DoD investing in Small Business Contractors’ Data security

Technology is the new frontier of the 21st century, but only for those with the money and resources to afford the newest technological infrastructure. When technology expands like this, so do the problems associated with it. As we’ve seen in the past ten years, one of the main problems is security and keeping private and sensitive data out of the wrong hands.

When it comes to contracting, especially for the Department of Defense, these problems are at the forefront of every decision. For this reason, the DoD has begun investing in a secure cloud system that will help small and medium-sized contractors secure their information regarding the government.

The cloud would be a place for small contractors to store their data, rather than have them store it within their own systems, as a way for the government to ensure there is no way that the information could be misused. They specifically designate this for smaller contractors as not only do they make up a good amount of total DoD contracts, the larger contractors already have their own security systems in place, and therefore do not need to use this. The cloud would be designated as Government Furnished Equipment and would help them keep an eye on data from a vast majority of their contractors.

The introduction of this system comes as a response from companies requesting for more infrastructure like this, and greater information sharing in the Department of Defense. Companies with smaller security systems are expected to protect their own data, but they argue they cannot reasonably be expected to protect secure data from larger cyber attacks from nation states or terror cells.

The Department of Defense has now taken steps to alleviate this problem to make sure their highest volume of contractors is protected. Moreover, while details about individual attacks are classified, a recently released report from the Navy has made it clear that this is a large ongoing problem.


Boeing in Hot Water

The United States recently became the last country to ground the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. This decision comes after days of mounting pressure by the public and the government to investigate and evaluate the processes behind the aircraft, and why the two most recent crashes have been eerily similar in their causation.

This incident alone has resulting in Boeing going on the defensive with the public and the media. Their stock has dropped 11% and they have lost nearly $29 billion in market value. Such an economic hit is indicative of a need for sweeping process change within the company, both in terms of plane assembly and testing before they are used by companies. The issue is, many plane orders and contracts are usually old, and often take years to complete. However, many airlines, including Norwegian Airlines, are demanding compensation from Boeing for revenues lost due to the sudden grounding of those planes. The issue is becoming increasingly costly for Boeing, but its own mistakes are farther reaching than that.

Boeing is also a government contractor for the Air force, being that they are a top competitor in the airline industry. They, for example are the only company capable of constructing the 737 Max, but when it comes to military tankers, the story gets a bit more complicated. Following the two aforementioned crashes, the USAF had its confidence in Boeing shaken as their KC-46 tanker (plane used to refuel other jets) was found to be malfunctioning, and inspectors were finding Foreign Object Debris (FOD).

The USAF described the issue as part of an assembly line culture that that left assembly tools to be left in the tanker, after the order was delayed almost two years. Such a simple problem left officials worried as it pointed to a problem with the very mechanical processes the company uses. They knew of development issues that hampered the company over the past two years and correcting these issues could cost Boeing an additional $3 billion.

Customers and clients of the company seems to be angry at their losses due to grounded flights, the government has become wary of the company’s processes and may discontinue working with them, and the public’s perception of flying a Boeing aircraft is tainted by this incident. These perceptions (that this debacle has created) may not go away anytime soon, and the losses companies are taking as a result may not ever be repaid.


The Power of Emotional Intelligence in Business

Any business, much less any entrepreneur, needs emotional intelligence to survive today’s incredibly competitive and complex business environment. Emotional Intelligence defines itself as the ability to manage one’s own emotions, while at the same time managing the emotions of other people.

Reality reveals that everyone is prone to feeling complex and often confusing emotions, and how we deal with those is critical to the success of our business. Emotional Intelligence, referred to as “EQ”, is a crucial skill that many industry leaders look for today. Someone with high emotional intelligence is able to control their emotions while maintaining their own problem solving and critical thinking skills.

A more in-depth look at this phenomenon brings us to the ideas of Self-Awareness and Self-Management. Self-Awareness involves being aware of your own feelings and being able to identify how your emotions can (and often are) affecting coworkers and the people in your charge.  Often strong emotions can cloud our decision-making process, and the decisions we make in this state can affect everything that happens next, and sometimes can set a bad precedent. Emotionally Intelligent people identify these problems, and use Self-Management to be able to control them and react in ways that do not set the business back. For example, a high EQ individual, when faced with a serious setback, will look for ways to bounce back, even though they may be emotionally distraught and frustrated, rather than act get flustered in their anger and make a poor decision.

