The Stage of Business – Introducing Incidental Risk and the Critical Path

First of all, what is considered a risk? If we are going to identify the risks we will need to know what to look for. I have heard risk defined as the effect of uncertainty on objectives. That definition is all right but a bit too vague. To effectively identify risks for a particular project or initiative, I think you have to be a bit more specific to the objective.

As risk relates to the Project Streamâ„¢, best practices would dictate that each level is completed before the next level begins. As indicated in the diagram above, overlapping levels (as shown) will result in incidental risk and compromised results. This is a common occurrence and typically happens when levels stretch out and do not have a disciplined schedule for milestone start and completion.

“Delays have dangerous ends.” – William Shakespeare

When the project start and finish date are fixed, milestone durations should be planned with contingency durations. Otherwise any expansion of a milestone duration may compromise the adjacent milestones or possibly even the overall project risk.

Risk management scheduling is a critical part of project planning. The more time you spend crafting the schedule, the better chance you will have of project success. If you plan it well, you will be able to use the process schedule to effectively manage the project scope, schedule and budget.

“True nobility is exempt from fear.” – William Shakespeare

Make a Plan, Have a Plan. You will be glad you did!

Don’t be afraid to look to the past when crafting your plan for the future.

How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.

Various Types Of Computer Repair Services

There are numerous computer repair services, hence before choosing a right one it is important to know if the provider will provide you the required service; otherwise all the research work will be wasted. In order to give a better judgment, you should be aware of all the types of repair services.

Mentioned below are the computer repair services that are commonly offered:

• Virus removal: In this type of service, the providers ensure that the virus will be removed without risking the data or the information. There are independent service providers that only remove viruses. You can also get this service online, besides a complete service includes everything that is required to bring the computer into a safe condition.

• Hardware repairs: This is related to many physical damages that are incurred by the computer, or its accessories. This includes any dents, paint jobs or other structural issues that might be faced by the computers.

• Accessories repair: There are numerous accessories with a computer, like scanners, and printers, etc. which might need a repair due to damage. A person specialized in computer hardware would not necessarily be aware of the techniques and methods required, as both have different components. They might also provide advisory services regarding this or any other matter.

• Data recovery: Sometimes due to certain issues, your data might get lost. This might be irrecoverable for you; but a professional can easily recover the data by tracking the information. This is an extremely sensitive matter, hence a high quality service should be chosen. A low quality work might result in permanent loss of data; making it impossible for an experienced professional to recover it.

• Troubleshooting and networking errors: These are the two most common types of services which can get complicated. They include network installation, and the related problems.

• Maintenance services: A computer requires constant updating and tune ups, as it not only enhances the working speed of the computer, but also increases its lifetime. It includes rebooting, updating, and installing the new windows or general inspections.

• Customization: This service has become less common in the current period, but you can ask a computer repair provider to build a customized computer for you with specific features. One important factor is the stability, so you should ask the provider about its stability.

• Tutoring: With the current fame of this business, many people show interest in learning about computer repair. That’s why many institutions offer tutoring services to people about different techniques and types of repair services. You can specialize in any type, or get an entire course, as it will be good for starting your own business or to save future repair costs.

Now that you are aware of the different types, you can easily choose what you require.

55 Creative Entertainment Ideas For Your Next Event Or Meeting

1. Hire a comedian who can poke some fun at your CEO, do an impersonation of him, or even make light of your industry as a whole.

2. Hire a magician that can incorporate your sales message into his magic, or cut your CEO or receptionist in half. He might even be able to vanish the CEO, much to the delight of the employees.

3. Book a vocal improvisation group to take requests and spin them into a funny performance.

4. Have a musician write a song about your company and play it at the event.

5. Hire a celebrity impersonator to come to the event and sign autographs and take pictures with guests.

6. Book a caricature artist to draw personalized sketches of each employee at the company. These are fun souvenirs as well.

7. Book a digital caricature artist who composes his or her photos digitally on a computer right in front of your eyes. They can even personalize the backdrop to reflect the company

or event. This is a great souvenir for the guests to take home.

8. Book a balloon artist that makes the life size figures such as Disney characters, scenery like palm trees, huge company logos, and more. The balloon artist can do these figures with everyone watching making it an experience to watch the balloons being put together.

9. How about a strolling juggler who can mingle through the cocktail hour.

10. Book a stilt walker to make a big announcement for your company at an annual conference or meeting. It is a fun and guaranteed way to get everyone’s attention.

