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Members' Articles

Can outsourcing help me reduce costs ?

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

18th March 2014

Post Type: Education Item

Half of all public services are outsourced.  This is despite the fact that some major contractors (G4S and Serco) have been investigated by the Serious Fraud Office and forced to repay £109m and £68.5m respectively.  The very public failure by G4S to provide sufficient security guards for the 2012 Olympics was not the best advert for outsourcing high profile projects.
So why do government departments such as the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions still outsource so much of their workload ?

The answer lies in flexibility, value and accountability:

Flexibility
If new skills are required the company will have to choose between hiring permanent skilled staff, retraining existing staff or outsourcing.  The first two options usually entail long-term commitments which will be burdensome if trading conditions worsen.  Outsourcing can allow the company to quickly “bolt on” (or shed) extra skills and capacity without diluting their core skills.

Value
A properly managed tender process for major services/supplies allows companies to ensure best value, often better than they could achieve in-house.  Additional savings are possible where services are “offshored” from domiciles with high taxation/employee benefits to locations where such costs are lower.

Accountability
A properly managed tender process provides documentary evidence showing how major buying decisions were arrived at – a major consideration for the public sector.

Many businesses do not hesitate to outsource “peripheral” tasks such as IT, payroll or HR but are fearful to venture further for fear of losing control.  However a recent KPMG Global Pulse survey found that 9 out of 10 companies believed – despite having shed considerable headcount – they had still not done sufficient to reduce costs.  How can an already lean company reduce costs still further yet respond rapidly to take advantage of an upswing ?  By selective outsourcing.  However – the overarching message in the above summary is “properly managed”.  Select your outsourced supplier/consultant by reputation and recommendation, consider linking remuneration to results/SLAs, and define deliverables clearly.  What results can you expect ?  A 2012 Deloitte global outsourcing survey discovered that 76% of respondents were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the results outsourcing brought them.  Maybe it’s time to give it serious thought.


Listen to Uttlesford District Council

by Jeremy Rose from Creative Solutions

15th March 2014

Post Type: BNI Announcement

Uttlesford ran a test of audio broadcasting committees. The proof of concept work went well and UDC managed to record the whole meeting and broadcast live on the web for the first 20 minutes. Below is a link to a web page where you can hear the recording and also see how the ‘jump to section’ part works.

http://audiominutes.com/udc

Let me know what you think: cllrrose@uttlesford.go.uk


Police warning: targeted residents conned out of large sums of money

by Jeremy Rose from Creative Solutions

15th March 2014

Post Type: Other
Police warning: targeted residents conned out of large sums of money

North Community Forum Chief Inspector Richard Melton spoke about a telephone scam which is currently taking place. 

I have attached below a link to the poster for your information.  Please share this with your friends and family.  A couple of elderly residents in Uttlesford have been targeted and conned out of large sums of money, the police want to make sure no one else falls victim to this despicable crime.

 http://www.uttlesford.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=2967&p=0


Are quality keywords alone sufficient for good search engine placement?

by Simon Thomas from Toucan Internet LLP

12th March 2014

Post Type: Other
Are quality keywords alone sufficient for good search engine placement?

Search engine performance has always been a predominant part of the specification of most website projects, even before Google had reached the consciousness of the masses; a time when Yahoo was the ascendant search engine.

 

Is good keyword selection important? Absolutely yes, however it's the start of your optimisation journey, not the end. We frequently come across website owners who have commissioned an excellent website for their business; all the keywords are in place, the navigation is intuitive and the calls to action expertly implemented, but it just not drawing either the traffic or the business despite the serious cash injection. Sitting around for the return on investment could be a long wait. 

 

Assuming you have professionally researched the keywords and they are correct for your marketing message then you're ready to start the search engine marketing and monitoring. This is a basket of activities that will turn your website from a cobweb to a proactive marketing tool; a sales team ready to close new business.

 

The online marketing part of the process is primarily aimed at increasing your inbound referrers – the external links to your site. Apart from other search engines and directories, the world of social media offers a vast number of channels where this can be done to great effect with minimal cost and a small amount of dedicated time applied regularly on a weekly schedule.  Assuming your overall objective is to build business and drive people to the calls to action in your website, then the focus needs to be to deliver new people to the website. The social media will allow them to get to know you and see peer recommendations. Ultimately it will deliver them to your website where the convincers and calls to action should deliver you the new business you wanted. 

 

The great thing about this is these potential customers arrive at your website voluntarily from peer recommendations, all orchestrated without the loth’able sales emails or other pushy sales techniques.

The monitoring part of the process is to ensure that you keep your nose clean and obey all the rules that make for a quality web presence rather than something that just looks good, but is effectively lame. Spotting build code errors is important as the Google spider may baulk at code it doesn't understand and therefore stops indexing your site. You don't want that as you'll be largely invisible in Google searches. There are a raft of other crucial items to monitor and an ongoing marketing and monitoring program will do this, ensuring a site is truly “fully search engine optimised”.

 

Once other people like your site and link to it using relevant keywords then your site will start to gain prominence. Better still if they are very relevant referrers in the same field as yours; then the Google “love” increases ever more.

 

It's far from rocket science; develop a good website that is relevant to your message and appealing to both people and Google, get liked by other quality online referrers, feed the referral channels to keep the whole marketing machine oiled with new posts that link back to the website and encourage relevant others to link to you.

 

If you do it well your market will respond, but just play with it and you'll be joining the masses who tried and failed to maximise their potential and return on investment.

 

In answer to the question "Are quality keywords alone sufficient for good search engine placement", the answer is a resounding “no”. They are however the crucial start to the foundation of your website and online marketing.

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About the Author

Simon Thomas of Toucan Internet LLP has been involved in the development hosting and marketing of websites since 1995. He is passionate about his client’s online success and will welcome any approach for web development or consultative engagements.

t: 01279 871 694

e: simon@toucanweb.co.uk

w: www.toucanweb.co.uk

 

Copyright Toucan Internet LLP 2014©. All rights reserved.


Electricity comprises only 37 percent of your electricity bill

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

06th March 2014

Post Type: Education Item

What elements go into your household energy bills ?  A breakdown can be found here.