Start your own #consultancy #business from scratch..

So you really want to start your own Consultancy business from scratch !?

ppt1Here are some tips I hope will help:-

  • Identify your key skills – if you want to sell yourself as a Consultant the first thing you need to identify is the skills you possess which people will be willing to pay for. If you can’t do this don’t give up your day job.
  • Develop a Business Plan – don’t put it off because you can’t be bothered or don’t think it’s necessary. If you want people to take you seriously as a Business you need to start thinking like a Business.
  • Identify your target market – who are you going to sell your skills to ? – your current or former employer perhaps ? Former customers or suppliers, ex colleagues, business partners etc etc
  • Network – Develop your contacts, LinkedIn is great for this but don’t forget about your address book & business card collection.
  • Have a look at the Professional Contractors Group website www.pcg.org.uk – it has a fantastic free downloadable guide for freelancers/consultants.
  • If you still want to take the plunge this is perhaps the hardest step of all – You will need a MINIMUM of 6 months income in the bank before you start. Do not plan to earn anything from your Consultancy business for the first six months. If you really want to succeed with your own Consultancy business you will find this money. If you see this as too big a hurdle then sorry but Consultancy is not for you.

Look out for my new book “Start your own Consultancy – Now!”

chris@amberhill-associates.com

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Wielding Occams Razor

FullSizeRenderThis week was the anniversary of the tragic 9/11 atrocity & a documentary on T.V presented an explanation of why the towers collapsed based on fundamental scientific & engineering principles which demonstrated how a combination of super-heated aluminium (from the planes)  combined with water to create a powerful explosive mixture which was the most likely explanation for the towers collapse. It was so refreshing to see & hear scientists & engineers, working from first principles, expound a theory which stood up to reasoned argument. No CIA conspiracy, no bombs planted in the towers, no bullshit.

This reminded me of a principle which seems to be in short supply these days, that of Occams Razor. William of Occam became famous for espousing that, ‘where there are numerous solutions to a problem, the simplest explanation is often the answer.’

This is  a valuable piece of wisdom that is rarely employed in the era of big data, risk analysis, DFMEA’s, Statistical Analysis etc etc

Next time you have a problem to solve listen to your inner voice & apply the Razor

where there are numerous solutions to a problem, the simplest explanation is often the answer.

chris@amberhill.biz

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2014 – Year of Discovery……..#automotive

This year has been an extremely exciting & challenging one for me personally. In January 2014 I signed a 12 month contract with Tata Technologies as Lead Engineer in Exterior Trim developing & bringing to production Jaguar Land Rovers’s Freelander replacement the new ‘Discovery Sport’.

In January I was based in TTL’s Coventry office but spent a lot of time at JLR’s Browns Lane plant in the West Midlands, historical home of Jaguar Cars & now utilised as a Pilot Plant for small scale production.

Walking into Browns Lane was a great experience personally as I met many old friends from JLR having worked on the Range Rover Sport Programme. Although it is a large organization employing many thousands its amazing how many people you get to know working on a project for 18 months.

The pilot build is known as VP build & this stage of the process is very much a learning process. Some trim parts are still not ‘off tool’ & its all about capturing issues via the Automated Issues Management system. This AIMs system is used to track issues & ensure the proper fix is put in place before closure. It provides visibility to Senior Management & its administration is one of the Lead Engineer’s key tasks along with developing engineering solutions & working with key suppliers to ensure timely delivery of quality parts. Most issues require a PACN (to support financial justification) & a Engineering Release to implement the change. As most Engineers are responsible for numerous parts time is rapidly eroded before its time for the next build – Hard Tool Functional Build (HTFB)

This build took place at JLR’s Halewood plant where the Discovery Sport is to be mass produced & which was to be my base for the next 8 months.

Halewood is a large plant which covers several square miles & employs over 8,000 people.  Most of the Product Coaches & Line Engineers were involved in the Browns Lane builds so there were many familiar faces at Halewood as well as plenty new ones. Halewood is one of JLR’s centres of excellence & the Engineering knowledge here is second to none.

Over the next 8 months we embarked on a number of builds increasing in numbers & complexity. This is a very stressful period for all & the nearer Volume Launch approaches the pressure piles on.

It was with a mixture of relief & a great sense of achievement  when Volume Launch in December was achieved and cars began rolling off the production line at a rate of one every 40 seconds !!

It is important to recognise the economic importance of this model; Tata have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in this venture which has created several thousand jobs at Halewood & employed hundreds of thousands in the wider supply chain. With JLR’s commitment to source 60% of parts within a 40 mile radius the importance to the Regional Economy cannot be underestimated.

To play a small part in this great venture & to help take the Discovery Sport from initial concept to volume production brings a great sense of pride & achievement.
chris@amberhill.biz

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Time IS Money………….

Right First TimeThere are loads of books offering advice on Time Management, some useful & some trite like ‘we all have 24 hours in a day’ which is great if you also have a host of assistants to do the menial chores whilst you sit back & contemplate. Most of us don’t have that luxury with busy lives & demanding bosses, we often struggle to manage our own time effectively  completing tasks quickly but not necessarily  efficiently.

How often do you have to go back & correct something you did in a rush ? Thinking you were being efficient only to waste more future time putting it right. Very soon we can end up chasing our own tails like deranged dogs.

One way to improve our use of time is to think of it like money. The more effort put into completing a task ‘right first time’ is like putting savings in a high interest account. You expend a little more effort immediately but don’t have to return to it later to correct errors. This frees up more ‘future time’. The alternative is like spending on a credit card. You want it now & end up paying ‘through the nose’ later.

