be tackled first as well as checking progress at strategic points.  The ten most effective measures are;


  1. Establish a link with business imperatives. Not every project will have an obvious business strategic element, but if it positively impacts business goals, productivity, employee well-being, or quality of process or product, then it can only help the business.
  2. Business buy-in. Six Sigma projects are best completed when they are run with the knowledge and the support of the whole company.  At the start of a project you should make both the problem and the team tackling it known throughout the company, and ensure that they get full support.
  3. Team engagement. Black Belts invariably lead projects but some tend to forget that as well as applying their Six Sigma knowledge, they are expected to motivate and lead the other team members.  If your leaders are really doing their job, the whole team will be focused on the task.
  4. Positive sponsor engagement. You need to ensure that the project sponsor is just as engaged as your team and understands the positive effects that a satisfactory conclusion will bring.  The sponsor should be the most engaged of the whole team.
  5. Realistic timescales. Projects should be chosen on the basis of specific deliverables that are achieved in a set timetable. Any project that risks not meeting either of these criteria should not be attempted.
  6. Delivery of expected results. Your project should set out what it intends to achieve before starting.  Fluid goals are worse than no goals.
  7. Transition enabled. With goals met, any process or system changes should be smoothly handed over to the area owners, who should be able to use them and get full benefits right from the start.
  8. Replicable results. A completed project should return the same results as demonstrated by the team.  If it does not, then the project is incomplete.
  9. Use Data Envelopment Analysis. DEA can be used to compare and evaluate like performances, so a process that has undergone Six Sigma modification, can be measured against a comparable one that has not.
  10. Sustained improvement. The results from a modified process should show continued and measurable improvement that continues with time.




Financial Institutions Can No Longer Ignore Fintechs-02

Financial Institutions Can No Longer Ignore Fintechs

By: Rebecca Langdon

For a time long, the financial institutions held all of the cards – this was particularly true for the Banks. Fintech was not even a phrase that most of us had in our vocabulary until a few years ago. A decade ago the use of technology by the financial industry was typically seen as a means to an end, as opposed to an opportunity to gain significant strategic advantage over competitors and break down barriers to entry. In fact a lot of institutions used the same platforms, or built their own and managed it over a number of years. This led to a few dominant software vendors and pervasive homogeneity from a tech perspective in the industry.

So what changed?

Simply, the global economic crisis of 2007/2008 significantly disrupted the industry. Institutions that had held dominant positions fell. In many countries and regions, regulators and governments had no other option but to rethink the dominance of the older institutions and the barriers to entry that they had enforced. As the giant banks scrambled around to try and regain composure there was a surge of additional protections implemented, such as Dodd Frank in the USA and a far wider implementation of the Basel III Capital Framework. Interestingly while on the one hand the regulations became far more pervasive, governments were now encouraging innovation and supporting new entrants who would challenge the status quo. New entrants typically competed through innovation – namely Fintech solutions.

What about the UAE

Challenger banks are entering the market and offering solutions that make banking on the move easier than ever. For example, Bank Clearly is a new digital banking service that is being set up in the UAE. This is an online only service which according to them “Clearly will change the way you bank so profoundly that you will never imagine going back to the old way of banking.”

In summary

The industry is speaking a lot more about Fintech and as financial institutions seek to gain advantage through tech, they are partnering with software vendors for mutual advantage. It is a really interesting time to work within a financial role, and if you are interested in seeking a qualification, please take a look at our offerings.


5 Tips to Improve Employee Satisfaction-02

5 Tips to Improve Employee Satisfaction


By Rebecca Langdon

Employee satisfaction is an interesting concept and one that businesses have worked hard to understand and measure in recent years. What we do know is that employees who are satisfied are more productive, are more likely to positively promote the company, and are more likely to stay. Employee retention is important as it reduces ongoing costs of recruitment and allows business knowledge to be retained.

  • Ask them

This probably sounds basic but unless you ask the employees how they are feeling you will not know if they are satisfied or not. Similarly, if they are not satisfied you have no hope of improving the situation unless you ask for guidance. By using the likes of a survey you can establish a baseline of satisfaction that you can work from.

  • Give them opportunities to progress

There will always be employees that do not seek progression and are happy to remain in the role they are in. However there will be a larger body of individuals who do want to progress and will be dissatisfied if that is unavailable. Therefore it is important to design progression plans, introduce job swaps, enhanced roles and so on.

  • Provide flexibility

We live in a day and age where technology enables people to work from home or on the move far more easily. This flexibility means employees can benefit from increased work life balance. There are unfortunately still many organisations that resist offering flexibility for fear of employees taking advantage. However if you employ individuals who are self-motivated and trustworthy, there should be no resistance to offering flexibility.

  • Shun the blame culture

This is a wider point than simply avoiding a blame culture and is primarily about encouraging a positive and productive organisational culture. Businesses that have negative environments which thrive on ‘scape goating’ and laying blame are likely to have a negative impact on employee satisfaction.

  • Provide fair and commensurate remuneration

When you ask employees what causes them dissatisfaction, remuneration is very often right up there at the top of the list. There will always be people that complain however much they are paid. Yet what is important is fair pay, i.e. not discriminating based on gender, religion, race, and so on. Furthermore employees should be compensated for the role they do in line with available market data.

In Summary

Very often it is the challenge of an HR professional to understand the level of employee satisfaction and to ensure that policies, processes, procedures and so on support enhancing that satisfaction. We have provided a few top tips, but there are plenty more to consider, and you can find out more if you decide to study for an HR qualification.