Operational Excellence

  • Business Apps and Middle Market Companies: A Good Match?

    By Rob Carey

    According to the Pew Research Center, 35 percent of Americans owned a smartphone in 2011. Four years later, that figure is 64 percent. What's more, about half of all Internet searches are now done on mobile devices. Given these usage statistics — and the fact that they will only rise over time — middle market firms must consider whether having their own mobile business apps for customers is the right way to go.

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  • Smart Office Lease Negotiation for Middle Market Companies

    Negotiating an office lease is generally an intensive and expensive experience when you consider how much your company will spend each year for a committed period. Middle market companies have some particular disadvantages in this regard, too. They have more extensive needs than a startup, and there may be fewer options for enough space to house those needs. At the same time, they lack the massive spending of large corporations, which often have leverage in negotiations — especially if they rent multiple spaces from the same owner.

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  • Amplify Your Social Message: 4 Key Parts of a Unified Strategy

    By Rob Carey

    For any business, it's daunting to realize just how many social media channels must be tended to. Sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr and WordPress are only some of the outlets with strong influence in the consumer and the business-to-business marketplaces. At midsized firms, it's even tougher to keep up a vibrant, multichannel social media presence when there are fewer employees than at larger competitors. People won't always have time for these tasks.

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  • 4 Steps to Enduring an Audit

    Audit notices can come as a shock. Taxes are bad enough for middle market companies, and now this. Nothing can ruin your day like receiving that dreaded letter, then facing a none-too-friendly visit from an auditor who'll ask questions about your business that you may or may not be able to answer immediately. As in all things, there's a right way and a wrong way to approach being audited. Here are four recommendations:

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  • Your Evacuation Plan: What Employees Need to Know

    Every middle market company should have a facility evacuation plan as a part of its broader continuity planning. Even just a few employees working at a remote office will need to know when it's necessary to evacuate a building and how to safely do so. Similarly, a larger facility will need a well-thought-out plan so that, should dangerous conditions arise, people will know how to shut down operations and take the best routes to safety.

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  • Content Marketing and the Middle Market: Engaging Today's Customers

    Content marketing has been growing in recent years. Companies seek to publish materials, such as e-newsletters, videos, blog posts and case studies, that engage customers and prospects by addressing their needs. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey of midsized companies, the two most popular forms of content are articles at 78 percent and social media posts at 73 percent. The pure number of middle market companies adopting these strategies has been growing fast. The survey also found that, among business-to-business firms in the middle market, 89 percent had adopted content overall. One would expect a similar number in the business-to-consumer segment.

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  • Building a Cloud Technology Blueprint for Your Company

    By Rob Carey

    The potential benefits of cloud technology are tangible and tempting for middle market firms. The ability to store company data in a system that can always scale up to meet rising needs is a game changer, especially for midsized companies with little room for error in their IT expenditures. What's more, the various cloud functionalities available from third-party applications allow midmarket firms to battle larger competitors on a more equal footing in critical areas, including data analytics that help inform research and development, sales, marketing and customer service. Other cloud applications improve worker efficiency, thus strengthening the bottom line.

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  • Midmarket Firms and BYOD Policy: Balancing Convenience and Protection

    By Rob Carey

    Among companies of all sizes, the practice of allowing employees to "bring your own device" (BYOD) is becoming more commonplace. For executives at midsized firms, though, the first impulse might be to reject a BYOD policy. After all, midmarket companies do not have IT departments as deep as those at large companies, which can often handle the wide variety of laptops and mobile devices that employees bring. The concerns about business effectiveness, along with network and data security, will naturally give midmarket executives pause.

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  • Cloud Computing and Middle Market Firms: A Good Match?

    By Rob Carey

    The Information Technology Lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology characterizes cloud computing as "a pay-per-use model for enabling available, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction." In plain English, here's what that means: Companies can use cloud computing to leverage external technology applications and tools that improve back-office functionality and make client-related processes more robust. What's more, companies only have to purchase the amount of functionality necessary to meet their immediate needs, and they can scale up quickly and precisely whenever their business conditions change.

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  • Trademarks 101: What They Are and Why They Need Protecting

    A trademark helps differentiate your middle market company's goods and services from anyone else's. You can trademark your company name, its logo, its product names and its slogan. If a new company enters the market, it cannot use the names or symbols of an existing company in that same market without violating the senior company's trademarks. They represent legally protected rights and allow for exclusive use so that when any company invests in its brand equity, no other company can steal it.

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  • Annual Reviews: Why You Should Separate Performance and Pay

    Both middle market managers and their employees dislike annual reviews. Managers, already overburdened by the year's end, must prepare reports and sit down with each of their team members to evaluate performance and salary issues. Employees, on the other hand, are anxious about their bonuses and are only listening for how their performance ratings impact their income. Could anything be more uncomfortable and a waste of time on both sides?

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  • How to Handle E-Waste and Old Electronic Equipment

    Sustainability can provide great benefits to a middle market business, including cost reduction and customer and employee loyalty. But claiming sustainable practices is difficult if you don't effectively handle e-waste. Whether it's outmoded computers, broken fax machines, CRT monitors, exhausted rechargeable batteries or obsolete networking equipment or smartphones, a lot of electronic waste is poorly handled.

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  • Lawsuits and the Need for Good Internal Communication

    Being in business means occasionally facing lawsuits. When a customer sues your middle market company over a faulty product or a supplier takes you to court in a contract dispute, there's a clear risk to both your financial bottom line and your reputation. But lawsuits bring other sorts of risk to areas such as employee retention and recruiting efforts. Of course you will have a strategy, led by your legal advisers, to collect all data relevant to the particular litigation. You'll also likely interview all employees involved in the case. But this is just the beginning.

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