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Cost Management

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Cost management involves controlling and planning a firm’s or a project’s budget. In this, you have to plan, control, manage, fund and estimate costs so the budget can be allocated appropriately. It encompasses the project’s entire life cycle, from planning it to measuring the performance of the actual costs’ performance until the project is completed.

There are four steps to cost management.

Step 1: Planning the resources

You will need to define all the resources needed to finish the project. Make use of Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) and old information to analyze what physical resources are needed. You can then figure out the associated costs when you find out the resource types and quantities.

Step 2: Cost estimating

You can use any cost estimating method to calculate the cost of carrying out the project. Estimation also depends on how much information is available. You can use parametric modeling or analogous estimating. With more information, estimations become more refined. If any uncertainties remain, they can be reduced by reserving cost. You can use contingencies and escalation.

Step 3: Cost budgeting

The budget will provide an overall outlook of the project’s total and periodic costs. Cost estimates define each activity’s cost, whereas the budget will allocate the cost according to the time period.

Step 4: Cost control

Here, you measure variances from the baseline cost and try to attain minimum costs by using corrective actions. You will have to record each change to the baseline costs. Also, you will have to continuously forecast the expected final total costs. With the availability of actual cost information, cost control centers on explaining changes in the cost baseline. To prevent cost overruns, you might need corrective action.

You can use cost control software tools for procedures of cost control, analysis, and to track and approve variations. You can augment and simplify reporting. This will make it simpler to pass information to all stakeholders.

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5 Reasons Your Business Needs an FM Professional

By: Morgan International Staff Writers

There are plenty of organisations out there that do not appreciate the need for an FM professional and tag the responsibilities onto another role. Very often the Office Manager will also undertake the FM responsibilities. This article is not underestimating the abilities of Office Managers or indeed any other individuals who are not FM professionals that take on the role. However, what we do know is that having a qualified Facilities Manager will undoubtedly offer additional benefit to the organization as they typically are better equipped to manage the responsibilities and contribute to strategic benefit. There are many reasons why your business needs an FM professional, but these are our top five:

 

  1. Economies of scale

By centralising all FM activities with one FM professional, they are able to see the picture and look for opportunities for synergies – this might be for example placing multiple outsourced services with one provider whereas it was carried out in-house or by multiple suppliers previously.

 

  1. Centralisation trumps decentralisation

If you decentralise the FM role to a number of individuals, coordination will be very difficult, and having a holistic view will be almost impossible. By centralising responsibilities to one individual, it is easier for senior management and the board to oversee FM activities.

 

  1. At the cutting edge

An FM professional will typically be passionate about their industry and be at the cutting edge of technological change that can offer service improvement and/or cost reduction to the organisation. This might be through the internet of things, big data, automation, and so on.

 

  1. They consider environmental impacts

As part of the formal training an FM professional receives, they will learn about organizational impact on the environment, and potential ways to reduce that footprint. We all know that corporate social responsibility is not only a hot topic at the moment, but is also hugely important for the sustainability of the planet.

 

  1. They look at FM strategically

For many years, FM was seen as an overhead to be managed and cost controlled. It covered rent, rates, utilities, and so on. However smart FM professionals know that they can offer strategic benefit to the organization. Examples are providing working spaces that make employees more productive, and renting out underutilised office space to generate income.

 

In Summary

Realistically, very small organizations may not have the money or appetite to hire an FM professional. Yet for most organizations with 20+ employees it makes economic sense to have a qualified FM professional dedicated to ensuring the strategic value of facilities managed is derived.

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5 Tips to Guess CFA Exam Answers

By: Morgan International Staff Writers
Let me start by saying that nothing in this article is meant to encourage you to not do a sufficient amount of preparation and entering the CFA exam with the requisite knowledge to pass with flying colours. Yet, like with all exams, however much we prepare, there may be questions that have us stuck. Each candidate will have a different approach to exam technique – whether that be tackling them incrementally, or leaving those ones until the end. Regardless of approach, if there are 10% you are unsure of, it is still better to give them a go, or else you are already reducing your potential score by 10%. We have pulled together 5 top tips to help you ‘intelligently guess’ or deduce the answer – or at least give you more of a fighting chance of scoring some points.

1) Use deduction for multiple choice questions
Look out for answers that absolutely can’t be correct. Work through a process of deduction and if you manage to get down to two potentially correct answers – then you now have a 50/50 chance of scoring points. Don’t panic - try and progress logically through the potential answers.

2) The answer to one question may help answer another
In CFA Level II and III there is a vignette format where 6 questions are about the same passage of text. Sometimes an answer or answers to some of the questions may assist you to deduce what part of the syllabus is being tested as there tends to be a theme within the vignette. Unfortunately, all questions in CFA Level I are independent of each other – so this tip will not help you on that exam (sorry).