An important not to make about this is that Emotional Intelligence does not involve suppressing emotions, in fact it mostly means the opposite. For any high EQ individual, it is crucial to have a variety of emotions, and to be able to identify those emotions but not let them cloud your judgment. However, do not be afraid to show emotion and to allow your most human qualities to be put on display. Emotionally intelligent leaders always show and express their feelings, and this is most important when interacting with coworkers.

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of emotional intelligence involves social awareness and relationship building. Any business conversation, no matter how casual, is important to business development, and as such each should be approached with emotional intelligence. Being honest with people and displaying your own emotions while understanding and empathizing with the emotions of others is a powerful tool in creating and maintaining relationships. This kind of communication can come in handy in even the most basic of conversations, for example, admitting you do not know the answer to something is, in itself, a display of emotional intelligence. Rather than speculating, gossiping, or guessing, just admitting you were either wrong or that you do not know is a step in the correct direction.

In terms of saving or making money, emotional intelligence has demonstrable effects on business. For example, a study by Initiative One Leadership confirmed that employees are 400% less likely to leave a job if they have a manager with high EQ. Moreover, EQ has been shown to help retain more than employees but also clients and customers. Obtaining new clients and hiring new employees can be costly, so emotional intelligence is also incredibly helpful in saving money.

In the competitive small business world, companies with high EQ stand out among the rest as they are pinnacles of achievement. This is no accident as emotional intelligence is useful in advancing your own business practices. Moreover, the more companies and businesses that adapt to this model, the more revenue each makes, thus increasing profits for everyone.


International Women’s Day 2019 – Balance for Better

International women’s day is celebrated on March 8th every year. The earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Woman’s Day,” was held on February 28, 1909, in New York, organized by the Socialist Party of America at the suggestion of Theresa Malkiel. The 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference suggested a Women’s Day be held annually. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations. Nowadays, International Women’s Day is a public holiday. In some countries, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day to celebrate womanhood.

Women have made strides in gaining equalizing rights throughout history, from the right to vote to the current push for equal pay for equal work. Notably, Representative Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to serve in federal office, sworn into the 65th U.S. Congress in 1917. The 19th Amendment, stating “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” was passed in Congress in 1919 and ratified in 1920; this amendment ensured female suffrage.

Fast forward to the year 2018, when 131 women were elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. The 116th Congress is the most diverse in history, and women are represented now more than ever before. Current Speaker of the House, Representative Nancy Pelosi from California’s 12th Congressional District, expressed, “It gives me pride to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years since women won the right to vote, and as we serve with more than 100 women.” With a total of 535 seats in the U.S. Congress (435 representatives and 100 senators), the number of 131 women in these seats is about 24%. From 1 seat to 131, our nation saw an immense increase in representation for women at the federal level.

Today, we celebrate the accolades of women throughout history along with the women who are making history in the present. This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. The focus of the theme is on innovative ways in which to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

Happy International Women’s Day!


Advanced Business Practice in Procurement

Procurement management is critical to businesses as it can take up a large percentage of a company’s spend. A long and procrastinated procurement process could cause potential loss to companies. Ways to improve the procurement process can be different to businesses in different areas, however, there are some common practices that are proved to be beneficial for companies that aim to lean their procurement procedures.

To begin with, automation would definitely help to improve procurement efficiency. An automated process can reduce repetitive operational work and eliminate human errors. Barriers that impede companies from automating their procurement include the lack of data integration, poor data quality, and endorsement from the management. In order to atomize procurement processes, technology plays an important role. A digital enterprise resource planning platform is necessary for managers to integrate company data and prioritize tasks. An automated platform can take care of spotting demands and supplies accurately as well as matching invoice spend.

Moreover, supplier engagement cannot be neglected. A good relationship with suppliers can bring businesses to a win-win situation. With more solid connections with suppliers, companies will be able to access to the latest innovation in their products, to improve their forecast and scheduling accuracy, and to lower their transaction costs. Beyond than building up relationships with suppliers to save the budget, it is also important to control companies spend internally. Optimizing inventory is the best practice since the ‘real cost’ of holding inventory is much higher than the cost of ordering items. The rule of thumb for holding costs is between 20 and 30 percent. Thus, organizations would be able to save more if they constantly regulate their inventories.

Lastly, contract management is the main component of procurement. The lack of consistency is contracts, cumbersome processing, and supply chain discontinuity can all bring negative impacts to companies. To better manage contacting processes, companies need to find their own ways. One possible solution is to bring contract management to cloud.  When contracts are created, stored, and maintained in a centralized data repository, organizations can leverage their spend optimally, reduce costs, and mitigate risk.