11. A clown is a great option for events with children or families. There are also evil clowns for events with no kids or around Halloween.

12. Book a palm reader to make psychic predictions about the future of the company or to tell people’s fortunes.

13. Hire a reality TV star to interact with guests. They are far less money than big time Hollywood celebrities.

14. Book a tribute band to play the songs of an artist that is popular among the guests.

15. An a cappella group can perform on stage or stroll through the event during a cocktail hour or dinner.

16. Hire a symphony orchestra to play at the event. You will need to consider space requirements for this type of an act.

17. You could have a mime act out a corporate message to employees or event customers.

18. Book a DJ to play only requested songs or songs from a certain era such as the 80′s

19. Break dancers can be lots of fun. They are generally young, hip, and add a sense of youth to an event.

20. How about a mariachi band for some festive music.

21. A steel drum band can be a nice addition to a high end gala event.

22. Booking a fire eater can be a great way to kick off the launch of a hot new product or service.

23. Carolers can be nice addition to any holiday event.

24. A living statue can be a great idea for almost any event. Make sure you ask for a living statue that matches closely to the theme of your event or meeting.

25. Booking a cirque act is a great idea when the event needs something remarkable or to get a buzz going. Make sure you can accommodate for the space some of the cirque acts require.

26. A snake charmer is a unique way break up a meeting or attract a crowd at an event.

27. Hire a mentalist to read the minds of the guests. This is creative way that the performer can interact with the audience.

28. How about an ice sculptor who can sculpt the company logo or a corporate message live while people watch it being carved.

29. Acrobats provide a lively addition to an event.

30. Singing waiters are an a cappella group dressed as formal waiters. This catches guests off guard and is an offbeat way to infuse entertainment into the dining experience.

31. Ballroom dancers can be popular with all the dance themed TV shows like Dancing with the Stars and others.

32. A barbershop quartet is an a cappella group where all the members wear red and white costumes, similar to that of a barbershop pole. This has a nostalgic feel to it.

33. Dueling pianos are a fantastic way to get the audience involved with nonstop entertainment

34. You could have your employees put on the entertainment by having a talent show and getting everyone in the company involved including the CEO. You will want to record this so everyone can watch it later on, or you may even want to send them all home with a copy, or mail it to them afterwards. You could also post them on YouTube for all to comment on.

35. A marching band can be an official way to introduce somebody special at the event. It can also be a way of showing that the company does not take themselves too seriously if they book a fun themed marching band.

36. Book the 60 second novelist. He comes with his own table and a manual typewriter and asks guests a few questions to get a sense of who they are, and he types out a short life story in one minute. He even binds it so guests can take it home. The story is funny, imaginative and true. This is a fun way to get people to open up and share their stories and get to know each other.

37. Face painters are a neat way to entertain the younger kids.

38. A choir can be a nice way to make a grandiose statement.

39. How about an opera singer for a classy event or gala.

40. A graffiti artist that can create a painting of someone or something with a large crowd watching. Some artists do this type of thing super fast, making it intriguing to watch.

41. Book hula dancers to mingle on the dance floor with guests.

42. How about Polynesian dancers to inject a unique culture into the event.

43. A ventriloquist can be a great entertainment choice that can play well for kids or adults depending on the performer.

44. Hire a dynamic storyteller who can weave a message about the goal of the event or meeting.

45. An escape artist is a dramatic way to convey messages such as, escaping or breaking free of limiting beliefs and constraints. This can be a nice way to motivate employees to achieve a goal.

46. Booking a hypnotist can provide a serious element or a comedic one.

47. A rapper could perform a comedic rap specifically written about the company. Some rappers can even improvise this on the spot.

48. A puppeteer is another option for younger children to keep them entertained.

49. Hire a sword swallower to attract the crowd or if it fits into the theme.

50. You can always hire a real Hollywood celebrity to attract the attention and buzz you need or try booking a couple of smaller celebrities to make better use of your funds and get more celebrity drawing power.

51. You might want to book a political impersonator that is popular such as Sarah Palin or Barack Obama.

52. A harpist can add a light musical touch without loud music. This would be nice for a laid back, high end atmosphere.

53. How about having multiple celebrity tribute artists on stage performing a bunch of hits songs from the various artists they impersonate.

54. Have a stage where different executives from the company do karaoke for a variety of songs.

55. Finally, the best way to guarantee a creative entertainment experience is to have the performer or performers customize their acts to your event or meeting. This creates a memorable experience guests are sure to remember for a long time.