3) Stick to the course material
If you feel stuck, you may have some knowledge tucked away from another course that you think might help. Our experience is that it won’t. Whilst this may seem opposed to educational spirit – it is important to stick to CFA definitions and content.

4) Don’t argue
You may be struggling to answer a question because you feel it is worded poorly or you think that it is very difficult to interpret. Or perhaps the question makes no sense whatsoever in your opinion. Do not spend your time answering the question with your perspective on the inadequacies of the question. We assure you that it won’t secure you any points, or ‘brownie points’ with the exam marker.

5) Use your common sense
When all else fails, use your common sense and your gut feel. Have some faith in yourself. You should have done a number of practice papers by this point which hopefully has given you a good feel for the exam structure and typical answers to typical questions.

In Summary
Nobody said the CFA exams would be easy. However the key to success is to work calmly and methodically. You are unlikely to feel certain you know the answer to all of the questions and it is advisable to accept that and have methods and tips in your mind to help you cope.

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Skills HR Professionals Need From Other Functions

By Morgan International Staff Writers

 

There was a time when roles and responsibilities fitted fairly neatly within their respective departments – for example HR, Finance, IT, Project Management, Risk, and so on. Typically those within each department were not expected to have knowledge of the other functions as if they had a need for that input they would ask for an individual within that department to assist them.

However in today’s economy, there has been a large shift that has caused professionals to work cross functionally and often take on responsibilities outside of their own primary skill set. To be a successful HR professional in 2017, it is not sufficient to just know about human resources. A successful professional will be well-rounded and have at least basic knowledge of other functions:

Project Management

When things need to be done in an organization, it is very often run as a project. In some organizations there will be a bank of PM’s ready to swoop in and run everything. However in many cases there will not be a PM available, so the HR professional will need to take the reins. Even if there is a PM, there will likely be an expectation that the HR professional will input to various documents such as the business case, budget, etc. Therefore it is imperative that an understanding of project management is sought and more and more professionals cross functionally are undertaking project management qualifications.

Finance

You will likely get involved in budgeting, forecasting, financial modelling and various other financial matters. Or perhaps you are producing the financial elements to build a business case for a strategic change. While you may get support and input from a finance team, you will need to have a good understanding of mathematics in general and commercial structures more generally.

IT

A lot of transformational change within the HR space is coming from technological advances. Therefore to be an HR professional who can offer strategic organizational change, you need to keep pace with the latest IT change and how it can benefit your function – think cloud, big data, automation, IoT, and so on.

In Summary

In a day and age where we all work increasingly cross functionally, it is necessary to have skills outside of your chosen career. A good place to start is of course a professional qualification in HR, but beyond that you might want to consider further professional development in other topics such as Project Management, IT and Finance.

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Powerful content, perfectly delivered: Developing an awesome strategy

By Morgan International Staff Writers

You already know that your content is the powerhouse behind your marketing success, but do you really know how to make it work?

For several years now, we’ve had it drummed into us that content is king. Whether we’re talking about on page SEO, social media marketing, Pay Per Click or something else, outstanding content is essential to any success. However, even the best content in the world might as well be pointless drivel without a robust, well thought out content strategy backing it up.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70 per cent of B2B marketers plant to create more content in 2017 than they did last year. In fact, most brands are spending between 25 and 43 per cent of their total marketing budget on content, and yet less than a quarter of CMO’s feel they are getting the most out of it.

Whether your business is planning to spend a little or a lot on content this year, it’s crucial that you have an amazing strategy in place to get the most from your efforts. Here’s how to form a truly brilliant content strategy for your brand in 2017.

Developing your strategy

 

You can’t just knock up a vague strategy overnight. To really maximise your potential, you’re going to need to knuckle down and do your homework, so that you can build a plan that really works for your business:

  • Be specific about your business objectives

You know you need content, but what are you generating content for? You need to be specific about your activities and goals, so that you can measure whether your actions are meeting those goals or not. Are you looking to increase subscribers? To get more traffic to your site? To boost your SEO? Whatever you’re trying to do, write it down, make it measurable and accountable, otherwise your efforts will be wasted.

  • Define your message clearly

A consistent message is critical if you want your brand to stand out amongst the competition. Think about who you are trying to reach, and what it is you can offer them. You may find it helpful to create a ‘mission statement’ for your content, which states clearly in black and white what you are trying to achieve, and why, so that your team is working in harmony towards a common goal.

  • Understand what your competitors are doing

Your competitors are your best learning platform, so take note of what they are doing well (and not so well) so that your team can learn from them. Analyse the keywords they are targeting, identify what content is popular in your niche right now, and pay attention to the language, types of content and distribution channels they are using to inform your strategy.