Get it ‘right first time’ consistently & over time you will spend more time contemplating & less chasing your tail.

chris@amberhill.biz

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10 tips for getting the best out of your supplier…………………..#pmot

blameGetting the most out of your supplier is a key deliverable as a project manager.

  • Build personal relationships by getting to know your suppliers key people – this must be done face to face.
  • Hold regular reviews and distribute minutes, some of these reviews should be at the suppliers site.
  • If you have a problem pick up the phone & call your prime contact.
  • Avoid pithy emails which embarass or cause unnecessary distress.
  • Spell out Requirements in an approriate document signed by purchasing & supplying organisations.
  • Ensure the supplier follows a standard Quotation process.
  • Document key responsibilities in a legally reviewed contract.
  • Ensure the supplier receives timely orders & payment within terms.
  • Give them regular forecasts of requirements.
  • Be open, honest & direct.

Follow the above tips & you won’t go far wrong with Suppliers.

 chris@amberhill.biz

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Grim up North……………………………..#oneNorth

M625 Northern cities have put forward a joint proposal to improve transport infrastructure in the North. Dignatries from Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester & Liverpool met the chancellor George Osborne who gave a very favourable response to the plan.

The plan which some are dubbing ‘HS3’ involves increasing road capacity, building a 125mph cross pennine rail link & improving local rail networks.

Extending the current Metro-link in Greater Manchester & including Liverpool Airport & City Centre will reduce road traffic on the dreaded M62 & reinforce links between these 2 great cities.

This is what ‘The North’ has been crying out for for the last 30 years.!

If it is done correctly by focusing on rail & metro links & by reducing road traffic rather than simply encouraging more cars onto already congested roads it will transform the North into a place where companies want to move & invest.

As someone who lives in Manchester but travels all over the country the gulf between North & South is gobsmacking. With  the South vastly overpopulated & house buying out of the question for the young it is absolutely vital to invest in the North & build a prosperous & diversified economy.

It is essential to maintain the pressure on George Osborne to put his money where his mouth is.

chris@amberhill.biz

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Stage gate process aids product development #pmot

ISO9001designprocessIn the Automotive# industry thousands of individual components are designed, developed, prototyped, tested and tuned silmultaneously to be brought together as a finished car which has to meet exacting standards for safety, perfomance and reliability.

An incredible feat of engineering and project management which is made possible by the effective use of a rigorous stage gate process based on ISO9001 . Here the output of one stage has to meet pre-defined standards before the project is allowed to move to the next stage.

The key to continued success is the fine tuning of the process itself based on ‘lessons learned’ from previous projects.
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Climate Change cries out for a technological solution

The International Protocol on Climate Change issued a comprehensive globereport this week which indicated that 95% of Scientists agreed that Global warming was as a direct result of human activity and that unless we take decisive and immediate action average surface temperatures will rise 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this Century resulting in catastrophic changes to our weather systems.

Only the most foolhardy or blinkered could ignore such a report but generating action is proving to be incredibly difficult.

It is no good for relatively wealthy westerners to criticize people in other parts of the world for wanting to grow their economies and as a result share in the increased wealth this brings. In the last Century we were doing exactly the same and, whatever the faults of free market Capitalism, there is no denying the wealth generating energies it unleashes.

What we need is a technological solution to Climate change which allows energy to continue to be consumed without the harmful effects of carbon dioxide generation from fossil fuels.

Vast parts of the globe are barren deserts which could be used for solar power generation. If we embarked on an International  Government backed enterprise to build a number of vast  solar arrays we could generate a massive amount of clean energy and at the same reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Of course this will not be easy and will bring massive engineering & scientific challenges (not to mention the political ones) but what could be more important than saving the planet on which we and our descendants live.

Allowing people to invest and profit from such an enterprise will guarantee success. This will allow continued economic growth without trashing the planet we all depend upon.

All it takes is some imaginative leadership from our Politicians, but maybe that’s asking too much ?

chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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10 things which make for Project success……#pmot

consultants5There are several things which make for a successful project, here are some of them:-

1)
The product or service which is the output of the project can be clearly specified. This is easier said than done especially when the output is a software system or something which is difficult to define. However, this makes the product spec more not less necessary. If the project is to be deemed a success the output needs to be defined as clearly and thoroughly as possible.



2)
The product or service has one clearly defined customer. It is always easier to meet the demands of one tough customer rather than the competing demands of several. It is important to meet the customer or their representative face to face to agree the spec.



3)
The Project Manager has experience of delivering similar projects.



4)
The Team has been through the Storming, Forming & Norming stages of Team development.



5)
The Team is multi-functional & chosen for this specific project.



6)
The project is planned properly – 70-80% of the PM’s efforts should be expended in the planning phase, the plan should be repeatedly reviewed by the Team, and proper contingency should be put in place to manage the risks.



7)
The PM needs real authority in order to ‘get stuff done’



8)
Regular Team meetings need to be held to review progress.



9)
The team are located in the same building, even better the same room.



0)
The PM is calm, assured & approachable

Could you suggest some more ?

chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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When persistence is not always good…………………….#pmot

Project Managers are generally encouraged to be persistent and this characteristic is normally seen to be a “good” thing and something to be encouraged.

listeningSometimes, however, being persistent can bring “bad” results.

Consider the case of a Project Manager who has a preconceived agenda & seeks to impose it on a meeker member of the team. Despite the initial objections of the Team member the Project Manager persists and “badgers” the other into doing what She wants.

Six months later the project hits a major hurdle and the Project Manager realizes this was exactly what She was warned about all those months ago but chose to ignore in order to bash ahead with her agenda.

The wise Project Manager always listens to her Team and is prepared to question her own agenda with as open a mind as possible.

Persistence is a great attribute of any Project Manager but not when it impedes good judgement.

chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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