  • Make the most of available technology

Nobody wants to sit at their desktop, waiting on the perfect moment to click the ‘publish’ button on their latest blog post, and nobody has to, at least not any more. Tools for scheduling, controlling, optimising and sharing content are available in their thousands, so spend a little time evaluating which software and programmes are going to benefit your strategy, and make sure you know how to use them well.

  • Put a schedule in place

Your content shouldn’t just happen when you have the time or when the mood takes you. To really maximise your potential for making an impact, lay out your content goals into a schedule, also known as an ‘editorial calendar’. Understand how frequently you can and should post in different mediums. For example, Twitter may need to be fed several times a day, whereas your blog may work best once a week. Bigger projects like video or infographics could be monthly or less. Only you will know what works for your business; what matters is eliminating the ad-hoc nature of content creation and instead working from a defined calendar to make sure you are producing what you need, when you need it.

Content marketing is not the easiest form of marketing to master, but once you get it right, it can be one of the most powerful weapons in your marketing arsenal. If you’re ready to take your marketing skills to the next level, talk to us about our digital marketing training courses, and move ahead of the game in the digital marketing world.

 

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/09/content-marketing-research-b2b/

http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2014/26154/2015-b2b-content-marketing-benchmarks-budgets-and-trends

http://adage.com/article/digital/content-marketing-remains-a-fraction-budgets/296059/

 

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Why Bother Getting a CMA Certification?

By Morgan International Staff Writers

The CMA certification is given by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). People in the professional field of management accounting pursue this qualification.

Pursuing a CMA requires a substantial amount of time and commitment, along with significant financial burden. Fees for the CMA exam fall from $300 to $350 per part, totalling around $600 to $700. The entrance costs for the program can total $225. The good news for students and IMA members is that they get a $150 discount.

However, despite the costs, getting a Certified Management Accountant certification will lead to a wider scope of job opportunities in the market. How wide is the scope though, and why bother pursuing this certification at all?

It is globally recognised. This certification is the most widely recognised. From the US to the Middle East and China, a CMA is known throughout the globe.

You get paid more. Learning and acquiring skills definitely pay off. A CMA-certified accountant will get paid up to 1/3 more than a non- certified candidate. In the UAE, the median salary ranges from $39 thousand to $45 thousand.

CMA is a practical option. The material that CMA encompasses is relevant to daily practical work and situations.

IMA eases the load. The CMA exam process is easy and clear with few bureaucratic measures.

All in all, the requirements for clearing a CMA exam are quite extensive (you need a bachelor’s degree, you will have to clear a tough exam, then you need two years of experience in management accounting), but the payoffs make the struggles worth it.

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Avoid Picking the Wrong Career Path

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

For some, picking a career path has to happen way before University is ever applied for because certain qualifications and subjects are mandatory for the career – medicine and dentistry are good examples. However there are plenty of careers out there that will consider most university degree subjects and therefore for students graduating, they have a lot of options. However many people at points in their career feel regret and wish that they had picked something else. These are our top 5 tips to avoid choosing the wrong career path:

 

  1. Don’t be pressured by others

You should not feel pressured to follow someone else’s legacy. Just because your parents are doctors or lawyers does not mean it is the right path for you. Do not make a choice to please others.

 

  1. Do your research

You will be in your career for a long time. Make sure you spend lots of time doing your research and finding out what the career prospects are, potential earnings, educational requirements, job responsibilities and so on. If you can speak to people who are in that career then that would be very beneficial.

 

  1. Don’t just chase the money

You need to pay the bills and of course you want to choose a career that will allow you to be comfortable, however don’t pick a career based on potential earnings alone. It is a recipe for disaster later on down the line when yes you have lots of money, but you hate going to work each day.

 

  1. Consider the location

Some careers are more heavily focussed in certain geographical areas so consider where you want to live as well as what career you want to have. Of course if you are happy to relocate anywhere, then this one will not be too much of a concern.

 

  1. Consider the future

There are some careers that will likely become extinct in the couple of decades. These are the careers to avoid. Any career that is already being effected by automation is one to steer clear of if you want career longevity.

 

Summary

Picking a career is a daunting task, and of course your career may well change direction over time. However it is important to consider our tips above to maximise your career success and satisfaction.

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Be a Logistics Superstar

By International Staff Writers

There are a number of technology changes positively affecting the logistics industry which for all intents and purposes have the limelight. In this context, how do professionals in the industry find a way to stand out? The purpose of this article is to give you some ideas of where to look in your own supply chain to look for that low hanging fruit, to make change, and get recognised for it.

Packaging
This one seems innocuous but not only is packaging itself expensive, but over packing increases the weight and size of the product, and therefore increases the cost of shipping it. Therefore this is a good place to start to check that the packaging is appropriate for the product. Don’t forget, awkward packaging or oversized packaging will also increase storage costs.

Inventory Control
Money tied up in stock tends to be high and organizations do typically have a strong focus on inventory management. However, there are other models that shift who owns the stock and when. So rather than storing a lot of inventory, some suppliers may be willing to hold stock and deliver it in a just in time fashion. This automatically reduces the cost of stock on the books – so should be considered.

Outsource
If you operate a complex supply chain but your organization’s core business is not logistics, you might consider the business case for outsourcing it to an organisation who specialises in it. This would not be a decision taken lightly, but it is absolutely worth consideration as another organization may not only be cheaper and more efficient than you are, but it may free up valuable resources for core business.
Embrace Technology
I said at the beginning that in a sense logistics professionals are competing for attention against technological advances. However, it does not have to be this way. You can be the supply chain manager who presents the advantages of new technology and builds the business case for its implementation and is therefore regarded as the superstar behind the change. Technology is key to automation, and that allows a wide raft of savings to be made.
SUMMARY
I would encourage supply chain professionals not to feel overshadowed by technological change within the industry, but look for other avenues to shine, and also embrace technology and champion it. It is a very interesting time to work in a supply chain/logistics role, and for more information on course and qualifications within the supply chain management space, please take a look at our website.

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Get Employees behind Lean Six Sigma

By Morgan International Staff Writer

Arnold Glasow famously said, ‘Improvement begins with I. This was not a quote specific to implementing Lean Six Sigma, but more holistically that for improvement to happen it has to start with individuals. Therefore this means that simply implementing top down change without the support and interest of employees, will rarely work.

 

Employee concerns

The first thing to appreciate is that employees typically do not like change – in fact most humans find change unsettling. Secondly, any process or procedural changes can set alarm bells ringing that job losses are on the way.

 

How do you get your organization ready?

Each organization is working from a different starting position and company culture will be incredibly important in determining how easily employees accept Lean Six Sigma. Clearly in organizations where employees understand the vision and strategy, and buy into it, a simple explanation of how this change will help on that journey should be sufficient to get them on board. However, for employees who have not been part of strategic conversations, and there has been little change for many years, this might all seem alien and very scary. What I am saying is – assess the current situation and then design a communication plan. In our second example, expect organizational readiness to take more time and many more incremental steps. Expect scepticism and resistance and consider appointing change agents who can voice the advantages of Lean Six Sigma. Be ready to:

  • Sell the benefits of Six Sigma to employees
  • Communicate clearly with employees and be sensitive to resistance
  • Use change agents to remove barriers
  • Incentivise employees (attach their bonus to organization wide success of six sigma, offer training)
  • Have senior leadership advocating the change and talking about it consistently.

 

In Summary

Do not expect your employees to accept the implementation of Lean Six Sigma with open arms. As with any change, you will need to assess current organizational readiness and then produce a plan to get employees ready to embrace the new way of doing things. You may decide to link monetary incentives to the success of Lean Six Sigma. However employees very often value other incentives more, such as training. Since a large programme of change is being launched, it is a perfect time to incentivise employees by offering them industry recognised training that is portable throughout their career.

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Financial outlook for 2017

By Morgan International Staff Writers

With 2016 being quite so unpredictable, you could be forgiven for thinking that we may be in for even more uncertainty during 2017. With markets not sure how to react to global issues, banking as a sector is likely to expand their product base and move into new areas of commerce. This fluid and changeable environment means that accepting new operating models and investment in emerging technologies that address the markets in different ways and open up new possibilities for investment and operations.

Many of the perceived changes are likely to take place in a number of areas of personal and corporate arms, including consumer banking, international trading and Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), commercial banking, and infrastructure activities. These areas cover the huge subject of macroeconomic trends and it’s a side of the international banking business that is expanding fast. Banks will be looking at major investments being carried out as well as forecasting interest rate rises in the developed nations and how gross domestic product (GDP) is utilized with those countries. This information is key to the long-term forecasting needed to make the banking sector as stable as possible, and from that stability, be able to make informed decisions on investments and business direction.

In 2017, M&A is likely to see an increase in legislation, ensuring that takeovers are not only legal, but also acting in the interests of the many rather than the few. Commercial banking will see prudent lending to ensure that markets stay buoyant but don’t start running out of control, and transaction banking will focus on a balance of product innovation while ensuring that costs are kept low. The most obvious innovation for 2017 will be a stronger response to cybercrime and a strengthening of products and processes to ensure that customer accounts remain secure.

But the bank knows that key to understanding what is likely to happen in 2017 and beyond is having the right people in place and ensuring that the training they receive is pertinent to the task. Above all, banks to not make frivolous decisions and predictions are always backed up with well thought out responses. The changes that banking is likely to feel in 2017 will be based on people with the right skills and that is likely to be the biggest change to banking in the year; get the right people, and train them correctly.